Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mortality for the younger mind

I wonder sometimes whether all young children have as keen an interest in death as my two?

We have recently acquired a hamster - a birthday present for my six year old daughter who had been asking if she could have a pet for about two years before I finally caved in. Three year old has asked on numerous occasions: "When will Emily die?" in a fairly matter-of-fact way.

This morning at breakfast the topic was extended a little.

Three year old: "When will Emily die?"
Six year old: "You can tell when she's dead because she won't move, look she's still moving so she's not dead yet."
Three year old: "Oh."
Six year old (in a very matter-of-fact tone): "When Emily dies will we have to take her back to the pet shop or can we bury her in the garden?"
Me: "Erm, well I don't think they will want her back at the pet shop so I guess we can bury her."

Six year old (after a pause): "Can we bury her in the stony bit?"

Monday, 28 September 2009

More hummous please

Six years on I still struggle to understand why the two things my children rally against the most are two of the things I would happily spend the majority of my time doing, i.e. sleeping and eating.

I try to cook most of the food I feed my children myself and am fairly determined that one day our tastes will coincide more frequently, but we do still have a lot of discussion about food. And we do currently eat a lot of pasta.

Personally, I do not eat meat, but as the girls' dad does, I have never tried to enforce my vegetarianism onto them. Obviously now that I am the only adult living in the house I tend to cook less meat than I did, but occasionally I will buy some form of meat - mainly to make up for the fact that I struggle to get them to eat enough variety of vegetables and pulses to get all the vitamins and nutrients I reckon they need in order to keep growing.

On this particular occasion I had bought chicken breast (free range and organic to make up for my guilt at buying and also to avoid feeding my children the horrible things that are fed to non free range chickens). I cut it into strips and rolled it in breadcrumbs, and baked it alongside some chips cut from potatoes dug up from the remains of this year's half-hearted vegetable-growing efforts. Home-made chicken nuggets and chips. A rare treat for my children who mainly live on tomato-based pasta sauces and things with cheese.

Three year old tucked in heartily (in itself quite a rarity): "Mummy this is delicious can you make it again please?"

Six year old was more reluctant, dipping into the chips but avoiding the chicken.

Now, as a vegetarian it does gall me to be having to persuade my children to eat meat, but I had bought it and cooked it so didn't really want to be throwing it out just due to pickiness.

Finally resorting to bargaining tactics. Me: "Just eat one piece for me then."
Six year old replies: "I'll only eat some chicken if you give me some carrot and hummous first."

There's no pleasing some people.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Panic? Moi?

Just had a mildly scary experience. My 6 year old went for tea at a friend's house and I was due to pick her up with little sister at 6pm after finishing work and feeding said little sister.

Except when it came to setting off to collect her I realised I'd mislaid the piece of paper with the address on. No need to panic, we all have mobiles these days don't we? So I texted the mum in question and set off towards the road I thought she lived down. Arriving at the end of the road there was still no reply. Ok, let's try ringing then. Answer phone. Oh poo. Try again in a few minutes. Answer phone. Little sister asking over and over again: "Where does C live Mummy?" "Erm, I'm not quite sure honey."

Ok, don't panic, she'll call back in a minute. In the meantime I text three other parent friends to see if they know the address. No answer. Ok, so now fifteen minutes have passed and there's still no answer. Should I start knocking on doors? No, probably too soon for that.

The thing is, in the greater scheme of things fifteen minutes isn't really all that long, but when you have realised that you have no idea where your baby is it can seem like a very long time indeed.

Looking at it rationally there was nothing to worry about it, but I can happily admit that when the mum did finally call me back ("Oh I'm so sorry I'd left my phone on charge etc etc") there was an enormous surge of relief.

Funny thing is though that these kinds of things make me realise how far I've moved on emotionally in the past year or so. Something like that would have thrown me into a complete panic last year, whereas this time I was able to rationalise and sit it out without losing it.

Still, next time she goes for tea I'll tattoo the address somewhere completely indelible. Just in case, you understand.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


I need to work on my personal communication skills.

Ironic, given that I have spent the last 11 years working in various sections of the communications industry. My CV claims that my written and verbal communication skills are second to none.

However, it seems my personal and working life continue to be hampered by a long-standing inability to make people understand what I want.

Somehow I am perfectly able to turn other people's stories into readable prose but trying to ensure others get me is where I fall down.

Today was a perfect example. I won't bore you with the details of my employment situation, suffice it to say I am not exactly feeling on top of the world. Time to move on definitely. All I need to do now is work out where to.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Nice things

Occasionally my girls do say nice things to me. Although their comments sometimes come with a sting too.

Yesterday I was applying moisturiser in a vain attempt to lessen the 'knackered lone parent' look I am currently sporting. My 3 year old was watching.

3 year old: Why are you doing that mummy?
Me: I'm trying to make my face look beautiful. Is it working?
3 year old: No. (Yeah, thanks honey, need to teach you some skills in 'white' lying) Are you going to put it on your legs?
Me: No, why do you think I should?
3 year old: No, your legs are beautiful already.

Aww, you see, she does love me a little bit. Or rather she does love some little bits of me.

This morning after waking, my girls were lying in my bed (no they hadn't been there all night... for once). Eldest claimed youngest smelled like tea and lemons that were a bit old. Not sure that was all that complimentary but I was impressed by her descriptive powers nonetheless.

Me: What do I smell like then? (fearing the worst)
6 year old: A kiss.

Awwww. That makes up for her wanting to move out on me earlier in the week. And then some.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Tired, tired, tired

After several days of celebrating 6 year old's birthday last week the excitement finally got to her as she woke at 5.30am on Monday screeching for me.

"Mummy, come and get me! Come and get me!"

My initial response was a fairly unsympathetic: "What is it? It's the middle of the night (sort of)."

Then of course I get up and go to see to her, worrying that she will wake 3 year old - who, incidentally, is already lying next to me after an earlier outburst.

So what was wrong? "Mummy, I want to go and live with my Uncle and Aunty!"

Nice. Resisted the temptation to point out that there was more than a little irony to the fact that I was now lying awake comforting her because she wanted to leave me!?

Mornings are hard work again this week. Still, looking on the 'bright' side, in five weeks time I won't have a job to go to after school and playgroup drop-off, maybe then I can catch up on some sleep in-between hunting for work and fighting the blues.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Time travel

Went on an outing to Bradford the other week. Bearing in mind that we live a stone's throw away in Leeds I was quite amused by my daughters' conversation in the back of the car about how far it was. Like two little old ladies they discussed: "Ooh this is a reeeally long way isn't it...."
Then eldest asks me: "Mummy, what day is it in Bradford?"
Me: "Saturday"
Eldest: "Oh, so it's the same day here as it is at home?"
It was hard to believe, obviously.

Friday, 11 September 2009

I am trying, really I am

When I first started this blog I was hoping to record some of my efforts to 'green' my lifestyle. As time's gone on though I have mainly chosen to write about the things my children say and do before I forget all the lovely ideosyncracies that make them who they are. This time I feel like a moan about how as a parent it can be hard to stay on track with my 'principles'.

This morning I decided to walk to work. No big deal, I have done it many times before, except that over the summer I have stopped using the pushchair for my 3 year old so if I walk, now she has to also. Walking my six year old to school for the first week back has been no problem, the difficulties start once we leave the school gates and continue on up the hill. I reckon between school and nursery there's at least a mile of gentle upward slope, a fair distance for a 3 year old I admit. But yesterday we walked happily with the offer of half a strawberry for every little milestone. Forgetting one of the golden rules of parenting (i.e. nothing ever works twice) I decided to try the same trick again. Uh-oh, this time my offer of fruity treats were met with wails and a refusal to do anything other than sit on the pavement.

Result? Not wanting to give in to the tantrum that ensued I hung around for a few minutes to see if she would come round. No chance of that. At least not within the time that remained between school drop-off and the due-in-work deadline. My few minutes of hanging around smiling at passers-by as they stared was of course followed by much huffing and puffing as I then carried her up the hill to work.

Ouch, that was hard work.

I am doing my best to leave the car at home but sometimes it is very hard indeed.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Happy Birthday six today

It was my eldest's sixth birthday today. Am doing the ridiculously expensive play-den party thing for the first time ever this weekend with most of the girls in her class going. Ages ago I said she could also invite a friend round for a small birthday tea and candle-blowing ceremony after school on her actual birthday. She finally decided on C, after hearing that C wasn't able to come to the party at the weekend.

Conversation on the way home goes something like...:
Me: So when are you 6 then C?
C: I'm not sure but I don't really have birthdays because I'm a Jehovah.
Me: (inside my head obviously) Bollocks. So that'll be why she's not coming to the party then. Doh.

Am I the only one who does things like this? Obviously the first part of this girl's visit involved my daughter proudly showing off her birthday gifts - in case you don't know Jehovah's witnesses don't celebrate birthdays and don't do the whole present and party thing. Sitting down to tea later we lit the candles and sang with our guest sitting politely watching, after telling me she wasn't allowed to sing 'Happy Birthday'. Seemingly she IS allowed to eat the cake afterwards though. Phew.

Six years old. Wow. Hard to believe. And the other day three year old's school forms came in the post. It's all going by so fast.