Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Here comes the sun

Or more accurately here we go off into the sun. It is almost time for us to brave a car filled with four fractious children in our epic quest for two weeks in the sunshine. I have already located and packed earplugs and copious amounts of junk food and DVDs in a vain attempt to keep everyone happy on the road.

Usually peace reigns until about two hours before we arrive, at which point the whinging begins, reaching an ear bleedingly painful pitch at around an hour before we arrive. Thus ensuring that by the time we actually reach our destination I have to be physically restrained from throttling the lot of them, until my husband can find a bottle of wine and funnel it down my throat. At which point the holiday once again seems like a good idea.

Anyway the upshot of this jollity is that FDMTG will be shutting up shop for the next couple of weeks, while I recoup my creative juices in time for copious posting about our fun and games abroad.

But if you miss me while you are away, then you can always get your fix from my new column on Parentdish UK. It's called Slugs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tales, an unmissable weekly missive about my beloved boys. I will admit it is a little out of date as I wrote a few to keep it going while I am away and they are all about twin one's stubborn refusal to walk, which he miraculously overcame on Monday. But hopefully it's a fun read anyway, and there are a lot less mistakes and typos thanks to the wonderful editor at Parentdish, so that's a bonus.

Bonne Vacances to everyone and I shall be composing my virtual postcard on my return.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Look who's walking

Am writing this in a state of high excitement as twin one has just taken his very first steps. So far, despite being a working mum, I have seen the first steps of all three of my boys (the fourth still being stuck at a crawl for the moment). It is just such a monumentally thrilling moment marking the transition from baby to toddler.

As son number two screeched out 'He's a toddler now mummy'. Indeed he is, albeit a wobbly and slightly unconfident one. I am so proud that he has overcome the fear that has so obviously been holding him back as he is just so proud of himself. As he tottered his first few steps from the living room doorway to the sofa where I was sitting I could feel my eyes filling with tears at his huge achievement.

I was squealing away to his nanny to look at my clever boy, while reaching for video camera and phone to tell his dad, but the most important emotion I felt was such immense love for my clever boy. He has teetered on the brink of this next stage for months and months and it is just so wonderful to see him make the breakthrough.

Now I just have to work out how to deal with one tottering walker with one stubborn crawler. Advice on a postcard please.

End of term

It is the last week of term. As I walk along the familiar route to school with my six-year-old's hand in mine, it hits me that this is the last week we will share our one-to-one chats on the school run. For two years he and I have walked the pavements between our house and his classroom sharing our views on matters as diverse as what happens after you die, is there really a God and which is our favourite alien in Ben 10.

This type of quality time is rare in a family as overcrowded as ours and we have both savoured our mother son bonding walks. I would like to say that they need not end when the four-year-old joins us, but he is not one for such erudite discussion. Instead I imagine our walks will be punctuated with much bickering, the odd crying fit and me yelling at him to hurry up as he holds the world record for dawdling.

This makes it sound as if I don't enjoy the company of my middle boy, and this is far from the case. On his own he is a delightful companion, he will chatter away about this, that and the other. His mind is not troubled by such philosophical issues as his big brother, but he is a great conversationalist with a refreshing take on the world. He is also very complimentary, which always goes down well with the ladies, especially his mother.

The problem is when you combine the two boys, it will often result in a rather disorderly and volatile compound. They are masters at winding each other up and competing for parental attention. Not the recipe for a pleasant school run. Perhaps it is time to give daddy a turn at walking the boys to school, while I stay behind and tackle the slightly less challenging task of preventing the twins from battering each other too severely over the latest toy dispute.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Scary monsters

When I was little I used to love to scare myself silly by watching Dr Who. I would position myself outside the living room door, which was half panelled in glass and peak up through the panes at the onscreen antics of the Daleks and Cybermen.

This was back in the days of Tom Baker, with his maniacal grin and extra long stripey scarf wound around his neck, long before he became the distinctive voice of Little Britain. The days of K-9 and interchangable hot pants wearing female sidekicks.

Half the pleasure was the thrill of being frightened, the grating electronic "We will exterminate" crackling from tinny TV speakers, cardboard Cybermen lumbering awkwardly towards the cowering protagonists, who surely could have escaped them at a light jog. I used to have nightmares about being pursued by these prop cupboard aliens.

On one memorable visit to Madame Tussauds, when I was surely old enough to know better, my mum had to carry me crying out of the Dr Who exhibit as I was sure that wax effigy of The Master had turned around and touched my leg. I haven't had the courage to go back since.

When the all new Dr Who started I was so excited and I loved Christopher Ecclestone's portrayal of the Time Lord, but my husband had no time for the shakey sets and less than slick, ironic British dialogue. He didn't grow up with the Dr and perhaps he was too old to see the appeal. The children, on the other hand, were too young, so I rather let it go by the wayside, missing out on most of David Tennant's stint in the Tardis.

Now, however I have found a new accolyte in son number two. He adores being scared and is tough as old boots when it comes to creepy stuff. He sat through a whole two episodes about the terrifying Weeping Angels without batting an eyelid, while I was jumping all over the place and stealing his cushion to hide behind.

My oldest isn't made of such stern stuff, and too much creepiness on the TV leads gives him terrible nightmares, so Dr Who became my secret treat with number two. We would cosy up on the sofa, pillows to hide behind at the ready, and watch the adventures of Matt Smith and the delectable Amy.

It brought my childhood passion for the time travelling Dr back to life and ignited it in my little one. It made me realise that reliving the pleasures of youth is one of the great things about children. I don't get as much of it as my husband who has happily dusted off his old Lego and Transfomers toys, whilst endlessly watching Back to the Future and Star Wars with them. But now I see the attraction, I just need to persuade him to put some glass panes in the door and then my oldest can join in too.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Stuck in the middle

Last week I sat in an overheated school gym straining to hear as a panel of Reception teachers told us what to expect when our children enter their classrooms next year. As I fanned myself with a sheaf of important pieces of paper relating to the beginning of son number two's education, I will admit to tuning out, after all I've been there, done that with number one so it's all old hat.

I watched the anxious first timers stick up their hands and ask endless questions about what their little darlings will get to eat for lunch, bizarre this obsession with food, no one seemed in the least bit bothered by what their children will be taught. I sat back, smug in the knowledge that my under indulged little son will eat anything put in front of him. Perhaps because I have never given him any choice in the matter, unlike number one who had a choice of freshly prepared feasts at every meal.

Sometimes I feel guilty that my middle boy's life seems to pass by in the slipstream of his older brother. While we worry and fuss over every little detail of the eldest's life, he just bombs about under the radar lighting up our lives with his jolly smile. My middle boy is the kindest, funniest, sweetest thing, but he never gets the credit he deserves as he is always following in the footsteps of his older brother, or helping us clean up after his younger brothers.

The thing is, while many would say that this is bad thing, and I am sure it has its downsides, he is probably my happiest child. He hates fuss and is a laid back, independent little soul. He can play for hours on his own, but knows how to elicit a cuddle if he needs one. He can be naughty and play us up, but mostly he is just a cheeky little monkey at the heart of our family.

Although I have been waiting for months to send him off to school, he is old for his year and quite disturbingly precocious, now that the time is almost nigh I will admit to the odd pang.

He has been at my side for so long, trotting along chattering away, helping entertain the babies, baking cakes, jumping on the trampoline, begging for a few more minutes of TV, warbling away the lyrics of 'There's nothing sweet about me', just bumbling along in his adorable way, that I now feel bereft at the idea of him being taken away for the best part of the day.

I missed my first son terribly when he went off to school and I still sometimes resent the hours stolen away by the National Curriculum, but I thought I would be glad to finally send number two off. I am not. I will miss my baby. I may not always recognise how precious he is, and for that I am sorry, but I do know what joy and fun he brings into my life, and how sad I will be when it is taken away for the whole of the school day.

I will miss him bubbling along in the background and I will miss his friendly little smile lighting up when I pop downstairs. Now school is almost here I don't want my baby to grow up so fast. I am surprised by the lump in my throat as I imagine him all togged out in his new uniform, but still I find the words blur before my eyes at the thought of it.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Talk the talk

The twins may still not be able to walk the walk, but they are sure starting to talk the talk. Perhaps this should come as no surprise in our lazy, yet verbose family. They are clearly learning by example that hot air is the most valuable currency in our house. While they wobble about clinging onto the furniture for dear life, and my mummy friends are increasingly beginning to ask 'Are they still not walking?' they sure can chat.

Twin two has graduated from his 'No, no, no' phase, to add in 'Mum, mum, mum' and 'ai-plane' (aeroplane) to his growing vocabluary. In fact he is almost obsessed with aviation as his brother is with gadgetry, and every time anything flies over head his little finger points upwards as his big, greeny blue eyes track its flight path.

He is still clinging to his old 'No, no, nos' too, although now they are put into context as he jabs a finger at the object of his disapproval. Yesterday when I told his twin off for throwing food on the floor (a thrice daily occurance), he turned around, wagged his finger at his brother and said 'No, no, no' to him.

I was grateful for his support as usually his response to being reprimanded for anything is to giggle manically and carry on regardless. Perhaps if we gang up on him my tellings off will have more effect, though I shan't be holding my breath.

Both twins have perfected the comic 'Uh oh' and chorus it out whenever something is dropped or broken - which is pretty frequently giving their penchant for lobbing anything they can get their hands on at the floor with as much force as they can muster.

Still it is lovely to see these seeds of conversation growing in their tiny minds, I can't wait for the baby babble to flow freely. Although as my husband points out it will not be fun when all four of them can argue with us using real words, rather than a cacophony of squeaks and squeals.