I’ll think of a title later

This morning I arrived at work late frazzled, out of sorts and decidedly cross. Yesterday I had also arrived late, as I was on toddler time: he decided that he wanted more breakfast, after he’d got shoes and rucksack on, when I said we had to leave – he laid down in front of the front door so I couldn’t even open it to get out the house. After negotiating that hurdle, he then splayed his arms and legs like a spider so I couldn’t get him into car, let alone the car seat. He only calmed down after I gave him my banana. By the time we’d got to nursery, they were welcome to him.

Today as I was bending down to help him get his shoes on I sniffed and asked if he’d pooped. ‘No mama’ I checked, not just poop, but poopsplosion. If it had been any other time of day, it would have been a shower. It was a nightmare, including needed new pants and trousers. Instead of leaving early, or even on time, we left the house at time I am normally arriving at work by the time I’d finished cleaning him up.

I hate being late. It is disrespectful. I also hate people being late. If you ask us to arrive at 10am, we are there at 10am. It pi$$es me off no end some people’s laissez-faire attitude to meeting up with others. Standing in my hallway today, gathering my stuff together I screeched banshee style ‘I hate being f-ing late!’ – Peanut looked startled, I said ‘I’m sorry for shouting. I wasn’t shouting at you, I was cross with me’. We hugged and he told me ‘All ok Mama. All ok.’

I am grateful that today after work I am going to the gym. I’ve got the 10km run this weekend, I’m going to get on the treadmill, put a podcast on and just plod away until I get to 8km.

I am grateful that this morning, Peanut woke up at 6am, bright, happy and cheerful. That he gives such good cuddles, particularly when he knows that his mother is fragile at that point in time.

I am grateful for so many things, but this morning hunched over the steering wheel driving to work, my shoulders were up around my ears in frustration. I deliberately changed my route to work after dropping Peanut off today, so I didn’t have to drive past a school crossing supervisor. He waves at cars driving past, but on such a dangerous bend he’s more of a hazard than the road conditions. Yes, this sounds daft. I am fully aware of that, but I chose to re-route myself so I didn’t explode further.

Recognising my touch points is a work in progress, but I know when I am getting forgetful, ratty or swearing, I need to take step back from what I’m doing. This morning there was nothing I could do, I had to change his nappy. But being late two days on the trot is maddening. Did I need to screech? No, but it was a release of emotion that had I tried to swallow, would have eaten away at me all morning.

Leaving things behind me is another thing I need to work on. It wasn’t until I’d shared my morning with the girls at work and verbalised it that I felt better.

I am grateful for the support network my colleagues provide me with. The majority of my oldest friends I either met at work or through work, spending so much time together entwines people’s lives in a web of friendship.

I am grateful the fog has finally lifted, I wouldn’t say that it’s sunny, but being able to see the trees out my window is helping with my mood too.

This has been a long day

After taking Peanut to the GP yesterday, Hubs was told that at the first sign of him having difficulty breathing, we were to take him straight to hospital. We were woken up in the middle of the night by him coughing. I went down to Peanut’s room, he was wheezing and sucking air in. His temperature was up to 38.1 again. Laying him on our bed while we threw some clothes on, he was limp and listless.
We drove to the hospital, the change in air obviously helped, as did sitting in his car seat. He was chatting a bit, pointing out the petrol stations we passed, but despite giving him some paracetamol, he was still running a temperature when we arrived.
The waiting room was packed, and for a Tuesday night, busy with people who had had a skinful of alcohol. Waiting another two boys came in, one with a head injury, again drunk. A very aggressive man decided that he took umbrage and it looked like it was all going to kick off until a nurse came out and told him unceremoniously that unless he calmed down, they would not treat him.
It was scary, and not what I wanted my son to see. We were called into the children’s department, every single bed was full. Peanut was weighed and given 2.5ml of an oral steroid. Then we waited, trying to keep him quiet. After an hour I asked if we could go home please? The nurse took his obs, said it takes about an hour for the medication to work, would have been nice if we’d been told that to begin with, but they we go.
And we could go. So we did.
When we got home the cat then decided it would be a good idea to sleep on my pillow, lick my hair and make puddings all over me. Not much sleep was had.
I got to work a bit late, everyone asked why I was in. I prepped for two meetings, cleared my emails and came home. Made lunch and went back to bed.
I’d like to say that the afternoon was better, but after taking Peanut to the GP again, we got given some more steroids to take. Which he promptly threw up. We gave him a bath to clean him up, he asked to go to bed, at 5:30pm. We’ve just had a FaceTime call with my parents, I’m finishing this and going to bed. Hubs has rented Thor, chewing gum, but he’s enjoying it.
My back is very sore, you can’t not console your child when he’s ill, no matter what your osteo says. I know I’ve delayed my recovery, but what can I do?

What a weekend

Well, I do not think we have ever changed so many nappies in such a short period of time. The bin is being collected on Thursday morning, thankfully not next week! Peanut’s poor digestive system has been working overtime, trying to clear the virus out. Literally.

Yesterday we took him up to A&E, he was even refusing water, and instead of getting better, he appeared to get worse through the day. Nothing a packet of crisps (salt, as prescribed) after a hydrolyte popsicle didn’t fix – thank god. He will not take the hydrolyte in its ‘juice’ form, we have to pin him down and squirt it in with a syringe which is distressing for all of us, goodness toddlers are strong when they don’t want to do something.

He’s started eating solids again, mostly from our plates, which is good, he ended up having a good dinner last night by the end of Hubs’ lasagne and my risotto.

We try to be green and have used a plant based clothes wash for ages, but lets not beat about the bush here, it just ain’t cutting it with ‘freshening’ the clothes. Tomorrow I’m going to get some Persil/OMO (UK/Aussie) and as we wash through the week, it’ll give them a blast, hopefully getting rid of the last of the nasties.

He hopped on the scales this morning, he’s dropped over a kilo in three days, he likes weighing himself, not knowing what the numbers are, but we do, and it’s worrying as he was only just getting himself back to normal after our bout of flu.

Manny is coming up to save the day, he’ll also stay over, as we were told not to take Peanut back to nursery till at least Wednesday. What is so sodding frustrating, is that someone else didn’t keep their child at home, leaving us with a boy that says ‘Don’t like it’ and ‘Not really’ whenever we approach him with a syringe of medicine or funny coloured liquid.

What broke my heart though, was him standing on his change mat, poop pouring down his leg saying ‘I sorry’. It still upsets me now, and I think it will for a while. This morning he woke up at 5am, toddling down the hall telling us ‘stinky bum’. Which was more adorable, even if the blow-out did leave us having to dismantle his bed and wash everything on it, including two cuddly toys.

On a brighter note, we had most windows open, as many doors as I could get open and lots of fresh air blowing through. Just as well really, but I can tell it will be a while before my obsessive cleaning backs down. I did a lot today, too much actually as my back is now sore, I’m about to take some industrial painkillers and go to sleep, but I wanted to get this posted first.

Don’t do that, no really, don’t do that

Way back when, and I mean, waaaay back when, I was a swimming teacher. I’d have parents come up to me and ask me how I would get the children to behave. My answer was simple, “I say ‘No’ and I mean it”. With lessons after school, you’d have between 5-8 children in your class, depending on how old they were and how far on their swimming journey they’d be. But with swimming classes run for a primary school (7-11 years old), you’d get the whole class of children for half an hour. Sometimes over 30 children would be in my care, in a swimming pool, sometimes with an assistant, sometimes not. Right from the first minute of the first lesson, I’d have to make sure they listened to me, because if they didn’t, it was dangerous.

After a few trials and errors, I developed a simple tactic. They either listened, or they got out. They did what I asked, or they got out. If they misbehaved, they got out. You get the picture. With one never-to-be-forgotten class in Tidworth (a heady mix of Army children and low income council-housed families; some of the girls at 11 already had their belly-buttons pierced) after the first lesson I ended up with 8 out of the original 30-odd children. But for the next 12 weeks of the term, they behaved like angels, because they knew I wasn’t going to back down, mess them around or give them an ever-changing boundary that confused the bejeepers out of them.

Before Hubs and I even got pregnant, we had a conversation about how we would work together when the issue of behaviour came up. As we’re in full on toddler-dom and terrible twos with ‘No!’, ‘Mine!’ coupled with diva-tantrums and screaming over every little thing, including the washing powder not going into the shopping trolley, are ensuing, how are we doing? Hubs and I discussed what we’d like our child to do, act and behave – so we’re holding ourselves to it too. If we want him to sit at the table to eat, we do as well. If we want him to say please and thank you, we do too. I knew that children model what they see, not what they hear far more. Except I’ve learnt the hard way that a new word a day pops up, including ‘Shit’, ahem.

We are not here to be his friends, we are here to be his parents. They are two entirely separate things. I’m already struggling with knowing that shortly, we will have to purchase some item of technology for him, (shortly in this case is within five years). He had a whale of a time in the garden with his dad this afternoon, making mud pies, throwing a ball around, picking up a worm and planting seeds. Before he went to bed tonight I put on Louis Prima and we danced around the living room, tidying his toys. The longer I can leave him unplugged the better in my opinion, because already when he watches TV, well, it’s horrible, he won’t engage with us at all. When he was ill the week before last he didn’t want to, or feel up to play, so the TV was on to help entertain him, even then I selected the programs and DVDs, but when it got switched off, he shrieked in frustration.

If you want you child to behave and you constantly tell them ‘If you do that again, we’re going home!’ and then don’t take them home, what are you teaching them? That they can do whatever they umpity-ump like, with no consequences, so they will ignore you. We’ve already left food behind on a table when we’ve been out and Peanut has cracked it, because after we explained politely, that if he didn’t stop being naughty, we’d leave. We were in a shop looking at beds for him when he found a big, squashy cushion in the shape of a car. Immediately it was ‘Mine!’ and although we explained that it wasn’t, put it back on the bed and were walking away, he cracked it. So we walked off and left him to it, full on tantrum in the middle of the shop, when he looked up and realised there was no audience, he got up and just walked towards us. We also step over him when he’s wailing on the floor, ignoring his tantrums, and then giving him lots of cuddles when the spawn of satan has gone and our sweet little boy comes back to us.

We also try to be clear about what we’re doing each day, so that he knows what is going on. Our week-day routine is clear to him, but weekends ebb and flow with life, as I’m sure yours do too. So we tell him where we’re going, ask if he wants to walk or does he want the buggy and involve him in what is going on. I’ve worked with children all my adult life in one form or another, and I do think folks forget they are little people. We don’t like not knowing what is going on, or feeling unsure about what is expected of us, so why should a child be any different? As Peanut continues to push his boundaries, working out what he can and can’t do, where we’ll let him play and where we will ask him to stop, he is relaxing into his world, because he knows that the line he can go to does not move.

A friend of mine with three children shared this article on yelling at children tonight. It resonated so loudly, I’ve hammered this out instead of doing my ironing. If you’ve only got “loud”, no-one can hear you, let alone your child who’s looking to you for guidance on how to behave. We’re not going to be the only influence in Peanut’s life, but we want to be the best influence in his life.

The 3-Day Nanny sleep solution

I went past a discount bookstall in the mall near home and brought The 3-Day Nanny. Hubs and I both read it, thought it was worth a try, heck, anything would be better than getting up the 3-4 times a night we were doing with Peanut. It says to clear your diary for a few days, so we planned on the sleep solution being done over Easter, where I had six days out the office, what with an ADO, an extra grant day, and working from home on Wednesdays.

Before I start, Peanut has improved, but I cannot say that he’s sleeping through the night, because he isn’t. He will still get up and out of his room, but will also settle back down much more quickly, and without demanding a bottle to do it too.

However, shutting your toddler into his bedroom and standing outside for ten minutes at a time while he screams and sobs, is not conducive to a good relationship, in my opinion. She may well be a Norland Nanny, and heaven knows, there was a time when I contemplated training with them and becoming a Nanny myself, but she does not have children. Like Gina frickin Ford, because the best parenting ‘gurus’ are those who don’t have children.

Hubs and I have issues with controlled crying, we always have done, all it teaches is that no-one will come to help you when you cry. Remember all those horrific images of the Romanian orphanages? Watching those news reports with the voice-over telling me that the children don’t cry, because no-one takes any notice, showed me definitively, that leaving a child to cry is simply barbaric. There were times when I needed to get in the shower to get some peace from Peanut when he was a baby, but systematic neglect is something different. When does ignoring your child’s cries start and stop? When he cries for help because he’s tangled in something, he stops crying when he chokes? It can and has happened, it’s why blind chords should be secured to the wall.

I went to a seminar run by Pinky McKay, an Australian parenting expert who has five children, who said something very profound at the beginning of the session, ‘If it’s not respectful, don’t do it’. Shutting Peanut into his room scared him, he was running round it trying to get out, sobbing and screaming, almost vomiting with fear. I read the book, I said what I was told to say, stood outside so he couldn’t hear me, so he didn’t have an audience, and felt my heart break.

At 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am and finally 5:17am you try saying “What has happened here? You have left your lovely bed. Now it is the middle of the night. Let’s get you back.” to a screaming toddler and see how far you get. In theory, I shouldn’t have even known he woke up then, because his bedroom door should have been shut. After standing in the kitchen, listening to our son for nearly half an hour, we stopped after the second night.

We carried on with the reward chart, he’s so proud of his stickers he kept taking them off the paper to show us. We also brought this little clock to help with reminding him when it’s time to get up and when it’s time to stay in bed. The only problem is, obsessed as he is with monkeys, he wants to cuddle the clock, he was standing in his room trying to reach it, crying with frustration, he eventually brought it into me to show me that MoMo was still asleep, at 4am. How he reached it, how he didn’t drop it, I don’t know, but it’s now way out of his reach.

So sleeping through the night is a work in progress, but you know what? He’s happy, he’s healthy and after spending six clear days with him, he’s a joy to be around. Him waking up a couple of times a night is a small price to pay compared to some of the issues other parents have. I don’t give a shit anymore that he’s not sleeping through, it’s not a competition, give me the boy who says please and thank you when we take him on a train at the weekend any day.

On being a mama

This week has been hard work. Peanut’s not been well with a revolting viral infection, he’s been grumpy, clingy, tearful, the poor thing. On Monday, I had a meltdown, he was refusing all foods, only asking for bottles, was refusing his medicine and was generally being not-very-well and cross. When he turned his nose up at his one failsafe food, I lost it and threw the bowl in the sink. Cue spaghetti up the walls, all over the clean dishes and made a mess of the kitchen I’d spent an hour cleaning the day before. I then poured a large glass of wine, gulped some down and stood in the kitchen sobbing. Peanut looked at me from his high chair, eyes red-rimmed with his flu-y thing and watched me.

I’d like to say he did something extraordinary, but the poor boy was too worn out, I asked him if he’d like a bath, after about half an hour he was tucked up in bed and I hung the rest of the washing out, and took myself off to bed too.

Today, Thursday, he’s still not back at nursery, we’ve seen the GP twice (yesterday and today) as yesterday she was worried he might need to go to hospital if he was getting no better. Hubs and I have had a bit of a blue, I’m sick of children’s TV, well, TV in general, but Peanut has the attention span of a gnat and won’t settle to do anything. He also needed to be kept quiet, so the electronic baby-sitter went on. I’ve learnt that people who make children’s TV obviously DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN. Why else would they talk to them like they’re frickin idiots? Children are little people, I hate it when Peanut gets talked to in a baby-voice in real life about puppy-dogs, and pussy-cats, and bunny-wunnies, so you can imagine my ire as we watched program after program that showed children that if you make shitty choices, someone will wave a magic wand and make life all better for you. This is a whole other blog post (rant) though, and one from when I’ve got some distance from Iggle Piggle. In case you’re wondering, Peanut ejects DVDs, so putting one on is always problematical…

This blog post is about something I’ve noticed before, and will notice again and really saw lots of examples of today at the shops. The variety of people walking round with pre-school children.

There were stay-at-home mums, working mums like me, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, everyone. But I’d like you to concentrate on two distinct groups, the stay-at-homes and the working mums. Two groups who seem to be at logger-heads with each other, and for the life of me, I truly don’t know why. I am aware that some of the points I am about to raise here are highly controversial, but they’re my views as I’m typing this. If you think I’m wrong, please tell me, nicely, and give me reasons why so you can educate me, please do not bitch at me. Continue reading

On Post Natal Depression

About a month ago, I wrote on my other blog about PND and how lucky I had been thus far, particularly given my history with depression. However, I can feel the familiar cloud creeping up on me.

It feels like I’m looking over my shoulder waiting for the inevitable rainstorm. In front of me is all the washing (read life) I’m trying to manage, take in before the weather hits, behind me is a typhoon blowing up. The quicker I try to work, the more my fingers fumble, I drop clothes, pegs, eventually the whole basket. As always, it is a combination of things that have caught up on me, made me realise at this moment, I am not doing as well as I thought. My monthly cycle, always a trying time with those pesky hormones. That I’m not updating this blog enough. That I’m not emailing people back who’ve emailed me. That the baby while sleeping much better struggles with solids, like that is my fault. That I don’t appear to be getting anywhere.

I want to go back to work, I also knew before I left to start my maternity leave that I would want to go back to work soon after the beginning of 2012, it’s now the middle of February, and my tolerance of my own company 95% of my time is wearing thin. However, to get cover for my role, it had to be a year’s contracted position that we advertised. So while I’ve been wanting to get back behind my desk, I’ve been conscious of the revenue stream, been conscious that my incumbent is on a fixed term contract, so I was stuck. I put someone else, something else over my prior knowledge of what I would likely need, and I’ve come a cropper. I’m not blaming work, they’ve been wonderfully supportive, I’m blaming myself for not speaking up strongly enough about what I needed.

I’m blaming myself for not updating this blog more often, for not writing in Archie’s book more often. The memories that were so clear of when he was tiny, are now lost, diluted. I deliberately saved a precious book given to both Hubs and I to write in about his babyhood, and I didn’t do it.

This is what I do. When I fail to meet the standards that I set myself, I beat myself up. Most days I can get around it. Some days I can’t. This week is turning into one of those days, repeatedly.

Continue reading