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.