Things I’ve learned

I know lockdown is nowhere near over and that Covid is here to stay for the long term. I have friends who have been self-isolating, family who have succumbed to this illness and died. Our lives continue to be affected by it. However, apart from FrazzledPa still working from the box room upstairs (which still looks like the shithole from hell – despite his efforts to clear it out) things slowly return to normal.

The children are back at school full time, which makes our life at home calmer, with more routine and fun times become fun, rather than a way to relieve the monotony of not being able to go anywhere or see anything or anyone. I’ve returned to work as a supply (substitute) teacher. I have no understanding of how this works – I can teach 4 different classes, in 4 different schools each week, but nobody cares about the bubbles I invade, or how without any knowledge of it, I could be a super-spreader. All I do is remember to follow the guidelines in the classroom, and wash and change clothes when I get in. I then add my children’s 2 school bubbles to this mix… There is something seriously wrong here, but if we’ve got to live with Covid in our lives, what choices do we have?

What have I learned in this time?

I love my husband dearly. We’ve been through the craziest, toughest times in the past 24 years, but even while we’ve hardly been away from each other for the past 7 months, things just get better and better. We make each other laugh, we’ve remembered the things that we love so much about each other, we’ve supported each other, we’ve talked more, we’re so in synch, it’s scary. I’ve always thought we have one of the happiest marriages / relationships I’m aware of, but it’s just constantly getting better and better.

My children are OK. They have moments – we all do… But there’s a growing understanding that FrazzledPa and I actually know what this parenting lark is about… It hasn’t been easy. This lockdown has convinced me that Boo has signs of ADHD, and I’m wanting to get her assessed. Big Boy has control issues. He loses it if he can’t control what’s going on. We’ve had to work hard on that, but we’re getting there… But we have great kids, who look after each other (when they’re not fighting) and can hold good conversations. I love them to pieces.

It’s OK to just sit and be. We don’t have to be busy all the time. We don’t need to fill every moment with activity. X-box isn’t a bad thing, ignoring the kids occasionally isn’t a bad thing.

I don’t have to be involved in everything going on. I can let go and let others take the lead. It will get done without me and will all be fine.

We can do this. Life is ultimately good.

TEN

I’ve lost 10lbs in 3 weeks, without a huge out of effort. I’m using a virtual gastric band hypnosis app and following the most sensible guidelines in the world to support this. I’ve also moved 3-4 notches in on my belt.

Still got a long long way to go (like another 70lbs, but yay! I’ve got this. 💪

48

Today was my 48th birthday. It was my first lockdown birthday.

I had a great day.

That’s all.

Did somebody say JUST EAT?

I’m a emotional eater. There’s no way I can live in denial anymore. My lockdown stone (and that’s a conservative estimate) has proved beyond doubt that when I’m extremely happy or very upset I aim for the snack cupboard.

When Big Boy throws his mattress down the stairs in a fit of rage, (it’s been 2 weeks since the last outburst, I’m waiting for the next one to come soon…) I have to calm him down, give him comfort and then cuddle him while talking the incident through. (There are so many issues we’re working through right now.) Once he’s settled and asleep, I look for the sweet stuff. I need to feel the sugar flowing through me, and giving that comfort hit. It’s one of the reasons I’m trying not to use food or sweets etc as a reward or emotional prop for my children – I’m so reliant on it.

When I’m happy and chilled, I look for savoury products. Peanuts are my go to. I can’t get enough salt. Firstly, this is slightly medical. I need to take in more salt and potassium as my body doesn’t absorb as much of them as it should. I know I should consider healthier items, but oh I love peanuts so much. When I was young, my parents would put peanuts out as an evening ‘occaision’ snack. (I ❤️ the 70s!). However, I would have an adverse reaction to them – they would give me stomach cramps and make me sick if I ate them past 6pm. I grew out of this, but my love for peanuts and the feeling of them being a treat never changed. They bring back the feeling of happy family times, games round the kitchen table and laughter.

This needs to change. I’m trying to be mindful about my eating, thinking whether I’m hungry, or if something that has happened is triggering my response. I’m learning to take a deep breath and keep away from the kitchen. I’m making conscious decisions not to keep a plethora of sweet snacks at hand.

I am hoping that this will help me make the healthy changes I need. I have my 48th birthday this weekend, I’d like to live at least another 40 years.

What do you think helps to make that change?

Where does the pollen go?

Big Boy has reached the age of 10. It was time to answer those questions and let him know how babies are made. He and Boo have been discussing this lots lately. They are aware that a seed is given to the woman by the man which helps form the baby. How the seed gets there is the mystery.

Today needed to be the day as Big Boy was discussing his testicles, or as he beautifully calls them, his balls. (yes, I know, but it’s a bit tough when your child first starts referring to his bits…) Boo concluded that the seed must be kept in there, so for it to get inside the woman, she (the woman) would need to bite them. Big Boy looked half convined.

So after dinner (appropriately in my dirty mind, toad in the hole), Frazzledpa and Boy went off for a man to man chat in the rain. I’d primed Frazzledpa. “Keep it brief, make sure he understands that Boo is too young to know. Talk about love and respect and not rushing. Talk about how 2 people need to feel the same way.”

God knows what he said, or what my darling son took from this, but the conversation with my boy when he returned was interesting.

“Dad told me some weird stuff on our walk.”

“Yes. I know.”

“So does it hurt when he has to, you know, put his balls up your…?”

“No, the balls don’t go there, just the penis.” (Or at least in my experience, though that may be too much detail for a 10yr old.) “The balls hold a liquid called semen which is the seed, and this is released into the lady’s body to find the egg. Together the seed and egg grow a baby.”

“Eww that’s a bit strange and gross.”

“I know, every child thinks that when they first hear about it, but you’ll change how you think.”

“If you hadn’t adopted, would you have done that thing?”

“Yes. It’s a way that grown ups share love too.”

“So there isn’t always a baby?”

“No.”

“Dad and I chatted about this. I think I might adopt like you two did. But Dad says there was lots of paperwork.”

“Yes. I was sad that I couldn’t have children, but I’m also glad too, because it means we got you and Boo.”

“I’m not sure if doing THAT or lots of writing to adopt is worse. If you want one child, do you just do that sex thing once? Do you get a baby every time?”

“No…” (I’m having moments of Kevin and Perry flashbacks here, it’s hard not to laugh.) “Look. Your body is starting to change.”

“Yes dad says I’ll get hairy armpits and hair down THERE.” (pulls his shorts down to check.)

“And your feelings will change – that’s hormones. It’s what makes you grumpy now. You’ll also be sweaty and smellier. You need to take responsibility to have regular showers.”

“I can do that. Look my balls are growing.”

“I don’t need to see that.”

“Mum. What’s the point of beards?”

No idea. Go to bed.”

Frazzledpa says he tried, but couldn’t get a word in edgeways. I believe him.

I’ve ordered a book. I think it may be one he actually bothers to read…

Reproduction from Grease 2 – where does the pollen go? Best song ever.

My Space

I’m the sort of person who needs some space. I enjoy being with people, I love my family, but this lockdown, I’m just missing being in my own. There’s something about solitude and time out that just helps restore the soul.

I’ve found my space. Each morning I take my cup of tea outside. We have an old wooden bench that sits under our kitchen window. I sit there, listen to the bird song and pretend my husband has gone to work, and the children are at school. Sometimes they may join me – and that’s lovely too. They play, I drink tea and read.

My timeout is important. I need it for my sanity. I need to be kind to myself. Being kind to myself helps me be kind to others. I have quite a temper at times – a safe temper, but still a big shouty temper. I find my time away just helps me to keep calmer during the day and that’s best for everyone.

When lockdown is finally over and things return to the new normal I don’t quite know what I’ll do. It’s day 76 already. I don’t remember the last time we spent this much time together. It has mostly been good. We have had so many family experiences, we’re all still alive, Frazzledpa and I are reliving our 20s and early 30s where we stay up until 1am watching our favourite bands on YouTube. (Usually doing sets at Glastonbury, which we never made it to…)

We’ve explored our local area and discovered new places. We’ve played games, used our bikes and fallen in love with the Great Tit family that made a home in our nesting box.

When this over, I want to remember that we did this and that we’re stronger than ever.

Have I got my priorities wrong?

Oh I am fuming! But I can’t decide whether the fuming is justified or not.

Let me explain.

My 8 year old daughter has recently learned to ride her bike (which is a little big for her) with confidence. This is a huge step for a little girl who has some anxiety and confidence issues.

This afternoon, while my back was turned for those few seconds, she fell off. She was on the path, but her bike knocked into a neighbour’s car. She was so upset, hurt and scared. She brought the bike home to me, in tears, and told me what had hapoened. (This in itself is a massive thing, as she doesn’t like to take responsibility when things go wrong.) Once I had dried her tears and explained that accidents happen, I held her hand, and we took a walk up the lane to look at the car in question. There was a mark on it, so I told Boo I would walk her back, and then knock on the door to chat with the car owner.

We were just about to go, when the car owner opened her window and said

“Excuse me, your daughter fell off her bike and hit my car a few minutes ago.”

“Yes,” I replied. “I was just about to take her home and come back to talk to you.”

I sent Boo home. (We’re talking 100 yards on a pavement, no crossing roads involved, and I can see to our door.) Together, the lady and I looked at the minimal damage. She told me 2 of the neighbours has seen it happen, and told her about it.

Now, THIS is where I have the issue. I understand that cars are expensive and round our way, a f**king status symbol. (Our crusty Mondeo really lets the street down… 🙄 ) But… if you see a neighbour’s child fall off their bike and show obvious signs of distress, surely you would check they were ok, walk them home and talk with their parent first? Surely a child’s welfare is more important than a tossing car? I like to think that my priority would be the child.

Did they think that I was going to pretend it never happened? Are we such shit neighbours that frankly they don’t care and would like to cause hassle?

So yeah, I’m fuming. I don’t know if I should be, but I am.

By the way, Frazzledpa had a look and thinks its just mark left by the rubber from the grips on the handle bar, so shouldn’t be an issue.

Cry me a River

I’m struggling. I don’t mind admitting that now we’re on week 10, I’m not sure how much more of this I can do.

I’m ready to cry at the drop of a pin. I find it hard to smile when I hear the shout of ‘mum.’ I don’t really have much interest in keeping the children amused any more. If they choose to knock seven shades of shit out of each other, I’m ready to just kick back and let them get on with it. I miss my parents intensely. We live a long way apart, it’s been 5 months since I last saw them – that’s the longest time in nearly 48 years. Phone calls and FaceTime just aren’t the same.

I miss coffee with friends, the freedom to go where I want, when I want. I miss silly times with the few friends I have here. I hate that people think I’m happily independent, and coping well. Quite frankly, I’m so bloody lonely – even with my wonderful husband and my gorgeous children.

But I also miss the solitude. The times I can potter and meander, getting jobs done without having to think about whether Frazzledpa is in yet another zoom meeting, or whether the children want me to make yet MORE slime with them. (6 varieties this week…) I want ME TIME.

I so sound like a selfish prick – especially when I have family and my health. I completely appreciate that, and I apologise to anyone who things I don’t know how good I have things.

But shit! When all this returns to normal, please remind me to be grateful for the little things.

Take care and stay safe. ❤️

Give us our Daily Bread

I have a confession to make.

I have signed up to the Lockdown Activity of the Bored Middle Classes. And I’m not even that bored.

Yes. It was 2½ weeks ago that I gave birth to a sourdough starter, and I’ve now made 5 loaves. Let me reassure you. I’m not going to tell you how to make this wonder loaf, because quite frankly, I am nowhere near sourdough bread perfection. I don’t understand the ratio thing, or how different hydrations are measured and no two loaves (or even 5 loaves) are the same.

Today’s loaf is acceptable.

A sourdough starter is very much like a toddler. They need a lot of attention – regular feeding, kept warm, can choose not to do what you want it to do, might dislike change, and are loved and cherished. Once you have your starter trained, you need to decide on how you are going to make your bread. O. M. G! Tell me exactly WHY there are so many variations? I’m on my 2nd loaf of my third recipe. For a loaf that only has 3 ingredients, it’s a veritable minefield! Do you create a leaven? (Do you even spell it like that?) Do you kneed? Do you fold? Do you retard the proof by putting the bread in the fridge overnight? Do you cook on a stone with a steam bath underneath or in a ditch oven? (Once you’ve googled what a Dutch oven is…)

While my hand has been in plaster cast (thankfully it isn’t any more) I’ve found that making sourdough bread is easy enough to make one handed as it doesn’t require the intense kneeding that normal bread does. My husband is appreciating having fresh bread (though the one made mid-week was tough enough to use as a house brick…) But I can’t stop until I’ve got it mastered.

I ❤️ bread so much!

I wonder whether this is an obsession that will continue when lockdown is over and my work and busy life resumes. Only time will tell…

What has been your lockdown obsession?

Who is this hurting the most?

This week has just been hell. My 10 year old has developed a real attitude. He is openly defying the smallest request, answering back and today called us all a bunch of f**cking idiots. I’m kind of devastated that it’s got to this, yet also feel I should accept that this is a 10 year old who is not only pushing his boundaries to see how far they stretch, but is also frightened, saddened and frustrated by the whole lockdown business.

It is 4.30pm, and this is the nicest he’s been since breakfast. (He is playing on his Segway at the front of our house. Always better after time outside…) He is missing interaction and friendships so much, and mostly wants to do nothing but play on his Xbox. I understand his frustration – I broke my dominant hand the other week, and still can’t do up my bra – but there has to be a limit somewhere…

So, the Xbox is out of bounds until the attitude improves. I’m aware that this is probably counter-productive. He doesn’t get what he wants, and I have to deal with the fallout. I’m not sure whether devices like Xbox cause behaviour problems – I’ve read a little and feel quite divided by it – we also limit his time anyway. But yes, it’s hard for him.

My main issue is that unless a toy has a plug or screen attached, he doesn’t want to know. Everything else is apparently boring. – reading, writing, constructing, drawing, ball games, baking, board games – just not interested.

What is the answer? What am I missing and does that make me a bad parent?