Living Life

“Well, you need to live where you live. Because if you don’t live where you live, then you might miss out.”

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Pictured: being four.

She could easily teach me a thing or two.

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The Night Before Christmas

So I was reading to my kids the other day.

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And I get up to the bit where Santa and the reindeer land on the roof.  So far, everything is fine.

Until Santa starts naming all the reindeer.

Let’s see… There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen.

(Just between us grown-ups, now that I read this as an adult, these names are kind of weird.  To my ears the first four sound like strippers and the last four sound like condoms.  I mean, who WROTE this?  What was THAT all about?)

So anyway, he names them all.  (After strippers and condoms. Seriously?)

And there’s this glaring omission.  I’m sure you know then name of the one who isn’t there.

3 year old interrupts, distraught.

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She says “MUM!  Wait!!  Where’s … where’s… ” and it is obvious that she can’t remember the name for whatever she’s looking for.  Her 6 year old sister fills in the blanks.

“Hey, yeah, mum, where is Rudolph?”

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Eventually, in a surprise burst of inspiration, I say “see that night sky?  Clear as day.  No fog here, so he doesn’t NEED Rudolph.  Remember?  He only gets Rudolph when it’s too foggy to see.  This is NOT a foggy night, so Santa can do it all without Rudolph.  Rudolph is probably at home eating a whole lot of reindeer food right now.”  I sit there, feeling about as smug as pie.

Silence, while this sinks in.

Nothing happens.  So I open my mouth to keep reading, and I’m cut off again.

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I ask, “What is it this time?”

“Where are the elephants?” She says.

We all stare at each other.  She’s actually looking kind of angry.  She says it again.

“Where are the elephants??”

Now she’s exasperated.

“Where is the lightning?” She demands.

We all look back at the book.

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Frantic flicking through the book… I find its lack of elephants disturbing.

I get the weirdest feeling that I’m letting her down.

I thought Christmas would be exciting enough for a kid, what with the toys and the food and the people and mystery and tinsel and the civic decorations and the festivities and the hype and the whole mythos and cultural experience – if anything you’d think it would be overwhelming, not insufficient.

But after a moment, I start thinking, you know what, she’s right.  There’s plenty of things in here about this magical (and oddly judgemental) guy with apparently endless funds who delivers presents on a fairly dubious honours system, there are some magical reindeer, whose main skill is flight, and then toys happen.  But it’s somewhat lacking in the *excitement* department.

Oh wait I forgot, there’s also a tree.  A heavily decorated fir tree.  Sometimes, even, with flashing lights!

That’s exciting, right?

… Right?

*crickets*

Nobody wants to make, let alone watch, an action movie about a slightly magical postman who gets all the mail delivered on time.  (Well, not unless they also include the four strippers and four condom brands.  And even then it’s still only a maybe.)

To be fair to the illustrators, the poem doesn’t actually make any mention of elephants or lightning.  But then, it doesn’t specifically say that they WEREN’T there, either.  Am I right?

So here it is.  Especially for my action-packed little three year old, I am pleased to present an arguably more thrilling alternative to the standard Christmas scene.

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To help them fit in with the Reindeer style of names, we can call them Bambi and Trojan.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

The Will to Live

So I went to the toilet just before.  It occurred to me at the time that it was the first time I’d sat down for 7 hours.  Three kids is more work than a full-time job.  It is hard work.  Someone smarter than me once pointed out that any number of kids is a lot of kids.  This is true.  Especially if that number is three.  Some days are rather good, or at least my mood is sufficiently bolstered to see the good in anything at all.  I might not get anything done, but I can appreciate that nobody died and we probably ate more than one food group over the course of the day.  Probably.

Shhh!  You'll jinx it!

Shhh! You’ll jinx it!

That, and at this point we are up to the third child, we have the skills and confidence to handle things that totally freaked us right out when we had that first child.  It helps sometimes to step back and just appreciate how far we’ve really come.  I like to take a little pride in the progress I’ve made.

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That’s right baby, I changed the HECK out of that nappy.

There was one day recently where the children-of-chaos activity-meter was just off the charts, and I actually had to dress them in pretty clothes to make it easier to be nice to them.

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Aw, so precious.  I can almost forget the carnage you unleashed five minutes ago. ALMOST.

Some days are so overflowing with evil that even the cupboards are against me.

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Huh? Who, Me? Oh, just battling the overheads. No, I’m fine, don’t need any help, thanks. I have this.

This feeling is compounded by the endless, tedious, despicable housework, and also riddled with guilt over the irreversible psychological damage I figure I must be causing to my children, pretty much daily.   Just by, well, being me.  It stands to reason.

There are times when I’ve had the house to myself for a short while.  They are rare, but they happen.  I tend to squander them, by using that time to tidy up, which often means throwing away other people’s stuff, which I then have to hide underneath something else in the rubbish bin.

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Pictured: the agony and ecstasy of throwing other people’s stuff out.

Green child upset me quite a bit last week.  I picked her up from school, and announced that I’d just bought her a ton of painting paper, paints, brushes, art books and a rather full bag of all kinds of things to get super creative with.  She says flatly “ok, but what about getting me a present that says ‘I love you’?”  I was so upset I had to take her home immediately and dress her beautifully again.  Five-year-olds will hurt your feelings, man.

But she works well at the other end of that scale, as well.  Yesterday when I picked her up from school, I asked what she had learned for the day.  She said this:

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Hey, wait a – no, ok, I see your point.

I thought, well that’s hardly fair.  What about that kid with the invisible eye-brows?  Or the twins who walk their cat to school?  What about that family who ride those bicycles with no pedals?  But then she explained that they were learning odd and even numbers, and our family has 5 people in it.  That makes us odd.

Basically, raising kids is an emotional minefield, or rollercoaster, or some kind of juggernaut.  Or possibly an emotional cyclone.  Or quite likely all of the above.

Some days it must be written all over me, when I’m running out of … whatever it is that I’m using up when raising children.  That would be will to live, I suppose.  Or, “Life”, as we know it, for short.  I’m running out of life, and some days it must be just written all over me, in black and white print.  Because there are times when my husband looks at me, and says:

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Except I’m so low on life I don’t even realise how low I am.

Because I’ve had a HARD DAY and I Don’t Want to Talk About It.  Plus, in all honesty, I am suspicious of my husband’s motives at times.  It’s like: he’s a man… I’m exhausted… I can’t be too careful.

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Me, suspicious and exhausted. This is my emotional ground zero these days.

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Thankfully I can recognise when I’m being a complete twit, and when to show appreciation.  Although I am not great at reciprocal affection.  I have lots to learn about that, in fact.

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True story.

Mind you, I regained some of my will to live the other day.  Pink child was refusing to go to sleep, my husband kept putting her in bed, she kept getting up again.  She kept insisting she had to tell me something so I wouldn’t forget it.  Eventually he caved in a little, and let her come down to see me in the study.  I asked her what she wanted to tell me.  She said:

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Which is cuter than a bug’s ear, coming from a 3 year old.  So I said good night again and began to usher her back to bed.

And then she said this:

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My will to live is now completely restored.

Hair

The girls were very excited to see the babysitter yesterday.  They adore her.  The toddler was so excited, she completed skipped over saying hello.  She dived straight into discussing the trials and torments of her day.

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Which is fine.  After all, she’s only 3.  Which may account for what she said next:

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I was stuck somewhere between laughing and envy, over the fact that she can actually kick her own face.

Genetics

I’m presently 35 weeks pregnant.  B-day is coming, so close I can taste it.  (It tastes like acid reflux).  Naturally the kids are getting more curious, and asking more questions as the due date looms nearer.

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Most I am prepared for. Others, not so much.

I stood there a moment, caught between wanting to laugh and how best to approach the answer.  This being a 5 year old, her grasp on genetics is slender at best.

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There I am, nearly laughing, but for the taste of acid reflux.

I was also sort of hoping that my husband, who has been reading up on molecular biology and anatomy lately, would step in and say something.

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What can I say, the man doesn’t disappoint.

Huh.  I’m going to curl up alone in a chair now, and eat chocolate.  Well, ok, sprawl ungainly across the sofa.  That’s about all I’m capable of right now. To sit there, grumpy and alone.  With my acid reflux.

Coolest Thing

Just FYI: Kids are cute.  And also clever.  And occasionally philosophical.  This is probably due to not being constrained by mundane rubbish on a daily basis.

Eldest daughter was on the back step the other day, waving her arms about and saying things like “taaa daa!”  and little blahdey-blah things, as if giving a really enthusiastic speech.

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She was really getting into it. Whatever it was.

I went out and asked her what she was doing.

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Hoping the answer wasn’t some form of crazy.

She answered:

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Personally, I think *everyone* is doing this all the time, but hardly anyone admits it.

Then she forgot about me and went back to her demonstration.

Quod Erat Demonstrandum.  Kids are the coolest thing in the world.

Honesty

It’s hard going anywhere with children.  They absorb everything.  Which is fine, and how they are supposed to learn things.  But they seem to be little walking stores of honesty, and then they pick the worst moments to let it out.  Sometimes it’s perfectly harmless, and even really cute. Image

 

Or it’s unpleasant but only in a mild way, and only manages to upset one person.

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Other times, it’s loud and in a public place and contains so much embarrassing information it’s hard to know how to react.

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For instance, at the supermarket.

Oh yeah, and after yelling that, she yelled out that she wanted me to rub her bum so it would be warm again.  I was too busy at the time wondering why she sat on the butter at all, and if anyone else was disturbed by that.

Sometimes they stealth it on you.  They start off being adorable and cute, and you let your guard down, and then they  throw a whopping curve ball.

And you’re left lost and bewildered wondering what just happened.  Hoping nobody else heard it.

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When you know damn well that they did.

But my favourite would be the cheerful logical conclusions they draw based on a premise that is unflattering to start with, and they usually save this type up for the end of the day, when you’re worn out and have no remaining energy or self-esteem left to cope with it.

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Well maybe “favourite” is the wrong word.

Those moments are precious.  

No, in fact, those moments are difficult.  

Change that.  Those moments are annoying.  And draining and embarrassing and occasionally frightening.

However in hindsight (say, much later when the sting has worn off) those moments are also hilarious.