Normal service resumed

So I thought since I’d been so down the last two blog posts, I’d do a quick snapshot of normal life in our house. I say this as I came in from work this evening to find E taking her medicine in a jolly mood.

“Mummy!” she greeted me. She had made biscuits at nursery and got half the mixture in her hair. She informed me that Daddy was a cheeky chops and that she was a crazy sausage.

“What am I?” I asked. There was a long pause.

“You’re Wonder Woman!” she said. That’s my girl.

She is currently snoring in bed. I have been for a run as I have decided my winter hiatus from fitness should probably end now. But boy was it cold out there tonight! I have made myself and S a evening treat of chocolate custard and pears. He is currently obsessed by chocolate custard – I have the sneaking suspicion that he opened a tin of pears for E to ignore just so we would be forced to eat them.

After I’ve finished this and prepared the bags for tomorrow, I have to decide whether to carry on with my novel writing (I really need a working title) or whether to draft a couple of stories I’m writing for my nephew and niece. I am making them both homemade dolls from a craft book my mum bought me for Christmas and I thought it would be nice to have an accompanying story. One is easy – Cinderella (though I am considering a feminist revisionist version) but the other will be original.

I also have to be aware of not doing too much prep work for my new job at home. I find easier to think about bigger picture things when I’m not in the office, which is fine because I can work from home or claim time back, but on top of 9 1/2 hours work today, I really should let go for the day. It’s a revelation, this new job, in that I have people to do things for me that are considered not worthwhile of my time – mainly lots of uploading things to different comms channels. I have an apprentice and someone on work experience from Karlsruhe around to help me and am very grateful for them. But it is a culture shock, especially as I’m also a control freak.

All in all, the short conversation with E was enough to restore my equilibrium. E points out that when I’m tired I say I’m an old lady. I have been a tired and fraught old lady but now I’m Wonder Woman again. God bless penicillin and a good night’s sleep.Wonder woman

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Parenting failures

E is still ill. She’s much better than she was, to be honest, but she’s clearly not quite back to normal. The good news is that in the week and a bit that it took to get a doctor’s appointment the urinary infection I thought she had has gone. The bad news is that it was replaced by a MONSTER cold and she is now having to drink vile yellow penicillin three times a day to clear it.

She was quite the model patient at the doctor’s – I’d no sooner told him that she was exhausted and off colour all the time than she rested her head on her hands on his desk and tried to go to sleep.

Sadly her model behaviour doesn’t translate elsewhere. The upshot of her being sleep deprived and not quite normal is that she behaves badly. We’ve noticed in the past that she behaves worse when she’s tired, and so being a bit off colour and tired is pretty wearing on us all. S took the day off work on Thursday to look after her but had to go in today to make up for it so I’ve had two days of her screaming no, hitting me, pulling my hair and generally playing up. The rest of the time she seemed well enough to go to nursery.

Actually that isn’t quite true. She’s had to be well enough because as I mentioned in my last blog post, I didn’t think I could request parental leave quite so soon in my new job. There was a moment on Tuesday when I was getting her ready for nursery that I thought I should really just stay at home and give her plenty of rest but I’m not sure it would have made much difference. It was either just my imagination or it was me projecting the kind of mother I’d like to be onto a scenario. The truth is, I’m hopeless at dealing with this. I’ve never had much patience for ill people and I have no patience when I have to endure hitting and yelling, food tipped on the floor, tantrums, pens flung around the room and all sorts.

Punishing E by putting her in the corner and telling her off hasn’t had much effect. She knows to say sorry and promptly does the whole thing again. I have been trying to deal with her bad behaviour by trying to remember that she’s tired and not well but I can’t excuse some of it so we both end up cross. And after a while I just launch into meltdown as bad as any toddler’s.

The thing of it is, if I go to her in the night I can see how her whole body tenses as she coughs and coughs. It’s a really horrible cough and it must be dreadful for her. And then I see how her body tenses in the same way as she’s screaming no at me and hitting. Of course, she doesn’t hurt me but after a while seeing her like that just upsets me and I can’t handle it any more. So we both end up crying and hugging each other for reassurance. It isn’t pretty.

There’s also a point where you wonder if perhaps she’s not too ill any more and this is just the toddler tantrums we hear about but have so far mainly missed. I really hope it isn’t. I’m feeling emotionally fragile this evening and I really don’t think I can cope with this if much longer if it continues.

The other thing is that there have been some really lovely moments with her today. Over breakfast she started to dance at the music we were playing (Fourth movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony followed by Bruce Springsteen’s Downbound Train). We had fun running down the tram bridge slope, lots of cuddles and book reading. And then she flips a switch and starts yelling no and tensing up again.

In short, I am feeling something of a parental failure this evening. I have been unable to offer my child the comfort she has needed because I’ve been trying to stop her from hitting me and the main way I have stopped her is by eventually bursting into tears and saying “stop hitting me!” like some kind of child myself.

S arrived home with a bunch of tulips, a bottle of wine and some ice cream. On his day with her I brought him back a massive cupcake. Rewarding ourselves for getting through the day is somehow even worse.

Apologies. This is the second self pitying blog post in as many weeks. I think (I hope) it will all be much better tomorrow. Despite having thought that for over a week now. I think it really will.

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On recovery

Sunday: Nursery phoned S up on Wednesday afternoon and asked him to come and pick up E who they didn’t think was well. She had even been asleep for half an hour, unheard of normally. He was on his way.

She has a cold. It’s a bad one with an especially dreadful cough. But despite being up coughing in the night on Thursday morning she asked to go to nursery and seemed to be fine. Friday she was quite poorly but slept all the way to Norfolk where we went to visit my in-laws for the weekend. She’s never ill for long, we said.

Saturday she was quite perky in the morning and flopped in the afternoon and the same today. She’s too much like her mother and isn’t good at being ill. She gets distressed at the coughing and doesn’t know how to settle herself, crying out and fidgeting until she’s in a right zombie-like state.

My problem tomorrow is that she may not throw this off to go to nursery. As I’ve only been at work for a week, my new employers don’t know yet that E is rarely ill and that any time I take is minimal. If S stays at home, he doesn’t get paid – his employers are a small business who can’t afford such things and we don’t like to mess them about either.

I should point out here that S’s employers are all incredibly nice understanding people and from the conversations I’ve had so far, everyone at my work seems very nice too. We’re not talking whip cracking here. But it’s just an inconvenience. Illness is. And it especially is for people without useful family members close by for babysitting sick children.

It also makes for an exhausting weekend. E is understandably very clingy when ill and she wants to be held or carried a lot, especially by her mum. In a household of talkative people who have two dogs and a loud TV, a clingy child tested my patience in ways I don’t like. It’s not her fault and I am much better at nursing her than anyone else on earth but I spent all weekend looking after her, reading the same two books over and over again, cuddling her, wiping her nose and administering Calpol. If I hadn’t begged S to be there for two hours this morning so I could get some writing done my mind may have imploded.

Yet if we’d stayed at home, cabin fever may well have set in and I’d have had to do the cooking. As much as I have enjoyed my first week at work, I do feel like I need some kind of ‘try desperately to get some kind of stuff in order’ time soo, I may go mad. Or madder than I currently sound.

Apologies. It’s late and I shall go to bed instead of wittering on here. Goodnight.

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All change

A break from blogging last week while I attempted to get a few things in order. In short, I left my job and had a busy last week nipping up to Newcastle to train people, nipping across to Birmingham for goodbyes, and getting a massive piece of work finished before clearing my desk.

I’ve been through redundancy again – the second time in 18 months – and have managed to coincide my leaving with finding a new job. Had the redundancy process not come up I would have happily stayed where I was, but actually thinking about it now, it’s nice to have a new start and is about the right time. And I get a nice payment, a new challenge and a pay rise so all in all, luck has decided to smile on us.

I start tomorrow. There has been a mere weekend between jobs, not ideal but dealable with. I seem to spent much of the time trying to clean the house and make sure it’s in order. Its ridiculous really, as I won’t be working any longer hours at the new place, but it seemed important to clean windows, change the bedclothes and who knows what. And now I sit, while bread and casserole cook, having done the ironing, emptied the bins, cleaned my boots and prepared bags for tomorrow.

It doesn’t take Dr Freud, actually. I do this because I don’t like meeting new people, and feeling out of place for a while – where’s the kitchen, where’s the toilets, do I get a locker, will I get a door pass the first day – and so on. So I’m trying to feel in control somewhere. This has the added benefit of getting my boots cleaned, the beds changed and the windows cleaned so perhaps I should feel uncomfortable on a regular basis for the sake of the housework.


Thanks to a TED talk posted on Facebook last week (thanks Bea) I shall be doing a Wonder Woman pose before I get there (possibly on the tram) and that’ll sort my confidence out. This time in a fortnight I’ll be fine.

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A Gruffalo stance*

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler book benchVisitors to Nottingham’s Central Library may have spotted the Gruffalo and his friends in the window recently. I took E in there last week so that she could see the Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler bookbench which is pride of place.

If you haven’t heard of the bookbenches before, they were scattered around London last summer as part of the National Literacy Trust’s reading trail – there were 50 benches, all representing different London-based authors, and they attracted a lot of attention before being auctioned off to raise money for the charity. I passed the library the other day and saw the Donaldson one in there and immediately made plans to take E to see it. Julia Donaldson is her favourite author.

Now, Julia Donaldson doesn’t need any publicity from me. This isn’t a sales pitch, merely a grateful thanks from a parent who wants to teach her child to love books. I was vaguely aware of her books as a non-parent, but now I can quote several by heart. And I love them as much as E does.

I think I’ve mentioned before E’s love for her toy witch – bought for her alongside a copy of Room on the Broom, as well as a toy dragon from the same book. We also have the Room on the Broom app and, now it’s no longer on i player, I’ll have to get the DVD. E can quote it by heart. Many a car journey we spend talking through what happens – “what does the dog find?” “Who finds the bow?” and so on.

We own nearly all of the Donaldson/ Scheffler books – I love the illustrations. Tabby McTat’s illustrations show such a realistic and diverse, thriving city, and in all of them I like the beetles with smiley faces. The Snail and the Whale often makes me cry – as well as having a nice message about mankind’s effect on nature and a plucky female heroine! I also like trying to spot the Gruffalo in the illustrations for other books. He’s in most, except the Smartest Giant in Town and A Squash and a Squeeze.

But other Donaldsons are coming through – there are so many of them – and with so many brilliant illustrators. For younger children the Nick Sharratt ones are good – really bright colours and simple stories. E likes Goat goes to Playgroup and Hippo Has a Hat. We were also recommended The Paper Dolls with illustrations by Rebecca Cobb, which in turn has led us onto reading her books (Aunt Amelia is great).

Essentially, I find you can pick up any of her books and find something to immediately engage a child. So she becomes a default option, standard and reliable, as well as also providing something for the adults reading her. There are additional benefits. E has taken a huge interest in S’s ancient Observer guide to Freshwater Fish and as such, can point to a picture of a sturgeon and name it. This is due to reading Tiddler. (I’m not sure if I’m proud or slightly unnerved by this ability…)

The book bench remains at Nottingham Central Library for another couple of weeks and then is going on tour around some the city’s libraries! You can tweet @readingnottm for more information.

*I’ve been teaching E some Neneh Cherry lyrics but she misheard.

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Goodbye January!

This last month, E has enjoyed:

  • the Julia Donaldson seat in the library (see tomorrow’s blog post)
  • Animal Soup by Ian Whybrow
  • Being in the big children’s room at nursery
  • Snow!
  • Sleeping Bunnies, a YouTube video from And So To Bed TV
  • Riding tractors and feeding meerkats at White Post Farm

This past month I have enjoyed:

We have not enjoyed:

  • E being ill, or rather, E behaving badly because she feels unwell but doesn’t tell us
  • Me being perpetually exhausted, despite a week off work at the beginning of the month
  • the cold weather (despite a warm coat)

Welcome to February! You have the potential to be exciting.

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Happy birthday? Pay up!

The news sites this week have been all agog at the story of a mother who invoiced a 5-year old for not showing up to her son’s birthday party. Apparently his parents had found they’d double booked him with grandparents and had to cancel. They also didn’t know the party mother very well (though most people put a mobile number on invites these days don’t they?) so it appears they didn’t let her know they weren’t going. Obviously, she thought the best thing to do was to stick an invoice for the £15.95 no show fee into his school bag and threaten to take his parents to court.

As someone who considers the expectations some parents put on themselves when it comes to birthday parties these days to be insanity of the highest order, I say:


It’s all about outdoing each other – the parents I mean. Showing off like that, they’re worse than the children after too much cake.

I reckon this year may be the last one I can get away with inviting E’s grandparents to tea for her birthday. After that we may have to do a party with her peers. I have no idea how to handle groups of children. Party games? Eugh.

We had a spate of going to a gym when I was about 10 (I think). We all threw ourselves across equipment we hated at school – the only time I’ve done a handspring off a gym horse before or since. Otherwise I think parties were all at each others houses.

So… if I stick to 4 of E’s friends and give them a class in icing cupcakes followed by a DVD and some food will that be ok? (It can’t be more than 4, we’ll have trouble fitting more in the kitchen.) Or if it’s a nice day we can just have a picnic in the park and they can go on the swings and run about and stuff. Do we need organised fun?

My best friend has just moved, with her husband and little girl (a year younger than E), from New Zealand to England. She can help me with craft activities! Now all I need to do is persuade them to move to Nottinghamshire…

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