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There are lots of things to get used to when looking after children that I never considered before. And whilst others may laugh knowingly at this next statement, I also hadn’t realised how obsessive compulsive, controlling, perfectionist and slightly prissy I was/am before starting this job.
Some of the random things I am struggling to get used to:
a) The amount of food that gets wasted by kids. In any one meal, the youngest will throw half of her food on the floor and/or herself and the eldest will refuse to eat half of hers. The youngest will then forget about the other half of her meal (the bits that remained in the bowl), at which point her parents generally throw away the food. Both of them will then both demand multiple bowls of ice-cream, so that a tub that was bought on a Monday, generally doesn’t see a Tuesday. I can’t stand all the wasted food, which brings me to the next thing I am struggling to get used to…
b) When you are around kids, the likelihood that you are going to eat like kids like to eat is high to assured. This is not only because I don’t really feel like cooking something separate to what the kids are eating (so I am eating a lot of pasta, for example), but because, in an effort to reduce waste, I am eating the remains of the girls’ foods. Yesterday evening for example, I ate a bowl of pasta mixed into a bowl of lentil and vegetable soup. Today I ate a ‘salad’ (I have no other word for it) made with cold pasta, left-over broccoli sauce, left-over sweet corn, with lettuce leaves and kidney beans added in for protein. Then lots of balsamic vinegar. I eat a lot of porridge at odd times of the day. Like, for lunch, because the eldest didn’t want to finish the whole pot at breakfast. Very strange.
c) Dinnertime and food becomes a battleground. Food is so very plain. Pasta with a single vegetable sauce – Broccoli sauce. Tomato sauce. And even then it’s a struggle to get kids to eat food. I used to think back on my days as a kid and think, ‘I wish I was that picky again, then maybe I’d still be skinny’, but after being around kids for a week or two, I’m terribly pleased I like food and I enjoy it.
d) How many things get mixed-up or ruined around kids. For example, I was sitting down with the girls to play with play-dough, and got very upset when they mixed up the colours (I didn’t take it out on them, of course) and then spending 10 – 15 minutes attempting to separate said colours. Also, attempting to get all the tiny little bits of play-dough that had been sprinkled on the carpet/table whilst using the play-dough to, again, ‘avoid waste’. This goes for painting as well, when I make nice little dabs of colour on a plate for the youngest to paint with and then she swirls it into one great circle of brown and puts her hands in it. Or, when doing craft, and the eldest makes great big swirls of glue on her card and then proceeds to tip ENTIRE CONTAINERS of glitter on to said glue, with most of it going on her uniform, on the floor, on the table etc. Me also desperately attempting to scoop up said glitter and put it back in the container before she tips another coloured glitter onto the floor and mixes them up.
e) You never know when something is going to go from good to DISASTER. You can be playing along very happily, and then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, well none that you can really fathom, someone is in tears. ‘No, bring them to me one at a time!’ ‘No, we can’t do it there, we have to do it here!’ ‘No, legs under blankets!’ Its amazing what children find offensive.
f) When you are on to a good thing, you are ON TO A GOOD THING. For a kid, if someone has magically come up with a game that you like, you don’t want to have to confront the danger of thinking up something new. I mean, what if you didn’t like the new thing? What if the new thing wasn’t as good as the old thing? Better to just stick to the old thing. Forever. Or, as long as you can possible convince the adult to continue playing with you. This goes for everything – Limbo, hopping races, bouncing games, switching the lights on and off, splashing water, making silly noises, sticking out your tongue. If it was fun the first time, it will be fun the twenty hundred millionith time.
g) What I am calling UIB – Unidentifiable Bruises. Every morning when I get into the shower, I look down and I think, ‘What? How did that get there?’ I am black and purple and green and blue up and down my limbs and most of the time I have absolutely no idea how it happened. I have bruises on the tops of my thighs, which I assume comes from playing too many clapping games. Did I have this many bruises as a child? Or can my aged skin just not handle the pressure?
h) How controlling children can be. The amount of times I’ve been in the middle of a game with the elder girl, me playing a monster, for example, her playing a screaming princess, and she’ll pretend to frighten me into a cupboard and lock me away, and then, she’ll suddenly stop screaming, re-open the door and say, ‘But in a few minutes, after I’ve locked you up and run away, you have to break down the door and come out again. And you have to put your hood over your head. And you have to pull the top part up. Like that’ And then she’ll close the door and run away screaming. Its too funny.
Not much else to report. The days are similarly paced at the moment. I have my first full weekend off tomorrow and I hope to go to Bandon and sit in a café and drink cups of tea and do lots of writing and be all artistic and grown-up and QUIET and stuff. I’m looking forward to it. I must say though, I have the utmost respect for all my friends and family who have children. Watching the mum with her girls, her patience and love never fails, and it’s the same with all those friends I see with their kids. Does it just happen as soon as you have kids? Or do you develop the patience as you go along, after they’re born? Or, do you just get better at hiding the annoyance and the tiredness? I’m sometimes far too transparent: The eldest girl has asked on several occasions, ‘Are you bored?’ ‘’Are you going to cry?’ ‘Are you stressed?’ Whoops.
Pasta? For me? Again? Oh, you shouldn’t have. No, really. You shouldn’t have.

1 Comment

Filed under Ireland

One response to “UIB

  1. yup all sounds very familiar- and no not every parent is the saint of patience- you get cross and tired and run away and cry too- but the kiddie/s are still there when you calm down and somehow life gets back on an even kilter again. Love the stories about controlling- just like adults but more up front- adults plan the manipulative games but don't tell you the script – you find out after the denouement that you were living their story all along! hehe. hang in there – great material for acting and writing- and those liddle gals are lucky puppies to have you clean up their glitter!xo V

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