Sunday, 8 February 2009

Snow days and short fuses

We had two snow days this week brought on, not by the closure of schools or nurseries (though I think most of the local ones closed), but the non-running of the buses. My mum was stuck at home bored and missing R, who she hadn’t seen for almost a week, due to our trip to Wales and C and I were stuck at home with a two-and-a-half-year-old who has inexplicably lost interest in the TV.

The few of you saints who manage without TVs will perhaps not understand how this sudden inability to be entranced by the moving pictures on the little box in the corner of the living room could affect us. But most of you will. It means you can’t get anything done. At all. It means you can’t sit down and rest. At all. And it means your sanity makes a quick escape out of the cat flap. Oh yes, and there’s really no time for writing or reading blogs!

Thursday and Friday were spent playing hundreds and billions of games of Doctors, Dentists, Schools, Shops, Mummies, Daddies and Babies, Goblin Kings, Peppa Pig (yes, she won’t watch it now, but she can still make you alternate between being Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and George for half an hour) and feeding every piece of plastic food in the house to one or other cuddly toy. There was some snow play (courtesy of her father – she was not interested when I suggested it), some drawing and some book reading and food eating. There was even quite a bit of tidying up and some loading of washing machine and pressing of buttons.

Toward the end of Friday, however, I found myself reaching the end my tether. C had picked up something (so had R, but children have this amazing ability to run around with seemingly more energy than normal, when they are ill) and I had sent him to bed (no deadlines, weekend, snow days, etc. so I didn’t have to do any work; forgot about the whole need for a break, though).

I need to make the (very simple) dinner. So I sit R down in front of Toy Story, with a cup of milk and a biscuit. Two minutes later, she appears asking ‘Can I see?’. I pick her up so she can see the vegetables I am about to chop. ‘Can I help?’ ‘Aren’t you watching Toy Story? Go back and watch Toy Story, and I’ll call you when dinner is ready.’

R drags a chair in from the dining room and climbs up on it, so she can help. I sigh and give in. But I have absolutely no patience. And R knows it, I’m sure. She hands me the vegetables, but in between she bangs the things hanging from the shelf. ‘Don’t do that. You might break something.’ Bang, bang. ‘Don’t do that.’ Bang, bang, bang, giggle. ‘I said, don’t do that.’ Bang, bang, bang, giggle. ‘If you do that one more time, I will put you back in the living room and shut the door.’ Bang, bang, stare.

I put her in the living room and shut the door. She cries. I open the door and sit on the floor to explain calmly why she can’t bang those things and that I need to cook dinner or else we won’t eat and it will be bedtime and she’ll be hungry. She nods and sits down on the sofa. I go back to the kitchen. Within two minutes she is back in again. ‘Can I see?’ ‘No! I said stay in the living room. Go back to the living room. Now!’ ‘Right now! I’m getting very cross!’ ‘I’m getting very cross.’ I pick her up, put her in the living room and shut the door.

I go back to the kitchen and very quickly finish chopping the vegetables and start them frying in the wok. I go to the living room to check she’s OK. She puts her hands up to picked up and (fake) cries. I pick her up and say that I’m sorry I shouted. I put her down on the sofa and go back to the kitchen. She comes back in again. I’m distracted and pour balsamic vinegar into the stir fry instead of sesame oil. I lose it. I screech ‘Go back to the living room, now! I need to cook the bloody dinner and you need to eat it before it’s time for bed!’ Really screech.

She goes back to the living room. Comes back quite quickly, but dinner’s almost ready, so she gets to sit at the table and wait. We sit down to have dinner and have a pleasant time. She eats loads and shares with me, telling me how yummy it is (balsamic vinegar didn’t do any harm, might even have been an improvement). And then it’s bathtime, which is also fun and pleasant with no problems and then it’s bedtime, which goes remarkably well. I am extra nice and cuddly through most of this. Guilt can do that.

And then I go downstairs, sit down and kick myself for not being able to contain my temper, when all she is doing is what is perfectly natural. For making incredibly stupid mistakes. For extraordinary lack of consistency.

And I pray to any deities who might be listening that the no-TV phase will not last long. I need my 3-4pm Peppa Pig fix and my half an hour of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I drink my tea and wake up.


  1. I feel your pain. You could have been describing my world. The longer I am a mother, the more I realise that I am not made to be a fulltime stay at home mother. I don't know how anyone does it. They must have the patience of saints. The only thing going in your favour is that you have a girl who wants to play, rather than kill. My two boys spent the entire week attempting to remove each others heads with swords. Today I'm going shopping. I have no money. I have no decent shops to look at. The roads are iced over. And I don't care. I am escaping.

  2. Yes, this was my house on Friday. I put on the television, why aren't you watching it. Shall I turn it off? No mummy. What are you doing mummy, can I help you mummy? ughghhh, sometimes you just need a few minutes to yourself!

    I added you as a contributor to Thames Valley Mums (you are close enough!) Can I run this post?

  3. HOM: I have no idea how they do it, either. They must have degrees in anger management and some secret means of not blowing their tops. Good for you - hope you get a breather in, even if you don't manage to buy anything. I have sent R away for the weekend; of course, she's happily watching Beauty and the Beast there, so my mum can listen to The Archers. Why not here?!!

    Susanna: I think it's different when it's unexpected, like a snow day or illness. If you've been expecting to get a few hours' work done, or blitz the housework or whatever and it's suddenly not possible, you start off feeling annoyed, so it gets to you quicker.

    And, thank you, yes, feel free to run it.

  4. I think you would not be human if you didn't blow your stack at some point.
    We have all been there and all have those guilt-ridden moments.
    I had FOUR snow days last week and I thought the children were going to kill each other and I would go slowly insane, but as it was I didn't have to lose my temper once. No actually, that's a lie, I did lose my temper once, with my husband when he forgot to record Lost, but that's a whole other rant altogether!

  5. Goodness, Tara, how did you manage it? Tell me your secret, please! Did you keep them extremely busy? Or did you just throw them out in the snow all day? I am very impressed.

  6. Have no fear, the fascination will come back. I would have lost my temper too, so don't worry. K lost 4 days too, I am lucky though she is older and self amuses, I would have gone mental if I had to amuse her for 4 days!

  7. After a hugely successful week, my daughter has let me down TOTALLY today.
    She flushed her pants down the toilet to see what would happen, then ripped her brothers prized Match Attax cards, then put her half finished ice lolly in the playroom drawer with all the soft toys in THEN went to bed calling me an idiot.
    I am empty!

  8. Oh no... What have I got to look forward to?

    At least if he goes off TV it will free up some precious space on the Sky Planner when we delete Iggle Piggle.

  9. Tasha, balsamic vinegar? Thanks for the culinary tip.

  10. Tawny: Self-amusement? I can't wait, though hopefully it won't take a whole two years!

    Tara: She flushed her pants down the loo?! Inquisitive mind. Poor you. R quite often tells me she doesn't like me these days, but she usually comes and tells me she loves me five minutes later, so I'm less affected by it than I might be.

    NMSOM: Ah, Iggle Piggle. R has gone off ITNG lately, though she's still very keen on her Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka dolls and she loves curling up on the sofa under her Iggle Piggle blanket (red blanket with white trim - looks really like Iggle Piggle's). Actually, I remember when R was younger and I would see parents with todders who were throwing tantrums and hitting other children and so on and so on and thinking that my little angel would never behave like that. Ha! I was certainly wrong there. And I can see some of the newer mums looking at me thinking the same thing. Your time will come, I'm afraid. I don't think it's possible to escape, though maybe, hopefully I'm wrong.

    MTJAM: I do actually put it in quite a lot things. The sweetness combined with the tanginess of the vinegar is a really good combination. I was concerned about how we would afford it, now we're on crazy daily grocery budget, but was very pleased to see a 300ml bottle in the bargain shop for a pound. I will not have to give up my balsamic vinegar. Yay! We're still undecided on the £17 tin of olive oil from the market every 3 weeks, though. It is the most delicious olive oil I have ever, ever, ever tasted. I cannot sink to a cheap bottle of Bertoli from the bargain shop. No! (Sorry, got a bit carried away, there.)

  11. Nice post - peppa pig pictures ..Keep Posting

    peppa pig pictures