Category Archives: Parenthood

Outsmarted by a 4 year old

T still sucks his thumb. Not all the time, but too much for a 4 year old. My husband and I discussed it and we both agreed that we should help him to change this habit. This is the short story of how I tried… and failed miserably.

One morning, I told T that only little children suck their thumb. I also listed many children his age that do NOT suck their thumb. And finally I reminded him that he will go to school soon and that he cannot suck his thumb there. He agreed to limit this activity to night time and when he watches tv. I was happy and proud of my little boy… then we went to the shop.

The first thing he did was putting his thumb in his mouth. I looked at him, smiled and said: ” Do you remember what we talked about at home?”. In my mind, I thought – I have this, just keep calm, positive and encouraging.

“Yes” he said, with a matter-of-fact tone “Big boys do not suck their thumbs and when I go to school I can’t suck my thumb, but mummy… I still go to nursery, so I can suck my thumb”.

My jaw dropped.

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The construction birthday party

It has been over a month since the boys’ birthday party, but only now I have found the time to recap the long months of planning and organising.

My philosophy behind a birthday party is simple:

1) They will get bored of parties by the age of 10 or 11 (not many left!)

2) They are and will be my only children

3) I only have to organise one party per year

4) We can afford it

So let’s go and have a massive party!

This year the theme was CONSTRUCTION. Diggers, dumper trucks, excavators. You name it, we had them. It took me at least 2 weeks to decide on the theme because if it had been down to the boys, they would have had another train party like last year. It has been a challenge to find a theme they would both like. In the end, most 4 year olds like digging and playing with sand, so “construction” was a safe bet.

Every guest was provided with a hard hat to get everyone in the mood. The party table was a road, where the orange paper cups looked like traffic cones. We even had biscuits shaped like excavators and diggers.

Finding games for this theme wasn’t hard. Digging, building and painting were all good starting ideas. I even stole some of my husband’s tools to let the kids loose on some paint… that was fun!

For younger builders (and future civil engineers like T), we had a Duplo corner. It actually proved very popular with people aged 1 to 65!

No party can be a success if the cake is not a true show stopper. As I cannot bake, this is usually the hardest part to plan. Fortunately a “construction cake” is just a destroyed cake with some toy cars on it. A couple of traffic cones candles completed the look.

After all of this work, and I only mentioned the highlights, it was great to see B over the moon with excitement…

On the other hand, it was a little less rewarding to hear T’s comment later that evening: “I had fun, but the train party (last year) was better, mummy!” Well, it sounds like we already have a theme for next year’s party then!

A life lesson for only £6.50

One of the major life skills that every child needs to learn is PATIENCE. They practise daily by queuing for lunch or the slide at the playground, yet having to wait for something for days it’s a difficult concept. There are two problems:

1- waiting it’s difficult for everyone

2- they are too young to grasp the concept of hours and days

Of course, all children wait for Christmas. It’s a major part of childhood and it’s great for them. Said this, the wait is so long that it doesn’t prepare them for what waiting really means in everyday life.

Two weeks ago we visited the National History museum in Oxford. The boys loved seeing all sorts of animals, but what they enjoyed the most was getting close to the T-rex skeleton. So tall, so big, so scary! Before we left we swung by the shop and the boys immediately spotted the dinosaurs section. Initially they were attracted by the usual toy dinosaurs, but after B noticed that we could buy a dinosaur egg, we couldn’t convince them to look at anything else. £13 later (£6.50 x 2), I exited the shop with two T-rex eggs.

The instructions said to put them in water and wait 3 days for hatching and a further 11 days to full growth. The first 3 days were long for the boys. They checked every few hours and then, on the second day, a cracked appeared. The level of excitement was sky high! On day three, a small dinosaur head popped out of the shell…

The wait was over and yet it also wasn’t. Our new family members needed to grow a little longer.

Like a pair of twins, they slowly grew in their watery nest… every morning the boys would check on their progress while having breakfast and then again at dinner time. Slowly, but surely, the little dinosaurs got bigger and bigger.

One day, I removed the shell entirely to let the water access the whole body. B was ecstatic! He actually jumped up and down with excitement. He could feel the wait was almost over.

Two weeks in and we now have two fully grown T-rex to play with and the twins have learnt a life lesson: good things come to those who wait, and these things might be dinosaurs… if you’re 4 years old.

The time I realised it was twins…

When a woman is pregnant with a child (or two) her body changes dramatically. Hormones, boobs, bump, more hormones… the body of daddy-to-be is not really affected.

When a woman gives birth to a child, her body is devastated. And after a C-section the effect of the change are indelibly marked on her body by a huge scar. The new daddy is untouched.

So how does a man become a father? Well, I do not know. Maybe it’s like in the movies. The first time he holds his baby… almost by magic.

Becoming a mum, on the other hand, is definitely something that hits you like a lorry while crossing the road. For me and any other mother of twins, the lorry was well over the speed limit when it ran us over! It hit me when I was lying in a hospital bed, several cables attached to both of my arms, half way through a blood transfusion. It was the middle of the night and the student midwife had just took one of the boys away after feeding. She came back with his brother and with a quiet voice she said “time to feed, mummy”. I opened my eyes, barely recognising where I was, and said “I have already fed him”. I closed my eyes determined to go back to sleep. She stopped for a second (probably looking at me puzzled). She smiled a little and pushed the baby into my arms. “You have twins, mummy”.

Oh crap! I do!

I’ll meet you there, mummy!

As the boys grow up, I have to adapt to all these new changes. Some are more than welcomed (no nappies! Yeah!), others are unsettling.

When the boys started to walk confidently and we reduced the use of the pushchair, it took us months to find a way to adapt. Every time we went out we had a long conversation about the pros and cons of taking the pushchair… in insight I simply think we wasted so much time.

The latest change is the fact that in certain places they do not need (or want) to be with mummy at all time. For example, last year in a soft play area they would have been with an adult 100% of the time, while now they go in and who knows if they’ll ever come out again!

I look up occasionally and spot one of them on the top level. I wave. I know they will probably come out when they are hungry.

I adapted to this very easily, especially while sipping a well deserved cup of tea OUTSIDE the play area.

The change I struggle with is this new sentence “I’ll see you there, mummy”. You will see me where exactly?? I need to see you here and now!

In our local country park, the boys feel so confident they would happily walk away by themselves. For example if I say “let’s go to the slides”, they would start walking in the right direction without making sure that I’m with them. Unfortunately mummy doesn’t approve of this strategy. This implies some running and some praying… running to catch up with them and praying that they will BOTH run in the same direction!

Brief identity crisis

A few days ago we were in the car coming back from a friend’s house. Half way through the long journey, B surprised us with an announcement:

“Mummy, daddy… I am a girl

Mummy and daddy were silent for a few seconds.

We have to admit that we are not very open to this sort of conversations, but we were trying to be very politically correct and modern…

Daddy: “Why you think you are a girl?”

B: “Because I say so”

At this point T intervened with a very matter-of-fact tone: “No, you are not”.

Unbelievably my husband and I kept a straight face.

Despite T best effort though, the conversation was not over.

B “Yes, I am T. I am a girl”

Daddy: “Who said you are a girl?”

B: “I did”

T: “You are NOT a girl. Boys have willies, girls don’t. You are a boy!”

Daddy (still without laughing): “B, do you have a willy?”

B: “No, it fell off

We almost crashed the car!

Is an holiday with toddlers relaxing?

I guess it depends on your definition of relaxing. Going to the seaside last year was definitely NOT relaxing, while going to see my family this Easter was a lot closer to the textbook definition. After 2 weeks in Italy I felt less tired… despite the early morning starts and the long fights between the boys.

It is sad to realise that going to work for 10-12 hours a day is tiring, but not as much as spending all day with the twins. It is not only physically challenging, but psychologically and emotionally draining. Despite the long afternoon nap, it almost feels like there’s no rest bite. There’s always a fight about a toy, someone to take to the toilet or a spilt drink to wipe. Nothing like this happens in my office… except the occasional spilt cup of tea, I guess.

In a day with toddler boys there’s a lot of running, a large amount of screaming and a good dose of fighting. The word NO is essential to keep order and the word SORRY is often used: by the boys to each other, but also by embarrassed parents to strangers…

Sorry my child stepped on your shoes

Sorry my child kicked that bird (at the zoo)

Sorry my child pushed yours down the slide

Sorry…

So how can I consider this holiday relaxing? Well, it’s simple, there’s always someone there to help. When they wake up at dawn, nonna gets there first. When they want to be chased, auntie Co runs to help. When it’s the end of the day and I had enough of T moaning about his big toe hurting… someone else can help with putting them to bed.

Strangely enough this doesn’t happen on an average week night!