Parenting, profundities and humour

Brother Mine, Sister Mine… — July 31, 2016

Brother Mine, Sister Mine…


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.




Piggy in the Middle — June 12, 2016

Piggy in the Middle

middle child

You often hear about ‘Middle Child Syndrome’. Well maybe you don’t but I have read a bit about it. As I have a middle child. He is very precious to me, as much as the other two, but Middle Child Syndrome suggests he won’t feel that unless I make a special effort. He will feel invisible. More prone to depression. Have nothing special to call his own.

I have a tendency to believe all such ‘syndromes’ are, frankly, bollocks. We make out of life what we can. But still I occasionally ponder it. As I am now.

And here is why. This weekend I have been able to spend a bit of time alone with Middlest. This hardly ever happens. When he was born I already had Eldest, a demanding toddler at the time. He hasn’t really got much less demanding over the years. He is a deep thinker prone to over-analysing and over stressing. He sucks up attention. And that is not at all his fault. It is partly because he does everything first and so such events as starting Senior School seem a big deal to me as a parent doing something new as well as a big deal to him. When the other two do it I am blasé. And expect them to be so too.

By the time Middlest was himself a toddler Youngest had come along and turned our lives upside down. She is my only daughter and so my relationship with her is different. She gravitates towards me and always has. I can remember a period when she was about two when she would not let anyone else do anything for her except me. Flattering but exhausting. She had me all to herself for two years once Eldest and Middlest had started school. And those two years were amazing. We both had a lovely time.

And then there are three of them and two of us. Naturally Middlest is often in a pair if we split them up. That is because he is great mates with both Eldest and Youngest. They have hobbies in common. Middlest has never been left ‘home alone’ whilst the other two go away camping for instance. He is always one of those doing the camping with one or other of the other two. If you catch my drift.

When Middlest was little he had numerous outpatient clinics for various minor medical issues; eyes, diet, asthma. We loved those afternoons with appointments. I would pick him up from school and we would go off alone and sit in a waiting room together chatting away. He still fondly remembers making a dodecahedron out of plastic hexagons that slotted together whilst waiting in the Moorfield’s eye clinic waiting room. That must be five years ago.

Being able to have time alone with him this weekend is happening mostly because Youngest is at Cub camp and we are down to two children. We can divide and conquer.

So yesterday we walked to his football tournament alone whilst Eldest and husband went running. The walk lasted about ten minutes. They were a good ten minutes though. Of all my children Middlest is the easiest to have a conversation with. I am  not saying I do not enjoy time alone with the other two but Middlest has this way about him. He is intelligent, perceptive and gently amusing. He listens well and makes thoughtful observations. He is eloquent. He is still young enough at 10, nearly 11, to care about what I say.

So in those few short minutes we discussed the EU Referendum and some of his friends’ frankly bizarre opinions on the same.  We came to some conclusions. Namely you shouldn’t believe everything you read and hear. Unless I tell him something, obviously.

Today husband went cycling with his mates as is his wont on a Sunday morning. Eldest had some language revision to do so I took Middlest to town to collect his new glasses and buy a birthday present for his Grandma.

It was lovely. Truly lovely. We chewed the cud. About all sorts. Marijuana. Balconies. School. Scouts. Girls. The EU again. And our lack of time together.

I would love to spend more time with him alone. With all of them actually. Life gets in the way. It is hectic and full on. I must try harder.

Just as we pulled back into the driveway Middlest asserted that in our average week of chaos the only time he gets me to himself is on the drive from home to piano lesson and later back. That drive lasts about three minutes.

As he put it “It’s not a very long time, mummy, but I really enjoy it!'”

Me too, son, me too.


The Brothers — June 28, 2015

The Brothers


On a recent weekend my eldest and middlest were at Scout and Cub camp respectively. In the persistent, unrelenting rain.

This left youngest home alone. Well obviously home with hubby and I, not actually alone, that would constitute child neglect I am sure, but anyway you know what I mean.

To begin with she and I dropped middlest at Cub Camp, whilst hubby delivered eldest to Scout camp elsewhere, and I couldn’t get her to come home. She had embroiled herself in a soccer game that had started up amongst the Cubs and as regular readers will know this is her passion. And so she was gaily bashing a ball around.

Anyway I finally extracted her and on the short drive home we discussed what fun we would have over the weekend. She had a football game the next morning, her Grandma was coming over to stay to celebrate her birthday and she had a bowling party on the Sunday. Plus she had her parents all to herself.

It took precisely 20 minutes before she was sobbing gently into her bath about missing ‘The Brothers’. This is what she calls them. I tried again to stress the upsides. For instance that she could watch whatever she wanted to watch on TV the next morning and for longer than usual as we needed less time to get ready. Sole control of the remote- what could be better?

At this she relented slightly and admitted that she could probably stand the weekend without eldest but she was feeling the loss of middlest keenly. Apparently I had ‘rushed her off’ at the Cub Camp drop off and she didn’t get to say goodbye properly. I pointed out that middlest would probably not have wanted a hug in front of all his scouting friends. Although that is actually unlikely to be true as middlest will usually accept a hug from anyone, anytime, anywhere.

She was not to be consoled. And so she went to bed sniffing gently.

The next morning I came downstairs and found her sitting forlornly in front of the TV holding the remote control. It is evidently less fun to have ownership of that device when one has not had to fight tooth and nail for it.

She made the most of the day. She enjoyed the football match but wished eldest had been there ‘shouting from the side’. Grandma taught her a new game to play with a tennis ball against the wall of the house but really she wanted to ‘play penalties with middlest’. We went out for Grandma’s birthday meal and I think the mainly adult conversation got her down. The party offered some relief but then she had no one to gloat at upon receipt of a sweet stuffed party bag.

I did warn her as we left to collect middlest that he might be tired and not in the mood to play.

Then he got home and they built that den up there and laid in it to watch TV.

She was happy again.

So although they fight tooth and nail, bicker, physically assault each other and tease each other mercilessly when it comes down to it my kids love each other dearly.

It’s heartening to know that although I busted my pelvic floor having three kids in three and a half years it has paid off. Long may it continue.

Oh and good luck to youngest’s first boyfriend. He will have two tough acts to follow!


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