Thurston has been awake since 2am, and has just fallen asleep at 9.30am. I would normally take advantage of this and lay on the sofa watching TV, but my 5 year old is off school for a teacher training day and is watching The Muppets Take Manhattan. I have that horrible hot, overtired feeling and I don’t know how to shake it off. I’m not just tired from last night’s lack of sleep, I’m tired from the last couple of weeks. Ever since Thurston’s birthday, he has been a little wrecking ball of mayhem. His current favourite TV show is “Ooglies” on the CBBC channel (or as Thurston pronounces it ‘the CBCB channel’). For those who haven’t watched it, it’s an animated series about a collection of fruit, vegetables, kitchen implements, stationery etc which are all alive and have ‘googlie eyes’. Thurston is enamoured with it and has set about collecting all the ‘characters’ from the show. This basically involves him looting fruit and veg from around the house and playing “Ooglies” then hiding the oranges, bananas etc in various places around the lounge for his next game. It’s a risky game in this hot & humid weather and I am now constantly on the lookout for rogue fresh produce. He is particularly keen to get his mitts on my box of eggs and will go to any length to get them, regardless of how dangerous it is. It feels similar to when your baby learns to crawl for the 1st time, and you are suddenly ultra-aware that nothing is safe anymore. I have to be constantly vigilant around him and to be honest, at 4 years old, I’m really irritated by it!
I had just about got to the point where my house is how I want it to be. It’s not astonishingly neat & tidy, but everything had its’ place and it was easy to clean up and put things away throughout the day. However, Thurston is now so chaotic and unpredictable that within the 1st hour of the day, he has usually hidden marmite toast down the back of the sofa, done some colouring on the fridge, poured formula in his cars toy box, stolen all the fruit from the bowl and scattered it throughout the lounge, and put the iPod touch in the recycling bin. It’s impossible to keep on top of it all and keep the place looking nice.
When I had 2 children, I was so particular about everything. We lived in a little 2 bedroom flat above a shop, and everything was immaculate. The children would play and make their mess, then when the eldest went to nursery and the youngest napped, I would clear everything away and it would look good as new again. I would do activities with them and talk to them all the time, bake with them, take them to the park. It was all very Mary Poppins! It should be possible with 3 children, and of course it is possible, but it seems to take so much more time and energy because of Thurston. I’ve had to completely rethink my standards. Their outfits do not co ordinate anymore. I only attempt to cook with them if there is another adult in the house to be on ‘oven-watch’. I tidy up constantly throughout the day, but I definitely don’t clean it all every day. I have enough trouble keeping on top of the surface dirt of mud, spilt drinks and felt tip, let alone getting out the floor cleaner and furniture polish. I do still hoover everyday but that is only because by the time Thurston has eaten lunch, the floor looks like someone has stamped an entire meal into it and crumbled what ever was left over the top (that’s because that’s exactly what he has done!). I do a big proper clean about once a week so it is clean still, but it’s just not how I’d like it. I’ve had to learn to let go a little bit. If it’s a choice between cleaning behind the sofa or going for a walk along the beach, then I will get out of the house, no question.
It’s not just the house that’s taken a battering lately, but I’ve also learned to accept being permanently embarrassed. We took the kids on a day trip to London at the weekend. We’ve taken them to London before but for various reasons, it was the 1st time we had taken all 3 at the same time. For some reason, it just didn’t work. The older boys were stroppy and whiney, and Thurston was just a complete and utter terror from start to finish. He hated the train, he hated being in the buggy. Despite being knackered, I thought it was fair enough that he didn’t want to be in the buggy and got him out for a walk once we got past Westminster Abbey. This did nothing to help his mood, he got very cross that I tried to hold hands with him, and then became really stressed by the crowds and decided the only option was to take a lie-down in the middle of the pavement which wasn’t exactly ideal. I hoisted him up and he walked a few more metres before lying down again, this time right in front of a horse and guard shouting “Mind out for Thurston!”. I agree, it sounds pretty funny now. I picked him up and he started to shout again, this time he shouted “mummy hurting me” which is a classic he likes to throw out there when there are strangers watching, thanks Thurst!
Obviously as on any family day out, it poured down with rain. I had brought raincoats for everyone except me naturally and so I was hot, embarrassed and now drenched. We finally made it to St James’ Park and let Thurston roam free which was just what he needed. Due to the rain, there were some incredibly large puddles in the park which were irresistable to Thurston. Once he had stepped in that 1st muddy puddle, there was no going back. He wasn’t dressed appropriately, he was wearing his lovely Clarks shoes instead of wellies, and jeans not waterproofs, but for the 1st time that day he looked genuinely happy. Alex and I let him be, and enjoyed watching him splosh around getting soaked. Some tourists were actually shocked and horrified that we were letting him get so wet but I can honestly say I didn’t care. There was a time when I would’ve cared and probably would have stopped him as soon as his foot hit the water, but I’ve realised that even if you have spent £65 on a train fayre to look at the sights of London, if they end up being happiest when splashing in a colossal puddle, then that is still money well spent. After all, the point of having a family day out is for kids to enjoy themselves. We were probably unprepared for the fact that the final puddle was the puddle to end all puddles and actually Thurston was now up to his knees in grubby park water. We couldn’t even get him out because the puddle was so deep that our shoes would’ve been destroyed. He stayed in that puddle for as long as he wanted to, and I know that he thoroughly enjoyed himself.
Once we had walked over to Buckingham Palace, Thurston did actually start to get quite distressed that he was so wet and cold. In the past, if it had been one of my other children, I would have looked for a loo or a cafe to sort him out in private. He was screaming and miserable and I have stopped caring what strangers think of me! He stripped off right outside the palace and I can honestly say i wasn’t that fussed. By that point, I just wanted him to be warm and dry and comfortable. By some foresight, I actually had brought some pyjamas with me so I managed to sort him out no problem.
As for the rest of the week, he has thrown admission forms into someone’s garden and left me foraging in their bushes to find them. He has tried to cut off a Physiotherapist’s finger. He referred to a therapist (persistently) as Nanny. He slapped his new teacher and new teaching assistant round the face for trying to convince him to sit on a carpet. He’s pulled my top down in front of my friends, and he threw my iPhone (which I just had replaced for the 2nd time because of him) into the road. I do sometimes think about the situations he makes me end up in, and I often think to myself “i would only do this for you Thurston”, and it’s really true. I may not be a Mary Poppins-type anymore, but having a child like Thurston has taught me some really valuable life-lessons:
1: Dusting the top of the TV can wait until tomorrow. Build a Mega-Bloks tower instead.
2: It really doesn’t matter if strangers are staring at you. You will never see them again.
3: The kids’ outifts do not need to co ordinate, they just need to withstand stains, falling over and going on the slide.
4: I do still need to pack spare clothes for my child, even though he is 4!
5: Never make firm plans, go with the flow and everyone will be more relaxed.
6: Get out of the house as much as possible. Even if it’s a disaster, you will end up laughing about it. You will never regret going out, but I *often* regret staying in.
7: If your child prefers splashing in muddy puddles/looking at the trees in the breeze/playing a kissing game to going to expensive attractions, don’t be disappointed, be pleased that they are so easily pleased and embrace it. The simple things in life are often the most rewarding!
Thanks for reading.