In news that will possibly raise a smirk from those of you who spend every single day coping with young children at home, unaided (and probably secretly think of me as a privileged princess, as I swan off to uni each day and talk to adults): today I survived an entire day with Hattie and Joe. Although it sounds bonkers, this really doesn’t happen often – over the summer, we had Tristan’s mother and stepfather with us for two months, and when they weren’t around Lena, our au pair, was here, or it was the weekend and Tristan and I did everything together. And during the past semester (which finished just last week) I’ve been at uni every weekday, and then Tristan was around every weekend. But today it was Mummy in Charge!
Of course, being a Super Mummy, I had a super-exciting, fun-filled, mentally and emotionally enriching day organised for the three of us: we played together; we did some Mummy and Twin yoga in the living room; we tended our family vegetable garden; we sang songs; we talked about our feelings; we took a blissful communal nap; we baked cookies.
OK, none of that is true. But we did have a nice day, even though it was partially occupied with running errands. I’ve realised that, with preschoolers, you can get them to agree to various relatively uninteresting things if you somehow manage to book-end the dull outing or task with stuff they value. So, they were OK with schlepping into the city with me to collect an assignment, so I could calculate my final grade for the paper that gave me the most trouble this semester (87% for the assignment – YUSS! So that should be an A- for the paper), because I sweetened the deal: rather than sitting in traffic in the car, we caught the bus. Hattie and Joe love the bus, and the buses into uni are double-decker, which further increases the excitement. Even waiting for the bus is exciting, apparently:
Because the semester is over, we nabbed the best seats on the bus: the ones at the very front, upstairs, so it’s almost like you’re driving, and can see everything. The kids were stoked (don’t let Joe’s expression fool you – he’s just hit an awesome ‘don’t smile if Mummy asks me to smile’ stage):
We popped into uni, picked up my assignment, ran into two of my lecturers (and fortunately the kids were both fairly charming for the duration, and managed not to fiddle with and destroy any of the architectural models that are displayed in the Planning and Architecture office area), and then headed across the road to my favourite cafe. Hattie and Joe bloody love cafes, and will stop off for a warm chocolate at any opportunity, so the promise of this cafe visit was one of the ways in which I sweetened what was, to be fair, a pretty dull morning for them, bus trip notwithstanding.
They were also delighted to pose on high stools, like grownups:
We did have a bit of tiredness-related whinging on the way home, because we had to catch two buses and walk for a few hundred metres mid-journey, but they survived, and I managed to keep my good humour. And I don’t say that lightly: I was Shouty Mummy with Joe this weekend, and I got dealt an almighty pang of conscience yesterday, when he told Daddy during bath time that he’d had a toilet accident (didn’t make it on time for what turned out to be a super-speedy wee), but that it was OK because “Mummy didn’t shout”. Eek. I really, really, never want to be Shouty Mummy, but when I’m tired and the whinginess and four year old temper tantrums reach fever pitch, sometimes I do end up erupting. This morning Joe and I had a wee chat about it, and I told him that I would do my absolute best not to be Shouty Mummy. I did also explain to him that whinginess tends to increase the chances of S.M. appearing, so he agreed to try his best on that front. Of course, I was more successful than him, but I am 42, and he’s only four…
Joe also showed great inventiveness on the bus trip home, using Larry the Lion as a sunshield:
Anyway, on the way home we stopped in at the local primary school and dropped off the kids’ enrolment forms. It was the first time Hattie and Joe had been to the school – they’ll have their proper visit later in the year, and will start at the beginning of February – and they were very interested to see it (and also pretty tired and a bit whiny). And then we had lunch at home, and a quick play. A lowlight was my ordinarily-chirpy Hattie have a bit of a meltdown because she wanted me to build her a ‘burrow’ (involving blankets draped over various pieces of living room furniture), but couldn’t quite describe to me how she wanted it constructed – she only knew that the way I’d done it was dead wrong. So that was fun. But I stayed calm! Just before we left for the kids’ weekly swimming lesson Lena’s father arrived from Germany: Lena has officially finished working for us, and her and her father are now going to spend three weeks travelling in New Zealand and Australia before heading home.
The swimming lesson once again involved Joe languidly swimming like a mermaid, and not quite always kicking quickly enough to avoid sinking slightly, but generally showing some good progress. And Hattie continued her Future Flash Hattie training, which includes a lot of jumping in and swimming to the nearest solid object (and holding her breath underwater whenever the swimming teacher is busy with another child).
We came home, we watched Frozen, I packed vast quantities of their clothing for our trip tomorrow (we’re driving down to visit my family and meet Hattie and Joe’s new baby cousin, who is five weeks old today), we managed to navigate dinner, and the kids went to bed early. Tomorrow’s main aim will be for Shouty Mummy to remain out of the car during the six-hour journey. Pray for us all!