Talk About Cheesecake

Musings, meanderings and meditation for my mind.


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Starting the day with a smile

Who ever coined the phrase ‘the terrible two’s’ was wrong. It’s not the two’s that’s bad, ‘ it’s the ‘tantrumming threes’ that wear you down.

Talk about a level seven meltdown, Botboy can screech with the best of them. My morning starts something like this most days –

I’m on a beach, enjoying the sunshine. There is no noise. A waiter comes over, bringing some multi-coloured, umbrella and  confetti emblazoned coconut filled with a delicious, soothing, chilled beverage. A large dark cloud stabs me in the eye and a shooting white light pierces through the cloud into my brain. . .

Botboy pulls back my other eyelid, leans in front of the morning light aimed directly into my unprepared eyeballs and grins. ‘Playstachun’.

‘G’way. Bedtime. Sleeping,’ I grumble.

‘Playstachun, mummy.’

‘NO’ – be warned, this fantasy that we mum’s wake up bright and early and ready to play is a lie perpetuated by tampon adverts.

‘Playstachun, mummy. I want it.’ An edge of demand enters the tone.

‘What time is it? It’s 6 o’clock! NO. No playstation, go back to bed.’

‘S’morning mummy. I want the Playstachun. I want it. Now.’ Decibels are rising, there is a definite screech in the voice.

‘Get in bed with mummy and go to sleep.’ This is my attempt at distraction. Admittedly it is not that enticing or effective when you are a wide awake 3 year old who has scented desperation in the air and is now building to a crescendo, but hey, I am still three quarters asleep and grasping vainly for my cocktail.

Cue explosion. I put my head under the pillows and let the melt down carry on for a while. Sometimes if you ignore them, they go away. Sometimes they don’t.

This particular morning there is a short outlet of noise, followed by silence. I feel a small body climbing over me. Something hard hits me in the head, much like the corner of an iPad. Then there is silence again.

I relax.

The persistent, repetitive ‘bing, bing, bing’ of Sonic the Hedgehog, with music, drums into my eardrum. Over and over and over and over and . . .

You get the picture.

‘Turn the music off’.

‘No. NO, no, no, no, no. Muuuummmmmmyyyyy.’ A long involved whining wail ensues, while I wrench the iPad from his hands and flip it to silent.

This is just the first 15 minutes of my day. We then have the ‘refusal avec screech’ over getting dressed, wearing red instead of blue pants, wearing Mickey over Superman T-shirts. Cleaning the teeth is accomplished by mixing cajoling with threats.

To wash Botboy’s face, I surreptitiously warm up the flannel, sneak up behind him and smother his face while fending off waving arms. Getting him to eat his breakfast requires negotiation over which bowl, spoon and cereal to use.

I am sure this makes me sound like a horrendous mother. I don’t remember Sackgirl being this difficult. I know she used to have tantrums, but Sackgirl was much more organised about them. She would pick her time and place with care – middle of the supermarket aisle, the doorway of a busy shopping centre, the bathroom door while I was trapped on the toilet – and let loose with gusto. If I walked away she would stop, follow me until she had my attention and then resume. It was calculated, which meant she could be reasoned with.

Botboy appears to completely lose emotional control. He is stubborn and determined. There is no reasoning with him. Distractions rarely work. Sometimes the only thing to do is leave him to it. Sometimes I join in, screeching back an stamping my feet in time with his – the noise and release is quite enjoyable and it might surprise him into silence.

This temper began when he was three. We passed the two’s with pretty much no hassle. It seems that as his speech and understanding developed, so did his temper. I wonder whether this is inherited (his grandfather can be a right grumpy bugger!) or the difference between girls and boys.

I hope he grows out of it soon!

 

 

 

 


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It’s Christmas! – Part 1. Present shopping

The conversations have started, the discussions are underway. It’s the time of year where we tentatively start probing our way through the entanglements, mindful of the fragile egos, the touchy feelings and the obligations to extended family.

It’s time for us to worry about debt, fret over etiquette and wear ourselves to the edge of exhaustion in ensuring perfection.

Yes, it’s Christmas.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love Christmas. Well, I love the idea of what Christmas should be, the ideal that I hold as an image in my mind and strive to achieve every year.

However Christmas comes with bundles of stress, so I decided I would start to document each one as it occurred!

Part 1 – Present Shopping

I enjoy shopping for gifts for my family and friends. In theory. The idea is to choose a thoughtful present that will bring them some pleasure.

In reality the adult family that surround me don’t really *need* presents. They have disposable incomes and I have a budget limit. If there was something in the £20 and under category that they really wanted, well they would just buy it for themselves. And so every year I have the same dilemma.

I want to buy my parents gifts. After all they brought me up and lavished care and love on me. I like to show them that I appreciate all they did. I want to think of something special. However to be honest, I cannot afford my mother’s taste and my father is happy with a book. That he has chosen.

My middle brother has completely different taste to me. Last year I bought him a fun new wallet covered in superhero comic strips. He made it clear he found it childish and would never use it. On Boxing Day I recovered the wallet and gave it to Mr G, who does have a sense of humour like mine and has used it ever since.

My elder brother is an unknown quantity. I have tried fun presents, childish gifts, games, jokes and gadgets. Each time he thanks me and places it in a pile that I know will go right to the back of a drawer. Well, apart from the year that he commented that I had not even got him a present. I replied that I had in fact bought him a ‘Bop it‘ game to which he responded “Oh yes, that was my best present that year”. And he meant it. The lesson here being that he actually takes no notice of anything I get him anyway!

As for the in-laws! The parent-in-laws say every year not to waste our money, but Mr G feels he should get some token present and ends up spending more in a rush than I would have given time to think it over. My sister-in-law loves presents, but only ones she has chosen.

Which raises another point. The gift list. I have annual discussions with friends who agree that we don’t like being given a list of things to buy for each person. Where is the thought in that? When my brother produces an email detailing which CD’s he would like and who should buy them, how is that personal? On the other hand, if I deviate from the list I know my money will have been spent on a little bit more drawer filler.

And then there is the etiquette of friends. Last year Kid 1 was bought a present by a school friend, so we should get one back. But if we don’t see them over the festive period, should we bother? The neighbours have invited us for drinks, do we have to take presents for their kids, or just wine for them? I know my mother’s elderly friend gives her something for my kids, do I have to buy for her grandchildren? I have already agreed with some close friends that ‘I won’t buy for yours if you don’t buy for mine’ in the spirit of mutual money saving!

So I wonder, with all this stress – are Christmas presents really for family children only? Should we adults agree that actually we don’t need gifts from each other. When completing the shopping list becomes more of a of a chore than a pleasure, maybe it is time to stop spending.

 


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Where did the spice go?

We all have them. I know we do.

Somedays we wake up and feel down. Angry maybe. Grumpy certainly. A little fed up with the way things are, even though they are no better or worse than yesterday. Even though there is nothing obviously negative in our lives to feel bad about.

I read the Daily Prompt today, thinking that maybe I would join in. I read a few of the posts by other bloggers. And the more I considered what I would say, the blacker my mood got. Oh dear!

Write a letter to your 14-year-old self. Tomorrow, write a letter to yourself in 20 years.

I am not worried about what I would say to my 14 year old self. That I think would be quite straight forward. ‘Give up on chasing that boy. He is older than you, he is not interested and you are frankly embarrassing the hell out of yourself. Stop being a loner, go and make the most of the opportunities this school has to offer. Things get much much better. And for goodness sake, get some dress sense.’

No, that I think is fairly standard advice to give most teenagers.

What got me down is thinking about what I would say to myself in 20 years time. Let’s see.

‘What have you done with yourself over the last twenty years then? Hey – have you achieved anything? You still do the same job, you work your backside off month to month so that you have some extra cash, which you spend on frivolities and a week away now and then. Do your kids like you or have they left home thinking you never had time for them because you were always working? Have you got around to exploring the world yet? Or  now, facing another 10 years or more of working life before you get to retirement, do you ever see that happening?’

‘Are you still living in the same place? I bet you come home every day and have the same conversations, the same routine. Cook dinner, watch Eastenders, doze off, go to bed. Then up to work again. What happened to you? You got old and you did nothing with all the years in between! Where has the spice in your life gone?

 

But then, as I started to write this down, to describe my bad mood and how boring and dull my life is, it occurs to me that I am actually complaining about things I should be pleased about. Let me start again.

‘What have you done with yourself over the last twenty years? Wow, you and Mr G are still together! Still making each other laugh, still bickering, still cuddling. What a great relationship you have. You chose right there.

And you are still working? Ok, so you never did win the lottery but you have had a career and you have always been able to provide for your kids. Fantastic. Did they leave home already? Independent and capable, what better gift could you have given them than the confidence to know they can be whatever they want to be?

Isn’t it comforting to know that you have someone to come home to? Yes, the daily routine is the same. Thank goodness for that! Far better than coming home to a cold lonely house. You have worked hard over the last twenty years to make a great home and fabulous family. What an achievement! Well done.

PS. You finally got the place decorated the way you wanted. I bet that took some doing!

 

You know what – I don’t feel so moody now. Some people want to be famous, some people want to be rich, some people want to cure cancer. Hats off to them. My achievements may not impact highly on the richter scale of life, but they are important to me.

 


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Are weddings a child free zone?

While planning my own wedding at the start of the year I joined an online forum for brides (and grooms) to be. There were debates about wedding etiquette. There were discussions over who should lead the procession down the aisle. There were panics over centerpieces and rants about the rudeness of not replying promptly to invitations or the ingratitude of a bridesmaid in not appearing desperately interested in every aspect of the table layout.

One constant topic that continuously roused strong opinions though was whether children should be allowed at the wedding.

Family Occasions

There are of course two extreme viewpoints. On the one hand are those who say that children are the life and soul and heart of a wedding. Weddings are family occasions and children are a large part of that.

The family wedding ensures that children are catered for in every way. There are pretty little flower girls and page boys in the procession. There are gift boxes for the children on the tables, with games and toys and presents and sweets.  Some brides plan activities that place the children at the centre of attention. One friend of mine had a balloon race for the children, another had a children’s entertainer.

Of course these ideas are dual purpose. They ensure the children play a part in the day whilst also making sure they are kept occupied. A bored child is a disruptive one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Adult Affair

On the other hand some brides who do not want sticky fingers on their expensive dress, or screaming throughout their speeches. The couple who ban children from their wedding face some criticism from others. But are they wrong to do so?

For a start, consider the cost. At even half the adult price, every child is an added expense, especially when you consider they most likely won’t even eat the food.

And add up the bodies. When the venue of your dreams limits your numbers, every child you have to allow is another adult friend you can’t invite.

You can guarantee that one of the little tykes will spill drink on your train, drop a fragile present or knock down the cake. They cry during the ceremony, run about during dinner and throw up during the disco.

Kids are expensive and a risk for the bride and groom to consider. I understand that they may want to exclude them.

However, before making a final decision, there are other considerations. The ‘child free’ bride will tell parents that this is a chance for them to have an adult only night. The parent will respond that finding a sitter for a full day affair is expensive enough. Not to mention that they have to be able to get home to that sitter, a bit problematic for parents who travel a long distance to attend the wedding.

Consider also the flower girls. The bride may want her best friends daughter to follow her up the aisle throwing petals. But now there is one lonely and bored child at the wedding. What’s worse, she is not a ‘family child’! What’s this, your friend can bring her child but your own nephews and cousins are not allowed.

OK, allow family children. Only the children who form part of the bride’s life. Not Uncle Arthur’s second wife’s granddaughter who the bride has never met. Only, where do you draw the line? The possibility of starting a family feud is looming closer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Happy Medium

At my wedding I aimed for a happy medium. Of course I invited children. My own kids were bridesmaid and pageboy. It was as much their day as ours, their parents. Well, almost. Close friends and family with children were allowed to bring them, but I did limit my extended family to the one generation, thankfully cutting the numbers of cousins on one side from seventeen down to two. They were keen to agree, having to pay for their own upcoming wedding very soon.

The children had their own table, hosted by my daughter who was very pleased with her position as head of the table.  And during the speeches I had a baby sitter arranged who hustled the children out, thereby avoiding the running and screaming during the adult parts. Off they went to their own room, set aside with paper, stickers and other non-staining entertainments.

I made it clear to all my friends, as politely as possible, that whilst I had a sitter for my own children to allow us, the bride and groom, to relax, I was not responsible for the care of the other children. Bring them they could, but they were to keep them under control. As far as I am aware no one took offense. The kids had a great time moving between their own chill out room and the adult’s disco and to be honest I barely noticed them all day.

Are weddings adult only occasions?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer to this question. If a bride and groom chose to exclude children, well it is their day. Surely they have the right to choose. Unfortunately it seems that when you are planning a wedding your every decision becomes a matter for public discussion. Family, friends and colleagues all have an opinion and someone will be offended in the end.

Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge, DPchallenge. Yes, I already wrote one for this week’s subject matter, but I really had more to say, so I went for it again. 


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Some days are marvellous, some days are murder

Some days are unforgettable.

The day your daughter is born, and you see her tiny little scrunched up face for the first time. The moment in that day when the midwife tells your partner to tell you what you had and he says ‘It’s a boy’ because he is so overwhelmed with feelings. Every part of a day like that is etched on your memory in flashes of feelings, emotions, physical and mental stimulation. Seconds lasted like hours, hours passed in minutes. The day your first child is born is unforgettable.

Some days are one of a kind.

The day you married your partner, surrounded by friends and family and with your own ‘home made’ bridesmaid and page boy as the stars. A day like that flies by, as if the happiness, excitement, pride, love and laughter are just too much to absorb in one hit. A day like that has to be drunk in by reminiscing with every other attendee over the weeks that follow, to get a different viewpoint and make sure that every detail has been examined and polished before committing to the memory banks.

Some days are marvellous.

Fun family days out, trips to the amusement park for your son’s third birthday, where the parents are relaxed, the children are laughing, ice cream is flowing (down arms due to sunshine). Walks through the woods, kicking piles of gorgeous coloured autumnal leaves and watching the puppy bouncing through the streams. Sledging on a snow day, coming home to hot chocolate and a warm open fire. Days that are to be treasured as a brief respite from the mundane.

Some days are idealistic.

The day you look back on as a lazy, hazy summer day, when you think you had it all, but didn’t know it. Youthful escapades, giggling and joking with your friends. Finishing exams and the final day of school, sitting in the middle of the vast green park, music blasting. Spontaneously jumping up as a group to do the actions to Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ to the amusement and bemusement of passers by.

Some days are cold.

The day that the phone call came and woke you up. Hearing your mother crying, your father telling you your nan was out of pain.

Some days are murder.

Trying to work on a Sunday because of a deadline. Bored, restless kids sprinting through the house, shrieking and fighting, throwing wooden blocks down the stairs. Tantrums over cleaning the bedroom. Frustration and tears because of the maths homework. The puppy cowering under your desk to avoid being used as a pony while you try to just finish 5 minutes before going to referee, or provide more drinks or to produce food at the drop of a hat. Leaking nappies and angry cats. Jumping at the loud crash and the angry bellow that follows as the picture frame smashes to the floor and glass shards scatter across the room.

Whatever the day, it’s a memory worth keeping.