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Monday, 17 February 2014

Don't invite the children!

I love my children.
I love going to large parties.
I do not love going to large parties with my children.
 
There, I've said it. Going out for the evening with my offspring is not fun.
 
My heart sinks when we get an evening invitation to a party and are told, very kindly, "the children are invited too." It triggers an internal battle between what I feel is expected of me (to bring the children) and what I want to do (leave them at Nana's so that I can actually enjoy myself.) 
 
Sometimes I forget the potential horror of it. "They're a bit older now," I tell husband, "they'll be fine this time." He shakes his head at my naïveté. Unfortunately he is always proved annoyingly correct.
 
The evening starts ok. We arrive, both children looking picture perfect. We find an area in which to base ourselves (husband already pulling the 'how loud is this music?' face), get ourselves a drink (arguing with children about coke vs orange juice before compromising on lemonade) and try to locate a friendly face in the crowd. 
 
We are then thrust straight into a balloon battle. The boy has a balloon fixation of huge proportions: he spots the balloons as soon as we enter the room and begins a war of attrition on my ears which consists of a repeated "Can I have a balloon now? Can I have a balloon now? Please can I have a balloon? When can I have a balloon?" He has no understanding of the fact that our hosts have placed these balloons decoratively around the room and do not wish a small child to rip them down and run around the room with them like a chimpanzee on acid. 
 
This is just the beginning. I may even have had a small chance of tuning out the balloon mantra if husband didn't then add a second acapella-style chorus about 20 minutes into the party with his own rendition of "How long have we got to stay? When are we going home? Shall I take the kids home and leave you here?" The male members of our clan are not known for being party people. 
 
At least the girl enjoys a dance (I have high hopes for the future where the two of us attend parties alone and leave the other two at home with a balloon each) but that brings a different form of stress in the fear that she will be trampled underfoot by an over-enthusiastic mummy putting double turns into the 'Uptown Girl' line dance. I know how easy this is due to my own experiences over the years clumping small children during the Macarena. 
 
Other people seem to manage quite successfully to attend parties en famille - chatting, laughing, even having a little dance whilst their children are off playing elsewhere. Whilst I admire greatly their relaxed attitude and faith in their offspring, I have a deeply embedded need to have visuals on my children at all times:  presuming that anytime I can't actually see them they are either destroying something, are being pinned down by another child or have escaped onto a busy motorway. 
 
This is a fear often vindicated when I do lose sight of them for more than 5 minutes. If there is a leg-breakingly high stage, they will be attempting to jump from it. If there is a wallet-bustingly expensive piece of DJ equipment they will be tripping over it. And if there is a tottering toddler barely walking who doesn't want a large balloon bounced on his head . . . you get the idea. At least at a large party the music is so loud you can't be heard threatening your children under your breath. 
 
The end of our evening is usually heralded by the over-tired tears of one or both children. Husband leaps on the first teardrop as evidence that we must go home and it is left to me to find our host or hostess and make our apologies. 
 
So, my friends, I would love to come and celebrate your birthday, wedding or anniversary. I will laugh and joke and dance and sing. Just please don't ask me to bring my children. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Small Child V2.0


Dear God

 Whilst I appreciate that you have been in the business of creating human beings for a long time now, I would like to humbly suggest some modifications should you decide to revise the current version of small child.

 1. Ear functionality - small child V1.0 seems to experience intermittent audio loss, otherwise known as selective hearing. This can vary between acute deafness and the hearing of a superhero i.e. an inability to hear the phrase 'Sit down and eat your dinner" whilst being able to hear the crinkling of a sweet wrapper from three rooms away. (NB Husband V2.0 could also benefit from this bug fix.)

 2. A glitch in brain synapsis which renders an incomprehension of the word 'no'. This incomprehension manifests itself when the small child continues to repeat a question if it is answered with 'no'. As in:

"Can I have sweets before dinner?"

"No."

"Please can I have sweets?"

"No."

"Pleeeeease can I have sweets?"

This can continue through several cycles and often ends with an incessant whining sound and leakage from the eyes.

3. Lapses in memory. This takes two forms: inability to retrieve information (("I don't know where I left your purse after I was playing with it.") and general memory loss (" I forgot that I'm not allowed to help myself with biscuits from the cupboard.") 

4. Shutdown malfunction. I have been reliably informed by several user manuals that you can program your small child to automatically shut down at a set time each evening. My model seems unable to perform this effectively and often requires me to perform the shutdown sequence several times. It also turns itself back on too early or at random times in the night. Also, the younger of my two models sometimes crashes mid-afternoon which makes the evening shutdown even more difficult. 

I hope you are not offended with my suggestions to improve your otherwise excellent model; those of us in the field can often experience practical issues which may not have been considered important in the design phase. On that subject, there are a number of modifications which would greatly benefit Mother V2.0: an extra set of hands, larger reserves of patience and the ability to concurrently cook dinner, supervise a craft activity and negotiate a peace treaty to name but a few.

 Otherwise, I am very happy with both of my small child V1.0 although I regret to inform you that I will not be purchasing further copies.

 Yours humbly,

 Mrs A. Mother