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

Mummy in a Tutu
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You Baby Me Mummy

Saturday morning anxiety.

I’m convinced that everyone else’s parenting skills are better than mine.

They’ve all got this motherhood malarkey down to a tee I reckon.

I chose the wrong time to go for a quiet coffee. Just the two of us, me and my husband, Brian. I thought it might be like the old days. You know. Before they came. But I didn’t think it through. It was Saturday morning. It was 11 am. I should have known that the parenting anxiety would plague me. Follow me out of the door.

“hey! don’t forget me!”

That’s all you need on a Saturday morning, isn’t it? A coffee a pastry and a hearty serving of angst, please.

The café door swung open and in bounced that teenager. If you’ve ever read a New Zealand sports magazine, I think he’s that model kid that advertises rugby boots or some coconut water sports drink.

Me, with my paper cup in one hand a croissant with jam in the other. Him, with his muddy knees and sweat lathered hair, looking the picture of teenage boy healthiness, bellowing to his mum (who had her running shorts on and was ordering a ‘trim’ and looked more like she should be his girlfriend) for food.

He was hungry. He was sporty. He’d been on the pitch since 4 am. He’d been with the team. He’d been with the ‘guys’

Bang. My, parenting barometer goes flying right down.

I knew there was something I had to worry about this weekend and here it is.

“why don’t our kids do sport?” I whisper to my husband.

Annoyingly, he refuses to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations or talk about them behind his coffee cup like me. He doesn’t believe that if you speak about the person sitting behind you like this:

 

 

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see them behind me?

 

 

They can’t hear you! Foolish fool. Needs to stay in more like me. Get some practice.

“They do karate.”

Ah, shad up Mr positive. That’s what I thought in my head. But because I’m 46 and really very mature, I refrained from verbalizing those thoughts.

Yes. I know both our kids are black belts in karate, but that’s on a Tuesday and Thursday night. That doesn’t count. It’s not on a Saturday morning, is it? There’s never anyone outside the village hall on a Thursday night when I drop off.

No.

It needs to be a Saturday morning to have any credibility in this world.

If your kids don’t play sport on a Saturday morning? Then you are… well. I don’t know. You’re weird and so is your dog.

Every bloody time.

“No school today?”

“Hi, person that I’ve never seen before in my life, No. They’re not at school today… we homeschool.”

Wait for it… Wait for it…

“Really? But…what about the. Dun Dun Duunnnn… SPORT!”

 

 

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Oh my god! That completely slipped my mind!

 

Yes. You’re right. Let’s not worry about whether or not I can teach my children algebra (actually, umm, no). Or if I can give a plausible explanation as to why the moon is round (is it something to do with it whizzing through the air so fast?) or even, did Shakespeare write Hamlet? (I don’t know. Let’s watch Shakespeare in love, and we’ll see). No. None of that, only,

“what about the sport?”

It’s getting worse. The anxiety. Rather than ignoring this beast of a teenager, and closing my ears to how he and his mates “nailed it”, I’m thinking back to what my own two beauties are doing.

Oh god. On this beautiful Saturday morning, when it seems every other teenager worth their weight is out on some pitch doing something that involves a ball, my two?

They’re playing bloody Minecraft.

When I ran out of that door at 10 am this morning screaming the list of jobs I wanted to be done by the time I returned, one was still in her pyjamas stinking and the other? Well. I don’t know about the other because I only saw the back of his head. His face lit up by the artificial sunshine of brick man land.

Deflated and feeling familiarly inadequate, I suggested to Brian that we return home and,

“I don’t know… Maybe you could take them on a bike ride or something”.

He reminded  me that he has (cough),

“a few things I want to do around the house”.

Yeah, I bet you do.

Back from the café. And they hadn’t moved. Still sat there. Staring. Glued to it. (in all fairness the dishes had been done, but I think they’d used the dog blanket to dry the wine glasses.)

Mummy’s home! Yay! All kind and tolerant and relaxed from her time alone with Daddy. Hurray!

“Turn that bloody thing off. NOW’

“I’m winning… just give me five more minutes.”

Only it wasn’t said like that. More like this.

“ H an n g  on… I’ m…………w…i…n n…in…g” fingers going ten to the dozen.

I should have been a nice parent. Like in the books. You’re supposed to listen to what they say and take their opinions into consideration. After all, they’re humans too.

I contemplated this for about minus zero seconds. Reached over the hump of fleecy pyjama top and the cereal bowl. And clicked the little X.

Horror.

Good job Liz. So mature. You really thought that one through.

All shouts and flinging arms and dramatics,

“I’m banning the computer” I scream “ go and get a life”.

I’m on to a winner here. I can feel it. There’s no stopping me now.

There’s the teenage scowl that would melt ice, followed by the sigh that would freeze it up again.

Me. Busy, busy, busy. Got to wash those wine glasses again in time for tonight. Far too busy polishing the hob to get into a fight. Eyes down, wiping the same spot for the past two minutes, middle-aged huff, huff, huff.

Like a gnawing little rat I proceed;

“if you put as much time into your piano as you do that bloody game you’d be Mozart by now.”

That’s an intelligent observation, Liz, seeing as Mozart is dead.

Teen flounces out.

It’s pouring down, Brian has decided that today would be the perfect day to put a pull-up bar in the garage (probably so he can escape out of the loft) and I’m left here. That’s the downside to living in the country. Beautiful yes, but no transport. 15 minutes drive from town. I hate board games as you may have heard, so there’s no way that’s happening.

Two big, lanky, bored teenagers, circling me in the kitchen like  hyenas.

“What’s there to do if we can’t play on the computer?”

I kid you not. Those were the exact words.

“Ermmm. Shit, shit, shit, think, think, think. Why don’t you read a book?”

The raised eyebrow.

 

 

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seriously???

 

 

I ask myself am I being unrealistic. Are there any teenagers, anywhere, who get up  on a wet Saturday morning and think, ‘I know. Sod Facebook and my memes. I think I’ll read a book.”

Are there?

Don’t lie. You’re just saying that to make me feel better.

I know the answer is yes.

I just know it. I can see it in my head.

In my mind movie.

It’s fantastic actually. If ever I get bored, I’ve got this film that runs 24/7 in my mind. No joke. It stars a fabricated family that looks a little like mine. There’s always a perfect husband. Cool and chilled.

A  calm and beautiful wife, calm. Not frantic. Calm.

And these two wonderfully intelligent, funny, adorable teenagers. These teenagers do things like stand in the kitchen with their mother. Talking. Sharing funny tales of stuff that have happened throughout the day. They make smoothies with lots of green stuff in them, and they’re chatting, chatting, chatting. Laughing, Laughing, Laughing.

Drinking their green smoothies. Together. Liking their mum.

And do you know what? I can never see a phone with a picture of a girl with doggy ears, ANYWHERE!! Nope. No computer, no YouTube, nothing. Only books. Glorious books.

And the mother? She’s smiling away and nodding in agreement with the child. She never EVER says;

“is anyone going to empty these bloody bins or shall I just do it again?’.

No. She never says that. She never rubs between her eyebrows with her fingers, trying to erase those two lines that are being etched deeper and deeper into her face. No. She just opens the door to the bin cupboard, takes the milk carton from the non-recycle bin, that hasn’t been washed out properly and stinks of cheese, and calmly places it into its proper place. All the while, keeping eye contact with the smoothy drinking book worm youth standing next to her. Oh, and I think he’s got a rugby shirt on too.

I want to be in that film

I could watch it all day. It’s rated a U. There’s never any bad language or violence. And the rude bits? They all take place in candlelight, and there’s this ever-present wispy fog surrounding the husband and wife. Oh and look! She’s laughing again. Never yawning and saying,

“where’s my Nurofen my stomach’s friggin killing me”

No. never that. Just smiling. Wanting to join her fun-loving husband. In all things fun.

*******

I wonder what rugby boy is doing now? Probably practising some fancy rugby throws with his dad. Getting Ready for next Saturday’s game. Out with ‘the guys’. Making his parents feel as though they’ve done a bloody good job.

I’m desperate. I don’t know what to suggest to them. They’re both just hanging around. Sighing.

I know. I’ll do what I always do when I feel like I can’t cope. Go to my office and have a little cry.

 

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Come on in liz. You know you want to.

 

 

I think back to my own childhood. To my brother. To my sister. We weren’t homeschooled. We went to school. But we never played any sports on a Saturday. In fact, we were lazy little sods who given half the chance, would stay in and watch Swap Shop.

Sometimes, if my mum and dad went out to the shops, we’d have a farting contest on the landing upstairs, but that was about as sporty as it got. No netball or hockey for Lizzie.

Come to think of it, the only sport me and my friends actively participated in on a Saturday was ‘knock a door run’. Either that or phoning the operator from the phone box and asking her if we could speak to E.T.

No computers back in my childhood.

I love this toilet. And it loves me. It has a way of showing me that everything is going to be alright. I swear, if it was big enough, I’d put a day bed in here and never come out.

Tap tap tap. You’re nearly through Brian. I imagine I’ll come home tomorrow to find him camped on the roof by the chimney. Like that nutter grandad in chitty chitty bang bang.

My time in the office has both calmed and educated me. While here, I’ve been informed, by courtesy of mindfood magazine, that gaming is actually beneficial for the youth of today. It teaches them code.

There. Thank you very much, gifted journalist, who wrote that. That’s all I needed to hear. You’ve saved my Saturday. And my kids would lick your shoes if they could find you on Facebook.

So what if my kids never play team sports. So what? Neither did I and I’m alright. Ok, ignore the fact that I find solace in a two metre by three-metre room with a toilet in it, but that aside, I’m pretty normal.

I admire from afar those parents who drive their kids to all of these sports at the weekend and stand and watch on the freezing cold sidelines, I really do. But face it, Liz. It ain’t you. And that’s ok.

My positive thinking brings me out of the office a new woman (I think I, may have schizophrenic tendencies but we won’t go  into that today ’cause I’m in a good mood now).

I tell them they can put the screens on.

Knock themselves out on musically. Put dog ears on their photos and send them to the world. Get on snap chat and send streaks. Smiley face, heart eyes, unicorn. Rainbow.

Kill square block man with your hammer that won’t move sideways. Learn some more code.

And when they get bored of that? They can go and play ‘knock a door run’.

There are approximately  100 metres between each house on our road. That’d keep them fit. Keep my lovelies occupied.

I could get them to wear that old rugby shirt that my mum got me from the charity shop. Someone might drive past and notice, and then I would no longer feel inadequate. Perfect. Sorted. I’m happy.

 

 

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Who needs rugby?

 

 

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
diaryofanimperfectmum

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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