Friday, 31 October 2008

Sleep and the lack of it

This morning I feel as though the inside of my head has been filled with some kind of fudge-like substance. Don't get me wrong, I know that I am lucky to have two beautiful children who provide endless amusement, but I would occasionally like more sleep. Please.

I am not entirely sure how it came to be that I managed to have not one but two daughters who think sleeping alone is some kind of travesty against human nature. The current pattern goes something like this... 7.15pm (ish) I am reading the last of the stories, lights out then settling into one last made-up story whilst holding a hand on each side. Fortunately the room is small enough for me to be able to do this. For the first few minutes I cherish the thought that in a few short years neither of them will want to hold my hand so it is a precious moment... but after about ten minutes of sitting stock still in silence I begin to remember that I have not slept properly for about five years, there is a pile of washing up / laundry / toys scattered across the floor and I would actually really like a glass of water before my head explodes. I know, I created this nightmare by giving in to their sleeptime demands, I know, I am weak etc etc, but this is the way it is and short of someone tying me onto a chair downstairs while they cry themselves to sleep it is not going to change until they decide they are old enough to cope with drifting off by themselves.

Eventually they are asleep and I creep downstairs.

1am (or thereabouts) two year old starts shouting, "MUMMY! Want to come in your bed!!!" She is about a foot and a half from five year old and is rather loud so I give in, sometimes after a half-hearted attempt to resettle her in her own bed.

3am five year old turns over and realises she is now alone in the room, so gets up and runs in like the clappers to join us. Sometimes there then follows a brief spat over who is going to lie where (next to mummy being the prime position), followed by exhaustion taking over one by one until we all sleep in fits and starts, limbs and torsos entangled.

No wonder then that when the alarm goes for my shower (yes the night routine means I have the only young children I know who have to be woken from slumber of a morning) I occasionally feel rather taken aback that the night really is over.

But that is when I have a chance to stand and look at my two beautiful angels as they sleep together, full of peace and innocence. For a moment or two, anyway.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The think about pink

Ever since giving birth to my first beautiful daughter I have battled against the onslaught of all things pink and princess, but the might of the Western world is against me and occasionally I have to concede defeat in the face of a five year old who is apparently being drawn into a world that occasionally seems all but completely alien to me.

Sitting talking to her this afternoon she was cutting out figures from a 'Princess' magazine bought for her by her father, chatting about which was Sleeping Beauty etc and whether she should wear the cardboard crown with the pink side or yellow side showing. I asked her: "Why do you like princess magazines then?" The answer:"It's just I like all the jewels and things." Hmm.

The problem for my little girls - fascinated by make-up, jewellry, perfumes and all the things that women are 'supposed' to like, is that their mother is one of those women who literally showers, gets dressed and walks out of the door, and that really is the way I like it. My cupboards are not home to bottles of lotions and potions, nor am I someone who looks forward to a chance to go shopping for clothes and shoes.

It does fascinate me though, this subconscious grooming by our society, that teaches young girls what they are 'supposed' to like and dislike from such an early age. And it really is difficult to avoid. My five year old has very clear ideas about what toys / clothes / hobbies are suitable for each sex and I cannot honestly say where these ideas have come from. Certainly not from her mother, in fact I am probably far too quick in my middle class lefty-liberal way, to point out at every opportunity: "Well some boys like pink.... some boys are quiet and kind... some girls like blue... everyone is different and that's ok... etc etc"

What really makes me smile though is that when she's not thinking about what she should like and she lets her guard down, I am reassured by her ability to jump in with both feet and enjoy life in the way that I think all children should be allowed to whether they are male or female. So, when we went to an adventure playground yesterday she was the only girl in the queue for the rope slide (and not just once either), and today when I asked her to help me plant bulbs she spent more time picking up worms and woodlice than she did talking about the pretty flowers we were going to grow. Phew.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Words of wisdom

Both my daughters are equally able to surprise me with the things they say, as you would expect from a 2 and a 5 year old, but today it's been the elder whose words of wisdom(?) have stuck in my mind.
When writing her name she often writes the 's' backwards, as it would look if you glanced in a mirror, usually I tend to let this go but after hearing a comment about it I decided to ask her about it: "Yes that's very neat, did you know you've written the 's' back-to-front?" She replied quite quickly, telling me that:"I have to write it like that because if I make the 's' face the 'y' then they fight with each other."
Battling letters, an intriguing concept I think.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

An average morning?

Well maybe 'average' is an unfair description of this morning, which was admittedly slightly more hectic than usual, mainly due to two year old being on the tail end of a cold and both daughters having been awake and giggling until after 9pm the night before.

Two year old was quite adamant that I did not need to go more than a foot from her in order to have a shower and was being more than a little vociferous about it, but as I hadn't washed my hair since Saturday I was pretty convinced it had to be done. So that was quite stressful. I try to adopt a 'I can't hear you when I am in the shower' attitude to my three minute indulgence but when small child reaches that kind of volume it is fairly hard to maintain.

Shower over, beginning to work on my theory that the possibility of us all being washed and dressed in time to leave for school was looking a bit far-fetched. Then I came out of the bathroom dripping to find five year old lying in my bed telling me she'd had an 'accident' (ie she'd wet the only bed in the house without waterproof bedding on it) - aaaarrrrgggghhhh! Well, why are you still lying in it then!!!!. (calm down, phew).

So now to strip the bed and her, wash her and the mattress down (it's now 7.15am)... then managed to coax both girls downstairs for breakfast, obviously with two year old glued to my hip the whole time as she was still exercising her lungs and was mostly quite grumpy. She wanted to sit on my knee in the kitchen but I was trying to prepare five year old's and my breakfast as well as my lunch at the same time... Ok so now it's 7.40, time to go back upstairs to get dressed. At this point the two year old was still attached to my hip and feeling quite sorry for herself.

Time to abandon the idea of getting younger child dressed as she was staying at home with grandparent due to illness. Washed, teeth brushed, dress elder child. Then swop my two single mattresses over so the wet one is by the window in case poorly two year old wants to sleep in my bed later. Remember to double-check I'm fully dressed as it's entirely possibly that by this point I had my pants on my head or something... put the washing on.... 8.20 all herded back downstairs for ritual searching for keys, coats, shoes, water bottles etc... 8.40 phone rings, it's mum saying "I'm stuck in traffic, it's not moving at all"... ok should still be ok I'll go in the car... 8.55 phone rings again "I'm still on the ring road" aaarrrggghh two year old is semi-naked in a pyjama top and nappy - ok so I'll meet mum at school and wrap two year old in a blanket in the car... all get in the car. Of course by this point it's peeing it down.... phew, do you want me to go on?

I suppose the end to that should be that in the end we all got where we needed to be. This evening it appears that we have brought someone else's coat home though.... hmmm tackle that one during tomorrow's hecticity.

Saturday, 11 October 2008


Saturday morning is rapidly replacing Sunday as the least looked forward to of the week. Single mum, knackered by five days of school run / work etc, now not relishing the thought of being woken sometime before 7 for 'bekfast'.
Trying hard not to get bogged down by the mountain of washing up and laundry, or to notice the spread of household items, food and toys across the floors.
This morning started early and we crammed in painting, playing, breakfast, playing, second breakfast in front of DVD while I sneaked in the shower for a minute or two. Five year old wet herself during mini-tantrum so cleared that up.... then moment of energy brings on a desire to escape the four walls and go up to the Chevin for a breath of fresh air and a run around. Inspired decision as it turns out, the girls loved it and we escaped the usual playpark /local shops with a trip ever-so-slightly further afield. Girls collected stones and kicked a ball around for a bit, mum and I tried to persuade them to get slightly closer to the dogs that passed, hoping their 'fear' will subside soon.
Rushed ending to the walk as we had to get back in time for lunch and 2 year old's nap before Dad came to pick them up.
Afternoon felt lonely as knew I had to make an effort to make some floor space visible and get a few things in order before the chaos began once more. Fortunately had time to go into the garden - made use of new jute bags for clearing the leaves off the lawn - it'll turn to leaf mould for use next spring, and prepared a patch for planting the blackcurrant bush. Girls delivered back in time to help out with the planting which was great.