The Baby Adjustment Bureau

Im going to start this blog with a video which if you don’t find heart warming well do you even have a heart? I took a video of Rex coming home from staying with my sister and brother-in-law and his cousin Ivo (who he ADORES) to meet baby Stella – I have just re-watched it and it is beyond lovely, the sheer look of wonder in his eyes as he see’s her for the first time is magical. Also it really makes me laugh that he storms in and cruises down the slide on the way over. Now its no feature film and I really must work on my directing skills, but still, what a memory to have on tape.

On a side note please excuse the war zone that is our house – if you read my last post you’ll know we were packing the place up ready for gutting.

If i thought we had a lot going on, I can only imagine how much that all is to a two year old. I think Rex’s initial thoughts on Stella coming home were ‘cool, sweet little baby, she seems great and can definitely stay a day or two’ then a few days later ‘ok, hold up why is this baby still here and why on earth is she taking away the attention from me and why is she constantly attached to my mother like some kind of limpet’? Cue attention seeking tantrums from hell and heavy handed ‘hugs’ for Stella – that child will be made of tough stuff when she’s older.

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it’s important to note, that he adores his sister, he just doesn’t know his own strength yet.

If that wasn’t hard enough to see, the 5 day post natal blues then come a-calling – I remember after I had Rex I would just sit in the bath and cry, I couldn’t understand quite why I was so tearful, I was missing my momma more than ever at that time for obvious reasons, I had no idea what I was doing (who does) and needed that support, that big hug when exhaustion had taken over. So I knew what to expect the second time round, but it hit me in a different way. This time my emotions were entirely directed to Rex, he was acting up in quite a big way and most of his anger seemed to be directed at me, me and the limpet seemingly taking up permanent residence on my breast. I was no longer able to give all my attention to him and that was more upsetting than I had thought. It’s amazing how you don’t realise the bond you have with a child until things change and you can’t give him your undivided attention. He started waking up in the night (this is a child that was sleeping through the night from about 8 weeks old), he was throwing tantrums on an insane scale, I mean throw yourself to the floor in a fit of rage insane, screaming till he lost his voice, hitting me and only wanting ‘daddy’ and it was breaking my heart. I was finding myself losing my temper constantly. On top trying to look after Stella, field Rex’s mood swings (and my own) we were packing up our house and living in general hell so when we actually did get to our rental house I felt a huge sense of calm.

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Nailed the serious look of defiance – on a side note I can’t even with those perfect pouty lips and big blue eyes

Next step was settling Rex into a new nursery and that first settling in day was just the worst…the teachers took him off outside to the playground and I could see him from inside, he was there with no-one around him not wailing but with tears rolling down his cheek, looking frightened and unsure of what to do, totally vulnerable. In that moment as I stood watching him with tears filling my eyes as one of the teachers tried to get me to fill in endless forms I realised that I was in fact part of the problem (I know, unimaginable). My dearest friend charlotte who I have leaned on in an immeasurable  way through both my pregnancies had mentioned to me, when I was regaling her with my latest issue, that it’s easy to forget just how young the elder child is when you have a second baby and here I was doing exactly that. Tired and getting frustrated and talking to him as a child MUCH older than his years, expecting him to understand and forgetting that he is a baby himself, only just two and with all the changes that come with turning two he was having to deal with an enormous amount of extra emotional baggage.

We still have tears and screaming at bed time but instead of letting us all go into meltdown I try and take a deep breath (a glug of something alcoholic) and remember that patience is key and that all he needs is to know we’re there and he’s safe and listened to. Boy has my new zen parenting style paid off as two nights ago a rather genius thought came to me. I was home alone and Rex had started his screaming as soon as I said goodnight, I sat there thinking, how am I going to keep doing this on the nights I’m home alone? Particularly while Stella is so reliant on me, I can’t lay with him for 20 minutes like I can when Brute is home and able to hold the baby (a screaming baby is hardly the best lullaby). So I went in to see him and he was saying he was scared (another emotion that can flood a two year old) at that moment Tony appeared at the door keen to see what the fuss was about and wondering when he would get some peace and quiet to carry on his own napping…cue lightbulb…I gently said to Rex ‘Would you like Tony to sleep in here with you?’ ‘YES’ he said eyes wide like saucers so I popped Tony on the bed, told him Tony would love to sleep in with him and keep him company (I imagine an internal eye roll from Tony at this moment) and said goodnight to them both and that was that, no noise just straight to sleep and last night Tony just wandered straight in and hopped onto Rex’s bed and off they went to sleep. I suppose if you think about it, it’s like being told you can have a sleep over with your best friend every night so no wonder he is feeling more settled. I realise this may not be the long term solution, but while it works and he is happy then we’re all happy.

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The answer to all our prayers, the long standing hero of our household and the best of friends to Rex

 

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Never far from each others sides

Alongside that I’m trying to have special ‘us time’ going out for tea and cake or going for a walk and having lunch – anything so he knows that he is still very much at the forefront of my mind and my heart.

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looking on proud as punch as my son devours handfuls of marshmallows and chocolate cake

All I know is it’s a minefield and I have no clue as to what I’m doing but just try each day to do the best I can. It makes me realise how amazing all my friends are too, I can’t tell you the amount of time I have sent needy messages desperate for answers on what to do next and they never fail to come through for me. From all this chaos has come so much learning so whilst parts of it have been painful, I’ll take that pain for immeasurable happiness.

Right I realise my last couple of blogs have been rather serious and possibly also a bit ‘woe is me’ (who’s the attention seeker now) so next blog I promise to bring back the laughter of blogs gone by.

BABY ON BOARD

I’m on the home straight now with my pregnancy (as opposed to life in general I hope) In fact I am on maternity leave officially from 6pm this Friday – It seems strange to say your going on maternity leave when you only work 1 day a week, but having said that I more or less work all the hours that rex is at nursery so I’m not hanging out watching Escape to the Country all day – though my god I would love to do that. Normally all my work is done from home, but recently I have been travelling into town on one morning a week and what that has reminded me of is the good old London Commute and how much I bloody hate it.

The thing is everyone hates the rush hour commute don’t they, no one wants to be shoved like sardines into a metal box with coffee breath and smelly armpits shoved in your face, but that’s life. What does drive me slightly nuts though is the zombie like nature of people on the tube sometimes. Last week at 34 weeks pregnant I had to go into town at rush hour, so for the first time in two pregnancies I pinned on my ‘Baby on Board’ badge and waddled to the tube station. As presumed the station was pretty full and the trains arriving were much the same, but I got onto the tube with my badge glaring at the members of the public in front of me. Having not worn said badge before I sort of assumed it would be akin to wearing a flashing siren with a tannoy demanding that people immediately move and vacate their seats for me. However this was far from the case instead I got eyes firmly placed in phones as if glued to the screen and unable to look anywhere else. The other thing I noticed was the the awkward side glances, quickly looking up or across at me, and quickly looking away. I get that no-one wants to have to give up their seat at rush hour, and honestly If I hadn’t been in my third trimester and suffering from pretty bad Pelvic pain I wouldn’t have been too bothered, as I said before this was the first time I had worn my badge in two pregnancy’s.

I know people will be thinking, why didn’t you just say something? Ask someone to politely give up their seat for you? Well the answer is, I totally could have and on my way home I gently locked eyes with someone and in my terribly British way apologised profusely whilst asking if I might possibly bother him for his seat. He duly got up without making eye contact at all which perhaps was for the best. But on the way into town that morning as my blood pressure was rising I thought I would just stand there and see what happened, a little experiment shall we say. I counted that in each seating compartment there were 12 seats so in each carriage were were 24 plus the areas by the door where they have those padded bench things you can at least lean against. What struck me the most was that in the 24 seats that were in my carriage, ALL 24 people occupying those seats were on their phones, and I don’t mean listening to music but with eyes at least up and aware. No they were all face down in their phones, probably watching you tube clips of cute puppies dressed up as Santa (we’re all guilty) or watching the latest Netflix drama. I don’t know exactly why it pissed me off so much, but it really did (It’s lucky I didn’t have rex with me too or it may have tipped me over the edge.). I’m fairly sure most people get home from work and watch plenty of crap on TV (I know I do) so why do we need to spend every moment of unoccupied time watching a screen also? In an environment where you’re with other members of the public isn’t it nice to be a bit more aware of your surroundings?

I’m sure many of you have seen this animation by Steve Cutts, I fear it rings more true with every passing year.

 

I am just as guilty as the next person of spending too much time on my phone, but it is something I am acutely aware of, infact I wrote about it before in a previous blog Unsocial Media but I do try and stay off it in public, unless I’m listening to music or boring friends with another picture of Rex or Tony.

I digress, I have spoken to various friends about this, both female and male and I totally take on board that if someone isn’t wearing a badge when pregnant and on public transport there is most definitely that stressful feeling of ‘is she or isn’t she?’ People can’t be expected to guess and risk mortifyingly offending someone on their post christmas diet. I did that very thing about a year ago, a lady got on who was not at all big but had a round tummy which made me think she was pregnant, my instinct though was to immediately stand and offer her my seat. She then took on the terribly British role of apologising TO ME and saying she wasn’t in fact pregnant but had just had her baby a week ago and so had the postpartum tummy, I died inside, but she instantly, upon seeing my cheeks flush, said she was grateful for the offer anyway.

So what is the answer, I think it’s quite simple really. If you are pregnant and know you will need/want to sit down on public transport wear that badge and wear it in pride of place so it can’t be missed, it’s only fair. Failing that I’m afraid you might have to muster the courage to ask for a seat (though I hope you would be spotted first). Members of the public who aren’t pregnant/disabled/elderly, be aware, pull your eyes up and off your phone every so often to check the people around you, if it looks like someone is less able to stand than you then get off your backside and make room for them. Simples!

Please do leave a comment if you agree, disagree entirely, or have your own story to share, I’m open to all 🙂 xx

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I might need a bigger badge…

A tale of Tantrums and Tiaras (but with no tiaras)

The strangest thing happened last week, as if a switch had been flicked, my normally horizontally laid back son developed a little attitude, a tiny Liza Minnelli seemed to be emerging from somewhere deep within. The word ‘No’ suddenly became his all time favourite word in the dictionary and diva demands were being thrown around willy nilly.

I was waiting for this illusive time commonly known as the ‘terrible twos’ but wasn’t sure in what shape they would take or when they would arrive. Rex is just 22 months (as of a couple of days ago) and I think this may well be the beginning of it? Suddenly he’s decided he can have an opinion on things which is entirely uncool at this point in proceedings.

This is an example of our daily conversations…

Me: ‘Rex, shall we go to the park?’

Rex: ‘No’

Me: ‘Rex, shall we read some books?’

Rex: ‘No’

Me: ‘Rex, are you looking forward to your playdate with XYZ?’

Rex: ‘No’

Me: ‘Rex, do you want a snack’

Rex: ‘Snacks, snacks, yes, biscuits. banana, snacks, satsuma, biscuit’

Rex: ‘ Hey Duggee, Hey Duggee, HEY DUGGGGEEEEEEEEE’ (to those that don’t know, Hey Duggee is a cartoon and Rex love for it is on a Fatal Attraction level)

Me: No, you can watch something later, let’s go to the park

Rex: *throws himself to the floor in full dramatic rage – cue fake crying, panting and panic attack

Me: *sighs

 

Please note the eye roll and please ignore the fact that I myself appear to be lounging on the sofa in the middle of the day…

 

The thing is I often sit watching in total confusion having to look away as nervous laughter takes over. Also he does the very very best eye roll when he’s about to have an ‘episode’. If i’m really lucky he’ll catch himself being a total diva too and also get the giggles.

I actually feel a little guilty writing about this, pathetic I know as its the most common thing ever and the ultimate in first world problems, but no-one ever wants people to think their children are anything but perfect and genuinely most of the time Rex is a legend (have to put that in incase he reads this one day).

So to the actual point of this, does one give in to the tantrums and allow their toddler to just do what they want so desperately to do and risk the onset of spoilt child syndrome? Or should one be terribly British and put their foot down at all costs? No child of mine is going to think they are in charge…are they? Or is the best thing a mix of the two?

Today for example, I picked Rex up from nursery and was told that he had been wonderful today and very caring, apparently during ‘circle time’ a little girl wasn’t into it and was screaming and crying (totally feel her pain) and Rex had gone over and rubbed her back and cuddled her, so with some smugness and feeling of total pride I took  my perfect, caring, extremely well behaved son home for his nap. Upon entering his room he promptly lost his shit had a massive meltdown in his cot, throwing himself from one side to the other resulting in him smacking his face into the side of the cot, cue total outright uncontrollable tears. At this point I bit my lip, checked he was ok and said goodnight – Strong, in control, on top of it all mother don’t you think? But then when an hour later her was STILL sat in his cot talking to his stuffed toys whilst intermittently shouting ‘MUMMY, MUMMY’  I cracked, I brought him downstairs where he immediately started asking for ‘Hey Duggee’ normally cartoons are allowed from 5pm (‘normally’ being if everything has gone entirely to plan that day, which is extremely rare) but today I just couldn’t be arsed to have the fight and I have work to do so…on went Hey Duggee and out of the window went my control.

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Life is so hard – imagine being asked to take a nap in the middle of the day…

In the video below please watch for the ‘whoops’ upon realising he’s maybe gone too far. Then the Cheeky grin, before finally asking for what he wants…’Hey Duggee’

 

It’s worth noting here that when I say I have work to do, I really do, but I have just noticed that of the 6 tabs I have open on my lap top at this very moment, 3 are online shopping tabs (Mr Porter, Net a Porter, And other stories) which are hovering in the check out stage whilst I have an internal fight about what is ACTUALLY necessary to buy – none of it is – it could be there for days whilst I think of possible justification for at least one of the purchases). One is Pinterest where I sporadically make moodboards for my dream house (we start phase 1 of a monumental renovation the week i’m due baby 2…don’t ask) one is my personal email (which receives nothing but crap and receipts from orders I’ve managed to justify – yesterday was a new cake stand…) and the final one is actual work, looking at me with total disappointment.

Anyway, I digress, Maybe that’s ok though? I mean I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant, can hardly concentrate as it is, am eating more chocolate than I thought humanly possible and generally could do without the extra hassle of trying to debate with a toddler.

I would genuinely love to know how other people handle the days when their toddler is behaving like something akin to a crazed baboon? Do you tough it out and stick to your guns or do you cave and go eat a bar of chocolate instead? I’m a bit of both I think, I mean who has the energy to play the tough love card all the time without a chocolate break or two?!?