The 3 Rs of parenting school.

addtext_com_MjE1MzI3NTA5NzgYou may not be aware of this, but all Mothers attended parenting school. Whether you remember or not is a different matter.

School started when they lifted baby off your chest to cut the umbilical cord. School ended when they placed baby- this time wrapped in a blanket- back onto your tummy or into the bassinet next to you.

Approximately 2.8 minutes. That was your lot.

I bloody well hope you were paying attention ladies and didn’t just mutter, ‘don’t bother telling me, I’ll figure it out as I go along’ because you know as well as I do, that this is the fool’s way. The romantic, birth induced, euphoric, Silly Billy way.

If you were a real mummy and listened attentively, you would not have missed the core part of the curriculum.

The Three Rs.

None of your anzy panzy subject choices back when we were students. No. If you knew your 3 Rs, you were guaranteed to graduate with a solid parenting degree.

For those of you rebels who, when baby was lifted from your tummy rolled over and slurred, “WTF just happened?? Get me off this soaking wet bean bag,”

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I am here to give you a speed lesson on what you missed. This time, pay attention, please.

Routine:

Think back to before the days of children, when you had a life. Remember? Try. Try again. There you go.

Routine will have no doubt have played a role in your life. We all like a bit of routine.  It makes us feel safe and comfortable. I’m talking routine along the lines of “Oh I always go to Pizza Express on a Wednesday when I work late” or, “funny how you always massage my left foot first”.  That sort of routine.

Beware. You become a parent and suddenly, like every other thing that you possess, you will find that your mundane little routine no longer belongs to you. The children. They steal it. Kidnap your routine and mould it into their own.

The bedtime routine, and no. I’m not talking about the candles and Enya routine of old. This here is baby’s bedtime routine (if you’re lucky). Turn the musical thingy on above the cot, creep out of the door, stand outside the room for two minutes, don’t breathe, make it back down five steps. Stop.You coughed. He’s crying. Idiot. Repeat. Six times.

Then there’s the nap time routine. Quick! Clean the bathroom, puree the baby slop, phone your mum, go to the toilet. No time. Phone your mum on the toilet, kick the grit behind the toilet brush. Wipe round the toilet seat with wee soaked toilet paper. (Yuck) There. Cleaning sorted. It’s why they call us multitaskers.

The dreaded meal time routine. God help you if you didn’t have that high chair up, and spoon at the ready before 5 pm. Wrong coloured bib? Tut.Tut. Forget it. Just throw the dinner on the floor. It’s where it’s going to end up anyway.

Moving swiftly on to the junior age. Swimming, every Tuesday afternoon. Watching other people’s kids flap about like drowning halfwits in the pool all the while thinking ‘its friggin Wednesday. I should be having a glass of white wine and some garlic bread at Pizza Express.’

Bringing us to the teens. After all of those years spent perfecting the art of turning in early with a hotty (the water bottle kind, unfortunately) ready to bounce out of bed to watch cartoons at 7 am, the routine card plays a cruel trick. You are now expected to be wide awake at 11.30. At night.

Get a shower for Christ’s sake! What’s wrong with you? You’re so boring. Sing! Really loud. It doesn’t have to be anything good, just any annoying tune will do. Or, why not sigh and slam doors? Either way, you better not be thinking of going to bed. You pathetic old git.

Restriction:

The baby years are restricting in more ways than you know possible. Be prepared. No more grown-up treats for you my girl. Yes, I know you like to tuck into a second bottle on a Friday evening, but think of the baby. He might need to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. It wouldn’t look good, would it? You, rolling out the back of a taxi at the emergency entrance, swigging from a bottle of Calpol. No. Have a cup of tea now and watch telly.

After years spent listening to the wheels on the bloody bus on every car journey, the junior years bring something of a light relief. We are now, it seems, allowed to tune into the radio. Don’t get too excited though, it’s only to the station that plays teeny boppy music. And for God’s sake don’t embarrass yourself (or them) by singing along. Just shut your mouth and drive. And don’t look in the mirror and smile when she’s singing in the back with her friends either. That’s so uncool.

Had you paid attention at parenting school you will know that the classification R on DVDs does indeed stand for Restriction. Parental Restriction. That box set of ‘The Tudors’ that’s been sitting under the telly for years? It’s Restricted.  Don’t believe for one minute that just because your teenager is in his room, doing stuff, he won’t come wandering in at the precise moment where Henry takes Ann Boleyn from behind in the orchard.  As fit as you think you are, even you can’t get to the remote that quickly. There’s nothing more unattractive than a sexed up old couple watching porn. Where’s that Only Fools and Horses DVD you got for Christmas?

Put it on.

Responsibility:

The word that sends shivers down any young, free and single girls spine. Responsibility. This one is just too laborious to bore you with. But know this. As the parent of a baby, are held responsible for everything.

Babys’ head. Too pointy. Food. It had better be homemade. Drink. Those cups are bad for his teeth. Tired. Your fault. Hyper.Should have taken her to the baby gym. Clothes. Too hot. Nappy. Too tight. Poo. Too yellow. I mean…

Everything.

As they grow into the middle years, bestowed upon you is the responsibility of arranging play dates. Oh, the joy. No matter that the last social gathering you went to was the sausage sizzle tombola at the supermarket car park. Never mind that now. You will arrange clubs and activities. Loads of them. What was that? The money? Don’t worry about that. Actually, yes. Do. That’s your responsibility too. Set the alarm for 3am, that should do it.

Arriving at the teenage years. Be careful here. It gets tricky. You will find yourself participating in the sick, and twisted teenage game of,  ‘I think I’m going mental’.

Although you are still very much responsible for your teenager (someone has to be), you have to p-r-e-t-e-n-d not to be. Got it? To add to the confusion, when you do make them happy you will never, ever be given the honour of knowing it.

It is now your responsibility to make sure your teenager is happy. It’s what you were born for. It’s the law.

Better get the revision books out for this one.

It’s on page 201.Chapter heading: ‘For Christ’s sake, haven’t you learnt yet?’ 

The (sort of) responsible way to keep a teenager happy.

Wifi. A computer, a set of headphones, a thick pair of curtains and a pile of food in one’s room.

In fact,  just wheel the fridge into his bedroom.

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Perfect. Now close the door.

Mummuddlingthrough

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R is for Hoppit
You Baby Me Mummy

How not to be labelled as judgmental by your teenager.

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There I was, going along my merry little homeschool mum way. Innocently believing that I was doing a quite good job for a Thursday when out of the blue, I get a new and  unexpected accusation thrown at me from my soon to be a thirteen-year-old girl. She talks about her wanting for more independence and me not delivering those opportunities.
Hmm…thinks me. Here’s a new one. Goody. I need something to keep me on my toes.
Independence. Welcome new attribute to my daughter’s existence.
Now, I needed to be clear. Were we talking ‘catching the bus home from town alone’ here? Or how about ‘making dinner without having to ask what number the oven should be on?’ Or, was it more along the lines of ‘let me throw my sails to the wind and circumnavigate the world single-handed?’ (I know she’ll do this one day)

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see ya losers
I wasn’t sure of the correct answer but whichever one it was, I didn’t say it. Of course, I didn’t. It’s me, remember?
I made up my mind that from here on in, I would no longer be Mother Gothel. The wicked Mother, locking her poor homeschooled daughter away in the house on the hill. No. I was going to make changes. She’d see a new me. She was going to have her much needed independence whether she knew or liked it or not.

One big parenting mistake later
Fast forward to yesterday.
A trip to the doctors. Nothing serious, which makes it kind of worse. At least in England, it’s free for the nothing serious visits. If you’re going to pay $15 you at least want a bit of chicken pox or tonsillitis. Get your money’s worth.

I was late. Of course, I was late and had already been told by the receptionist when I telephoned that there’d be an hour wait.

I had to get my dependent girly to her singing lesson at 3, and it was already 2.05pm. I was well, let’s say, I was… edgy.

I pulled into the carpark. No spaces. I looked into my mirror and saw an old couple crippled over in pain heading for the sliding doors. The waiting receptionist lady sitting watching us both through the doors, over the top of her computer screen. Firstly at them and then across to me. Smiling. With her stopwatch.

You know that saying, ‘you can take the girl out of Britain, but you can’t take Britain out of the girl’? Well, I’m ashamed to say that the Brit in me decided to rear her ugly head. Leaning over, I opened the car door and practically kicked my poor dependent child out onto the pavement.
“Go and get into the queue. Now.” I hissed. all the while keeping a beady eye on the advancing appointment contenders and their walking sticks.
I’ll go and find somewhere to park.”
I’m revving on the accelerator now.
” Nooo” Wails Miss independent “They’ll ask me what’s wrong and everything. Let me back in…”
Me: (peeling her fingers from the door) “No. They. Wont. Get in there. Now”
Miraculously, the pair of biddies started to straighten up and began to get a bit of a wiggle on. I watched. Horrified, as they glided past my stationary car through the sliding doors like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. I’m sure the old woman gave me the finger.

She’s back in the car now, my girl. Back into the safety of Mummy’s cosy little cocoon.
Let’s freeze the scene for a moment.

I’m now going to tell you how NOT to behave when you are a parent. The following is what NOT to say to an already embarrassed teenage girl. Are you listening?
Unfreeze.
Me: What on earth is wrong with you that you can’t get out of the damn car, go into the doctors and tell the receptionist your NAME and that you’d like to see a doctor?”
Her: I told…
Me. Interrupting, shouting over AND wagging a finger. Always a winning combination.
“No, no, no. NO. (that’s a lot of nos) Never mind that. I don’t want to hear it. (Just as well really as you’re drowning the poor girl out). let me tell you, (please do) if you’re not careful you’ll turn into a weird, freaky kid ( I know, delightful isn’t it?) who can’t hold a conversation with someone.” (Unlike you Liz, who is quite clearly an absolute winner with words.)
There. I Said it. And it’s too late to take it back. Gone.
Silence.
Silence is the worst. Silence means she’s taking it in. I try to make a funny comment about the biddies. Nothing.
I apologise. Of course, I apologise. Still, nothing. Probably too stunned. “A weird freaky kid?” It’s not what you expect from your parent, is it?

After a long deliberation, she retaliates. That’s my girl! Knew she wouldn’t be able to keep the silent treatment up forever. Too much of her mum in her. Poor sod.
Game back on.
“You are so judgemental.”

Ouch.

To be honest, I was almost relieved.
I was half expecting, “p*ss off you psychotic, lunatic nutter.” Hands up, I deserved it.

Judgemental. I think I can handle judgemental.

I drive down the road. Towards the singing lesson, pondering my new title and trying to work out how I always seem to get it wrong.
Judgemental? Judgemental?
I want to say,’excuse me young missy, but I am NOT judgemental’. I go to open my mouth in protest but incredibly, unbelievably, manage to stop myself. There’s a first.
Back to the title of this post.
” How to avoid being labelled as ‘judgmental’ by your teenager.”

The answer?
Next time your daughter has a rash on her leg, stay at home and look on the internet. You’ll save $15, and you know it will only be viral. It’s always viral. Even I can tell you that.
Either that or…
Shut your mouth. For ten years. Do not speak. Ever. The end. You’re welcome.

Mummuddlingthrough
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This Mum's Life

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After the Playground
My Random Musings

Children.The answer is still No.

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I know you’re going to say no, but…”
There stands my 12-year-old. Trying to look as doey eyed as she did when she was seven but, with the tween years almost behind her, cuteness has taken second place to a determination. Omit the image of baby Bambi, and think the kangaroo out of Horton hears a who.

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There. Now you get the picture.

“I know you’re going to say no, but…”

I didn’t hear the rest. I pretended to have urgent business to attend. The carrots were boiling over; I think I put the milk carton in the non-recycle bin or, I’d forgotten to put the bottle of sauvignon blanc in the fridge, and it was nearly ten past five.
I retreated to my office.

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My life it seems is full of affirmations. Trumpeted to me regularly by those beautiful children of mine. Unfortunately, though, they’re not the affirmations that you wish to have written on your headstone. As much as I do all the mantras, have my little post-it notes on the fridge, listen to the soothing tones of my meditation app, as soon as I take the headphones off and step into the life that is mine, I am met by my two beauties. Reminding me that,“ hey. You. You don’t do this, you never do that AND you always say NO!”

When I was a kid-I, can’t believe I just said that, but, when I was a kid, and it wasn’t that long ago, Ok, Maggie was in power, but it wasn’t that far back, I didn’t hear the word “yes” that often. Apart from the times when I asked,
“so I have to do all the dusting, and the hoovering and Jamie only needs to put the cushions straight?”(middle child favouritism).
“Yes”. Or.
“What? You want me to walk 2 miles back down the same hill that I’ve just trudged up from school, to go and get you a pint of milk from the village shop because you can’t drive and are too lazy to go yourself? And by the way. I’m 9”. (and by the way, I didn’t tell her she was lazy)
“Yes.”

Now. I don’t wish to be all- woe is me I had a horrid childhood, far from it. Walking up that hill with the milk sparked future creativity. Breaking up twigs and pretending they were ciggies was surely the beginning of my passion for drama. But, compared to the privileged life that my two lovelies have. Frig, yes. The two resemble chalk and cheese.

Even my idol who owned the local post office and corner shop, the one who was allowed to have a pie from the hot cabinet for her lunch, that one. Even she didn’t have what my children have, and in my eyes, she had everything. She even got a tin of condensed milk in her stocking for Christmas once. And she was allowed to eat it straight out of the tin.

Yet despite  the fact that I didn’t get whatever I wanted, driven here, taken there, enrolled into the next best thing club. I was happy. Damn… sorry. That sounds so bloody cliched, but I was.

And I don’t think it did me any harm. To be told no more often than, yes. In fact, if anything, it made me a more determined, creative, productive and a more resilient human being. ( Apart from when I sit in the toilet crying because… well because it’s Tuesday.)

Let me reveal to you what I did when my I asked my parents for a pony and got a,
“No”.

I know you’ll think I’m exaggerating when I tell you this, but it’s the truth.

When I was 9 we lived next door to a pig farm. After school each day, (’cause this was the 80s, and we didn’t have fencing, drama club, flute lessons or ballet class in the olden days) I would go to the farm. I’d spend at least an hour hosing down pig shite and then when the farmer went in for his tea; I’d try and ride one of the pigs.

No Joke.

That’s how desperate I was for a pony.

Trying to mount a pig. Now that’s determination. I’ve told my kids this story. They think I’m a chronic liar. I just look back and think… Wow. What a freak.

I’m still trying to work out which one I am. (The freak ) A twisted mother, or someone who believes that children don’t benefit from being spoiled. I’ll go with the latter, which is why I’ve tried with my kids to say no. Not just for the sake of it, but so that they may become creative and think of an alternative. (And so they too can be little pig riding  weirdo’s  like me).
But as you know, and I guess there must be a fair few of you who agree with me on this, it’s not easy.
Its one of the hardest tasks in the world. Saying no to your kids. Especially when most of the time it would be easier just to say  yes. And it’s not just the saying of no. But saying no and then sticking to it. Even when they sidle up to you on the couch after dinner, hoping that your brick wall decision might possibly have been softened by a few grape juices. Go away. The answer’s still no.

One of my favourite films is, ‘ For the boys’ with Clive Owen. A beautiful tale of a newly widowed Dad, raising his boys in Australia. When he finds himself struggling, he sticks a sign to his fridge. It says. “just say yes to everything’
But that’s Hollywood, and maybe if I was married to Clive Owen or I was Clive Owens, dead wife, then I would agree. But I’m not.
Instead I just try to keep my kids pretty grounded. Try to not give them a yes to every single request. And in their defence, they’re actually pretty good.

Ive had to battle not to cave into the pressure of saying yes, simply because if I don’t, I might be considered mean, or be seen as depriving my children of something that may give them acute satisfaction for all of about 17 minutes.

Ok. Wait. Contary to what you may be thinking, Im not the wicked witch of the west. My poor homeschooled children locked at home in their pyjamas with no friends, and the only thing the tight cow of a mother will spend money on is a dictionary, a pair of crocs (replicas, not the real thing) and a bottle of sauvignon blanc. They do alright. More than alright. Honest.

Although had you asked my daughter last night? No. My Little kangaroo would have said they never get anything. Nothing. Rien. Jack sh*t.
Alright Liz, don’t get excited.

Now, because it seems, I have far too much time on my hands, rather than doing the things I should be doing; teaching my children. Picking through the garden with a poo bag, I am writing this blog. To share with you a few of the ‘wants’ that I have received this past year from my teen and tween.

What follows are my somewhat artistic reasons as to why the answer was a definite…No.

“Can I have a pony”.

This is a beauty. And one that I think every 12 year old girl must ask for. Remember the pig? I do. Vividly. Find a pony to exercise for free . Other than that stick a halter on Patrick, our pet sheep, and go for a canter ‘round the paddock.

• “Can I have $10 ? to get a snack while I’m waiting for you to come out of the supermarket with a glut of food that I will devour as soon as I get home”.

The reincarnated seagull that goes by the disguise of my 15 year old son. Get your pocket money out and go and buy your own chips. Even better, come into the supermarket with me and help to carry the shopping. Oh god no. On second thoughts… Just wait here and be hungry.

“Can I dye my hair pink? Permanently”.

ER…No love. You can not dye your hair pink. We are not Stephanie from Lazy Town. We are homeschoolers, and its hard enough explaining to folks why you’re ‘not in school today?’ without saying “oh, and by the way. That pink hair? Its permanent.”

“Can I get a motorbike?”.

No. I’ve witnessed what you’re like with the lawn mower. Pushing it like a mad man. Headphones in, laughing manically to your Ricky Gervais podcast. No. The scooter’s there, ride that. It may not be cool but its bloody zippy when you get that leg swinging.

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• “Can I get Facebook?

You’ve got that lip syncing app that keeps you in your bedroom with the hairbrush for hours already. You really don’t need to see dead cats, big lips and plates of spagetti bolognese. Anyway. If you get FB you’ll be able to read all the things I write about you…No.

• “Can I get these expensive trainers with the tick on them ?”.

You know, heres me. I can’t remember the last time I went and bought myself expensive stuff. The Elastic has gone in my knickers… and I can’t seem to find the time to go and buy new ones. Its sad. So, No. Wear the crocs I bought you last month. Until your feet stop growing at a rate of knots, the answer is, NO.
One day I will write a list of all the Yes things Ive agreed to. To make myself feel better.. Until then, I will persist in trying to keep my little darlings from resembling Harper and Brooklyn Beckham, although, lets face it. Riding a scooter in crocs with their mother tailing behind in knickers with no elastic. Theres not much chance of that is there? No Liz, No.

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Thank you to my two main sources of blog materiel x
You Baby Me Mummy

7 things new parents should avoid saying.

Eavesdropping on conversations is the best.

Eavesdropping on parents with new babies, well, that takes the pastime to a different league. There’s nothing finer than walking into the post office, seeing a long queue (granted, not a regular occurrence in New Zealand) and getting behind a couple of young parents swapping baby brags. Sorry, news.  Hearing them always makes me feel sort of curious and nervous at the same time. The same nervous feeling you get when you’re just about to go over the top on the rollercoaster. And interested to know if, 15 years later, new parents are still saying and believing the same old twaddle. It reminds me of all of the things that I too said when my teenagers were babies. And perfect. And kind. And controllable. When I innocently believed that this is how it would always be. In. The. Days. Before. They. Changed.

I know, I know. You think you have the perfect child, we all do. And they are; perfect I mean. It’s just that… you know that saying ‘ don’t tempt fate’? Well, it applies to all of the following points. So Parents. As desperate as you are to blurt out these statements, Don’t.

  1. “He is such a good sleeper”.

Granted, at the moment this is very convenient. Not for you getting up at 5 am to put the telly on. No thank you. We have a routine. We have this sleeping thing nailed.  But, be warned. At 15…you can’t get them out of that same bed for love nor money. You long for a day, just one, when they’ll get up out of that stinking pit before 11 am. I’m still waiting.

2. “She eats anything. Her favourite is vegetable korma”.

That’s because she’s strapped into that chair with no way of escape. It doesn’t last. The Nigella Lawson pea risotto is a thing of the past, and will instead be  replaced by the never-ending question: “does it have mushrooms in it?”

3. “He loves it when I play classical music in the car. I think he’s going to be a composer.”

If you’d rather listen to Adele than Baby Beethoven, do it. The only thing he will be composing in the car at 15 is a text. And guess what? You’re not part of it, so keep your eyes on the road . And , whatever .
4. “She’s already using her pincer grip.”

Believe me. When your girl reaches 13,  and you see those thumbs whizzing over the Instagram keyboard at a hundred miles an hour, you’ll wish she’d kept those beautiful chubby fists in her mouth. Don’t encourage the use of fast fingers. Put mittens on until she’s 20 if necessary.

5. “He’s saying Dada, but I’m teaching him to say, Mama!”

Don’t. Once it starts, it never stops. Just leave it. Let Dada take the blame.

6. “She loves her big brother.”

Make the most of this one. It seems that when a pair of siblings enters into the dark void that is teenagerism, they make a secret pact. “In front of  Mum and Dad, at least, we will hate each other .Especially at dinner time; just to ensure their dinner goes down in lumps.”

7. “I’m taking him to coffee mornings. He needs to socialise.”

If your idea of sitting in a big circle with a load of other knackered parents, staring and comparing little blobs, mashing, mushy banana (if you’re healthy) or digestives (if you were me) into their bibs, then go ahead. Honestly ? Go round to Grandmas, (if you don’t have one handy, there’s always the old people’s home down the road), make yourself a cup of tea, get a magazine (preferably not on good parenting), and let her hold and coo for an hour. Socialising done. And don’t worry, in 15 years he will have 1023 friends, on Facebook.

There then .  That’s  it for starters,  but,  be warned. As the years go by there arrives loads more. All the time. However, at least you’re in the ‘know’ now . You’re in the proper parents’ gang. You see,  they don’t tell you these things at antenatal class, it’d seem a bit scary wouldn’t it?   “Heres a free nappy, oh and by the way, anything good that happens? Just ignore it, it doesn’t last”.

So, new parent. Next time you’re stood waiting in line and someone asks how the new baby is,  just say, ” naughty as hell ” that way, you’re not setting yourself up for future disappointments. Not only that,  but you’ll keep the nosy old bag, the one listening to your conversation behind you, happy.

 

 

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