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Archive for the ‘Kids being kids’ Category

What do you do when you’re at the soccer and your team is losing?

You take your top off and attempt to distract the opposition, of course!

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And when it all gets a bit too boring, just dance.

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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.

So. It was the first trial game of the soccer season. Tiernan and Molly were both due to start their games at 9am. As usual, and much to Tom’s annoyance, we were pushing it to get there on time. Happily we made it, but little did I know the embarrassing events that were about to unfold.

8:55 We arrive at the field, disheveled, disorganised, disgruntled.

Tom and Tiernan head straight to Tiernan’s game. Since Tom’s the coach it’s a good idea for him to be there.

8:56 I line up with Molly and Neave to buy Molly some shorts and socks for the game. Since we require very tiny sizes, it takes a little while for the uniform guy to find what we need.

8:59 I start dressing Molly in her newly purchased gear. Halfway through, I notice a bad smell and ignore it. Not here. Not now. But then Neave sweetly informs me that she’s done a poo. In her undies.

9:01 With Molly kitted up at last, I pause to consider my options. I can either change Neave now as best I can (with no wipes or spare undies – they were forgotten at home), or I can quickly drop Molly off at her game before attempting the task. I go for option B, hoping to prevent Molly from missing too much of her first ever game.

9:02 We set off to find the Under 5 Alligators. This turns out to be not so easy. There are about five tiny fields set up all over the park, and with the sun beaming down at the exact wrong angle, it’s very difficult to distinguish one bunch of silhouettes from another. We end up weaving in and out of every tiny game before finding the right one.

9:06 The game has already started but we say a hasty hello to the team manager and get a shirt for Molly. Molly is a bit quiet but puts the shirt on. But then I try to put the orange bib on, and hit a wall. She won’t put it on. I explain that it’s so that she can tell who is on her team and who isn’t (they’re playing another team from the same club), but she is adamant. I try to convince her again, but it doesn’t work. In fact, it only gets worse. She starts crying and saying she doesn’t want to play soccer at all.

9:08 I give Molly a cuddle and say reassuring things, but as I do so, I notice Neave lifting her dress to reveal the poo, clearly discernible beneath her underpants. I ask her to just wait patiently another minute, and hope against hope none of the other parents have noticed. I don’t know any of them yet and don’t want to start like this.

9:09 After another minute of steady crying (by Molly) and increasingly desperate placating (by me), Molly is still showing no signs of being ready to play. Unsure what to do next, I glance again at Neave and see that she has now got poo on her hands, and all down her legs. Great.

9:10 I quickly inform Molly that I have to take Neave to the bathroom. She can stay or she can come, but we’re going now. Molly responds by crying even louder and starting to take off her shirt. I don’t have time to argue any further so walk away, one pooey child in tow, one screamy, half-naked child abandoned. A quick glance at the manager as I leave and I know she’ll watch Molly for me. Phew.

9:12 Neave and I make it to the toilet block, which features the lowest grade of toilet paper, that plasticky grease-proof paper stuff; the worst ever dispenser that makes you fight for every torn piece; and a large puddle taking up most of the standing room. It does not feature soap. The clean up is going to take a while.

9:13 I start cleaning.

9:14 Still cleaning. A family of three walk in and have to dance around us and the puddle to gain access to the only remaining toilet that isn’t being slowly filled with poo paper.

9:15 Still cleaning.

9:16 Still cleaning. I am beginning to wonder if Molly’s game will be over before we’re out.

9:17 Still cleaning.

9:18 Ok, done. Sort of. There is the question of what to do with Neave’s poo-coated undies. I decide to put them in a bag and throw them in the bin. We wash our hands as thoroughly as we’re able (no soap). As we leave the toilet block I tell Neave sternly not to touch her face or put anything in her mouth.

9:20 We arrive back at Molly’s game and it’s half time. Molly is back in her normal clothes and is sitting as far away as possible from her team mates. I take her back over and try one last time to convince her to play. No luck.

The Alligators go back on the field. Molly wants to go and play at the park. I tell her no, we’re going to stay and watch her team finish the game. Another tantrum ensues.

Throughout the rest of the game, other parents try to coax Molly onto the field. I am of two minds about this. I feel that pressuring her will only make it worse, and don’t want her to play unless she wants to. So for others to step in and add their two cents is a bit annoying, even though they mean well. At the same time, I’m already a bit flummoxed by the morning’s events, and am hyper aware of other parent’s judgement. I don’t want to worsen the fabulous first impression we’ve just made. Really, I just want to go home and start the day over.

9:35 The game ends. We make vague plans to return for training on Thursday (Yeah right I’m thinking to myself). We sulk away as quickly and quietly as we can.

I’m seriously considering stepping in as Tiernan’s coach and letting Tom deal with the girls.

I love watching these two play together.

They are playing Dr and Patient. I’m not sure why the Dr has climbed into bed with the patient though. Hmm.

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As I mentioned recently, Neave is kinda sorta learning to use the toilet.

Some days she wears ‘unnies’, some days she wears nappies. We leave it entirely up to her.

Some days she actually goes to the toilet or potty, some days she doesn’t bother.

And on some, extra special days, when Neave realises that she needs to do a wee or poo, she removes her ‘unnies’, or her nappy. But, she doesn’t take herself to the toilet.

No, instead she takes herself to the toy room and does what she needs to do on the elephant. This is the elephant:

It is one of the many animals featured on our toy car mat thing.

Five times this has happened. It seems to be personal.

One time I caught Neave about to do the act and told her she needed to go to the toilet. She refused to go, so I brought the potty to her.

She placed it on top of the elephant and proceeded.

Poor elephant.

Okay, so I’m not above concocting elaborate schemes for bribing my children to do things that I feel are necessary. For example, the Nappy Fairy visited both Tiernan and Molly when push came to shove with toilet training. That went pretty well, so I reserved the right to apply the concept in other circumstances. In teacher speak, this is called ‘Synthesizing, and I awarded myself full points for my cleverness. Until it all went wrong.

The time has come for Tiernan to stop sucking his thumb.

He has had dermatitis around his mouth and on his thumb for some weeks now, caused by saliva as he sucks his thumb in his sleep and drools everywhere. We were treating it, but a few days ago he developed an impetigo infection around his mouth. Impetigo is contagious and needs to be treated with antibiotics. He is off preschool today and I am home from work because of the impetigo. This is not something I wish to repeat. The thumb sucking has got to stop.

We had been discussing this with Tiernan since the dermatitis started anyway. He was pretty resistant to the idea. However, once the impetigo started and I made him wash his hands every time he touched his face (so he didn’t give it to us), and he started to realise that impetigo sucks, he did say that he might be able to quit sucking his thumb if we took his blankets away.

In that instant, the Blanket Fairy was born.The Blanket Fairy takes blankets from big kids and gives them to younger kids who need them more, which is exactly what the Nappy Fairy does, only she deals in nappies. Clean ones.

I asked Tiernan if he would like me to get the Blanket Fairy to visit. I explained that the Blanket Fairy would leave him a toy if she let him take his blankets. He got excited about the toy and seemed keen. He went to his room and said goodbye to his blankets, of which he has about seven, left over from his baby days. He used to call them ‘barties’. He likes to rub them on his face while he sucks his thumb.

Then I realised the Blanket Fairy (ie. Me) wouldn’t have time to go to the toy shop that night, so I told him he could have one more night with his blankets and say goodbye tomorrow. He was cool with that. He said he would miss his blankets but he was big enough now not to need them anymore, and that he didn’t want to suck his thumb anymore either. So brave.

But that was during the day.

In the evening, he changed his mind. He was tired. And sleepy. And a big baby again. He wanted his blankets and his thumb and was never, ever giving any of them up.

Two days later – today – I broached the subject again. We’re both home because of his impetigo. We had the opportunity to visit ‘Toy Giraffes’, the coolest toyshop ever (also known as ‘Toys R Us’ if you’re an adult). So I told Tiernan that I had spoken to the Blanket Fairy on the phone (he already thought that anyway – I was talking to my Mum and he asked me if it was the Blanket Fairy, so it wasn’t really that much of a lie). I said the Blanket Fairy had given me some money to buy him a new toy and that she wanted him to pick one out so that she didn’t get the wrong thing. Also, she’s really tiny and can’t carry big things.

He bought it. He was super excited about going to ‘Toy Giraffes’. He was ready to sign over his soul for a visit to ‘Toy Giraffes’, so his blankets were only a small promise, in the scheme of things.

We went in. He picked his new Spiderman Toy. We came home. We started to pack up his blankets.

He baulked. Then I baulked, too.

Each blanket we found seemed to bring up different memories for him. He smelled each one and told me it was his favourite and could he please, please keep it? After the third one, I couldn’t handle it any more and started to compromise on the Blanket Fairy’s behalf. “Okay, I’m sure the Blanket Fairy will let you keep that one…”, until we had four blankets in the bag, and five in the cupboard. Not exactly what the Blanket Fairy had in mind. I ploughed on, trying to negotiate a better return for the Blanket Fairy’s investment, but that’s when he decided that he really didn’t want Spiderman after all and the Blanket Fairy could have him back. Then he started to cry.

Sigh.

I can see now that his blankets are still very special to him. I don’t want to make him give them away. But how do we renege on our deal with the Blanket Fairy, and keep our dignity?

We don’t. We wrote her a letter and begged to keep the blankets and Spiderman. We agreed that Tiernan would not sleep with the blankets anymore, but keep them in his cupboard. We explained that just having Spiderman would be enough to remind Tiernan not to suck his thumb during the day. Also, we made a plan to cut the tags off Tiernan’s pyjamas because he also likes to hold those while he sucks his thumb (weird kid), and argued that this was a far better plan that giving away the blankets. Last of all, we promised that Tiernan would look after his blankets, until he is bigger and ready to give them to the Blanket Fairy.

Only, Tiernan made me change that bit and he ended up promising to look after his blankets, and when he is bigger he will wear them as scarves. Every day.

Oh dear.

We are still waiting on her response.

Here are some blurry photos from Easter, and the weeks following. The photos are blurry because I took them all on my phone. I use it more than the camera these days because the camera is just as blurry. That’s my fault. I took it to the beach and got sand in it. So, blurry photos all around.

Easter morning. The Easter Bunny made the mistake of leaving Neave’s chocolate bunny within her reach. This photo was taken at 5:30am.

Molly being a princess down at Mum’s house.

Mum and I took the kids to a wildlife park in Nowra during our stay at Mums. This koala actually put its paw through the fence to have it stroked. Cute, although I was a little concerned someone (not the koala) would end up with severed fingers!

Neave opening some birthday presents. She’s pretty good at it.

Cake(s) number 1.

Neave enjoying cake number 1.

Cake(s) number 2 (featuring leftover cakes from cake number 1). These went to Family Day Care with Neave.

Cake number 3 – trampoline cake for her little party.

How I wish this one wasn’t blurry! Soooo cute, Neave. Feeding her doll.

Tiernan drew this racing car. He put the 2 on it first, then the 1, and told me it was ‘twenty-one.’ Close! He’s not big on writing, but loves to count and read numbers so I’m thinking he’ll be a numbers man. I don’t like to push him to do things he’s not interested in – he’ll have plenty of time to do that stuff in school. I gave up teaching him to write his name a while ago. But he figured it out anyway:

His day care educator was as surprised as I was when he did this all on his own at drawing time. Clever kid. I think he is a bit like me that way – doesn’t want to try anything unless he’s pretty sure he can already do it!

We got a new fridge, which means the kids got a new box. Win-win!

Boxes also make great down-hill racing tracks.

Molly’s new haircut. I’m a bit sad to see her long curls go, but she hates having it brushed. Hates it. She actually wanted it shorter than Tiernan’s but I convinced her to try this length out first. I have to admit I’m struggling with this one. She wants it short, I want it long. I was the same way with Tiernan – it’s the curls, they get me every time! However, it’s her hair so if she still wants it short in a few more weeks, then we’ll give it a try. I’m not entirely sure she fully understands that once it’s gone it won’t be back for a while, which is another thing that’s holding me back a bit. But we’ll see. The hardest part will be convincing Tom…