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Archive for the ‘Just venting’ Category

Lately, I’ve been thinking we have created three monsters. Spoilt brats. Ingrates.

I don’t even know how it happened. We don’t, as a rule, buy them toys and things unless it’s for their birthday or something special. We try not to get them treats all the time when we go out. We expect them to do a reasonable amount of things for themselves (making breakfast, putting things away, keeping rooms tidy -which, by the way, doesn’t happen and it’s a miracle no-one has broken a limb trying to get in or out of a bedroom yet).

I have even started introducing the idea of making donations to toy drives and clothing appeals. The perfect opportunity came up a few weeks ago with the devastating fires that ripped through our beloved Blue Mountains. Many families lost everything. So the kids and I put together some toys they no longer play with and sent them down. They were more than happy to participate and felt very proud to be making some other kids happy.

And yet, somehow, we have got three kids with so much stuff they don’t know what to do with it. They each have more clothes than they can possibly wear. More toys than they can play with. And more rubbishy food than they need to eat. And their attitudes stink. All of a sudden, they seem to think it is totally fine to ignore our requests to do simple things, like getting dressed in the morning. That we, their parents, live to serve them and grant their every wish. That if we don’t, they can call us idiots and chuck tantrums. None of it ever works, but still they try. And we are both pretty fed up with it.

Who did this? Who raised these ungrateful beasts? Well, we did.

Just a few weeks ago I told Tom of my idea to spend a year volunteering somewhere overseas with the kids when they are teenagers. So that they would learn to recognise their own privilege, and also learn that there are ways of giving back. I thought the teenage years would be a good time for this because they will probably not want for much throughout their childhoods, and as a result, they could one day be in danger of turning out spoilt.

That’s still my plan, but what am I going to do in the meantime? They’re acting like spoilt brats already.

I wish I had the strength to do what some people I know of are doing, and go a whole year without buying anything (apart from food). Could I do that to the family? Should I? Maybe I should…

Or, maybe we should take away all their toys and make them earn them back, by being kind and thoughtful towards others? Is that too extreme? It’s what Tom wants to do, I think.

I don’t know. But I shudder to think what they’ll be like in years to come if we do nothing. I’m almost tempted to cancel Christmas. I feel sick at the thought of bringing more useless crap into our house, for them to wreck and leave all over their bedroom floors. Surely there are better things to spend money on? Maybe we could go on a holiday instead, and get them nothing.

I know it’s not their fault. I know I was probably the same as a kid. I definitely know how messy my bedroom was for many years. And I turned out ok. (Don’t laugh, I did!)

Anyway, this afternoon we are going to have a chat about some things that need to change (certain attitudes and behaviours), and about how lucky they are to even have enough food in their bellies, let alone enough toys to hide their floor. We’ll see how that goes for a start.

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Wow.

Just wow. I really didn’t anticipate how much busier we were all going to be once school started!

For some reason, I envisaged having all this extra time while Tiernan is at school, but the reality is that we actually seem to have less. As it turns out, six hours isn’t very long when you’re on the other end (as a teacher it seems much longer).

Just dropping Tiernan off and picking him up take up a reasonable chunk of our day (I’m proud to say we’ve managed to walk both ways almost every day, so far – work days for me are a different story though).

But in between those times, there is so much to squeeze in: dancing, speech therapy, grocery shopping, going to the park, play dates, speech practice at home, washing, folding (forget ironing, it doesn’t happen), nap time, preparing dinners, tidying, etc, etc, etc.

Then, once Tiernan is home we’ve somehow got to fit in eating, playing, home reading, ‘talk time’ practice, speech practice, hip-hop, bathing and stories, and then get them all into bed at a reasonable time each night.

After they’re all in bed, there’s more tidying, food preparation and lesson planning, not to mention the odd bit of ‘down time’ – which seems to be getting less and further between!

For two weeks now I have been staying up way too late trying to get everything done and I’m stuffed. I’ve ended up feeling quite run down and not sure how to do it all better. This week will be extra challenging as Tom is returning to uni two nights a week, and going away for the whole weekend to play golf (remember how I went to Taree for a regatta in January? Well now it’s pay back time, doh!)

I feel like I just need a catch up day. If time could just stand still for one day so that I could at least get on top of one thing (like school preparation for work, or maybe a year’s worth of cooking!) then maybe I would feel a bit better. But alas, it’s not to be.

I’m sure it’ll all come together eventually.

Another thing that has got me feeling a bit down is that, despite my complete faith that Tiernan was going to just go from strength to strength at school, he has actually had a less than inspiring start; a fact that we were only made aware of a few days ago.

I really thought he must be doing great: he was pretty keen to go every day (any slight hesitation I had put down to him not being used to the whole 5-days-a-week thing yet); he seemed happy when we pick him up; he said he had fun and was making new friends; and we’d had no feedback from the teacher, either positive or negative. So I assumed everything was just peachy and going exactly to plan.

However, then I visited the classroom to help out one day last week and I saw… well, I saw Tiernan being Tiernan. The Tiernan who doesn’t listen, doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on, who instead rolls around on the floor and has to be asked several times to stop. The Tiernan who has half as many stickers on his chart than most of the other kids. The Tiernan whose name is called out in class more than anyone else’s. Basically, the Tiernan who lives at home with me but whom I naively assumed would magically just ‘focus’ once at school. Because I thought he would get that school is important.

To top it off, the following night at Little Athletics, one of the boys in Tiernan’s class told Tom that Tiernan is the naughtiest kid in the class.

I was pretty shocked. This is not what I had in mind for my beautiful, smart boy. My boy cannot be ‘The Naughty Kid.’

I mean, he’s no angel. But I don’t actually think he’s often naughty on purpose. He just doesn’t listen. And when we spend all day nagging him and then getting frustrated and angry, he responds by also getting angry and that’s when he acts out. By that time it’s too late to change the pattern and it takes a lot of time and effort to calm him down again.

But I really thought it would be different at school. After all, he never had any problems at preschool or family day care. I put his challenging behaviour at home down to being bored and ready for something bigger.

After stressing about it over the weekend, I had a quick chat with Tiernan’s teacher about it on Monday morning. I asked her whether she has concerns about his behaviour. She said no, but she is concerned about his inattentiveness, forgetfulness and ‘daydreaming’. She also told me he is going to the toilet up to ten times a day, which she put down to anxiety, but when I asked Tiernan about it at home in the afternoon, he said he just wanted to get out of class. He said he is bored and doesn’t like being ‘teached’. He just wants to play Monsoonos every day and not go to school anymore. Sigh.

Anyway, Mrs D and I agreed to give him a few more weeks to settle in, and then we’ll see. If he needs more help, we’ll give it to him. I let Mrs D know I’m most anxious that he not be ‘The Naughty Kid’. I feel she’s on our side. She doesn’t want him getting into trouble any more than I do.

So I feel a bit better now, but still sad and even a little sick to my stomach. This is not the start I had in mind for my Tiernan. We need to turn all of this negativity around, quickly.

On a lighter note, Tiernan had his first school friend come over to play today, a girl we know from his baby group. The four kids had a nice afternoon together and played really well. It was lovely.

He’s also been invited to two birthday parties already. So that’s exciting, for him!

I don’t do it much but this post is in recognition of Tom.

The last few weeks (months!) I have been struggling. I keep having prolonged bouts of moodiness, short temper (very short), irritability, and general yuck. Not a good combination when you spend 14 hours a day with toddlers, who are not known for their sensitivity or reasonableness.

Tom got home at about 6pm yesterday, and I think he could tell within seconds that things were awry. I don’t know whether it was the yelling, or whether it was the intense aura radiating off my head in sharp sizzles and pops as I hid in the kitchen and scowled at anyone who approached. Either way, he figured it out pretty quickly.

So, this afternoon, he told me he would take the kids over to his parents for the evening after we all got home from school and preschool, so that I could have the afternoon off. He did this even though he has an assignment due, work commitments, and is running on about 4.5 hours sleep a night.

Even though I felt he probably deserved a break more than me, I took it. I really, really needed it.

I feel (hope) this problem is really the hormones in the Mirena device I currently have installed disagreeing with me. I hope it is, because then it’s easily fixed. I just need to get it uninstalled.

Except that leaves the small bother of contraception. I broached the V word with Tom recently (vasectomy), and while he was receptive to the idea of bringing his ‘snip date’ forward three years (the original plan was to have the Mirena in for the full five years, but so far it’s only been two), he has yet to make the appointment and get it done.

It’s important because we really are too fertile for our own good. Hello, 3 under 3!

So, in the meantime I am taking fish oil and St John’s Wort to try and balance me out, am exercising and getting plenty of sun (well, I was doing that already), and trying, trying to take a chill pill.

Lucky I have Tom to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart. Thanks, Babe xxx

Note: The above is not intended to put anyone off using the Mirena as contraception. For the first year, I found the device excellent and had no ill-effects. I know other women who have used it for the full five years and not had any problems. Different devices have different effects on each individual. Also, I’m assuming the symptoms I’m experiencing are related to the Mirena but that won’t be confirmed until I have it removed. I had similar symptoms while taking the contraceptive pill. Hormones and me just don’t mix, apparently!

There’s a new baby on the way to join our family, hopefully some time today. This time a niece.

I desperately want to feel joyful and happy. I want to share the news with my children and excitedly speculate about who their newest cousin will look like, and how big she will be. I want to make plans to visit her and our three nephews, and welcome her to the family.

But I can’t. Because of the stupid, petty fighting that has been going on between her family and ours, I can’t do any of these things.

It hurts. Instead of excitement, I feel anxiety. Instead of bonding, I feel exclusion.

I haven’t told the kids yet. They will want to know why we can’t visit and give her presents, the way we did with her brothers. The best I will be able to do is show them a photo when their grandparents come back from visiting.

I am so tired of explaining why we can’t see their cousins. Almost daily, Tiernan talks about Harry and how much he misses him. It is just so unfair – the kids are the ones who are suffering the most, and they have done nothing wrong.

I feel it is time to step up and try to repair the damage. Even though we weren’t the ones who caused it. We didn’t create the rift. But we could try, one more time, to fix it.

A month ago we almost lost our 18 month old nephew. He almost drowned. Thankfully he is fine now, but he was just incredibly lucky, not only to survive, but to suffer no damage at all. At times like these, families tend to forget their differences and concentrate on what’s really important. Togetherness, love, support.

It certainly made me re-think the situation. If he had died, what would we have done? Despite what has happened, this is still our family and we want to be there for them.

We sent a text message offering our support. We recieved a reply. Baby steps.

However, with a new baby arriving any minute now, perhaps the time has come to go one step further. We are still hurting. We haven’t forgotten. We would like an apology.

But if one is forthcoming, we will accept and start anew.

Oh, and she arrived, at 12:57!

Wow, I feel these posts are becoming much fewer and further between. The anti-bullying letter I mentioned last time is still hanging around – we are in phase two of our ‘Shut the bastard up’ campaign, our initial letter has been submitted to the Board, and we are now compiling an extensive list of incidents and various forms of proof for our claims, ie. witnesses, emails, etc. So, the saga continues and I have barely had head space for anything else lately.

I don’t know whether it’s the letter, or a combination of other things, that is pulling my mood down. Lately I have been stressed to the max and finding it very difficult to relax and enjoy anything. That’s probably not entirely true, but everything sure feels like hard work at the moment. I’m also not making much headway with a few other difficulties we are having, and it’s all very overwhelming.

Tom is having his own worries, with a lot of uncertainty about his job, attempting to study, and trying to cope with his brother’s recent estrangement.

It sometimes feels like we have days that are almost entirely filled with some level of stress/angst/yelling. I worry about what this is doing to all of us, but especially the kids. They don’t deserve to have strung-out parents who can’t seem to cope with the littlest of hiccups.

Sometimes we joke about giving it all away and moving somewhere we didn’t need ‘things’. Like, the jungles of Sumatra. Tom would fulfil his lifelong dream of photographing wildlife while doing conservation work. I would teach in poor communities, and somehow find time to write a novel. Yeah, I know. Unlikely.

I think I’m having some sort of early-onset midlife crisis. All I’ve ever wanted to do is teach. It took me seven years to get my degree, and during that time my passion to teach never faded. In fact, it intensified. But now I’m there – I’ve got my own little class a couple of days a week, and I love caring for them and giving them new experiences – and, much to my annoyance, I’ve suddenly got this burning desire to shut myself in a room and write.

Maybe it has something to do with the allure of having peace and quiet for a change? I don’t know. Obviously, this idea is going to have to sit on the back burner. There’s no time for it now.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to remind myself that life is fun. So here are some recent photos to pull me out of my funk.

At the local Fire Station Open Day.

Tired little girl couldn’t wait until lunch!

Tiernan being a peacock.

Jumping in muddy puddles.

Tiernan’s Birthday Cakes!

And the Pirate Party Cake!

‘Pin the Treasure Chest on the Map’. Obviously my blindfold tying skills are somewhat below par!

Lego!! One of Tiernan’s many birthday presents.

You know what they say, “A child in the hand is worth two in the hedge.” I’m sure that’s how it goes.

The hedge is in our back yard. I have no idea how Neave got so far up. This photo was taken after I rescued Molly from the position Neave is in here. It took me five minutes to extract Molly, and it took Neave only one minute to scramble up and fill her spot. Her feet were level with my head.

Looking at them, I am remembering fun times had with the kids that were not entirely stressful. So, it’s really a matter of perspective. And after days of cleaning poo off nearly every floor in our house, I clearly have none.

Sorry for the doom and gloom. Life is messy. But fun, too.

The good news is that we are going away for a weekend in Canberra, in only two sleeps. Nanny and Poppy (my in-laws) are coming too. Questacon, here we come!

Well, it’s been a while. I barely have time to scratch myself these days, let alone sit and put finger to keyboard. That makes me sad. But it’s (mostly) a happy kind of busy-ness, so I can’t complain too much.

I have a few spare moments now to share some of my thoughts. They are in no particular order.

Biggest on my mind is a letter I am writing on my sister’s behalf that will hopefully prevent her rowing coach (or former coach, I should say) from bullying her any more. It sickens me to say that this is not the first time she has been bullied, either. What is wrong with some people? My sister – who is 25 years old, owns her own home, works full-time, lives alone and hopes to row for Australia one day soon – is almost totally blind. And unfortunately this puts a great big target on her head saying, “Go ahead, make my life even more difficult than it already is!” She is the strongest person I know, and I sincerely hope the letter we are working on will knock this guy’s socks off – or that someone on the board of the club will do it for him. Then she can move on with her life.

Today I took a sickie with Tiernan. Only, it was a sickie of the non-paying kind which is a bummer. Tiernan had gastro yesterday and I thought it best he stay home and not spread his germs around at preschool today – we’d only end up getting them back. Plus, I needed a mental health day, anyway. This working and being a mum at the same time thing is hard. I am falling behind on so many things that it was wonderful to have a chance to take a breather and catch up, just a little. Tiernan and I even got to do a bit of quality time. We worked together to patch a hole in the fence with bricks and then took our escape-artist dog for a walk in the bush. Nice. One child is soooooooo much easier than three.

I have a huge stash of pirate paraphernalia in my cupboard, threatening to burst forth the very next time I open the door. Only 11 sleeps until Tiernan’s 5th Birthday Party. We’re all dressing up as pirates.

Molly is having lots of trouble with toileting yet again. This time there are poo accidents, too. Lots of poo accidents. I am beginning to suspect there may be more to it than simply taking a long time to toilet train. I feel it may be time to investigate further, but our GP and family health nurse don’t seem to think so. There is always that hesitation, that fear of taking something too seriously, of overreacting and looking like a crazy, hysterical mother. I have to keep reminding myself that I am neither crazy nor hysterical, just concerned, and go ahead and ask for that referral to the paediatrician anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? I could be right and that would mean I did the right thing by asking for more tests to be done. Or, I could be wrong. Which would also be a good thing – no harm done. Right?

Today, Tiernan told me he didn’t want to go to a birthday party we just got invited to. He said he would rather go somewhere a little bit fun, but not too fun. He said he wanted some quiet time to himself at this not-too-fun-place while the rest of us went to the party. It made me laugh.

Tomorrow I am getting up at 4am to accompany my sister to the gym. It’s been ages since I did any early-morning training and I have been looking forward to getting back into it. Sort of. The early mornings are a killer. However, I’m nervous about tomorrow as this bully coach will be there and my main reason for going is that Kate is actually too intimidated to go alone. I think he will stay away. I hope so. We aren’t in any physical danger – there will be other rowers present. But I just don’t want him to come near me. I used to trust him and to learn he is such a slimeball is a huge kick in the guts. I just want this crap to be over. I hope it will be soon.

I can hear Tom and his Dad watching the State of Origin together as I type this. Apparently it’s not going well. Tom is repeating, “Oh shit, oh shit.” I’m laughing because I couldn’t care less who wins.

Well, time to sleep now. I hope that once this letter is done I will have more time (and headspace) to log in here more often. I have much to say, but no time to do it.

UPDATE: I just found out the Blues won after all. All that angst for nothing, Tom!

Sorry. You probably won’t find this very interesting. But I need to vent.

Tonight I am sad and angry. Today was Neave’s birthday party. It was nice. But it didn’t all go to plan. Tonight as I tucked Tiernan into bed, I had to explain to him why his cousins, who we believed to be coming to the party with Tom’s brother (G), didn’t turn up. I had to explain why we may never see them again.

A family feud (I can’t believe I’m typing these words, it seems so cliché), has been brewing for about four years now, and it has finally all come to a head. Our relationship with G and his wife, M, has been rocky during this time. We had suspicions that M was trying to distance G from his family, but none of us really wanted it to be true. However, it now seems almost certain that this is the case. Not only that, she has just about succeeded in breaking down their relationship altogether.

Today it all came out, over a two-year-old’s birthday party. They refused to come, because we aren’t to be trusted near their children. We do crazy things like discipline our children in a calm, reasonable manner instead of yelling at them and humiliating them publicly. We teach them the correct names for their private parts and don’t shame them when they are (age-appropriately) curious about their own, and other’s. We have concerns about our children watching violent TV-shows. We accept that children all do things like pinch, bite and hit, until they learn appropriate ways to express themselves (note I say accept, not condone).

But all of this is nothing. These are merely the petty, nit-picky excuses for the way they ignore and avoid us. All of it has been a ploy to create a rift between Tom’s brother and his family, and M has chosen to bully our son to achieve this end. Since he was 18 months old, she has been blaming him for teaching his cousin, who is 7 months younger, bad habits. She accuses him of traumatising H, claiming he is not himself for 6-8 weeks after contact with Tiernan. I know my son is not perfect. (Have you read this post?) He can be extremely difficult to manage. But, when it comes down to it, his behaviour, while intense and sometimes disagreeable, is normal. Age-appropriate and completely normal. For her to claim he has such an influence over H is simply ridiculous – they are lucky if they see each other four times a year.

There is so much that I am hurt by in all of this. I am sad to see Tom so distraught at possibly losing his brother. He actually cried today. I know how devastated I would be if someone tried to take my sister from me, break down our relationship and destroy the bond we share. To make matters worse, G doesn’t appear to be putting up much of a fight. He’s letting it all happen; apparently not at all concerned about the people he is turning away from.

I am deeply hurt that people I once believed to be good friends, who I have helped in times of need, who I have defended, whose children I have loved and cared for, can turn around and treat my family in this way. To tell us we are untrustworthy and to be so unforgivingly judgemental about our parenting practices. I wouldn’t dare assume that the way I do things is the only way, the ‘best’ way. I just do my best. I don’t agree with everything they do, but I don’t go around creating huge dramas about our differences. I live and let live. I never once expected not to be given the same respect, especially from family members.

I feel dreadful for Tom’s parents. They have been dragged into this mess, forced to take sides, and have had to side with us because, really, there is no other logical alternative. I can’t imagine how much this must hurt them. By taking our side, they are facing the very real possibility that they will be excluded from their grandchildren’s lives from now on.

But the worst part? Having to explain to Tiernan why, for the moment, he won’t be seeing H, W or C. I told him it was because we had been arguing with their Mum and Dad, and that we are all a bit upset about it. I told him that, hopefully, we will be able to fix the problem so that he can play with H (his favourite cousin, the closest in age) again soon. That none of it was his fault, or H, W or C’s fault. That H still loves him and wants to play with him as soon as he can. That he doesn’t have to be upset with his Uncle and Aunty if he doesn’t want to be… he can still love them.

But at this point I had to stop. I wanted to say that they still love him. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Because I don’t believe it’s true. How can they? How can they do this to a child they love? How can they bully him, blame him, shame him, but still claim they love him? They don’t. Right now I am finding this the hardest thing to accept. My innocent, beautiful child – who doesn’t know the things they have been saying about him, who just wants to play and be loved – loves them still. Whole-heartedly and unconditionally. I will never tell him not to. But nor will I argue if he one day decides it’s not worth his while.

The best I can hope for at this point is that we will be able to patch things up enough for the children to continue to see each other. But I don’t expect to ever trust G and M again. It will never be the same. They have hurt us all too much.

So yeah, that’s the situation. I promise I’ll let go of it now. But this is how I work through my feelings about things, by writing and sharing them. Thank you for listening, if you did. I’ll write nice things about Neave and her little birthday party soon.