Revolting children

Good evening WordPress!  Long time no blog, etc…

I’ve been on single parent duty for the last week or so, and it has all gone surprisingly smoothly, notwithstanding the occasional moment of justifiable parent rage.   My only major failing in G’s absence is forgetting to put the milk bottles out every single day. Clearly this is man’s work.  The milkman’s in for a bit of a shock when G gets back and deposits 36 empty bottles on the doorstep.

We get the manbeast back tomorrow for a 24-hour laundry interlude between trips. Boy and I will have to pause our diet of unrelenting showtunes and allow dadmusic back on Spotify.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve thoroughly indoctrinated Thing 1, to the extent that he forced his last two playdates to listen to the soundtracks of ‘Matilda’ and ‘Oliver!’ on loop. I suspect the next poor soul will be subjected to ‘The Greatest Showman’.  Thing 2 is also in the early stages of showtune indoctrination, though this is not aided by boy and me singing “How do you solve a problem like Matilda?” at her for days on end.

Answers to that on a postcard, please.

Last bank hol weekend it was baking hot and I decided to take them both to Kew Gardens for the day. After the eternity spent preparing a picnic and making sure everyone was fed, dressed, sun-blocked and devoid of wee-wee, we finally left the house… only to discover a mountain of toys and bric-a-brac lying on our front pathway and in our downstairs neighbours’ garden. (Thank god The Complainers moved out – our current neighbours are delightfully conflict-averse, no matter how much abuse we subject them to.)

It turned out that Hubble had used 20 mins of “quiet time” to throw miscellaneous things out of the living room window.  I had to send the boy back upstairs to poke socks and books off the porch roof with an umbrella, in order to retrieve them and get it all back indoors before heading to Kew.  I swear if it weren’t for the daily sight of her edible little legs in ankle socks, I’d have sold her by now – for a lot less than seven guineas.

But at least there are moments like this…

And Kew was glorious! Behold another photo of my fake Instagram life…

In book news, the boy has suddenly – overnight – discovered the joy of reading fiction. It’s all thanks to Julian Clary.

Getting him to read his school books every week is like pulling teeth. And, no matter how gripped he is by the cliffhanger in whatever bedtime story we’re reading aloud, he rarely feels the urge to carry on and read another chapter by himself after I’ve left.  The books that he reads for genuine pleasure are usually animal fact books and joke books and I take the *thunk* of an encyclopaedic tome hitting the ground as my cue to go up and turn off the reading light.

But, last week, we won a copy of the latest ‘Bolds‘ book by Julian Clary and I’ve never seen such fevered enthusiasm.  I read the first couple of chapters aloud, after which he rocketed through the remaining 24 chapters by himself in about 2 days.  He’s now gone back to the earlier books in the series to re-read these to himself (and to shout Mr Bold’s jokes endlessly downstairs from bed). He even turned his back on the telly during Eurovision’s finest to read more Bolds. I am delighted!

Meanwhile I’ve started reading ‘My Naughty Little Sister‘ to Hubble and I can tell that she’s feeling extremely conflicted about it.  Every story is a litany of Hubble-like disobedience and mischief, interspersed with commentary like “Wasn’t she a naughty little girl? ” and “You would never do something like that, would you?” and she stares up into my face with intense suspicion, radiating an air of She sounds like my kind of girl! and I *know* what you’re up to!

As she has no idea of dates we’ve decide to postpone her birthday by a week so that G can be home for it. Her wish list this year has included rather a lot of dolls and ballerina-related things. I swear this isn’t nurture… though I must confess it has been a secret lifelong ambition of mine to buy a pair of ballet slippers for my imaginary daughter, so I was delighted when the real one actually asked for some.

Meanwhile she’s accumulating an ever-growing army of sinister plastic “babies” with mad hair, whose sole purpose is to lie around naked and to stare at me from unexpected places, late at night.

G is also away for his own birthday so we’re postponing that one too. We shall celebrate double fake birthdays next bank hol weekend.  As usual, I have no idea what to recommend when people ask me what he wants, but booze in general seems to be a splendid choice.

Last year I bought him a Heywood Hill book subscription which, if I’m honest, is not the most economical way to buy books, but it’s very nice to get a gift-wrapped book sent to you every month, each of which has been carefully selected by a bookish human based on your specified tastes. I think think they did really well in choosing for G.  Once or twice he was sent a book that he’d already read (a risk) but they surprised him quite often with something apt that he’d not thought of. And, on several occasions, he had to rapidly remove a book from his Amazon wish list after it turned up in the post from Heywood Hill.

I wonder if there is a Heywood Hill equivalent for beer or dadmusic… or identical black t-shirts.

Well that’s probably enough rambling for now.  I need to go and post the children into bed as rapidly as possible, so that I can cram in 2 eps of Line of Duty before falling asleep in my chair…

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Riddikulus!

Seriously…  this hairdo came in a box labelled “Draco Malfoy wig”.  I demand my £7 back.

All hail the joyous annual spectre of World Book Day.

I know it’s still over a week away but I was actually feeling quite smug and prepared for WBD this year because girl has forgotten that she went as Red Riding Hood last year (hooray for re-use!) and boy has a Harry Potter costume that he’s only worn once.  But…  balls to that.  The school has issued an irritating announcement that the children have to dress up as villains this year. Grr!

Hence I have endured a daily haranguing from the boy for a Draco Malfoy outfit.  I can’t convince him otherwise, despite the fact that he is the living embodiment of Harry Potter.  The only way this small, skinny oik with dark, sticking-up hair is going to look like Malfoy is if someone can brew me some emergency polyjuice potion.

Bring on the Doris Day wig.

I’ve tried in vain to convince him to go as The Trunchbull, on the basis that she’s always played by a man on stage. Does nobody share my desire to stride around all day calling small children squirming worms of vomit?

Oh, sigh.  Never mind that I DO NOT HAVE TIME for this.

As for Hubblepot, I have her red cape and basket at the ready. My only task is to avoid putting other ideas into her head.  (I will also avoid last year’s insane whimsy of putting delicious treats in the basket. What in god’s name was I thinking?)

She’s as adorable and feral as ever.  It feels like 5 mins since she joined the toddler room at nursery but she’s just been bumped up to the preschool room. According to nursery, she is a lovely, caring and empathetic girl.  The biting is ancient history.  In other words, she has decided to keep EVIL as a weekend hobby.

G and I are torn on a daily basis between bellowing and guffawing at her flagrant deeds. Even as I type, I can hear the aftermath of her throwing a book at her brother’s head upstairs.  And it takes a stronger poker face than mine to tell her off for pulling the boy’s chair out from behind him and laughing when he lands on his bum.

Occasionally G and I like to imagine how they’d fare in the apocalypse. Suffice to say we give it 1 week before the girl has eaten her brother, enslaved her parents and foraged all edible goods from the neighbourhood.  Bless.

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Oh take me back to dear old Blighty

I’m feeling conflicted about the Microbe’s current bedtime story.

On one hand, it’s an adventure story involving a secret society of rabbit spies that lives under Buckingham Palace.  Watership Down meets The Kingsman (minus the bum sex).

On the other hand, if the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express got together and created a fantasy England, I doubt they could come up with a more forelock-tugging society than this. If you’re the sort of person who’s planning a street party for the next royal wedding, I suspect you’ll love it.

The basic premise is that:

  1. Rabbits wear smart suits and walk on two legs and read newspapers (not The Guardian) and use old fashioned black phones… but only children can see them doing that. Adults just see ordinary rabbits.
  2. Hundreds of years ago, wise King Arthur was about to declare rabbit pie the official favourite dish of Britain, but a rabbit “friend” begged him not to, on the basis that it would result in mass death for his species. So Arthur made Cottage pie the favourite instead. (Screw the cows. They don’t wear suits.)

In return for this kindness, rabbitkind everywhere has vowed to dedicate their lives to the servitude and protection of the human royal family.  (Bear in mind the modern royal family can’t see them and has no idea they exist).

Furthermore, royal-worship is now so integral to the genetic make-up of rabbits that, if someone mentions the queen in conversation, all rabbits involuntarily bow their ears.

Meanwhile the baddies are rats. Surprise! If you are born a rat, you are a member of the wrong species – hence you are greasy and smelly with no moral compass and you become a member of the “paparatzi” whose sole goal is to try and steal the queen’s soul by taking pictures of her in her nightie.  From what I can tell, rats are the only other creatures that wear clothes (scruffy ones) and use phones (mobile ones, not lovely black ones from vintage shops).

We’re 2/3 in and I see no sign of revolution… I predict only rabbit martyrdom ahead.

I felt compelled to google the Sebag Montefiores and discovered that he’s an ex-banker and she’s Tara Palmer Tomkinson’s sister. Forgive me for not falling off my chair.

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No sleep till Fargo

There are boys in my house running up and down the hallway singing Elton John’s I’m Still Standing with the words “poo poo head” instead of “yeah yeah yeah.”

This is my life. Kindly send emergency kit.

Last night I asked G if he could remember a time when we did not measure our evenings in units of “awakeness”.  One of us would ask “What do you fancy doing tonight?” and the other would utter some variation on “whatever the hell we feel like“, with never an expectation that our evening might end before midnight.

Nowadays, it’s more like this:

8:30-9pm:
*THUNK*  (boy’s animal encyclopaedia falls off his sleeping head).
*Bumpy bump-bump*  (girl rampages around bedroom).

9pm:
Semi-conscious on sofa 1:  “Stop playing Minecraft and put the telly on. You’re wasting my awake time
Semi-conscious on sofa 2:  “Ok
Sofa 1: “How much awakeness have you got left?”
Sofa 2: “Dunno”
Sofa 1: “Can you manage a Fargo or does it have to be 30 mins or less?”
Sofa 2: “I can definitely manage a Fargo” .

9:10pm:
Sofa 2: “Zzzzzzzzzz….”
Sofa 1  *prods sofa 2 awake*

9:10 – 9:45pm:
Fargo paused 87 times as girl comes downstairs and is sent back to bed on loop.
Girl wails  “I’m not very well!” in the belief that this grants immediate licence to stay downstairs and be cuddled by Daddy.

9:45pm:
Parents give up carrying screaming girl back to bed and let her sit on the stairs.

10pm:
Girl falls asleep on the stairs and is carried back to bed
Sofa 1 and Sofa 2 pour more wine and are asleep before first sip

I chatted to Hubble’s carer at nursery and (aside from being both perpetrator and victim of much biting) it turns out she’s been napping for up to three hours every day! So I’ve asked them to impose a new 1-hour nap limit and we shall see how that works out…

Her language skills are coming along in leaps and bounds and I’ve had to remind myself on a daily basis that she can understand (and repeat) WAY more than I give her credit for. I should probably stop calling her Snotgoblin and Satan’s Little Helper …and start correcting her when she refers to the alphabet as “ADD”.

Mummy, ADD!”  (Yes dear.)

In boy news,  the summer hols have commenced and he is now off school until eternity 6th Sep. I am doing Mon and Fri and G is doing mid-week, with some help from summer camp.

For reasons known only to himself, boy spent the very first day of his Summer hols making 3D halloween cards.

Here be video nonsense…

 

The crafting of pop-ups is entirely my fault and I must confess that his unseasonal pumpkin card gave me an even better idea.  I’ve decided that my (ahem – our) next little fad will be to learn how to make cards with LED lights in them, using copper tape and coin batteries.  Will report back with pics…

 

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Relax. Don’t do it.

Eek! It is nearly the school summer hols. A whole year since our flat was invaded by builders.

I spent almost every day of last summer lugging the boy around the green spaces of West London, just to get away from the humans and the noise and the mess.  This year we have blessed solitude and G and I are sharing the childcare, with a bit of holiday camp thrown in.  Suffice to say there will be a lot more loafing and a lot less route-marching.

The best news of the week is that there is NO MORE HOMEWORK for the rest of July. Hooray! A letter came home in Jimmy’s book bag full of tips for spending the summer at home practising reading and writing and graphemes and instant recall facts for maths. I wagged a finger at G and pinned the instructions to our fridge, in the full and open knowledge that we will do literally none of it. But it’s the fridge-pinning that counts, yes?

More alarmingly, boy was given Karate “homework” this week, in which he has to do 50 press ups by next Monday.  Having observed that Jimmy’s idea of a press-up is to lock his arms and waggle his bottom up and down, Mummy (ha ha!) attempted to show him how to do proper press ups…

Oh, the hubris. What was I thinking?

Mummy managed 4 press ups before having a near heart attack. After a long sit down, Mummy handed press-up tuition duty to Daddy. May we never speak of it again.

In cheerier news, I am so much less meltdowny than I was last week. I’d like to claim it’s all down to yoga or meditation, however that would be a big fat lie. Obv! Alcohol and binge telly may be more believable…  not forgetting the Peep Show classic of burying one’s face in warm photocopies. Ahhh.

But actually I think my restored sanity is 80% due to the fact that I am no longer lurgied and can sleep all night long, with blissful abandon.

And 20% due to tidying up. Oh, the mundane joy of it. I came home from work on Thur and found that G had heroically taken the afternoon off and tidied up our bedroom and imposed a new zero tolerance rule on hallway clutter. The following day I continued with a wardrobe & toy cull that filled 4 charity sacks and cleaned the bathroom and did approx 85 loads of laundry.

Let’s not dwell on the fact that the kitchen still has crates instead of a store cupboard and bits of floor missing. Or that Hubble the Horrible took one look at my work and immediately sprayed carrot juice all over a freshly laundered sofa cover.

Gah!

The icing on the cake of my newfound zen was making stuff at the weekend.  When it comes to mood and creativity, I never know which is chicken and which is egg. All I know is that I can’t make things when I am stressed and I am not stressed when I am making things.

Anyway this weekend I spent some rare hours with my whirring shiny lovebeast of a sewing machine and felt the calm invading my bones and spreading through my veins, even as I swatted away interfering children hell bent on injuring themselves with the iron/scissors/pins/rotary cutters.

Here be my finished quilt of gorgeousness. A year in the making and possibly my favourite one far.



Inspired entirely by ill-lit screenshots of Sophie’s far-too-good-for-a-grim-orphanage one in the BFG film…

Next week the boy has a school trip to a local bee keeping group, which has spun off into a “fun” Dressing Up Day this Friday. (That noise you hear is the collective whoop of parental joy echoing off some Chinese satellites.)

One week earlier, the boy’s demand for a mantis outfit would have sent me completely off the rails. But this weekend it just happened to coincide with the groundhog-like appearance of my creative mojo. (Yes, I am well aware that I am a betrayer of parentkind everywhere with my crafty sodding mojo.)

So I pity the teacher who has to look upon these two faces all day on Friday.  No cute ladybirds or bumblebees on Microbe’s watch…   giant insect horror is where it’s at. A mantis for him and a creepy rhino beetle-ish thing for one of his BFFs.


In Hubble news, she is STILL rampaging every evening and no amount of being put back into bed makes any difference. The minute we leave the room she’s off again and by 10pm she has made a carpet out of every toy in their bedroom. Groan.

But when she is good she is very very good…

 

 

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On the verge

Grrr! Arg!!

Here be the outpouring of a frazzled mind…

It has felt like an extra gruelling few weeks thanks to the combined efforts of work and children and lurgy and domestic chaos. This unshakeable cough has kept me awake endlessly at nights, resulting in general all-round haggardness and topped off with CRAZY WOMAN hormones and a horrifying run of bad hair days. Bah!

Why, yes, G has gone out drinking…

Oh, wouldn’t it be luvverly to just abscond from life for a bit and hide in a bunker and read a book or watch endless episodes of Orange is The New Black? Alas, work must happen and I can’t seem to find a buyer for the children.

Meanwhile my residence is on the verge of a breakdown all of its own. I need a day off without the kids so I can give it some deep therapy, such as putting away the 2 weeks’ worth of laundry that Hubble keeps distributing down the hallway and picking up all of the lego and removing the dried cornflakes from Hubble’s hurled cereal bowl and tackling the 85 pairs of mystery pants* that the boy has distributed around every room of my flat. I do wonder how much longer I can survive with this lack of space.

to solve the mystery of where these belong one would need to examine and/or sniff them, and life is too short for that, hence I will end up throwing them all in the washing machine for good measure before tossing them onto the clean-laundry-mountain-of-shame.

In a bid to reduce the number of guilt-inducing things for which I lack the time, I have decided to give up my sad and neglected allotment. Harsh but necessary. As a small compensation I thought about installing a couple of grow bags in the back yard with courgettes or cucumbers.  Maybe I will find time to do that next year…

Meanwhile it has been birthday season. Birthdays that sprawl across multiple weeks, and involve many days out and guests and spending time with more children than I can shake an interesting stick at.

So now my girl is 2, my boy is 6 and my flat is full of even more tat.  *Sigh*

If only Dr Seuss were not dead. I am sure The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about tat. Tat in my flat? Well fancy that.

And we still haven’t emptied our storage unit… which is full of yet more tat.

*Whimper*

The post-birthday game du jour is Robot Wars in which girlbot attempts to play with her new remote control car until Boybot brings out his huge remote-control tarantula that allows him to a) interfere with his sister’s controls and b) TERRORISE her with huge spidery fear.  Sibling love.

Take heart, Hubble. It can’t be any worse that the actual real-life spider of unfeasible size that appears to have set up a nightly residence IN MY BED. Why, why why? I am not an arachnophobe. I bear no ill will towards spiderkind. I simply want it to move on willingly and never never *never* again to creep across my face and neck in the middle of the night. Is that too much to ask?

Meanwhile Hubble has decided that sleep is for wimps ever since she was upgraded to a toddler bed.  No more cot bars  = no more bedtime!  I can hear her thudding about upstairs as I type.  Don’t let this innocent picture fool you.

She rampages long after the boy has crashed out, in an extravaganza of drum-playing, stair-descending and getting-out-every-toy-and-book-in-the-flat. I can only assume she must be sleeping it off at nursery.  (G and I are mostly sleeping it off at telly o’clock, this being our tiny window of alone time each evening).

Boy’s new bed is very nice and solid but it takes up a lot more room than the little one.  On the second night there was a colossal THUMP and a wail as he rolled out of it and landed from a greater height than he is accustomed to.

But on the plus side I can shove more crap under it than would fit before – hooray for small mercies!

Oh…  a slushy interlude. I just heard the boybot’s little voice from upstairs tell the girlbot that he loves her, as he was dropping off to sleep.  Bless. Maybe I won’t sell them after all.

In other news, I found out randomly this week that the boy was chosen to be an Art Ambassador for Year 1 and his name is on a little plaque/tile in the school entrance.  I confess I am not entirely sure what it means but, nevertheless, why did I not know about this?? The boy tells me nothing, ever.  School is simply a black hole in which things happen that are not for my ears.  Not even good things. Mummy must never know.

Well, I have important episodes of Handmaid’s Tale to watch. So I shall simply scatter here a few pics that make everything look blooming marvellous and run away.

Heatwave and a paddling pool… but no way was this one getting in

Obligatory ice cream goatie

No greater dog-love hath boy

Zoo birthday trip for boybot

 

 

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Girlbot in a coma

Things I never imagined spending my money on…

In the Microbe’s words, this hyena is “deadly cute!” and he can barely wait until his birthday to get his mitts on it.  (That and a weird menagerie of Minecraft-related cuddly toys that I will probably end up hoovering up from his wish list nearer the time.)

In other hyena news, I made him cry the other day by reading him a story from African Folk Tales by Alexander McCall Smith, in which a hyena is unjustly killed by a lion. Suffice to say African Folk Tales do not always have happy endings …I had to do some speedy damage limitation.

In girl news, she had a momentous week as I took her to her very first theatre show.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, in Kingston.

 

Boy and I went along as chaperones but it was really a late birthday treat for Hubble as she adores the book.

Having wasted most of the morning on fruitless attempts to get her to have a nap, I gave up and lugged the two of them to the theatre and they both seemed pretty excited as the stage lit up…

 

When the first story started, the entire theatre was filled with delighted shrieks  as a series of brightly coloured puppet animals came on stage. This was followed by a tale of flashing fireflies…

But, alas, they saved the best show for last and, despite my best efforts with a cattle prod and the screaming decibels of 300 delighted 2 year olds, the girl’s head started to flop and she was utterly unwakeable by the time the caterpillar story came on stage.  So she missed the whole thing.  Bah!

At least the boy enjoyed it.

In other news, the boybot is still very taken with his baby cousin, who is indeed “deadly!” and seems to be the happiest and most chilled out baby I have ever met!

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