30 March 2011

Dirty Messy Scoundrels

If ever there were a great big muddy bog or a huge grungy puddle you could guarantee my kids would be in it, up to their eyeballs. They love mess and dirt and grime more than almost anything.

When my son eats he squeezes his food between his fingers and watches it bulge out the sides of his chubby fist. When my daughter eats yoghurt, she will deliberately trace the spoon around the outside of her mouth to make her brother laugh and then continue to eat leaving mess all over her face. If I ever give them an open container of liquid, a drink for example, they will find something to mix into it, sweet corn, bread crumbs, ketchup maybe. When they play with chalk on the balcony, instead of drawing with it they grind it, add water (if none is available they use spit, ick) and they paint the floor. When I pick up my daughter from school my kids are usually the only ones up to their elbows in earth feeling around in the ground hog holes that litter the grass. I do stop them, I am scared they will get bitten, but they are slippery customers (not the groundhogs) and before I have time to catch my breath they are back in the earth.

On the day we moved into our home my daughter was 3.5 years old. We shut our cat away in one of the bedrooms to keep her out of harms way while the furniture was being moved in. My daughter decided she wanted to go in and keep the cat company, she is a sweet gentle girl and was pretty responsible for her age so we didn’t think anything of it. She was playing very nicely and was ever so quiet, demanding nothing of us and letting us see to our then 1 year old, frighteningly active, boy and the small matter of moving. When I finally went to check how she was doing I couldn’t quite believe my eyes, she had got the (thankfully new) cat litter and mixed it in with the cat’s drinking water till it formed a paste and then smeared it all over (ALL over) a chest of drawers that had just been moved into that room. She did a pretty good job, she was thorough. Cat litter paste is very hard to wash off, it is so slimy and if it dries you are done for.

It has been raining a lot in Southern California recently. At the weekend we went for a hike in Malibu with some friends. After having to remove our shoes to wade over what had been a meandering stream and was now a rushing torrent of water we were able to begin the hike. The kids enjoyed being carried over the water by the adults so much they just wanted to keep doing it. Once we had dragged them away and put our wet feet back in our socks and shoes we were ready to start. The hike started beautifully, it was overcast with a sea breeze, perfect, the climb was gentle, just right, and there were hundreds of roly-polies (those woodlice that curl up in balls). To a group of 3, 4, 5 and 6 year old children the roly-polies were very significant. I had to eventually make my daughter put her fist full of bugs down as she was walking too slowly and we were lagging behind everyone. As we ascended the hill and took in the beautiful views of Santa Monica Bay the terrain started to get more and more muddy. By the time we had gone inland a little way and the climb became steeper it was beginning to get pretty slippery. On the first sharp bend all Hell broke loose. Now, we would have been OK if the group of 5 young kids had paid any attention to our advice on how to avoid the mud, ‘stay on the edge, walk on the grass” etc. but it was mud and they are kids. On that bend 2 of the kids lost a shoe (one of them my daughter, she was DELIGHTED) and one of them fell face first into it and had to be helped up, somehow her mum ended up with much more mud on her than her daughter did…weird. Skip to a few short minutes later and the TICKS were discovered, yes you read me right, TICKS. I had never seen or knowingly been in the presence of ticks before. There is something about them that just makes my skin absolutely crawl. Actually it’s not just one thing, the way they crawl, the way they look, oh yeah and that part where they bury their heads in your flesh, suck your blood and give you some random disease.  My daughter’s best friend had about 20 on the seat of her pants, about 20 more were found at diferent times during the rest of the hike on various people. They didn’t come near me, thank God, I would have not reacted in a positive or dignified manner. I walked slap bang in the middle of the path the rest of the way down and adopted what I like to think was a snowboarder’s stance (goofy I imagine) and slid. Anyone who knows me can easily imagine my reaction to ticks. By the time we had finished we all had mud up to at least our knees and went to get some very well-deserved fish tacos.

I should have known when we arrived at the playground this afternoon and I saw the big hole that had been dug in the sand box and filled with water, exactly what would happen. I should have taken a picture of just my two kids dancing bare foot in the sandy mud, it would have been a perfect photo. By the time we arrived at the playground this afternoon my son already had his second pair of pants on after having experimentally poured his bottle of water on himself in the car, it makes red turn darker you know. He also had dribbles of frozen yogurt all down the front of his t-shirt to which I was not giving a second thought. Like a moth to a flame he immediately went to play in the wet sandy hole, it was actually one of the most pleasant afternoons in the park I have had, because he didn’t go anywhere and I didn’t lose sight of him at all, in fact he was as happy as a pig in….,.. and so was I. He did eventually go a little too far, as they always do, with sandy water soaked well through his underpants and I had to wrap him in my clean cardigan and take them both home for a good scrub. I don’t own a washing machine much to my dismay, which makes all this slightly less fun and a heck of a lot more complicated.

Beautiful grubby happy children.

29 March 2011

Girl-boys and Boy-girls

My daughter says if a man has long hair he is a girl-boy. I told her it’s probably best not to call him that. She says there are boy-girls too, girls with short hair. It seems fairly typical to me for a 5 year old to have such traditional views. I try to explain that people don’t have to follow those stereotypes.  My daughter also says that “Gourdita” means “ladybug” in Spanish and that she is 10 feet tall…

My daughter would really rather her brother was a girl. She loves nothing better than to dress him up in her fanciest clothes, she either adds an “a” to the end of his name or sometimes he is Snow White. When he is dressed as a girl she is so much nicer to him and gives him so much love and attention and he in return speaks in a higher pitched voice than usual (if that’s possible) and is much better behaved.

He always gets tired of dressing in girl’s clothes after about 30 minutes and then desperately wants to get his “boy clothes” back on. Last night he slept in my daughters Sponge Bob pajamas (really not terribly feminine) but then barreled into our room this morning in a frenzy desperately wanting to change into his boy pajamas. I think my poor boy is afraid if he stays dressed as a girl for too long he will turn into one.

28 March 2011

3 Year Check Up

Today I took my son for his 3 year check up at a new pediatrician. We are on a quest to contain our lives to only about 5 square miles to reduce our petrol consumption and increase my sanity. The new office is really close to my daughter’s school and right in the area we want to move to soon, also there’s free parking instead of the $6-$9 I had to pay to park at the previous doctors’ office or face trawling the streets searching for a meter.

The waiting room was a little small but very bright and airy with some nice toys, unfortunately it stank of poo, hopefully this was just left over from a recent situation rather than the way it smells all the time.  One thing I might have changed was the paint handprints all over the walls, I get what they are going for, but they used large adult hands, so instead of “cute” what I got from it was more  “CSI”.

We had to wait about 45 minutes to be seen which wasn’t a great first impression.  The nurse introduced herself, “Nurse Jackie”, this really tickled me, she was very nice and didn’t seem high at all so that was good. After my son had seen and charmed the doctor he had to have 3 shots. Oh my God my poor baby, he was trembling and shaking afterwards, sobbing so hard I could hardly hold it together.

He had recovered after about 10 minutes; my daughter was with us as she was having a sick day and was looking after him and sharing with him and trying everything she could think of to cheer him up. I have to take him back in a couple of months for 2 more shots, ugh, I shall dread it.

Party Time

Like many busy families, we don’t get to see a lot of each other during the week. Well… I see plenty of the kids but there’s little to no time spent as a family unit of 4. Our weekends are  extremely precious to us, when the children don’t get to spend enough time with their dad they act out, my son will give him the cold shoulder and not let him anywhere near him and my daughter will find other ways to test him such as being more than usually demanding. I miss his companionship and start to feel depressed if we don’t get to hang out together.

Although my daughter enjoys the Saturday parties she is regularly invited to, when they are clustered together one weekend after another it gets frustrating for the rest of us. Today was the fourth weekend in a row we had an “outside the family” Saturday commitment and I came very close to bailing on the party altogether. In the end I felt too guilty to the family whose invitation we had accepted and to my daughter. So we came up with the plan of driving up together and my husband taking my son out for lunch for quality boy time while us girls partied. It worked pretty well, my daughter’s friends were very pleased to see her and it was a cool party. She got to drive a motorized go-cart, float around in a paddleboat and play in this sort of human version of a hamster run.

In the future I think I need to schedule weekends on the calendar where we are spending time as a family so I am ready when my daughter asks me instead of being blindsided and saying yes to every single party. It’s getting expensive too with all those presents.

06 March 2011

Combining her favorite things...

Look what I found in my daughter's backpack this evening as I was getting it ready for tomorrow. See how it perfectly reflects her favorite things... the toilet, sign up sheets and clubs. It's good to know plenty of her friends were also enthusiastic enough about toilets that they signed up too. N.B. the evolution of her spelling of "club", it now has a "c". Why do things like THIS just make me think about how very much I love her?

04 March 2011

Join The Club

My daughter is in kindergarten. Apparently the cool thing to do now is to create and join as many clubs as possible.

Almost every evening when I clear out my daughters backpack to prepare for the next day I find a new sign up sheet or a new heart shaped piece of paper representing my daughter’s membership to a newly formed organization. My favorites are the sign up sheets where my child or another has tried to draw a nice neat chart and all her friends have signed their names in their own adorable handwriting. Sometimes there are even a couple of teachers signed up.

My daughter has co-created the “BFF Klob”, joined the “Hearts Klob”, the “Girls Klob”, which I insisted should not be allowed to exclude boys who wanted to join, and was a member of a short-lived “klob” called the “Sneak Gurls” which was disbanded because the other kids didn’t like being spied on which was the group’s M.O.

The backpack is getting fuller and fuller as I am careful not to remove any of the  sign up sheets or membership cards incase she vitally needs to have them that day. I know too well what sticklers kids this age are for rules!

Little Friendships

My son is a little over three years old.  At this age his older sister had just started to care about seeing her friends and would actually talk to them briefly when she saw them. As I remember she would talk about a friend constantly at home and when I would finally arrange to get together with her friend and her friend’s mother, the two girls would completely ignore each other and play independently.

My son isn’t quite at that stage yet. He will very occasionally mention his friends and sometimes the teachers at his little school but mainly his whole world revolves around me, his dad, his sister and his cat. That’s not to say he’s not sociable. Take him to any playground and he’s a social butterfly. His favorite playmates are older girls in the 10 to 16 age range. He likes to chat them up and once he has them in the palm of his hand gets them to cuddle him and carry him around the playground, while I hang around like a bad smell in the background trying not to appear like I want them to do my work. When I say something to the girls they are always very happy to be playing with him. He also likes to play with the older boys, at least a few years older, he will follow them around and try to engage them and they are much more resistant to his charms but he usually wins in the end. He is very persistent, which can be quite a challenge as his mother.

Today my son has just been invited for the first time to a friend’s birthday party. He has been to birthday parties before but always his sister’s friends. The invite comes from a little boy in his class who is the exact child I would want my son to be friends with. This little boy is sweet and cheerful and an all-round nice guy. My son once named him as the only boy in his class who isn’t mean. I’m not sure that’s accurate for the record, there are some very sweet children in his class, but three year olds do have tempers, including my own. Unfortunately it’s scheduled for the one Saturday in the last 6 years that I am planning on spending a moms only day with a couple of friends to celebrate a birthday, and I am fully committed. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to work something out with my other half.

This morning as we ran into school, a school he spends only 4 hours a week at, he couldn’t wait to scream hello at his teachers and two of his friends but when they tried to engage him further he completely ignored them.  I guess hello is all he’s ready for at the moment. I explained to his favorite teacher, who he had just blanked completely, that he had been talking to me about him this morning and looking forward to seeing him, which is true. I guess in a way I’m pleased he isn’t as much of a people pleaser as I am, but there’s no need to be rude.