Friday 29 November 2013


... that my children are still cute. 

Finally! Some photos that were not taken on my phone.

Moments like this are basically why I wanted to be a parent. It's 11am on aTuesday, and she's wearing her pyjamas, a gold medal and a box on her head. Because of course she is. 

Also moments like this. They went through a brief period of being obsessed with 'wotzing'. It was hilarious. 

This is the picture I look at when I'm reminding myself that actually, my children are not totally devoid of empathy. They are giving their toys medicine to help them feel better. And thank goodness for that.

At the end of September, two of our good friends got married. Pink and Blue were flowergirl and flowerboy. I possibly may have begged shamelessly for this to be the case; I'm admitting to nothing.  I also volunteered to do the photos, which was, frankly, dumb. For future reference - Mother Of The Flower Children is ENOUGH to do on one day. 

I only had to take about fourteen leaving-the-house shots to get one where they are both semi-smiling. 

So big / still so little. 
Face? What face? This is my everyday face.

In fact, we should probably both be models. 

Control your emotions, Pink. 
No, really. 
Control them. 
There's a reason that kissing should be left until we are much, much older. And then not with each other. 
This is probably my favourite photo of them all day. It's just a shame the lady they are snuggling is not me. 
My choices are this one, where  they are clearly thinking we could not possibly be more bored, Mummy

Or this one, where I appear to be part hammerhead shark. Oh well. 

Pink is going through a phase of being really, really into weddings. 
I'm sure the whole 'flowergirl' experience is part of the reason, of course, 

but a few days ago, she was doing something random like eating her dinner when she looked up at me, sighed, and out of the blue said Oh mummy, I am going to be SUCH a beautiful bride. 
And I just had to say Yes, Pink, I think you probably will'.

Another day though - also at random - she looked at me and said Mummy, I do not think that I am very keen on getting married. And we talked about how she doesn't have to get married, and not everybody gets married, and she should only get married if she really, really wants to. 

And she paused for a while and then said I just think that I want to live with Blue for all of the days. 

And if every day was like this, who could blame her? 

Tuesday 19 November 2013

On Hurled Insults

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I like to make sweeping generalisations. Or, to put it another way, I never do anything other than make sweeping generalisations all of the time. With that in mind: 

I just cannot stand the way my children are so consistently negative about everything, always. 

Is this really true? I don't know, but it feels true. I remember reading something once -  I can't remember where I read it, but it said something like* negative feedback makes ten times as much of an impression on your brain as positive feedback. The idea is that you aren't supposed to say anything negative to someone until you've said at least ten positive things. I'm pretty sure that my children did not get that memo. Instead: 

On being asked to set the table, one of my children cries and said Why do I have to ALWAYS set the table for ALL of the days? as if I'm running some kind of table-setting child-labour sweatshop. All day, it's Yuck, I hate soup / I don't like that place / I don't like these people / You are telling me off! **/ I do'nt like to do that / I don't want to read / DO IT FASTER!/ She is hitting me / He is biting me /I hate potatoes /  I do not love you / You forgot the cups, Mummy / I hate bread / and so on. (And on and on and on).***

One of my children hisses like a snake when they are angry; the other screeches like a cat , and right now it's like living in a zoo. Nothing I can do is right, and it's is getting me down. It feels like there is a lot of drama in our house at the moment, a lot of drama and anger radiating at me from approximately the level of my elbows. Often it's anger about things I have no control over (the weather; how long it takes the laptop to fire up) and I feel battered and bruised. 

It drives me crazy, and my job, of course, is to do the opposite of be crazy. Instead: 

That's very good hopping / I can see you running / What fast running! / You are so gentle with the cat / I love to listen to you sing / You are growing every day / Well done for being kind to your sister.  So much positive feedback. It's everything short of I love the way you breathe, honey.  (And I do love the way they breathe, especially when they are asleep). There are so many lovely things about them. There are so many positive things to say. 

The problem is that they are going through a stage of often not being very nice****.  
we have no idea what she is talking about! We are freaking adorable!

I was making their breakfast this morning and Blue was losing his little tiny mind at me about something trivial. He was hissing at me (okay, he's the snake) and I felt this massive surge of anger well up within me.  How dare you I thought. You want me to be kind to you and I've just got nothing left. You've used it all up. You've sucked it all away. You're awful to me - you insult me, you hit me, you yell at me, you bite me and you still need me to love you. You hurl insults at me, and expect kindness in return. 

And then I realised exactly what I'd unconsciously quoted - When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. (That's the apostle Peter, talking about Jesus in 1 Peter 2). What I was really thinking, when I was angry with my son, was stop expecting me to act like Jesus. 

I am not very good at being like Jesus. 

Here's why I don't always like being a mother very much: they need me to be like Jesus, for all of the days. I cant' do it, of course - I need grace upon grace upon grace. Fortunately, I know a person who's giving that out for free*****. 

One good thing about this parenting gig - it sure does keep you humble. 

Next episode will be cute pictures, I promise.

*Pretty sure that's the standard format for references now. It's 2013, people!  

**I wasn't.

***If I had a dollar for every time I've said Let's try that again with respect!,  a la Karyn Purvis,  I'd have, well, an awful lot of money - although it turns out it's pretty hard to direct a child to say 'I don't love you' with respect. 

***** I love them to the moon and back, obviously, but surely I'm not the only one who feels this way about my kids sometimes? 

*****That's Jesus again, in case you were wondering. 

Monday 11 November 2013

Hard Thanks

Things have been hard around here, and I find myself sitting at my desk chair, not quite knowing where to start with it all. There's one question that keeps going around and around in my mind, and that's when do you know for sure that your child is going to need ..more...than the other kids their age? At what point do you accept that you're going to spend their whole school career having 'special meetings' with their teachers?  

It's one thing to wonder, and another thing to know. At some point you look at them and say 'okay, this isn't normal anymore'. I think I've just reached this point with my dear little boy, and it's hurting. Please don't tell me everything is going to be okay, because either I will want to scratch your eyes out or I will cry, and I hate crying, and I bet you would hate having your eyes scratched out too.

I don't really have the words to write about any of that properly yet, so how about I just tell you a story instead; something that  happened last week. This is where it happened: 

You should all move here. It's super pretty. Not. 

Pink, Blue and I were walking to the park. Not a great morning- I can't remember why, but I'd lay money on someone refusing to get dressed and someone else feeling aggrieved about the colour of their toothbrush, probably. We'd finally made it out the door, on time, (miraculously) and were scurrying along when Pink fell over. She started screeching, and I turned to comfort her. As I knelt next to her, she screamed my pony ball, my pony ball and I realised that she wasn't yelling because she was hurt, she was yelling because the off-brand not-quite-my-little-pony ball she had been carrying was rolling towards the road. 

I turned around to see the ball and instead I saw Blue chasing it, ready to dive headfirst into four busy lanes of traffic. 

This is maybe the first time that I have really felt time freeze, as I saw him running towards that road and I sprinted - far faster than I knew I could - to stop him. Later I looked back and saw that my handbag had been thrown onto the pavement and was sitting there upside down, the DSLR inside somehow unbroken. I have no memory of sloughing it off but I must have, same as I must have shoved Pink back to the ground to stop her following me.  
I caught him, just.   This left the ball in the middle of the road, and Blue screaming the pony ball, mummy, let me go, I need to get the pony ball while I screamed stop, get back, get back!   He tried to wrest himself free of my grip and throw himself back towards the hurtling traffic. 

I had no idea what to do. In the end, after checking for a space in the cars, ran into the road to get the pony ball, accompanied by the wailing of children who aren't worried about my safety but worried I might not be quick enough to save their toy.  Once I had it back, they were nearly calm enough to listen to me yell at them. (Normally, I try not to yell, but if they run on the road I am going to yell at them as loudly as I can manage. Yelling is scary and evil, etc, but if they run on the road, I want them to be terrified. I want them to associate that action with every sort of fear and bad emotion they can muster, because however much it is it will never be enough). 

If the ball gets squished, we will get a new ball, I yelled.  If Blue gets squished, we cannot get a new Blue. Pink kept on crying. We can't get a new pony ball! She wailed. There was only one pony ball at the shop! Was there? I have no idea. How can she even be thinking about the pony ball? Her brother nearly got run over. But he was crying too. The pony ball nearly got squiiiiiished!, he said again, and couldn't quite believe I wasn't really entering into his sadness. They cried and cried. I cried and cried too, not just because of the near miss but because he would clearly do it again, given the chance.

They have no idea how fragile their little bodies are; no idea how much more precious they are than a plastic ball. They chase after the wrong things, even when it could destroy them. Sort of reminds me of someone else I know.

The whole thing was horrible. A man came out of a cafe and asked me if I was okay, and I said yes but this was a lie. By the time I got to the park I was a mess, and I keep thinking about what nearly happened and how terrifying it was. Yet in the middle of everything that is hard right now, this was a sharp reminder that, in an instant, everything could change. In a way, it reminds me just how idyllic everything is right now, at least on paper, even when it doesn't quite feel that way. 

In an instant, everything could change. But that day, they didn't. And I'm thankful. I am thankful for red traffic lights that held the cars just feet away from the part of the road my boy was trying to run onto. And I'm thankful for the newly-widened pavement that gave me extra inches to grab the hood of his jacket and tackle him to the ground. Most of all, of course, I'm thankful for these two precious, complicated, difficult, awful, wonderful kids that I still - after four years - get to call mine.