Saturday, 30 June 2012

When your Rug Rats turn into Meerkats

Before my very eyes my babies are turning into toddlers.    I can sense my world is shifting on its axis.  They are 16 months and I know that most babies would have made this momentous leap to toddlerhood already but my twins have luckily spoiled me with their plump limbs-happy gurgling-rug rat-selves.  That is until now. 

So, what’s the change?  Their crawling has more commando stealth to it.  They can stand, walk along furniture, and are now popping up like Meerkats wherever I am sitting with their muchkin faces full of mischief.  They are starting to fill their clothes better and look like little people.  Their once vacantly happy faces are registering a new look...the “hatching a plan face”.  There’s a subtle power shift and I don’t think it’s in my favour.  I’m feeling outnumbered and a little scared. 

They’re not walking unaided yet or other typical toddler activities; like tantrums, constant questions, displaying the climbing enthusiasm of Edmund Hillary with the skills of a drunk.  But there is definitely something in the air.  It’s difficult to describe, If it were a cologne I’d call it Slow Dawning pour mums.

So what preparations have I made?  I’ve lowered their cots, raised everything in the house buy a meter and read “Toddler Taming” by Dr Christopher  Green.  It’s made me feel slightly more prepared,  but I can’t help but feel like a cowboy poised for a Rodeo with greasy thighs and a weak wrists.  (Slight sidestep - I had a go one of those mechanical bulls once.  Not only did I stay on for the least amount of time (a mere 3 seconds), but I broke my finger in the process.  Epic fail and I hope not an omen.)

Toddlerhood is the phase I hear other parents warn about (except those weary eyed, shell-shocked  sages who’s birds have flown the nest – in which case it’s the teenager years).  You hear of the sky high energy levels, decreased amounts of naps, and increased trips to A&E.  With two to look out for I’m definitely apprehensive.  But it must be the funniest time too?  I can’t wait to hear what they’re going to talk about, or become interested in – provided it’s not the Zing Zillas, in which case I may have to put them up for adoption.  I hope I can see the funny side when they inform Grandma that I called her a batty old woman, or when they store their collection of muddy stones in the DVD player.

What I’m not looking forward to is when they run in opposite directions.  Or both have a tantrum in public.  These things keep me up at night.  I guess the main thing is to remain calm, understand  they have zero common sense and see the funny side (although occasionally hidden from them behind my hair and shaking shoulders).  But as with everything so far, I start with high standards and ideas and after they run rings round me I eventually settle for a middle ground.  Pick your battles as a friend says to me.  Selective hearing and sight is necessary is number one in my parenting arsenal...that and cupboard that locks...for me to hide.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

It's just never what you imagined is it?

Cracking weekend with the family.  The sun finally wants to play and it’s time to get the twins in the garden.  This time last year they were still waking up in the world, but this summer will be so much more fun now they can crawl, stand and are beginning to talk.  I had romantic ideas of smelling flowers, planting seeds and taking lots of pictures.  I’m taking a night class in Photoshop and learning how to do tons of cool stuff in post production(and ok yes, the inspiration might be to airbrush my rapidly appearing grey hairs and fine lines).  But these idyllic family fantasies are never what you imagined are they?  First there’s the fight to get the sun cream on, which is impossible to do a thorough job because I can’t seem to keep hold of them as they flip their head back and forth and somehow turn to jelly and slide out of my grip.  It’s like grabbing the soap in the bath.  Most of the sunscreen  goes  in their hair ruining my plan of picture taking as they now look like they’ve not washed for a week and are borderline anaemic because I use the blue stuff.  I remember my sister told me that it took her kids about 4 years to stop fighting the daily sunscreen application, and take a deep slow breath.   I put their sun hats on, which are off in seconds.   I put the hat back on Baby S to turn around to see Baby B has thrown hers in the mud and is crawling down the garden.  I chase after her and put her hat back on to find Baby S is hatless and heading in the opposite direction.  I repeat this fruitless task for about 5 minutes getting increasingly annoyed (and out of breath) and then think, “sod it, I’ll just put up the baby shade and they can stay under that”.  Only they want to explore and I realise ironically their sunscreen lacquered hair was a blessing in disguise.

Now, the garden used to be my domain pre-babies.  I’d do all the planting, designing, weeding.  The only thing Anonoman would get involved in was the grass cutting and any heavy lifting.  He just wasn’t interested in anything else unless it involved cracking open a beer and sitting with his feet up.  But the babies have magically re-directed his interest outside.  On a fairly regular basis I’d be calling out to him for help with the kids.  You know, the usual - “Can you fetch some bottles”, Would you keep an eye on the kids while I do something” , “will you sit on Baby S so I can change her nappy”.  But he’s nowhere to be seen, but then remember to look down the garden and yeap, there he is happy digging away with headphones on!  So he can’t be disturbed!  If only I could put headphones on and drown out the world.  Maybe I can, I contemplate this for a second and think it’s probably on the social services list of unapproved parenting techniques...best not.  We have a mini row about this, and he’s back with us playing happy families in the garden. 

I’m trying to get Baby B interested in picking weeds and not deadheading all our flowers – a brilliant yet fruitless idea.  Preventing her from eating the flowers alone is a full time job.  Then making sure neither of them go near any of the poop that our lovely neighbouring cats have left us which I’d only just noticed.  It’s only when I turn around to find baby S with a mouth full of mud, that I realise Anonoman is off doing some odd garden job again.  This makes me furious which is silly because all these things need doing, and why not now.  But this idyllic little family activity I had in my head is so stressful with two babies crawling off and revealing dangers which I had never knew existed.  I need another person pair of hands, and preferably ones without headphones.

So after I stop speaking in a pitch that only dogs can hear and calm down, we all sit together and look at ants and ladybirds.  Baby S is so intrigued by them and is happy for them to be running up and down her arms.  I swell with pride as Baby B displays her fine motor skills by picking it up with precision and then to my horror, killing it dead.  Like Mr Miyagi and the fly in Karate Kid.  Possibly not a animal welfare activist in the making there.

So minus the insect cruelty and thinly controlled barny, we had a nice day.  We end it with the usual bath time, which is definitely best as a two man job with twins.  They’re into standing up in the bath which is met by stern requests to sit back down.  But to my horror Baby B stood up and slipped, bashing her mouth off the side.  We surveyed the damage after she’s calmed down and she’s chipped her tooth!  She’s only had this thing 6 months and a big chunk of it is now missing. I’m half feeling like a terrible parent and half secretly angry that Anonoman didn’t catch her (which is ridiculous, but I can’t help myself).   I’m so gutted, so absolutely gutted.  My beautiful daughter is smiling but all I can see is the gap.  The word yokel is crossing my mind, I should have taken those photos in the garden when I could.  Missing tooth is much more noticeable than greasy hair.  My family try and give me comforting support by telling me its not forever and she’ll grow a new one in 5 years.  5 years! Please God don’t let her nick name at school be Worzel Gummidge.   It’s at this moment I’m comforted by parents continually saying it goes so quickly.  I try to look on the bright side, at least the newly gain skills in photoshop will come in handy.