musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Eldest… — January 28, 2018

Eldest…

So there is likely to follow an unashamedly schmaltzy and over the top piece about my son. I am allowed. Just this once.

Soon my first born son turns 14. In fact next Tuesday.

So what can I say about Eldest?

That he is becoming a lovely young man. Standing nearly six feet tall. Strong and handsome. And that this is hard to believe. It seems like yesterday that he was a babe in my arms. A 14 month old learning to walk with a sock in his mouth. A toddler with a sturdy, determined gait caring for his new brother. A pre schooler quiet and shy. A small boy learning to ride a bike and play football, playing his first notes on the piano, making friends, learning to read and write. A ten year old struck down by appendicitis. A young man changing schools and bravely starting over.

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That he is empathic and friendly, unhappy when anyone is left out, able to get along with different ‘sets’ of friends.

That despite the onslaught of hormones and puberty he has on the whole remained respectful and kind and fun to spend time with.

That he is still a mummy’s boy. Happy to have a kiss goodbye (surreptitiously) in the school car park. Snuggle on the sofa and accept bedtime hugs.

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That he likes Vera. And Batman. And Arrow. And will bore to death anyone who happens to be in ear shot about Marvel films.

That he is a fiercely loyal sibling. Despite the usual fracas and bickering underneath he ‘gets’ his brother and sister. He coaches his sister in football. Wrestles with his brother. Bosses them around far too much. Loves them.

That he loves history. Has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the World Wars. Likes museums and art galleries.

That he is a dedicated and talented musician. Playing the cello with feeling and passion. Practising every day to meet his own very high standards. Playing in groups and performing in shows despite crippling nerves.

That he is his own worst critic. Nothing is ever ‘good enough’.

That he has always been the inventor of games and the ringleader in playtime. From home made trebuchets, to duvet surfing, to extreme hot wheels.

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That he reminds me of me.

That he likes to cook. Although time does not allow this as much as it should. That we still laugh about the carrot and orange soup and the lemon ‘flop’ meringue pie.

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That he has an amazing work ethic. In every area of life. Always tries his best. Listens and learns.

That he is an artist. With creative ideas and talent to match. Taking himself upstairs to draw and producing art to be proud of.

That he takes perceived criticism much too much to heart and forgets all the praise and accolades and prizes.

That he is a team player. Loving his rugby and hockey. Working hard to get onto and stay in the team. Not a monopoliser of the limelight. But quietly doing his bit. A vital team member.

That he always notices. My new hair cut. New clothes. That he will call and chat to his grandma with love and affection. That he makes you feel appreciated. That he buys thoughtful gifts (except for that sabre toothed tiger).

That, although serious and on occasion earnest, he can be silly and loud and exuberant. Not as much as I would like. That when he smiles the sun comes out.

That he has always been an eating machine. And that recently he has found the turbo button.

That he loves the outdoors. Camping and cycling and Scouting and mud. Can map read (ish), start fires, hike, orienteer, climb. That he is adventurous; facing his fears after a thorough risk assessment of course.

That he worries too much. About making the grade. Being good enough. Hitting some ‘ideal’ of what achievement is about. Driving himself to extremes.

When really he has always been better than good enough. He has always been amazing. And always will be.

Love you son. Just as you are.

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Happy Birthday!

Mummy

x

A Thoughtful One(sie)… — March 21, 2017

A Thoughtful One(sie)…

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Currently I am wearing my most unflattering garment. I do not say this lightly.

Like every other lady I have a selection of unflattering garments. Period pants. A pair of pyjamas that were bought in a large supermarket chain by my husband when I was stuck without warning in hospital with pneumonia. Swimsuits with the bottoms nearly worn through from over enthusiastic aquapark participation. Sexy lingerie that  once fitted and now, doesn’t. But which I have kept in hopeful anticipation of returning at some point to my previous svelte like self. My ABBA fancy dress all in one electric blue cat suit. Fleeces without form in dubious colours. Baggy thermals for camping and pitch side viewing. And my very favourite trackie bottoms which belonged to a previous partner and which he reluctantly allowed me to take when we split (along with my bedside alarm clock, I left him a bright blue lounge and a yellow sofa still on tick) which now have paint on the bum from a decorating job early on in my marriage.

But all these garments look Dior-like next to this garment. I am referring to my onesie. My Piglet onesie.

I am not a fan of onesies. Don’t get me wrong I think my children look adorable in theirs. We replace them every Christmas. Currently Eldest is bedecked as Chewie from Star Wars, Middlest is the cutest dinosaur I have ever seen and Youngest is a tiger which anyone who knows her will know is better than apt.

So onesies on kids I like. But I am not a fan of onesies on adults. I guess in late tennagerhood or one’s early twenties the wearing of a onesie might be seen as post ironic or some other such twaddle. I vaguely get the idea of cavorting as a dalamation  at Glastonbury, or my local railway station as I saw a few years ago, when one is 22. But only just.

There is certainly an age when onesies are no longer appropriate. Whether one is on a campsite or not. I have lost track of the amount of times I have stood next to a white rabbit (really on a camp site? what were you thinking?) whilst cleaning my teeth in a communal campsite washroom. And realising the person was my age or older. And then seeing them returning to a caravan thus divesting them of the only possible excuse for adult onesie wearing- the cold.

So you may ask why I am sporting my AA Milne inspired outfit. Although to be pedantic about it the onesie has been Disneyfied and as such is not a true A A Milne Piglet which I know annoys some purists. I personally don’t mind a Disney piglet, I once shared a buffet with him in Florida and he was more than adorable.

Sorry I digress. That was it, why am I wearing this heinous pieces of clothing? That doesn’t fit. That hangs below my crotch area in an intensely unflattering way. That is so hot to wear I break out in a sweat merely looking at it. That is not in any way ‘breathable’ being woven entirely of man made fibres. That has poppers, surely only suitable for babygrows and throw back bodies that have returned inexplicably from the eighties to haunt a new round of young women. That causes all sorts of toileting issues. That is essentially hideous.

I wear it because last Christmas my children clubbed together financially and organised with my mother in law the ordering and wrapping of said onesie as my Christmas present. They got Piglet because they know I love him as a character. They got a onesie so we could all wear them as a family.

It was perhaps the most thoughtful thing they had done to date.

And it could have been so much worse.

As it was for my husband who is forever consigned to being a Minion with a dungaree pocket in a deeply unhelpful place.

 

Brother Mine, Sister Mine… — July 31, 2016

Brother Mine, Sister Mine…

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I have three kids. Those of you who know me know this. Those that have bothered to read my ‘About’ pages will also know. As will regular readers. So for those of you who are new (where have you been?) I have three children. Two boys and a girl.

I had them close together. Deliberately. For a few reasons. One, I started late and needed to get on with it; two, I wanted them to get on; and three, I was very close in age to my own oldest brother and it worked well for us. There are three and a bit years between Eldest and Youngest. Middlest is, well, in the middle of that somewhere…

Overall it has been a good decision. My children are a ‘unit’. Wherever we go they are together. Ready made playmates. They are tight. It has always been the way and even now they are 12, 10 and 9 it still holds true, although Eldest is pulling away a little and tends to stay with us more whilst the other two maraude off.

But then his younger siblings also entice him into things he might otherwise feel too cool for. For instance recently at a local fair they persuaded him on a bouncy castle slide that his 12 year old self may have considered beneath his advanced years. Of course he had a ball.

They have a lot in common. A love of all sorts of sport. Playing and watching. Competitiveness. Music. The same school. Being outdoorsy. A liking  for terrible Disney Channel shows. Shared history. In jokes. A love of inventing madcap games (recently they spent four hours in the paddling pool playing water polo, in six inches of water)…

Even now, when friends are very important at school, they still spend all their weekends and holidays together. They don’t seek out friends particularly. Although they could knock on doors. They just ‘are’. Together.

Don’t get me wrong we don’t live in utopia. They fight, squabble, hurt each other deliberately and by accident. An awful lot. But fundamentally they do get on.

I really want this to continue. Although I know it will get harder as adolescence creeps in.

For instance tonight after a day spent in the pool on holiday and an hour of family football (which nearly killed me, I am sure I will find some energy to write about that at some point) Youngest’s hair was a chloriney, sweaty, tangled mess of knotted bum length strands.

She and Middlest got in a warm bath together. I hung around ready to assist with the hair washing. I wasn’t required. I merely spectated surreptitiously from behind the door as Middlest lovingly gave his sister a hair wash. Carefully applying and rinsing off shampoo and then conditioner. Advised by Youngest on how much and where to apply it. Tipping her head around in the shower to get all the suds out. Asking if the temperature was OK. I heard him remark that it was just like they ‘used to do after football’. Before we moved house and she got her own shower room. He had missed it. So had she.

I guess at some point a brother and sister will stop this sort of behaviour. For modesty.    Naturally. This might be the last year on holidays that they do such a thing. It nearly made me weep to think of it.

I am sure something else will take its place instead. I hope it does.

For what great lessons they learn from each other. How to treat the opposite sex. How to be a decent member of their own gender. How to fall out and make up. How far to push. How to negotiate. How to fail. How to say sorry. And how to be unconditionally loved.

 

 

 

Hard Drugs… — February 1, 2016

Hard Drugs…

Well that got your attention.

This entry will probably disappoint those searching for my seedy past. Which doesn’t really exist.

No this is a post about Eldest. And before you call Social Services he doesn’t use mind altering substances either. Well unless you count sugar. And Toxic Waste. Look it up if you don’t understand that.

This weekend Eldest turned twelve. It is not much of a milestone. Well only in as much as any year is a milestone in a child’s life. And that of its parents.

And then today I was queuing up in Boots for yet another large bottle of Calpol. 6+ Calpol. And the pharmacist asked me how old the child was who was going to use it. In case I didn’t understand the name 6+ Calpol… I replied that he was twelve. And he retorted that in that case I could give him actual pills of paracetomol. And I realised 12 is actually a milestone year. He no long needs to take his pain relief in liquid form via a large, squeezy syringe.

I nearly burst into tears. Right there in Boots. Rather embarrassingly. I still bought that Calpol. As Middlest and Youngest are, well, younger. But still, a bit of me died.

Parenting is like this. There are little things that you do routinely for what seems like years. And then one day you realise that you are no longer doing them. At least for one child if not all of them.  And further, you don’t really remember the last time you did do it. It just stopped at some point. And even though you realise this it keeps happening with the same child and with subsequent ones too. It cannot be anticipated. These things just stop. On a random Tuesday. It is only in hindsight that you notice.

Some of the things are a relief. Like bum wiping. And nose wiping.

Some are heart breaking. Hand holding. Bedtime story reading. Getting goodbye kisses at the school gate.

And some are surprising. Like no longer providing pain relief in liquid form.

Ah Eldest. Where did the years go? It is a cliché. But it is true. Time flies. And before you can blink that sweet baby is as tall as you and wears shoes two sizes bigger.

He will always be my baby though. My sweet, sweet baby. X

 

15 Years and Counting… — November 18, 2015

15 Years and Counting…

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I have a vague idea I should write something about marriage.

The reason is that today (well at 3 o’clock this afternoon) I will have been married for 15 years.

Also it is Week 3 – see Keeping Clean Sheets if you don’t understand that reference- and so I am employing as many avoiding tactics as I can. I have done three fifths of Week 3 and have re-jigged it a bit so I no longer have the family/ scuss bathroom to do- poor Week Two is the down hearted recipient- but still major avoiding needed. The Kitchen Diner is left…need I say more?

The downstairs loo is leaking again. The number pad on my PC keyboard has stopped working. I have the mother of all weeks meetings/ helping at school/ parents evening/ ferrying/ school concerts wise. And so feel like taking this morning easy before I leave the house at 1pm and do not return except to briefly stuff sandwiches into kids until gone 9pm. My ‘working’ day, always a bit odd.

And anyway Christmas is arriving after a flurry of on-line activity yesterday and I do not want to miss a courier whom I have accidentally drowned out by over zealous vacuuming.

So there we have it I thought a quick post avoiding the use of as many numbers as possible would be the order of the day. And as today is my wedding anniversary it seems like as good a topic as any. Although it involves, already, too many numerals.

I have started this entry and discovered that since I last wrote Wordpress, my lovely blog host, have decided to change everything. I cannot find buttons. I no longer appear to be able to link to my other entries in a logical way. The Save button has mysteriously disappeared. I don’t need this in Week Three, I really don’t. Don’t they know I have been married for 15 (arghh) years today?

As you may have gathered we are not doing anything special today, despite its significance. Well I am having bacon on cheesy rolls for lunch but otherwise, no.  At about 5.30am husband used the assistive light on his phone to blind me and also deposit a wrapped article on the bed. I tried unsuccessfully to fumble under my bedside table for his gift and card. He told me to leave it until later. He has probably forgotten that there won’t be a later. He ordered me to get more sleep (probably the most romantic thing he will say to me all day- in fact one of the few things he will say to me at all today) which I tried to do. It was difficult with burning retinas.

In any event that present isn’t up to a great deal. I am far beyond those times when I spent every available lunch hour devising, planning and purchasing a perfect gift for each anniversary (and birthday and Christmas). The present was purloined off his Christmas list which I only extracted from him on Saturday morning. And so although Youngest and I tried to find something more inspired between football matches and rain showers in town we failed. Fifteen years is crystal. We have enough tumblers. And what would a grown man do with a small glass animal? And in any event my mind is too full of what to buy small people for Christmas and what other people can buy my small people for Christmas and what I should buy the teachers for Christmas and what I would like other people to buy me for Christmas…. perhaps more time? It is like this every year and led me once to forget our anniversary completely. I was that ‘buying flowers in a petrol station’ cliché. My tip is not to get married in November.

Anyway back to this morning. Once the alarm went off a mere half an hour later I struggled blindly through my minimal ablutions and then took a pause to open his gift and card before rousing the kids. Do not fret dear reader my retinas are recovered. I always struggle blindly through my morning ablutions in a kind of denial. About morning. About the day to come. About, well everything really. I do not usually leave this ‘denial’ phase until the caffeine from my first cuppa has kicked in.

The gift was lovely. A pair of earrings and a necklace. Some sparkle. I love a bit of sparkle. Oddly for someone so un-girly. We recently went to the V&A in London just to do the jewellery section. It was darkly lit with everything on black velvet and looked simply stunning. Although come to think of it my retinas did hurt a bit then too…

I put the earrings in. This took longer than it should as the holes have partly closed up as I haven’t worn such adornment since around  2004 (or blank blank blank blank as my duff keyboard would have it). Which does, not unco-incidentally, co-incide with the birth of Eldest.

Not one of my children liked the earrings. It is just the shock I think. They will come round. My new hair cut (which my mother does not appear to have noticed, or if she has noticed she does not approve of enough to say anything, either is worrying) apparently calls out for earrings according to my good friend. And maybe, judging by today’s gift, silently husband.

Just so you know I have now found the Save button. But not the Review button. I shall keep going and also keep you posted. But hopefully not this entry. It is too soon for it to be posted. As I haven’t reviewed it yet. I digress.

All this anniversary guff meant we were behind schedule. The kids gasped at the clock. Corners were cut. It is likely Eldest will have to swim in Speedos out of the Lost Property basket. Is there any fate worse?

I shouted instructions through the open window of my friend’s car as she pulled out of our drive. ‘Find out your cello lesson’, ‘Don’t forget to find your snack pot’, ‘Get out quick tonight so I can get to my meeting’, ‘Please remind me you need hike boots for Cubs’, ‘For god sake do not let me forget piano again’, ‘Eat a hot school lunch it is only packed tea tonight’. Etc. Etc.

I retreated indoors to the carnage left from the morning and the relative peace. I retrieved that gift from under my bedside table and put it in the grubby Kitchen Diner where hopefully husband will see it when he returns from Cub pick up much much later tonight. I will find out if he likes it when I get in from my last meeting at circa 9.30pm. It does not have much sparkle. I do feel slightly out done gift wise. It is not as bad as on our first anniversary when he bought me a diamond eternity ring and I got him a….magazine subscription. In my defence the first anniversary is paper.

Somehow this post has got quite long and yet I have said hardly anything about the nature of marriage. Or have I?

15 years ago I walked up the aisle- well a corridor made by two sets of chairs we didn’t do the church thing- to start on this road of married life.

To begin with the road was a flower bordered bucolic path meandering through fields and by river banks. We idled along hand in hand taking in the view. Revelling in its beauties. We took long metaphoric picnic lunches and the sun shone.

Over time the road has changed beyond all recognition. It now feels more like a motorway whizzing along at breath taking speed. I do not know when this happened. When the route morphed from footpath to bridleway to A road to six lane monster.

At times it has felt like two parallel carriageways with far too few shared service stations . It can be full of pot holes and road works. Nearly constantly it is crowded by other travellers getting in the way and driving recklessly with no regard for the rules. I am not always a good driver. I go too fast or do not look in the mirror enough. I get road rage and shout at the sat nav. Sometimes I know where this road is headed but often I need a map.

But at the heart of it all there is that other person racing along too. Providing solidarity. And earrings.

Glad its you Andy.

x

 

 

 

 

Middlest — August 24, 2015

Middlest

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Today Middlest is ten…

Since he came into the world he has been a bit of an odd ball. In a good way.

I had a protracted experience giving birth to Eldest. So when the first twinges of Middlest’s labour began I set myself up for a long haul. I was having Middlest at home and was looking forward to trying to watch a bit of TV to take my mind off the pain in the early stages. And then using ambient lighting and moody music in the bits where any distraction would have been irritating. Before literally girding my loins for the inevitable hour or two of pushing.

It was quite a shock, then, when a mere four hours later he popped into the world after a paltry three pushes. Like a cork out of a bottle. He had to be caught to prevent him from rolling under the sofa. There had been no time to fix music or lighting. In fact there had hardly been time to call the midwife, whisk Eldest from the scene or remove my PJ bottoms.

In every way he was different to Eldest. He was completely bald. With jug ears. He was small. He had chicken legs and no sign of those lovely dimply thighs possessed by a new born Eldest. But he had the longest eyelashes I have ever seen and still does.

He fed quickly and without fuss. He slept for hours on end. Contentedly. With his hands behind his head like a sun bather.

He giggled early. Was happy sitting in his bouncy chair watching the world (and his big brother) go by.

And ever since he could speak he has always had a way with words. In fact even before he could speak English he babbled away ten to the dozen in his own language, very earnestly and with great inflection. Totally incomprehensibly. But adorably. Still nearly weekly he amazes me with some turn of phrase or inference which makes me stop in my tracks.

He has had his fair share of medical issues. Nothing major but enough to make me feel that he is the ‘runt’ of our ‘litter’. He has born them all with good grace and a fair degree of humour. In fact he is very funny. He sees humour in situations that could make others downhearted. He is brave and resilient. Taking new situations in his stride.

He is very tactile. He has to touch everything. All the time. His hands still go in his dinner on a daily basis. Which means his food is often down his front…He loves to lie face down on a hot beach and move his hands through the warm sand. Or lie on fluffy rugs or bath mats. He regularly drags his collection of ‘touchy-feely’ cushions down from his bedroom to lie on in front of the TV. He rubs special stones in his pockets, fiddles constantly.

He is a good sibling and friend.  He has the ability to lose. And to be self deprecating. And so he is popular amongst those not able to do so. And yet he has a strong sense of himself and will not be pushed around.

Despite being an August birthday he does well at school. Because he loves to learn. And because if he wants to do something he will do it. With absolute determination. After being a life long thumb sucker he decided to stop when he was about 4 after the dentist told him it was a bad idea. And he just made himself stop. Overnight.

He has a long held ambition to be a primary school teacher. And he would be very good. He has endless patience especially with his young cousins and loves to teach. He has spent hours today walking his siblings (and parents) through his three step process for learning to fly his new remote controlled helicopter.

And one of his most endearing characteristics is that he does not want to grow up too fast. He is happy to still be a little boy. He is comfortable remaining childish whilst some of his school mates, who in some cases are nearly 11, push forwards. He still likes swings, his cuddlies, hugs, bedtime stories. Yes he is reading teenager style fiction and watching Marvel films but he is also happy playing make believe with his sister, hiding in dens and dressing up, using their pet names.

Long may that continue. He is apprehensive about attaining double figures. I clearly didn’t share with him my own anxieties. That it feels like a huge milestone to me too.

But it is just a number. I am sure he will remain his adorable, quirky self. Just a day older.

Happy birthday darling Middlest. Love ya loads.

Always messy with food...Easter Hols 2008 102Holiday Norfolk Sept 07 071

 

 

Old Friends — August 18, 2015

Old Friends

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So today I spent an afternoon in the company of good friends.

We had struggled to find a date during the long school holidays when we were all around and had landed on this afternoon. Even with this date one of our usual four was unable to make it and yet another was leaving on holiday the next morning and was mid ‘pack’.

These are friends I met when pregnant with Eldest. We first made each other’s acquaintance whilst sitting on bean bags and floor cushions (surely not the most amenable seating for heavily pregnant women) at the house of our ante-natal teacher being taught about the mechanics of childbirth (not sure I will ever get over that pelvis and doll combo) and the pros and cons of drugs during labour.

I am not sure we really bonded permanently then but the beginnings were stirring. There were 7 couples expecting their first child. In the normal course of events I am sure I would never have met any of these women; our circles, professions and locations being quite disparate.

Eldest decided to make an early appearance and I missed the last session- I have since found out that this caused ‘quite a stir’ amongst the remaining course members.

Luckily for me the charity who provided the course also ran post baby support ‘get togethers’. At the first one it was me, eldest and one very heavily pregnant member who was overdue. The others were in the early throws of new borns and couldn’t make it.

The next session two weeks later saw nearly a full turn out. One lady was beautifully presented and waxed lyrical about the wonders of parenthood. I went home and cried for 2 hours.

A fortnight rolled by and super mum didn’t make it. Probably getting her nails done. It took about 5 minutes before someone admitted that they were struggling. Relief washed over me like a warm shower. And the five of us bonded and never looked back. We met regularly even after our charity provided support stopped. One lady moved away but the rest of us met nearly weekly until about two years ago when post school extra curricular activities, work and other mundanities precluded such regular meetings.

Our eldest children are now 11 and a half. And we try to meet every school holiday with varying degrees of success. Sometimes half a year may go by.

It never matters. Once we get together again it is as if time has not passed. It is like we only met the previous day. Our kids (they now number 10 between four of us) get on like a house on fire despite not sharing schools or Cub packs or sport teams. We make tea in each others kitchens. No one bristles if a child is disciplined by the ‘wrong’ mother. We are all going through the same stuff with the kids at the same time. We always feel better about ourselves and we feel like better parents, or at least more accepting of ourselves as parents, after a long chat. We bare our souls.

And so I count these women as some of the most important in my life. There are others equally important to me, including men too. It is nothing to do with the length of acquaintance. The common link is a shared history from some part of life, an ease, similar experiences, an ability to fall back into conversation as if you have never been apart, and a recognition that the pace of life means not meeting up as much as you would like, but knowing that that doesn’t mean the relationship is any less important or precious.

These are the best sorts of friendship. I love all my friends from whatever walk of life and count myself lucky to have them.

I know a lot of those friends read this blog- so there you go- feel told. Ok?

Footnote…that photo above…that is not a picture of the friends I met up with today. All of us have had at least two children, some three. We don’t jump. Without clenching…

Dancing Shoes — August 15, 2015

Dancing Shoes

Here is a thing I love to do. Dance.

Today I was at a family wedding. It was small and intimate and tremendous fun.

Some people might think a disco for thirty a little strange. I don’t.

I had the best time in a long time and so did everyone else.

The couple in question are gorgeous, very much in love and totally genuine. The whole day was relaxed and heartfelt.

And then to cap it all off we had a fabulous disco. Everyone got their requests played. My husband, kids and I danced more or less solidly for three hours, burning off a lot of our wedding supper and reliving a lot of great times through music.

It reminded me of one of the reasons I married my other half- that he will dance with me even if we are the only two on the dance floor.

The DJ called me a lovely lady.

Grandma and grandad danced.

My only gripe? It makes me feel tremendously old when Tainted Love doesn’t fill the floor. It would with a group of my peers. I am probably ten years too old. But hey hubby and I danced to it. Alone.

And yes my feet ache but do you know what? Today has reaffirmed my belief in love, life and dance.

Congratulations to the happy couple! Wishing you a long and wonderful life together.

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