Posts Tagged ‘family

Wah oof ouch

Posted on: 06/08/2011

Mystified? So was I.

Turns out it’s the noise middle child makes when she goes backwards down a slide sooner than she planned.

When I asked, she explained as follows: –

‘Wah’ is when she realises she’s sliding.

‘Oof’ is when she hits the ground.

‘Ouch’ is when she bangs her elbow.

So now you know.


In the absence of any creative juices from my own keyboard (study stress!), I give you The Good Greatsby. I imagine life in his house to be enormously exasperating, yet he makes me laugh every time. Go on, I bet you’ll laugh more than you ever thought you could as far as a barrel is concerned..

A Barrel of Laughs? No, Just a Barrel. My son, Optimist Prime, turned ten years old on Sunday.  (Read his birthday tribute post: The Most Positive Child in the World.) When my wife asked him what he wanted for his birthday he answered, “A barrel!” This has been a recurring joke in our family from the time we were eating at a local German restaurant and I spotted a barrel among a collection of furniture and junk which appeared to be on the way out.  I felt destined to have that barrel. … Read More

via The Good Greatsby

I write this on the eve of a work-based trip to Manchester. A colleague is doing the driving; all I have to do is take in the sights – mostly of traffic jams on the M6 – and I get around 40 hours away from small people and loved one.

It’s at times like this that I have to remember who I am without all that other baggage.  If I don’t identify myself as a mum, or as a wife, what I have left is music (not what the trip is about) and my training (entirely what the trip is about).  I am going to spend two whole days behaving like an adult, or at least, behaving as if I were the most important person that I have to deal with on a regular basis.

an NCT antenatal class

Image courtesy of the NCT

If I have music and antenatal teaching to outwardly define me when I’m out on my own, what does that mean? I am using the words as if they were labels. I feel strongly that they are not, but nevertheless they are the two most important things in my life after family.

Since this trip is all about antenatal teaching – a study day and a national forum – perhaps I should try to work out why that in particular is so important to me. Earning money as an antenatal teacher is a bit of a joke; unless you compromise on family life, it’s very difficult to work for more than sixteen hours a month or thereabouts, and it’s quite difficult to manage even that much with the current bookings system.  So, it couldn’t possibly be about the money.

an NCT class

Image courtesy of the NCT

What teaching antenatal classes means to me is the opportunity to help people find their way through such a special time in their lives. They come to the first class anxious, scared, knowing very little, and by the time they leave to have their babies, they feel revved up and ready to face the challenges and wonders that make up childbirth and becoming a parent.  It’s amazing to be able to give people the tools to help themselves through what can sometimes be a very difficult period, and to see them make friends for life through the classes.

Nevertheless, when I go to these big forums or conferences, I do feel very intimidated. I, a mere student in a sea of qualified teachers, unused to the hustle and bustle, and not entirely sure I belong at times.  Particularly on this occasion, when events have caused me to question things in a way I wouldn’t have dreamed of a year ago.

So, I’ll go, and I’ll feel small and insignificant, but at the same time I will revel in doing something that means a lot to me, and that has nothing to do with family.

I say that, of course, but…I would never have been inspired to teach if it hadn’t been for my family.  Funny how these things come full circle, isn’t it?

the school run is when my stress levels are at their highest.

I am still seething from the school run this morning.  Middle child, who has in the last few months become a kind, helpful, adorable five-year-old, had a monster tantrum getting out of the car because I wouldn’t let her take her doll into school.  Hitting, slapping, screeching, the works.

I slapped her thigh, the only part of her I could reach with all the flailing arms.

Now, in my mind, this is equivalent to a smack.  Generally I don’t approve of smacking.  Yet I find myself in this position.  I suppose I wanted the slap to shock her out of her silly tantrum.

I have never let her take dolls in before.  There’s no reason for her to think it would be OK now.   Reasoning with her didn’t make a blind bit of difference.  It was like we’d gone back six months in her behaviour development.

Have you ever been lucky enough to watch the TV programme ‘Little Angels’?  Or perhaps you’ve heard of Tanya Byron from her book (promotional clip below). We watched a few episodes pre-children, and it was amazing how a child’s behaviour was ALWAYS rooted in the parent’s behaviour – she even mentions this in the clip.  So perhaps this is an opportunity for me to take a look at myself.

Middle child’s behaviour did get me very worked up, I have to admit.  I’m feeling more  on edge at the moment, though I can’t put my finger on why – my inner serenity has vanished.   Until this month, I have actually managed  four consecutive months of not raising my voice around the children.  In the past week or so, however, I have had much less patience.  What has changed?

Maybe I’m just feeling stressed.  I know I’m feeling tired.   Perhaps it is all rooted in this.  Perhaps I should just go back to basics. Get some exercise, get to bed on time, try not to let the housework get on top of me and not attempt anything more than that.

I reckon that would be a good idea anyway.  However, I have realised whilst typing that I know what’s changed.

Smallest one is going through separation anxiety.  Big time.  I cannot do a single thing without her.   Loud screaming if I ignore her or go out of sight for just one second.  Being quite an introvert at heart, I find this very draining.

That’s something I can’t really do anything about.  I need to embrace it, which is all the more reason for going back to basics with the sleep well, eat well, exercise well thing.  Duck and cover for the next six months or so till the phase is over?  Well, not quite, but I will be treading choppy water.

Hopefully, though, now I see how anything that affects me indirectly affects the family, I can somehow get in touch with my serene alter ego and everyone will calm down.  Short-fused five-year-olds included.

Thank heavens for blogging.  I doubt I would have worked it out otherwise.

I know a few of you who read this that already do…to the extent that you have embraced your new country for all its foibles and more importantly for its uniqueness.

Tom Curtis / FreeDigitalPhotos.netThat’s the thing, isn’t it?  I can’t think of a single country where I’d say, oh, this is just like X country.  Every single part of this planet has something totally individual to offer.

I ask the question because my parents are trying to make their minds up whether or not to live in France permanently.   Currently the only house they own is the one I’m sitting in, on French soil.

There are financial quandaries to get past, but at the moment, whilst my mum would gladly live here forever, my dad feels he would miss the UK too much.  So they are here on a sort of trial run, living here for a few months before they make their decision.

So many TV programmes are now dedicated to people who want to live abroad, though they are more likely to be in English speaking countries.  The language barrier is not a small one, especially in France. Like the British in the UK, the concept of someone coming up to them in their home country and talking at them in any language other than French is downright rude.  (And quite right too.  Manners require that you at least try.)

Perhaps that’s what’s really bothering my Dad.  He doesn’t really have any confidence speaking French since he gave up his language classes a few years ago.  Of course, he could find a course here, but I’m not convinced he really wants to.

The distance is also an issue. Realistically children and grandchildren wouldn’t be able to visit more than once a year; the cost is too prohibitive.  But, on the plus side, when they do come they are more likely to stay for some time, possibly spending more time together than before.

But it’s the culture that makes one fall in or out of love with a country.  You have to embrace it totally to be able to live somewhere permanently.  Every place has its own feel, and it’s a question of whether that rubs you up the right way or the wrong way.

I’d love to live abroad.  I haven’t seen enough of the world.  I love the challenges it brings.  But I’d never be able to persuade loved one, and I’m not sure I’d want to while we have grandparents – the ones who do live in the UK – that we also want to spend time with.

So I’ve warned loved one that I’m going to need some seriously long holidays in lots of interesting places to get my culture fix.

And my parents?  They started building this house ten years ago. It’s gorgeous. And it’s great weather…Maybe Dad will be persuaded one day. Maybe.

manostphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.netToday I am washing, drying and ironing, and tomorrow looks like more of the same…hopefully packing too.  Spending the Easter holidays 850 miles away from home means you can’t leave anything behind, after all.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I always feel more comfortable packing as early as possible so I know that nobody will wear the clothes before we go.  This has become more important recently, since the two older kids share a room the size of a shoebox (yes, a slight issue when people view the house), and we cut down on the number of clothes they needed.  We get hundreds of hand-me-downs, which is great, but we have to prune heavily so what we keep fits in their drawers..

This time, I know there’s a washing machine where we’re going, so I’m just taking four changes of clothes for everyone.  This makes it easier on the washing, ironing, packing and so on, and it also gives me an excuse to stay home on every fourth day and study in between each load of laundry…(got two assignments to complete while I’m out there).

I also plan to take spare toiletries rather than our main ones.  The likelihood of forgetting something on the morning of departure is extremely high, so the less I have to leave till the last minute the better.  Bad enough to try and remember those things that don’t have spares, such as phones, teddies, and the like.

federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.netI have no doubt that I will be buried in laundry as soon as we get home.  But with only four changes of clothes, I feel more confident that the washing machine and I will be able to handle it.

My biggest concern, though, is smallest one’s amazing capability to go through clothes.  It is not yet lunchtime and I already have changed her clothing three times; she even managed to get something unmentionable on me and I am one change in too.  Four changes of clothes is probably not quite enough where she’s concerned…

Speaking of whom, ironing is all rather tricky when she’s around.  It’s going to be a challenge to squeeze all that into a nap-time.  I know a friend who used to iron inside the playpen when her children were small.  A very tempting thought today…

Smallest one in the early days

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 53 other subscribers