The truth is out there

Driving home yesterday, my boys had a discussion about their next game. I wasn’t particularly impressed when they decided on the ‘liar’ game. I was even less impressed when I discover that this game pretty much involved reciting the ‘Liar, liar, pants of fire’ rhyme repeatedly, but using an assortment of different voices. Oh, and also replacing the word ‘pants’ with a selection of other items. Daddy nearly had a minor coronary when the game first started and we hear a little voice shout ‘Car’s on fire!’ By the end of the game, we were less concerned about the car’s imaginary combustion and more about how to get this catchphrase out of our heads.

It’s possible they were just voicing their opinion to us about lies. Eldest boy regularly tells me, “You must always tell the truth because otherwise you are lying.” – he’s not wrong! With the exception of the Father Christmas scenario, I like to think we are reasonable when it comes to being truthful. However, all my children seem to make me out to be the biggest liar imaginable. I tell people that youngest son has reached a new milestone but of course he won’t show them. I tell people that middle son doesn’t like chicken then he munches on a chicken nugget happily. And I tell people that eldest son has a habit of wriggling too much, which prompts him to sit beautifully in their company.

Getting dressed

It’s interesting at which point children make the link between the weather and which clothes to wear. Middle son considers items like coats only necessary if you happen to like the colour and putting gloves on only essential if you see someone else wearing them (or if you are running late – probably because they’re fiddly). As for a hat, well this is something you wear only if you know you are going to see someone who you wish to show your hat to. Eldest son is sensible enough to ask about the weather prior to dressing. So this morning he comes to see me and asks what the forecast is for the day. I look. Its a bizarre one I tell him. There’s a bit of rain, a bit of sun, some strong winds and even some hail. He then informs me that hail comes from a thunder cloud and is frozen rain – just in case I wasn’t aware. Next he wanders back to his room to make a clothing selection, only to reappear 5 second later, “Mummy, should I wear shorts or trousers?”. You can appreciate why on this icy winter morning, following the worst storm in 7 years, this is a tricky decision to make.

Getting dressed in our household can take up to an hour at the weekend when the boys are left to their own devices and Mummy and Daddy are attempting a micro lie in. On weekdays, more of a system is required. Today that system entered failure within the first minute, when middle boy woke youngest boy up. Some days baby assists in the ‘dressing ‘proceedings by kicking his foot into a leg hole. Today was not one of those days. He opted instead to try and master his rolling over, as Mummy was trying to dress him, only stopping to reach for a toy – just as it was time to insert his arm into his sleeve. With Mummy occupied, middle boy needed to up his game, having less assistance available than usual. I complimented him on the appropriateness of his clothing selection for the day. He’d chosen socks, pants, T shirt and trousers – on some days he just chooses 5 of his favourite pairs of pants. I then asked him to try to get them all on by himself. This brought back visions of the first time eldest boy dressed himself and was parading round in a hat, pull up nappy and boots on the ‘wrong’ feet. Nevertheless, he seemed happy enough to go and try.

Soon afterwards, I hear “Stop wriggling about. I can’t do the buttons up.” It is clear the boys have decided to dress each other (obviously the best course of action). When they appeared in front of me and I was pleasantly surprised. I looked for commonly made errors, including: socks inside out, jumper on backwards and missing pants under trousers. All were present and correct. Now I just need to work on training eldest boy to pull his collar out, without giving the appearance that he’s just been mugged for a packet of Haribo. He also needs to learn to tuck his shirt into his trousers but that too could take a while, so for now I’ll celebrate the teamwork and successes of this morning: two (out of three) boys, wearing suitable winter clothes, with minimum Mummy input.

Fixing things

In our household items always seem to get broken. Frequently. This is probably true of most households with excitable children, but was certainly a shock to the system for the husband – who as a child always took a more delicate approach to play. Or maybe children’s toys just aren’t as hard wearing as they were in the 1980s.

Of course, it’s always the ‘favourite’ ones that get damaged. Hookfang the dragon has got broken more often than a 2 year old keeping a promise. Luckily for us, the majority of his assorted dragon parts are possible to reattach. It’s understandable how these things happen. Anyone familiar with the ‘How to train your dragon’ films will know that the good guys don’t win over the evil dragons by asking nicely. In fact, there’s always at least one battle scene. And just like in the films, the dragons sustain injuries. My boys never seem worried though. Their first response is usually “Daddy can fix it.” Poor Daddy has a rather large backlog of items awaiting ‘fixing’ in his garage.

It’s got to the point now where Daddy doesn’t even have the opportunity to be informed of the breakage before emergency toy surgery is expected. He’ll come home from work, walk through the door and be asked instantly if something is fixed. His bemused face only serves to motivate the boys further in their quest to mend the toy concerned, and will thrust aforementioned article towards him then wait approximately 4 seconds to see its magical revival. Both of my elder boys are fully aware that Mummy doesn’t do technical jobs so once Daddy has entered the building so many new opportunities present themselves: superglue sticking, rotating screwdrivers to dismantle the items, competitions to identify how things are connected together and battery hunts. This might seem painfully dull to many but to curiosity filled infants, they are fascinating. As if the excitement of studying how a toy is put together wasn’t captivating enough, there’s then the additional excitement of having it back again (in an improved state of repair).

My children have also decided that batteries are amazing, magical items, associated with Daddy’s fixing ability. He is expected to have spares in every possible variety. The issue is that Daddy has fixed things so many times in the past by replacing their batteries, that they are now eldest’s boy ‘go to’ when something breaks. So when Noddy’s head fell off the remote control car, he suggested that the batteries got changed; when the lightbulb blew a fuse, he suggested that the batteries got changed; and when Mummy washed the garage door fob, he told me not to worry because the batteries could be changed. I’m pretty sure the house could fall down and my children would begin a battery search to save the day.

The thing is, my boys genuinely believe there’s nothing Daddy can’t fix. Middle son’s look of delight when the wheels on his scooter began to turn again (thanks to a replaced bearing) was wonderful. Even items that I know are irreparable are given to Daddy and then promptly forgotten about, so this illusion is not shattered. That made it all the more soul destroying when last week, my eldest was beside himself after the demise of his water bottle. He refused to accept that it couldn’t be saved, assuming Daddy had the ability to make cracked plastic water tight again, had Mummy not wickedly thrown it in the bin. Yesterday, a lollipop shaped pen was also mourned when I cruelly failed to retrieve the pen tip from inside its casing (where it has been forcefully thrust, during an energetic drawing masterpiece by middle son). In time I’m sure they will discover that some broken objects stay broken. They are currently insistent on using the china bowls and plates for their meals because they are old enough and ‘very careful’ with them. So it’s possible that the nasty truth about breakages may reveal itself in the near future with the aid of a dustpan and brush.

Communication methods

Middle son is more than capable of using words to tell me something. However, in addition to English he is also fluent in a second language. I’m yet to establish a name for it, but it basically involves obstructing Mummy in some way. This morning he strolled into my room. I asked him “How was your night?” and he responded by lying down on the floor in front of me.

This occurs frequently. Similar happened as we were coming through the front door yesterday. I requested that he took his shoes off and he promptly lay across the top step, demonstrating some kind of ‘planking’ move. He will vary it slightly depending what he wants to say. Sometimes there will be a leg in the air: other times he’ll position his arm at a peculiar angle – rivalling something from a zombie movie.

Of course there’s more to it than simply lying in front of me. For really urgent matters, he will elect to try and lie on me (preferably my feet). If I’m moving at the time, he decides the best course of action is to intercept my projected walking path. If I happen to be pushing littlest son in the pram when an vital matter occurs, then a rather complex manoeuvre is required. He stands on the wheel itself, allowing an abrupt stop to our journey and ensuring he has my full attention. It is at this point that he is able to share that important information with the whole family, that information he was so concerned we might miss if he’d just mentioned it casually in conversation. For those reading also keen to find out the message on this occasion: there was a grass on shoe.

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Find your brave

I was reading an email from my child’s school, which used the expression ‘Find your brave’ to support positive mental health in children. It’s a fantastic idea – one that can also apply to mummies and daddies (or in this case me).

When my eldest was small, I found it really hard to admit that I had difficult days. As time went on, I shared more. And I realised that ‘those days’ happen to everyone. So next time we have a pushchair puncture, mini meltdown and poo accident all at the same time on the way home, I’m going to try and laugh about it.

NB: If you happen to live locally and see me crying on a pavement, surrounded by three children and the faint aroma of manure, please remind me I said that.

I’m also going to be brave and share the link to this blog on my Facebook. It’s still very much in its infancy, so if you’re expecting any useful parenting advice, you’re in the wrong place.

Why start a Mummy blog?

This morning, on the school run I had a moment, a moment of panic and vulnerability. My boys were behaving like the world was ending and I was paranoid about what all the other parents thought of me. It wasn’t the first time.

So why am I writing this? Purely because I feel like there is one or more aspects of parenting that I fail at – daily – and it’s taken me five years to establish that it’s normal. Talking about where/when/how I mess up helps me put it in perspective: it’s really not that bad. If I manage to make someone else smile along the way then that’s a bonus. I’m Natalie and I’m Mummy to three amazing boys – my lovable, little rogues (ages 5, 3 and 0). They are very active and love to be outdoors. Staying still is not an option! Some days I’ve attempted to survive 12 hours simply by entertaining them at home. Big mistake. We need to explore somewhere everyday. Even if it’s raining. Even if it’s somewhere mundane. Even if it’s not for long.

#mummyblog #firstpost #parentingboys