Today has been of those days I do not relish as a parent. A full day at home. We are due to take delivery today of one of Blake’s Birthday presents – a playhouse. It is now 8.45pm and I am still waiting. The company delivering said playhouse were unable to specify the time they would arrive meaning that I was dimly aware that we might be house-bound for the day. I was however blindly optimistic that OF COURSE the delivery would happen in the morning and then we could hop in the car and mooch over to Solihull and waltz into Lakeland to pick up the TEN TONNES of icing I have ordered for the wildly ambitious Birthday cake I am planning to make and will inevitably balls up and turn over to my husband to redeem. No such luck.
I am not a good stay-at-home parent. In fact, I am awful. I am not good at staying at home in general – I like to get out and about, to do something with my day, to get some fresh air, to come into contact with others of my species. Team this with trying to keep a verging-on-three-year-old-boy, who has inherited this same restlessness, entertained indoors for a full day and it’s no wonder we ended the day stalking round each other like a pair of wildcats about to have a brawl.
Some parents are brilliant at staying in. They have endless activities they can bring to mind at the merest threat of rain, bags full of crafty supplies, pots of lovingly prepared play-dough and gloop and glitter and crepe paper to while away the hours in happy companionship. I am something of a vacuum in this area. Blake is not into craft. He is into trains and the sandpit, the TV and Thomas books. And so I have no real supplies and a severely limited range of ideas.
I read a cracking thing a few months ago, which compared toddler boys to dogs. It spoke of things like their love of eating food off the floor, their love of sticks. What it also spoke about, and what rang true for me, was the need to exercise your toddler boy outdoors. By approximately 10am. Otherwise all hell breaks lose. Certainly true in my experience. Last Autumn/early Winter Blake and I fell into the pleasing habit of going to the park early on a Saturday morning. We’re always up on a Saturday because James works, so we’d just muffle up, load into the car, and off we’d go. We were always the first there but by 10am there were other parents rolling in, even in the pissing rain, nearly always with a toddler boy or two in tow. It is just a thing with boys I think. By 10am Blake is fed up with the house. He doesn’t want to play with any more toys. He wants out. Or he wants TV and there is really only so much TV you can do in a day before starting to feel like a truly awful parent. And so out we go – even if just a walk to the Co-op up the road to buy some chocolate buttons or a crappy Night Garden magazine. WE HAVE TO GET OUT.
Because otherwise by 5pm, you as a parent are seeking out any and all alcohol and having that awful ‘when is it bedtime/can I bring tea forward half an hour/shall we skip the bath tonight he’s not that grubby’ string of thoughts that then eat you up with guilt once your child is in bed and you sit glumly wondering why you thought such things about the brightest thing in your life; and as a child you are on your back on the sofa, screeching at the top of your lungs because you are so bored and frustrated, throwing a punch or a kick (or in our current case, SPITTING OH JOY) at anyone who comes near.
And so today has been challenging. The weather at least has been kind and allowed us a morning in the garden. Which went well until 11am hit and Blake crashed. I don’t know if it is just my child, or all children, who around the age of three drop all their cues. When you have a baby, once the initial shock, exhaustion and blind panic has passed, you become a cue ninja. Your child only has to cock their head in a certain way or give off a particularly pitched squawk, to send you running in the knowledge that you have exactly 4 minutes and 23 seconds to get some milk into them before utter chaos occurs. And then at about this age the cues disappear. And life goes: potter potter potter potter, playing with my trains, potter potter, put the train in the sandpit, potter gosh what fun, have a go on the slide, potter potter, isn’t life lovely PITCH FORWARD ONTO THE GROUND FACE FIRST AND HOWL WITH HUNGER/THIRST/EXHAUSTION.
So there was a garden meltdown. And then a battle over nap-time (needs one but does not want one), a battle over my inability to mind read what he wanted for lunch, a string of banana based dilemmas, and then we ground to a halt at 3pm and I decided we’d make biscuits! CLEVER MUMMY HAD INGREDIENTS FOR AMERICAN SUGAR BISCUITS. Which went really well until approximately 20 seconds into the creaming of butter and sugar, at which point Blake recognised this task to be the hard, dull, cramp-inducing arse that it is and bailed on me.
I ploughed on and made biscuits. He trashed his railway track.
My Mum popped in to see us, recoiled at our frantic, strained expressions, stayed far longer than she should have helping Blake fill the sink up to the top with water and pull the plug a few times, helping me out with some chores (thank you x), before gulping down a scalding hot cuppa and running for the hills.
I resorted to footage of steam trains on YouTube. We disagreed over Spaghetti Bolognese. We disagreed over the bath. He eventually ate some banana and we found 20 minutes of peace snuggled up on the sofa reading Thomas books.
Then the bedtime/wildcat brawl.
I am now prowling by the door, bowl of Haribo in hand, ready to greet trick or treaters. No-one so far has shown up either to scavenge sweets from me or present me with this sodding playhouse. If they call and tell me the delivery has been rearranged for tomorrow I may start plucking my nostril hair out in between eating this mountain of Haribo and Sugar Biscuits, trying to figure out how ON EARTH we make tomorrow marginally more successful.
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