Oo, it’s ´orrible being in love when you’re four and a half


You know those holidays you inadvertently ruined when you were young by being lovesick and pining after said object of over the top affection and weeping when somebody said a word that began with the same initial as your obsession’s name?

Well, I thought that we were set to have a summer like that, all 13 weeks ( yes 13 weeks) of the school holidays. Only my son isn’t 14 years old, he’s 4 and a half.

A few months ago, O mentioned that him and Zara played Wendy and Peter Pan at breaktime. He said it was his favourite time of the day. A few days later we were in the car and O chirps up from the back,

“Mummy, I kissed Zara”

“Lovely! On the cheek?” I ask

“No Mummy , On the lips, for a long time. I LOVE her. I wish we get married one day”

“Me too!” pipes up F.

And so it began. The wedding planning, everybody would eat jelly and carrots, but not F. Everybody could kiss Zara, but not F. O would wear a bow tie, F could wear his princess outfit if he had to, but not to the party, only to the kissing and singing bit.

Just as we were leaving to go to Zara’s birthday party, O emerged from his bedroom covered from head to toe in pen.

“Zara LOVES boys with tattoos , Mummy.” he announces proudly. It reminded me of my nine year old self , when I learnt my first love’s phone number off by heart and upside down and then asked him to ask me my favourite number and went all whimsical while I recited his phone number .

At the party, Zara greets O with a kiss, he turns to me and beams a huge “ You see it’s real” kind of grin. Bless.

Then there were complaints. Zara´s baby brother was born and she didn’t want to play Wendy and Peter Pan anymore. “She is sooo grumpy, “ says O over dinner, breakfast and lunch.

One day he gave her flowers that he had picked on the way to school. On receiving them, she gave them straight to her Grandpa and said “Put these in the kitchen when you get home” Note to self; This shall not be my future daughter in law. FAR TOO PRACTICAL. Where’s the romance?. Second note to self; They are four years old, get a grip.

Then the summer holidays began and O swirled his Weetabix sadly around the bowl. “I miss Zara , can we go to school so I can see her?” A few weeks later we end up at Zara’s house. F waltzes in and plants a huge kiss on her lips, O goes all coy and pretends to be mysterious. They play Wendy and Peter Pan, only there are two Peter Pans and one of them is a bit overzealous (not O). We go home and nothing more is said, until a few bedtimes later when we are talking about sleepovers. “I want everyone to come “ O says and then there’s a pause.. “But not Zara”

“Why not?” I ask

“She’s got whiskers on her legs, Mummy, only boys have whiskers” he says sadly.

I shuffle nervously. “Oh yeah, I forgot” he adds “only boys and Mummys.”

I looked in two books to see if anybody says anything about the love thing, and unsurprisingly nobody really does, although they talk about masturbation being commonplace and a healthy and natural part of your young child’s life. Another thing, I thought didn’t happen until they were at least 14 ( 23) and in their bedrooms listening to Nirvana.

We bumped into Zara yesterday, O blushed and F zoomed excitedly up to her. O showed off, F danced with her. She went to kiss O goodbye. O did a forward roll , which went disastrously wrong and he kicked F really hard in the head. Zara kissed F, O refused but as soon as she was out of sight, started rambling off wedding instructions again with a few amendments. (There will be sausage rolls instead of carrots).

Last night I was tucking O in, “Goodnight O, Love you”

“Time to find your own friends Mummy!” instructs O


“It’s from Shrek ” he says sighing at my ignorance “I’m Shrek and you’re the donkey”

Of course. I go into F’s room.

“Goodnight F, Love you”

“That’s nice”, says F who doesn’t use the L word as a rule, and just as I turn to leave he says “ I really really love Zara”

Lucky for him, Shrek is snoring, blissfully unaware of the competition that awaits.



All we wanted was a sticker…


“I want Star Wars Lego, Angry Birds toys, a whizzing helicopter and then ….” O is not reciting the first draft of his Christmas List. Although Santa Claus is already watching in our house (Yes, I know it´s July, but desperate times and all that…..) We are on the way to his first ever ……..




Oh yes, today’s holiday activity is um, going to get “pinched” as O later calls it and the deal is to be super brave and then after go and choose a toy. I have failed to mention that the budget in my purse (in  my life) is about 3.79, but we can deal with that later.

So, we go into the surgery ready to be “Really really brave , braver than the bravest big boy, Mummy” . We are ushered into the room, where unfortunately all optimism is squashed by the Ice-Queen of nurses. “Hold his legs between your legs ” she barks, slapping the ribbon thingy (sorry – my medical terminology is a bit shot!) around his arm and pulling super tightly. Cue; screaming and O trying to break free. Nothing I say is calming him, I look at the nurse, who , um, goes and answers the phone. O does a runner, I run after him and manage somehow to convince him to come back to “the chair”  where things go from worse to worse. The nurse shouts at me for not holding him down properly.  I don’t want to go on the defensive, but trying to hold still a writhing, screaming, 18 kilo child is no mean feat. The next thing we know is the nurse taking her gloves off and instructing us to come back at 12 o’ clock, (it later transpires that her shift finishes at 11.59) that now it’s impossible and off she goes to call in the other patient, only she is met by lioness me. Clutching a howling but slightly relieved O, I lock eye contact with her and ask her what exactly she expected , when she did NOTHING to engage with him, to calm him or to reassure him. She looks at me with a glassy stare and says nothing. Having had no less than 3 hours sleep all week, I am quite in the mood for a staring competition, but O has other plans and has wriggled free and is heading for the door.

Once back in the car, O is screaming ” That lady tried to kill me, she wants my skin and bones”  “She wants my skin and bones!” he howls repeatedly.(I make a mental note to check episodes of Ben & Holly for murders). I reassure him that she didn’t, that she was probably having a bad day and that we need to go back later so that we can find out what’s making him “oopa”. (He has been ill with the same thing three times this year, and his doctor just wants to check he’s not deficient in something or other)

“No, Mummy, Noooo Muuuuummmmy!” Then amidst the sniffles “Oh! Can we go and get a present now?”

“No O, but after they check your blood then yes.” He is understandably not impressed and seems to think that that ordeal was in fact the actual blood test.

Fast forward a few fraught and tear-filled hours and a phone call from S, saying that he would take him at 12 , we are now outside the clinic. O is howling and saying ” Tell Daddy not to take me…” S is being uncharacteristically (in these situations) calm , instructs me to wait outside and in he goes with a hysterical child over his shoulder. I sit in the car, and cry ( i am prone to crying at the best of times , especially when children sing, ANY child, not just mine).  Couple that with being zonked and there is no hope .

As a parent, all you want is for your children to be safe at all times and to only have contact with nice, friendly people. People like you , people who will make the children the centre of their universe (cos’ they are , aren’t they?) But is this healthy? Joining in with O, saying that the Nurse was naughty and not very nice. Should I just have said that this is in fact life and not everybody claps their hands and takes photos every time they  put on their shoes or smear yoghurt on their faces. Am I doing him a huge disservice? Yes, that nurse was particularly gruesome but her and a zillion other people in the real world. Anyway, my meloncholiness was cut short by a beaming, giggling O and a rather smug looking S . “I was soo brave Mummy! I breathed in and out like I was blowing candles and look what they gave me! ” He says sticking his arm out proudly, to show off his shiny plasters. “Present now, Mummy?”

I take his photo and scrabble around in the glove compartment for money.







This morning we went to  the local Second Hand Market. Set in rolling fields and not a lift or DON’T TOUCH sign in sight, it’s my idea of shopping with children heaven. In fact , this morning´s trip was disconcertingly seamless, two absurdly well behaved boys, one in the puschchair , one on the buggy board, (possibly cheating ever so slightly) 2 euros in each of their sticky hands. Forward, one enormous plastic batman and a peppa pig puzzle later, we won’t mention F refusing to move for six minutes because a man wouldn’t lower the price of his guitar from 20 to 2 euros, no matter how many times the 2 sweaty euro coin was thrusted in his hand, we were three happy shoppers. I  also think that the sweltering, claustrophobic, comatosing heat may deserve a mention too.


Before you all start throwing used wetwipes at me for sounding (being) smug, please know this was a freak occurrence.  REWIND to last December in Manchester. We spent a fab morning at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry), it was ace. The children had the most fun ever, so why oh why en route to the train station did we decide to hit the shops?

S decides that he NEEDS to go to the sales. We haven’t done real people shops for years. We got a bit excited and starstruck by the size and sparkly lights of Selfridges, so nervously went in past the posh bags, trying to blend in with the very fashion savvy and considerably richer than us shoppers. I think we did exceptionally well,  with F screaming, a broken pram, our whopping rucksack and O the escape artist. It took us 5 minutes to find the lift, 1 minute to hoik broken pram out and 3 seconds before S threatened to start hyperventilating. Another 5 minutes later, we are in M&S which is the most whopping one I have ever seen, spread out over five glistening floors. We obediently follow S to Mens, only the boys decide the jumpers look better on the floor and there is a close shave when there isn’t a tissue in sight for their in sync runny noses, and the white silk ties look a bit too appealing.

I tell S that we will go for a wander and head towards the lift. Where F cries because O pressed the button and not him and then refuses point blank to get in the lift. I am clutching my purse, O and trying to grab F whilst five very elegant women look disdainfully at me. We admit defeat and wait for what feels like five days for the lift to return to our floor.

“Do you want sweeties?” I say desperately, “Yesssssss” they cheer triumphantly. “So, please be good…” I plead.

The lift arrives at the ground floor – Children and Food. Perfect combination?  O gets distracted by batman pyjamas and F tries to climb on the cabin bed. I remind them both about the sweets and then they decide to walk like a train .All going well until there is a clank and a wobble and two M & S staff zoom over as I turn around to see that O has crashed into a Bucks Fizz display and MIRACULOUSLY despite the clattering and people shaking their heads, bottles and child are still intact. I say a quick thank you to the God/Goddess of shattered parents and give each child a slightly oversized bag of PERCY PIG AND FRIENDS. There is a moment of peace and contentment.

We go to pay and O decides to hide under my dress. My relief at the fact that I am wearing a million dernier tights is short lived as F decides to whip them and my pants down. Brilliant, not only do the shoppers get to see my manic children, they also get a glimpse of my bottom, three times. As I try to unravel both children from underneath my dress we head for the lift once again, where there is a cry as they both open their Percy Pig bags the wrong way up and Percy’s friends fall out dutifully.


I use two dried and possibly snotty wetwipes as makeshift bags and try to ignore F banging a coathanger really loudly on the floor. O, who hasn’t napped for umpteen months, declares he has had enough and flops in the broken pram and promptly falls asleep. F thinks this is brill, steals the sweets out of O`s hands and we go to pay for S’s new socks (Yes, SOCKS), then wearily follow the Hansel and Gretel trail of Percy Pig and slightly squashed Friends home.




O is the rage. I am the machine.

A few nights ago I was unpicking some wayward spaghetti off a window, when I realised that it had in fact been a rage free day. I’m not talking about me, but O who for almost  three weeks, seemed to live under a thunder cloud of unadulterated anger.

In real life, if I had to do a “Describe your Children” quiz, I think I would end up with mostly b`s – your children are pretty regular. But if I did one, whilst the rage was visiting, it would probably say “Run, while you can.” Of course, our daily lives include meltdowns over things such as not being first to press the lift button or because they have only been allowed six biscuits, not eleven. But this was gobsmackingly, knee knockingly, reaching for wine at breakfast time different.

Writing this, I am trying to pinpoint a particular catalyst for a volcanic episode, but I seem to have erased all memories. Basically, instead of communicating normally, O’s voice was replaced by a shriek and he perfected the art of roaring. I practiced ignoring the issue and staying calm, but this proves a bit tricky to do when three tubs of Playdoh are being lobbed at your head. I tried reasoning, negotiating , signalling to the slightly barren looking reward chart.
But the wrath became commonplace and dialogue went something like this
O : “Please can I have an apple”
Me : “Yes, “
O (flailing on the floor): “I SAID AN AAAAAPPPPLE!
Me : “Yes, here you are.”
O : “ Not THAT apple!” cue storming off, slamming and kicking doors, cheek pinching little brothers,(what is  it with  cheek pinching?!”) hurling books only to emerge thirty six seconds later saying “Excuse me, Mummy do you want to play Lego with me?” seemingly oblivious to the monster that inhabited his body minutes earlier. Multiply the apple incident by seventeen per hour and treble the ridiculousness factor and that is pretty much how the living with rage weeks panned out.

There was also a particularly scary episode involving a large jagged rock on a coastal path, I was dealing with F who was hysterical because of some seaweed between his toes. O was with my friend A, who was holding his hand walking back to the beach. When I had left them 30 seconds previously, O was chattering happily about his fishing net finds. All of a sudden, all heads on the beach turn to the jagged rock where there are harrowing horror movie screams coming from O. A is holding onto O firmly, but O is screaming and shouting. Great. I scour the beach for S, who is snorkeling in the middle of the sea. I do my best foghorn impression and he flippers back to dry land. Leaving F with S,  I scrunch over the rocks to the crime scene. The reason? A won’t let O climb the jagged rock which drops directly into the sea, 10 feet below. O has turned the colour of a sunburnt crab from all the screaming and crying and A, who has dealt with it brilliantly is nursing a very pinched hand.

I am used to tantrums and meltdowns, but these episodes were different and I started to get worried. I asked him and his teacher how he was at school, apparently all good. Earlier in the year there had been an incident where he was being picked on by a group of older boys, (6 years old) but that had been dealt with. I wondered if it was due to extra family stresses but this was a different bag altogether. I would ask O what had made him angry and sometimes there were feasible reasons ( F broke my super duper Lego space rocket) and other times not so ( Today is Wednesday and I thought it was Tuesday). I asked two friends, A who suggested a hormone fuelled growth spurt and R, my go to before google, who also suggested hormones.

HORMONES?! He’s 4.5 years old! Doesn’t that come when they’re 13 and turn into Kevin the teenager, lock themselves in their LYNX smelling bedrooms, communicate by grunts and smoke signals and only enter and leave the house by ladder?

Apparently not, according to Biddulph in Raising Boys “at the age of four , for reasons nobody understands, boys receive a sudden surge of testosterone, doubling their previous levels” which would explain the PMT style moodswings, luckily “ at five years of age, the testosterone level drops by a half..” Phew!

And as I write this, I am happy to report that we are back to the normal  four and a half strops per day rather than per minute, but I need to deal with F who has been screaming for the duration of this post because I said he couldn’t have spaghetti for breakfast….