Tough Love

Like I’m ever going to reject a kiss from one of my children.

Until…Ted.

Recently, in his excitable haste to bestow an impromptu, reactionary smacker on my unsuspecting lips, often as a direct by-product of the deepest pleasure/joy/excitement he has apparently known in his short life thus far, he is a little heavy-handed.

With great stealth, he puckers up, turns suddenly and presses his beautiful, chubby chops against my delighted grid. AS HARD AS HE BLOODY WELL CAN.

I can literally feel his body shake with tension and excitement as he forcibly MAKES ME HAVE HIS LOVE.

The sentiment, need and motivation all come from such a pure, simple and beautiful place inside his tiny self; a space inside his little heart that is so fuelled by adrenaline and urgency and passion and the desire to SMASH YOUR FACE IN with all of it.

I feel his teeth, through both his lips and my own, threatening to pierce straight through and necessitate hospitalisation for at least both of us, if not also that of passers-by, as they are admitted for PTSD at having bore witnesses to such harrowing scenes.

But it’s a kiss. From my baby boy. My ridiculously strong, frighteningly enthusiastic and terrifying loving baby boy. So, I grit my teeth (literally) and bear it.

But yesterday. Oh man. Yesterday was a WHOLE NEW LEVEL of horror.

My hair is now short. Short, short. As in, it stops at the nape of my neck. And after years of having long, long hair, tandemed with years and years of summers saturated with rain, rain, I have never yet experienced the perils of ‘sunburnt top of the shoulders/neck’.

It’s sore. Crunchy almost. Nigh on alight.

Morrisons. Me crouching beside my son as he peruses the magazine titles. He scans, he points, he reaches.

Mr Tumble! Glory be! The guy EVEN HAS a MAGAZINE.

‘Want it Mummy. Want it.’

‘Okay mate. Put it in the trolley then.’

He snatches it from the plastic racking as a smile sweeps his elated face. He spins ecstatically towards me, arms parting around my shoulders, magazine in one hand, tiny metal tow truck in the other.

HE TAKES HOLD – planting the heaviest, most aggressively affectionate, brutally delighted and traumatisingly grateful kiss on my mush which, fortunately, I was prepared for.

However.

The newly acquired notion to simultaneously drag and then embed the metal corners of a miniature toy car across my raw, chargrilled back as he hung from my neck, was an unprecedented act of violence that it took every last ounce of my reserve to steel myself against.

It was the third prong of his Love Attack that floored me, literally to the ground, in Morrisons media aisle.

SWEEPING PAPER CUTS TO THE SUNBURN (made by the card edge of Mr f****** Tumble’s unstoppable gravy train).

Bleeding, lacerated and concussed, one flipflop flicked from my person and lying in the aisle over a metre away, I LITERALLY lay on my back looking up at the supermarket strip lighting, my son now sat up on my chest, giggling and wholly proud of the spectacle created by his ‘thanks’.

And the cleverest part of the assault? Like you can ACTUALLY put your child on the naughty step for loving you too hard.

Heaven help me when he’s actually miffed.

*gulps*

Puppy Dog Tales

We’ve tried them all. Library groups, baby massage, messy church, musical movement. None have ever hit the spot. Ted just runs around wildly, totally disengaged with the activity, or has a paddy ’cause he doesn’t want to share the instruments/paintbrushes/love. I pay good money, and give up good quality time, trying to be a Good Parent…and Ted scribbles and whines all over my halo with his bogie-smeared crossness at the disgusting portions of ‘fun’ I insist on repeatedly inflicting upon him.

And so today. With little expectation, a variety of misgivings and the disposition of an stroppy teenager, I hauled my tantruming Ted out to a last ditch attempt at infantile enrichment – ACE Forest Schools toddler playgroup.

It was wet. In fact, not just wet – drizzly. Grey, miserable and chilly. After a week of glorious sunshine and factor 50. Ruddy marvellous.

We donned an assortment of hoodies, waterproofs, wellies and whinges and trudged off to the meeting point to embark on yet another opportunity to witness a further £5 I’ve earned escape swiftly down the toilet.

And, yet. The boy? The boy he say…

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Seriously?!? In the rain and the mud and between the tarpaulins and the puddles and the wet leaves and dirty sticks…Ted BEAMED.

From ear to ear. For two hours.

Despite having a big sister, and thus inheriting a whole slew of ‘girls’ toys at birth, Barbie and Shopkins have never been a hit with my son. Sure, he picked off Betty’s best jigsaws, the Play Doh and Peppa Pig camper van  (“wheels, Mummy, wheels!”), but Ted, through his own choice/genetic programming, has never shown even the most fleeting interest in the Princess Elsa styling head.

He loves cars and trains and “woads”. He likes things to crash and break and go fast. He’s never been averse to mud.

And today, in the piddling down rain, surrounded by tides of the stuff, he was, truly AT ONE. With me, with himself, and with all the activities laid out in the forest for him to engage with.

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He played instruments, read books, made patterns, filled baskets, sang songs and joined in with stories in a way I have never witnessed when confined within four walls. His focus, interest, calm and total immersion in every activity BLEW ME AWAY.

Because he was outside.

What a total pleasure and joy it was to see him lap up every element of it, and cry when it was time to go home. What and total joy and pleasure it was to finally hand over five hundred Great British pence to something that FOUND HIM.

HIM. That boy in the mud, with the sticks and the dirt wearing that huge grin. That boy who IS the stereotype I didn’t teach him to be. Embracing every slug and snail and puppy dog tail he is made of.

Bye bye baby. Toodle-oo toddler.

Just three days short of his second birthday, Ted The Boy is most certainly in the building (or ideally, out of the building).

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Well Done

This is not a long post. It is a necessary post.

To every parent who reads this blog: WELL DONE. Bra-bloody-vo on sticking at the daily slog that is raising your kids.

And before anyone starts…yes, they’re YOUR kids. Yes, YOU chose to have them. And yes, YOU love them beyond all measure.

But Jesus Christ almighty, they are HARD RUDDY WORK.

Even once you’ve sorted the feeding and the cleaning and the dressing of your offspring, there are the other small matters of their round-the-clock safety, their physical/cognitive/emotional development…don’t even get me started on keeping them entertained. Or manners.

This last week has been the first ever national Maternal Mental Health Week. And this coming week is national Mental Health Awareness week. The burgeoning recognition of the importance of mental health on our national consciousness is overdue, necessary and totally welcome.

But what I think is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT, is making EVERY DAY ‘Parental Mental Health Awareness Day’. We need to make the getting through of every day, week and month of this, the most demanding, relentless and supremely important job you’ll ever do, a daily, habitual, socially accepted great big slap on the back.

Not a race. Or a point scoring exercise. Or a stick to beat ourselves over the head with. Even if Betty’s milk spillage this morning did seemingly disagree…20170422_203918

Parenting deserves a bloody medal, because nice kids DON’T RAISE THEMSELVES.

So please accept, and feel the genuine respect sent your way, through my virtual play doh-apattered, bogie-smeared, wee splashed high five.

And if you get chance this week, (between changing nappies, dropping off at after school clubs, coercing your child into eating their tea, or singing the Paw Patrol theme tune for the umpteenth time..) pass it on to another flea-bitten soul with kids hanging from their person.

#maternalMHmatters #pndhour

How come it used to be that I could solve intricate wordsearches in our family car on long distance journeys, and not feel a thing?

How did I digest entire tomes (well, school reading books and Pointe Horror novellas) bouncing along in the back of our F reg Nissan Sunny and yet never felt the faintest need to pull my eyes away from the text for even a moment?

As a child in the back of a moving vehicle I’ve played the recorder, embroidered, coloured-in, dot-to-dotted, completed Super Mario land on a Game Boy, played travel Downfall, plaited friendship bracelets and consecutively transfered seven packets of Premier League 94 stickers painstakingly into the album.

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(Yes – it was the first edition. Yes – I completed it. And yes – they REALLY DID put Paul Merson on the front…when ERIC CANTONA was still in the game?!)

We travelled a lot during my childhood; across France and Germany and Austria and the Czech Republic and Spain and Portugal…it sounds glamorous, until you hook our family saloon up to a 1987 Swift 4 berth caravan. Such a hulking great bulk dragging along behind us safely ensured that every jaunt was an unwieldy, clonking, juddering joke.

And yet NEVER ONCE, NOT EVER, did I get travel sick.

Then, at 28 years old, I became a mother and OVERNIGHT, I became an actual mobile barf-fest. To the point that you could hire me out. The slightest whiff of a distraction from the road and you can set your watch that rising bile is only seconds from splattering your shoes.

I can no longer even glance momentarily at a map for fear of the nauseating swell.

Then today. My mumsy ailment found me again.

On. A. Train.

Whilst. Facing. A. Laptop.

Don’t worry – I won’t burden you with details – safe to say though, I’ll be picking carrot from between the H and J on my keyboard for the foreseeable future.

It was bad. Messy. Embarrassing. Obvs.

And on my first trip down to London, to meet my new colleagues at the NCT. Just as I was sitting there. Going to LONDON. On business. Thinking I was SOMEBODY.

I was somebody.

Somebody who smelled like vomit. With a wag-ish piece of corn obliviously stuck to her forehead a whole twenty minutes after the chunder had, seemingly, been cleared away. It fell off my head and hit me on the back of my hand as I inserted my ticket in order to exit the station.

Excellent.

But yet, apart from the stink and the immediate shame, the thing that stuck with me was how totally UNEXPECTED it was.

What hormonal imbalance during pregnancy, or maybe in the throes of labour, suddenly skewed my internal puke gauge so aggressively, so irreparably, that I am now even scared to flick my eyes to the rear view mirror – WHEN REVERSING??

And the most sadistic part of it all? As soon as you have children you spend entire car journeys twisted preposterously between the steering wheel and the back seat, grappling and straining against seat belts, between infants, around changing bags and amidst Paw Patrol/Peppa Pig/Mr Tumble paraphernalia to retrieve dropped dummies, discarded (and now very much wanted) bags of crisps, or, heaven forbid, a teeny tiny Shopkin that has fallen out of reach.

I have come to the conclusion that my blossoming travel sickness is perhaps a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…the journeys I have taken with children in tow over the last five years have been so harrowing, so exhausting, so totally and entirely stressful and bloody draining, that I have become adverse to travel.

Either that, or I’m just getting old.

Nah.

Blame the kids.

Money For Old Rope

Read/watch this…well, skim it. I don’t want to waste your time.

Please click this link to know what this post is banging on about

This makes my head ACTUALLY POP CLEAN OFF MY NECK.
Since WHEN was any of the thinking shared in this article/clip new or innovative or revolutionary?!?
The author of this ‘concept’ is the product of a world awash with TOO MANY MOLLYCODDLED KIDS.

Scenarios that regularly play out between me and my five year old daughter:

‘You got 8/10 on your spelling test? That’s pretty good…which ones did you get wrong? Do you know what you did wrong?

‘You can spell that word yourself! It was on your spelling list three weeks ago. Think back to practising it at home/sound it out/write it and see if it looks right.’

‘No…sound out that word properly. Segment it carefully, then blend it back instead of guessing…see, now it makes sense.’

‘Well if you don’t pull your own tights up, you have to go to school with them round your ankles’.

Newsflash: Kids are quite able to stomach moderate amounts of pressure and challenge and expectation. They can, dare I say it, be brought up to enjoy it.

My daughter THRIVES ON IT.

There. I said it. I’m a medieval parent…who is now apparently now bang on trend (well, for all of five minutes, until the parenting world reverts back to the ‘discomfort aversion’ model so many parents adhere to in order to protect their kids from the most fleeting frustration, disappointment or delay).

A parent’s job is to prepare their child as best they possibly can for the real world. Kids who are taught to REAP rewards, not sit and wait for them to plonk into their lap, are on their way towards constituting good quality human beings.
This is not rocket science.

Perseverance, resilience, GRIT – they aren’t dirty words. In fact, along with cuddles, laughter and imagination, they are up there with the most beautiful ones.

Parents in Mind

Evening all!

Just a quick plea…please tune in to http://www.hcr923fm.com tomorrow between 2pm – 4pm to hear me chat with Sue Ellison about the NCT’s fantastic new peer support service, Parents in Mind. Find out how you can volunteer (with free OCN accredited training and ongoing support provided), or simply find out how this ruddy marvellous new service is set to offer a friendly, MUCH NEEDED listening ear to new parents in the Halton area.

And there’ll be a proper brew with nice dunk-able biscuits thrown in for free to seal the deal. (Malted Milks, obvs.)

Seriously…this thing needs NO PROMOTION! (But please tune in/tell friends/pay attention anyway!)

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Muchas gracias.

Truck Off

It’s February. So it’s not a resolution any more. It’s just getting fit (ish).

Sportswear ✔

Earphones ✔

Small luminous dumper truck ✔

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Despite discovering its presence in my pocket (?) just a short walk from my front door, I had to, at all costs, avoid any cause to return home for fear of slumping back onto the sofa with a family pack of Quavers.

Be alright. I shoved it in the hoodie pocket and bumbled on. For another 8 steps. The pendulous thump of the motor against my gut at each plod necessitated further intervention, so I pressed on for the next two miles with my left hand in my hoodie pocket, securing the vehicle against my person. An odd running gait, sure, but a workable solution.

Until I sneezed.

Instantaneously, the car shot from my pocket and landed on the pavement directly in the path of the incoming sole of my left trainer.

Yep. And there was blood.

And pedestrians. Who helped me up. And handed me back my little truck.

After FALLING OVER IMMEDIATELY BESIDE A BUSY ROAD ON THE SMALL TOY CAR I BROUGHT ALONG WITH ME, I felt it might be time to go home.

So did the truck.

Adding insult to injury, the little shit even beat me home.

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Look at his smug little face.