Friday, 25 July 2014

The tiny things that tip you over the edge...

Maybe it's because it's the school holidays.  Maybe it's the heat (though please don't go away quite yet Scottish sunshine). Maybe it's because I'm working from home more.  Whatever the reason, my tolerance levels are eroding fast and it would seem that I'm not the only one...

In recent conversations with friends who also happen to be mums, we agree that it's often not the big misdemeanours that cause us to lose it.  Instead it's the cumulative effect of all the little ones - especially those petty crimes for which my own two are convicted repeat offenders.

So, while I still have the dregs of a sense of humour, I give you the top five countdown of parenting nerve-shredders here at Average Towers...

1. The pile at the bottom of the stairs

These items are at the bottom of the stairs for a reason.  Because they need taken up.  It's highly unlikely that any of them belong to you.  You have perhaps even performed an act of kindness by placing them there neatly on behalf of whichever junior member of the family they do belong to.  Will they be dutifully carried to their rightful place next time a barefoot child darts up the stairs? Will they heck.  If you don't do anything, by the end of the week this pile will have formed the foundation blocks of a precarious tower of similar items. All of which your offspring will continue to ignore.

2. The open doors

Summer's arrived.  For three consecutive days it has been warm in our little patch of the north-east of Scotland. I love the heat.  So do my children. (It's something of a novelty round here.) They love being outdoors.  And running back in again. And being outdoors.  And running back in again.  The soundtrack of my summer beats to a percussion of slamming doors.  Because no-one ever shuts the dratted things.  I mean - why would you? Breeze? What breeze?

3. What's for tea?

It's bad enough hearing this question on the way home from school.  It's even worse when it comes during the lunchtime clear-up.  What's more, it's the small person who eats the least and who is - ahem - selective about her food who always needs to know.  (I guess it's useful to gauge which level of rejection she will require for tonight's dish.)  Attempts to pre-empt this query by writing up tonight's menu on our kitchen blackboard have not helped - other than to provoke advance protests/sulks.

4. Problems, not solutions

Even as I write, I'm aware that the blame for this one may lie squarely at my feet. "I'm hungry/thirsty/too hot/too cold/can't find my hoodie/sunglasses/library book."  Repeat to fade. Captain Mum, it would seem, is expected to spring to the rescue.  Were my children pre-school age, I like to think I'd be a little more understanding.  At ten and eight, however, the novelty of responding calmly with: "Have a drink of water/piece of fruit/where did you last see it?" is beginning to wear off.  One day, I keep telling myself, they'll solve their own mini dilemmas. Ideally before I'm drawing my pension.

5. The unchanged loo roll

I think I can just leave it there, can't I? After a long hot day dealing with 1-4, the discovery of that innocuous little grey cardboard roll can push you over the brink.  While the rest of the family looks on in horror at your disproportionate and seemingly insane reaction.

But we know the truth, don't we ladies?

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The author would like to point out that she does still possess a sense of perspective.  It's just been temporarily misplaced for the duration of the school holidays.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Holidaying across the generations: Reporting back

My previous post 'Holidaying across the generations' was all about our forthcoming holiday.  It was to be our first week away with both our children and my mum.

Said holiday has now been and gone. I feel, therefore, that it is only fair to report back on how it all went...

I'll spare you from my rusty 'just getting back in the blogging saddle' writing by keeping my thoughts short and to the point:

Holiday highs: Scottish sunshine (a major and unexpected plus); long coastal walks; rock-pooling; self-catering accommodation that surpassed expectations; dining al fresco; tennis tournaments; harbour cafes; evening strolls; leisurely bike runs; views to die for.  My ultimate high - and perhaps the one most closely associated with three generations holidaying together - was the flexibility of this new family arrangement.  The kids bonded with their grandmother.  My mum and I chatted about some of the important stuff we never normally get around to.  Hubby and I squeezed in small but invaluable pockets of time to ourselves without the children.  Having another adult around gave us extra wriggle room. If everyone didn't want to head out to the park, they didn't have to.  We simply broke off into our preferred clusters, then regrouped later with fresh enthusiasm.

Family holidays: Not all plain sailing

And, in the interests of balance...

Holiday lows: Fresh-on-the-scene tween strops; summer colds (all of us); nasty fall from tree rope swing (youngest); tennis induced twisted ankle (me); hayfever sufferers x two (hubby and youngest); two very similar females who both like to be in control (no need to explain who);  small people who, exhausted after the end of term, decided it was their divine right to do as little as possible to help out or tidy up after themselves.

So, would we do it all again? We sure would.  I think the highs definitely outweigh the lows.  To be fair, the weather and our accommodation ensured that we had the ideal conditions for family harmony.  That said, I think both children and adults learned valuable lessons during the week about compromise, biting one's tongue and mucking in.  I'm still plugging away with the kids on that last one though. Perhaps I'll have nailed it by the time they leave home?

Happy holidays, wherever you are and whatever you're up to.