Tuesday, 16 February 2010
It is half term and two days in, already I am banging my fevered brow against the walls of the proverbial cabin.
Oh that I was not so resentful of the time stolen and the mess created!
I tell myself that childhood is short and Finn won't be my baby forever and that everything that is so darn loveable about him more than makes up for the mess and the noise, the relentless questions and six year old theories, the bumping and the banging and all the rest of the general chaos he and his cousin Gabriel manage to inflict upon heart, head and home during every school holiday. I tell myself off for being so downright bloody intolerant: for wondering what life must be like for the Mommies of angelic little girls; for wishing him back to school when he is so very, very thrilled to be at home...
And then instead of joining in the lunatic games of Pokemon and referring to Wikipedia when he wants to know anything from who invented God to how you make sugar, I make myself a moving target: I wrap myself up in needless chores and flit past him and his cousin like the kind of domestic busy bee I am certain both of them want to swat!
All this while I steal moments to read "Little Things Long Remembered", a gorgeous little ode to Puttery Parenting, from a woman who would probably never dream of telling her children to boil their heads when they have lost yet another essential piece of Lego, (the size of an ant and just about as useful), and set about implying that you who were minding your own business on another floor of the house altogether were no doubt responsible for their carelessness regardless.
But enough already with my kvetching, instead indulge my hypocrisy and allow me to sing the praises of Susan Newman's little book, because even I have my golden parenting moments and this book makes it easy to fit teeny, tiny little indulgences around working family life and full time domesticity, for even the grumpiest of Mama's...
Laid out in eight chapters, the book reads rather like a long list of my own Puttery Post, with treats and ideas for different periods of time: whether it be five minutes or an entire weekend you have to spare for making your children feel special. Though many of the reminders are very, very simple and for many will sometimes seem terribly obvious and indeed occasionally nothing more than the basics of instinctive parenting: dig deeper into the book and with more than four hundred ideas listed, I defy any family not to find something that will become a long term ritual throughout the course of parenting any number of scrumptious babbas.
My own favorite idea's from Little Things Long Remembered?
Read your children's favourite comic strips to them until they can read them to you...
Definition: Imaginary extra strength children get magically when a parent needs help with a job. Call for "dyno power" when you need something retrieved from upstairs, wood for the fire, or the dinner table set. This silly concept somehow overrides the fact that you have asked for help...
Call yourself the "Complaint Department" and "be-open" before final tuck-in so your child can get what, if anything, is bothering him off his chest.
Send your child a quick note or letter once a week or once a month that details what she's been doing or the fun she's been having. Save the letters.
It really is a lovely little book and it has been a long time since I happened upon one stuffed full of ideas I felt were manageable: parenting idea's that did not presume I have no life or emotions of my own, nor work that must be done or grown up relationships that must be worked at. That some of the ideas are so simple doesn't strike me as patronising or even unnecessary because being a Mum is hard: sometimes when we are growling with barely suppressed resentment we need a little reminder to remember to look to our little people and tend to the hearts they wear so vulnerably on the sleeves we stayed up till midnight ironing.
I for one need reminding daily which is why Little Things Long Remembered will be joining Simple Abundance on my bedside table hereafter, and in the meantime, me and my munchkins are off to flip pancakes and talk about the whys and wherefores of Pokemon...
Wish me luck Sweethearts!