Snapshot #33 – Getting dressed

Have you ever had a coup d’etat with a tipsy, sadistic and slightly vengeful giant squid? I have. Or at least I feel like I participate in one, every time it comes to getting Monster Minor dressed.

I’m hoping we’re coming out of the worst of it now, but as a ‘spirited’ two-and-a-half-and-a-bit year old, dressing Monster Minor is a pissing nightmare. It begins upon announcing it’s time to get dressed. This cues shrieks – not angry ones, but not happy ones either. More, menacing war cries, perhaps his instigation that the battle is to begin. He leaps around the room, hooting his sounds and dodging your clutches as you grab for any slip of clothing.

Once grabbed, the wriggling and manically laughing toddler starts to thrash. I don’t think he means to hurt, but the the yells of ‘I will BAT you!’ say different. Getting Spiderman pyjamas off bicycling legs is FUCKING hard and it’s around this point that I often want to nut him throw the towel in. Then one of the legs with collide with my lady area and my shouts usually match his.

On a good day, this will calm King Squid’s tentacles long enough to yank his pyjama bottoms off. But the success is always short lived, as the fresh air to the legs seems to give them a rush of energy. The war cry resumes, often with intermittent ‘Come and get me!’ slurs, as the little shit gallops away. It’s often around this point that he will decide to head for his tent, and this move normally means certain defeat on my part. My Stern Mum ‘No you don’t. Do not go in your tent. I WILL BE EXTREMELY CROSS IF YOU GO IN THAT TENT!’ is usually followed by Monster Minor going into the tent.

Tents shouldn’t be a big deal. Tents should provide a cosy sanctuary to cuddle together, reading books and reciting positive affirmations. A tent should be a space we could cooperatively negotiate the getting dressed routine, whilst we gaze lovingly at each other, full of kindness and mutual respect. However. The Monsters’ tent contains two 4ft bears, a scarily realistic looking Border-Collie teddy, various oversized TY soft toys with creepy, huge eyes, several plastic dinosaurs and, potentially, a massive, black, leggy spider that Monster Major convinced me is in there (and he doesn’t usually lie). And the tent is not big. There’s barely room for one Monster, let alone one Monster on speed, being wrestled by his frustrated mother.

I fruitlessly grab at limbs as he weaves in and out of the tent guests, laughing more hysterically by the second. My shouts get more forceful and my threats get more dramatic but this just compounds his laughter and plunges that game further into his court. I’ll have managed to wangle maybe an arm out of his top and begin to pull it over his head when he’ll collapse onto the teddies once again, and I’ll think fuck this bullshit, and walk out of the room.

Normally, I’ll go and sit on the loo and seethe at my self-made half-human’s total disregard for his maker. It takes a few minutes before he realises that he is a little incapacitated by having an arm through the head hole and the neck of his top stuck around his cheeks. He will come out wailing ‘I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I need help!’ (yes, you do love) and spinning around in circles continuously, trying to break out of the pyjama-top choke hold. Around this point, I’ll take a photo and Whatsapp it to Husband Dearest with the most used caption, ‘FFS’, thus prolonging the cries in a vain attempt to prove a point.

Enjoying being able to make a passive-aggressive, ‘I told you so’ comment, I free Monster Minor from the armhole/neckhole jumble. I calmly explain that, because he cannot be trusted in his bedroom, we will now get dressed on the landing (total unnecessary use of ‘we’  – I’m not bloody getting dressed on the landing, I’m getting dressed in my bedroom, with the door closed whilst he surfs through his tent debris like the absurd tool he is) and I expect TOTAL compliance, because I am SO disappointed by his behaviour. This generally buys me enough time to remove a should’ve-been-changed-an-hour-ago nappy and replace it rather haphazardly, because the tiny, tanned, tyrannous legs are becoming ever more restless. Sick of the flailing kicks I keep being struck with, I’ll declare that Monster Minor is to go it alone. ‘Fine, get yourself dressed, I’m not helping any more, you do not kick Mummy and I don’t want to be around you any more so fuck off.’

Leaving the victorious bundle next to his clothes, I stomp into my bedroom and probably scroll through pages of nonsense memes and mug-cake time lapse videos, instead of using the time wisely. I’ll hear grumblings and movements from the landing but will not peek out as I don’t want to spark the ‘Come and get meeee!’ gambit again.

I’ll have  just settled into reading the comments on a post about parking 3cm too far onto the pavement, when Monster Minor will burst victoriously through the door. ‘ I DID EET!!’ he’ll sing and smile so earnestly that I almost don’t notice he’s got two legs in one side of his shorts, one arm trapped into his shirt, two socks on one foot and no vest on. Most Mums would clap and gleefully praise their child on their efforts, telling them what a clever sausage they are (though said child is clearly an imbecile if they haven’t noticed that every day their legs go in TWO trouser holes, because they have TWO legs and does it fucking look like you have TWO legs in TWO holes now!?). I’m not one of those Mums, unfortunately. Sighing a huge ‘RIGHT!’ and muttering about how if he’d have listened the first time, and wasting my precious time, and I have better things to do, and he’s two-and-a-half-and-a-bit, there shouldn’t be this fuss, I bend and unfold and rethread Monster Minor’s body parts like a gangly Rubix cube until the correct amount of pieces come through the correct holes. ‘I hope you have learned how to behave when we get dressed,’ I scold Monster Minor, marching the children down the stairs to begin the day.

…Until I look down and remember I am still in my pyjamas. FFS.

Snapshot #32 – The Threenager

I haven’t blogged in a while. It could perhaps be down to the strains of a beast that descended upon our household in the last month or so: The Threenager. This lesser-seen breed of preschooler was not invited, is not at all welcome and won’t bloody leave. I couldn’t quite tell you the day he came into our lives, but he took over the mind, body and spirit of my sweet, caring and loving three year old and caused him to become an argumentative, belligerent and moody little twat so-and-so.

On paper, it should be Monster Minor that is the infuriating one; he hits, he thieves, he shouts expletives in church and he makes inappropriate, intimate comments to women. But he does that with such charm and flair that you can’t help but smile wryly. But poor old Monster Major was already vulnerable to Threenager grips. He’s an emotional rollercoaster on the best of days and is just like his Mummy in that you can’t speak to him before he’s pounded a coffee in the morning (or in his case, a ‘nice, warm, blue, little milk’).

I perhaps should’ve seen it coming. He’d not had the terriblest of twos and was becoming fairly amicable as a human being. I could never say life was easy, but he certainly wasn’t throwing curve balls every second.

The Threenager infected him slowly and, at first, mornings were the only time he displayed symptoms. It began with small blasts of tears over relatively rational things such as being unable to pull the covers up to his chin because he was incredibly cold in his pjs, under a duvet and in a bed of four people. Only to very quickly announce he was ‘TOOOO WAAAARRRRMMM’  and proceed to sob and do nothing about it. Or being given Shreddies because he had asked for them, but then silently changed his mind to porridge and the telepathic message never reached us. Or the classic, orange spoon but not that orange spoon, the other orange spoon and WHY CAN’T YOU JUST FUCKING EAT YOUR BREAKFAST LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING, FOR FLIPS SAKE!?

However, the condition worsened and the Threenager began to skulk into other areas of Monster Major’s life. A major symptom seemed to be an attack of mild megalomania; he decided he reigned supreme over Monster Minor, and Monster Minor being a miniature dictator himself, refused to comply. Cue meltdowns, squabbles, fisticuffs, and telling-tales of epic proportions. A good mum would have calmly got down to their level and listened to both sides of the story. A good mum would have talked to the boys about how to peacefully solve their problems with love and maturity. A good mum would have reassured them with cuddles, kisses and positive affirmations. This mum screamed that she was drawing an imaginary line down the middle of the room and if either child dared to cross it, look at the other one or, heaven forbid, speak to the other, they would be on the thinking spot until they were five.

The Threenager has a massive issue with any authority that isn’t his own. As a child of a teacher, this causes a bit of a problem for Monster Major. You see, I’m a bit of a stickler for respecting authority when it’s deserved, and, whilst I understand it’s imperative to raise children with a value of their own voice, I feel that The Threenager abuses that right. For example, upon being politely asked ‘Please drink your water sensibly,’ The Threenager has been known to burst into wails of ‘But I am. I am. But I am doing. I AM!!!‘ This will be screamed whilst being nowhere near the water. I know he is wrong. He probably knows he’s wrong. But he’s so affronted at being expected to do something by somebody else, that he’d rather drown his own ship than have it sunk by the enemy. The screams often descend into a chaotic wrestle down from the table and onto his bottom ‘for a think about how to behave and how to speak to people’. We then usually repeat this little dance with the hot issues of: not waving cutlery around, not speaking with his mouth full, not poking his brother, not shouting at his brother and not touching his bottom during dinner. But given The Threenager is answerable to himself and himself alone, these rather reasonable etiquette requests are met with bawls and buts by the bucket load.

I believe The Threenager must cause its victims to become a little more fucking manipulative intelligent. The Threenager understands social norms and understands how to abuse these to his benefit. Simple hand holding can now be met with shrieks of ‘You’re hurting me!’, befitting the freedom of Monster Major from parental clutches. ‘Stop pushing me!’ is howled after gentle ushering, leaving Monster Major to meander whichever way he chooses. And the best: ‘STOP SHOUTING, STOP SHOUTING AT ME!’ (I wasn’t even speaking) to just generally make me die a little inside. He knows that hollering phrases like this in public, gets him whatever he wants because, as much as I don’t want to give into this pint-size autocrat, I also can’t deal with the stares and mutters in the middle of Asda Living.

Some days, we feel like Monster Major may be recovering from his bout of The Threenager. We occasionally have a morning where he doesn’t elbow anyone, cry or accuse his brother of conspiring against him to take up an extra 4mm of bed space. He might come down and say chirpy things like ‘It’s a sunny day today,’ ‘Shall we have a snack?’ or ‘I feel like today won’t be a horrible day!’ But then I cut his cherry tomatoes so that he doesn’t choke, and suddenly that’s a heathen thing to do, and all hell breaks lose and before you know it, we’re all crying on the kitchen floor and Monster Minor has eaten all the shitting tomatoes.

I take a lot of comfort in knowing that other families have had their little ones afflicted by The Threenager. I know that sounds sadistic, but knowing we don’t have a civilisation full of grown up Threenager gives me hope that this is a phase. Granted, there are many Trump-esque characters out there and part of my frustration with the descent of The Threenager, is the fear that it’s moulding my adorable little one into a Trumpite of the future. This is why I continue to challenge The Threenager’s solicitations for senseless tyranny. I wish I was a good mum who could patiently ride the waves, but I find myself setting out to surf in them, only to trip, fall, swallow a shitload of saltwater and be washed up on shore, dazed, grubby and wondering how I got there.

To all families out there fighting an attack of The Threenager, I salute you!


Jingle Bells – Not quite laughing all the way

Jingle Bells,
The toddler yells,
Mummy’s going to cry,
Please stop fighting,
No more biting,
Can’t you fucking try?

Jingle Bells,
The toddler yells,
Tea time’s crap, of course,
Daddy’s late,
Missed broccoligate,
I’m thinking of divorce.

Dashing round Waitrose,
With snot sprayed on my top,
Kids screaming all their woes,
Pissing off the shop,

Daddy’s working late,
Bath time is a farce,
If Daddy wants a shag tonight,
He can kiss my fucking arse.


Jingle Bells,
The toddler yells,
Pass the vodka please,
It’s Christmas time,
Binge drinking’s fine,
And Mummy’s on her knees.

Jingle Bells,
The toddler yells,
Fuck this parenting gig,
All I’ll say,
Is come Christmas Day,
My present better be BIG!

Snapshot #31 – The World’s Saddest Unicorn

I’ve made my feelings on social media lives very clear. It’s not real life. It’s one dimensional. And that dimension is generally made up of a groaning lack of honesty and perspective.

Today, I woke up feeling rubbish. By breakfast, my mind had decided this was going to be a Bad and Hard Day. I wasn’t so far into the funk that I couldn’t work out healthy ways to try to keep us on track. Didn’t mean I didn’t leave Monster Minor to fall off his chair in a shit-for-brains rage at me. Also didn’t mean I didn’t grumpily and unnecessarily refuse to help Monster Major put on a Gruffalo costume. But it did mean I didn’t let the guilt of those things pull me under and I had enough rationale to realise we needed an activity to keep us on track. Though all I wanted to do was lie on the playroom sofa and drink coffee, I’m thankful that, today, I could muster enough rationalisation to see that that would only result in me getting cross with inevitably becoming a Monster climbing-frame. And I’m thankful that I could claw together just enough motivation to get out the play-doh. But there must have been a small element of mental-capacity loss, because I am fully aware I’m not capable of play-doh-patience.

Whilst the children bashed, rolled and generally explored, I was able to absorb myself in some modelling and we all just enjoyed not having to try to enjoy each other’s company. Then, slowly, Monster Minor got bored. But I wasn’t finished with modelling my elf, so I got cross. So he got more unreasonable. So I washed his hands and grumbled at him for not occupying himself. Then Monster Major’s efforts (or lack of) became more noticeable, and I began to nag him. Which put him off. Which made me crosser, which made him more reluctant. And we finished play-doh with a slightly sour taste. I was Grumpy, Pushy, Unfair, Non-Fun Mum and they were Unattentive Monster and LackofEffort Monster.

But I looked at the photos I’d taken during the session, and for a fuckhead fleeting moment thought ‘Ooh, these’d look good with an Instagram filter’. ‘Play-doh with my faves! ❤ ❤ #rainydays #playdoh #lovethem #creativityiskey’ Ok, so I wouldn’t have gone that far. But I was shocked that the thought of publishing the photo on social media even came into my mind.

#hatinglifealittlebit #wishiwasabetterparent #playdohdistractsmefromthedarknessofmysoul

Publishing that photo would show a parenting win. But not the parenting win it really was. It would give the impression that I’m a motivated parent who loves to do messy play with her children, who is patient, caring and child-centred and who has a handle on life. But that wouldn’t be true. It wouldn’t show the parenting win that I actually got out of bed today. That I fed the children AND myself. That I didn’t cry when the Monsters lost their shit. That I tried to keep them occupied so that we wouldn’t all melt down. That I text Husband Dearest to say I was feeling shit because of me, and didn’t try to fabricate some excuse. That I didn’t berate myself for not homecooking our meals, and just getting something out of the freezer. That I allowed myself the space to accept today was a weepy, rubbish, not-feeling-it day, and not let it bother me for tomorrow. That is my parenting win today. But this photo wouldn’t show that. It’d make others having the day from hell feel a little more hellish, those who had snapped today feel a little snappier, and those who felt like shit, feel shittier and shittier. That’s a lot of pressure on a crap little play-doh unicorn’s shoulders. (Do unicorns even have shoulders?)

I’m not being a total twat here. I do use social media. I burst with pride, laugh my pelvic floor loose and combust with love sometimes, and I just want to celebrate that with the world. And really, that still won’t help those feeling hellish, snappy or shit. But I vow not to polish my turds and perfectly package them using the Reyes filter, for my own reassurance. And I urge others to stop it too. Call a spade, a spade… sometimes life is hard. If you’re having a crap day today, know that somewhere in the world, I’m here, failing at life, taking my hopelessness out on poor, innocent play-doh apparitions.

Snapshot #30 – Bedtime (a rhyming slur)

Time for sleep my darling,
Time to rest your eyes,
Not a peep from you now,
Until the sun starts to rise.


Time to snooze now, sweetheart,
You’ve had a busy day,
You’ve burnt off lots of energy,
You’ve had loads of time to play.


Just lie down now, please son,
You really must be tired,
Your body needs the rest now,
Even if your brother is wired.


Please stop screeching now, dude,
I can barely hear myself think,
It’s already way past bedtime,
And Mummy needs a drink.


This really isn’t funny, mate,
That protest poo wasn’t fair,
I need to have some peace now,
Grown ups have red wine to share.


For fucks sake, go to sleep now,
No, the dark isn’t scary,
No there aren’t any monsters,
But Daddy and I want to get lairy.


Bloody hell, another wee,
You’re really taking the piss,
If every night is going to be like this,
I’ll be giving bedtimes a miss.


I’m not fucking joking anymore,
The wine is calling my name,
Just close your eyes and lie the fuck down,
I’m about to go insane.


No, your leg is not hurting,
No, you haven’t bumped your head.
If you fucking carry on with this shit,
You’ll be sleeping in the shed.


Right, your brother is asleep now,
And I have had enough,
I don’t care if the pillow feels a little lukewarm.
You’ll have to deal with it, tough.


Thank goodness, peace at last,
The wine begins to pour,
We’ll sit on our phones in silence,
Whilst you just snore and snore.


We sneak to peek at your sleeping face,
Your angelic glow has us hooked,
But if you pull this shit tomorrow night,
You and your brother can get fucked.


Rhyming with Wine