Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Jeweller's Repair Kit! Oh Thanks Santa, It's Just What I've Always Wanted!

Now that we’re one month over Christmas, the first round of batteries are starting to die in some of the toys that Santa brought. Generally, I get in touch with Santa some time before the holidays and ask him to steer away from the battery-operated toys (BOTs) for our house. There are two reasons for this.

First, environmentally, they create waste. What ever happened to the old puzzle or the wooden blocks? Now it’s all flashy plastic with lights, not to mention the annoying sounds, voices, music, etc. that emanate from such devices. And since I haven’t found a place that recycles batteries yet (and I simply cannot bring myself to just toss them into the bin) they are in a big bag in That Drawer*, where they will probably be decomposing by the time I find the battery recycling place.

The second reason (and who am I kidding? This is the real reason) I don’t like BOTs is because I dread trying to open the little compartments that hold the batteries. Gone are the days when the batteries died, you popped open the little plastic tab, chucked the batteries into the trash can, put in some new ones and Simon Says was back in action.

Not now. Now, you need to find the toolbox and loosen some 15 tiny screws. It’s impossible to tell when they’re completely loosened because they’re attached to the tab. Then you start the whole process over again since you can’t figure out which one is still not loosened. I’ve whiled away whole afternoons engaged in this process, looking up three hours later only to realise I haven’t prepped dinner or folded any laundry and the kids are happily playing in the knife drawer.

When did batteries become such a danger that they had to be locked away? They don’t have any sharp edges, all the bad chemicals are deep inside and they don’t look that inviting to put in one’s mouth. I have toys that I would deem far more dangerous than a battery, like a plastic pirate sword, a kite or a mini-bake oven just to name a few. They can’t be that dangerous: you can still take them on an airplane. While apparently some of the chemistry class elite can fashion a bomb out of blusher and hair gel, no one has yet managed the same feat with the lowly battery. There’s the proof.

Perhaps then, it is the tiny screws that secure the batteries in their cargo hold. I can just imagine the robbery scene in the next heist movie: ‘Look OUT! Everybody down! He’s got a SPRING!’

This week, we lost battery power in the magic pen that accompanies the point and read books. It went something like this:
Eva: Mum, this won’t work.
Me: It must be the batteries. (Silent expletives) Let’s go to That Drawer and see if I can find a screwdriver. (One for use in the Smurf World would be helpful since the screws that hold the tab on are so tiny I had trouble even finding them.)
Eva: Here’s the screwdriver!
Me: I know, but that one’s too big. I need a smaller one. Let’s try the point of a knife. (What a lesson in safety this is turning out to be)

I pull out several knives, but they all slip. More silent expletives. This is when I need McGuyver. That man could pick a lock with a cotton ball. Eva’s tears are starting. I go back to That Drawer again and have a rummage and find little plastic box labelled ‘Jeweller’s Repair Kit’. I had forgotten about this – it had been purchased to repair a pair of broken sunglasses. And thankfully, it saved the day.

But who keeps one of these just laying around the house, unless you happened to be married, to say, a jeweller or perhaps an optometrist? Since you probably don’t have one, it might be best to ask Santa for one. Just in case. And if you don’t need it to spring open the odd battery compartment here or there, maybe you’ll use it for what it’s meant for: eyeglasses.

*That Drawer – You know the one I mean. You have one. It’s full of miscellaneous junk: tacks, the odd Barbie shoe, fuses, pieces to games, those plastic parts you know belong to something you just don’t know what and you’re afraid to throw away, a dog collar (although you haven’t had a dog since the Clinton Administration), hooks for tree ornaments you found after you packed away the Christmas boxes and anything else that is otherwise homeless in your home.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Your Clothes as Toilet Paper

I think some form of this has happened to every parent. But if you don’t like stories that deal with ‘Number 2’, this is the time to leave.

It was a hot, sunny day, perfect for spending a morning in the shady park not far from where we live. I had arranged to catch up with another mum and another friend who has not taken the plunge (and probably won’t, after our morning together) and remains child-free and sane. In preparation for the event, I had made sure everyone who was able to do so went to the toilet before we left the house. But some things you can’t predict.

All was fine until Ted came over with a little telling wet spot on the front of his shorts. Although not even three, he took it upon himself to begin his toilet training at about 2 and a half and has been fully trained for a good few months now. (I told you he was an easy kid.) ‘Mummy…I have to go to the toilet…’ I took him to a tree in a secluded area of the park and let him finish. The conveniences of manhood start early.

I hadn’t thought about Number 2.

I rejoined the adults and my coffee. Moments later Eva comes running at us in full drama mode. ‘MUM! Ted just pooed!’

And there it was. A log on the ground. In the middle of the park, just lying there like something a dog had left behind. Ted was naked from the waist down and ashamed, his little eyebrows crinkled in sadness.

I ran over with the same urgency as if he’d been in flames and put his undies back on. Then I attended to the more steaming matter at hand. That done, I made the walk to the official toilets (as opposed to aforementioned tree) sat him on the pot and let him finish his business while I washed my hands.

He toddled out moments later with an ‘All done, Mum,’ undies around his ankles.

‘Okay, let’s wash your hands now…’ I said placing him on to my thigh to boost him up to sink height. Only I’d forgotten one small, very important detail.

And my shorts became streaked with the remainder of The Log.

Just another day at the office, turning child-free people off the idea pro-creating, one person at a time…

A Diva and Two Boys

These are the three reasons why I just took my Christmas tree down…

(Taking the Christmas tree down could be another column and would include phrases like, ‘Untangle your brother from those lights!’ and ‘Don’t drop that bulb, it’s…Oh no. Can you go get the broom?’ and ‘Look mum, we’re playing Braveheart!’ while brandishing metal tree branches as swords. You get the idea.)

But here are the players in the family. Their names have been changed but all else is true.

Eva the Diva is my first born. She is four years old, and, like most other four year olds, knows everything there is to know about everything. Even when she doesn’t know, she does.
Eva: Mum, why did the olden days go away?
Me: Well, because, things change and people find newer and better ways of doing things and then they don’t need, say a horse to get around because…
Eva: (interrupting, annoyed) I KNOW! (Sighs)

And, at four, she continues to be the most work for reasons I myself don’t quite understand. (I thought it was supposed to get easier as they got older.) In keeping with her diva personality, she also has a volatile temper (often brought on her frustrations at not being able to do things far beyond her abilities, like play chess). These efforts often end with her saying, ‘FORGET IT! I’m NEVER going to play chess/tie my own shoes/ride a bike, etc. AGAIN!!!!!’ There could be tears and/or flying objects at this point.

Ted is my next born, soon to be three. The fact that he is nice has nothing to do with my parenting. Just as Eva was born older, he was born nice. He lets his sister boss him around most of the time (although there are daily rebellions) and will come well-trained for whichever woman becomes his future wife.

In keeping with the middle child peacemaking capacities, he has been known to surrender a toy willingly if it will appease the anger of the Diva. He is good at entertaining himself and is generally a low maintenance model. My kind of man.

My third born is Liam. At 18 months old, his personality is still emerging. He is a bit of a ham: he has to do something for attention. And he is very territorial about his food. In fact, he’s a hoarder and will often grab as many biscuits as his little cubby hands will hold. As his brother’s first words were ‘car’, ‘truck’ and ‘go’, his are ‘cheese’, ‘toast’ and ‘more’.

He is nearly the size of his brother and I think when he really fine tunes those gross motor skills, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with…

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Welcome to Three Under 3

Sure, there’s plenty of support groups out there for parents. First time parents. Parents of children with special needs. Parents of twins. Parents who home school. (Good God, why? I’m already in countdown mode for school year ’10.) But what about the parents of those who had three children in 36 months or less?

Aside from achieving that feat, let's take a quick look and see if any of this sounds familiar to you:

When at the supermarket (or any shop) do you immediately become the entertainment and/or huge annoyance for other patrons?

Is going to church no longer within the realm of possibility because someone either poos, pukes, screams or cries inconsolably during the homily (after you’ve already made a ruckus when you arrived late)?

Is going out to eat at a restaurant a stressful chore that ends in you asking for a takeaway bag and the check moments after you’ve placed your order and only after you’ve sprayed the entire establishment with Cheerios and ingratiated yourself to all waitstaff?

Does trying to get out of the house in the morning always take 45 minutes longer than you thought it would, since you’re still operating under the delusion that your ‘getting ready time’ is the same as when you were single?

Is planning a family holiday a logistical nightmare that makes, say, mobilising infantry seem not-that-daunting-a task?

And then there's the telling other people. When you drop the shell there are varied reactions*. Eyes usually widen, often followed by a look of suspicion, as if your very sanity is now being reconsidered. Some just shake their head. Some are too flabbergasted for words. I even had one lady swoon, but that could’ve just been from a bad clam. We were on Cape Cod.

Then follows the usual question: ‘On purpose?!’

Yes, on purpose. There were many (most of which I think I've forgotten, but I won't get into the 'Things I've forgotten list') reasons, that, at the time, made it sound like a good idea. But it was a combination of bravery and foolishness landed me here, probably you too. (Perhaps for you it was failed contraception. Or extra eggs one month.) But be proud: you are a part of a fringe group within the parenting community. And there are others of us.

Stay tuned for a weekly update...

*For anyone over sixty, it wasn’t quite so rare (reasons being obvious). And not nearly as daunting, since you could buy everything you needed at the corner shop and you had a man who brought milk and bread. To your front door. And you weren’t made to feel guilty if your kids weren’t in at least six activities a piece by age 2.9 years.