Monday, November 28, 2011

Shed


Our neighbours are building a shed in their backyard (which is probably the best place for it). We were given advance warning of this event, but I didn’t really think much of it – how much disruption could a shed cause? Well… It turns out that it’s a fairly substantial shed. I have been watching its development from my kitchen window and can only assume that our neighbours are planning to move into the shed, or perhaps rent it out to backpackers. It really is an awfully big shed.

I don’t want to be a Mrs Moanie Pants, but the constant noise has been pretty irritating. It’s hard to settle Baby C (you would think she would be used to noise with a big sister like G around!) and my poor sleep deprived fuzzy head pounds from all the crashing and banging and drilling and shouting.

However, there is one occupant of our house, who is enjoying all the commotion…. G. It seems my little girl is destined for the construction industry, which is surprising given her natural talent for demolition.

On day one of the building work, G was startled by the noise.

“It’s ok G, It’s just the builders!” I say in my best cheery voice.

“They’re building a shed! Do you want to see?”

I take her to the kitchen window and lift her up. G watches with interest as one of the builders appears and starts hammering again.

“See! It’s just the builders”

“Hello!” calls G to the builder. The builder looks around but can’t locate the little voice of my (now very excited) daughter.

“HELLO!” she yells. The builder seems slightly bemused, but gives her a friendly wave and continues with his hammering.

I pop G back down and she runs off, re-appearing a few moments later with a hammer. She starts banging the kitchen cupboards and gives me a few friendly wacks round the ankles. Its ok! It’s just a toy hammer!

By day three (I told you, it’s big shed) G is totally hooked. She squeals with glee when the banging starts and calls out “Hello Builders!” We’ve been spending a lot of time watching the progress of the shed through the kitchen window and her own building work (the random hammering of furniture, toys and once, her baby sister) is bordering on obsessional.

BANG BANG BANG go the builders. BANG BANG BANG goes G. BANG BANG BANG goes my head.

More tea? Yes, I think so.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's fun, fun, fun... until it's time to go home


“Energetic”, “exuberant”, “full of beans”, “a character” and, er, “Wild”. These are all things people have said about G. She is an extremely active little girl. She doesn’t walk, she runs, and she runs fast. She keeps herself busy from the moment she wakes up to the moment she falls asleep. Every day the house is turned upside down, she gets into everything and nothing is safe. My father-in-law once said of G “she only has two speeds, either flat out or sleeping”. It’s a phrase that sums her up perfectly.

Given her excessive energy, I like to get out as much as possible. It’s good for me, and it’s good for C. But for G it’s necessary. Which is why our local playgroup is such a blessing. G loves it. She whips around like an excited puppy; one minute making me a ‘cup of tea’ in the ‘kitchen’ (Oh for the day she can actually make me a cup of tea!), the next going full pelt on the rocking horse, then a loop of the yard on a trike, a turn of the slide, a dig in the sandpit… And this is before I’ve even had a chance to sign in.

One of the many things I love about playgroup is that it’s a safe place. G is enclosed within 4 walls and I know that if I have to sit down to breastfeed baby C that G will be ok. I’m allowed to take my eyes off her briefly. I can have a cup of tea and chat to other mums. G is happy, entertained and most importantly… contained!  

Oh yes. Its fun, fun, fun. Until we leave… When it’s home time G uses every delay tactic there is. I ask her to get in her buggy and she hides in the cubby house.  I try again and she develops selective hearing and totally ignores me, she wont even look at me. It’s infuriating.

‘G, please can you get in your buggy’ I ask. Nothing. G understands me perfectly, she knows the drill, but she is far too busy having fun. I try again. Again… nothing. Ugh! I note that any mention of ‘chocolate biscuit’ at this point would see her jump across the sandpit, leapfrog over the rocking horse and dive head first into her buggy. I curse myself for not having any chocolate biscuits. I offer her a cracker. Nothing. Shocking.

‘We can do this the easy way or the hard way kiddo!’ I threaten, willing G to respond. But I really don’t want to do it the hard way. Other toddlers are politely thanking the playgroup organisers and waving good buy. One particularly well groomed little girl even says ‘Thanks for having me”. Bless her. Meanwhile, G, having gone completely feral, is chasing pigeons round the yard.

‘That’s it then…!’ I scoop her up under my arm. This is not any easy manoeuvre with Baby C strapped to my torso in her sling, but needs must! G starts to wail and thrash about. C, woken from her peaceful slumber, starts to wail too. I try not to lose my temper as I force the screaming G into her buggy, she fights me every step of the way.

Then all of a sudden she’s over it, she gives me a big smile and asks ‘cracker?’

Oh G. I love you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Going ‘doo doo doo’ – doo lally

Being the primary carer of a toddler is a big responsibility. Aside from providing food, drinks and generally keeping them alive, you are their main role model – if they see you do it – they do it too. You have to be careful with language, you need to control your temper, and most of all you need to set a good example.

I am acutely aware that when G sees me react, she will mimic my reaction. And so, in a massive effort not to pass on my own irrational fears I’ve had to modify my reactions to certain things. Take creepy crawlies for example. Ugh! The very thought of bugs and insects make my skin crawl.  In fact, as part of our wedding vows, I made my Husband promise to protect me from “any spiders, bugs or other creepy crawlies that find their way into our house”. A vow he has taken very seriously indeed. Hmmm. Apart from the time I trapped a spider in the sink and he refused to come home and get rid of it…. just because he was at work. Harrumph!

A few days ago, G and I met a beetle. G had just got up from her afternoon nap and was charging around the house looking for mischief. We saw the beetle at the same moment. I froze. G froze. The beetle continued to scuttle along, presumably minding its own business. 

Image source
G didn’t know what to make of it. She looked at the beetle then back at me looking for guidance or an explanation. Her expression said ‘What’s this Mummy?’.

I inwardly cursed the beetle for finding its way into the house. I fought all of my natural instincts and managed to resist the urge to hop up and down screeching. I searched my soul and with all the enthusiasm I could muster said: ‘Look G! A beetle!’

G grinned and said ‘Ooooo’. We examined the beetle together. It had hairy legs, long antenna and tiny pincers ready for action. G reached out her hand and swiped at the beetle. This was not going well. It was one thing to ‘act as if’ beetles are friendly, but quite another to pick them up for a cuddle. I really didn’t think I had it in me! The beetle, a speedy little fellow, made a break for it and scuttled out the back door and through the gate. I’m not sure who was more relieved – me or the beetle. 
G, still fascinated by our new insect friend pressed her face through the bars of the gate and called out to the beetle. The beetle ignored her and disappeared under the fence. G looked utterly bereft. I needed to act fast! A game! A distraction! Er, er, then… ‘Look G! Mummy is a beetle!’

I dropped on to my knees and made pincers with my fingers. I crawled around the room and began to sing ‘I’m a beetle, I’m a beetle.. doo doo doo.. I’m a beetle’. G laughed at me and began to join in. She wiggled her little fingers and sung ‘doo doo doo’. We crawled about together, laughing and singing our song.

After ten minutes or so (which is a really long time in beetle years) G lost interest and wandered off to look for something else to do. I picked myself up off the floor and put the kettle on. Its enough to drive anyone doo lally.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sleep. (or, lack thereof)

My husband and I aren’t getting enough. Sleep, I mean. We’re, not getting enough sleep. Our little bubba C is keeping us (mostly me, since I’m the one with the boobs) awake night after night and its starting to take its toll. I’m definitely cracking up.

When you’re sleep deprived even simple things like making a cup of tea can be highly challenging. Its hard to remain cheerful and it doesn’t take much to make you snap. I find myself grumbling at G to hurry up. I say ridiculous things to her like “Come on G! Mummy doesn’t have much patience today!”

I work hard not to get in a strop. It’s bad enough that she’s having a tantrum, without me joining in as well.

I have developed some worrying habits. Checking that I’ve shut the front door for instance. I’m now late for everything as, half way down the road, I start to panic that I left the door open. “I must have closed it! Surely?!” I try and reason with myself but its no good. I have to go back and check. Sometimes I do this twice before we make it off our street. I look forward to the day that G can say ‘Its ok Mummy, you closed the door’. Better still, I look forward to getting more sleep.

When we finally get going I find myself on auto-pilot, marching along pushing my beloved offspring in the double buggy. G points out things as we go and I play along.

“Train!” she says as we pass the railway line, “Choo choo!” I say.

“Bus!” she yells, as the number 307 passes us by, “Beep beep!” I say.

“Dog!” she yelps excitedly as (you’ve guessed it) we pass a dog tied to the school gates. ‘Hello doggy!’ I say.

I’ve clearly been doing this a while as now, if you ask G what noise does a dog make, she says “Hello doggy!”.

Sometimes I haven’t a clue what she’s saying as she points with excitement and babbles away. I say “Wow G! Yes! It’s a….” and then mumble away until she points at something else.

Sleep deprivation can make you feel irritable and grumpy. I get very cross with the people that don’t stop at pedestrian crossings. I’ve been known to shout. Heads turn when a buggy-pushing mummy yells out “KNOB!” at passing traffic. I’ve really got to get this one under control before G starts joining in.

When you’re sleep deprived everything is slightly blurry round the edges. I chat to other mums at playgroup or in the park and hope that I’m making sense. Sometimes they look confused and I realise that I mis-heard the question and am rambling away seemingly random facts about my girls.

On Fridays G goes to a dance ‘class’. Far from disciplined learning, the teacher uses props and cheery music to keep the littlies engaged. G, who usually has the attention span of a…. well, a toddler… joins in pretty much all the ‘routines’ with sheer delight.

The kids shake pom-poms like badly coordinated, hyper-active cheerleaders. They wave silk scarfs with the grace of elephants. They run-wild, they jump, they laugh. Their teacher, Chrystal, is undeterred by the chaos and continues to call out instructions with wild optimism. It’s the most entertaining thing I witness all week. The laughter lightens my weary shoulders and re-charges my batteries.

Chrystal, clearly has bucket loads of enthusiasm and more importantly, patience. I bet she’s getting some...Sleep, I mean. I bet she’s getting some sleep!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Full-Time Job

My husband and I frequently bicker about who is more tired (me), who has the toughest job (me) and who has the least amount of down-time (me). I watch him swan off to work every day with envy - he gets to drive the car and listen to the radio, I push a double buggy and listen to The Wiggles. He goes for coffee and has conversations with other adults, my coffee goes cold while I crawl around the house pretending to be a train. He wears nice clothes, I have no nice clothes. He works in IT. I work in childcare... that is, I am a stay at home mum.

We have two under two, 19 months apart. Taking care of our very energetic toddler with a newborn in the house was a challenge for us all, but our little G did us proud, taking to her baby sister like a new doll; kissing, cuddling and... er... feeding her biscuits ("That's nice sharing G, but C doesn't want a cookie"). Now, nearly 4 months later, we're really into the swing of it, I juggle my way through the day and handle each challenge that is thrown my way. Although, sometimes getting out the door before 9am feels like a major achievement.

I have become the queen of multi-tasking. I can read G a book while I breastfeed C. I can kick a ball round the park with G while C sleeps on my chest in a sling. I can co-ordinate nap time to allow myself half an hour of precious quiet time. Ahh. On a good day I am super-organised and whilst slightly dishevelled, maintain a sense of control. On a bad day you'll see me legging it across the playground after my speedy toddler, a boob lose, and a screaming infant under my arm. The worst is when they're both crying. The best, when G makes C laugh. Or when G claps and cheers when C rolls over. Good days and bad days.

A friend recently asked me, 'So, what do you do when you have to go to the loo? Do you have to take one of them with you?' (yes, it is a funny question). Easy, I don't have to take one. One follows me. Everywhere. Little G is like my shadow following me round the house and copying my every move. When I'm on the loo she tries to peer between my legs to see what I'm doing and asking "Mummy poo? Mummy poo?" then she tears off bits of loo roll and hands them to me. Being able to go to the loo by myself is one of the luxuries I get at the weekend when my husband is around. Forget massages and pedicures - I just want to have a poo without a curious toddler providing a running commentary.

So yes, I understand that its hard trying to stay focused on technical 'IT things', its hard to be patient with colleagues and sometimes its hard to stay awake - "BUT!" I yell at him, "At least you get to have a poo in peace!"

As challenging as it, I have the absolute honour of spending every day with my two beautiful daughters. I get to watch them grow and develop, laugh with them (and frequently at them), dance, play and sing with them. When they're both bathed, fed and put to bed I collapse on the sofa with a smile (and a glass of wine) - yes it's hard yakka, but boy is it worth it.

So, who has the best job? Me!