Challenges

“Mummy, if you don’t do this, I won’t tell you ‘I Love You’ any more”

(I tricked her into saying it a minute later)

“I am VERY cross with Daddy as he didn’t let me do what I was doing. I’m never helping him make my birthday cake again!!!!”

(like she’ll remember?)

“If you don’t let me go, I’m going to run away from home!”

(the front door was locked, so she was going nowhere. She stomped around the back yard instead, huffing and puffing)

“RIGHT. I am going to live in Fredrina’s house and I’m NEVER EVER COMING HOME”

(Fredrina is her imaginary friend, her home is under the bed. She took a blanket)

“I am never talking to you EVER AGAIN”

(I asked if she was hungry. She replied in the positive. I pointed out she had spoken to me)

“I don’t want to eat EVER AGAIN”

(“okay, I’m going to have a chocolate cookie now, see you later” “ohh mummy let me have one please!”)

“I am never cuddling you again, you have been so naughty and made me cross!”

(she was having a cuddle while telling me this)

 

I think the easiest thing to say about having a five year old girl is how challenging they become. There’s so much more fighting to get things done, rather than being able to count to three and she’d be there by two-and-three-quarters. “Clean your teeth!” “but it’s boring” sort of fights, where you know it’s only going to get worse, but it’s just getting it done.  She’s becoming less obedient while still being very obedient towards people in authority.

Threats to run away are now a reality, even if she won’t go through with them. I suspect most five year olds threaten this. Fortunately she won’t run away, though she can get out if she really wanted to. Stranger Danger is on the agenda as ever.

But then we had a schoolfriend over yesterday, the girls all dressed up as Elsa, Anna and Rapunzel and played so nicely – while there’s an angry side coming out, the little girl who suddenly started talking with an American accent (cheers, Disney) just enjoys being around people too.

I still enjoy immensely being around H too. We had a lovely night in together last night, in our pyjamas with home-made pizza watching ‘Frozen’ while Shaun went out to a gig. I should have gone to the gig the night before but on our trip last weekend to the British Museum I felt my back move and I had a very little panic attack on the tube – helped mainly by being little thanks to being with Shaun. On my own I can’t risk that happening again. If it means I miss things, that’s the way it goes. So I missed out, but I’m not gutted, fortunately. I had a super night with my girl and she was amazingly good and well behaved. It was only this morning we got the angry back again.

I pointed out that I know she’s cross about things, but just explaining to us what is wrong would be much quicker, and it isn’t like she’s short on words to be able to say how she feels. She just looked angry at that too… you can’t win really.

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We Saw The Mummies

It was excellent, H really enjoyed it and found it interesting, and any fears we had about it being age-appropriate were wrong. It was really well presented, the lives of the eight mummies was interesting, and H hasn’t had nightmares.

I think I need to look at myself when I’m looking at these things – she found it fascinating, we all did. We popped to see the Rosetta Stone and the Cleopatra mummy too while we were there, and talked about the bodies in the Egyptian section and what little we knew about them.

I was kind of left wondering how that person would have felt, living however many thousands of years ago, and now they’re an exhibition in a museum with people working out details about their lives via CT scans. It’s kind of odd. I mean, yes, they won’t have those thoughts, but it’s still kind of oddly fascinating how someone’s previous life can be interesting to our existing lives, when the only reason they’re there could be due to them having lots of money so they were wealthy enough to be mummified.

So in a couple of thousand years when someone finds a computer, enables it to work and finds all the bazillions of blogs out there and comments on how ordinary our lives were back in 2014, I’d have to agree. Ordinary, but interesting. Maybe.

Every Time I Try To Explain…

I open my big gob and manage to just tell the truth. I can’t lie, this is a fact. I tend to hide from people when I don’t want to lie, though I have never gone as far as crawling under a table, I don’t think.

However, when you have a five year old who is being given the chance to decide what she would like to read, sometimes questions HAVE to be answered truthfully whether you like it or not.

For example, this week when she chose a book about Egyptian Mummies. Now, firstly, I love that H is choosing less storybooks and more factual books as it’s kind of interesting for me too – I don’t remember school being like this, so when she asks me awkward questions we can read it together and my memory is jogged.

“Mummy, why are they called Mummies?” “What’s in there?” “How did they get there?” were some of the questions. She carefully read the book and answered the activities offered, while I sat and explained the choices people can have when they die (which quite frankly wasn’t something I was considering going through with her at this point in time). I told her Grandad Mike was cremated, that the graveyards she has seen and walked through have people buried deep in them, and that Egyptian Mummies were just bandaged up well and put into the nice coffins, then put into the pyramids.

Which is pretty much what her book said. Oh, and it said the Egyptians cut their vital organs out too. Yes, I truthfully explained that too.

“How did they die?” was the next one, to which I had no reply. We talked about my dad and how we got his ashes and scattered them in a place where he would be happy, and how Egyptians who went through the process of mummification had plenty of money to then be placed into a pyramid. My dad would be proud of me I think – I remember having to record a programme to do with an Egyptian Pyramid excavation several years ago, and I think I kind of got it right… I was never much good at all this.

But then I found an exhibition at the British Museum – http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/ancient_lives.aspx which kind of goes through the kind of things she’s asking. I know you don’t see anything horrible, but you do see results of CT scans they’ve done of the mummies – so I’m sitting on the fence unsure whether it’ll be suitable for H or will just freak her out with her only just being five, and the website doesn’t indicate age suitability. I can get a reduction on the exhibition as I have a Waterstones card, so we wouldn’t be paying full price – and it’s only on until November, so it’s something we need to do sooner than later. I think it’ll be quite fascinating for H – in the last week we’ve looked at some of my x-rays (she didn’t like that as it was me), as well as gone through things on the Human Body app for most of his year.

We don’t get into London very much, but this seems too good an opportunity to miss. What to do?

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Dear H,

It has been a while since I’ve written you a letter online. One you’ll maybe never read. That’s okay, as these days all I have to do is type on the computer and you read every single word and ask me why I’m telling someone that – and you’re right, why am I?

You are doing me so proud, my little girl. So very very proud. Tonight we should have had football but I knew you weren’t happy, and to be honest, I quite fancied a week off too. But I knew you weren’t happy as your friends weren’t there any more.

I don’t like seeing you cry when you get overwhelmed by something. I know how capable you are of doing things and that you get there – but that you’re still a little girl and it takes a lot of courage to do things. I know it will come. When it was register time at Rainbows and you clammed up and cried, I felt so much for you. I know things will be okay.

But I have to push you that little bit, as this is life now – pushing you that little bit more beyond your comfort zone, but making sure you know I’m always here for you. Because I am. Even when I’m not actually there, I’m here. Because that’s the unwritten, unspoken rule. We just are.

Every morning I tell you I love you, and every evening I do the same. We cuddle, we’re happy and every day faces new challenges – be they angry ones, happy ones, silly ones, sad ones. Every day stays unpredictable and fun and I love being around you as you grow and learn and become even more aware of everything around you, especially now words are a part of everything.

You will still do your homework though. Oh yes, no getting out of that. You might think I’m a soft touch after a cuddle and being told how lovely I am, but the work still needs to be done. I’m going to make sure you don’t think of homework the same way I did – something I grew to hate doing. I want it to be fun and something we can talk about.

Last month a whole new world opened up for you when we went to Australia. You met your Great Nanna, your Nanna and Pop, plus many uncles, aunties and cousins you don’t remember. Seeing this world open up and how welcomed you were to the family (not that we expected anything else) has changed a lot of things for daddy and I. But we haven’t made any plans. But it has changed things.

You coped with the travelling both ways so amazingly – 19 hours there and 22 back – though let’s face it, Changi Airport in Singapore having a soft play area was probably the best thing ever (for you). Any fears I had about how you’d get on were gone quickly – you got on with it, and I think that sums you up so well. You do just get on with things when you’re comfortable with them – be that school, swimming, football – even Rainbows will get there.

You have a wonderful sense of humour and you are a delight to be around. Please don’t change too much. I know you won’t be my little girl forever, but you are right now and I want to bottle it up and keep some for the future when you’ll grow up, when you become my little heartbreaker. You make me laugh, cry, you keep me puzzled, amused, confused, happy and proud. A wonderful mixture of everything, and I love you so much.

love,

mummy x

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Plans!

I have a great plan from the List of Stuff which I think is do-able.

I finish work for the year around the 17th December, and H finishes on the 19th. This leaves the following week pretty free – I checked online and there are reasonably priced tickets available for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!!

Seeing as we’re not going to a pantomime this year we may as well make it special for H and do something. This is perfect – and I think she’ll love it. I wanted to see it, and had to turn down a ticket for the West End Premiere a few months ago which was annoying.

This also leaves open the chance of getting a cheap day return to York in January and taking H to the York Pantomime, something she absolutely HAS to experience. It has been several years since I’ve been, and I’m letting the home side down.

We’ve bought our tickets for Wembley to watch England Ladies play Germany in November, so that’s Wembley ticked off – I’m pleased with that one!

So that’s three down, however many others left to go….

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You Know Your Child is Back At School When….

Matalan Uniform

1. They’re horribly upset they didn’t get into the Recorder After School Club

2. But they then forget to tell you they’re one of the class Eco Warriors until they’re about to go to sleep, several hours later

3. They can’t tell you what they’ve done each day

4. Until they’re sat with a friend from another school and they’re comparing their days

5. They ask on a Tuesday “is it the weekend yet?” and their shoulders slump in defeat when they find out it isn’t.

6. They will ask you questions like “is it true that people dig up their pets when they bury them in the garden and they move house?” and you wonder what on EARTH they’ve learnt that day. (another child took in a cat skull)

7. You start getting invites to playdates and for tea again after a REALLY quiet summer (apart from going to Australia).

8. Your child doesn’t stop singing ‘Let It Go’ for most of the time wherever she is, but refuses to sign up for choir as she’s scared of singing.

9. While waiting with the other parents, you’re hopeful the classroom doors will open first for collecting your child, but yet again they’re last!

10. You’re already planning ahead for when the class toy comes home for the weekend, so you are doing the most boring things possible so we don’t all try to outdo each other. We’re going to out-boring each other.

11. Home Learning is fun! As is reading, more reading, Bug Club, more Bug Club, sleeping and eating chocolate.

12. They talk in a silly voice and you realise that ALL five year olds she hangs out with have the same silly voice, like it’s an unwritten law of being at school together.

13. You get a bazillion After School Club offers and they’re all on days you have activities, especially Monday. Also, you get more club offers in a week than in Reception for a whole year. Not that I’m complaining.

14. Your child’s uniform has suddenly got smaller. Much smaller. Like 2cm around the bottom of the trousers smaller.

15. The commute to work is full of other people’s children again and you can’t get a seat.

16. You start talking about The Golden Rules again.

17. Your diary suddenly gets full of dates, most of which you can’t actually get to.

18. You get a letter informing you of a meeting two working days later which again you can’t get to.

19. You vow not to get too excited every time your child goes up a book band, and within a week they do and you get too excited and plaster it all over Facebook.

20. At 2.10 you leave work, horribly excited to see your child again and spend a bit of time with them. That’s my favourite bit of all.

21. You realise it is only a year before you need to put in an application for Junior School. Annoying.

 

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A New Car Stereo

We bought a new car stereo today. Earlier this year our battery died, and rather than just get the code and start it again (the one we’ve been provided with doesn’t work), we left it. Then we got a bit fed up.

Then we had no money.

Then Shaun remembered we have a stash of Love 2 Shop vouchers, so browsed the Halfords online catalogue, found one he liked and bought it this morning. So really, we got a new car radio for free! We have digital radio (so clear!), a CD player (Shaun brought out the Annie Soundtrack?!) and a USB port to plug in our iPods (first song on H’s iPod – the Annie Soundtrack).

new car radio

The most annoying thing about the radio so far seems to be how it loves to promote what it’s capable of from time to time. Being a nervous driver at times, when lights flash I’m immediately directed to them, so found myself watching the display. We’ll work on how to get rid of that next…

Anyway, we now have music again! So much so we had the windows down in the car and Radio 2 on while driving through Banstead. Then I realised the radio was playing ‘I Just Don’t Have the Heart’ by Cliff Richard and quickly switched to 6 Music, hoping my indie cred was intact.

I also found some great eighties songs I’d put on H’s iPod in case of emergency, so got to drive around to ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ by Heaven 17, ‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde and ‘Pop Muzik’ by M.

I think it’s safe to say I’m loving having some noise in the car again – plus it masks all the bumps and rattles our poor old car makes….

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Back to Reality

School started back this week, after two inset days on Monday and Tuesday. H is now in Year 1, and everything is fine. She’s happy and getting on with it.

Wednesday was her swimming lesson – her teacher has started to take the class into the main pool at the end of the lesson to practice jumping in there (as it is deeper) and swimming to the side. While H still needs some work doing front crawl, she’s doing it perfectly on her back – she jumped in (which looked more like a star jump) and got straight onto her back and swam to the end. I’m impressed – I know she’s almost there, but her teacher giving all the children time to do it is brilliant. There are two classes working towards Stage 2, and only ours goes in the big pool. Her teacher thinks that by October half term she’ll be ready to move up – as well some of her friends in the same group, which is fantastic. The only downside is that her teacher doesn’t teach Stage 2, so we’d be moving into new territory – that and the teacher doesn’t go in the pool with them any more. I’m still getting my head around it thanks to only learning to swim once I was seven, whereas H is five.

She starts Rainbows in a couple of weeks, something she’s excited and worried about in equal parts. I know she’ll have a brilliant time and I’m hoping it will help with her confidence being around other children that aren’t just the ones she goes to school with. Add to that our neighbour goes to the same group, and I know she’ll be fine. It’s just a big step into another new thing.

The summer is over then, Australia been and gone and we’re settling back to normality again. I’ve really enjoyed our family time together and I’m craving more. Good job we’ve got plans for half term! I miss my little girl – she’s such fun to be around and has a brilliant sense of humour which comes out more every time we chat. She’s very loving and caring – yesterday when I felt unwell she brought me fruit (bless!) and patted my back as it was sore – it’s the little things, but I love her caring nature.

List Of Stuff

So working on the assumption that we’ll be emigrating in the next five years (I suspect it will be sooner), I need to do a list of things we need to do before we leave Europe. This is important stuff here, nothing too frivolous.

1. Go to Utrecht to the Dick Bruna Museum (visiting Amsterdam too and staying with friends nearby – looks good for 2015)

2. Take H to Brussels

3. Go to Paris (so we can use our Guy Fox Paris map that we recently backed on Kickstarter) and go to the amazing salad place – if it’s still there – in Montmartre.

4. Take H to a gig (child-appropriate)

5. Go to Camp Bestival next year

6. H needs to learn all of ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana as that is the rule if she owns a band t-shirt

7. Take H to Salzburg to do all the Sound of Music stuff there. Cultured, I know. I’ve done it and loved it, and I know she will.

8. Take H to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to watch a play

9. Take H to a West End musical

10. Go to Berlin again

11. Take the Eurostar.

12. Get a Merlin pass next year in the sale and get our money’s worth. (and go to Chessington for the first time)

13. Go to Wembley

14. Take H to the York Panto with Berwick Kaler

 

That’s a good list for starters, and all are do-able, not too tricky. This is our List Of Stuff.

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Jetlag – A Survival Guide

Jetlag sucks. Okay, it isn’t life threatening or anything, but it’s still a pain and can be quite inconvenient. If you have felt the floor move beneath you when it isn’t, then welcome. Here’s my survival guide:

1. Sleep.

2. Eye masks

3. Have a child that sleeps.

4. Do not drink more than two coffees and have them both with breakfast

5. Drink lots of water

6. Someone else can do the driving unless you’re up to it.

7. Chocolate. Actually, this might not help at all, but it’s nice to have. Wine too. Actually, wine makes me feel sleepy.

If any of these are missing it could all go awry. That or your child that sleeps wakes up at the same time as you too, so you don’t go to sleep but they do, and you fear moving to get some space to sleep in case you wake them up.

Jetlag normally takes a week to sort itself out with me, yet on the way out to Australia it took three days. This is a record, considering it takes me a week to adjust when the clocks change in the UK and that’s only an hour.

Eye masks help block out bright mornings. You might look ridiculous with one on, but who cares? If it gives you an extra hour or two of zz’s then so what.

Having a child that sleeps helps a lot. Having a child that sleeps while resting her legs across you, lesser so. I didn’t get a lot of sleep on the flight either way. Mind, she didn’t either when she decided to wake up and chat to me about what she was watching on the in-flight entertainment. When we got home we both fell asleep two nights in a row at 7.30, and slept through until 5.30am. (apart from the obligatory 2am toilet call for me, my body thinking it was breakfast time)

She looked cool in her Toy Story eye mask as well. I might steal it. That’s not a bad thing is it?

On returning to the UK, do not under any circumstances whatsoever sleep through the day. There’s no point, if you’re like me then you’ll never sleep at night. Instead, walk around like a zombie and forget everything you set out to do. Thank the gods of tv programmes that you left the V+ box on so you have three episodes of The Great British Bake Off to watch, while your child recreates the recipes in Play Doh. Coffee is also out. One cup is allowed first thing, but after that it’s water all the way, baby.

The exception to that is work when you absolutely must have four coffees in quick succession to get through the day, as well as an additional one in the afternoon which will also prevent a 7.30 bedtime. It also prevents a midnight bedtime, but who’s keeping check?

When the floor starts to move beneath you but you’re not actually moving, it’s okay! It’s just bedtime – at 2pm in the afternoon. Jetlag is also dealt with better if you know how to count. Seven is an awkward number but as long as you think 24 hour it’s manageable. So when someone chats to you about work things you’ve missed and you find yourself responding to what they said (in your head) over an hour later on the train home, don’t worry, it’s just jetlag.

Oh, and to help keep the jetlag at bay, make sure to make several appointments where people have to deliver or pick up things – like a three seater settee – and make sure you stand in the doorway blocking it as they try to take it out, because you’re ‘holding the door’ which of course is completely pointless and only made sense because you’re tired. Make sure to talk to the Ocado man about how you’ve only just got home from your holidays today and then nod off when he tells you about somewhere hot he used to live because you only talked to him to stay awake and now he wants to have a conversation and it’s the last thing you can face.

Schedule blog posts. That way you can completely confuse yourself, when you check your blog the next day and say “did I really post this?!” without having any recollection of having done so at that time. Extra bonus point if you schedule it for the time you’d be getting on the train.

Also, try to pay for shopping with your Oyster card.

I think things may get back to normal next week.. until then, I read vitamin c helps so I think a large vodka and orange is on the cards. We have chocolate. We have a giant chocolate Australia. It’s like it was made for nights like tonight.

Chocolate Australia

One surefire way to make yourself snap out of it is when you realise your child is back at school next week and has grown 2cm since the end of term and that she needs new clothes. Seriously, she’s 122cm now, how did that happen?!

 

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