Tag Archives: parenting

Enjoy them now

There’s always an older woman around when you need that crucial piece of advise. I’m sure I’m not being ageist or sexist when I say it, I assure you. Maybe it’s coincidence but I think not for there she is, the older lady with nuggets of wisdom to dispense at just the right moment. They are mothers, grandmothers who no doubt wait by phones for sons to call or wave grown up children off of a Sunday evening urging you to enjoy every second of your time with your young children. It is well meaning for that I have no doubt and comes from a place of empathy but happens within earshot of most young mothers normally at the end of their tether, far too frequently.  Allow me to illustrate.

Now, rest assured, the following incidents are purely fictional and thereby serving to illustrate my point. I mean at no point yesterday afternoon did I personally find myself at a local library with three young sons you understand. No, no son of mine was emptying the read-it-yourself shelves and upsetting the alphabetical order of things while his brother begged his mother to read another of the Mr Men series. Nor was I drawed upon, ahem, she drawed upon to find Wally at the same time. No, I’m sensible like that. No, this was an altogether different mother. All characters remember are fictional, all but the lady who appeared just when the poor mother at the library was about to throw a tantrum herself and pack three said boys into the people carrier, lo and behold, there from behind the cookbooks appeared the older lady like an appartition ‘Aw’, she said ‘enjoy them now, these years go by in a flash, You’ll miss them.’ The mother almost huddled in the corner trying to realphbetize a row of Horrid Henry‘s while simultaneously trying to hold a trying toddler, smiled and nodded, really appreciating that little nugget of wisdom. I’m sure it was the first time, even that day, she had heard it.

That same sorry mother an hour later in the supermarket encountered another angelic vision who might have popped out at her from the cereal aisle to whisper ‘oh, their problems only get bigger.’ as she cajoled her eldest along who had gotten his finger stuck in the trolley. Is that so? I better get home I thought, I mean she thought, before the third vision appeared telling her that she had her hands full and that indeed boys are a handful and then inevitably there would appear the ‘wouldn’t-it-be-worse-if-he-were-thrown-down-sick’ fairy who somehow finds the perfect time to deliver the most useful line with perfect timing. Is there nothing to be said for awkward silence anymore?

Then today, that same mother found herself watching her three boys tumbling down an outside slide in fits of giggles, watching them standing up in turn to blow her a kiss at the window where she watched on, knowing instinctively, that she will miss the days when they were young, full of fun, carefree and naughty. And funnily, no-one had to tell her that.

Dinnertime

And the living ain’t easy. I don’t want to give up I think as I’m punching the air in the pantry. I’ve come to hide to take several deep breaths instead of throwing a tantrum myself at my longing for one peaceful dinner.

One peaceful dinner where the baby doesn’t throw his spoon on the floor with a giggle, twenty times. One peaceful dinner where my toddler sits at the table and eats. One peaceful dinner where I’m not lecturing the six year old on the value of eating meat and vegetables. One peaceful dinner where we chat, dissect our day, eat our meal. Imagine, all of us eating and enjoying our meal. And by one peaceful dinner I mean, one whole mealtime from lift of fork to final quiet burp without a spillage, a tantrum, a sigh or a complaint. Just one.

Let’s face it, it would be easier to put on the TV, put them in front of it, chat to the husband and let them eat whatever. But I won’t give up!

Now for the science bit.

Research says. Research says. Obesity. Research. You can skip this bit if you want. High achievers. Dinner together. The experts say. Research on diabetes asserts. Obesity. Family bonding. More research. Seriously, how are we supposed to digest?

Look, I’m not looking for Walton like family meals, ha ha happy nudging and joshing each other. I just want a peaceful enough dinner. Does it happen? Will they reach a reasonable age where it just clicks. I’m not looking to hear a hearty laugh as they pass the potatoes, just one meal where we don’t look like one of the bad families from Nanny 911 or what have you.

I can see her now, the Nanny Lady. Anne, your mealtimes are just crazy. You’ve got to get this together, you can do this. Now, this is the naughty step, come to eye level with them and explain and that is where I lose her. Put them on the naughty step at dinner, I’m hungry. Eye level, I’m hungry. Explain? I’m hungry Nanny. And the question on everyones lips is ‘Does Nanny 911 actually have kids?’ Just saying.

What makes the whole situation worse in a farmhouse, is that we often have another man who works on the farm joining us at mealtimes. He’s a part of the furniture around here, we consider him a friend but it is not easy trying to discipline your children in front of someone else. It often makes the situation more fraught. There we are, trying to make idle chat about the weather, grass and greyhounds (don’t ask) while simultaneously trying to get food into three young boys. Honestly. Why haven’t I been canonized? And you know, that they will be worse because they think they will get away with more. Sometimes, I think If he could pick up his plate and go off and eat alone, I think he would. I would. Poor man. Poor us.

I know I can say this to you. I know if you have children under seven, no, eight even, that they can be hard work at dinner times. I know you won’t judge me.  If they’re not, knock yourself out, feel as smug as you like, but please, for the love of God, just don’t call Nanny 911, I promise I’ll eat all my dinner.