MY FRIEND, THE TELEVISION.

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The other day, a friend told me that her toddler-inhabited house is a TV free zone. I listened to this news with admiration and fear.

Before I had children, I remember thinking in my oh so knowledgeable state, that no child of mine would watch TV. Ever. Oh, go on then, maybe the Snowman on Christmas day. Fast forward four years and ten months and I don’t know what we, (I) would do without it. It pacifies, calms amuses and distracts and is priceless when all other resources, especially me are sapped dry.

I am not condoning plonking the children in front of the TV and doing a runner, although there are days when this may be tempting, hopefully the consequences ever so slightly outweigh it.

Of a day, we probably do about 87 gazillion activities ranging from drawing a picture, until there are tears, because F`s glitter pen “accidentally” strayed onto O’s Star Wars masterpiece and who can write their name the best when weeing (yes, this takes a good 2 minutes). Occasionally, we dabble in the world of cardboard castles , until the sword wielding knight throws a screaming strop , because the plant watering pirate has flooded the fort and all that is left is a big soggy cardboard mess. That leaves approximately 8 hours, twenty six minutes and four seconds left of the day to get through, and that’s when we turn it on , calm down and forget all about feuds for at least a bit, until somebody gets clobbered with the remote or lo and behold, one of them sits too close to the other.

O’s teacher once told me that she was impressed that he knew about Photosynthesis; Big thanks to the Lorax and Cbeebies for teaching him that, I failed GCSE Biology and still get a bit muddled between organisms and orgasms.

A few weeks ago after swimming, there was a MONUMENTAL meltdown, the stuff that makes Supernanny rub her hands in glee, it was hideous. We got home frazzled from crying, reasoning and shouting. On came the Gruffalo, there was blissful silence, we all calmed down, until O declared that the mouse was really silly and somebody needed to tell him he is not scary at all, it’s because there is a great hulking monster behind him.

SIGNS OF TV INDUCED BEHAVIOUR

  1. On discovering our freezer had frozen over, O exclaims “Wow, Ice is my life now!” (Frozen)
  1. On completing any given task, both O & F would break out into “We did it , We did it, Lo hizimos….” a la DORA ( Why, oh Why does she only know how to SHOUT, somebody needs to tell her to pipe down.)
  1. A friend asked O where burglars go after they are caught. F shouts “prison!”, O shouts “The clink! They go to the clink!” (Bananaman, the best superhero that ever there was.)
  1. “Hang on a minute!” said v-e-r-y slowly in the manner of a frustrated park keeper (Mr Tumble)
  1. Burping! We had managed to last this long without them knowing about burping. Blinking Shrek! Apparently now it is hilarious to burp, the louder and the longer, the better.
  1. There was a phase where during lunchtime, O would peg it screaming  “Somebody needs HELP!” (Sportacus , Lazytown) then come back proclaiming it was all sorted, wiping his brow.
  1. I think it’s brilliant that they have learnt some basic Makaton signs thanks to Mr Tumble, although there is a lot of improvisation. “You sign! Mummy’s wobbly boobs!” “You sign! Poo Bum!” “You sign! Ginormous willy!”
  1. Waking up to “Good Morning Swashbuckler! … I want to see you marching or you’ll have to pork peh pank!” (It took me a while, to realise that he was saying walk the plank).

In his poem Television, Roald Dahl basically tells us all off for letting our children watch TV as we are rotting their brains. My pre-parent self would have nodded vigorously and probably framed it, but my slightly disheveled parent-self thinks that it is in fact a thing of genius and nothing to feel guilty about. As long as it doesn’t replace you as the key carer and allows you all to breathe and a luxurious moment to take that slightly congealed cup of two day old coffee out of the microwave, then bring it on in all its goggling glory.

We drove all night….

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Last Saturday we left home for a few days away. Allowing for wee and tantrum stops, the car journey was supposed to take 8 hours. It took 25.

Here is what I have learnt.

1. If you want to leave by 9am, get up at 3.15am, even if everything is packed.

2. The clonking noise your car has been making for the last two years, will get exceedingly louder and the probability of losing all four wheels and improvising à la Flintstones increasingly higher.

3. When you turn around and drive 100km to borrow a car from an unsuspecting family member, the driver will declare the holiday off.

4. After eating, the driver will declare the holiday back on.

5. The Frozen CD will make a screechy groaning noise and stop working, Parental karaoke version not accepted.

6. There will be tears and cries of “I want to go home. No holiday, home”

7. Smarties are not the ideal car journey sweets, unless you want to spend the next 23 hours, retrieving them from different orifices of the car and then be accused of giving the yellow smartie to the wrong owner. Stick of Rock all the way.

8. Glue or velcro your child’s shoes to their feet to avoid the “Mummy, I left my shoe in the loo” conversation, just as you have re-joined the motorway.

9. The BEST most hilarious game ever is winding both front windows down and creating a theme park style wind tunnel in the back.

10. When you get home after an amazing few days away, there will be “I want to go back on holiday” tears, mostly mine.

QUESTIONS I NEVER ASKED UNTIL I HAD CHILDREN

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1.What is the point of trousers with imitation drawstrings? Is it to enable the game “Let’s pretend we’re wearing drawstring trousers”?

2. Why on the one night of the year you go out and reacquaint yourself  with a few bottles and a half of wine, is it a cue for the littlest to projectile vomit everywhere and the oldest to declare 3am the new get up time?

3. Who are THEY? Where do THEY live? What do THEY do when they’re not saying what we should and shouldn’t do?

4. Why, once out of the house and in the eye of the general public do  children turn into the stuff of nightmares?

5.Why haven’t they invented a lego reject button on the hoover?

6.Why once you or anybody in the vicinity has uttered the words “He´ll fall asleep on the way home” or “We’re in for an early night ” does that translate as car journey from hell with a screaming non asleep toddler or that it is actually time for astronaut practice, which entails launching off a bookcase until said child cracks his head and can only be consoled by eating Cheetos and watching Frozen six times.

7. Why the minute you sit down, catch a breath, go to the loo or have thoughts about putting the kettle on, do they know to have a monster nosebleed or get their toes stuck under the door?

8.Why would anybody dream of making white clothes for any child under the age of 26?

9. Why two seconds after giving birth aren’t we provided with Mary Poppins` clicky fingers?

10. What did I do before?

NO WIN SITUATION

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The other day at the back to school meeting, they advised that parents take time out every day to do a puzzle or play a board game with their child. They went on to say that it’s because it’s a good calming exercise to do with them. This sounds obvious, but it made me laugh at the realisation that their children are obviously not my children.

Playing board games with them is not fun.

This is what happens after the first two and a half minutes.

Shopping List : There are tears because F has more products than O. O swaps trolleys, F doesn’t realise. F then realizes. There is a fight, shopping trolley gets bent. The products get hurled across room. Game turns into fishing shopping list items out from under the sofa, my bra, leftover lunch.

Any puzzle: F likes to do puzzles when they are nearly finished. As in, the last piece needs to be placed. He will instruct you to do it with him, then he will conveniently go off to find his princess cape shouting “Is it ready? Is it ? Is it? “ Then screams as O puts the final piece in , just as he gets there.

Penguin game: (The idea is to flip your penguin onto the vibrating igloo) It is only ever O’s go.

Peppa Pig Snakes and Ladders : F decides how many spaces you can move (regardless of dice) and where you can go. Even if you are one square from home, you will most likely be sent back to number one because “I was one when I was little”

All of these games are accompanied by dulcet screeches of “I’m the winner, No I’m the winner!”  Then tears and hysteria “He said he’s the winner, but I’m the winner…. “

In short, as much as the idea of sitting down to play games is one I envisaged romantically when they were about a day old, the reality is the noisier and faster and more running aroundness (preferably just in pants and wearing a crown) the better. Yesterday they were entertained for a record 27 minutes  by “Run from the Dragon”.  This highly innovative game was thought up by a desperately shattered teetering on the edge me,  you need two children, a scooter and a go carty thing stolen , borrowed from the neighbour. Children hurtle round garden and I lob , gently throw an inflatable dragon in their flight path. Crashing into it and when it hits your brother´s (not your) head is apparently the most hilarious thing ever. They couldn’t get enough, until O ran over F’s toes and then drove into the clothes horse. The game had come to a natural end. Or so I thought, until twenty seconds later, while I was making chocolate milk for the screaming injured, I was met by two (plastic) sword wielding boys wailing “I’m the winner” “NO, I’m the winner!, you’re the LOSER!”

Anybody got a 50,000 piece puzzle I can borrow?

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