Last Monday was one of those days. One of those parenting days that happen a wee bit too often, but you just have to chalk it up to experience in the slow time-lapse that is the parenting journey.
Boy woke up with attitude. Anyone short for time should just skip to the end as it will be pretty apparent to all custodians of mini tyrants how the rest of the day was going to pan out…. pretty shitty.
Physically, raising weans after the baby stage is concluded seems to get, very marginally, easier although, it’s very rare I actually have to put any effort into competing my 10,000 steps on the FitBit- I mean, I’d done 647 steps by 9.15am without even leaving the holiday caravan.
The lugging of “essential baby stuff” also lessens, but it is replaced by other kiddo paraphernalia. I still use a 45L camping rucksack as my go to day-with-kids “handbag”, filled with various rubbish including hats,gloves, pants, snacks, colouring distractions, water bottles, as the outings get further afield and ambitious without simple “Abort, ABORT” quick retreats home.
Sleep is more reliable. On occasion. Though allowance must be made for bad dreams, lost toys, darkness & wet beds. In fact, it could be that, following the newborn boot camp, you are simply more used to the lack of sleep. I think I read somewhere that during the war, Winston Churchill would survive on 3hrs of sleep at a time. When I was a new mum, I remember thinking
“Lucky sod! I’d give my left engorged boob for 3hrs uninterrupted sleep.”
Anyway- I digress…
Overall the physical and energy hammering you experience for the first few years of flying by the seat of your pants, learning on the mumjob seems to lessen by the time that the playpark becomes less of a circuit training involving dead lifting toddlers. So, about 3 child years.
The psychological warfare increases exponentially.
It’s akin to being up against a grandmaster in an ongoing game of Flip Out Chess.
It’s probably not useful that I’m a slightly too strong believer (read stubborn) that once the line has been drawn, it should stay there. I often fall foul of this, which does drive HubGrub up the wall.
It’s not a good trait that quite often my default answer to an unexpected activity request from the weans is “No.” I don’t mean to be a killjoy but as Boy in particular suffers from a particular strong sense of “BUT YOU SAID WE COULD”, I simply try to avoid a future stand-off over the failure to complete said whim (“Mummy, can we paint that cardboard box into a space station before I put my school uniform on?”…. Er, No!). The second born, Wee Girlie, falls victim to my preempting any requests at all by selecting in advance the decreed favoured cup/plate/pants/jacket before we even have a discussion on the matter. Of course, I promised myself that I’d never be one of those mums to give into tantrums, but even worse, I try to avoid the 1 star rating meltdown all together. Wee girlie is learning that life is very conveniently peachy.
Anyway- when I do draw a line, I really do try not to bend it. Even if the line was drawn before I’d had a chance to mull it over- would a half hour in the playpark squeezed in, really be such a bad idea?
But then again, by the simple law of random physics, I am sometimes right. When dogs need walking and the playground has to wait. And this is when the Boy & I have our biggest show downs. When, to be frank, he is being a shithead on purpose. Or so it seems.
Back to last Monday…
Throughout the whole day, we disagreed about everything. He also seemed intent on overreacting to the smallest deviation from his plans for the day, which was mainly playing his iPad and watching TV. He was “frustrated” (new word, correct usage- slight mummy pride!) & bored by having to walk the dogs, distraught that the pine cone he found on this walk was lost playing poo sticks, and despite being in a forest surrounded by perfectly good substitutes, no other pine cone could compare. The steps were too hard. He didn’t need a wee. His crisps weren’t the ones he wanted and he was just so tired he had to lie on the floor of the restaurant. Throw into the mix all the usual shenanigans and sibling spats with the wee Girlie and I was well and truly at the end of my tether.
But what do you do about it? I’d tried all the usual threats; the low harsh whisper of potential return to car/home/circus, the covert slightly-too-tight handgrip, whilst further warning of all rocket points/ screen time/ chocolate privileges/ toy treats/ fish and chip shop outings being cancelled, lost or voided. I’d tried ignoring the foot stamping, walking away, time outing. I’d even resorted to the “in my day…” spiel, laying out the discipline of yester year. All pretty much to no avail.
In short, although he did not have a menacing look of “You can’t touch me, woman” that I imagine child delinquents have, he was in such an impenetrable bubble of cantankerous feckness that none of my usual parental dominance armoury was effective.
By the end of the day, the final crescendo was had on a narrow path on the way to the local point-of-interest lighthouse. Cliffs, wind and whingeing wean; great combination! This time the particular point of dissatisfaction was over some insignificant nonsense involving his sister, a stick he’d thrown away and claims to ownership. It took pretty much every namaste within me to not shake him by the shoulders screaming
“STOP BEING SUCH A MOODY LITTLE SHIT!!!”
But I didn’t. I closed my eyes, breathed slowly out and told him the Easter Bunny would probably miss him out for his recent persistent unacceptable behaviour.
Of course, followed much mummy stomping and muttering, with mental filing of the day under “abyss of shiteness”.
Then an RAF jet flew over.
Boy whooped and jumped so much with joy, his anger immediately dissipated and forgotten, with enthusiastic checking that I too had borne witness to such a sight of wonderment. Even with adrenalin still coursing round my raging, quaking body, it was hard not to melt into forgiveness and top up the cup of love.
This, of course, was only one of many, many, many psychological battles that we are going to face, and for most of them, Boy will end up the victor, whether he knows it or not. He & his sister drive me demented on a daily basis, but if I can keep it together despite being pushed to the limit on a narrow muddy path to a sodding lighthouse, whilst being whipped by the cold North East wind, then having children has truly made me a better person.
That and the Hubgrub’s promise of a large gin that evening.