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Lions & Tigers & Bears

Caffeine intake today: Not enough. by the way, I know the spotty cat in the picture isn’t actually a tiger, but it’s the best we’ve got so it had to do.

Dorothy: “I don’t like this forest, it’s dark, creepy.”
Scarecrow: “Of course I don’t know, but I think it’ll get d…darker before it gets lighter”
Dorothy: “Do, do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals?”
Tin Man: “Mmm, we might”
Dorothy gasps
Scarecrow: “Th…that eat straw?”
Tin Man: “There’s some, but mostly lions and tigers and bears”
Dorothy: “Lions!”
Scarecrow: “And tigers!”
Tin Man: “And bears”
Dorothy: “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!”
All: “Lions and tigers and bears”
Dorothy: “Oh my!”
All: “Lions and tigers and bears”
Dorothy: “Oh my!”
All: “Lions and tigers and bears”
Dorothy: “Oh my!”

….You know that looming feeling that something bad is going to happen? Well as of today the summer holidays have landed in the UK. Six weeks of scrabbling around trying to entertain the little monsters, sorry, slip of the tongue, I do of course mean ‘darlings’. Dun, dun, duuuuuun! (That’s supposed to be ominous music by the way).

Yes, I know that I’m lucky to be a parent and yes, I do know there are lots of good times, but bloody hell I’m tired at the moment. I’m running out of steam whilst actually steaming in the heat, which has also turned the kids into hot, delirious, mega-charged, whining, screaming, short tempered, arm swinging, foot stamping, hysterical creatures from the deep with zilch patience and manners (I don’t suppose many creatures from the deep do have manners and patience). Consequently the dark bags under my eyes have grown so big and so heavy that they have actually taken over the length of my body and I am now a walking bluey-black, purpley, saggy sack of skin, and the thought of the summer holidays has, to be honest, has filled me with a wee bit of dread.

Being a parent is bloody hard work and I have often leafed through my self-fabricated pre-parental brochure with the pictures of the skipping families holding hands, smiling, with glowing skin, a perfect house, perfect garden, ironed clothes, well turned-out, appearing to listen to each other whilst eating organic lentils and feeding a bluebird that has landed on Mummy’s delicately posed, manicured finger. Yes, I did actually think parenting would be some perfect wholesome thing. Ha Ha! I fed myself a load of bull didn’t I, what a naive idiot I was! I did not, I repeat, did not recognise there needed to be a big, no ginormous section in the pre-parental brochure that included purple bags under eyes, tantruming children running away from their parents screaming “No mummy! Go away mummy! No!”, rows over cleaning teeth, pulling peas out of nostrils, Lego out of ears, sniffing brown stains in odd places, staring into empty bank accounts, never brushing hair again (there isn’t time), wearing inside-out clothing, having very little time for myself, very little time with my hubby and a shit-tip of a house.

The reality is much, much harder than I ever anticipated.

Some may say I’m lucky, I just say I’m gullible and now I have two little gremlins and I’m extremely tired and emotional  at the moment (to be honest, had someone given me a stern talking to about the realities and responsibilities of raising two human beings into the strange world we live in, I probably would have done it anyway – what a sucker!).

As a result of how knackered I am at the moment, I have in the last two or three weeks only been able to manage level minus 1 on the parenting scale:  TV goes on (level 10+ is family games in the homemade outdoors den, eating home grown, homemade, organic food and liking each other). Due to my slacking off it will be no surprise to you when I say that I hit a couple of parental lows last week, even lower than level -1, we’re talking level -4 or -5. So I decided I needed to find a better way than level -1 to go into the Summer holidays, otherwise unlike Dorothy we won’t be coming across a soft-hearted lion with a bow in its hair, we’ll be meeting the real thing and call me cowardly, but I don’t want to. I’m too bloody tired to cope with it.

Before we go on, I’m foolishly going to tell you about my ‘parental lows’ in the hope it will make you feel like a better human being – it’s my good deed for the day. The first low was that Ben came home from school last Friday and said “piss”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if he walked through the door, turned to me, pointed, beared fangs and screamed “piss” at me, it was more gentle than that (if a 5 year old swearing can be gentle). He and I were coming up with silly names to call his toys and he decided that “Piss” would make a good name for his truck.
I’ve come to realise one of the things I don’t like about school is other children, and I thought to myself that he had obviously picked that word up in the playground. As I thought “Piss” was debatable name for a truck I decided to address it, so I asked if he knew what it meant. He said “No Mummy” (and I chose to believe him for the sake of my heart not breaking) so I told him that “piss is a really rude word for wee, Ben, and we don’t say it ok? Now, I know you didn’t know what it  meant and that it was rude, so I’m not upset about it this time, but please don’t say it again. Ok my darling?” I said it gently but firmly (I’m getting good at that tone of voice now) “Ok Mummy” he said, and that was that.
That evening I explained to Dan what had happened with the addition of “He’s growing up Dan, and he’s around older children, we have to accept that he’s entering a new phase and he’s going to come across these more grown-up things such as swear words”. Dan agreed, and this is where low point number one comes in, Dan then replied without the slightest hint of sarcasm or micky taking, he was relaxed and honest  when he said “Yeah, you’re right. It’s like that time when you said ‘fuck’ in front of him. He was totally aware of it and had obviously heard it before”.

Balls.

Before I move on to low point number two, I would like to explain my use of foul language in front of my child’s delicate ears. I was chopping wood to make kindling (if you think that’s very romantic sounding – it’s not, I nearly kill myself every time and this time was no exception). Ben wanted to watch me so I said he could, from a distance obviously, I took a swing at the log, missed and nearly smashed my shin with the axe and then I said “Fuck!” my reactions weren’t quick enough to think to say “Shiver me timbers” on this occasion. Can I please be excused? No? Tough, I excuse myself because I nearly peg-legged myself, honestly it was like the beginning of an episode of Casualty. However, I do promise not say it in front of him again.

After Dan pointed out my foul mouthed mishap I was gutted to realise that actually my kids are picking up more bad habits from me than ‘other kids’ at school.

Parental low point number two: Edi was happily singing along with the Go Compare advert. She’s two.

Balls.

This was a shrewd wake-up call to tell me the TV has been on way, way, way too much of late.

Alarm bells went off in my mind for lots of reasons, one being how the bloomin’ ‘eck (notice I didn’t say the f-bomb, I’m trying to change my ways) am I supposed to get through the summer holidays without relying heavily on the TV and having to actually think before I speak? How do all you wise, wonderful, more seasoned parents do it? I’m tired most of the time anyway, let alone doing 6 weeks of the boy and the girl 24/7. Thoughts of ‘they’re going to get fed up of me and I’m going get fed up of them’ and ‘I don’t know that I can sustain the entertainment throughout August without either swearing or relying on the Go Compare man or the Compare the Market Meerkats’ (Edi seen so much of them she thinks there her cousins) have been rolling through my head since I hit level -5 of parenting.

So, I have decided I need to buck up for everyone’s sake get a plan. Yes, that’s right,   I’m going to plan my summer holidays with the kids and make sure that when I’m tired the TV is 130th on the list of things to do instead of being number 1, 2 and 3. I will endeavour to plan my parenting  to ensure that not one swear word falls out of my mouth when all my brainpower has gone and I can no longer reach for the necessary vocabulary, therefore defaulting to a lack of nouns and bad language.

Yes! I feel accomplished, I am a genius! Well ok, perhaps not ‘genius’ but I do have G.C.S.Es and a mildly ok degree. Shall we go with ‘I have a level of intelligence that allows me to read, and then write and talk about what I’ve read’ instead? I realise it doesn’t flow as much, but it’s more honest.

I haven’t finished my plan yet but I have started it, and I haven’t referred to my fabricated pre-parental brochure from my delusional pre-child life to do it. I have got real and decided to plan it using the best source of all – a 5 year old child. So far Ben and I have come up with a few thing to do: visit a castle, go to the beach, make a den in the garden (heading for level 10+ people!), watch ‘Finding Dory’ (it’s the cinema, not the TV so I’ve decided it’s not -1) and go to the moon (I’m thinking about how to manage that one, anyone know anyone in NASA?). We now also have an ‘activities bowl’ so when they’re bored they pull out a piece of paper with a free activity on it and we do that, such as bake cakes, go to the park, bounce on the trampoline etc. As a result the last few days have felt far more, dare I say it, wholesome. The kids are much happier than drooling in front of the box and time goes far more quickly for me –  a win-win all round!

However, as I am now aware of the realities of parenting I do realise that my plan will not completely eliminate all the lions, tigers and bears, but armed with my plan and my bowl I feel like I’m heading into the holidays with less trepidation. Having said that, if anyone can tell me where to get a pair of Dorothy’s red shoes from I’d very much appreciate it, I have a feeling I may want to magic myself away at times.

Bea x

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