Friday, 23 April 2010

Tone of voice

Recently I have found myself channelling a new mum friend (let’s call her Judith – as I don’t think I know any actual Judiths), when reacting to unwanted behaviour in Rosemary. Judith always talks very calmly to her children and I have never heard her shout. Of course, for all I know, she screams and swears at them at home, but I don’t think so.

I have always aimed to be a mum who remains calm and talks in a happy voice, just adding a touch of firmness when something is very unwanted. And I think I go through phases of being successful and phases of failing dismally, where I end up shouting, screeching, stomping doors and, oh dear me, swearing. Fortunately, the latter are not too common, though there was a time during the terrible twos when it was probably approaching the norm, rather than the exception.

The thing is, though, at the moment I feel like I’m almost trying to sound exactly like Judith – not just to mimic her calmness and other methods, but to speak in her voice. Mimicry is something I’ve suffered from since I was child, actually. I have offended people on more than one occasion, because I’ve started speaking in their accent and they’ve assumed I’m taking the piss. I’m not. I just naturally take on the accent, register and tone of voice of the people I’m speaking to. It is weird, yes.

But, you know what? Weird though it is, I think it’s actually working. I think I’m (mostly) getting better responses from Rosemary when I’m being Judith, than when I’m being Tasha, because Tasha can get quite annoyed and snappy with her children, whereas Judith doesn’t. Judith gets down to ground level and explains why it’s not possible to scuba diving today; Tasha snaps, ‘Oh for goodness sake! For the billionth time, we canNOT go scuba diving today!’

So, I may just keep doing it. Though I’ll have to be careful that I don’t offend Judith by talking just like her in front of her!

Hmm, though probably Judith wouldn’t have written a blog post while her baby wriggles around the floor trying to reach various objects, in her increasing attempts to start crawling. She would have left that until after they’ve gone to bed.

Do you have any weird (or just normal, but successful) ways of keeping calm in the face of unwanted pre-school or toddler behaviour? Do you have friends who come across as perfect parents and make you wonder what you’re doing wrong? Do you have friends who you thought were perfect, but turned out to quite normal?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Saturday mornings

Saturday mornings are one of my favourite days. Rosemary has a ballet class at the leisure centre at 10am. Sometimes we’re in a bit of a rush – we have to fit in a shower-bath before we leave, as well as getting all three of us (me, Rosemary and Eleanor) dressed and drying our hair, oh yes, and having breakfast and at least two cups of tea (for me) and some milk (Rosemary and Eleanor – though different kinds).

We try to leave by 9am, which gives us a good leisurely walk and plenty of time for Rosemary to get changed when we get there. If we leave before 9.10, we can still make it, but have to walk very quickly.

Part of the ritual is getting a pain-au-chocolat each (not for Eleanor yet) at the Co-op on the way, and eating them while we walk (yes, I know, not the best way to eat).

And we walk along chatting about all sorts of things. Yesterday’s conversations, for example, included talking about the Easter Bunny and Rosemary assuring me that the one we saw at the Rococo Gardens the week before had been a man dressed up as an Easter Bunny, Rosemary telling me about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which Chris is reading to her at bedtime, and explaining the differences between that and the film Willy Wonka. Rosemary told me that caterpillars are baby butterflies and how they build a cocoon and go to sleep in it and when they wake up they’re a butterfly. And lately we’ve had the repetition and repetition and repetition of the question ‘Why?’ I resort to my Gran’s ‘Y is a letter and you should no better.’ after about 10 usually (you have to say it in a Welsh accent, otherwise it doesn’t work).

The walk includes a nice bit through Stratford Park, where we see (and, if we’ve remembered to bring bread, feed) the ducks and see squirrels running up trees and yesterday appreciated the shade brought by the tall trees.

Eleanor usually sleeps for the most of the walk there (and back), but wakes up when we walk into the Leisure Centre. While Rosemary is in her class (45 minutes), Eleanor and I have some time to play. Yesterday, she almost-crawled about on the floor (she moves around by rolling and spinning on her belly at the moment, and she can go very far this way), playing with a couple of her toys, chatted to some of the other mums, tried to pull herself up on a table and ate an apple-flavoured rice cake.

And then we walk home again, after Rosemary gets her sweet (which she almost always discards after a few minutes, because it’s ‘too chewy’ or ‘too sticky’) and have more lovely conversations. She sometimes tells me and shows me what she learnt, and sometimes doesn’t.

Yesterday, we also went to Tesco and got some food for the evening and also a new dress for Rosemary. She helped me find the right salad vegetables and found the Tiger bread and even offered to pick the wine (I thought I’d better make that decision, otherwise we probably would have ended up with something costing £20. While I’m at the till, Rosemary goes and sits with ‘the dogs’ (a guide dog collection point) and waits very patiently.

There’s a wall that Rosemary walks along until she gets to a lamp post and jumps down to me, a point where she stops to hide and I say ‘I can see you, lemon squeeze you.’ Actually, there are another two walls she walks along and jumps down to me and gets a spin. There are many rituals, really, which seem to be very important to young children. If we miss any out for any reason, there are usually tears.

It’s quite tiring, though not as tiring as Chris and Rosemary’s Sunday swimming outing to the Leisure Centre, but it’s really good fun.

Do you have any special days? Do your children have rituals on the school run or regular outings that cannot be deviated from? What do you talk about on your walks with your children? How long can you keep up with answering ‘Why?’