Stu's Dad Blog
As our kids grow older, things change. How's that for a prolific statement?
Our kids don't really curl up in our bed when they're scared. They're able to get themselves to evening and weekend sports events. We, as parents, no longer "save the day"... on a daily basis. We miss doing those things, right?
Amy's Dog Blog
When you have kids, things you would never previously have entertained as being something that a decent human being should have to tolerate on a daily basis become par for the course, endlessly repeated until you are a shred of your former self.
These are the undignified things that should be left behind closed doors, and definitely never performed in public, but you often have no choice. With small babies and toddlers, you find yourself subjected to the most vile duties, that your younger self would have sneered at before running a mile from.
I'm talking about picking your baby’s nose; the embarrassment as you realise that the bad smell is coming from your kid, not the one they’re playing with; sniffing their bum to confirm; sucking a dummy that has fallen on a dusty floor; changing a stinking nappy on a narrow counter/toilet floor because there’s no baby-changing facilities; wiping dinner from the walls; absently eating leftover purees/fishfingers/smiley faces; washing mashed banana/bogeys/sick from your hair under the cold tap; getting up six times in the night; staying up until midnight making a Harry Potter /sheep/wise men costume, then them refusing to wear the costume and turning up to school/the play in their school uniform. It was endless.
Now I have two older children I don’t have to do those things; on the whole they are delightful, although their rooms still stink and there’s dirty washing everywhere and food still stuck to the walls, but that’s probably due more to my sluttish housekeeping than anything else. I’m a busy woman. Don’t judge me.
So once the more onerously visceral duties of small-child care were mercifully left behind, and they could clean up after themselves and no longer needed spoon-feeding, what did I do? Get a puppy. Then it all started again, but weirdly, on a grander and more repulsive scale. If I thought having a baby or small child was revolting and undignified enough, I had no idea what a puppy had in store for me.
Who but a dog owner or parent of a mini human would go out for a walk armed with poo bags/nappy bags, ready to scoop up whatever falls from their charge’s bum? At least with babies and toddlers it’s conveniently contained in a nappy; a dog just squats there (usually in front of the most manicured house as the owner is out trimming their topiary in the spring sunshine) and takes a dump. “Don’t mind me,” he’d cheerfully shout at them if he could speak, “She’ll get this.” And I do, of course, smiling all the while, me a mere portable pooper-scooper with the added bonus for the dog of also being a convenient food dispenser and expedient thrower of balls.
From the moment the eight-week old golden ball of fluff arrived at our house, I’ve spent hours sticking my fingers in his mouth to retrieve foreign objects, cleaned up his sick when the foreign objects I can’t get to quick enough get to his stomach, picked up endless poo, had my clothes ripped to shreds as he enthusiastically welcomed me home with his needle-sharp teeth and claws, regularly tramp back from a walk covered head to foot in mud, when I’d left the house looking like a normal human being, and spend my life apologising to people and their dogs as he tries to love them to death.
And where are my older, responsible children? My teenager and tweenager, who promised to walk the dog, feed him, pick up after him, so I wouldn’t have to? Nowhere to be seen, that’s where. They're not silly.
Vicki's Food Blog
After a case of reader's block (where you can't find anything you want to read) I picked Difficult Conversations by Anne Dickson off the shelf in our living room at random. Published in 2004, it has been sitting there for ten years with our uni books which had at least had the pleasure of having their back covers read and whole essays based on them. Without even this dubious use, Difficult Conversations joined me on the train, much to the mirth of my loved ones who find my indulgence in self-help books worrying.
In her book, Anne Dickson sets out difficult conversations and how to handle them better. As the 8.08 trundled towards Lewisham I read through the 'handling authority at work' and 'equality in love' sections, paying scant attention, when we got to the example of a mother who could not stop nagging her son.
She would nag. Nothing would change. Without the author spelling it out, it was a case of an idiot repeating the same action again and again despite no improvement, a bit like history. Her son's room was a pit of moldy plates and half eaten chicken wings. The towels and unwashed laundry spreading like the shadow of a Tsunami across her son's bedroom floor towards the door. Nothing this nagging mother said changed the boy's attitude to house work. And worse, he had stopped standing in the same space every time she launched into her monologue, dodging off to the toilet just as the words "For the love of God, look at this room" fell from her mouth.
The solution in the book, was for the mother to instead say something like this: "I'm not going to nag you about your room today. Instead, I want us to set a time later this evening before you go out to discuss how you can help me more in the house - given that I'm a working Mum." "OK," says the boy. Yeah right, thought I. Like it's going to be that easy.
But at least she stopped nagging And isn't nagging just as messy and unproductive as dropping KFC boxes and towels on a bedroom floor? If you have had the same problem, see if Anne Dickson's advice can help and let me know.