Sunday, 30 January 2011
I phoned her the other night and happened to mention that I was planning a trip back to Derby in April. Just Friday evening until Sunday lunchtime - nothing excessive. But of course I mentioned also that I am going without the kids. Not good, in my mother's opinion. According to her it would be wrong to "leave the children in a foreign country" (eh, with their father). She would "feel terribly funny" doing such a thing, and says she never left me and my sister ever.
I'm not entirely sure I believe that. I must check with my sister, but I do remember there were always 'dinner dances' throughout my childhood, and when I say I remember them, I don't mean because I recall my sister and I looking lovely in our long dresses sipping cocktails by the bar.
The reason I gave for going on my own is that I feel like I just want/need some time on my own. And also because if I took them we'd be sleeping in one room together, and to date my children have never been able to sleep in the same room, so I'd be awake most of the night and then I'd be even more shattered than usual and it wouldn't really be a break at all.
I had the option of going back last week when Stevie was heading back for a couple of days with work. But he was staying in a hotel, and we were going to be staying with a friend, and I weighed up no sleep plus constantly worrying about my children ruining this friend's child-free lovely house, and I just thought it wasn't worth it.
I don't think I lead a necessarily 'typical' life. I am never without the kids. I am a full-time mum in the fullest sense of the word. I live in another country from my family and even when I lived in the UK, I've always lived far away from them. So it's not like I'm working full-time and my only quality time with them is at the weekend and early evening, and it's not like I can drop the kids off at their granny's when I fancy going to the shops or have a doctors appointment. Nope, everywhere I go, they go. So I find it pretty unrelenting. Gruelling even at times.
In fact last night is the first time I have ever used a babysitter. Apart from once when I went to a wedding and they stayed at their granny's house. But with this trip, I feel like I am being perceived as doing the wrong thing and well, definetly it's like I am being really selfish. But really, am I? Doesn't everyone need a little time to themselves?
Of course my mother is somewhat fickle. Recently she (ok well, maybe not just recently. She has always thought it was wrong for me to put the kids in nursery, but recently) she has been saying that it's not really fair to have Hamish in Kita as he doesn't like it, and how my sister and I never wanted to go so she didn't send us. Of course I don't like that he's hating going but I need to learn German and so if we have any problem when I finish my course then I'll take him out. My mum has suggested that I maybe just do the evening course, but then you learn very little at any great speed and really, with hospital appointments and other things of importance I really feel like I need to know what's being said and so it's important that I learn as quickly as I can.
I don't think she agrees. I can tell she's thinking "JUST CHUCK IT!", and I too have my moments of thinking maybe I should. But then the next time I speak to my mum she'll have done a complete u-turn and will say that she thinks it would be a very good idea if I stick at my German and do the exams at B2 level because then that gives me further career options when I return to the UK as maybe I could "teach German to retired folk". Well, that's only another 24 weeks away, and while I would like to do it, in all honesty teaching German to retired folk is lingering somewhere around fairground ride attendant in my list of career aspirations.
So I can't win. And selfish old me is still planning to get on a plane alone and see her friends. Feel free to side with my mother and share your criticisms below. Go on, I'd enjoy it!
Thursday, 27 January 2011
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
This morning we arrived at Kita and had just gone to wait for the lift, when another little boy arrived with his grandmother. There were other parents and kids there too, but this little boy came up to Hamish and hit him. And I just couldn't think of what to say in German straight away, and then the moment passed and by the time I had formulated the words in my head it felt like it was too late.
The grandmother had already had a talk to the little boy, but I felt like there should have been an apology to Hamish at least. I wanted to say "Hold on a minute!", and I could have said "Woah! Ein Minuten bitte!" but all I could think of was 'I don't know the verb for 'to hold' and that got in the way of thinking of simpler alternatives. I felt so frustrated and angry with myself, and it left me feeling totally downhearted for the rest of the morning.
I hate not being able to express myself properly, and instead of saying what I want to say, constantly having to think of simpler ways of expressing myself. But to be honest I haven't really had any moments before this where I've really needed to say something and the timing has mattered. That seems to be the thing that has left me feeling most frustrated and wishing I was just back 'home' telling random people exactly what I thought of them.
Except I don't really do that. In fact after being sat in German class I spoke to Stevie and told him how I was feeling and he said "But did you tell Hamish just to hit him back?". Well, apart from the fact that I don't want my kids hitting other kids, it did cross my mind, but I thought to myself "Crap, I can't even say that because I bet one of these other parents speaks English and they'll know what I'm saying and then I'll seem like the bad mummy". So I stayed frustrated with my muteness.
Well I did until I got upstairs, and then in front of this grandmother I told Hamish's teacher that this boy had hit him and pointed at the culprit and asked if they could keep an eye on things as I wouldn't like to think that this might be another reason why Hamish is hating Kita. But even that didn't shake my gloom, and normally being really obvious like that would cancel out my earlier frustration and amuse me back into a normal state of happiness.
My German is annoying me at the moment. I know the more I do and the longer I stay on the course, the better my German will get and the better equipped I'll be to respond to people the way I want. But at the same time I am feeling like I don't have enough time to properly go over what I have learnt and as new stuff goes in, some of the old stuff is just leaking straight back out again. After this morning and thinking, 'I should be able to deal with a situation like that: I've been learning German for 14 weeks!' I can't help but think 'What is the point?'. But it could also be that we've just been doing endless grammar and I'm feeling my vocabulary isn't getting any better. Who knows. I'm booked on until April. So I have time to decide if I want to go further at that point or whether I want to have a break from it for a bit.
Monday, 24 January 2011
Sunday, 23 January 2011
As you can imagine I wasn't too happy, but at least these days I am able to identify the culprit as Orla's signature is becoming recognisable. Lot's of big 'O's' and 'l's' and 'a's' that look more like 'q's'. The 'r's' look a lot like the 'l's', so it's hard to pick those out but none the less, since I didn't end up calling Hamish 'Arlo' there was only one person to blame. We had a little chat about it, and Orla said she would NEVER do it again. I thought I was being smart as well, because I remembered to add that we aren't allowed to draw ANYWHERE on the house, rather than being caught out with only saying you can't draw on this part of the house, and then living to regret it.
But I shouldn't have worried. Less than 24 hours later, I wander into Orla's bedroom to discover that she's in the process of marking our ages on the wall under the window in great big stripes of colour. As a result I have confiscated her crayons, pencils, and pens and her brand new scissors which I bought her yesterday after a fair amount of begging. She's gutted, but I can't think of any other way of stopping her from doing this. And it drives me to despair when it does happen (...this was not the first time sadly.)
Stevie is constantly telling me I need to do myself a favour and relax a bit with the kids and not be checking on them every 5 minutes to see what they are up to. He says it does my blood pressure no good and he's right because invariably I catch them just as they are about to do something I don't want them to - yesterday's list included nearly smashing the living room window by swinging the heavy metal curtain pull at it, and pullling their little IKEA chairs into the kitchen to climb up at the cooker (which was on) while I went to the toilet. But I would argue that it wouldn't do my blood pressure much good either if I walked into the living room after a loud crash and discovered Hamish surrounded and impaled by shards of glass from a 5 ft high window, or heard screaming from the kitchen and found the two of them burnt or scalded and had to spend the evening or longer at the hospital.
But today I decided to ease off for a little bit as they were only messing around in Orla's bedroom and I was busy trying to tidy up while listening to Stevie throw up. Why when you feel dreadful would you think that Orange & Pineapple juice would be a good thing? So that's what I get for taking my eye off the ball. The only good thing to come out of this is the fact that it says that I am only 6 to Stevie's wopping 8 years of age. So that's a bonus at least.
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Sunday, 16 January 2011
Anyway, things are looking a little better, and just as they are, all of a sudden Orla has developed the strangest accent. It seems to have just 'happened', and it's a bit odd. Last week Orla had a perfectly nice English accent, developed in Derby. Despite coming from two Scottish parents our accents have never influenced hers. But since Friday, I think, she's suddenly turned into a tiny version of Sheena Easton. (Follow the link for a youtube video)
Do you remember Sheena Easton? Her Scottish accent went a bit funny in what?, the late '80's/early '90's when she began working in the US, and she developed a 'mid-atlantic' drawl. Well, this is not a kick-in-the-shins away from what has happened to Orla. She suddenly has a Scottish accent but she draws out the last word in an odd drawl that also seems to increase in pitch. If they started casting for a Scottish version of Melrose Place or 90210 (I like the sound of PA2 7TE - classy) she'd be perfect.
It is of course driving me nuts. It sounds hideous, and it's constant. All of a sudden I'm longing for her to develop a German accent, I don't even care if it's like one of those dreadful German accents off 'Allo, 'Allo, ANYTHING would be an improvement!
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Before the move I got rid of all my baby ones and on checking just now I have found 3 'toddler' ones: What to Expect: the toddler years; The Best Friends Guide to toddlers; and god knows how, but 'The Contented Toddler Years' by Gina Ford. (I must have been having a really bad day with Orla when I bought that. In fact when I flick it to see where it wants most to open (cause it looks pretty much untouched) I see what was going on...'sleep problems'. Desperate times and all that.
So, back to my Hamish problem. According to 'What to Expect' my 30 month old toddler should be able to put on an article of clothing, identify 1 picture by naming, jump up, name 6 body parts, and identify 4 pictures by pointing. I think we have pretty much got those covered except perhaps the jumping part. Hamish is dreadful at jumping. Problem-wise, the best I can see that they have is 'Separation Anxiety at Preschool'. They suggest that the transition between home and school can be tough for a toddler and it can take some children up to a year to get used to it. Eek.They suggest that if your childs separation anxiety is 'unexplained' to read another passage at the back of the book. There's talk there of "unexplained bruises and other signs of abuse". This does not make for good pre-bedtime reading for someone like myself.
On to 'the Best Friends Guide'- I've always liked these books. They're humourous and make you feel ok about being generally crap at parenting. On this occasion it has precisely.. eh, no advice to give on my Hamish situation. Ah well, can't have everything.
Lastly, let's see what Gina has to say: "a firm goodbye, a kiss and a hug, follwed by a prompt departure is easiest for a child to deal with". She also says "Some children develop a fear of certain people and places... . Role playing can be an effective and fun way of helping them conquer these fears.... . Read him books that involve happy stories of a child visiting [Kita]". At least her approach is consistent. I will try a firm goodbye tomorrow and advise Hamish to keep a stiff upper lip even if his bottom one is wobbling. Wish me luck!
Monday, 10 January 2011
Do you believe in karma? Today was Hamish's first day back at Kita after quite an extended break with a week-long illness following on from Christmas and New Year. To say he hasn't been looking forward to his return is an understatement. To say I haven't been looking forward to dropping him off and seeing him cry and wail, and scream and cling to my leg, and beg to go home with me is also an understatement. So much so that really he could have gone back at the end of last week, but I just couldn't face it.
But there was no more putting it off. This morning we just had to do it, through gritted teeth and false smiles. The whinging started not long after we left the house, quietened for a while on the U-bahn, especially after the driver waved at him (do they know that they are complete superstars in the eyes of toddlers (along with postmen)?). As soon as we reached the vicinity of the building he started screaming and built up to a nice crescendo by the time we reached the 4th floor. Cue: more wailing, screaming, leg-clinging, & begging.
The only reason I was able to drag myself away without him was because I had to go to German class. I've already missed a week and was dreading my return and the insurmountable catch-up that I'd need to do. Anyway German class turned out to be fine, and I returned to pick up the kids afterwards. Hamish had in his own words "cried for a long time", and according to the staff this was correct and he hadn't played with anyone, just on his own, and wouldn't eat his lunch (never a good sign in a boy like Hamish). Talk about feeling guilty about leaving him somewhere that he wasn't happy? Yuck. I hate it.
So we went down to collect Orla from the 2nd floor, and as we always have a wait until she has finished lunch, brushed teeth, washed hands, etc etc, I took the opportunity to go to the toilet, taking Hamish with me to keep him out of trouble. Though it turned out that that is exactly what he was planning. My head was full of thoughts about whether I'd need to look for another Kita-solution for Hamish, or whether this might be temporary, although he's felt more or less this way since before Christmas. Anyway, my eye just wasn't on the ball.
No sooner had I started peeing when there were people trying to break the door down and shouting German 'stuff' through the door. Quick as a flash the door was opened on me (still peeing) and there are the Kita Manager and the handy man. It was only at this point that I realised that the very quiet (and I mean REALLY quiet) buzzing noise was Hamish pressing the emergency call button repeatedly. Crap. I'd say he got his own back on me for leaving him there.
BTW: My teacher told me before Christmas that 'hamisch' means 'malicious' in German. Wunderbar!
Thursday, 6 January 2011
Wednesday, 5 January 2011
So ANYWAY...my dad had asked me to bleed his radiator in the kitchen on Christmas Eve, but what with being up to my eyeballs wrapping, still buying (yup, that's how organised I am) and helping to cook, I asked Stevie to do it and he did all the radiatiors. No prob with that, he's done it loads before. Overnight the heating was down at 8 again and as had become our practice we turned it up by a further 10 degrees after my parents were asleep. So here we are, CHRISTMAS DAY MORNING- BEFORE THE KIDS HAVE OPENED THEIR PRESENTS - standing in the hall arguing. Nice!
My dad woke up freezing and discovered that "The HEATING'S not working!!", to which my mum started going off her nut and kept rattling on about how "WE'LL have to get the PLUMBER out! Call him! Call him!"
(Yes, it was a very dramatic time). So Stevie says that everything is ok, and it's just the pressure in the system that's down and he can fix it. To say my parents didn't like the sound of this idea was an understatement. They accused Stevie of breaking their heating by turning it UP!!! Ha, ha, it makes me laugh just writing that. Then I get grilled on whether I have turned up one of the radiators in the bedrooms as this "will unbalance the system, and cause it not to work AT ALL". I like this one. They stand by this argument utterly and completely. They say the plumber balanced the system and told them that they aren't to touch the controls on the radiators. Really? Then why do radiators have them then? I asked. Well, I think I got some rambled answer, but the fundamental is that these are most likely just controls for the plumber to use in his initial setting up...uh...huh...
So my parents were totally frantic and stressed out and my mum was desperate to call this plumber at 7am on Christmas morning and my dad was nearly pegging out at the thought of Stevie manhandling his new boiler, and Stevie was making it worse by trying to reassure them that he "is an Engineer after all", which obviously is no comfort to anyone who knows him. I love him dearly, but I swear if I had a car/motorbike/Vespa in pale blue or boiler that I loved, there's no way I'd be letting him near it. It's a wonder I fly to be honest.
Anyway, while we were arguing about the radiator controls he asked my dad for a knife which he planned on using to adjust the pressure (yes, that'll be why no one has any confidence in his abilities) which actually made my dad laugh (possibly hysterically but I didn't notice as I was laughing too) and then he gave him a screwdriver or whatever it was that he really needed and as quick as a flash the problem was solved, the heating was back on and everyone was happy (ish). Ho, ho, ho, what a Merry Christmas indeed.