Tag Archives: Parenting

Being stubborn may well save your life – and that of your beloved sister!


Phew. Back again.

I love this picture. For me it speaks a thousand words. Two of my girls and me. Caught in a moment of focus and affection.

Girls

These two sisters are amazing. I have never known two sisters who were so incredibly close. I remember once, going into the bathroom and finding them in the shower together. Both were yapping ten to the dozen. They had so much to tell one another that the noise of the flowing water was not permitted to intrude. I found that fascinating. They had shared a room for many years, they had attended the same schools, they had hung out with a lot of the same people, mostly they had shared the same hobbies. But still, they had so much to say to each other and felt so much urgency to say it, that they couldn’t bear to be separated.

Now, you might think that as they’re so incredibly close that their relationship is a pretty harmonious one. But there you would be wrong. They can argue just as passionately as they get along.

Think fireworks.

Take, for example, the time that Lori got so annoyed with her elder sibling that she gave her a  shove, while she was standing  on the steps of a bus. Joni lost her footing and fell out of the bus. I know. I was there. I saw it all. No matter what I said, Lori refused point blank to apologise.

I remember once, the girls’ choir teacher taking them off for a couple of days on a workshop. She was quite excited about taking those two sisters, who have such an amazing rapport with each other, off to sing in the countryside. She anticipated what effect their close relationship would have on the dynamics of the group. What she failed to anticipate was: what would happen if they fell out. I met her weeks later and she was still slightly dazed.

The truth of the matter is: that although the girls tend to be passionate about pretty much the same things, their characters couldn’t be more polar opposite.

When Lori was born I thought that I’d be able to bath both of the girls together. I couldn’t though. Lori hated the cold and Joni hated the heat. I had to throw my boat-shaped baby bath thermometer in the bin. Both girls were completely off the scale. Joni cried at ‘the correct temperature’ because it was far too hot and Lori cried at ‘the correct temperature’ because it was far too cold. It was like my own two bears story. Lori even balled her eyes out in the supermarket every time we veered near to the fridges.

Joni grew up dressed in pink. Wearing nail polish. And with a serious conviction that she was actually Snow White.

While Lori started the trend of wearing a t-shirt over a long-sleeved top and destroyed one action figure after another.

Bringing the two of them up has taught me a lot.

One of the things it has taught me is that compromise is not always such a good thing.

Laid back Joni has a leisurely pace. She meanders through life in her own good time. In fact, we actually call her our very own chill pill.

Intense Lori rushes on ahead. There is always something else to do. There is always something else to say. There is always something more to make of her day.

One such day both girls were on the bus together heading home from school. The bus pulled up at our stop and they both got off. Together. An argument erupted. Lori felt cold and wanted to rush home from school, at full speed and get on with things.
Joni, on the other hand, wanted to take her time, bask in the winter sun’s rays and float along the street towards home.

A compromise could not be found. Joni’s attempt at her fastest pace could not placate Lori’s need for speed and so after a few cross words, Lori stormed off ahead.

Joni was angry. Why couldn’t they just compromise? Meet in the middle? Lori could slow down her pace and Joni could hasten hers and they could walk home, as sisters, together!

Lori skedaddled and was about 100m ahead of her elder sister when behind her she heard the shrill screeching and then crumpling of metal, and the shattering of glass. She stopped and whirled around. A van had hit a car and now the van was on the path. Approximately 50m in front of her sister. Approximately 50m meters behind her…

She ran back, checked everyone was ok and then rushed on home.

It was at that very moment that I came around the corner in our car. I had picked up my two younger children and, we too, were almost home. I pulled over as I couldn’t easily get past the blockage in the road. My son, who’s always keen to see what’s going on, leapt out of the passenger seat before I could shout, “Hold your horses!!” and ran along the street to find out what had happened. I looked out of my side window and then it dawned on me: one of the people standing next to those contorted vehicles was my daughter Joni.

And then it hit me! Joni and Lori should be taking the same school bus home and Lori was nowhere to be seen…

I tried to leave my car, but it proved difficult. The road was in chaos. It had been sprayed with broken glass and vehicles were slowly attempting to make their way around the debris and the gathering crowd of bystanders. I swore at a lorry driver who attempted to reprimand me for getting in his way. Somehow, finally, I managed to park up on the side of the street, then I ran, screaming, towards a shocked Joni, “Where’s Lori? Where’s Lori?

I dared not look under the vehicles…

Joni took a while to answer. She was in shock. She’d witnessed the whole accident. Lori had just been ahead of her… They’d had an argument… Lori wanted her to walk faster… If they had compromised they would have both been hit by the van which now sat on the pavement.

“But where’s Lori now?” I queried. I needed to see her for myself. To make quite sure. Quite sure she was intact and unharmed.

I quickly checked the distressed car driver then took my paler than usual eldest daughter back to the car and drove her home.

At home I discovered an unblemished but rather disappointed Lori.

Disappointed because she’d not been able to put her recently gained first aid certificate to good use. There had not even been a cut to bandage. She’d been forced to march home and start her homework instead!

 

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So… Love


As some of you already know I have four whole children. I’ve counted and double counted and it’s true – there really are four of them! It’s bizarre. I can’t always quite believe it myself. But there you are.

They entered the world like this:

  • girl
  • girl
  • boy
  • another girl

When my then six year old son heard that his third sibling would be yet another girl he was so pissed off disappointed that he said, “Bloody hell!”, crawled under the dining table and refused to come back out.

Bringing up four whole children is wild. Seriously.

Firstly, you spend a lot of time counting heads to make sure that you haven’t left one somewhere. Or added one accidentally. You learn, quite quickly, the importance of making sure that you haven’t double-counted the same head, because that leaves you with the false sense of security of having all of your children present and correct.

You swiftly learn, to think on your feet when your children well and truly drop you in it. You also develop the art of the quick getaway.

Saying sorry becomes second nature, so much so that you often say it as a precursor to an event, the moment you enter the room/shop/tourist attraction/bank/doctor’s office (delete as appropriate).

You find going out with adult friends difficult because you find yourself continually compelled to ask them: “Do you have your key?” And, “Are you sure you don’t need to go to the toilet?”

Finally having child free time with your partner, you ban talking about the kids and then stare into space until you both give in and start talking about the kids again.

You never, ever have any money in your purse. It’s like money has some kind of aversion to your purse. You regularly find yourself going into the butchers and the bakers only to find yourself penniless. Thus having to explain to the not-always-so-patient shop assistant that you, yet again, need to nip over to the hole in the wall to grab some cash.

You can never remember the name of the child standing in front of you. Especially when you are annoyed. So in the middle of a telling off you have to shout, “What’s your name again?” before dishing out the punishment.

Food vanishes. You shop and shop and shop. You cook and cook and cook. But every time you attempt to make yourself a quick snack or snatch a biscuit: there’s nothing left.

Your house is filled with germs. For two reasons. One is: you have lost the will to clean. And the other is: they bring home every conceivable type of germ from even the remotest part of the region and then they share it all around.

At some point you get the Norovirus. In your house. For three weeks solid. You lose your mind. Especially when your children admit they might just have spread it around again because they shared a sandwich.

You become an expert nit picker.

You also become a taxi driver, counsellor, mediator and pharmacist.

Seriously, visitors come to your house just to admire the array of medicines in your cupboard and to compliment you on your ‘tried and tested’ pharmaceutical knowledge (all the while kindly ignoring the clutter that surrounds you).

You laugh a lot. It would be true to say, not always at appropriate moments. But you develop a deep, belly laugh that suddenly booms out of you uncontrollably. Finally your children feel embarrassed. At your loudness. At your lack of restraint. They whisper, “Mum!!” with agitated voices.

But you know, from experience, that one day they will say, “One of the things I love most about you, Mum, is your huge laugh!”

And you’ll say, “I learned to laugh so much because of you.”

 

 

Post Traumatic Nipple Stress


So, last night, I sneezed so violently that my whole body wrenched forward and my nipple got caught in between my wrist and my watch strap.

#truefact #notalternativefact #youcouldn’tmakeitup

I yelped slightly, partly because of the shock, partly because of the sheer intensity of the sneeze, not so much because of the pain – it strangely didn’t hurt that much, and quite a bit because of that traumatic memory of when I accidentally whisked my boob.

My yelping interrupted the film we were watching and my husband, who luckily is used to my violent sneezes, glanced across and I exclaimed to him, “My nipple got caught in my watch strap!!!”

He winced appropriately and turned his face back in the direction of the TV screen.  After all, whisk flashbacks are mine and mine alone.

To be honest, I did feel the need to re-discuss that old event, but then, for some reason, I thought better of it.

Now, at this point, you may be forgiven for wondering why my watch strap is far too big or if I have an exceptionally small nipple? I can ease your concerns on both counts. Well, I think I can. I mean, I haven’t actually compared my nipple to other ladies nipples as it’s not really polite to do so and I am, after all, British. But my suspicion is, that in terms of size, my nipple is completely normal. And my watch strap is not too big either, rather, I have to wear it slightly loose because it says to do so in the instructions. It’s one of those Fitbit things. You know, one of those watches that measure not only time, but also your pulse as well as the amount of steps that you take in a day. What that actually means is: that it’s a watch that controls your mood – if you achieve more than the 10,000 steps that it expects of you in your day, then you feel ON TOP OF THE WORLD and if you don’t, like yesterday, you fall into a deep black hole of depression – and from then on in you just wander back and forth to the fridge scouring for sugar. I really thought my Fitbit might have cut me some slack and given me a point step for each violent sneeze, after all I’m sure they must use up more calories than a simple step. In fact, they are so whole-body-consuming that each sneeze should really be classed as exercise.  But no, my Fitbit not only discounted my activity, but it also ensnared my nipple.

Shortly after my ‘event’ interrupted our viewing pleasure, we heard a little knock on the living room door. We thought about it for a brief moment and then we shouted unanimously, “Come in!” And a  no-longer-so-tiny daughter shuffled into the room. Crying.

My husband paused the film.

We asked her what was wrong. But she was so absorbed with her own tears that she couldn’t tell us anything. So I started the guessing game:

Are you ill? Did you have a bad dream? Have you forgotten about some piece of homework? Have you lost something? Are you dreading going back to school? Did your brother annoy you?

She couldn’t speak, only sob and shake her head.

So, I thought I’d try the cheer-her-up approach. “Do you know what just happened to mummy?” I asked, excitedly.

She shook her pretty little head again.

“I just sneezed so violently my nipple got caught in my watch strap!!!!”

She screwed up her face.

But the sobs seemed less….

So I continued, “Do you remember the time mummy whisked her nipple…?”

Kids. You gotta love ’em. They have their uses…

February


So it’s February. Already. I always think of February as the month of love. Probably because that’s when Valentine’s Day is. And I always spend the first half of this short month wondering how to best impress show my adoration for my husband.

I’ve decided that, as there are many new readers to this blog I will introduce them properly to my family. They are, after all, the people that I love and cherish the most. And, for those that have been following me for longer – it’s a reintroduction. Children, after all change and grow. They become teenagers.

Besides I need to get back into writing. I have been working on my book, sporadically, for ever. But the problem with book writing is: there is no instant gratification. I keep re-reading re-edited chapters to the children and they keep telling me, “Mum, I know that story already!!” Then they look at me ungratefully when I try to show them that I changed a word here and moved a comma there and then march off to go about their own business.

Happy February.

Happy reading.

The first one is actually not going to be about love.

It’s about my very strange sense of humour…

It’s almost finished. I’m just re-re-re-editing.

Life is full of surprises and not always where you’d expect them


tango face surprise

It’s nice to know, that even at 44 years old, life still has the opportunity to surprise me.

I mean, there are some things which remain pretty much the same. Like the fact that we rent a new car each year through my husband’s company. And the fact that, it takes me the whole year to get used to that new car. The whole year to learn to recognise it in the car park without pressing the central locking button on my key, to make the lights flash. Without that button I would never, ever find my car, let alone get into it.

To be fair, I do try really hard. I have stopped relying on the kids (who are nowadays, no longer always accompanying me on my journeys) to ‘know’ where I last left my vehicle,  and  I do my very best to focus in on car park letters and numbers and street names and notable landmarks and try to memorise them. Some times it works well, I’ve discovered, other times not quite so well.
But however well it works I always need my secret weapon central locking button.

Take last year’s new car as an example. I drove it to my local supermarket, carefully selected a space, in the very same row I always try to park in (that way I have a much better chance of finding my car). It’s a less popular row, as it’s a bit further away from the supermarket, but it still has a trolley park in it. I don’t mind the walk. It’s direct. If I have to wander round and round the car park, all the while sneakily pressing my ‘locate vehicle’ button in my pocket, it turns out that I have to walk much, much further, which is a horrible experience with a wayward trolley and besides, if I press my button too much, I end up needing a new key battery which means taking my key to the local car dealership and watching the salesman scratch his head while saying, “The battery doesn’t normally run out within a year, that is very strange…” OK, technically, I never did take my key back, I always made my husband do it: I was far too embarrassed.
So, as I said, last year, I parked my then new car in my favourite row, and then, on completion of my shopping, I strode back across the car park towards my new Mercedes. The row was almost empty so I confidently withdrew my key from my pocket, pointed it unwaveringly at my car and I pressed and I pressed but strangely, the lights remained unlit. I wondered, what on earth was wrong with the damned car then, in good faith, I opted for the ‘open boot’ button instead. I pressed and I pressed the button. Then I shook the key a little bit, as you do when today’s gadgets don’t seem to be performing properly, but that didn’t help one bit. The thought did flash across my mind that I’d potentially already worn out the battery in the key with all my pressing, but really? The car was only a couple of weeks old… It was at that moment that I spotted a woman standing, staring at me, mouth gaping… Apparently she was standing next to my car I mean, her car. By the time I’d actually noticed her, I was almost at her boot, which I thought was my boot, ready to unload my overflowing trolley. She stood there, protectively, as I glanced fervently around, that’s when I noticed, two spaces further along, another car with its boot wide open and its lights flashing like a full on disco.

You could think that was one of the surprises I’m talking about. And you’d be partly right. To be honest, I am quite used to attempting to gain entrée to a vehicle that is not my own. It all started when I was a kid. I was shoving an extremely heavy, headstrong trolley towards my parent’s car all by myself. I rammed the key in the boot’s lock and I could not understand, for the life of me, why it would not turn. My parents marched on past without more than a mere  glance in my direction. I did my best to twist the stubborn key in the lock. Then I started to notice odd things in the boot as I peered through the window. Like a blanket which wasn’t ours… Something wasn’t quite right… So I looked deeper into the car and I’m sure you can imagine my absolute shock when I noticed a couple, sitting in the two front seats, glaring at me through their rear window.

But the thing is: the car was exactly the same colour as ours, an unusual kind of rusty orange brown colour, and it was exactly the same model.

So really, I could be excused, after all, it was an easy mistake to make.

But last year, when I’d almost pressed my vehicle finder to death, and started rumours of a disco at the supermarket car park, I realised, as I saw the two cars parked practically side by side,  that they looked completely different. Mines was a Mercedes. Hers was a Ford. And to top it all, hers was a completely different colour.

That threw me a bit. I must admit.

And, to be honest, I suspect the stranger thought I was a proper loony.

Slightly more than a year has passed since that little incident and yet, again, we’ve swapped cars. The thing is, they’ve adapted the model. So it looks a bit different and it has new features.

I’m not so good with new features. Don’t get me wrong. I like them. I even get quite excited about them when my husband describes them or better still shows me them. But within ten minutes I’ve forgotten how to use them. I am starting to suspect that I am not really a very technical person.

Each car, each year has new features. As a matter of fact, last year’s car had an App that you could put on your phone to help you find it. I guess there are more people burning out the key battery than that head scratcher cared to admit!! My husband kindly put the App on my phone and taught me how to use it. To be fair, I have managed to check out whether my car is locked or not. It wasn’t. My husband thought this to be a silly feature, but I actually proved him wrong! Still, the main reason for using the App, car location, is something I haven’t managed to conquer. So I’ve stuck by my tried and tested method and kept my nickname: Battery Depletor.

But this year’s car is truly confusing incredible. It can even park all by itself if you can remember how to let it.

I was really surprised because you don’t use a key to start it: instead you press a button. And there is no hand brake. At all.

So, my mornings now go something like this: make sure the kids are ready for school. Run around looking for my car key (which is now just a set of buttons: one for car location unlocking the central locking, one for locking the central locking and one for opening and closing the boot). Yell at Tell all the kids necessary to get into the car. Press the unlock central locking button (which by the way, to my confusion, also on one occasion opened all of the windows?!?). Stand next to the car, trying to figure out what I should actually do with the key once I am in the car? Should I put it in my pocket? Because then I might, yet again, forget to lock the car… Once I’ve come to a decision about the key and I’m sitting in the car,  I then have an exhaustive search for the hand brake… Eventually it dawns on me that there is no longer a hand brake. Then I get excited that the lovely people at Mercedes decided to bless me with a camera at the back so I reverse the car out of the driveway without knocking over my or my neighbours bins and I drive off up the hill. On my return home I have to exit my vehicle. This means: press P for Park. Press the start/stop button to switch the car off. Locate the key. Leave the vehicle. Remember to lock the car and then carry on about my business. This may sound simple. But I have noticed that I’m pretty fixated on the key location aspect of the task, so much so, that I keep forgetting to switch off my car. To which my car responds by screaming at me “You bloody idiot!!” flashing red lights and beeping loudly.  Which sets me off with a little adrenalin rush for the start of my day.

Who needs coffee?

My son has surprised me a lot this year. He’s reached the grand old age of 16. This was not absolutely clear as he’s the semi-autistic/extreme ADHDer who is mostly driven by impulse. He has become extremely tall and even more gangly than before. He has grown a full head and shoulders above his eldest sister which he sees as his greatest achievement of the year, because way back at the start of 2016, his head was still bobbing along below hers.

We have been trying to encourage him towards other productive – not just growing – activities. He needs to find direction and no, not the astronaut one. The European Space Agency will not let an extreme ADHDer loose with their space rockets. It seems even the German military won’t let an extreme ADHDer loose with their tanks. Which, having watched my son grow up, I can kind of understand.

Last week I thought I’d encourage him in the kitchen. He has a natural cooking ability although he doesn’t seem to like to use it too much. I told him to dislodge himself from his tablet and he entered the kitchen and I warmly explained to him that I would make him my  masterchef in the kitchen. I said that Papa wants him to be his prodigy on the computer. But I nabbed him first. He didn’t look too impressed but I soldiered on. I informed him matter-of-factly that today, we’d be making pastry. I asked him if he knew how to make pastry and he said yes, I’d already taught him. But I carried on. I had yet again another mammoth headache but life goes on and I stipulated how much flour and how much butter A.D. should measure out. He did so, accurately. I’m more of a  ‘throw it together’, ‘that’ll do’ and a ‘bit extra for good luck’ kind of chef, in all honesty. I looked at the amount of flour and through my strange haze I thought something isn’t quite right here. Then I realised that actually, I exchanged the flour and the butter quantities. Aden corrected my mistake by himself and then I double checked his work and decided, through my fog, it was wrong again, so he re-fixed it. Once he was ready to continue, I noticed that he’d actually been right with his own correction and I had fluffed it up yet again. He painstakingly weighed out the grams as I profusely apologised and blamed my head.

Flour met butter in the processor and I relaxed a little bit as Aden pulsed away and produced perfect ‘breadcrumbs’. Then I told him, that the secret of making good pastry in the food processor lay in adding splashes of water slowly and pulsing the mix until the dough starts to come together, then removing it and doing the rest by hand.

Our pastry started to come together, I instructed  Aden to stop pulsing  and I turned my back for the briefest of moments.

Suddenly, I heard quite rigorous pulsing behind me. I span around and saw the arm of the food processor, no longer in the bowl but in the air, freely spinning with dough swinging from it.

Frankly, I yelled. Then I exclaimed how the dough needed to be used for cooking and not for spraying the walls.

In all fairness, it did seem like Aden was having the time of his life before the yelling.

I recovered my dough, took it to my floured work surface and prepared it to be chilled.

In the meantime we made toppings for the mini quiches we were creating.

Once the dough had chilled I talked Aden into buttering the creme brulee dishes while I rolled out the pastry.

Then I said, “Now we are going to bake the pastry blind. What does that mean?”

He bounced excitedly up and down, not something he’ll be able to do in our kitchen much longer if he continues to grow at such a rate, and squealed, “I know! I know!”

“Is it that you throw loads of ingredients in without looking and then you don’t know what you’ll be eating?”

“What??? No!!!”

He paused for the tiniest moment.

Then he started leaping around again. “I know. Is it that you poke the pastry with a stick like a blind person?”

“What??????????????? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

He looked slightly deflated.

I handed him a fork and told him to prick the pastry then we’d place baking paper between the pastry and the ceramic baking beans. He pricked rather enthusiastically at first, all in all there were more holes than there was pastry. So I showed him how to do it properly and then returned the fork to him. Then he got the baking beans from the cupboard and asked if he could try one…

At least he asked. Which is more than the crazy dog did. When I accidentally rolled some off the tabletop onto the floor. She stole one. Ran off. Then spat it back out on to her blanket.

No wonder there always seem to be fewer ceramic baking beans in the tub with every use…

We did manage to finish the quiches and I have to say, they were delicious. But by the end I was thinking of offering Papa Aden as his prodigy…

Life rolls on. The end of the year is nigh and the kids only have a couple of days left at school. Aden rolled off to the bus stop this morning on his scooter. A few minutes later the phone rang. He was extremely upset. He’d started to feel rather squeamish on the bus then had suddenly vomited. Everywhere. Including on three fellow passengers.

He’d got off the bus. At some random bus stop and had no clue where he was. Bless. I had to look his whereabouts up on the internet and go and rescue him. He was covered from head to toe in sick. I am still not sure how I didn’t puke in the car because of the smell.

Yes, the new car.

I got him home, heaved as I put the sick filled clothes into the washing machine and then ran out to thoroughly disinfect the car. I have so learned since the Norovirus.

My husband pointed out that at least we don’t have to put up with that new car smell anymore…

My son may not be the next astronaut or the next tank driver. He may never decide to be a chef. But at least I know that when he projectile vomits, he does it properly.

I wanted to finish there. But my daughter arrived home from school. Calm but I could sense she had something on her mind.

It wasn’t that she’d had yet another nosebleed (she had, but that’s beside the point). She’s a first aider at her school and had to deal with an emergency. A boy had been pushed, and had hit his head against the edge of a table. He had an actual hole in his head. She said that she’s never seen so much blood. At one point she even saw clots that she momentarily thought might be bits of brain on the child’s neck. She remained calm and collected and helped patch the quite young boy up and sat with him, keeping him calm, until a relative could be on the scene to take him to a doctor. I am in awe. I would have fainted. Or have thrown up. Or both.

My kids never cease to amaze me.

Happy Christmas!!!

 

 

 

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Days


There are days
I feel like yelling
“I am absolutely not ok!!”
There are days
I could start telling
My problems right from breakfast,
Right through midday,
They’d keep on spilling
Out all afternoon
And by evening
I’d take a breath and say
“I’m still not done yet –
But I need a break!”

There are days
I don’t know where to start
A smile sits on my face
Hiding worry
Anguish
And concern
With all the good grace
I can possibly muster.

There are days
I sit on the floor
Feel the pressure
Feel the support
Somewhere to be
Where I can no longer fall
And I beg of myself,
“Please, oh please, no more…”

There are days
When I laugh and I sing
I might even dance
Those days I am funny
Those days I am cool
Those days I have everything under control
But those days,
Those days at the moment
Are far too few.

Some days I am weak
All broken
And ruined
Used and abused
All spat out
After being chewed.

Other days I am strong
I carry great heavy weights
In my head
In my heart
And in my arms
And I never drop a single one.

 

Maybe I should…


Maybe I should shout ‘fuck’ as it sweeps in again.
But I don’t.
I just loaf around.
Be mean.
Be vacant.
Be not me.

Maybe I should just scream and shout.
Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud,
kick the walls – let some deep rage out
but I don’t, I just, I just wanna be free.

Maybe I should call someone
ask them for their help?
But I don’t.
Because who is there really?
Who can actually help me?

Maybe I should just scream and shout.
Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud,
kick the walls – let some deep rage out
but I don’t, I just, I just wanna be free.

Maybe enough painkillers will kill the pain?
But I take painkillers and the pain remains exactly the same…
Lost…
Numb…
Defeated.

When will I ever be useful again?
How can anyone live with this constant,
mental
drain?

How do I find the strength to go on?
How can I ever, ever again
be a good mum?

Maybe I should just scream and shout.
Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud,
kick the walls – let some deep rage out
but I don’t, I just, I just wanna be free.

Maybe I should just scream and shout.

Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud.

Kick the walls – let some deep rage out!

But I don’t.
I just loaf around.
Be mean.
Be vacant.
Be not me.

 

Fever Diva


When I was a little girl, around, I don’t know, maybe seven or eight years old, I picked up one of those childhood illnesses. I’m not sure which one it was. All I know is, that I had an extremely high temperature.

It was so high that I started hallucinating, seeing heads with no bodies and matchstick people doing strange exercises over by my mum’s wardrobe.

It freaked my mum right out, I can tell you.

The problem is: it didn’t stop there.

After that illness, any time I had a low grade fever, I’d start hallucinating again.

When I was a kid, I’d get sick and then, you know, hallucinate. And my mum would become unglued.

I’d stay healthy for a while and then I’d pick up a cold or a sickness bug and then suddenly I’d be shoving away floating faces and yelling at stick men and my mum would be ruing the day she ever gave birth to such an oddity.

When I was 17 my hallucinations and I moved out. We moved around a bit and then settled down in a little house, in a little village.

My fevers and my hallucinations had become more of a biennial event, so, in general, I kept them pretty much to myself.

Then my first husband moved himself in.

He stayed overnight, left in the morning and returned in the evening with some clean underwear. He stayed the night again, then left in morning and returned with a chest of drawers, for his clean underwear. He stayed the night and then left in the morning and returned in the evening with pretty much all of his stuff.

He, luckily,  was only confronted by my visions three or four times, as he trotted his stuff right back out again after about seven years. He found it all a bit odd, but to be honest, he was more exasperated by my lack of interest in wearing two identical socks simultaneously, and the fact that my tool kit consisted of: a hammer, a bag of carpet tacks, Blu-Tack and some felt pens. The latter concern was not unreasonable. After all, when he went to the loo and yanked on the toilet tissue, it was surely fair enough, that he was horrified, that not only the whole roll, but also the holder and a heap of plaster, came flying towards him.

Looking back, I could have yelled at him for destroying my handiwork with his man-strength.

Instead, I was too busy explaining that that rubbery stuff really was Blu-Tack, despite it not being blue. That, I had cleverly coloured it in with the felt pens so it would match the wall colour.

He did not share my enthusiasm. Instead, he went around dismantling things and replacing them with screws and something called ‘raw plugs’.

It took him a good couple of years to stop shaking his head and to appreciate my talent.

I remember the exact day quite clearly.

We’d been housesitting for my parents for a week as they’d taken a holiday. We’d fed the plants and watered the cat.

On their return I wanted the house to be spick and span. So I did all the washing, changed all the bedding, scrubbed down the kitchen and the bathroom, I even popped out to the local florist and bought flowers as a distraction from the smell of polish. All I needed to do was hoover and wash the floor.

I got the hoover out and sucked away on the deep pile carpet in the hall. Then I entered the kitchen, with the brand new cushioned linoleum. I paused for a second, and then I heard a horrifying noise. The hoover, it turned out, had different settings depending on how deep the pile of your carpet was, or in this case, wasn’t.

I pushed and I pulled but the gurgle persisted so I switched the hoover off.

I lay it on it’s back and then glanced at the floor.

I think my heart actually stopped for a second as it sunk in.

The bloody hoover had sucked a chunk right out of my mum’s new, extortionately priced, linoleum.

Driven by lack of linoleum funds and a healthy amount of fear – my mum is not a person you want to piss off – I raided every drawer in the house until I found, no, not felt pens but crayons.

Felt pens wash off. Crayons are wax. Linoleum is frequently washed.

And so I went to work, crayoning the upper linoleum pattern onto the lower linoleum backing with as much haste as my shaky hands could muster.

My first husband, knowing my mother, went into a full blind panic.

When I’d finished, and tested and retested my work, with a mop and bucket, I stepped back and asked him, “What do you think?” I saw that fleeting you-are-my-heroine look flash across his face and I knew, I just knew that all my Blu-Tack colouring-in had been in preparation for that precise moment.

We hurriedly finished the house, desperate to make a quick get away before my parents’ and siblings’ arrival.

I may be mistress of fraud with a  crayon but I cannot lie through my teeth, even if my life depends on it.

We were close to leaving when my parents showed up. So close. We were almost at the back door, in the kitchen. Which meant that the subsequent conversation took part, in it’s entirety, in the kitchen. We enquired about their holiday and made our ‘we need to go ASAP’ excuses, and the whole time, the treacherous cat, stared at the crayoned hole in the linoleum. The same cat that I’d just watered for a week tried to give my game away!!

Years passed. My mum renewed her lino. I renewed my husband. And life trundled along.

My second husband eradicated my sock nonsense and bought himself a bumper tool kit. But the real icing on the cake was that he arrived in my life complete with a full blown cat allergy.

I aged and developed various ailments. The children kindly brought home and shared around all the bugs, nits and noroviruses that they could catch at school. The frequency of my fevers increased steadily, to every few months, rather than every couple of years.

And there had been a new development. With an even slighter rise in temperature, I found myself having restless nights and on waking that I’d turned upside down in my bed. Yup, suddenly I’d wake up in the morning and my face would be, well… facing my husband’s hairy feet.

On Sunday, our youngest child woke us up at 4am having grabbed an illness which ran pretty much like this: vomit, 40°C fever, bad headache, sore neck; which thus sent us into a tailspin, having already gone through one child fighting against meningitis. So we did the mega-alert, test-the-temperature-every-fifteen-minutes for any increase, thing. Actually, we were so anxious that we checked every five minutes. For two and a half hours. Then we started to notice a decrease, so we gave her some Nurofen and some water, and tried to sleep a little.

Her illness developed: sore throat, tissue boxes worth of snot, nose bleeds, a sore eye. The child, who normally puts the bounce in the word bounce, lolled around on the sofa.

Her fever stayed fairly steady for three days.

Three whole days.

For three days, she breathed her hot breath into my face as I stuck the thermometer in her ear and nursed her brow.

For three days, she passed me snot filled tissues and empty glasses so I could replenish her water.

For three days, I was filled with dread because at 38°C, I feel the need, somehow, to cuddle up to my husband’s feet. For three days, I despaired because at 38.5°C, I visualise hovering heads and exercising matchstick men.

What on earth would 40°C mean for me?

On the fourth night, one feverless child lay in her bed and slept soundly. Her mother, on the other hand, kept waking up, thinking that, at any moment, she would be violently sick. Then the feeling would subside, she’d lie back down and snooze again.

At around 4am she found herself sitting, bolt upright in bed, thrashing her arm wildly. Her stunned husband called out to her, “Are you having a nightmare again?”

“No.” She said matter-of-factly. “There’s a scarecrow.”

Because she could quite blatantly see a green grass (rather than brown straw) scarecrow, pogoing in the middle of her bed.

Now I know what happens at 40°C. I have an even better imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may wish you were a fly on the wall in my house


I sometimes wish I owned a dictaphone to record those ‘special moments’.

Like yesterday, when we visited the local shopping centre. It wasn’t a planned visit. We ended up there because I was really sure we had an appointment at the local hospital. But it turns out, that my racing through town, in desperation to get one of my loved ones there on time, was a bit over-zealous. As the appointment I dragged everyone to is not for another two weeks.

So we found ourselves within the centre of town, with nothing to do. And the rain started. So I suggested the shopping centre. Some people wholeheartedly agreed that it was a good idea. One family member did not. But we jumped back in the car anyway and continued our journey at a more leisurely pace.

Lori, Akasha and I browsed a couple of the shops while the grumpy one stood outside, looking, well, grumpy.

In one of the smaller boutiques Akasha, who as you might remember, is eight, blurted out, at full volume, I should add: “Is this shop so small because it’s not successful?”

I did my best to blissfully ignore her question by pointing out a top to my picky and in-need-of-clothes teenager. But she informed me, in no uncertain terms, that the said top was “ugly”. She did not whisper and the shop was, as I’ve clarified, quite small. We were also the only customers in it, so the assistant was clearly focussed on us. I decided the best option was to make a quick getaway.

Back to the grumpy one.

The summer holidays are drawing to a close and there have been oh so many of those moments.

Like just a few short minutes ago.

Akasha (the creator) bound into the room and jubilated, “I made myself a necklace from my pants string.”

Indeed, around her neck she wore a piece of knicker elastic. Removed from the panties she’s currently wearing creating a ‘matching outfit’ effect.

My teenage son, (the health and safety officer) analysed the situation and noted, in his usual very matter-of-fact tone: “A health and safety person might describe that as a strangulation device.”

To which Lori (our quick-witted ninja) replied, “Like my hands!

 

 

Sickness wreaks havoc


People often ask me how on earth I manage with four children. I tell them: it’s a little extra work, yes, like a lot of washing (think of mountain ranges like the Alps), and sometimes I have to make difficult choices, because there are times, when I get double booked into events, like two parent evenings occurring on the same day in different schools, which also happen to be miles apart, at the very same time. You might question what the odds are on that happening. I can tell you, they are apparently quite high. I can also tell you that I have quite active children, between them they regularly: sing in choirs, partake in drama class, do ninjutsu, climb, geocache, canoe, ballet dance, play keyboard, go to youth fire service, swim, cycle, play bass guitar and arch – play archery? Go arching? – Whatever! So, sometimes I find myself double-booked into two audiences at once or as a taxi-driver expected to drive in two opposing directions simultaneously.

When it comes to deciding which child to opt in favour of, my general rule of thumb is to select my favourite at that moment. That tends to be the one who has been the most helpful and/or has bribed me with the most sweets or cake.

Once I’ve worked out the logistics, I normally find most tasks doable, in a hectic kind of way. I try my best to be to organised and it comes together in a perfect picture of organised chaos. And so we toddle along. Until, that is, someone gets sick.

Sickness wreaks havoc…

It all started last week. With all of those children doing all of those activities and meeting all of those other children all of the time it is quite clear, that they are going to bring some germs home at some point or other. So no element of surprise there then. Just bad timing.

Aden came home with a cold and being the generous, sharing boy that he is, he donated some of his germs to Lori.

Now that left Lori in a fix. Normally, she would not bat her eye at a mere cold but I knew something was seriously wrong when our obsessed Ninja informed me that she didn’t feel fit enough for sword training. Then, that very night, she woke up with a high fever and a pair of very sore ears!

Poor timing indeed. The following day she was due at one of the final rehearsals of her much rehearsed school play.  The same play her older sister would also be playing in.

In order to realise the significance of this development, I probably need to give you some background information.

The play, “Momo”, is one they have been working on for about six months. Both daughters have several parts. One main character and and a a few minor roles.

It’s an adaptive, evolving piece. The kids explore their characters in depth and change the script constantly until it fits. They add in music, songs, and various theatrical effects and decide what props and costumes to use. They keep the essence of the story but they vamp it up, modernise it and make it their own.

During this time lines constantly change and minor roles are passed from person to person. Depending on who’s getting changed for the next scene and who’s currently on stage at the time.

So, although they have the script months in advance they don’t actually learn their lines until much later on.

Now let me put your mind at rest. Lori knew all of her lines last Thursday when she got sick. So to miss the rehearsal on Friday wasn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster either.

But Joni

Joni has been taking her ‘Abitur’ – her High School Diploma in the last few months and officially she left school about two weeks ago, but then she disappeared off to the Austrian border to do some work experience.

So, just to refresh, while others were getting sick and learning their lines Joni was galavanting around Europe discovering what it’s like to be a teacher taking kids off on a school camp. She had a whale of a time.

To be fair, she took her lines with her. But she was too busy having a whale of a time she didn’t have time to learn them.

I should perhaps point out something here, Joni is more of a ‘last-minute’ sort of person.

Where were we?

Ah, yes, so Lori was sick. In bed with a fever. Weak. Being force-fed vitamins, throat lozenges and very spicy home-made soup by her doting mother and Joni had returned and was back in the midst of rehearsals.

She decided the weekend would be a very good time to learn her lines and she also had Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday – during the day – because the play wouldn’t be on until Wednesday evening. (As in, this evening.)

But Saturday was Akasha’s day to shine. She’d been rehearsing her butt off too. Quite literally. She’d been dancing not only at her rehearsals but also in the living room, in the garden and well, just about anywhere there’s been space to dance in, if truth be told. I am her witness. I’ve been forced to be her constant audience for many a month now. I swear, if I didn’t have an arthritic knee, a dodgy hip and well, just a general lack of bendiness, I could actually do the dance alongside her. Without any rehearsals or anything.

So, Saturday was filled with rehearsals and hairdos and checking in on the sick one and then, finally, many beautiful ballet performances by many excited, but graceful children. One of the best moments was when one of the littlest dancers just stopped dancing, looked for her mum in the audience and gave her a big smile and a wave.

Joni used to dance too, so she found herself thoroughly involved in the day’s experiences.

To celebrate Akasha’s tear-rendering performance – I admit to being hopeless, I need to carry tissues en masse to every event – we took the two girls out for a celebratory dinner, which ended in Akasha having quite an entertaining sugar shock after being given a bit of meringue in her free ice cream. It was especially entertaining for the waitress. I don’t think she’d ever witnessed a child ‘drunk’ on sugar in her restaurant before, giggling hysterically and then yelling, “No, no, I  can’t take any more!!!!” when she brought the customary little shortbreads with the bill.  I attempted to hide behind a soggy tissue, with no avail.

Sunday arrived and Lori rose from her bed. But every time she walked, she stumbled. She felt really dizzy, but incredibly, believed that it would be a good idea to go to school and then rehearsals the following day. I can be quite an authoritative parent. I told her “No, not on your nelly!”

By the evening Joni seemed to be wearing a scarf. And a pullover. Even though it was about 28°C outside.

The following day, I made one child rest and sent two off to school and one ferreted around a bit and then left for her rehearsals. She told me she felt fine, but she appeared to have become attached to her scarf and her pullover.

Apparently, when she approached the teachers at the theatre, they became very alarmed. I do understand why. She did look rather peaky.

Tuesday, as in yesterday, I would like to say, came and went without much ado. However, the truth of the matter is: no day in this house ever comes and goes without some drama or other. We could be a reality TV show keeping the public thoroughly entertained.

So Tuesday arrived and the first issue of the day was that lovely little dancing Akasha was no longer dancing. Instead she was wheezing, rather emphatically. She’s asthmatic and we gave her her medicine. But she didn’t get any better at all.

No, actually that was the second issue of the day. The first issue was that the dog spewed. She tried to be considerate. She attempted to tidily regurgitate just on her cushion. But she was out of luck, some of it oozed off onto the floor.

Joni and Lori insisted on going to all day rehearsals, as in, ten hours of rehearsals. They were croaking like frogs and although Lori could walk in a straight line once again, Joni looked like she’d undergone some kind of surgery to become attached to that scarf and pullover. They insisted that they were fine. They have that ‘the show must go on’ attitude of true professionals.

My husband took Akasha to the doctor as I was starting to feel a wee bit under the weather and hadn’t slept too well. He returned with antihistamine – the doctor didn’t believe our littlest had a cold, instead he thought she was taking some kind of allergic asthma attack. We were thinking more along the lines of bronchitis and I’m still unconvinced.

Joni and Lori arrived home after their ten hour session. Lori lay on the sofa and went into a deep, deep sleep for over two hours. I tell you, we could have had a party in that room and she wouldn’t have noticed a thing.

Joni did not look too well at all.

We ate together. I added extra vegetables for nutrition and meat and fish. As well as eggs and bread.

I don’t think it was the most well-conceived plan I ever had.

A couple of hours later, Joni appeared, looking grey. Not because she’d finally removed her brightly coloured scarf. Her blood pressure had dropped, she had a fever and she ended up in the bathroom hugging the bowl for longer than would have been necessary, I am sure, had I not stuffed her with so much food.

Lori wrote to the dramatic drama students on her Whatsapp group “Shit, shit, shit, my sister’s being sick and sick and sick!” In the hours that followed, I believe there were a lot of frantic messages to-ing and fro-ing in the group which involved many swear words and exclamation marks.

I, for my part, just started force feeding the kid again. This time I fed her ‘good bacteria’ and electrolytes. I sent her to bed and expected her to, you know, lie down and sleep, after all that stomach wrenching.

I wandered into her room armed with a just-in-case-you-can’t-make-it-to-the-loo bowl and instructions for her Whatsapp-ing sister to wake me should she be sick again.

And I found her, sitting on her bed, learning her bloody script!!!

So, today’s the day. I got up extra early this morning. A whole hour earlier than I’d actually planned. That’s because Akasha woke me to tell be that she couldn’t get any air. I gave her her inhaler and took her into my bed with me, but she enlightened me, that there would be even less air in my room, because there were now three people in it.

She took her medicine. The doctor warned us that it would make her tired. That’s not proved to be the case. We’re almost in sugar shock Duracell bunny territory once again. She’s been being a mermaid (which did involve some under-the-table-with-legs-tied-together style maneuvers), she’s played her keyboard, read, sewn costumes for her dolls (she has some big teddy wedding event on the horizon, allegedly) all the while wheezing and coughing away.

Joni and Lori left for their final rehearsals, but only after I was sure their temperatures were normal and Joni had managed to retain a whole slice of toast and a couple of drinks. The Whatsapp group had been informed every step of the way.

I packed them up with tissues (supposedly there had been a nose dripping issue in one of the still scenes), an array of lozenges (luckily Joni is mainly playing an old man, so her new voice is quite appropriate, but she also plays a high pitched doll so we needed that avenue covered), a lot of water, peppermint tea and money so that they would be prepared for all eventualities, including, of course, shopping.

The moment of truth will soon be upon us.

Will Joni remember her lines? Will Akasha make it through the performance without being sick in the bucket, which she feels she might just now need to take with her? (She’s been looking forward to her sisters’ performance for many months and nothing, NOTHING is going to stop her being there!!) Will Aden record the show upside down like I did with Akasha’s ballet performance at the weekend? Will the audience notice nose drip? Will voices be lost? Will the high pitch doll sound like an old man, who smoked all his life? Will Lori repeat her coughing fit from this morning and spit mucus into a tissue?

The moment of truth is almost upon us.

I, like Akasha, can’t wait. Six whole months I’ve been excited about this production. And I know that if any two girls know how to pull it out of the bag through sheer determination and enviable spirit, it will be those two.

Besides, Joni only needed to turn up at her drama group today to receive a round of applause. She’s already on a roll.