Before I became a
parent, I had very idealistic ideas about how I would spend my days
with my children.
If you type into Google
Images 'Mother baking with children', 'mother at the park' and
'mother shopping with kids', you will see all these ideas in their
full, unapologetic naivety.
In short, our days
would be filled with bread making, painting and dancing around the
living room like the family at the end of the Disney film Enchanted
(if you haven't seen it, the fact that it's a Disney film should give
you some idea. As a brief synopsis; no magnetic trains strewn across
the floor or playdough trodden into the carpet. No Bing on the TV.
Both parents look the opposite of tired and stressed out. The
daughter is twirling and dancing about and definitely not saying
things like “come and look at my big poo” (a genuine request of my husband, from our eldest, yesterday)).
from the fact that I never realised parenthood would involve invites
to stare down the toilet at my children's excrement, there have been
some huge disappointments for me in this whole parenting lark:
The Gruffalo. Now it's
not The Gruffalo himself who is the disappointment. But, as a
teacher, and really, a human, I adore the story of The Gruffalo. And
having taught it and read it for years to the point where I can
recite it off the top of my head, I have never met a child who
doesn't like it.
child number one. Who hates The Gruffalo. Who is scared of the
Gruffalo. Who will happily read all the other pages of the book,
except the ones on which there is an illustration of The Gruffalo.
Who, therefore, will not entertain notions of The Gruffalo's Child.
Baking. Now perhaps it
is just my child. But we have only just
got to the point, at three years old, where baking lasts more than
ten minutes and the boy shows enthusiasm for more than just the
eating part. Previous to, pretty much this week, baking had involved
the following steps:
Me saying “shall we bake biscuits?”
R hearing 'biscuits' and saying a very enthusiastic “yes”
Me gathering all ingredients and weighing them out whilst...
R plays with the biscuit cutters and asks “how many minutes?”
R pouring ingredients into bowl, spilling a lot on the floor/
worktop/ himself/ me
R asking “how many minutes?”
R stirring ingredients around bowl, spilling a lot on the floor/
worktop/ himself/ me
Me stirring and bringing the dough together whilst...
R dips his finger in the bowl and tastes the dough repeatedly
Me shaking flour onto the worktop
R spreading flour all over the worktop/ floor/ himself/ me.......
so on. He used to get ridiculously bored after flicking flour all
over the kitchen. Then I cleaned it all up. Then he ate the biscuits.
painting. I always envisaged that this would take up a good hour of
our (sometimes seemingly never ending) days. In reality it takes more
time to get all the sodding stuff out than it does to actually
produce the painting. To add to the joy of crafts with a toddler, I'm
a Virgo which means I'm a bit of a perfectionist. So when R is
painting and chooses to dip the paintbrush in every colour
before applying the greying-browny mess to the paper, or mixes the
playdough colours (*gasp*) I have to stamp all over my inner OCD
goddess and remind myself that he's only three and he's just
exploring. But still. It is not
the mother, son painting extravanganzas I see on Google Images.
Soft Play. If you read
my recent soft play post, you'll know how much I enjoy (ahem) soft
play. The main issue with my parenting expectation versus parenting
reality of soft play is actually me. My parenting expectation was
that I would be positively thrilled and beside myself with glee,
running through the too-small foam tunnels and diving into
too-shallow ball pits. The reality is that I'm effing tired and the
whole reason I go to soft play is for the big padded maze to
entertain my children whilst I try not to fall asleep over my latte
because the baby is teething and is a bit anti-sleep at the moment.
there is one hugely important aspect of parenting which has not
disappointed me and has more than made up for the fact that I do not
look like a sultry-but-cute Nigella Lawson when cooking with my kids:
make me tired. They make me frustrated. They make me yearn for a wee
in peace and for the Tweenies to retire.
they also make me smile. They make me happy. They make me proud.
And maybe, one day, they might even like the Gruffalo.