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The Redster: Six and a sixth
The Cutester: Three

At breakfast this morning, still at Nanny’s house:

The Redster (stroking dining room table): Nanny’s table is really beautiful.
Babymother: Mm.
The R: It’s so smooth. It feels like oil.
BM: Mm hmm.
R: It hasn’t got any scratches.
BM: No.
R: Or stains.
BM: Nope.
R: Or any food stuck to it.
BM: Mmm.
R: Like ours.
BM: OK, OK! I know.

Nanny’s house is immaculate. We do our best to chip away at this during our stays, setting up Mess HQ in our bedroom and gradually colonising the rest of the house by stealth. Foolishly, Nanny spent two nights away, leaving us to our own devices, and the kitchen was starting to look as smeary and cluttered as ours until hours before her return, when we panicked and tidied up.

It’s not on purpose. We’re just rubbish at housework.

Cutester: Three years old yesterday

Tri

Note big sister…

If you’re not squeamish and haven’t already read it, here’s what I was busy doing three years ago yesterday. I reckon the little person we brought home with us the next day was already very much the same as she is now – inscrutable, melodramatic, stubborn, opinionated, affectionate, funny and very very beautiful. It’s just that now, fortunately or unfortunately depending on the mood she is in, she is very good at expressing herself. She is totally different to her sister and I wouldn’t have either of them any other way.

The Redster has lovely moments of big sisterhood. She shouted up the stairs to me this morning: ‘Mummy! Mummy! I’ve only done 10 pieces of my jigsaw and the Cutester has nearly finished hers!’

‘Er, she’s very fast,’ I said.

‘AND very clever,’ said the Redster.

I couldn’t be prouder myself …I sometimes suspect that the Redster thinks she personally gave birth to the Cutester, judging by the responsibility she takes for her upbringing, but that’s another story.

Redster: Six
Cutester: Three tomorrow

Spot the angel

The Cutester is the angel which is sucking its thumb and twiddling its hair. Her sister has an arm around her and looks very solemn.

I made more of an effort for the church nativity this year, where you dress your child as its favourite nativity character, and bought them wings with real feathers (the haloes were borrowed from a friend. The Cutester refused to wear hers, in every sense). The Redster was a proper guardian angel and it’s the first year I haven’t had to go and join the ‘tableau’ to give them moral support, thank goodness – though I suspect it’s the presence of the Cutester that is reassuring her big sister rather than the other way round.

Christmas at St Bs

In other Christmas news, we did some outdoor carol singing with people from church. There was a band and mince pies. The Cutester bopped around to the music, munching away, and was reluctant to go home.

In the car she said,’ Are we going home?’
I said, ‘Yes.’
She said, ‘Did we have fun?’

I am still a bit baffled.

The Redster: Six
The Cutester: Very nearly three

I don’t usually go in for the whole Satan, er, Santa, thing – I just went soft this year.

We are staying at Nanny’s…

I've drunk the whisky

In front of the fireplace

You might need to click on the image to read it yourself, but it says: ‘To frthe fcrismars, halp yor salf and tuck in. love from Zoe and NAN and famle.’

This way

To the left of their bedroom door

Don't overshoot

To the right of their bedroom door

No mistake

On their bedroom door

We tried so hard to stay awake

The occupants

Thanks to her nursery, the Cutester thinks that Christmas is a celebration of Father Christmas and chocolate, and of course a bit of fun on the way to her birthday two days later. The Redster on the other hand has been told the Truth about Father Christmas, and delights in shattering the naive beliefs of her school friends, but clearly this has not stopped her entering into the spirit of it.

I would just like to point out that Christmas is about none of these things, and may you know peace and joy this coming year.

The Redster: Six years and two months
The Cutester: Nearly three

We are getting ready to leave for my church women’s group, on the way to which I am giving a lift to two people. As usual, we are running a little late…

Babymother: OK Cutester – time to put shoes on! Put your foot…
Cutester: NOOOO! I want to do it!
BM: OK, you do it! I’m off to the toilet.

I am mid-stream when…

Cutester: NOOO! I want to do a wee!
BM: Yes, you can do one when I’ve finished. I’ll only be a minute.

Cutester comes tearing in, having pulled her shoes off again, and stands and wails while I do the paperwork.

BM: There you are, I’ve finished, now you can do a wee!
Cutester: But I wanted to do a wee!
BM: Yes! You can do a wee! It’s all yours!
Cutester: But I wanted to do it first! *wails inconsolably*
BM: Well, sorry, but you can do it now!
C: *wails inconsolably*

Phone rings:
Friend A: Are you on your way?
BM: Er – we’re just leaving…
C: *wails inconsolably*
Friend A: Actually, I think I’ll make my own way there.

BM: Shall I help you? (attempts to put child on toilet)
Cutester: NOOOO! I want to do it! Go away!
BM: OK. I WILL LEAVE YOU TO DO A WEE. BE QUICK. OK?

I return two whole minutes later to find her standing by toilet holding toilet paper.

BM: You did it! Well done! (carries to front door and begins dressing all over again) OK, let’s pull up your trousers and put on your socks and shoes and hope that the traffic is OK and…
C: I want to do a wee!
BM: Didn’t you do a wee?
C: I want to do a wee!
BM: WHAT WERE YOU DOING ALL THAT TIME IN THE TOILET THEN?OK, here we go back to the toilet – No, you don’t need to take off your shoes and socks and trousers! No! NO NO NO!

I think there was another drama before we got out of the door but I’ve suppressed the memory. Needless to say, traffic was terrible, and by the time I got to friend B’s house there was no-one at home.

One of these days, babyfather is going to come home to find the Cutester looking baffled and my body, wearing a coat, handbag and clutching carkeys, slumped lifelessly in the hallway. I don’t fear for her safety once she has pushed me over the edge, it’s the temptation to bang my head against the wall repeatedly that I fear…

I know, it’s typical two-year-old behaviour, totally unreasonable – as Chilled Mum’s husband puts it, a toddler is like a blender you can’t find the lid for. My problem is that the Redster was totally reasonable as a toddler. So long as you explained everything to her, she would cooperate. Usually it was enough to say ‘Do you want to be helpful, or unhelpful?’ ‘Helpful,’ she’d wail, and then do as I commanded. Even at the time I suspected that she was an easy child, but boy, do I realise it now.

Unfortunately, then, I keep expecting the Cutester to be reasonable, even when her emotions are at such fever pitch that her brain is melting and oozing out of her nose. Then I totally fail to keep a lid on my own blender, and as my current favourite parenting manual puts it, we climb the ‘mountain of anger’ together and erupt at the top. (You are meant to wait calmly at the bottom of the mountain for the child to come down, when you give it a comforting hug. Yup. Right. Next time.)

So we finally arrive at the group where I take her, grouchily, to the creche. She is all smiles. I say goodbye.
‘Know what, Mummy?’
‘What?’
‘I love you.’
It’s the first time she’s ever said that unprompted. I am goo.

Parenting this toddler is like a rollercoaster that you can’t find the seatbelt for.