Sunday 29 May 2011

Children or dogs which are the worst?

Which are worse children or dogs? I guess it is a toss up as to which will embarrass you most when you go out visiting.
You know you get the invite and you really want to go but you can't get a babysitter so your lovely new acquaintances whom you really like and would like to know better, say: "Do please bring the children, they can sleep in the spare room."
Sleep, my eye, the horrid little toads cause absolute mayhem, run screaming up and down the corridors, jump on the beds and land up sitting on your lap at the dining room table with everyone saying: "No, really don't worry, no bother at all!" But you know they don't mean or else going they say things like: "Aren't they cute!" which you know will only make the horrors worse. You leave said dinner party early with tail between legs and hope of ever returning totally dashed.
But it is worse when you land up taking your dogs, much worse when one of your dogs is an evil black job called Sassy with a penchant for stealing, running off and ignoring you when there are other more exciting things to do. Normally she doesn't do all three, this time she did and she is grounded forever!
Friends of ours (at least I hope they are still friends) bought a new house not far away from us, it is stunning with flint-faced facade, double aspect drawing room, library, billiard room, stunning gardens, just a perfect family home and like all new homeowners my friends were keen to show off . Me, being as nosey as I am, couldn't wait to assist with this excellent plan BUT the dogs had to come to due to builders at home.
Delighted said friend who didn't know my dogs as well as she might.
So off we all went, I had some doubts but boys and husband pooh-poohed me. What can go wrong?
Well, a lot.
Everything was fine to begin with and I got lulled into a false sense of security. The dogs ran about outside, they couldn't get out of the garden everything was fine and dandy, until someone left the back door into the kitchen open...
She got in, at first all she did was run about the house trying to find me. "No problem," said unsuspecting friend. Not so much of a problem then when a few moments later said friends' daughter came screaming and sobbing that my dog had nicked her rabbit teddy and run away with it. I shot off in hot pursuit and found a slightly damp rabbit ted just outside the kitchen, on picking it up I heard a clatter in the kitchen, my blood ran cold. "Oh god no not lunch!" Flinging open the door I was just able to see the dog nimbly leaping off the sideboard and dashing into the garden, or what I took for the garden.
There was definitely something missing, but on the whole not too much damage. Nothing broken. I rectified what little mess there was and took the rabbit ted back to it's grateful owner. I am afraid I said nothing about what had happened in the kitchen.
Lunch was being served when it was thought best that we shoudl take the dogs back to the car. But horrors! The wickedest whippet was not there and could not be found. We got the remainder of the pack, two whippets and a Jack Russell back in the car and I set about trying to find Sassy.
I looked everywhere, high and low. Husband hassled me saying lunch was being served and that I needed to sit down for it. I said I had to find the dog. I called and called. No dog.
I apologised to friends and said carry on with lunch not noting the strong looks, I dashed outside again and started to look elsewhere round the property. Over by the stables, over by the cottage, over by the paddock. Then I saw the style. I went over, then I saw the woods and the sign. No entry. And I knew she was there where she shouldn't be. I called and called. Nothing.
I screwed up my courage and went into the forbidden wood calling all the while. I was calling for ages. Then I spotted her sniffing about a pile of logs. Relief. I shouted at her to get back here. But the bloody dog ignored me. I called again. Deliberate ignoring. I know she heard me because she looked up and wagged her tail but she stayed exactly where she was. I started to approach her, but she trotted off. I stopped. She stopped. I called again. She lay down and rolled. I stepped forward. She started up. It was useless
Husband caught up with me.
"For God's sake lunch is nearly over!"
"But I have got to catch her!" I wailed.
"Fat chance." he said
"She ate the lunch."
"She stole the cold roast chicken..."
I groaned This day could not get worse...
But it did while we were talking she had disappeared again, then our friends turned up.
"Oh my god she can't be in there our neighbours will go ballistic! They've got pheasant pens in that wood!"
My heart sank.
We started to hunt her down. I could hear the sound of traffic nearby. No, she couldn't go towards that she hates cars. I heard the sound of an angry horn.
"Oh God get the car I think she's on the road!"
I ran toward the road then spotted her on th side as cool as you please sniffing something quite disgusting.
I calmly walked towards her. She sloped off up the road. I followed behind calling out to her encouragingly: "Come here Sassy!". We did this for 20 minutes getting further and further away from my friends' house.
I frantically waved at cars to slow down. A smart sports car drove by and sweetly slowed forcing the traffic behind it to slow as well. Sassy was getting further from me. The sports car drew up beside her. They opened the doors and she just jumped in. The car drove off leaving me dumbfounded on the side of the road. They'd stolen my dog!
I lost sight of them so turned back running pell mell I had to call the police. What seemed like hours later I saw my friends' house and dashed up the drive. "The dog's been stolen!" I hollered running inside and grabbing the phone to dial 999.
"The dog is fine and in the car."
I looked blankly.
"That was your husband who picked her up."
I looked at my friend sheepishly.
"Thank you," I said
"No problem." she smiled sweetly
But I know she didn't mean it...

Friday 27 May 2011

Bringing up boys - Where did my little boy go?

The Boy and best friend, Tattie Whippet
Where did my little boy go the one who was a cheeky little monkey, who loved finding things out, who ran with abandon, who giggled and laughed, who made up jokes and told stories, who had lots of friends?
He certainly wasn’t about this morning or indeed last night. And although I glimpse him from time to time it seems as though he is getting more and more lost and I don’t think I am helping him all that much. The thing is I don’t know how.
This morning he was a screaming, wailing foul mouthed termagant thrashing about in the car telling me he hated himself, hated me, and hated his brother. Saying how he wished he had never been born. And all because we had said that we were taking away his privileges because he wasn’t working. He isn’t even trying to try. He was giving up.
I know a lot of it is to do with the fact he is learning to try but to just throw down your homework because I suggested he use a ruler to draw lines and then refuse to do it was a little much.
I get this a lot with his homework and indeed anything we ask him to do. It is almost as if he uses his epilepsy as an excuse to not do anything that he doesn’t want to. It is such a battle to get him to do anything at all from putting his dirty clothes in the basket in his room, to brushing his teeth. I sometimes feel that he actually likes being a martyr, that he enjoys feeling miserable.
And through all that fog of anger and frustration I cannot reach him. I don’t know what to do.  I need to be able to do something fast but what?
He has no self-esteem, and he constantly measures himself up to his friends and comes away feeling bad because he’s not as good. I try to explain but he doesn’t listen or cannot comprehend what I am trying to say.
I feel cack handed, awkward and stupid and while I try to sort him out I neglect his younger brother. God I wish parenting wasn’t so complicated. It’s not much to ask to find your little boy is it?

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Epilepsy - The art of concentration

Just when I thought we’d got everything sorted about The Boy’s Absence Seizures (one of many forms of Epilepsy) another problem leaps to the fore, the fact that he doesn’t know the art of concentration.
Sounds terribly silly doesn’t it. But imagine if you will having to do a timed maths test or a tricky piano piece for an exam. No problem, difficult but with a bit of concentration you can do it. Now get someone talking to you asking you incessant questions every now and then and you fall to pieces because you cannot concentrate properly.
Imagine if that was your whole life, if you knew nothing else. Just as you are about to grasp the nub of something you lose the plot, you miss the punch line, you cannot concentrate. With Absence seizures your brain stops for a few moments every now and then. You vague out, you are not there, some people may think you are day dreaming but as far as you are concerned no time at all has passed. Life is a broken record jumping about for no explicable reason. It must be very confusing. You have to try really hard just to get along. Now here’s a thing you cannot even try to concentrate because you actually need to concentrate in order to try.
So it’s no use me saying to The Boy: “TRY!” when he doesn’t know how.
So how do you explain the concept of concentration, of trying, to a child who has never been able to concentrate? It has me flummoxed. But I cannot tell you how often you need to try in the course of a day especially when you are an eight year old boy.
His reading is behind as is his writing, maths, all forms of sport everything because of being unable to concentrate and unable to try. Now he’s able to concentrate thanks to the drugs (ethosuximide) he’s on as he no longer has the absence seizures, but he doesn’t know how to apply it. He doesn’t know what to do. Most people learn pretty young that if you concentrate and keep trying you can do things and it comes easily for him it’s like he has spent a whole lifetime of disappointment and has given up.
His teachers forget or else don’t know that this is a problem and get cross with him or else write him off as not sporty, not musical, not arty, not academic. They say he has an attitude, a bad one and gives up too easily. I am saying give him a chance, support him, keep going with it because he’s going to get better and better and quicker and quicker but he needs them to be as enthusiastic and supportive as they would to a child three years younger. It’s a tall order I know, it’s not something that’s on the curriculum and it won’t be easy. It’s something I have to remember too.
Concentration is something we take for granted, we don’t remember learning it, so think therefore that it is easy to learn but as I am finding out it is an art…

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Bringing up boys – more battles at bedtime...

I never knew there were so many excuses at bedtime. Excuses whose sole purpose is to delay the inevitable. And try as I might to circumnavigate all possible outlets I always end up with a battle at bedtime.
Tonight has been no exception. The Boy persuaded me against my better judgement that really there ought to be two bedtime stories one for him and one for his younger brother
“You know it’s only fair Mum because Bog Boy’s stories are so short so if we have two we get a proper read…”
Stories went on for an extra five minutes despite the fact that “Mum you’re reading them too fast! Start again…”
The stories were duly read at a slower pace then, just as I came to the final paragraph, The Boy remembered
“But Mum we haven’t brushed our teeth!”
So that entailed a further five minutes rampage up and down the corridors.
I began to twitch.
Both boys scampered into bed after a quick roar from me to get a move on…
Then there were the cuddles and kisses and huggies before Bog Boy started and exclaimed
“Build a bear! Where’s my build a bear?”
Ten minutes of hunting high and low located Build-a-Bear (Oscar, Mum his name is OSCAR!!!!). Ten minutes of hunting high and low located OSCAR exactly where Bog Boy had left him, under his duvet.
I glared at my boys daring them to utter one more word as I finally got them into bed. Then the glorious relief that comes with a job done, the end of a day; small boys all quiet and tucked up and safe until the morning which seems a terribly wonderful lolling way off. I cool glass of something a sit down brain allowed to go zonk. Heaven on earth.
I can hear breathing. Slightly snuffling breathing. I try not to look. If I keep watching the TV the breather will go. But he doesn’t and my littlest one says:
“Mum! Mum I need a huggie!”
“But I’ve just done that off to be with you now. Back to bed!”
“But Mum what if I have a bad dream?”
“What do you mean?”
“What if I have a bad dream because you haven’t given me a huggie?”
“But I did!”
“But I need a huggie and if you don’t give me one I WILL have a bad dream.”
The thought of him having a bad dream and waking me at 1 am is too much to bear and he little toad gets what he wants.
I tuck him back up in bed
“Mum,” he says
“What now!”
“Can I have a dog tonight? Can I have Tigger?”
Grasping at anything that will keep him in bed and keep him there all night I agree with a caveat: “You can have a dog if the door is shut and you have to stay there all night, no bad dreams!”
“Oh I won’t have any bad dreams with Tigger, 'cos he will give me huggies all night….”
I don’t think I will ever win the battle at bedtime….

Friday 20 May 2011

How do you know when your marriage is in trouble?

Is mine in trouble? Well it’s been difficult over the past couple of years some might say it’s been difficult from the start. I mean within a year we were being counselled, slept apart and I expected to leave him before our first Wedding Anniversary. I even turned down the opportunity to have a pair of emerald earrings made to match my engagement ring as I felt it would not be right to accept such a gift if I was going to call the whole thing off.
But 12 years down the line we are still married, still together and still sleeping apart. It’s easy to see why people think sleeping apart is a precursor or even an indicator of a marriage in trouble. It’s not normal. Most people sleep together because either there are not enough rooms for them to sleep apart, they don’t like being cold or being on their own, or they come from that generation where you married young to have sex as it was positively frowned upon if you had it outside marriage, or they may actually believe there is only one proper place for sex: the bedroom.
Now strange as it may seem but I believe bedrooms are primarily there for sleeping and I prefer to sleep on my own. I mean I do actually get to sleep and as any parent with young children will appreciate sleep can be a rare commodity especially getting enough of it.
We sleep apart so that we can sleep. He snores (and boy does he snore) and I am an insomniac. He has to get up early to go to work and I used to have to get up at night to feed the baby. So sleeping apart is not only practical but has actually prevented me doing any harm to my husband or vice versa.
Is that a marriage in turmoil? Probably not though I will admit it does mean that one has to think about sex more in order to get it and it is surprisingly easy to stay in bed rather than pad down cold corridors in the hope that your partner is still awake when one could just roll over or else have a quick grope in ever hopeful expectation.
However, couple sleeping apart with discord and maybe there might be a more pressing argument for a marriage in trouble.
Every marriage goes through ups and downs and arguments and cross words there are going to be a plenty. Ours are loud and frequent. In fact we have them so much, usually when we are both tired and stressed, that I don’t think we realise that we play them out in public. But it is not about the frequency, nor the loudness that is cause for concern; it depends on what they are about.
For me the argument is the same as the one that took us to counselling in the first place. My husband has a very strong paternal streak that is very dominant and that is what I have been fighting for years.
As I frequently say I don’t need another father I have a perfectly good one already. But the husband just doesn’t seem to get it and I try to work my way around it probably acting more and more childishly every day.
I am sure there was a time when patriarchal behaviour was something to be admired when the little woman didn’t know how to handle the more important matters of life such as finance, sport and reading the newspaper at the table. But that really isn’t the case nowadays. I don’t need, and nor do I want, to be told what to do or how to do it. I am quite capable of learning from my own mistakes, I prefer them, to be honest, than the ones forced on me.
Now is this an indicator of a marriage in trouble? I think we are getting somewhere.
Let’s throw in a few more indicators in to the pot. A stressful and all-consuming job, divergent interests, too little time alone with each other, difficult in-laws…
I’d say there were alarm bells ringing. This marriage could be in trouble.
Is it all over?
Well, I am not about to give up after 12 years, so that’s saying something isn’t it?

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Lead lined stomachs and too much pride...

I am lying in bed feeling exceedingly sorry for myself. I have very bad gut rot and it's all my own fault because I pride myself on my lead-line stomach. And every one knows that pride comes before a fall.
My stomach is legendary, it's eaten all kinds of weird things from octopus (not recommended) to dry roasted giant ants (surprisingly sweet and no the legs don't get between your teeth) and nary a bit of trouble has it ever given me.
But today I am brought low not by the highly suspect rice salad,which has been sitting in the larder rather than the fridge because I could not fit it in, but from a slightly dried out piece of ham, which I ate for breakfast.
It looked a tad green but not overly so a bit discoloured but waste not want not in these times of austerity. Maybe it was the comment from the girls at a lunch party yesterday about how well they thought I'd have done during the war years with my scrimping, saving and salvaging - it went to my head and all other thoughts especially those of self preservation went out the door.
Anyway about lunchtime everything started to come back so to speak, and by supper time well I wa seriously uncomfortable and in truth really rather unwell. dear Charlie returned to find his wife moanin in the upstairs bathroom. One look and he hightailed it down again occasionally when the bulky got to him hollering up to see if I was still alive.
Eventually I moved into my room wher I write now from my new toy and apple iPad 2. Dear Charlie is convinced the stomach ache is a sham somi can play Wight e new toy, but I say no. However much I want to play ther is no way I would risk my stomach's reputation of being lead lined!

Monday 16 May 2011

Bringing up boys - Mind your Ps & Qs

Do you find yourself repeating everything several times, not just at a meal time but at every mealtime in fact every mealtime of every day and then giving up because quite clearly you are being ignored? Do you get really, really, cross about it? I do. Especially about minding your Ps and Qs.
I get cross about the fact that I have to tell my boys every single day the same things several times but they just don’t seem to hear me. I feel like one of those talking toys doomed to repeat a select set of random messages depending on how the string is pulled. Instead of “Reach for the Sky!”(aka Woody in Toy Story) I am likely to be heard repeating the following phrases:
  • Say Please?
  • What do you say?
  • What is the magic word?
  • If you want people to do anything for you have to say what?
  • I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that. Was it a word beginning with P?
  • Don’t forget to say Thank you!
When we are out and about, usually at friends or worse in public, I feel like a demented Barbie Doll as I have to say these phrases with a rictus grin across my face, before giving up and apologising saying things like: “I am so sorry he’s not normally like this!” or else shrugging and saying: “I’m so sorry, he’s a bit tired.”
At home it’s a different kettle of fish. At home I can say these phrases as menacingly as I like not that it makes any difference of course as I have to repeat myself all over again the following day.
Well this morning I had had enough. I decided to change tack.
Me: What boys do you think would happen if no one said please or thank you?
Dumb silence from my boys.
Me, encouragingly: Well you might feel a bit sad wouldn’t you? You might get a bit cross.
The Boys sit as still as statues clearly wondering where Mother’s discombobulations will take them.
Me: What do you think happens when people get cross?
The Boy: They start to shout.
Me, trying not to think that he’s thinking about me: Yes they do shout. Is it nice when people shout?
They shake their heads.
Me: What do you think would happen if everyone was cross with each other apart from the shouting…
The Boy, tentatively: They might fight...
Me: Yes they might they might hurt each other and be cruel to each other. It doesn’t sound nice does it?
Bog Boy’s eyes start to goggle…
Bog Boy, incredulously: There might be a war!
Not quite the direction I had wanted to go in but I think he got the gist of the lesson. If you don’t mind your Ps and Qs there might be a war.
PS: I’d like to report that they now say please and thank you like little angels but they still prefer to pull strings!

Go on you know you want to...


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