m i a o w

–YOU KNOW YOU KNEAD IT–

Tag: Parenting (Page 2 of 14)

Mission – failed

Saturday morning I became obsessed with going to Balnarring. M was unable to come with me as he was committed to go and pick up a $50 pram I’d bought on eBay, that was in… Pakenham. It had a toddler seat – which I have belatedly realised is imperative.

For so many years I have inwardly sneered at enormous looking children being pushed around in, er, enormous looking prams… but the first time I went around the block with Smalls D&Z in the late afternoon (*mistake*) sleep deprived Small Z made it three quarters of the way, and then became unbearable and floppy and had to ride the rest of the way semi-draped over my beloved Emmaljunga

Have I mentioned that parenting is a process of becoming more and more humble as karmic payback for being judgemental? Now I crave to have the option to push around my enormous child, just so she won’t be melting down on the footpath. And I’ll cheerfully ignore all those non-sleep deprived childfree people who may appear to be inwardly cringing…like I used to do. Ignorance is bliss. But I digress…

I got obsessed with going to Balnarring as the butcher there has excellent free-range meat and I have recently heard that Lilydale ‘free range’ chicken, that I’ve been buying at the supermarket, is really barely free-range at all. So I bundled both Smalls into the car and headed out. I took the Hug-a-Bub sling to transport Small D. And no pram. MISTAKE.

Once the car stopped when we got to the car park, Small D began to scream. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have very little ability to cope with crying babies (not other peoples so much, but definitely my own). And particularly in cars where it’s impossible to comfort them. So I had to calm her down, while placating Small Z with a game on the iPhone, and then I had to do the origami that is putting on the sling because I hadn’t thought to bring the pram.

To cut a long story short, it was a nightmare. I couldn’t get Small Z to go with me where I needed to go. I got more and more stressed out as Small D wouldn’t settle. Then Small Z spied the library truck and had to go in. In fact, that gave me a chance to sit down and reconfigure myself. And after that, we crossed back to the car park and I told Small Z she had to hold it together – that we weren’t going to do all the things we had planned because I couldn’t cope, hadn’t brought a pram and I very much needed to go home.

To her credit, Small Z listened to me, and although she didn’t like it, she got in the car. I promised her that M would take her out later that day. I started driving home. Small D began screaming about halfway home. Honestly. There is not a more disturbing sound to me than a newborn screaming and not being able to do anything. Small Z whimpered when I snapped at her. At one stage we were all crying. By the time we got home I was a complete wreck. Small D was out of sorts for the rest of the day. Now I have car fear. Again.

After the hideous outing, we were lucky to have Mung come for dinner and stay the night – a fleeting visit, but appreciated for an injection of adult conversation and a window into the outside world. Small Z was quite thrilled to find that someone other than her nana had stayed in the caravan over night. She and M took Mung to the station before 9am the next morning, which was icing on the cake for the train obsessed!

Welcome...

Bon Voyage. Gah.

Today my mother, who has been coming every Wednesday morning and staying over in the caravan that night – donating at least a day and a half to helping me with the two little ones, made her exit. Not for good! But still… she’s heading off on a trip that includes a 12 day cruise on something that looks less like a ship than a floating metropolis.

I am aghast. Wednesdays and half of Thursdays are my islands – not of sanity exactly, but some respite from feeling almost constantly torn between Small Z, Small DB and my almost constant desire to decamp to a tropical island nap. Anyway, now I’m back in the real world – although I do have far more flexibility with M being around than a lot of people whose partners work fulltime. Thing is, every hour he is not at that boat, the longer the BOAT as a HUGE HULKING ENTITY, weighs down upon us.

So yeah. Next Thursday morning, when Small Z pops up out of bed for the day, I won’t be able to tell her to trot out to the caravan where her Nana will read her inumerable books before breakfast. Because that Nana will be swanning around some buffet in the middle of some far distant sea. For almost a MONTH. Poor Small Z has already asked on several occasions when she will be back, and I had to show her the picture of the ship to remind her.

This is all bringing into my mind what is going to happen when I go back to work. The LAST thing I want to do is drag M away from the boat, but I don’t want to lumber the help (i.e. my mother) with TWO children. That’s a bit much. I remember all too clearly how hard things were when I went back to working two days a week from home when Small Z was three months. It nearly killed me – I had thought it would be such a breeze. FAIL. Anyway, I need to stop arseing around and decide what it is I’m going to do – Family Day Care? Three year old kinder? Neither? My head hurts… Hurry home mum!

And so on…

This morning, against all my better judgement, I walked with Small Z (on foot) and Small DB to the park, where playgroup was being held. I say against my better judgement because it was already a very hot day, it took us 40 minutes to get out of the house, and Small DB would not settle in the pram. I had been up every two hours the night before. By the time we got to the end of the street I’d had it. But Small Z wailed and begged, “But I want to go to playgroup. I WANT to go to playgroup…”

I am so often hearing (from someone who will remain nameless) that Small Z does not socialise enough, and is not socially evolved for her age, so to hear her *begging* to go to playgroup made me not want to deny her the opportunity. “Daisy always makes us stay in the house,” she said reproachfully. And then reverted to “But I want to go to playgroup. I WANT to go to playgroup…” ad nauseum until I wanted to shake her.

So Small DB wouldn’t settle and I had to put her in the sling on the side of the road while she yelled. And then we continued, sweating, at toddler pace, all the way to the park…

Once there, the lady that runs the playgroup stood near us and asked me, in full hearing of Small Z, if I thought she would like an icy-pole. Gah.
“Fine,” I said ungratefully over the top of Small Z’s head even as she began piping, “An icicle? I WANT an ICICLE!”
“Only if they’re not RED,” I snarled. And then watched Small Z inhale her first ever lemonade icy-pole. It took under four minutes.

Of course, there was no socialising for Small Z, because she’s not interested in any of the kids at playgroup, none of whom are her age. And there was no socialising for me, because I was focusing on keeping Small DB asleep after transferring her back into the pram. The playgroup socialising has become far more established since I last attended regularly and having a tiny baby that I have to concentrate on, as well as Small Z, makes it hard to participate in any lengthy conversation. There is a woman who lives around the corner from us who is lovely – what I SHOULD do is just ask her to come around with her kids one morning… I just haven’t yet got the gumption.

Anyway, by the time I had found somewhere shady and fed Small DB, everyone seemed to have evaporated. Then Small Z climbed to the top of a pole and couldn’t get down, and I had to request a grandmother who was nearby to get her down so as to avoid stopping mid-feed. After another 20 minutes it was getting hellishly hot and I realised that I’d really been stupid to come out at that time of day. Small Z looked like a little beet under her hat…

She threw a MAJOR tantrum as we I tried to start walking home because I wouldn’t go back with her to get some more flower petals from off the ground. Grrrr. By that time I had turned into one of those mother’s that I used to look at and think, “What a COW. What did she even HAVE children for if she doesn’t even LIKE them?” I was answering Small Z in monosyllables. She screamed all the way past the library. I am usually uncaring about public tantrums, but I was so hot and miserable, that when three people walked past and cooed in distress over the small screaming beetroot that was dragging itself along 15 paces behind me, I gave them a death stare that made one of them visibly stumble…

Small Z then realised we had passed the library – where I had said we would go after play-bloody-group and redoubled her efforts. I finally made her agree to be QUIET and NOT MENTION THE FLOWER PETALS AGAIN on the proviso that we would go into the library for TEN MINUTES. Small DB had, thankfully, finally gone to sleep in the pram. In the library we found a book on the sale table that Small Z fell in love with – I had exactly a dollar twenty in my possession – which enabled us to buy it, and for me to photocopy her immunisation records – as I had become suddenly feverishly keen to get her started in child care as soon as humanly possible and they required copies.

The walk home was long, hot, but untroubled. I won’t be doing it again in a hurry. Fuck the socialising. She can talk up a storm, and that will have to do for now. When we got home, I remembered something I had read – when you can’t cope anymore, put them in the bath! – so I did. She stayed in there for half an hour, cooling off, while I sat and began typing this entry with one hand, rocking the pram with the other. The girl from next door came in and we both shared a companionable rant, after which I felt even more improved…

Until my doctor called me and said that my blood tests from Monday showed that my Vitamin D is again low and my iron is borderline. I SO did not need to hear it. Some days are TOO. FUCKING. HARD. And this was one of them. I’m glad it’s over. Gah.

Childcare and the drug of a nation

The childcare thing is just not working out for me. The Montessori experiment did not suceed due to a combination of Small Z and the distance involved in getting there. They also expected her to be ready for four short days or two full days once she turned three (i.e. now) and it is blindingly obvious to me that it would not have gone well…

And the childcare place around the corner? Small Z started there a month and half ago, twice a week, a few hours each time. I built her up to four hours, probably too quickly, and had to go back to leaving her for about an hour and a half. As well as staying there for ten to 15 minutes when I first dropped her off. In retrospect, she enjoyed it when it was new and interesting to her, but this quickly waned.

I picked her up after lunch on one of the days that she stayed the longest, and she was doing a painting at an easel. About four of the other kids were engaged in some creative activity. And the other 15 or so were WATCHING TELEVISION. Maybe I’m a bit naive, but I thought that was odd. Do all childcare centres have televisions? Am I weird to think that it’s weird?

“It’s so funny,” said one of the carers, as she saw me looking at the TV. “I just could not make Small Z look away from the TV. She was totally fixated! I actually had to stand in front of her, block it from her sight, and ask if she wanted to do a painting. And she did!”

“Well…” I said, feeling like a hippy, and wondering why I felt like apologising for what I was about to say, “We don’t have a television at home. So Small Z has never really sat down in front of one before. She watches a few things on YouTube and iView but… How much TV do they watch here?”

She looked at me like I was a bizarre relic. “Um, not more than half an hour – just while we’re cleaning the lunch things away and mopping the floor. How do you feel about that?”

“I suppose that if that’s the way you do things, and Small Z is coming here, then it’s not too much drama. But I’d be happier if you could get her doing something else, like painting, instead. If it’s possible.”

If Small Z had been happy there, the TV thing would not have been a big issue. I was prepared to live with it – particularly as I hoped to drop her there early and pick her up immediately after her lunch. However. Each time I took her she would cry or nearly cry and say, “But I don’t want to go, but I don’t WANT TO GO.” And I had to wheedle her there, thinking that she would like it once she was inside and involved in some activitiy.

But she didn’t so much like it as tolerate it. It began making me feel revolting as I would conspire with the carers to convince her she was going to have a great time. I sat down with her on a few occasions and asked her what she didn’t like about it. “The shopping,” she stated, somewhat obliquely, “And Daisy.” It took me a little while to realise that whenever I left I either said I had to go shopping or go home and feed Daisy.

When my mum asked her if she had a friend at childcare, she said “Nikki.” My mother thought that was lovely. Until I told her that Nikki was one of the carers. D’oh.

Last week I left her there again. Again under duress. As I walked up toward the building 90 minutes later to pick her up I heard her outside out the back crying, “Where’s my mama?” It broke my heart. She is sad there. She is bored there. I am going to figure out some other way to get my work done. Because to me, it’s just not worth the battles with her and I don’t feel comfortable leaving her somewhere that she’s not happy being.

An alternative I’d been keen on was family daycare. A woman in our local area had been recommended to us by three different people. I called her and M, the Smalls and I went over to meet her. We walked in the front door. Looked to our right. And saw four small children slumped on the couch in front of a huge plasma screen. M and I sneaked a look at each other.

In my opinion, kids under two should not watch any TV. And those who are in the first few years over two should watch maybe half an hour or so. There’s a bit of information about this here. A couple of the kids there were definitely under two. Anyway. We were there, and had to go through the whole charade. I was still interested in knowing how it all worked – maybe if it was all great, then I could just deal with the TV thing, or pick up Small Z early.

But there was just something about the house that didn’t sit well with me. Regardless of the television thing – there was no ZING to the place. Despite there being little kids there every day, and the woman having littlies herself, there was minimal evidence of much FUN. The playroom had lots of neatly stacked plastic toys. Small Z went for a toy turtle, until the woman handed her a doll, took her over to the dollhouse, and explained that she could ‘sit the dolly on the couch in front of the TV’. M and I choked in silence.

In the conversation that followed, I asked about how much television the kids would ordinarily watch and was told that they were allowed to pick out one of the DVDs there and watch for an hour while she had her lunch and cleaned up. (This seems to be a theme.) On the other hand, Small Z appeared to like it there, and she liked the woman who ran it. However, it seemed to me that the business side of things (i.e. the income) outweighed the fun side of things.

Both different sets of parents I know that send their kids to this particular family daycare have lovely kids, and are happy with the service. Obviously I am feeling a bit like a latte sipping television nazi, but I can’t understand why these people feel the need to use TV as a babysitting tool. Isn’t that their job?

If this woman had had some mobiles hanging from the ceiling, some paintings hung up to dry and had told me the kids would watch Play School every afternoon while she had a cup of tea, I would have had no issue with it. But she and I just inhabit different planets. It would never have occurred to her that I might object to Small Z sitting in front of the TV for an hour. Because for her, it’s not an issue.

So when I called her and said that I couldn’t take the place that she had offered Small Z and she asked why, I said that it didn’t fit in with the time that my mum could come and look after Small DB. I didn’t want to raise the issue with her, because what would be the point?

And yet again I’m envious of our lovely friends up on the North Coast of NSW, where (despite being very watery at present, and hotter than I like) there seems to be a few more options for kids who have parents with similar ideas to me. More freaks in one place. I think I’d find it comforting.

Yesterday Small Z and I were in the supermarket carpark; from there we could see all the hats of all the kids that go to childcare (she called it ‘three group’).

“So,” I said, conversationally, “Do you want to go back to threegroup?”

“Yeah!” she said.

“You do?”

“Yeah! I want to go back to threegroup. And get my hat. And then go again.”

“No worries. I think that’s what we’ll do.”

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Television, The Drug of the Nation – Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

Page 2 of 14

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