THREE (hours in A&E)

Photo on 26-09-14 at 18.27

We seem to have unwittingly adopted a birthday tradition in our house. It doesn’t involve flowers or balloons but snot, loads of. Last year, O spent his birthday on the sofa, a funny shade of beige, hotter than a heatwave. The morning after he asked me why we hadn’t celebrated his birthday, as he had no recollection of presents etc.

Not to be outdone,  last night, on the eve of his third birthday, F woke up coughing like a seal with a piece of cardboard stuck in its throat. Not a good sound. When our children are ill, S gets in a panic and I become uncharacteristically practical and a bit matrony (in a non Carry-on film way). But last night’s cough was a newcomer in the world of coughs. So, while S was panicking, instead of telling him to calm down, I was putting on my shoes and balancing a barking toddler on my thigh.

We got to the hospital and all systems were go. He was so tired, that he was sleeping while they checked and prodded him. Turns out he has laryngitis, they gave him cortisone, which was promptly spewed all over me. (Was quite proud of my choice to wear a white top, they matched). And then an oxygen mask was popped on him and that´s when he woke up properly and started to flail, scream  and hit. It took two nurses and me to rugby tackle him into a “comfortable” position and half an hour later, he fell properly asleep with gotham city style smoke billowing from his mask.

At 5am this morning O woke up , overly excited about F’s birthday. F , who was in a bit of a post party slumber didn’t wake up until lo and behold 6:55am. His waking words were ” Where’s my blue chocolate cake?” and he thought the tale about going to hospital was hilarious and made up.

Today’s  birthday treat was not going to school, which also caused a bit of a stir due to an accidental lost in translation moment. I phoned to explain that F had laryngitis and wouldn’t be going today, only to be called 6 hours later by a slightly perplexed and frantic Headmistress ringing to confirm that F had meningitis and that they would have to quarantine the children.

Despite the snot, tears and an overzealous “I LOVE birthdays, especially YOURS F!” big brother trying to open his presents, it’s been a fun ever so slightly quiet day. I´m considering changing their birthdays next year to fool the germs, but in the meantime, I shall just wish my most deliciously loveable rogue, an extra happy third year of being absolutely stark raving bonkers.

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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s off to school we go.

Aside from an alarm failing to go off, we made it to school awake, dressed and mostly happy ( the news F couldn’t wear his cape, which is actually a double bed sheet didn’t go down very well). The BIG day we have been waiting for excitedly, nervously, desperately and in denial-ly has been and nearly gone.

IMG_2036 There were only tears when O couldn’t see me as I had momentarily lost F in the hoards of parents, only to find him sitting down on the floor talking to a recently decapitated caterpillar, and it was a bit emotional seeing O’s sleep creased face looking a bit too serious, but we survived, phew! “What, you didn’t cry?!” shouts everybody who knows me. I know, I know, I was on the brink. But yesterday I had an EPIPHANY! Amongst the nerves, the melancholy that the summer was over, I realised that going to school means that bedtime will be at NORMAL o ‘ clock, NOT half past completely RIDICULOUS o’ clock! A fact that fills my slightly heavy “Where have my little boys gone?” heart with jumping joy. It turns out that days of beach, lego, umpteen viewings of Frozen, eating your bodyweight in ice-cream , destroying the house, painting yourself from top to toe with felt tip doth not tired boys make. Quite the contrary, it fills them with extra energy which burns slowly throughout the day slowly getting greater and greater until, just after 7.30pm (the bedtime of yesteryear) they turn into the duracell bunnies and nothing suppresses the great ripple of energy. Nothing, not talking in a ridiculously calm (slightly psychotic) voice, closing all the shutters (” Mummy, we can still see the sun, why are you making the house dark?”), warm milk, reading stories where all the characters are going to bed, putting on their pyjamas or going to bed myself. One night I managed to get them to bed by 7.30pm, it was paradise. I was ecstatic, until they woke at 1:45, 2:37, 3:15, 4:52 and 5:45 am where I admitted defeat and we started the day. “Oooo, it’s a bit dark outside isn’t it!” exclaimed O “Yes” giggled F shouting “Wake up lazybones day!” at the tired sky. In fact bedtime turned into such a ridiculous part of the day that on a few occasions I had to throw it all to the wind and just join them. One night all dressed for bed and nowhere to go ( I showed them the way to their bedrooms, they just laughed) We piled them into the car and we did a bit of rock climbing, made all the more exciting by potential wild boar sightings, but luckily they waited for us to leave. ( I was not too excited by the prospect of scooping up two boys and running down a hill in my flip flops from a herd of hungry boars). They fell asleep in the car on the way home – result! IMG_2054 Another night , I took them out on their skates and scooter, only for them to come back and F had a meltdown about circular bread and triangular fish fingers. So, instead of two ready for bed boys, the next hour was spent negotiating with an angry toddler who was only calmed by watching Frozen from start to finish, twice. IMG_2056 Bedtime had become BADtime. Obviously being the holidays, I wasn’t expecting bedtime to be early but closer to the witching hour than In the Night Garden was a bit much night after night. Today at lunchtime ( school day – 9-12:30,  3:00 – 4:30pm ) O started wailing , “I’m too tired Mummy, I don’t need school. I didn’t go for a hundred years, why today?” I try to distract him by making a cake , Once he has licked the bowl inside and out, he smiles, satisfied. “I’ll go and put my pyjamas on, when the cake’s ready we’ll eat it and then it will be bedtime , ok? ” He says hopefully. It looks like recruiting for my Bring Back Bedtime Campaign is going to be a piece of cake.     ShareWithMePicM

Second time around

Our first day at School is still a week and a bit away. “Oh, for O?” I hear you say. No, O (4) is going into year one and F (2) will start Reception class.  “F?!” you yell “But he’s only 2!” Yes I know, but here (Spain) they start the year they turn three (Jan-December). Which is too young for my liking, but despite trying, there’s not a lot I can do about it. School doesn’t start until 15th September and we have had THREE months of holidays. Which have been manic and brill, but there have also been a large smattering of fractious moments, where a bit of  routine other than lunchtime would be handy. And as much as I have scraped the bottom of the barrel of `fun` things to do with not really very fun Mummy, I’m not Mr Maker,

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or Bear Grylls,

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or Mary Berry,

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so they are quite looking forward to imminent schooldom.

Yesterday I took F to meet his new teacher, all the way there he was babbling excitedly and all was going deceptively well. Until we got to the school gate. He slowed down, and  started to walk backwards a la moonwalk and there was a wail. “But this is O’s school, not mine ” he yelps trying to peg it.  “But now you’re a big boy, and you get to go to big boy school” I say in my best over the top tour guide voice. He’s not buying it. “I’m 2, that’s not big” he reasons. “But you’re nearly 3 and you’re going to have a party!” I remind him. “No. Today I’m 2. Not a big boy” he retorts, basking in his cleverness.

This goes on for a while, and finally a squished laughing cow cheese I find in my bag coerces him through the gate. After what feels like forty days and forty two nights but is actually 27 seconds, we get to the classroom and in we go. He shuffles in and then shakes his head every time the teacher tries to talk to him. He gives her his drinking cup. She is surprised that it is a Frozen one. He sticks up for himself, “Anna and Elsa, MY princesses” he says matter of factly. The teacher relieved to have made a breakthrough, laughs and tells him that he might need to fight the girls away, as they will all want it. He goes quiet, the meeting is wrapped up, he bolts to the sink and grabs his cup. “It’s my cup, not no girls cup” he pouts and off he struts.

On the way to the car, I try to appease him and then just as we climb the hill to the car. He says in his own inimitable “Oh Mummy, silly you. We need to give this cup to the teacher” and i am promptly pulled down the hill, behind F as he strides through the playground and bounds into the classroom, pops the cup by the sink, gives the teacher a huge cheery wave and off he goes.

When F started nursery, I wasn’t remotely worried about it. He was my happy go lucky, giggling little F. What could go wrong?  So the first day of nursery, when I left him for half an hour, I sat happily outside feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing, which was a huge change from weeping like a willow, when I left O for the first time, a year previously. I went back in after 33 minutes, walked past the crying Mums in the entrance, giving them a sympathetic “Been there, done that but now it’s a breeze look” and knocked happily on the classroom door. Only the door was being barricaded by a headbutting, punching, angry 11 month old. Mine.

When I finally got in, both the teachers looked paler than sponge cake and were shaking ever so slightly, oh and the nursery director was there too. F lunged at me from the floor and clung angrily onto me and my boobs like an angry and disgruntled piglet. And my heart clunked into pieces. Yes, it was distressing seeing F like that, but I was distraught because I hadn’t for one second imagined that he would have any problems, not one. I had just presumed that my easygoing second born, would breeze on in without a second thought. Fail. “I don’t know him!” I sob to my Mum on the phone.

The next few weeks, were interspersed with doorbanging, my guilt, bit of pinching, all night long hugs and probably too many chocolate and ham based foods. Then one day, I handed him to his teacher and he didn’t give me a backward glance. I saw the colour come back to her cheeks and my feeling like Cruella de ville–ness started to subside. And soon, once he learnt to walk, he would waltz into the room, do a star jump, shake his wild hair and all his friends would come to greet him and I was pushed out of the room. He LOVED it.

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At the end of year meeting with his teacher, she told me that his induction  had been the worst one in the history of the Nursery. Ever. Followed closely by O’s. She leant forward and said guffawing “Remember, you were a wreck!”

Last night, F wouldn’t stop throwing lego at O’s head. I asked him if he wanted me to cancel his birthday party. He looked at me and says smugly “I’m a big boy Mummy, don’t need a party, Thanks”

I wait with intrepid curiosity for the first day and make a mental note to pop a hard hat in his school bag.