Tag Archives: parenting

Oh the Guilt

Being a parent who works five days a week as well as doing far too much voluntary work in my free time is a tough job. Being a parent is a tough job anyway. I’ve been lucky in that I can work around it, and start really early every day, making it out of work in time for school pickup.

It’s exhausting.

Every Friday I leave work 30 minutes early to get home in time to pick H up from the childminder (which is a drive away), and then get onto a conference call which never lasts an hour (more like an hour and twenty minutes). With my working day starting at 8.30 and the call finishing at 6.20, half an hour for lunch and another hour getting home from work and set up again, I finally sit with H and give her a big cuddle. It’s a long, tiring day.

She doesn’t like it. I don’t like it either but it’s the compromise I’m having to make. It is now being suggested having the call on another day (or possibly in addition to). Which would involve more time working at home. I’m putting in a lot of extra hours. I’m often getting home and telling H I “just need to do some work stuff” and getting it done as quickly as possible.

It’s pretty tiring. Add to that PTA responsibilities. Oh, and Brownie ones too – I’m training to be a leader and our Brown Owl is leaving so I’ve taken on banking duties and helping out.

I’m not complaining. Neither is H, but that time we had which was ‘our’ time is being taken away from us, slowly, bit by bit.

I feel pretty guilty. This blog is updated once in a blue moon which is fine. The other blog is updated once or twice a week (I have three posts scheduled I need to take photos for this weekend) and things plod along nicely. When your seven year old tells you “I don’t like it when you have those phone calls as I don’t get any attention” and you know she has a point but you know the calls are important too… well, it’s hard. Where’s the balance?

I know, let’s throw another spanner in the works! Southern Rail. Or rather, Southern Fail. Strikes (which to be fair, seem to make my trains run on time), late trains and more. We’ve been driver-only on our trains for an age now, and tonight a fire alarm went off in one of the toilets. So the driver had to get out and walk along the platform to resolve the issue. We were at Mitcham Eastfields which I think is an unmanned station too.

So. We have a busy job, a busy home life, and a rail service that sometimes gets you from one to the other which is the worst performing one in the country. Were you to combine the poor service from the other companies together then I think Southern still come out on top. Really poor. The amount of times I’ve had to take the fast train to Sutton only to find all the other trains are cancelled and I need to get a cab to get H from school (which costs £10, none of which seemed to be reclaimable). So that’s more money. Oh, and train fares are going up next year too.

I’m not sure what exactly the multi-million pound train company who run the service poorly intend to do with this increase, maybe award themselves a bigger bonus?

So yes, when I get home and it’s just H and I, I want to sit with her on my knee and enjoy a cuddle and a chat about the day. But slowly all that is being dismantled.

Oh, and the biggie. She’s getting older so she doesn’t always need her mum. But she does need me sometimes.

So yes, there’s the guilt, the wish for more quality time and the fact that it isn’t forthcoming. That’s all. I haven’t worked out which bit to work on first.

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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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Sometimes It Hurts

It’s tough at times, this parenting lark. Words your child says which don’t mean what she means literally can break me, but you have to hold it together.

Yesterday she was pushed over by another child at school – it was an accident, these things happen. On the palm of her hand was some grit which had worked its way in. I tried to look at it to see if I could clean it, but she wouldn’t let me near it, too terrified of what might happen.

She was pretty tired too. When she wailed in despair

“my horrible useless body”

I had one of those moments of fear. She didn’t mean it in the same way she might if she was ten years older, and the only reason she said it was due to the grit in her hand (that’s perspective there). But still, hearing my four year old declaring her body to be horrible and useless hit a nerve. I have awful self esteem issues and I’m over conscious whenever she mentions anything to do with her body, so keen to keep her thinking she’s beautiful, normal and not horrible or useless in any way.

Because she’s a lovely perfect little girl. Every night I tell her this when she’s awake and again when she’s asleep. Sometimes she answers me in her sleep, and I like to think I’m making her think positive things in her dreams.

Then I have that moment of self-doubt. What if by telling her she’s lovely and perfect and beautiful (all truthful facts, quite frankly) I’m doing the extreme of someone telling her she’s horrible or useless? Maybe I should keep it to “Mummy’s Best Girl” ; which still sounds like the kind of thing my mum or dad said to the dogs.

She broke me last night. The tiredness and sadness and despair from her as we trundle on for one more week before Easter holidays start, mixed with tiredness from our busy lives and the fact I needed to use tweezers to try and get out the grit in her hand meant it didn’t work. That and just trying to keep her hand still was a task in itself. But it was those words “my horrible useless body” which broke me the most. The translation in her world is “the grit won’t come out”. To me it just sounds like myself.

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Those Freaking Fours

My mild-mannered little angel has, over the course of the last few weeks, turned into a little demon child.

When she’s angry, she’s very very angry. I have been sent to time out numerous times throughout the day; usually for telling her she can’t do something. (like walk along the edge of the settee. Seriously, how can that even be fun?)

When she’s happy, she’s very very happy. So far we’ve had loads of giggles and no hiccups with them. Part of me is hoping they’re gone now, but I know it just takes one particularly big giggle. Nonetheless I’m welcoming proper laughs, they’re the best.

(edited to add, no sooner had I posted this, and she had a huge giggle and hiccup, so we’re not over that just yet)

When she’s stompy, she’s very very stompy. Earlier today I had to remind her who was in charge. “Stomp one more time and I’m taking away your disco finger lights!” I threatened. She didn’t do it any more. So far the threat of removal of toys is working. Other things, lesser so.

When she’s cheeky, she’s very very cheeky. In the park today I suggested we go and look for acorns and conkers. We were both a bit bored of standing watching her climb (again!) on the frames, and wanted to do something as a family. So we both turned around and said “okay, we’re going now, see you later” to which she replied “okay, have a nice time!” and waved at us. Sigh. When she was three she’d have got down from that climbing frame and joined us. We need a new trick.

When she’s funny, she’s very very funny. As part of them learning to form letters correctly at school she has little rhymes about each one. D involves drawing a circle around a bottom on a dinosaur which makes her giggle every time like she’s said something naughty. It’s quite funny, in a very cutesy way. She’ll clamp her hand over her mouth, giggle, hunch up her shoulders and giggle again. I don’t want her to grow out of that.

When she’s ignoring us, she pretends we aren’t there. Toy removal and the threat of is working to some extent, but generally she’s got her own agenda now. It takes at least three asks before she responds. It’s like someone has flicked a switch on her. She’s getting very good at ignoring us now.

When she’s losing, she’s an appalling loser. We were at a party last weekend when she was one of the first out in Musical Bumps, crying in disappointment on my knee at her own failure to win. That was it really. After that she won the next two games and I’m not sure how much of that is due to everyone being too scared to tell her she was out. I am now going to teach the lesson that it’s okay for others to win and you not to. Wish me luck. I may need wine.

When she’s lovely, she’s very very lovely. That’s my girl. Full of kisses and cuddles and love for mummy and daddy. That’s how I’d like it to stay, but as she grows up I know it’s not going to be this way forever.

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Bargaining

H wasn’t listening on Saturday morning. I decided extreme measures were needed to make her listen.

‘If you don’t do this then the party is cancelled!’ I told her dramatically. She shrugged and Shaun did something she didn’t like.

‘Daddy! You did that, and I don’t like it. If you don’t do what I say, then (dramatic pause) THE PARTY IS CANCELLED!’

Shaun and I “okay!! Let’s cancel!”

H looked a little bit puzzled.

I sniggered.

I suspect this is the way it’s going to be until she’s sixteen, isn’t it?

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Quite Literally

H was lagging a bit, on purpose, tired but not really.

“oh pull your socks up!” I told her. (and as I said it I felt like I’d turned into my mum a little bit more)

She gazed down at her bare feet.

“mummy, I don’t have socks on?” she replied looking at me extremely puzzled.

 

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Shout Shout Let It All Out

Tonight I really shouted at H.

I feel kind of bad.

We never shout at her. I’ve always made a point of telling her off in a low voice or a cross one, but never shouting. Tonight was one of those wrong times – she was kicking her legs in anger while lying back on the chair, and missed kicking me in the head by a short distance. She wasn’t listening.

I saw red.

I gave her a right bollocking. She was really confused – we never shout at her. Ever.

In the grand scheme of things kicking me in the head isn’t a good thing, but it’s not bad behaviour either – it was frustration on her part. My part? It was the almost getting kicked in the head. Almost as soon as I’d shouted I had to lower my voice and be calm – which also was weird.

Anyway, once my voice calmed down she apologised without a prompt. I really don’t want to shout again, it isn’t fun. Even when we do time out it’s calm and firm and telling her why, even if she refuses to listen.

I think I’ll stick to Tears For Fears in future… not the weird rap at the end though.

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Reaching The Point Of No Return

My little baby, my little H. My little parrot who repeats everything she hears and more often than not gets it in the right context – though still hasn’t sworn.

“Oh GOD mummy, you’re so funny” she rolled around on the floor laughing tonight

“Daddy, I have a tickle disease” she told him, a repeat of a game they played over a week ago.

“Oh Daddy, you doughnut!” she exclaimed while I tried not to laugh too loudly trying to make sure she couldn’t see me.

We’ve been practising throwing and bowling balls indoors today, and every time I’d catch it, I’d get the “oooOOooh, well DONE mummy! You’re very good at this!” chat back.

It’s very cute, it’s very funny, and hopefully just a phase…

What this actually means is we now need to be careful of everything we say when she’s with us. So the amount of times I’d say something which she’d once laugh at and forget, are now an odd reality repeated back a week or so later. This overthinking lark is quite hard work you know.

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Three Year Old Talk

I’m noticing it more and more these days – H is so interested in everyone she meets. She’s either got a nugget of information to share with them (makes note to self, must make sure I behave or one day I’ll be a fact) or she asks them a question.

The first time we really saw her do it was at nursery – she was asking each of her friends what their favourite colour is, mainly so she could tell them hers is blue. Fair enough… I LOVE the innocence; how things like that are so important – but most important of all, she cares what colour they like too. Oh, and she’ll remember – she really pays attention.

Yesterday we bumped into a mum I know – H had classes with her girl a while back and I remembered her (she’s very confident and doesn’t have any worries about talking, whereas H is definitely so much more shy with it) – H called over to her “oh, did you know I’m three and a half now” she made sure the other little girl knew. I think she was impressed. H followed that asking her the colour question of course and they had a brief chat, both on the same wavelength.

Last weekend we were in Peacocks, and H and another girl of a similar age got chatting after discovering they had common ground as they both had Peppa Pig tops on. “We’ve got an iPad you know” said the girl all matter-of-fact to H. “we do too” she replied, “we’ve got two”. “Well mine is blue!” trumped the other girl. H, even though her favourite colour is blue answered back in the most competitive of tones “well ours is RED” in a game, set and match type of “this finishes HERE dude” kind of language.

Not to be outdone, the other girl then listed all her favourite games on her iPad. H responded with “well we have lots and lots of games DON’T WE MUMMY” where I shot a withering smile at the other mum, my sweet little competitive baby in full flow while inside I’m thinking “MAKE IT STOP” and not knowing how.

“OOH LOOK H!” I say, using the distraction technique as it sometimes works, although I’ve not actually got anything to distract her with. It seems to work. Phew. She looks to see what I’m pointing at. “errrr, a bird!” I improvise. We get ready to leave the shop, our purchases purchased and Shaun shooting me a withering look of why-do-we-have-to-go-shopping-on-a-weekend that he does.

“WE’VEGOTTWOPEPPAPIGGAMESANDABENANDHOLLYGAMEANDLOTSOFLETTERSGAMESTOO” yells H.

This really is the rest of my life, isn’t it? Sigh.

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Mirror Mirror

H has turned into mini-me.

She has a way with her words. She talks to me in a certain way. She wiggles one shoulder. She’ll say something in a dismissive manner.

I’m seeing myself every time.

One night she was playing up a little, so I came upstairs for a nosey.

“GO AWAY!” shouted Shaun, in a slightly irritated manner. Just like H does.

See, everything we do is copied and re-broadcast the way a three-year old sees it. It’s funny and slightly scary too.

On the plus side she now says ‘SPongebob’ rather than ‘SQUongebob’ – but even that is kind of scary. She’s watching OUR cartoons. Way back when Shaun and I got married I joked about when we had children, the child would be sat reading, telling mummy and daddy to stop watching them. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll be getting the Powerpuff Girls DVDs out. She loves the Rugrats, even though I remember weekend mornings living in Bristol, watching them on tv and finding them some kind of weird trippy cartoon about children (which I don’t see now, or maybe we’re watching modern Rugrats?).

It’s all quite bizarre. In a good way.

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