Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Learning Log and The Dog

I fully expect that one day my children will co-author a book entitled "How To Annoy Your Parents: A Step-By-Step Guide".
Chapter One will definitely be about homework. The school have had the brilliant idea of introducing a Learning Log much to the irritation of many parents (well, me). As if managing three crazy kids, a dog, a Husband with a sexual appetite, a messy house and weekly spellings isn't task enough for this mum, they have decided to up the homework.
Now I hate homework at the best of times. The Tweenager finds it a wonderful opportunity to be even more rude to me than normal. The Tomboy thinks it's definitely something to cry about. And The Toddler cannot stand anybody else having his mother's attention so will do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to get me back.
The school have tricked us into thinking that we are the only educational institution in the UK not to have the Learning Log. They do not know yet that I have asked around and am yet to find another school that have even heard whispers of it.
The Learning Log is supposed to be a wonderful scrapbook of weekly home tasks that the children can be proud of and the parents can participate in. It is supposed to bring JOY. What they haven't taken into account is my children and a mother who loses it when the children don't listen.
The Tweenager, who is great at literacy, loses all capacity to use capital letters, full stops and spell any word longer than three letters. Our joint experience of the Learning Log usually lasts about six minutes before all hell breaks loose. I sit down thinking how nice to spend time with each other on a project and end up close to slitting my wrists.
The Tomboy is slightly better but wants to draw pictures of footballers even if the topic is How To Make Bread. She usually ends up scribbling all over the page and blaming it on The Dog.
The Toddler upon sight of the Learning Log has been known to, in no particular order - throw himself on the floor, bash his head against the radiator, take his nappy off after pooing, threaten us with anything sharp and try to make himself sick.
Oh yes, the Learning Log is bringing us great joy.
I'm just wondering if the excuse of "The Dog Ate My Homework" still works these days.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Turning Cure Into Cult

Alas I am not going to write about The Cure (Boys don't cry) or The Cult (She sells sanctuary) although by saying that I am showing that I still have an ounce of cool about me.
I am just going to bleat on for a moment about Ministry Of Mum and if the fact that it helps my shrivelled brain is enough. I am thinking about turning it into a Cult like Scientology or The Community Of The Phoenix (if you watch Ugly Betty you'll get that joke) because I need to make some money.
I was having a little moan about The Husband last week to a friend and he said "Mmmm you're all right living off him though, aren't you?" and I was shocked. Shocked because it's true and shocked because I realised that not having my own money is crap. Occasionally The Husband will ask me where the money has gone that he has given me for the month. He thinks I spend it in Cafe Rouge and New Look. So I have been writing a list for when that question comes up again. This is what I will answer: gym fees, dog food, school dinners, washing powder, riding lessons, sweets, nappies, petrol, beavers subs, milk, birthday pressies. Not one mention of a new frock or cappuccino, is there?
I am desperate for my own money although I don't particularly want a job. So I've been thinking of ways I can make some dosh from my blog and I've come up with the idea of expanding my blog into a Cult - The Church Of Ministry Of Mum. I am happy to be the authoritarian, charismatic leader as long as I am paid.
So here is the Ethos:
Meetings round my house, no kiddies allowed.
Gin & tonics provided with nibbles.
Moaning encouraged.
Be honest about your role as a parent.
Do not judge especially when someone admits they "lost it" with the children.
Respect each other and understand that we once had a life.
A small subscription fee will do, as long as collectively it pays for my winter wardrobe.
Promise we won't blow things up or kill people (no matter how trying our Husbands are).
Make sure we all snog the face off any male celebrity who joins (preferably Tom Cruise).

Are you brainwashed yet? Hope so. I've got my eye on those biker Ugg boots.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Happy Days

Oh I forgot to mention that I put the kids to bed at 5 o'clock the other day. The Tomboy said "Stupid Mummy" about seven thousand times and The Tweenager was refusing to do his spellings. They were both being what can only be described as Absolutely Bloody Revolting, so I put them to bed. And don't give me that Supernanny bulls**t about taking toys off them, naughty step etc etc because IT DOESN'T WORK. Well, on my kids anyway. They don't give a monkeys about anything enough for it to be taken away and their behaviour to change. I even took away everything The Tomboy owns from her bedroom but she didn't care. So I put them to bed.
I allowed them back downstairs at 5.30pm for dinner and they so thought they'd got away with it. Imagine their surprise when they finished eating and I said "Right, that's back to bed again now thank you!".
It seemed to work as punishment because they hated it. But the mistake I made was forgetting to forewarn The Husband, who came bouncing in at seven with the bright idea of them all taking the dog for a walk to the shop to get sweets. And The Husband at home time always supersedes The Mum who has been dealing with the crap for the past two hours.

Anyway, The Husband has officially been off now for two days and, believe it or not, everything is still working in the world - there has been no big bang or millennium crash. He is doing his two favourite things 1) Jobs In The Garden 2) Going To The Tip, in between taking conference calls and receiving emails.
Of course he has been getting on my nerves.
Yesterday, for example, he had to measure some curtains for me while I was in the shop ready to buy. He knew they were for The Tomboy's room but did a completely different window so when I brought them home, they were totally the wrong size. This might seem of little importance, but in my rock n roll life it was a Big Deal and utterly warranted my anger. (Ah did I mention that I am finally allowing The Tomboy to have a football bedroom - it's goodbye everything pink and pretty).

The Husband says that the time he spends working on his days off is nothing compared to the amount of hours I spend speaking to my friends.
I say work is his only friend.

So I have been doing things without The Toddler like getting an eye test and power walking with The Dog. Keeping out of The Husband's way on his time off is the best technique for spending the day without squabbling.
Our family seems to work best when everyone is off doing their thing. Can't wait for him to go back to work.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Let's Get Flexible

The Husband is supposed to have all this week off but he informs me last night that today is, in fact, a "Flexible Day". Now in my years of knowing The Husband I have heard him say many important things like "My diary changes daily" and "It's going down faster than a sinking souffle" but I have never ever come across "Flexible Day" before.

My take on it is this - basically he has got the day off, but he can't stand to be away from work. He has got to think quickly because he's already told me that it's a holiday. You have never seen anybody back-track quite like The Husband. This is his back-track 3 step plan:
1) Deny everything.
2) Blame the other person for misunderstanding.
3) Admit there might have been some ambiguity but this is what was really meant.

While following this plan, The Husband comes up with the term "Flexible Day". Meaning that he can do whatever he likes work-wise but it's still really a holiday.

This is what actually happens:
The Husband tells me this morning that he can take the children to school because he is on a "Flexible Day". But because I dare to stay in bed for twenty seconds more than normal, everything (of course) goes slightly disarray. The Tomboy is still in bed at 8.30am. The Tweenager has lost his school shoes and his book bag. The Toddler is naked in the garden.
Somehow The Husband gets them to school on time. He then goes to work.
I am stuck at home, as usual, with The Toddler.
At tea-time he informs me that he will be home by 6.30pm (half an hour earlier than normal).
The Tomboy has a hissy fit about nothing and tips the entire contents of the Lego box on the floor upstairs. It is a Lego lake.
The Dog jumps up against the side while I am dealing with The Tomboy and eats half the dinner.
The Tweenager spills juice all over his homework.
The Husband arrives home at 7.20pm.

As I sit here writing I think, well, at least I didn't have to do the school run this morning. And that is on my list of Very Best Things You Can Do For Me. So I suppose if I was more open minded I could consider that the "Flexible Day" wasn't too bad - but hey, I'm just not that flexible.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tomboy Tales

Just when I thought The Tomboy was settling into school (well it's only been a year), the Teaching Assistant had a word with me about her allegedly spitting at another child. Now this is a difficult one for me in the World Of Parenting - am I supposed to discipline her for A) something that happened five hours ago in school and B) an incident which she opposes ever happened. The Tomboy will, without fail, categorically deny any event which involves her misbehaving, so that point doesn't really phase me. But what am I supposed to do when it took place hours before when I wasn't even present? The answer was simple - I asked her who the child was that she was supposed to have 'assaulted' and since it was a kid that I am not particularly fond of, I let her off. The Tomboy isn't always kind, she's not great at sharing, she can't control her temper, she never tells the truth but she is a good judge of character.

The Tomboy does lie an awful lot. She told me that Justin Bieber had gone into her class to tell them that he is going to perform at the Halloween Disco. She blames everything on The Toddler or The Dog. And plenty of other falsehoods beside. I googled searched Kids Who Lie and there is a five year old in New Zealand who is decidedly better than she is at not telling the truth. Which pissed me off a bit because if she's going to do it, then I want her to be the very best at it.

She is also very good at Going Mental. You all know the one about The Tweenager's new bike. Well she pulled a blinder yesterday as well. She got wind that The Tweenager had been invited to his mates house for tea. All hell broke lose at the school gate. Her jacket was flung on the floor. Her book bag ended up in the road. Her water bottle was launched into someone's garden. It was Tomboy Theatricals at their very best. And since it was home time, there were many spectators - I only wish I had sold programmes and popcorn.

The main thing I have noticed recently about The Tomboy is that she is great when she has boys come home but horrid when girls are over. She's a little butch (sic). The girls will invariably go home crying whilst the boys will emerge covered in warpaint after the 'best army game ever'.

I don't want The Tomboy to change any time in the near future. I enjoy the complication of her. Especially when she comes up with some classics - I mentioned again about the boy who cried wolf and she said "Don't mention that again, there are no wolves around here, we're in England remember."

Monday, 13 September 2010

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lie-In

Ah it's just as I suspected: a lie-in don't come for free.
Last night The Husband tore himself away from his laptop to come and see me. Bit annoying because I was watching that great beginning of Frasier when Niles does the whole mime routine (if you've not seen it then YouTube it immediately).

This is our conversation:
The Husband: "Can I just talk to you for a minute?"
Me: "Oh here we go, you need to go to China with work, don't you?"
The Husband: "Well can I just ask what your thoughts are on tomorrow night please."
Me: "My thoughts? You're already staying away, aren't you, and you need to make it seem like it was my idea."

So, yes, my Sunday lie-in had a price and it's that The Husband gets to stay in a 5star hotel tonight in sunny Birmingham while I deal with his three offspring.
The Toddler has an ear infection and will probably be up all night. I am quite proud though - it's the first time he's ever had antibiotics so his diet of dirt and leaves is doing wonders for his immune system.
The Tomboy is wound up from gym and over excited because her very bestest friend (a boy) is coming to tea tomorrow. She is currently in a headstand on her bed.
The Tweenager is definitely on the Gifted & Talented List for backchat. He has been horrid to me from 7am to 7pm. Perhaps he should do a sponsored Rude-A-Thon, he'd raise thousands. He has gone to bed in tears because he is grounded for the week and it's quote/unquote "The first time I have ever been grounded in my whole life!!!!". Not bad for his seven years.

So here I am with The Dog. Letting her go on the sofa even though she smells of fox poo. I am that used to the smell that if she doesn't have any on her, the ambience of the house isn't right. Hopefully Ambi-pur will bring out an Eau De Fox Poo.
Well at least I have the remote and the bed to myself tonight. The Husband being away is a very small price to pay.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Bright Eyed And Bushy Tailed

Something miraculous happened this morning and I still can't quite believe it. I HAD A LIE-IN. Not your average kids-sleeping-til-seven-for-a-change type of lie-in but a proper number, the kind of which I have not had in eight years. Are you ready for this - I eventually got out of my bed at 11.20am. Can I just say that again please? 11.20am !!!! LA LA LAaaaaa let's sing it from the rooftops.
You see we had friends over last night and I drank quite a lot of gin & tonic. Which doesn't seem too drastic except I am just under five foot two and seven doubles is slightly more than my petite frame can take. I remember the first two glasses but it's all a blur after that. Hey but I was a GOOD DRUNK and probably flirting and being very hilarious, even if The Husband doesn't think so. I also managed to do absolutely nothing apart from drink and eat. The Husband, bless him, cooked and served and washed up while I sat an arm's length from the kitchen appliances. But, hey, I was the entertainment for the evening.
We ended up having a great night with our friends but a dreadful night with the children. The Tweenager has been complaining about feeling sick yet not sick enough that he can't have Cornettos and Wine Gums. The Toddler is very hot and bothered with a dribbly nose. The Tomboy is having nightmares because she is addicted to the pages of her Children's Bible with pictures of Jesus on the cross. So sleep is not an option.
What happened during the night was what can only be described as a game of Musical Beds. Nobody finished the night in the bed where they started. I ended up top-to-toe with The Tweenager.
This morning I did the usual routine of Toddler milk and Dog Breakfast but then somehow The Husband took over and I went back to bed. Until 11.20am! The Husband and the kids were out walking the dog so even got to shower, eat toast and drink coffee in peace (albeit with a raging hangover).
So far I can't see any repercussions. The Husband hasn't mentioned it all day. So he must be plotting. He's either after special love or six months coming home late from work. Or a boys weekend. But I don't care, I will be living off the back of my super lie-in for the next eight years.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

My Family And Other Animals

I am on a mission. Over the past couple of days The Dog has been getting a bit naughty. We were out for a walk and she started jumping up at the lead then attacked my wellies (which might not seem so drastic except they are Hunters and cost a whole kid's monthly child benefit). I couldn't walk another step without her growling and pretend biting my foot. I then noticed a couple of other things The Dog is doing such as barking incessantly and getting Haribo-type hyper when the kids are running around. So I spoke to my doggy friend who advised that I need to show The Dog where she is in The Pack.
Which got me thinking about the whole Pack Order in this family.
First of all, The Dog thinks she is a kid. The Dog considers herself on a par with the children and obviously sees the way that the children often challenge me -so she thinks she can treat me the same.
So my mission is to sort out where everybody stands in The Smith Family Pack.
Let me explain - in a pack there is a leader and all other members of the pack defer to this leader. There is then a Number Two who submits to the boss and nobody else...and so on down to the bottom dog who submits to everybody.
Now, the leader is also called the Alpha and is the most dominant. Within our pack this Alpha is obviously ME. I will use aggression to protect my pack and I also expect them all to submit to me. Where our pack gets confused is that not everybody knows who is dominant to them and who is submissive to them.
The Husband firmly believes that he is the Alpha. He is happy to hand this over to whoever he considers to be his Number Two (i.e. Me) during the week. But at the weekends he will raise his heckles and reaffirm his leadership. This often results in us arguing over matters such as the disciplining of the children. I don't mind The Husband believing he is the Alpha, in fact I encourage it as it makes him feel better, but I will not have him thinking that my leadership is open to challenge. So I have been taking a firm but fair approach to The Husband every Saturday to assert my rightful place as leader of the pack. He has no idea I am doing this of course, but that's the thing about Alphas - they are sly and cunning.
The Tomboy and The Tweenager bicker constantly, thus ensuring an ongoing argument over who is below the adults in the pack. The Tomboy, when she is not pretending to be a boy, often pretends to be a dog so you think that would give her a head start. But unfortunately The Tweenager is two years older and his seven years to her five years is the trump card.
The Toddler, well, he is the Alpha's cub and will always get that extra Alpha attention. He can currently do no wrong in the Alpha's eyes much to the chagrin of The Husband who is probably about to lose his position as the Number Two.
And The Dog? Well she is starting to learn that she is the bottom of The Smith Family Pack because I have filled a bottle with stones and she hates me shaking it at her when she challenges me. One rattle of the bottle and she goes all submissive.
I am considering using it on the two eldest kids and The Husband.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Not What The Health Visitor Would Advise

So The Toddler has decided that he is six and can do everything his siblings do. Such as go on my new computer and change his own nappy. It's funny and endearing especially when he calls me "Mum" instead of "Mama" but since the weekend he has become desperate to sit in a booster seat instead of his toddler car seat. Watching me get The Toddler into his proper seat is the most horrifying event you will ever witness. I am shocked that I am not being surveyed by Child Protection. This is the current schedule of events:
1. Tell Toddler that we are going in the car so he gets very excited.
2. Make sure I have his blanky and numerous yummys to bribe him.
3. Open car door and attempt to lift him into seat.
4. Plead with him and pretend to cry as he is kicking & protesting.
5. Distract him by getting animated about planes and boats.
6. Stuff a sweet into his mouth.
7. Grab his arm with one hand while pushing with the other hand against the front of his nappy while using maximum force (I'm surprised he doesn't have a permanent red hand print there).
8. Scream at him and hold him in a Full Nelson as I lock the straps into place.

I have said it before and I will say it again. When I am an old lady, I challenge him to get me into my wheelchair. And if the Adult Toddler attempts to use any of my manoeuvres, I will be straight on the phone to Help The Aged.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Top Ten Things That Get On My Nerves

1. The Toddler when he pisses about in his cot and won't go to sleep.
2. All first time mothers who talk about nappies/weaning/dummies/breasts.
3. The Husband, whenever he says he is tired or falls asleep in front of the telly.
4. "Mummy, I need you!".
5. Any child (including mine) that says "Can I have something to eat?" minutes after I have fed them roast dinner and artic roll.
6. The lady who signs the afternoon programmes on CBeebies.
7. Mums in the playground who says their child is advanced or academically gifted.
8. When The Husband moves things that I have put in a specific place for a reason.
9. Any homework about Florence Nightingale/2D and 3D shapes/Telling The Time. Or when the kids are reading and guess the word by saying something random which is nothing like the word written.
10. All the crap I have to carry to & from school but most of all bloody packed lunches which come back as a squashy mess.

Back To Life, Back To Reality

Ah so the summer of love is over and everything returns to normal. The kids are back to school. The Husband is back to running the country. And I am back to tearing my hair out.
Actually I haven't been totally honest with you about the summer holidays. It really wasn't all peachy. For example, a friend and I counted the amount of times our collective five children cried for no reason between the hours of 7am - 1pm and the answer was sixteen. We gave up counting after it got well into double figures. It was like a crying orchestra.
Anyway it's back to life, back to reality as the new school year starts. I am already paranoid in the playground. My new philosophy is trying to be non-bitchy but it's really hard especially when one of the mums said to me "Do you really allow your daughter to dress like that?". Everyone is commenting on how I seem to be turning into an Earth Mother but I'm insisting that it's just that I've let myself go since getting the dog. Gucci sandals, beads and flowery maxi dresses don't really go with walking through fields and washing off fox poo. I have been wearing the same pairs of shorts since last Tuesday but I am most definitely not baking cupcakes and making paper dolls.
I realised life was returning back to normal yesterday when everybody was getting on my nerves. Don't tell The Husband but The Dog was even doing my head in - she likes to chew shoes and up til now it's been quite funny because she always chooses The Husband's trainers. But yesterday she ripped a piece out of my Ugg boots and now it's not so funny anymore.
The Husband made some comment about it always being about me. Which it is but I didn't think I was that obvious. And I certainly don't want him thinking that. I want him to feel GUILTY AS HELL that he goes to work and has adult conversations and free time on the train while I'm stuck at home trying to stop World War Three from kicking off over Who Has The Most Jelly Tots In Their Packet.
The Tomboy since going back to school has started crying over absolutely bloody everything. Which is probably in the Top Three Things Of What Gets On My Nerves The Most to the point where she can have half her arm hanging off and I am way past caring. I explained to her about The Boy Who Cried Wolf and she said "Well what about The Mummy Who Didn't Have A Heart". Mmmmm maybe she's got a point.
The Tweenager has become a hardcore hip hop rapstar since going into Year 3 and, what the hell, I'm just gonna go with it. He might end up selling a multi-platinum album and having him being super-rude to me is a small price to pay for the riches which are heading for my bank account.
So you'll be happy to hear that my blog is on its way to returning back to normal. I must have been possessed over the summer by the Spirit Of An Almost Happy Mother who has been well and truly exorcised by the regular routine of Smith family life. Welcome back!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Blog Is Back In Town

It's the end of the summer holidays and I am back. For a whole month I was computer-less which actually wasn't such a bad thing because it forced me to give my full attention to the children. And you know what, I never ever thought I would say this, but I am a little sad that the holiday is over. But don't tell anyone, I don't want my reputation being ruined. I don't want people to think for a minute that I actually enjoy hanging out with the kids.
So speaking of the kids, I'll give you a quick update.
The Tweenager has decided that he is a "gangster". Which in his seven year old world means wearing his underpants above his jeans and being as rude as possible to his mum. He has also become Mr Insecure again (and no, he doesn't read my blog so he has no reason to be insecure). I am finally beginning to understand that he is never going to be a 'fly by the seat of his pants' kinda guy. The summer holidays freaked him out purely because he couldn't handle having no plan and no structure. And in addition it was so overwhelming for him that we could spend the whole day at Disneyland, eating sweets, swimming and doing all the things he loves but he would still ask the question "What are we doing next and at what time?". The Tweenager has also hit a red book milestone by using the F-word for the first time. Which just happened to be when we were in Lidl with my parents and he said "When the fuck are we getting out of here?". Uncanny, really, because it was exactly what I was thinking.
The Tomboy continues to wish she was a boy and has actually been lovely this holiday. Because her mother (ie me) has finally accepted her for what she is. And it's a situation which is making her very happy. I am allowing her to go out dressed in a West Ham football kit carrying a toy gun and telling everyone she is called Sam. I didn't plan to have a daughter who wishes she was a boy but neither did Angelina Jolie, and if it's okay for the Jolie-Pitts then it's okay for the Smiths. And The Tomboy likes me at the moment for giving her the freedom to be who she is so I'm feeling a bit puffed up that I'm winning one parenting battle.
The Toddler is starting to talk and order me around and because he is my baby I am letting him. Quite often he has crisps for breakfast and chocolate biscuits for lunch.
And The Dog. The Dog is my new obsession. I was getting really freaked out by my seemingly small life but The Dog has changed all that. I've been pretty happy this holiday in the great outdoors with kids and dogs and English weather.
God I sound like I've been in therapy.
Well maybe I have.
Maybe what I've been needing all along is a good dose of my children to consider I can still have fun. And a good dose of anti-depressants to make me believe it.