Table Talk

  

Yesterday evening, after dinner, we were all sitting around the table singing songs. Miss C had chosen one which we’d all sung along to, then it was Miss A’s turn. 

She said, in her own words, “dad da rad da reem”.

Now, we are becoming accustomed to her way of speaking now and we understand a lot more each day. I was pretty confident when I guessed that she was trying to say ‘gently down the stream’ and so I began singing ‘row, row, row your boat’. 

We were greeted with a very firm “no”.

It obviously wasn’t ‘row, row, row your boat’. We were pretty surprised but didn’t think much of it. 

Her other favourite at the moment is ‘Humpty Dumpty’ (which sounds nothing like what she said, I know) but we thought we’d give it a go. 

Another very firm “no!”

My husband and I looked at each other. It was time to start randomly guessing other nursery rhymes. We named every one we could think of and none of them were correct. We asked Miss A to sing her choice for us but she didn’t want to. She kept saying, “Mummy do it”. 

We asked her sister if she knew what she was saying, she didn’t and she was throwing out nursery rhyme titles as much as we were. 

“Dad da rad da reem. Mummy do it?”
We were at a loss.
Maybe nursery rhymes were the wrong guesses because it wasn’t actually a nursery rhyme. We began singing songs from cbeebies and Disney, even threw in a hymn, one of Miss C’s favourites. They were all wrong and by this point Miss A was looking sad. Every time she said “dad da rad da reem” and we guessed wrongly, I would reply asking her to sing it, and she would then ask me. 
“No. Mummy do it?”
We were going round in circles.

Miss C suddenly remembered one of their favourites from the car; our wedding song. We had our first dance to ‘Marry you’ by Bruno Mars and the girls love it. They know all the words.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t correct either. Miss C began singing it anyway, Miss A told her to stop, we were all giggling and then our little one crossed her arms, put her chin right down on her chest and sulked. She looked so fed up our hearts really went out to her. 

If only she could say the title correctly, if only we understood. She was now saying “dad da rad da reem” with such desperation and it was really frustrating for everyone involved.

My husband then asked what other songs we’ve had in the car recently. ‘I wanna hold your hand’ was mentioned and that’s when it clicked. That’s when I knew it and when I said it aloud, that’s when the smile appeared back on our little girl’s face.

She was asking for ‘Yellow Submarine’

Of course she was! It all made sense now. Even worse was the fact that about a minute before this whole thing started, Miss C was talking about our new bath toy, which is, in fact, a yellow submarine. And yet it took us at least ten minutes and a lot of ‘No’s’ to finally get it.

  

I am so glad she persevered and forced us to listen. I’m more glad that we did work out what she was so desperately trying to say.

Of course what followed was a rousing rendition of ‘yellow submarine’ around the dinner table, quite a few times in fact. 

And the happiest and most relieved singer of all was joining in loudly with her favourite part; the “dad da rad da reem”.
  

Let’s Play

I had tidied up. I had set out the toys. I had made their garden nice, enticing even. 

It looked appealing and, of course, they wanted to play. 

So why was everything that was coming out of my mouth so negative?

I have been through this cycle many times. For the most part, I am fairly chilled. I know that children aren’t deliberately messy just to wind you up, it’s because they’re learning, exploring, it’s what they do. 

However, occasionally they do wind me up. And it’s in those instances that I have to take a step back and remind myself exactly what it is that they are doing. 

Being children!

The other day I got everything ready and then told my girls they could play outside. (Which of course they did, no hesitation) 

  

I sat myself down and suddenly hated the idea that they would mess up what I’d prepared. Sounds ridiculous, I know!

“No, please don’t put sand in the water tray”

“Take those dinosaurs off the grass, they were in the sandpit”

“Why are you taking that out of there?”

“Could you leave those on the table, please?”

Even as I write them down I know how silly I sound. 

Before you judge me, please remember that I am not usually like this. It happens every so often, but not all the time. I sometimes just feel, in my tired, worn-out self on certain days, that everything I have done is being undone. That everything I have so lovingly prepared for them is being ruined.

Again, I ask you not to judge me, it really doesn’t happen that often, but on this occasion I just wanted them to appreciate what was there. 

The whole experience was exhausting!

I felt I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sit still, couldn’t really enjoy anything because I was running around trying to tidy up after them. 

In the garden! 

I must have sounded like a crazy lady to anyone listening. 

  

My girls are three-years-old and twenty-one-months. They weren’t running around the garden spray painting the fences or smashing things up, they were doing what children do best; playing!

  

The whole experience was not fun for me and especially not fun for them.

When it was time to tidy up and go inside I felt like that’s all we’d been doing all day anyway and for what?

The day after I tried a new approach; I left them to it. I was there with them but I didn’t interrupt their play. I didn’t constantly ask them to put things back and I wasn’t the miserable old bore that I had been the day before.

They did nothing dangerous or particularly disruptive, they just played, as children do. They investigated, they explored, they took their shoes off, got messy, stuck empty water buckets on their heads that weren’t actually completely empty. They had fun!

  

  

So what if I had to tip the water tray back into the sandpit or sweep up the paving stones again. It didn’t take that long. In actual fact, when it was time to tidy up, they both loved it. I’d allowed them to just ‘be’ all afternoon and so they were ready to help out. It only took us ten minutes anyway.

Two different days, two different experiences, and I know which one we all preferred.
  

Sometimes it’s ok to let things get a little messy. Sometimes it’s ok to not intervene and just watch from the sidelines. Worrying about mess was fruitless and exhausting, I don’t want to spend my days like that, for their sakes more than mine.

  

Toys are there to be played with. Our garden is ready to be explored. Feeling the difference between wet and dry sand is fun. As long as I remember that, and turn off my ‘panic radar’ when my girls are lost in the land of imagination. 

  

There will always be time at the end of the day for tidying up. But the time for carefree play doesn’t last forever. If I stay in this mindset, our summer will be much more enjoyable.
  

Now, if only I could convince myself of the same kind of thing when it comes to the mess my husband makes.

(And don’t worry, he said it was ok to write that last line)

It’s not about the mugs!

I gave myself a good telling off this morning! 

I was having a silly strop about our mugs not all fitting in the cupboard properly. We have to keep balancing a couple precariously on top of each other. I mean, God forbid, talk about first world problems!

(As if all the cups in the house are ever clean at any one time anyway, there are usually at least two in use and another two left somewhere with cold tea at the bottom)

I was just in a bad mood. Everything about the room was wrong. 

  

We only have one drawer in our kitchen, it’s where we keep the cutlery. (It is a pretty small kitchen) We had to buy plastic drawers to keep the veg and potatoes in which obviously take up space and we don’t have a dryer. (I could complain for hours about the repercussions of that one)

To be honest, none of that was the reason for my mood, the source of it could have been sleep deprivation, or maybe hormones, but either way, silly things were amplified in my head and I took it out on my beautiful little kitchen, which I really do love, most days!

A few things left on the kitchen worktop can make it seem cluttered. 

(I hate clutter!) 

My poor husband hadn’t put dirty pots in the sink, they were on the side, so he got a mouthful.

And then I came to my senses.

Ok, so everybody is allowed off-days, right?

No, not in this case, I was being so annoyingly ungrateful!

We are blessed to have somewhere to live, food for every meal, comfy beds, places to sit, a working washing machine and a fully-functioning kitchen. As a family of four we are extremely lucky! 

Especially when (I don’t usually like to compare, however) there is so, so, so much suffering in the world and so many people who are complaining about actual real problems.
  
So, as I said, I gave myself a good telling off. For moaning about such an insignificant thing. The next time something in my house annoys me, which will happen, I know it, I am going to try and remember how foolish and petty it sounds to complain. 

I have a husband who loves me, yes, even when I shout at him for, you know, living in his own home! 

I have two beautiful children who don’t care anyway about how many mugs don’t fit in the cupboard! 

And we have a nice, safe, comfortable place to live.

Those pesky hormones have a lot to answer for, as technically I should never be complaining about anything, ever.

So if ever you hear insignificant, minor complaints about silly, unimportant things coming out of my mouth, you have my permission to shake me!

Happy Tuesday, everyone. I truly hope that you don’t have anything real to complain about either.
  

Maltese Meltdowns

  
This is a post that I wrote a few months ago while we were away on holiday. Looking back I’m amazed how things have changed. Our three-year-old daughter doesn’t have tantrums anymore and is so calm in comparison. We have disagreements now instead, and the odd sulk! But reading this has made me remember how she used to be and how much can change in a few months.
(29/03/16)
At the moment we are on holiday in Malta, just the four of us, as in, myself, my husband and our two girls. 
We are loving it, even though the first couple of days have been extremely tiring for all of us. 
I managed ten minutes to myself yesterday (to get a few thoughts together about what to write) because we found ‘Ice Age’ on the television. It was in German, but animation is animation, it did the trick. 
Anyway, our eldest daughter who is nearly three was really looking forward to going swimming today. 
She was so tired yesterday evening and so grumpy, understandably so because of our busy day, however, it resulted in a bit of a tantrum. 

We went through the usual, standing aside initially, then comforting, bribing, tough love, you name it, we did it. 
I think she was past the actual feeling of upset by this point and just liked the sound of her own screams, which in a hotel room with no carpet and wide open balcony doors were very, very loud. 
The only thing that worked in this instance was for us to say that if she didn’t stop, she wouldn’t be going swimming in the morning. 
It worked. 
She calmed down and everything was ok. She knew we’d be going swimming and she was happy again, especially when it was bedtime. 

(We were all happy by that point.)
This morning, I was the one who was tired, and yes, a little grumpy too. We were making breakfast for the girls as we have booked self-catering and my husband and I started arguing. 
I honestly do not have a single clue what it was about. It was something and nothing and we were snapping at each other and all was certainly not very harmonious in our little kitchen. 
Suddenly I heard our eldest speak but I didn’t hear what she said. My husband started laughing and so she smiled. When he repeated it for me, I couldn’t help smiling either. 
She had actually said, ‘stop it mummy and daddy or you won’t be allowed to go swimming!’ 
We were being told off by an almost three-year-old child. It was funny, and it made me realise just how much of what we say to her (and to each other) actually goes in. 
The other thing it made me realise is that I should be a little more understanding of her tantrums, hard as they are to deal with at the moment. 
I had just had a mini one myself. 
I was tired, hot and irritable. Whatever my husband had done that I’d disagreed with was obviously not the end of the world but I over-reacted.
The difference here being, I am much more in control of my emotions and more able to deal with them. If I was snapping because I was worn out then her tantrum was the childhood equivalent.
She is our eldest and it’s completely new territory for all of us, but considering everything, this holiday she is doing really well.
As long as I can remember that she is a human being, like me, with feelings and emotions, and as long as I can find my patience when she does exercise her right to voice her feelings, then we may make it through the rest of the holiday unscathed.
We did all go swimming in the end, we were all calm and stopped the shouting.
I think our daughter was proud of us! 😉
  

“Just let me do it…..”

  Life can be busy, we all know that. I used to think the same when I was single, I never seemed to stop. Now, with two children and a house to run, things only seem to be getting busier. The difference is, whatever needed doing when I lived alone got done by me, now however, there are four of us ‘doing’ and sometimes it can be hard to let that happen. I’m not a control-freak, (not quite!) but sometimes, especially with children, it can be easier and most certainly quicker to do everything yourself. The morning rush when we need to be somewhere is most definitely not the time to be encouraging independent dressing, not yet anyway. And out and about in places such as busy supermarkets is equally the wrong time and place to be patiently watching them learn new skills. Or is it? How much of our so-called ‘busyness’ is actually taking priority over little achievements for our children? I took my two-year-old swimming the other day and it was while we were getting changed afterwards that I noticed my need to rush, my instinctive need to do everything for her so we could get out as soon as possible. I honestly don’t know why I do it. We didn’t have to be anywhere and nobody was waiting for us. We had got dressed and I was ready to put our coats on. My little girl had been drawing and had a small pen in her hand and as I held her coat open my immediate reaction was to take the pen from her hand and put her arm in her sleeve. Why is this so automatic? If I carry on doing everything, how will she ever learn? Yes, I realise there are times when we really are on a schedule and it may be necessary, but this wasn’t one of those times. I stopped myself. Instead, I held her coat open and asked her to put it on; and then I stepped back and watched. I watched her realise, by herself, that her hands were too full for the task. I watched her look into her little hands and think. Then I saw her place the lid from one hand onto the pen in the other hand (it took a few attempts but she did it) and put it down on the bench, ready to put her arm in her coat. The whole process took around twenty seconds!! Even if I had been in a hurry, I am certain that twenty seconds wouldn’t have made a huge difference. That small amount of time would have meant nothing in the frantic panic of getting children ready, but it meant a great deal to my daughter. She had stopped and realised something was wrong, she had figured out what it was, she then exercised newly found skills by putting one small object onto another and finally she had emptied her hands in order to obediently do what was asked of her. All that learning and all that achievement would never have happened if I’d done it for her. I know that as a mother of two it’s going to happen again. I know there will be many times in the future when I’ll do things for my children because we’re in a hurry. Sometimes it will be quicker and easier, sometimes not. However, I am aware of it now. I am aware that the smallest things we do for our babies might sometimes be able to be completed by them. I know that little victories will not only enhance their learning but build up their self-esteem. In each day’s rush, in every hastened exit from home or quick job that needs finishing, I am going to try my best to not ‘just do, because it’s easier’. Children are hard work and many, many times they are certainly not helpful in anyway, but look and see how beautiful it can be when we stop and let them try. My daughter made me so proud after swimming that day. I most definitely want to feel that way more often.