I Am Not Perfect

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So its been a wee while since my last post. I kind of had the wind taken out of my sails a week or so ago  after I posted my blog to my Facebook, and someone I’ve known for years commented ‘I hope your kids never read this’ then promptly defriended me. Ouch. At first I laughed it off, the person in question must have a right old stick up their arse, right? But it must’ve bothered me more than I thought because I haven’t been able to write properly since.

I don’t know if it were the general act of telling the great wide t’interweb about our life that caused such offence, but I’ve been pretty careful not to name the boys, or disclose our location other than in a general sense, and you won’t ever see a picture of them on here. So unless you’re a friend or family member you won’t know me or the kids from a block of soap should you ever happen across us in real life. Maybe this person thought I was embarrassing them, but I haven’t written about anything untypical of a 4 and nearly 2 year old so I’m sure any mother reading this is laughing WITH me and not AT them. Growing up in a household with me and Mr O and our shared wicked sense of humour means the boys are bound to inherit it, and hopefully they will find this hysterically funny when they are old enough to read it. Biggest told his first joke aged two, when he walked into the room, told us he had a ‘sore foot’ then pulled a toy Handy Manny saw out from behind his back and proceeded to pretend to saw his foot off. (Get it? SAW foot?) At the very least they will know why their mother went prematurely grey. And anyway, it’s a mothers prerogative to embarrass their children. I know my own did on many many occasions. (Sorry Ma, but its true. Remember that time when I was fourteen and you told the checkout operator at the supermarket I still played with Barbies? Well she was sixteen and a year above me at school. Uncool Mother, uncool.)

This was never meant to a mummy blog, but as a stay at home mum it turns out that right now that’s what I enjoy writing about. Anyway, in the interests of fair play, I decided to write down a few of my own perceived failings as a mother, and even the scoreboard a bit. I can rip the piss out of myself a bit. I’m a Kiwi, its what we do. Take that, de-friender.

1)      I am not a morning person.

I always imagined when I became a mother that I would be up bright and early, getting showered, dressed and made up before the kids were up, and doing a quick whip round with the Hoover while they enjoyed scrambled eggs and toast and fresh squeezed juice and had a quiet shared giggle over some brotherly joke Mama wasn’t allowed in on. The truth is I’ve never been a morning person and giving birth has unfortunately not changed that. My alarm goes off in plenty of time for me to achieve A State of Perfect Mother Nirvana, but I just end up repeatedly hitting the snooze button until I can no longer ignore Smallest shouting for me from his cot. I roll out of bed seriously grumpy (roll might even be an exaggeration, more drag myself heavy hearted and foggy headed from the comforting softness of my lovely warm bed), and skilfully avoid all attempts by my kids to draw me into conversation until I’ve slugged at least two cups of coffee. The days Biggest has school are the worst. Due to my own inability to get up at a reasonable hour I barely have time to get dressed, never mind get showered, I’m THAT mum in the school yard with the jumper on inside out and hair that looks like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Most mornings you can hear me shouting FAST FEET BIGGEST, FAST FEET, WE’RE RUNNING LATE as I drag him down the street to get him to the classroom before the door shuts. He doesn’t need, and I certainly don’t need, the shame of having to go through the late door. Although the way I’m going, its only a matter of time.

2)      I shout. A LOT.

I don’t know if its to do with my growing up in the country where it really didn’t matter how much noise you were making as long as you didn’t wake Dad up from sleeping off the night shift, or if its down to my slight deafness, but it appears my default setting is shout. Sometimes, I don’t even REALISE I’m shouting, although Biggest is all too swift to point it out. The flip side of this is I suffer something called Misophonia (from the Greek words misos and phone), which literally translated means ‘hatred of sound’. Repetitive or incessant noises stress me out (*cough* understatement *cough*), I can’t BEAR it when the kids shout. One of those Do as Mama Says, Not As Mama Does things. The list of noise that drives me spare is quite comprehensive, but mainly concerns any noise coming from the mouth. Chewing, drinking, slurping, yawning, coughing, people kissing, or people talking too loudly all sit firmly at the top. A Twitter user I came across stated a more appropriate translation for Misophonia would be ‘Chew with your mouth closed or I will throw a large rock at your face’. True bloody story. Sometimes, when the kids forget their manners, I have to leave the table and eat elsewhere least I lose the plot entirely. Thumping the table and shouting STOP SLAPPING YOUR CHOPS is not an appropriately motherish thing to do.

3)      I don’t bake.

When I was growing up me and my sisters LOVED baking. Our bible was the great New Zealand classic, the Edmonds “Sure To Rise” Cookery book. Mum has had it forever, its held together in places with sellotape, missing the front cover and probably a fair few pages but we regardless spent countless afternoons paging through that book looking for the perfect cake or muffin. We would bake until we ran out of flour, or sugar, or eggs, and then we’d ring Mum at work and ask her to bring some more home. However with two kids, I don’t bake anymore. I should, but I don’t. I just don’t seem to have enough time, there is always something that needs my attention, a nappy that needs changing, a spilled juice that needs mopping up, a scraped knee to magic better. I did try to bake WITH Biggest once, we successfully made a rather tasty courgette cake, but I think my control freakedness over the mess he was making stirring things kind of ruined the experience for him. Mummy fail.

4)      I take over art projects.

My control freakedness also extends to projects with the kids. Biggest and I are nearly finished a submarine we made out of an old nappy box. I actually had to shelve it for a time while I got over myself. We cut the box and taped it into a boat shape and papered over it with kitchen roll and PVA glue to toughen it up and smooth it out. I found myself getting the kitchen roll and glue out at night to go over the bits Biggest hadn’t ‘done properly’. I mean, who DOES that? We recently restarted it and I can happily say its not perfect, but its his project, and he is damn proud of it. I’m getting better at letting my need for perfection go a little.

5)      I take too many photos

I do. Just ask Mr O. Since getting a smart phone I near permanently have it out with my finger hovering on the button ready to snap a picture, least I miss something. The truth is I am missing something, I’m trading actual memories for digital ones. I don’t really need nineteen pictures of Biggest smiling in front of his completed reward chart or forty two pictures of Smallest in his brothers gumboots. One will do, then I can properly congratulate Biggest instead of cajoling him to stand still for the camera, or actually enjoy Smallest walking around looking for all the world like a drunken cowboy. Mental note to self: Leave phone in pocket. If this is too tempting, leave phone in bedroom. If there’s an emergency, people will just have to call me on the house phone. I don’t really want Biggest and Smallest to remember me as that lady hovering in the background with her face obscured by her phone.

There are a lot more things I could add, but as it turns out waxing lyrical about my faults is turning out to be far easier than I thought, a fact I am not entirely liking too much. So I think I will leave it there for now. But at least it looks as though normal (blogging) service has resumed.

Credit where credit is due, my references for this article were:

http://www.misophonia-uk.org/

https://twitter.com/jay_gee/status/400010134203543552

Two Tickets to Hawaii Please

So, today has been a bad day. Oh hell, who am I kidding, its been a bad week. One of those weeks when Biggest and Smallest have failed so miserably at this behaving themselves malarkey I am seriously considering Googling whether or not they came with a return policy.  I have had a cold, (by ‘have had a cold’ I mean, ‘have been battered over the head with a blunt object, dragged around the block by my feet twice and left for dead in a dumpster by a cold’). Its one of those god awful colds that bung you up so bad you are scared to go to sleep, because you are pretty sure your brain will forget you need to breathe through your mouth and you won’t wake up in the morning. I’m sure Biggest and Smallest can sense the weakness in me. Like a pair of lions on the hunt. Normally at this time of night I sneak up and gaze upon their angelic little sleeping faces and all the troubles from the day melt away. Not tonight. Tonight those troubles are still at Arctic temperature.

My two little hurricanes have taken misbehaviour to whole new level the last few days. Yesterday I spent the day in bed with a whopping great sinus headache and achy bones and a nose like a tap, leaving Mr O to cope with them single-handedly. Poor man didn’t know what had hit him. They damn near drove him into the ground. When I arose from my sick bed I was greeted with an expression half, ‘Oh, so you’re up, hope you’re feeling better’ and half, ‘Oh please, for the love of God, save me’. I admit I may have laughed a little at his despair, but that laughter is ringing in my ears today I can tell you. They have run serious rings around me. Between the two of them they have:

1)      Ruined my roast chicken by switching the oven from bake to grill. I didn’t notice for an hour and a half leaving me with a chicken burnt on the top and raw on the bottom.

2)      Let themselves in the bathroom and squirted toothpaste and shampoo all over the floor, then tried to clean it up with two entire rolls of toilet paper, then tried to flush the evidence thereby blocking the toilet. I swear they are ninjas or something. I left them in the front room building a tower and have no idea how they got up our creaky old Edwardian staircase without being heard. The very same staircase I have to sneak up during Smallest’s nap without waking him, a mission I quite often fail at as its pretty much akin to standing next to his cot practising on a set of bagpipes.

3)      Unfolded all the washing I had just folded under the pretence of putting it away. Because washing goes away on the floor in the dining room apparently.

4)      Drew on the wall in the hallway with the pens I have banned them from using. For drawing on the wall in the hallway.

5)      Listened intently to my instructions not to touch anything at the supermarket before we went in and then proceeded to knock apples all over the floor three steps from the door. Whilst I was picking up the apples they loaded up my basket with bags of onions. Whilst I put the onions back, they poked holes in plastic wrapped packets of asparagus with their fingers. Then of course, they went completely and utterly mental when I explained there would be no special biscuits this trip because they’d been too naughty. Might as well have told them I was locking them in their rooms the rest of their lives.

6)      Hid in the cupboard under the stairs making me think they’d somehow got out of the house because they never answered my desperately calling them multiple times whilst frantically searching the house from top to bottom. Luckily Smallest decided he had enough of the dark and yelled out for me about two seconds before I began banging on the neighbour’s doors to see if they’d spotted two small people high-tailing it down the street. Like I said, they are a couple of bloody ninjas.

All of this was punctuated with bouts of the usual bickering, snatching, pushing, poking, shouting, all out red-neck-drunk-on-moonshine style brawling…. I think they have spent more of the day in Time Out than out of it. And yet they’ve somehow still, despite the lack of free time, managed to drive me to the brink of insanity.

Every now and again I joke about packing Biggest and Smallest off to New Zealand to my parents, ‘The Grandies’. My parents always laugh and say they’d love to have them, they’re welcome anytime. Well, my beloved parents, if you are reading this, I’ve bought the wood, and I shall commence building a couple of crates tomorrow. They say Grandchildren are a Grandparent’s sweet revenge. That everything you were as a child comes back in spades to haunt you as a parent. Well, the joke is on you now Grandies, the joke is on you. I shall be spending the money we have been putting aside for the kids for university on a holiday. I feel Mr O and I deserve it. We will see you when Smallest is eighteen. If you need us, we will be suntanning our hides in Hawaii. Life or death matters only please.

Oh Where Oh Where Has My Baby Gone?!

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I think Smallest is going through ‘The Turn’. That wonderful time when your bubbly babbling beautiful baby turns into a snarky cantankerous little goblin. I’m guessing as much as he’s going around with a perma-pout and shouting NOOOOOOO at anything that dares breathe in his general direction. Ah, yes, the terrible twos. And terrible they are indeed.

Apparently every decision Mama makes these days is wrong. He performs when he wants a drink, when the drink doesn’t appear quickly enough, when the drink offered is the wrong sort of drink, when the drink is in the wrong cup, when the drink is exactly right. That last one can go on forever, he doesn’t want it after all so I take the drink away, but…. oh, oh no, he does want it…… oh, oh, oh no, he doesn’t. I put it on the coffee table just in case he changes his mind (and he will, about fifty more times), he swipes it off in a fit of rage and then cries because it fell on the floor.

I am, as it turns out, really mean. Like, really truly awful. I stop him from doing such brilliantly clever and fun things as running out the front door into the road the second I open it. Sticking his arm down the toilet or unravelling an entire roll of toilet paper down the stairs. Putting the end of my phone charger in his mouth whilst its plugged in. Turning the oven up to 300 degrees while dinner is cooking. Eating the toothpaste, his bum cream, my posh lipstick, Biggest’s felt tips or things he’s fished out of the bin. Climbing up onto the play table to dance. And God help me if I try to do something truly horrendous like change his nappy. What am I thinking?! I’m a terrible mother. I should be locked up and the key thrown away.

Suddenly anything and everything is a deadly projectile. I narrowly escaped a black eye the other day when he tested the springiness of my face by bouncing a toy train off it. He redeemed himself by being suitably upset when I cried (please don’t judge me, it really hurt), luckily for him. Otherwise I would probably be considering converting our under-stairs cupboard to a padded room with a slot in the door to poke dry toast and water through until he gets over this thing.

I’m about ready to give up on the pushchair. I have to bribe him with a biscuit to come near enough to it that I can whip him into it. 99% of the time this goes wrong and I’m left strapping in just his coat after he’s done a limp noodle and managed to wiggle out of it and escape between my legs. A second attempt and he will wedge himself, stiff as a board, between the bumper bar and the back of the seat.  I then somehow have to UN-wedge him, get him to bend, force his arms through the straps and do up the buckles at the exact same time (without the bribery as there is no way he’s falling for that one twice). Which is something I literally just do not have enough limbs for. I think I would have more success in trying to get a very angry tiger strapped in. If I am by complete fluke, successful, I must keep the pushchair in perpetual motion. I am not allowed to stop for any reason. Supermarket shopping must be done on the fly. If I pass something by accidentally, I must complete a full circuit by going down the next aisle and returning before attempting a second grab ‘n go.

Getting him to nap is nigh on an impossible task. I can’t lie him down for starters, it must be incredibly painful for the poor lamb to remain horizontal going by the fact he screams blue murder. And forget tucking him in. I try to give him Mr Stinker (his beloved Ted and favourite cuddle buddy – Biggest named him when Smallest was given him at two weeks old, and from the amount of slobber the thing absorbs on a daily basis has turned out to be an entirely appropriate name). The intent is to calm him down, but instead Smallest bites him and strangles him, and then the mangled thing is thrown from the cot. Poor Mr Stinker, it’s not your fault buddy. If I dare leave the room in the hopes I’m the catalyst for the rage, and that maybe he’ll settle if I’m not there, it escalates. He boots the headboard. Runs his toys up and down the cot bars like an institutionalised prisoner. Sticks his arm over the rail and bangs on the window. (Dear passers-by and neighbours, he’s fine, please do not knock on the door and tell me you think my baby is awake. Believe me, I KNOW.) And then, if he does fall asleep, he wakes up in the mood from hell. Obviously it was by accident, he didn’t intend to give in and how DARE I have let him SLEEP…. now he may have missed Something Very Important! Yes, something very important indeed, Smallest. Me, lying on the couch exhausted.

All that’s said, its also a really wonderful time.  He’s learning so much. A few weeks ago he discovered if he repeatedly spins around on the spot he gets dizzy and falls down. This causes much mirth, and has the added bonus of entertaining Biggest. This week he learnt to jump, if a little haphazardly. He is beginning to play pretend, and his toys all speak the same language; high pitched gobble-de-gook. He is learning to count (eight is his favourite number). He recognises colours. He has lots of new words. ‘Off’ has replaced ‘car’ as his favourite. Everything is off, even if its on. But don’t you dare correct him. Your life isn’t worth that much.

I Do Not Like Pea Soup

This morning, probably as it’s gotten really cold and miserable these last few days (yes, sorry UK, apparently I jinxed us all earlier in the week with my post about how mild this winter has been), I woke up with an insatiable craving for a big bowl of proper chunky deliciously warming-and-comforting winter soup. As Mr O is on a late shift, leaving it just me and the boys for dinner, I decided for convenience sake to dash out and buy some rather than spend two hours chopping vegetables and fending off Smallest’s grabby grabby hands and telling Biggest that while I know he is hungry he CANNOT have another biscuit. And that if he does not stop opening that bloody fridge door he won’t be getting ANYTHING, FULL STOP. No, there is NOTHING you can have to ‘snack on until dinner’ in there. SMALLEST! Get OUT of the DISHWASHER! GIVE ME BACK THE CHEESE GRATER!

As it turned out, the local shop ain’t big on soup. Catering mainly to the student population the cold shelves are stacked up with pasties and microwave burgers, and it left me with a choice of two soups. Italian Vine Ripened Tomato and Lentil, which the kids wouldn’t eat, and Pea and Wiltshire Ham, which I couldn’t eat. I have a real aversion to pea soup. Pea soup makes me a bit sicky in my mouth. When I was pregnant with Biggest I went through a mad craving for it and I ate it every day, twice a day, for an entire week. On Day Eight of Pea-soup-a-thon I put the spoon to my mouth, and before I even tasted it was overcome with an instant wave of nausea. I had my head down the toilet for an hour afterwards. The brief and torrid love affair was over, along with any residual feelings I may have had towards garden peas, minted peas, marrow fat peas, mushy peas, canned peas or any other pea you can think of. I’ve never got over it. However, lack of choice left me with no option but to get one Tomato and Lentil for me, and one (shudder), Pea and Ham for the terrors.

Upon opening it, I thought I would be alright. Despite the claims of being ‘Blended with 100% British Crème Fraiche’ it was a rather startling bright green and very runny, but I managed to get it into the pot without even a tiny bit of splash back (which would have been a disaster, if the damn stuff had got ON me), and I definitely did not feel pukey. Once it started warming up however, it was a different story entirely. Not even the rich earthy scent of my own soup bubbling away, or the enticing aroma of the garlic bread baking in the oven managed to counterbalance the pungent pea-ness emanating from the pot. I stifled a teeny tiny dry heave. Extractor fan was upped to full, tea towel clenched tightly to face, but even so by the time the damn stuff was warmed through I was dry heaving so much I’d given myself the hiccups. I broke up the garlic bread in record speed, poured the soup into the bowls whilst hopping from one foot to the other, snapped a quick pic for a daily dinner post on Facebook I’m part of, and then basically threw it at the children in my attempts to get it as far far away from me as possible in the quickest amount of time. As I fled the room I shouted over my shoulder that I was just going to eat my soup in the kitchen. Shout if you need me.

I immediately threw open the window, and took a few deep breaths before I tried to attempt my own soup. Once I was a few mouthfuls in I began to feel a bit better. It was tasty. Oh, it was lush! As I finished up I silently congratulated myself on being So Awfully Grown Up as to be able to control myself (fancy that?!), and went to check on the kids.

I congratulated myself too soon. As briefly mentioned in my first post, Smallest loves throwing his spoon/bowl. Usually at the end of a meal after he’s shouted ‘ALL GONE!’ and we haven’t been swift enough in clearing his plate. Sometimes, there is still food in the spoon/bowl. And while I’m sure he didn’t mean to, on this particular occasion he threw his spoon just as I walked into the room, hitting me on the shoulder and splattering pea soup right the way down my arm. Instantly, I threw up in my mouth. I charged up the stairs, and emptied near enough the entire contents of my stomach into the great white ceramic church. It erupted with such force some came out of my nose. I may have cried a little. And all that beautiful tomato and lentil soup I’d just demolished, wasted. Oh good god, it was awful. The whole experience was regretfully repeated a few minutes later trying to get my pea stained t-shirt off, when some accidently got on my face. And then afterwards, when I blew my nose, a lentil shot out. My humiliating defeat was complete.

Needless to say, pea soup shall grace my stove top no more.

Futile Expressions I Really Need to Give Up Using, Boys V Girls, Introducing Biggest and Smallest

As parents, we all have ‘those’ expressions. You know the ones. You use them a hundred times a day. You use them so often, that not only does no one listen to them, you aren’t even aware half the time you’re saying them. They are about as useful as a snowsuit in the Sahara Desert. I’m the first to admit most of mine are regurgitated from my own upbringing. They are the lines I most hated hearing as a child. So why am I using them? I’ve no fricking idea. They didn’t really work back then, and they certainly don’t work now. At best, I get a sideways glance (also known as the rooster look… you know, the out the corner of one eye “yeeeesss??” look), before wallpapering the bath with wet toilet paper/running around with no undies on/smearing peanut butter on the window is continued.

Before I go on, I think now is an apt time to introduce the tag team of terror, the fearless subjects of my wasted breath. For the purposes of retaining some sense of anonymity and to avoid creating too much of a digital footprint for my darling boys before they are even old enough to read, let’s call them Biggest and Smallest.

Biggest is 4, and is into superheroes (Spiderman, Batman and Ironman), art, space, Skylanders, Angry Birds, running (usually in the opposite direction of wherever it is he needs to be at that exact moment), being too tired to do as he’s asked, whining, and all round general destruction.

Smallest is 2 in a couple of months (bejesus, how did that happen so fast?), and is into cars, shoes, bouncing, throwing his spoon/bowl/crusts, pulling things out of cupboards, eating things he shouldn’t, flicking switches on and off, and shouting.

They are two little balls of furious energy and tornado like destructive powers from the second their eyes spring open in the morning, until they pass out from sheer exhaustion at night. The Duracell Bunny has nothing on my two.

I think any mother/father to boy/s will agree with me, boys are different to girls. They seem to have an entirely different idea of what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Boys are louder. Boys like to pull things apart, just because they can. Boys aren’t fussed if a previously much treasured toy breaks because it made a really cool noise when it hit the floor after being launched from the top of the stairs. Boys like to get dirty. Really dirty. Not jumping in muddy puddles dirty, more rolling around in muddy puddles, then a pile of dead leaves, then a bit of extra mud for good measure dirty. Boys will do something over and over because although they got in seriously deep sh*t last time, maybe, MAYBE, Mama/Dad will think it’s really really funny this time. Which, in a roundabout kind of a way, brings me to futile expression number one.

1) Do you think that’s funny?

Is that an actual serious question? Of course they think it’s funny. Would they be sat there grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats if they didn’t? And I just *know* when they nod their agreement I’m going to go from mildly irritated to a level of rage not dissimilar to the force of a nuclear explosion in a split second. So why ask?!

2) No

Which according to both my children means ask again, but this time a bit louder and a bit whinier, I didn’t quite hear you properly.

3) Who’s the boss?

Especially reserved for those times a simple ‘no’ is not enough. For example, Biggest has noticed I appear to be in the general vicinity of the cupboard the treats are kept in. Suddenly, he wants… no NEEDS one. Biggest is informed that treats will not be doled out before he’s even had his breakfast. Biggest whines his displeasure. The negative is reiterated. Biggest starts demanding I give him a treat NOW. That would STILL be a no, and please do NOT speak to me like that. Biggest states he said please (he didn’t). Insert above. This question is usually answered by Biggest in a small voice, “You are.” Which of course, I know, and he knows, and I know that he knows that I know this is a lie. I am not the boss. Of the treat cupboard, certainly, while I maintain the height advantage and can put things out of his reach. But generally speaking? They are.
Everything is more or less done on their terms. Example? I announce we need to go to the shop. Suddenly, Biggest, who until approximately five seconds after I finish my sentence has had the stamina of a marathon runner, is too tired. Queue twenty minutes of coaxing him to PLEASE put his shoes on, while I begin the hunt for what the flucking duck Smallest has done with his other sock this time (oh, look, there it is, inside the bass speaker). Then there’s the coat debacle. Their Nana loves nothing more than buying the boys a nice new coat. They have smart coats, casual coats, expensive coats, bargain too-good-to-pass-up-on coats, body warmers, rain coats, snow coats, light summer jackets…. Having all these coats doesn’t bode well for a timely decision and a quick exit from the house. Precious minutes tick by while I agree that yes, that jacket IS a nice colour and yes, I DO think you look very handsome in it, but its freezing out so maybe something a little warmer is in order? I can easily lose another ten minutes in chasing Smallest round the house trying to get him to stand still long enough to get his reins on. He HATES those things, but unfortunately but they are a necessary evil as he isn’t quite at the to-be-trusted-walking-along-a-busy-road-and-not-dashing-into-it-after-spotting-something-shiny-and-interesting-looking stage. It practically takes my sitting on him to get him to hold still long enough to get the blasted things on. Try and get him in the pushchair instead? Two words. NO. CHANCE. Then, of course, he starts smelling a bit whiffy (is it possible he’s a stress pooer?), so everything has to come off again so I can change him by which time Biggest has got bored, discarded his shoes and coat and wandered off and I have to repeat the whole bloody process. By the time we are actually out the door it’s been an hour and a half and nine times out of ten it’s started raining and I have to admit defeat and ring Mr O with my urgent request for milk/bread/coffee.

4) You’re old enough to know better/you should be setting a good example!

Usually directed at Biggest. No, see, he’s four. He is obviously NOT old enough to know better, because he wouldn’t have done it otherwise. This is usually spouted after Smallest has done something naughty and been told off, so Biggest decides to have a go and see if he can get him summa that attention. Or, they’ve teamed up with devastating consequences while Mama has been otherwise detained. Utter tripe, and guess what? As an oldest child myself, and having heard this line countless times throughout my own childhood and hating the fact everyone thought I was responsible for my younger sibling’s behaviour… I’m old enough to know better.

5) STOP SHOUTING!

They’re playing together nicely, Smallest starts shouting his protest over a snatched toy (worse, squealing his protest… oh dear lord the squealing!), Biggest shouts louder, and then I roar this worthless phrase. Its usually swiftly pointed out to me by Biggest that Mama shouldn’t shout either. Well, I’m sorry, but how else am I supposed be heard over the racket comparable to two jet planes breaking the sound barrier in unison? It doesn’t stop them though, even on the off chance they do pause long enough to hear me. The neighbours must hate us.

6) If you will please be quiet for half a second, I am trying to explain.

BA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA *gasp* HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! No.

7) Am I talking to a brick wall?

Waste of breath as apparently this particular phrase is one only I can hear. But then, they weren’t listening in the first place.

8) Because Y is a crooked letter and you can’t straighten it.

Actually, this one works quite well (when applied sparingly), to end the incessant stream of why, but why, but why streaming from Biggest’s mouth. It usually confuses him just long enough to implement a distraction plan.

9) Why are you two so quiet?

Because it’s not like I’m NOT on my way to find out. And do I really want to know the answer anyway? This is usually accompanied by a silent prayer to the powers that be that whatever they’ve done this time can it please not be too expensive to fix?

10) How/why did this happen?

It would be much easier to get blood out of a stone than to get to the bottom of whatever it is that has gone down. If I listen to Biggest’s fallback explanation, then its completely Smallest’s fault. It is always Smallest’s fault. What else are little brothers for if not to blame for every accident or misadventure? Best just to get on with clean up and damage limitation.

This possibly gives the impression that my boys are unruly wild nightmares. They’re not, its just they are boys, they are little, and they have their moments. I still wouldn’t trade them for all them for all the tea in China. Now, that one isn’t such a futile expression.