Super (angry) Eight…

Blimey.

What a weekend…and what a Monday morning. I awoke with good intentions and vowed I wasn’t going to raise my voice today, but that went out the window at 7:30am (yep, that early) when all 3 boys decided to bicker and recreate wrestle mania in the living room. I ignored it to a point, but there are only so many squeals and shouts you can let go before your boiler blows.

Seriously, Dry September was a bad idea.

Do you know what, it wasn’t that long ago in a time BC (before children) that I used to look forward to the weekend – lazy mornings and leisurely breakfasts followed by a spot of shopping  (without a child going off their head as soon as you cross the threshold in H&M) or a leisurely walk somewhere (ok, by somewhere I mean to a pub) – but these days, as terrible as it sounds, the weekends can be more of a battle ground than a time of relaxing and tranquility. Now, I’m not solely blaming my 8 year old for this change in my feelings for the weekend but I have to tell you all, he really isn’t helping much at the moment.

When you’re expecting your first baby, you often think about what the baby will look like once it’s here, you imagine how things will be with a new little person in your life and you look forward to the baby/toddler milestones, starting their schooling and then them becoming an adult. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but (maybe rather ignorantly) the ‘no man’s land’ of 7-12 year old’s I never really gave much thought. I’ve come to the conclusion that at the age of 7, children (well mine anyway) change. They’re at a an age where they think they are grown up but they aren’t really at all and that, I think, is what I’m finding really tricky.

Luke is a lovely lad. He will be 9 in February.

A boy looking at the fish in a fish shop.

He’s always been a thinker, perhaps an over-thinker if truth be told (I’ve no idea where he gets that from…ahem) and he’s also very caring. This personality combination however, as lovely as it is, now he is 8, seems to manifest itself as worry most of the time and worry, these days, can often turn to anger. I know, “What on earth does an 8 year old have to worry about?” I hear you ask. Well, lots it would appear.

Now Luke is 8 (so old) and in Year 4 at school, the expectation and what is required of them has ramped up to a point that even us parents are in shock. At the age of 8, they are expected to relay important information from the teachers to us (yes, we laughed too, I don’t think Luke could remember what he had for lunch let alone some very important information from his teacher), remember their belongings and personal diary (after school/lunchtime clubs etc) do at 30 minutes of reading/homework per night and also cope with the daily demands of being in the midst of  a ‘I think I am grown up but really I still need my parents’ phase. It’s pretty tough.

The weekends are now often spent trying to snatch family time in between the mundane necessities of modern life as well as juggling homework and other social commitments. The calmness of the weekends that once were have been replaced by a chaotic cycle of waking up, me ranting, having a bit of fun (we do have some believe it or not) and then going to bed for it all to start over again.

The lack of ‘down time’ for the kids can be so tough (always rushing somewhere, always being asked to do something) that it can often get too much (especially for a ‘Super angry 8’ year old) and that’s when the shit hits the fan (you know, whilst said fan is on full speed and on  rotate setting. Mass shit, everywhere). An 8 year old often thinks they know EVERYTHING, that Mum is an idiot and that we have just been put on the planet to feed and clothe them whilst shouting orders at them like a demonic Sargent Major. I think we have almost reached a point that, some days, I’m (quote) “The worst mum ever”. Quite an accolade to achieve isn’t it – I might get a badge made up…

You never think about that happening, well, at least I didn’t, until they’re teenagers but sadly, it does seem to start earlier than that. The hormones start whizzing about much earlier than I had anticipated and I have most definitely been caught sleeping on parade with regards to this parenting milestone.

A boy sat on a stone covered beach. He looks angry and lost in thought.

A moody ‘pre-teen’. And from what I’ve heard thus far, the teenage years don’t seem like they’re going to be particularly golden years either.

Yay for Gin!

Being a kid in 2016 (Christ, is that really the year?! Toy Story is 21 years old guys, 21!!!!! How the feck did that happen?!) is tough. Technology gives us opportunity and connects us in a way never before possible, but it also creates impatience. An ‘I want it now’ mentality which is part of the reason I think we have some of these mega ‘pre-teen’ strops.If something doesn’t go Super angry 8’s way, he goes to cloud cuckoo land at warp speed 10. I’m not saying it’s the iPads fault, I am the master of the iPad and I have the power to give and take away, like an almighty technology god, but I really don’t think it’s helped any with his here and now attitude he seems to have at the moment. It seems to be one of the only things I have control over these days…oh, that and my bladder, thankfully. And that’s saying something after 3 kids. The ipad is the oracle of the Super angry 8’s world and it’s my trump card to play if metaphorical shit has been splattered by that fan. That’s how I hit him the hardest after a mega strop (and earn the accolade of worst mum ever) but needs must and right now, that’s one of the only ways of drilling home how cross I am when my super angry 8 has gone kaboom.

 I understand a lot of it is development. They’re finding their voice, gaining independence and beginning to understand more about the world (and what buttons to push to piss mummy right off) but there is a very fine line between finding their voice at this age and being damn right rude. Luckily for me (I suppose) super angry 8 is normally impeccably behaved at school and at other peoples houses etc, his worst strops are reserved only for me. Aren’t I lucky.

My husband often says it’s because I allow myself to get worked up that he does it more, because he can see it annoys me, but I think it’s more to do with the fact that I am the one that is doing the disciplining on a daily basis.

I’m ‘Bad Cop’.

Another badge to add to my sleeve.

I know it’s ‘just a phase’ and I know it too shall pass, but then there will be a new phase. A gross Teenage boy phase (when I hand the baton over to Daddy, who has been there and got that stinky, grubby t-shirt) and I’m totally not ready for it but if the super angry 8 stage is anything to go by, I’d better get my shit together.

 I make it sound like he’s awful all the time, my eldest. He truly isn’t. He has moments where he still wants a cuddle, where he will run and dive in our bed and chat away in the mornings and now he is ‘finding his voice’ we have some of the funniest games of ‘would you rather?’ that I have ever had, yep, maybe even more entertaining than the ones I had after a few too many drinks with my friends, but I do notice the change and him growing up now more than ever. It’s an age of transition, for all of us.

luke smiling with a sun hat on out in the garden. He was 3 at the time.

Luke. Age 3. Cheeky and carefree…

Gem.x




Tantrum Tag-team – Do not underestimate the power of the tantrum…

“Your total mega meltdown tantrum really helped me to understand what was upsetting you and see things from your point of view. Said no Mum, ever”.

Toddler hiding in cupboard having a tantrum

I said he couldn’t have Ice Cream for Breakfast at 6:30am. Apparently that’s out of order and the only response it warranted from the toddler was to try and hide himself in the kitchen cupboards whilst shouting at me…

Tantrums.

One of the shittest parts of parenting.

Nobody warns you quite how epic they can be, how long they can go on for, how there is often no preventing them (unless you give in to every ridiculous demand and whim your child comes up with, such as having to go to Legoland every Wednesday because they don’t like having to go to school that day) and you almost certainly aren’t going to get through them without the help of cake and alcohol. Just saying…

IMG_1188

Those aren’t his glasses. They’re his Nanny’s. He just wears them when he is pretending to be an evil mastermind…

My eldest had pretty epic tantrums until he was 3. I vividly remember, with him being my first so I wasn’t the hardened bitch-mum I am now, being at Mothercare near where my mum works and him having such a meltdown over not being allowed to have half the contents of the shop (he threw himself about everywhere, knocked things off shelves, ran into someone else’s child and bit me) that I had a bit of a mental breakdown in the car park and didn’t quite know what the feck had happened to my life. I decided to leave the shop with him kicking and screaming but, upon getting back to the car, I was unable to get him in the car seat. He had pulled his final trump card of ‘the plank’ just as I was about to try and restrain him in the car seat. Little arsehole. I shut him in the back of the car, unrestrained, and let him thrash about whilst I called my Mum for a sob and to ask her advice. Within 10 minutes, she had popped out of her office, driven to where I was and helped me get the miniature monster of mayhem in his car seat. I told you she is a legend.

No messing.

Bosh.

In he went.

Why couldn’t I get him to do that?! Why was my mum able to put him in his car seat without being mauled?!

Rule 1 of Tantrum Club: Always let a grown up try and apply logic to your tantrum, despite knowing there isn’t any. It’s hilarious to watch them suffer and think about it.

Zak with a sticker moustache

Something not quite right about this photo is there….very dodgy tash.

My middle one was quite an easy-going, happy baby and toddler. Lulled me into a false sense of security that one did… I was all smug, thought because he was my second I knew what I was doing and that I was totally Mumming the shit out of life.

Like a boss.

Was I testicles.

This ones tantrums started a bit later, at about 2.5/3 years old, you know, just in time for Pre-school.

Sodding wonderful.

Most days I would pick him up from pre-school and I would be presented with the dreaded ‘Clip Board of Shame’, a clip board used to hold the papers you’re required to sign when there has been an ‘incident’. Either your child has been hurt, or they have hurt someone else. For me, sadly, it was often the latter. The embarrassment of having a staff member walk over to you at pickup time in front of all the other waiting parents, only to be presented with the clip board of shame, was sometimes too much to bare. Eventually, after my 15th or so form (not all for him being on the dishing out end I hasten to add, he was bad but he wasn’t Norman Price…) I became a bit more used to it and would know who he had hurt before the form was even presented to me and signed. I’d often find myself apologising to the poor child’s parent despite never being told the name of whichever child it was, call it a mother’s instinct…

Rule 2 of Tantrum Club: Always let grown ups think they know what they’re doing, and then laugh at them manically as you pull a tantrum which is off the scale out the bag.

IMG_1764

My littlest one is a bit of an enigma (if you hadn’t guessed from my blog posts). He started his tantrums, I would say, before he was 1. What’s that classed as?! The Naughty Noughties?! He has a stubborn streak that I am nervous of for the coming years and I’m not sure if my shred of sanity that I have left will stand the tests of time with this one…

I’m holding onto the fact that, apparently, difficult to handle babies turn into easy to handle children. I’m not sure who said that, I might have said it to myself after four G&T’s when I think I’m insightful, when in actual fact, I’m just talking shite but, whatever, I’m clinging onto that glimmer of hope so, shhhhhh! Don’t crush it.

This, seemingly angelic, hair-bear has had the glorious opportunity to learn from not one, but two, older siblings, the ways of the Tantrum.

-Come little brother, let us teach you the power of the Tantrum...-

 Rule 3: Always ensure the knowledge of the power of the tantrum is passed down from sibling to sibling, cousin to cousin, and so on. This way, the grown ups will never defeat us and the power of the tantrum will live on, stronger, forever more!!!!!!!!! Mwahahahahahaha!!!!

Like the three musketeers, “All for one and one for all!” my boys set about hatching their tantrum plans each and every day.

After a quick huddle in the corner of a bedroom, where I’m sure they decide who is going to piss me off when, they then set about their master plan for the day.

Since it’s the summer holidays at the moment, these ‘tag-team tantrums’ have really become quite draining. And we are only a week in…

Gin help me.

all for one and one for all - brothers with their hands in a vow grip

Brothers. All for one and one for all!

 It starts off with one, normally my eldest, having a strop about something minor. Normally an ailment of some sort that has manifested itself overnight, like a sore toe, or a clicking finger. Major illnesses these folks. Major. I will then not give enough of a shit about these minor ailments (i.e: I will not give him a bandage or let him eat a pork pie for breakfast which apparently helps cure said mystery ailment) so a tantrum ensues. Despite the fact he is 8, he still has tantrums, but they are now more teenage angst type ones where he says, “I hate you, I wish I had never been born”, and, “I’m leaving home forever”, that sort of thing. Splendid. He’s not even a teenager yet and already the hormones are beginning to rear their ugly head. I told you all, cake and alcohol, cake and alcohol. He will then, probably, have a few more tantrums about nothing much between breakfast and lunch and then loose momentum, thus handing over the tantrum baton to his brother.

After my eldest has had a go and calmed down, it’s the turn of my middle one, who is prone to epic flip outs over the most inane things (sorry mums at school, you know what I am going on about). For instance, this week, we had a major meltdown over nail polish. Yes, you read that right. He wanted his nails painted because, well, why not?! He wanted them painted red (Liverpool colour) but silly, un-glam, mummy didn’t have any red nail polish, she only had a bottle of dried up black polish and a funky dark purple number, probably from circa 1995. Winning. After a tantrum involving feet stomping, toy throwing, hate shouting and sobbing that life is disastrous, he calmed down enough to accept defeat and eventually chose to go with the 1990’s purple. I, of course, acknowledged his choice of nail colour and duly put it on the bedside table until bedtime so that if he mis-behaved again, the polish would not be put upon his nails. Bribery, sorry, incentive given, he managed to not kick off again for the rest of the day and was allowed to have his pamper session, much to his Dad’s dismay… 😉

So where does the little one come into all this I hear you ask?

Well, he is on tantrum call, ALL. DAY.

When one of the older boys is having a lull, he will rev up and cause chaos enough for me too loose my shizzle, just in time for one of his older brothers to pick up the tantrum baton and start the new wave of misery for me, thus creating the perfect shit storm. He will remove a poo nappy and smear himself in it’s contents, he will smear himself in his food, he will turn the hosepipe on in the garden and hold it at the back doors to water the kitchen, he will undress himself as we are about to go out the door and he will come over to give me what I think is a hug, but in actual fact, he wants to headbutt me. Wondrous, eh?! The team work and planning is quite something to behold.

It’s not all bad, don’t get me wrong, but the school holidays sure are amplifying the tantrums each one of them has and, by the end of the day, when each of them has had their turn with the tantrum baton, it’s safe to say I am finished. Brain frazzled. Happiness dissipated. Delirium sets in…hence this blog post.

The photo of my boys hands inadvertently reminded my husband of an old Bon-Jovi album cover, Keep the Faith.

Quite fitting don’t you think?

I might just have to use that saying as my mantra over the next few weeks to get through these summer holidays. Along with Cake and Alcohol of course 😉

Keep the faith, parents.

Keep. The. Faith.

Mouse Moo and Me Too
You Baby Me Mummy



Eating out…

Eating out. You know, when you go somewhere outside of the home and some other poor sod stands and makes your dinner for you for a change. The only difference is they get paid to stand and cook you dinner and I most definitely don’t. I get too many complains anyway (“no! I’m not eating that! It’s disgusting and tastes of poo poo!” that kind of response).

It’s a real novelty ‘eating out’ these days, thanks to the Tasmanian toddler who can’t sit still and a 6 year old who gets about as much pleasure from eating food as I do from changing a sh!&ty nappy.

Anyhow, a momentous occasion happened this week – my parents finally became mortgage free, enormous hurrah for them (cue me then calculating how long we have left on our mortgage and wanting to silently sob into my Calamari) – so we went out for a family dinner to celebrate.

I experience a few emotions at the thought of this. These are:

Excitement – a night out!

Dread – there’s no way our kids arent going to destroy the restaurant or is be asked to leave because the toddler is beating other customers up.

Fear – what if the toddler screams for the whole dinner. I’ll just have to go and stand outside in the rain with him and watch everyone eat through the window.

Delusion – “It’ll be ok” I tell myself, “the toddler might just sit down nicely and play with the iPad…” (I know, bad mummy but please don’t judge, we all have our own way and if it means he is quiet and not stabbing people with a fork, I’ll go for that)

Anger – “who’s bloody idea was dinner out?! I know it’s a special occasion but we want it to be a happy event and instead, it could end a disaster and I could end up being beaten up by my toddler as usual, but this time in a public place!”

…safe to say I was a little apprehensive.

We get to the ‘family friendly’ restaurant and we are sat near the door – first saving grace, we are near the escape route should sh%t go down.

Luckily, the toddler hasn’t napped and it’s 5:30 so he looked quite sedate and was over the moon to see Nanny, Grandad and his Uncle. Phew. That’s occupied him for at least 20 minutes….

Then the toddler spots some balloons on sticks – hurrah! That buys us another 15 minutes as he is quite happy bashing his Grandad, and any passing customers and staff, on the head with it. We are now 35 minutes in and all is fine. It’s a miracle.

Starters arrive and luckily the toddler and my 6 year old like the look of some of it (though my 6 year old decides the carrot and cucumber sticks are merely decoration and are definitely not meant to be eaten…) so they happily tuck in. Another 15 minutes of peace and harmony – I can’t believe this!

As soon as the starters are finished and taken away, our mains arrive.

All my kids have chosen margarita pizza – adventurous bunch aren’t they (makes you wonder why you spent so many hours peeling, boiling, whizzing and splattering purées up for them as babies when, as soon as they have a mind of their own and learn to say ‘no!’, you might as well have given them a cat food bowl full of crisps and sweets and left it on the floor for the day to pick at as that’s all they decide they can eat for the foreseeable future…)

The older 2 tuck into their pizzas and are happy, the little one however, looks at his pizza with utter contempt and attempts to frisbee it off his plate. “He doesn’t want that then….” I conclude.

The toddlers noise level increases as his contempt for the pizza placed before him grows. “Here we go…” I think to myself.

I shovel my pasta down and gesture to my husband for the noisy, pizza hating toddler to be passed down to me in hopes of calmin him down. After 5 minutes of whining and fidgeting like a ferret in a pair of trousers, to my amazement, this happens….


I can’t believe my luck!!

It sleeps!!! (I know I’ll have a rubbish evening getting him to bed, but he’s quiet and not disturbing the restaurant anymore! Hurrah!!!)

And with that, I order a pudding and eat it whilst being able to chat to my family (thanks to Uncle holding the sleeping ninja) and not worry about the Tasmanian Toddler going crazy. Happy days.

So, for future reference, we can now eat out as long as the toddler hasn’t had a nap and is utterly exhausted, then everyone is a winner. My arms felt like they were going to drop off by the end of the dinner through holding him and I was a sweaty mess because it was boiling hot and the little one acted like a hot water bottle, but all was peaceful. And that’s a miracle.




The terrible 2’s…

“The Terrible 2’s actually begin in your child’s second year of life, so after their 1st birthday. It’s all downhill from there…”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids.
I count my blessings that we were able to have them, that they arrived safely into the world and they’ve turned out (almost) perfect (ahem).
That said, nothing can prepare you for how much hard work they are. Especially when they hit the so called, ‘terrible 2’s”.
Now, I learnt very very quickly that the ‘terrible 2’s’ as they are known, do not begin once your chubby little cherub has had their second birthday, they start in their second year of life, so once they have stuffed that first birthday cake in their chops…that’s it.
It’s on like donkey kong.

They are champions of mental torture, masters of manipulation and take no prisoners. They still have those chubby cheeks, big doe eyes and little fingers and toes of a newborn, but they have quickly developed the brain which resembles that of a North Korean dictator (“do as I say mother or I will drop the bomb“).

My 15 month old did exactly that for the first time this week, and in epic style.

(Actually, now I come to think of it, so did my 5 year old…and my 7 year old. I can’t tell you that they ‘grow out of it’ because I don’t think they do, you just learn to find solace in simple things to make yourself feel better, like having a glass of wine with your weetabix at breakfast time. Technically wine is just grape juice and therefore part of your ‘5 a day’, or is it ‘7 a day’ now?? God knows, I’m lucky if I manage to eat 7 things in a day!)

 

The tantrums come at the most awkward times too, when you’re on the phone, when you’re speaking to other parents whose children are positively angelic, gliding around with halos sparkling above their heads, when you’re on the loo mid-wee or when you’re at the shops.

 

Ben this week decided to it while I was at my most vulnerable…I was without the pushchair. 

Rookie. Mistake.

That battle-ram come chariot is the answer to all toddler meltdowns – he makes a mere hint of a squeal and I’m on him like a ninja – KAPOW! In the pushchair you go you naughty little dictator. I’ll show you who’s in charge here. 

Meltdown averted. 

Sanity saved. 

Dignity in tact. 

Mummy 1 – angry little baby dictator 0. Smug.

 Never underestimate the power of the pushchair.

I thought that now my little cherub is toddling like a drunkard, I would let him walk from the school car park to the school field to fetch my eldest from football training. It’s a 2 minute walk for adult legs, or a sprinting 5 year old…20 minutes for a set of chunky baby legs. However, we were in no rush, it was a lovely day, the sun was shining, I was in a good mood (for a change, probably thanks to my breakfast wine) and I felt like I had this mum stuff all under control so left the pushchair firmly in the boot and let him toddle.

The 20 minute waddle to the field was fine, very uneventful and full of lovely people cooing at my chunky monkey saying, ‘Goodness me! Hasn’t he grown!’ (Why do babies and children have such a nasty habit of doing that?!)  and ‘oh look, isn’t he sweet!’.

I smile back, appreciative of their lovely words and proud of my little man behaving himself so well. I totally know what I’m doing and how this parenting malarkey works now with number 3…
I let him totter about, being all cute and exploring this magical world of screaming children, concrete and germs and all is going fine. Then football finishes and we have to leave the field to go home. I usher my little one in the direction of the car park and as fast as I can neck my breakfast wine…BOOM! He drops the bomb.
“You see mother, I told you I would…and I did”.
Baby dictator 1 – mummy 1. 
He kicks me, slaps, scratches, thrashes about, head-butts and screams with all his might and then pulls his trump card. (All children have this ability but some seem to harness their power better than others – all 3 of mine managed to excell at this skill) 
Somehow he manages to turn himself into a jelly like substance so i can’t hold onto him anymore. It doesn’t matter how you try and hold him, before you can even gather yourself, he’s gone again and you’re only holding onto your little monster by the strap of his nappy.
 
My 7 year old comes out from football with his 4 bags, 3 jumpers, 2 water bottles and a giraffe. Ok, no giraffe. You got me there, but he did have a lot of stuff.
Another perk of the pushchair is that you can throw all this stuff into it and push it back to your car or home without struggling. Because I’d decided to brave it and leave the pushchair in the car I was now in possession of 4 bags, 3 jumpers, 2 water bottles, a 5 year old, a 7 year old and a thrashing, squealing jelly baby. 
 
I gather myself as much as I can with the writhing jelly baby dictator in my arms whilst still saying ‘goodbye!’ and ‘see you tomorrow, have a lovely evening’ to friends and other mums through a gritted teeth smile, and make my way to the car park. 
My 2 minute walk back to the car is now taking considerably longer and I resemble a packhorse in a sauna. I’m a sweaty, flustered mess and I just want to get back to the safely of the car where I can restrain my demonic toddler in his car seat. 
He continues to scream, hit and thrash all the way back to the car (as I attempt to wave to my sons teacher who looks at me with a lovely sympathetic smile, but which at that time feels like she is saying, “see, 3 children was never a good idea was it love. See you on Jeremy Kyle…”) 
 
I get to the car and force the Tasmanian devil child into his car seat and shut his door. I vow to never leave my pushchair in the car again…even when my boys are 16 I’ll still have it nearby to shove them in it when I’ve caught them trying to get into a pub underage. 
The tantrum lasts the whole journey home and in total took 25 minutes to conclude. 
 
The moral of the story….I don’t have one. But never underestimate a toddler, or how useful a pushchair is…or to forget to have wine for breakfast. 
 
TTFN.x
“Of course I can put this helmet on by myself you stupid woman. Look at me, I look perfect!”