Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Things you only know as a parent

Looking back over the last 17 months, I am amazed, and rather proud, of the steep learning curve I have been steadily climbing. I am now an expert when it comes to bodily functions (my son's that is - I mastered mine some time ago you'll be pleased to hear). I know how to deal with a tantrum (ignore and distract) and I can spot a potential hazard at ten paces. Unfortunately, I still haven't perfected grabbing the sick bowl in time but I'm working on it.
Curious, I asked my fellow mummy friends what they had learnt since becoming parents. It was a good conversation starter and here is a selection of mine and theirs. Feel free to add:
- You must remain serious while discipline is being dolled out to a friend's child. Trying to instill morals in the next generation is made all the harder if your fellow adults stand around sniggering at their antics, showing them that, despite what mummy says, shoving pebbles down next door neighbour's car exhaust is in fact a good idea.
- Never throw away birthday cards. At the moment we use them as a cheap version of flash cards but I am sure they will come in handy when cutting and glueing becoming a favourite passtime.
- However horrendous the graze might look, it will disappear in a few days with no visible after effects. The little man had an awful one between his eyes which twisted my stomach with worry and regret every time he looked at me. Within a week I couldn't even see where it was.
- Be careful how you word instructions. When you say "Don't crayon on the wall" all they hear is "crayon" and "wall" then the idea is planted.
- A new baby number two might be little and sweet but visitors should withhold any loud cooing until suitable fuss has been made of the older sibling first. Although we still have just the one, I couldn't bear the thought of him feeling left out even for a second when the pitter patter of more tiny feet come along.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Separation anxiety? He's not the only one

I was in a London pub and two sips into the first drink of the evening when I got the call. The little man had woken up from his sleep and was crying and no amount of coaxing from his grandparents would soothe him. He was inconsolable, I could hear it from the other end of the phone as my mother-in-law tried to make herself heard over his screaming. And there I was, a walk, tube and train ride between us. He needed his mummy and he couldn't have her. It was awful.
He had been going through a clingy stage - only really wanting me to hold him and even getting upset when I left a room - so I knew there was going to be trouble and a small knot placed itself firmly in the base of my stomach as we left him napping, knowing that when he woke and looked for me I wouldn't be there. 
As it happened, it was mostly one of those grumpy cries we all feel like having when we wake up and haven't quite had enough sleep, only accentuated by his parents' absence. I advised setting him in front of the TV or playing a CD to distract him from his mood and after a nervous wait, while I pondered whether to start making for home, I got a text to say he seemed better. I wasn't able to relax until I got a final message to say he was tucked up in bed; only then did I head to the bar and got myself a drink - large please barman.
I have been very lucky that I haven't had to use a child minder and the one-day a week I do work is spent at my parents' where he is able to come into the office, show me his favourite toy cow and leave, happy in the knowledge I am there. As he is mostly with me, I have avoided the distress many of my friends have described when leaving their babies with a child minder for the first time, but I do ask myself would he be so clingy if I had done the same? Whether it is better for children to always be with their mothers in the first few years or to learn independence and social skills at a nursery or childminders, it is difficult to say and I can see advantages to both. I know leaving him is a hurdle I will have to face and that it will probably be harder for me than him. Clearly separation anxiety can work both ways and I have been holding him a little tighter ever since while I still can.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Children - the ultimate traitors

Since moving back to my hometown, I have picked up with some of my old musician friends and we have even gone so far as to form a string quartet. I know, very posh. We recently played at a wedding fayre and, in our break between sets we were sat in a back room, munching sandwiches while sharing amusing anecdotes, mostly about our children.
Now I don't have that many, with the little man being fairly new and all that, but our cellist, who has three strapping teenagers, has stories aplenty which she was happy to share. Here's one I just had to tell you.
When her daughter was younger, pre-school at least she remembers, she was having a particularly fiesty tantrum and her frazzled mother decided to plonk her on the naughty step at the bottom of their stairs for some much-needed intraspection on her behaviour. While mummy calmed down in another room, she presumed that her little darling was doing the same. When, a few minutes later, she returned to the hall to accept the humble apology that was no doubt waiting for her, she found her daughter crouched over the letter box, her fingers prising open the flap while shouting "Please help me, my mummy beats me"  to anyone passing. Now that deserves an Oscar doesn't it?
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