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.
  

The Hope of Tomorrow 

We are living today in a world full of fear

Worry of the future, of those we hold dear

Uncertainty rife and changes ahead

Our heads full of worry, our hearts full of dread

What’s going to happen? What can we do?

How do we keep our children safe, too?

  
Feelings of helplessness growing so fast

Of not knowing how to make innocence last

But there is some hope, there is still a chance

To be full of wonder and enjoy the dance

Because in our care are the world’s next elite

And we’re here to help them to stand on two feet

  
Our children will watch, they’ll see and they’ll hear

They’ll love what we love and they’ll fear what we fear

Let’s open their hearts to a much brighter view

If we’re full of kindness then they will be too

  
We are the example, we are what they see

Their world is as simple as you and me

We can make a difference, let’s start with our home

So the actions they see will be theirs when they’re grown

We can make hearts grow, we can change the world 

If we start by loving these boys and these girls

  
So let’s find our compassion, and put others first

If we want our world to be better, not worse

Respect our neighbours, be there for our friends

Show little eyes how our hope will not end

  
They do see our anger, they do hear our shouts

Imitation is what their life is about

We owe it to them to change how we live

To show growing hearts that it’s better to give

So when they grow up they can live in a place

Full of love, full of hope, with a smile on each face

  
So if we would like a better tomorrow

One where our children aren’t living in sorrow

Surround them with knowledge of how it should be

Tomorrow begins with you and with me

  

Little Miss Fearless

    

A couple of months ago we were having some work done on our house and we had scaffolding all around the first floor. The garden was full of tools and equipment and we didn’t go in it for days.

One particular day, one full of cabin-fever and boredom, my husband decided to take the girls into the garden for some fresh air. He left them playing in a safe corner while he tried to tidy up a little. 

I was in the kitchen when I heard him call me. I was in the middle of something but he said it couldn’t wait.

With a smile on his face and a slight look of apprehension he pointed towards the ladders.

The tall ladders.

The ladders that led to the scaffold.

The ladders gripped by little hands.

The ones that little Miss A was halfway up.

In one second I felt such a mixture of emotions. Fear, shock, worry, surprise, yet pride and excitement too.

My husband climbed up slowly behind her so she had a safety-net, though she was unaware of it. 

But she didn’t need one.

She made it all the way onto the scaffold, turned around and waved.

The smile on her little face was beautiful.

We are realising, now that our little Miss A is 20 months old, just how different she is from her sister.

Miss C uses her imagination lots, she loves getting messy outside and role-playing but she was never really a climber. She can be quite shy by nature and was always very good at listening to us if we thought something was too dangerous.

But were those things ever really ‘too dangerous’?

As new parents we obviously wanted to keep our baby safe, to protect her and not see her get hurt. It’s normal, all parents feel it.

But now we have her opposite in our second child and we are learning that sometimes it’s ok to let them try.

  
 
I don’t think we were holding Miss C back, she is by nature more reserved anyway, but we were a lot more cautious.

Our baby (which I think she will always be called while she is the youngest, no matter how old she is) is a bit of a daredevil!

Miss C tried to climb out of her cot once, slipped and bumped her head and didn’t do it again.

Miss A did the exact same thing, told us she’d bumped her head but went ahead and climbed out again thirty minutes later.

She is a risk-taker, a trier, she is absolutely fearless and consequently much stronger (physically) than her sister was at the same age.

We find her standing on windowsills, climbing onto boxes, balancing on chairs and basically just trying new things. 

  
 
Sometimes it results in a few bumps and bruises but we are learning when it’s ok to intervene (like the time she opened the front door by herself and stepped outside – she can reach the handle now so we have to keep it locked) and when it’s ok to take a step back.

We are there for her, we are the safety-net, whether she knows it or not, and we would never put her in serious danger. But doing certain things by herself is allowing her to learn her own limits, to know her own strength and what she is capable of.

It is actually amazing to witness.

When she was climbing up those ladders her coordination was brilliant! Her strong little legs got her all the way up to the top and I’m happy I got to see it.

I am certain she is going to keep taking risks like that, risks that she just sees as ‘opportunities’. 

I am certain also that she’s going to give us many more heart-stopping moments.

And we don’t want to stand in her way when we don’t have to.

This is a new challenge for us, to watch our second daughter climb and run and dive straight into things without fear. We don’t ever want to squash her enthusiasm and we are learning to find the right balance now between safety and freedom.

But we are so proud of our little daredevil, our happy, brave, excited, fun-loving little mischief.

She certainly keeps things interesting!

I hope her strength and determination never leave her, I hope she will carry on taking risks and bringing smiles to everyone’s faces, just as she does now.

We just have to remember to let her. 

   
“The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learn to look after themselves” – Roald Dahl

A Mid-Week Oooops

The familiar chimes and the catchy old song went by outside and I could see my daughter’s’ little faces light up. It was warm, they’d had a good day and I had some change in my pocket. “Come on then!” I found myself suddenly saying. “Let’s go and get an ice-cream”.

I was obviously ready to step outside immediately, forgetting for one brief moment about their lack of suitable footwear. (Ok for the garden but not ideal for walking the streets) So a good two minutes were spent quickly scrabbling around for shoes and dismissing their independent claims so we could just ‘get them on and go!’

Once outside the panic increased, we could see the ice-cream van at the top of our street but trying to run with a one-year-old and a three-year-old isn’t easy. 
I stopped to pick little Miss A up but we didn’t make it. The van’s music began to play and off it went, around the corner. 

Not wanting to disappoint my girls we tried a short cut, running down a little alleyway to meet it at its next stop.

And we did!!
And we were happy!
And I thought we had succeeded.
I was completely forgetting about the journey home.
Miss C managed really well actually. 

  
She can eat and walk, she stayed close by me and is showing me every day how grown up she is becoming. 

I didn’t have enough hands to manage the other one. 
My ice-cream, my change and my door keys in one hand, I used the other hand to hold the outstretched arm of my independent little miss. She must have been saving her cone for when we got home, holding it almost horizontally as she tottered along beside me. 
I stopped many times to straighten it up, having visions of an empty hand, a mountain of ice-cream on the pavement and tears.
(Not to mention if she dropped hers I’d have to offer her mine! Bad mummy moment.)

Each time I tried to hold it for her, she loudly protested. Each time I straightened her little hand up, it fell forward again.
Then I felt a raindrop.

We didn’t have far to walk but it certainly felt like it with those two.

I ended up picking Miss A up to try and get home quicker, which resulted in my ice-cream all over her sleeve and her ice-cream all over my shoulder. 

But we were finally home.
Ice-creams intact, still dry (albeit very sticky and covered in sprinkles) we sat down. 
I think it must have been about five seconds later I heard a little ‘uh oh!’
I turned to look. It had all been in vain. 
Little Miss A’s ice-cream was no longer in her hand. 😦
  

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! 😉