Pre-schooler life lessons. Part 1.

I feel this is probably particularly relevant for parents of boys, but do correct me if I am mistaken parents of girls.

Today’s life lesson…

Mastering control of your bodily functions to such an extent as to allow you to sit on your Mother’s head and then break wind. Violently. And repeatedly.

Mastered age 4 years, 5 months.

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This time in September

And so the countdown is on to Monday. Parents like us, who procreated 5 or so years ago, are quietly working up a sweat about the big reveal. D-day. The announcement of whichever primary school the big old admin machine has selected for our children.

Here it comes. Reception Year. Bloody hell.

I am really not dealing very well with all of this.

I know some of you will not be phased by it at all. Your children are recognisably ready for school and you are ready to send them off in their baggy jumpers and polo shirts. You’re cool with it. Well done.

I imagine some of you are shitting yourselves (sorry Mum) about which school will have been selected for your child. You have your heart set on your first choice and it is almost unbearable to think you have the weekend to wait until you know whether it’s a yes or no, and what-the-pencil-case will you do if it is choice two or even three?

And then I hope that some of you will be facing the same mental barrier that I am. You are not ready to let go. You cannot possibly conceive how it is almost time to be sending a child who was, last time you checked, a tiny baby, to school.

Actual school, with actual classrooms and teachers and pencils and pens and learning. How can this possibly be happening?

God, I hope I’m not alone in feeling this. Of the three schools we listed on our application, I have a preference for Blake, but actually there wasn’t much between the three of them and I’m fairly sure each of them would provide him with a happy, stable environment for the next TOO MANY years. The fact of the matter is I just really really do not want him to be going to school yet.

Some of you probably think I am insane. One of those types who watches over their child while they sleep crooning NO-ONE WILL EVER BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU and quietly embedding the mantra that NO-ONE LOVES YOU MORE THAN MUMMY in their little mind. I promise I am not. I decided long ago that I will not be the mother who grasps on to her boy. I will not stand in the way of whatever makes him happy (unless it’s something awful and illegal but you catch my drift). I will try to never allow the weight of my emotions to sit on his shoulders. I want him to be his own person, know his own mind and have conviction in his decisions. So I will back off and let him be.

But here’s the truth. These four years have been the most joyful of my life. Yes, they have been hard. I have been exhausted, I have been confused and at times I have been at my wits end. I am not a woman who believes that you must have a child to validate your life or experience true love or any such nonsense. What I do know is that for me, Blake is an utter blessing and my life is infinitely better for having him in it.

We are not a family with a whole heap of disposable income, so it has been a steady four years of visiting the park, reading together, charging around National Trust properties, soft play, garden centres, In the bloody Night Garden, digging in the flower bed, riding bikes, ploughing round the supermarket, swimming, visiting grandparents, ice-creams, hugs, kisses, museums, zoos and the odd holiday thrown in. A very regular childhood. But bugger me, it’s been magical.

It meant the world to me to be able to spend Blake’s first nine months with him, and since then we have been able to make it work on a three-day working week for me. My four-day weekends with him have been precious. I’m sure I’ve written before about the fact that when we decided we’d like to be parents, I couldn’t see past having a baby. I saw nothing beyond a tiny bundle in tiny clothes that needed to be fed and rocked and winded and nurtured. I couldn’t have imagined what an utter privilege it would be to see that baby change into a toddler and on to a little individual in their own right. Nothing prepared me for quite how amazing it has been to watch our Blake emerge over these four years.

They have passed so quickly. I cannot believe we are mere months away from the school gates. I’m sure it will all be fine. I hope he will love school. I think he is ready for the stretch of it, I think he is ready for something new. But I am not. It feels like an ending of sorts, the beginning of letting him go. A thing I know I must do, but not something I want to be confronted with or have to start to do yet.

And so I’ll be giving myself a stern talking to on Monday as I sit pressing refresh on my inbox. This was always going to come around. I won’t let Blake know or see that I feel this way. Whichever school is on that email will be part of our future for the next 7 years. But if you too feel the way that I do, join me this weekend in eating a lot of cake, have a Gin for me and hug your child a little longer at bedtime. Good luck for Monday x
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We interrupt this blog to bring you a recipe: 13.4.16

If you have a child who is prone to fussiness when presented with food, might I suggest the little beauty that is EGG FRIED RICE.

EFR is going down a freaking storm in our house at the moment and it blends the holy grail of pre-school nutrition: protein, carbohydrate and vegetables.

It is also, as an aside, what catnip is to cats for any grown men in the household. James only needs to scent the slightest whiff of EFR to materialise within an instant in the kitchen, with a bowl and grasping hands like a grown Oliver Twist, murmuring ‘please Wife, can I have some more?’

Anyway, back to the recipe.

It is really really piss simple is EFR, which is another reason for it being so universally adored by our family. This recipe is a cobbled together hybrid of various takes on it that I have tried over the years, so I probably need to credit it to multiple sources. I imagine good old Annabel Karmel is in there, and maybe Abel and Cole and probably a couple of jolly Pinteresters, so two thumbs up to you all.

You should dig out the following:

A carrot
An egg
A bunch of spring onions. Probably droopy if our house is anything to go by
Frozen peas
Basmati rice
Soy sauce

In all honesty, I imagine you can chuck whatever veg you like into this (Grated courgette? Baby corn? Chopped sugar snaps? GO WILD) and it’ll work, this is just the failsafe with Blake.

Chop up your spring onions as finely as you can safely do. I would definitely recommend picking a big duck-off knife to do this and muttering to yourself under your breath in a poor french accent for bonus fun points.

Peel and top and tail the carrot, and then grate it. I’ve probably done the grate-ones-own-finger-like-a-moron gag on the blog before, but it goes without saying that I will shave a layer of skin off my thumb and end up sporting a Spiderman plaster in the grating process.

Crash a frying pan onto the hob, slop in some oil and warm it through.

Crash a small saucepan onto the hob, fill with water and set to boil.

Gently fry the carrot and spring onion. You want this to cook nice and quietly, like a good boy, whilst you’re cooking the rice so for goodness sake keep the heat low otherwise you will burn it to buggery.

Measure out a child’s Ikea cup of rice and pour into your boiling water with a glug of oil to prevent it clumping together like a rice-meteorite. Cook for however long it states (12 mins?) and then drain.

By this point your veg should be soft. Crank the heat up a little and chuck your rice into the veg pan. You want it to sizzle and pop. Fry it for a couple of minutes.

Sling in however many frozen peas you fancy. Stir stir stir until they’re cooked through.

Crack your egg into a little bowl and whisk it up with a fork. More French accent silliness.

Push your rice and veg to the side of the pan to create a well in the centre and tip your egg into this. Let it cook through, like a little mis-shapen eggy island in a sea of rice goodness. Then stir it through the rice – the act of doing this should break it up into little pieces.

Last but crucially, whack in some soy sauce and stir to mix. I have no clear guidance on quantity – maybe a tablespoon – but I would say not to be too pre-occupied by it. I allowed myself to be totally distracted by Blake flinging mud at the Conservatory window the other day and turned my rice brown due to the quantity of soy I’d inadvertently glugged in, and Blake and James still shovelled it down like it was the tastiest thing I’d ever conjured.

Serve it up in little bowls. Blake, bizarrely, is a massive fan of Salmon at the moment so I tend to bake a fillet while I’m doing the rice and flake this in with it. You could also add chicken for an additional protein hit, or even prawns if your child is a total maverick.

And if you’re cooking this for adults, or your child has a taste for such things, I don’t think you’d go far wrong adding in some chilli and ginger at the veg frying stage.

All totally do-able in 30 minutes. Smashing.

Dazed and Mumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused, Instagram: dazedandmumfused and Facebook: facebook.com/dazedandmumfused

Hormones

I am in a perfect rage today. An absolute humdinger of a stinking, snarling, steaming bad mood.

This is really not like me. At least, I think it’s out of character. We’ll have to see what James’ eyebrows do when he reads that statement. Ordinarily I am a bit a naggy cow, slightly chaotic in my approach to life, occasionally neurotic about things, but moody? No, I don’t believe so. I ride on a relatively even keel, I laugh a lot of things off and if I find myself in a grump I can usually talk myself down pretty quickly.

But not today my friends. If I’m honest, this rage was been building since yesterday when, like an utter bell-end, I smashed the side of my head into my parents’ garage door. I know I know I know, the rational argument here is that the fault for walking into the door lies with me, but I blame that smug, yellow tosser of a door anyway.

And since then, not a fat lot has been right. Early this morning, Blake happened to mention that he was not too keen on his new automatic Spiderman toothbrush. HOW MARVELLOUS! I thundered. GREAT NEWS! I bellowed. At which point my four year old cocked his eyebrow, cleared his throat and backed slowly out of the room.

He and his father have since adopted the do-not-make-eye-contact-or-wake-the-beast technique, staying broadly out of my way and diligently applying themselves to some baking while I raged up and down the stairs with no clear idea what the heck it was I was trying to accomplish aside from making my mood clear to everyone between here and Moseley.

Nothing much has been safe today.

I have muttered furiously at James’ laptop. I have sworn at the TV. I have shouted at a bagel, flicked the Vs at the rain, thrown a hair-grip at the wall, kicked the bin and pulled all manner of faces at a toilet in Costa as I contorted myself into some sort of backwards sodding yoga pose in order to prevent Blake from falling down said toilet whilst covering his ears to drown out the noise of the hand-dryer from the neighbouring toilet.

(While I’m on the subject, THANK YOU WHOEVER IT WAS THAT INVENTED HAND-DRIERS, GUARANTEED TO SEND ALL UNDER 5S INTO A WAILING FIT OF WOE.)

And having spent the past 40 minutes gladly crashing the iron into the ironing board and burning the merry sh*t out of a top, I can only conclude that forces are at work here.

These are hormones that we speak of. Of the pregnancy kind I suspect.

I don’t recall them troubling me when I was expecting Blake (again, we’ll see what James’ eyebrows do when he reads that) but they have completely hi-jacked me today. I have been quite, quite batshit. Sorry James. Sorry Blake. I do hope I wake up in a better mood tomorrow because if not I really cannot think what this will mean for my up and coming turning of the ripe old age of thirty bloody two.

So from my brooding little black cloud over here, over and pissing well out.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused, Instagram: dazedandmumfused and Facebook (blah bloody blah) facebook.com/dazedandmumfused

Secret beer

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The thing with having a secret beer after your grumpy pregnant wife has gone to bed is that you are meant to dispose of the evidence afterwards.

BUSTED 😉

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused, Instagram: dazedandmumfused and NEWS FLASH Facebook: facebook.com/dazedandmumfused