A BAD HAIR DAY

I don’t know why I woke up like a bear with a sore head this morning. Perhaps it was the fact I drank too much red wine last night? Perhaps it was because today was just going to be one of those kind of days, the kind of days when you just feel flat and sorry for yourself. You see now and again, and particularly, for some reason today, I get fed up with the discussion around money in our daily life. I know there are a gazillion people worse off than us. I know I’m lucky to have all of the amazing things I have in my life. But some days, the discussion just gets me down.

Frustrated, and in an effort to save some cash, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I took the scissors out of the bathroom cabinet and like any hungover, grumpy, frustrated bear with a sore head would do – I cut my own hair. I mean seriously how hard can it be?

I should mention that I am not a hairdresser. In fact, my only experience in the hair cutting department was with clippers when I trimmed an ex’s hair almost 2 decades ago and cutting hacking my 4-year-old daughters curly locks last week. My daughter did mention afterwards that she looked like a boy. If I’m honest her new cut does bare a strong resemblance to the bowl style that was so fashionable back in the 80’s and early 90’s. That said, all things considered, I  thought I did an ok job. It was straight (ish) and with her continued aversion to washing or combing her hair, the new do was considerably easier on the eye than the nest that had been growing there previously.

I had a taste for it now.

As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, my arms bent and hands contorted like an octopus, It soon became apparent to me that cutting one’s own hair is incredibly awkward, unless you are double jointed or indeed, an octopus. Initially tentative, I made a few small snips here and there. Soon I was feeling more confident and began chopping larger clumps of hair off and placing them into the bin. I couldn’t really tell how it was going at the back but from the front, it seemed ok.

Unfortunately my husband’s facial expression when I walked out of the bathroom suggested otherwise and only added to my bad mood.

So, it’s fair to say the day didn’t start out on its best foot. Although my bad mood came and went throughout the day, on the whole, it clung on like a quivering crustacean to a rock. I knew I was being dreadful, like a spoilt ungrateful brat. I couldn’t look my husband in the eye as I moaned away with my self-pitying tirade.  I willed a wave to splash me in the face and wash my bad mood away with it far out to the horizon.

That’s when it happened.

I got way more than I bargained for.

The wave came. It didn’t just splash me in the face. It enveloped me, sweeping me up in its undulating swell.

The girls, of which I have 2, requested some music. We dug out the cable for the iPod docking station and began to recharge my iPod. They waited patiently for the iPod to charge. I went out of the room for a moment. When I returned the music was playing and my 2-year-old daughter was held up in her  Daddy’s arms giggling hysterically as he danced with her around the lounge. My eldest daughter, age 4, was on the sofa laughing. I bundled her up into my arms and began swinging her round and round dancing to the music. We danced and laughed until we felt dizzy.

Rushes of ecstatic joy and gratitude ran through my veins. How did I get so lucky to have these 3 people as part of my life?

I was no longer a bear with a sore head. The day wasn’t so bad after all, even if I did have a terrible hair cut.

We need to listen to music and dance more.

 

 

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Food For Thought

imageYesterday, whilst at the playground I had to admire my 3 year old for her persistence.

It was New Year’s Eve. We took the girl’s and their dinner as well as some snacks and wine for us, to the playground at the back of the beach. I rarely leave the house without food for them as it appears to be the main bribery tool that works when trying to get them to complete the simplest of tasks.

The girls opened up their Peppa Pig lunch box, as they do every day, in excited anticipation to see what goodies lay within the pink canvas casing. Sometimes I can sense (and understand) their disappointment- it’s usually some variation of the same 3 ingredients: yoghurt, pasta and eggs. However today (as it was NYE) I’d tried to make it more interesting. I’d go so far as to say I’d possibly gone a little overboard with the amount and variety; chicken, avocado, crisps, yoghurt, nuts, grapes, cherries, dips and crackers – no egg or pasta in sight for once! Initially most of the contents seemed to meet their approval- this was evident by the way they were busily tucking in. Obviously not all of it was a winner, every now and again an item of half nibbled, sucked, licked or untouched food landed on or near me as they discarded it.

After a few minutes my 3 year old hot footed it to the other side of the playground where she promptly stood and stared intently at a family who were sitting down to enjoy their own picnic. They gave her a couple of token/awkward smiles as they tried to carry on enjoying their dinner in spite of her watchful eye.

After a good ten minutes of some hard core staring and probably making them feel immensely guilty with each bite they took, they caved in and passed her a strawberry. Without hesitation she took it from them and ran back to us, grinning with pride and satisfaction at her achievement/steal.

When I was a child it was drummed into me daily not to take food from strangers. I can’t remember what age I was when I started to understand this. As you can see, I haven’t started teaching this to my girls yet but I guess it may be time to start.

I remember the first few times my daughter got ‘food envy’ when we were out in public. I’d desperately try to explain and show my friend or the stranger she had approached, how much food I had brought so they didn’t think I was a terrible or unprepared mother. The shoe has now been on the other foot as it’s happened to me many times with other children. I have to say I find it a little awkward. I have no issue giving the child some food but it’s often tricky to know what is the right thing to do, especially if the parent is nowhere in sight.

It made me wonder why it is that children get food envy? My youngest will vigorously shake her head from side to side and throw food off her high chair in disgust, 5 minutes later if I’m eating the exact same thing she stares at me longingly and opens her mouth wide waiting for me to shovel some in. Once I do as she requests, she has a look of immense satisfaction on her face and opens her mouth even wider in readiness for the next deposit.

Is it because other people’s food actually tastes better or is it the satisfaction they feel when they get something that isn’t actually theirs? I’m inclined to think it’s the latter however I’m no child psychologist so unfortunately I don’t have the answers. Just food for thought!

The Truth About Toddlers

Before having toddlers, my perception was that they were little people who ‘toddled’ along, smiling cutely as they went. Sure, I’d heard of the ‘Terrible Twos’ and witnessed the odd tantrum, but I thought they were the exception rather than the rule.

I never realised there was SO much more to it than that. Their autocratic and often teenage-like behaviour coupled with their Jekyll and Hyde mood swings, never ceases to amaze me. Their inability to understand what seems so logical and reasonable and absolute inflexibility, makes time spent in their company a little fraught at times.

Sorry?

I’m aware that we are not alone. I Have enough mummy friends going through similar challenging times and have now read enough articles, confirming our two toddlers are by no means unique in this respect. My simplistic and naive understanding of ‘toddlers’, has gone out the window now that I have 2 of them living under my roof.

My youngest is 15 months old. Having just started to walk independently, I can confirm she is 100% ‘toddling’. Often she does this smiling and laughing as she goes. Revelling in the attention she gets from us and other onlookers. Still a little unsteady on her feet, there are often moments when she falls. We hold our breath and wait…..she looks at us……still holding our breath, still waiting. She smiles, then drunkenly stumbles back to her feet and carries on her merry toddling way. Phew, we are relieved – exhale. Unfortunately there are also many occasions when she falls, looks at us, turns her bottom lip downwards and the tears come. Or, she doesn’t fall, the tears come and we have absolutely no idea why she is crying.

Having no idea why she is crying happens a lot. It’s got to the point where I am so often at a loss, I resort to asking her nearly 3 year old sister if she can shed any light on it. Her reply is consistent, ‘’she wants booby milk Mummy”. Hence why my youngest is a breast-aholic.

For the first year of her life she suffered severe reflux. It was heart-breaking. She struggled to self-settle, needy of me and my boobs and physical in the way she demonstrated her discontent. At first I put everything down to reflux. As she has grown older I’m learning that lots of her tears are because she’s just not getting what she wants. She literally throws her dummy out of the cot, her food off the high chair and toys out of the pram with such force she could compete in the next Olympic shotput rounds.

I have suffered many a bruised foot at the hands of a hurtling Sippy cup, flung onto the floor for the 10th time that sitting. I’m often left scrabbling around in the dark in her bedroom or under cars searching for her abandoned dummy. Luckily she is not of an age where she can repeat the swear words coming from my mouth!

We have a bedtime ritual. Forgive me, I know how ridiculous this must sound. I put her dummy in my mouth by the handle, carry her into her room and wait until she decides she’s ready to take the dummy from my mouth, before attempting to place her in the cot. If I try to put the dummy into her mouth before she’s ready, onto the floor it goes. If she won’t take the dummy from me, I know it’s time to retract back to the lounge and try again later. Often she teases me, taking it from me and then flinging it in disgust across the room.

When she decides she wants a breastfeed, she climbs on me, pulls my top/dress up or down and helps herself. She hates to be restrained, in the pram, cot, car seat or high chair. Sometimes food provides a distraction, but that’s short-lived and she soon starts wriggling and screaming leaving me no choice but to set her free.

Our eldest daughter (nearly 3) was relatively tantrum free until she reached 18 months. She’s making up for lost time now. This coincided with the arrival of her baby sister. I have heard that how she felt could be likened to how you would feel if your partner brought home a new lover, moved them in and had them attached to them the entire time – ouch!

Occasionally whilst at the playground, if she fell over, I’d go to comfort her – she’d scream and run away, turning up the volume the closer I got. Aware that each step nearer resulted in her becoming more upset, I stopped. Seeing her this way and feeling so helpless broke my heart. Gradually I’d begin moving towards her again, desperate to take her in my arms and console her. This made it worse. She’d run away screaming as though I was some crazy stranger attempting to abduct her.

I willed her words to come in the hope we would understand each other better and relieve her frustrations. At first her repertoire of words was limited; ‘dummy’, hot milk’, ‘mummy’, ‘daddy’ and ‘MORE’. Often she’d sit in her throne/ high chair and have me run ragged as she shouted her orders. As we chatted more I started to toughen up, realising that she did understand the meaning of the word ‘no’ perfectly well and it was ok for me to use it. With the implementation of ‘no’ came the arrival of the truly terrible twos.

I began seeking advice from parenting Facebook groups and reading more articles about how to deal with toddler behaviour.

  • Get down to their level
  • Remain calm
  • Explain why you are saying no
  • Be consistent
  • Don’t raise your voice

Every time I read a new article, I felt inspired and hopeful.

The tantrum begins:

Deep breath, bend down, stay calm

“I’m sorry you are feeling upset sweetheart, I understand you want a whole biscuit but unfortunately it was broken when I took it out of the wrapper”

Following the advice to the letter, I’m ready for the current mood to change so we can continue with our day.

“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I want a whole one, I want a whole one now. I want a whole apple biscuit NOW”

Be patient, I remind myself. Try again.

The screaming gets louder, leg kicking and lashing out begins. We are attracting the attention of passers-by who look at her with pity, like I’m the one being unreasonable.

“Poor thing, bless her”

Bless her? My patience fading and my frustration increasing. Often, against my better judgement and with a quick risk assessment, I give in.

“Fine- wear your shoes on the wrong feet”

Unfortunately, I have to confess, there are occasions when all my good intentions go out the window and I lose it. I raise my voice and get angry.

I have learnt, she’s not a morning person. Upon waking she rubs her eyes, grunting, refusing to look at me. I hold my arms out towards her but am met with,

“Meh”, whilst shaking her head vigorously from side to side. Consequently I’ve encouraged her to call for Daddy when she wakes (especially as it’s been getting earlier). He talked me through their morning ritual:

  • She demands to be placed on a particular sofa
  • He tries to take her sleeping bag off and is met a stern look, head shake and grunting
  • She demands hot milk (usually sending it back saying it’s not hot enough)
  • She demands he sits on the other sofa
  • She demands to watch Peppa Pig on the IPad – when he says no to the iPad she starts to scream
  • He gives in

The toddler timeframe is generally considered to be between age 1 and 3. Ironically whilst I’m willing an end to the tantrums I’m also wishing time would slow down. With our youngest I love seeing her drunkenly toddling along, stopping to examine everything in her path. Whilst her neediness of me can at times be exhausting, I’m also aware that it is not going to be forever and it is her unique connection with me that creates this need. With the eldest, whilst the ability for her to converse has at times resulted in a stroppy, demanding child, it’s also enabled a hilariously cute, slightly bonkers little girl who cracks us up daily with her commentary and constant questioning to emerge.

Our 2 toddlers have very different temperaments, therefore what worked at times for one hasn’t worked so well for the other. It has taught me that as a parent, I have to adapt my parenting style to suit that particular child and situation. There is no ‘one size fits all approach’. There are some similarities, they are both stubborn, strong willed and determined little people trying to find their way. They may be able to transform from darling to devil in the blink of any eye, but the darling bits are delicious and the devil bits – well we’ll put them down to a ‘developmental phase’.

Pink Pear Bear

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Growing up I can remember many disagreements with my two older sisters where my Mum or Dad had to step in to referee. We would all stake our claim that ‘SHE started it’. Sometimes I’d side with one of my sisters to say that it was the other one’s fault. Regardless of these assertions usually the outcome was the same – Mum or Dad would insist that we apologised to each other, irrespective of who had ‘apparently’ started it.

It always felt desperately unfair and I can remember even then finding it incredibly challenging to say those two little words, ‘I’m sorry’.

As I grew to be a teenager, the fights with my siblings decreased and they were replaced with arguments with my parents (mainly my Dad). Sometimes I was fully aware that I’d been out of order or grumpy and that perhaps the argument was my fault however I still found it difficult to utter those two little words.

Then came disagreements with boyfriends and friends. Occasionally I’d know I was the one in the wrong but once I’d started down that path it was so difficult to retract what had been said and actually admit that I was ‘sorry’.

Recently I’ve been observing my eldest daughter (age 2 years and 8 months) and have been amazed to see how at such a young age the words, ‘I’m sorry’, seem to cause her such difficulty.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Occasionally she does something naughty to her baby sister such as a heavy handed pat (AKA a whack) or grabs a toy off her. Recently she has started to hit out at me and her Dad. Aware we must teach her that this behaviour is unacceptable, we take her away from the situation and talk to her insisting that she says ‘sorry’ to whoever she has upset. Well, you would think we were asking her to jump into a pit of snakes. She will do absolutely everything possible to avoid saying those two little words. She would rather sit and scream in her room for eternity than say those words.

We offer her bribes:

‘’If you say you’re sorry we can all go out and have fun after at the park’’

or

‘’If you just say you are sorry you can come and eat ice-cream with us’’

Sometimes she will slowly move towards whoever it is she is meant to be apologising to, hanging her head, avoiding any eye contact. She will stand like that for ages and no amount of gentle persuasion/bribery will get her to say those words. We have now offered her the option of giving the person a kiss instead of saying those oh so difficult words. Even still she just can’t quite bring herself to do it. Very occasionally we have been known to hear the words we’ve been eagerly awaiting. But those occasions are rare and the words are muttered so quietly under her breath, whilst still avoiding all eye contact, you could blink and miss them.

As an adult I understand that the reason I don’t like to say sorry sometimes is either because I absolutely believe I’m right or I know I’m not right but just can’t quite deal with losing face – that little thing called pride not helped by my stubborn nature. There are occasions, I will concede, that I have been known to have a row with my husband and I’ve completely lost what my initial point was.  Worse still,  I’m suddenly aware that I’m being totally unreasonable yet I just can’t seem to stop myself (it can’t be just a coincidence that such arguments tend to happen at a certain time each month and during the early weeks of both of my pregnancies! I’m of course apportioning all blame for these crazy mood swings and irrational behaviour to hormones). The argument can sometimes carry on in this vein for several minutes. It’s only after some cooling off time that I may be able to swallow my pride, admit I was wrong, and say, ‘I’m sorry’.

So my question is, when my little girl seems to find it impossibly hard to say, “I’m sorry”, is this because she believes she is in the right or is it because she knows she’s in the wrong but doesn’t want to lose face?

Unfortunately, I’m no child psychologist.  I don’t have an answer to this question. I’m thoroughly intrigued by watching my daughter to see how her relationship with these two little words may develop as she grows older. She certainly takes after both myself and her father with her stubborn nature- it’s fair to say she’s a chip off the old block!