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My son has been kidnapped and replaced with some kind of highly energised, relentlessly obnoxious alien being.

Which may sound overly dramatic, but on some days- like today- certainly feels true.

It came to my direct attention after a few weeks of school. My sweet little man had picked up some seriously annoying speech and habits. Mild mannered swearing. (Poo. What is it with the word ‘poo’?) Playground games. (“Chop!!” I yell after he slams his shoe down on his sisters bare foot. “What?” He is thoroughly confused. “That’s how you play Footsies!”). And just a general rough and tumble, testosterone-fueled harshness in his demeanor that’s never been there before.

“Maybe he’s just settling in”, I told myself. “Perhaps he is just tired.”

The school holidays- marked by ten long days of solid noise and almost continual confrontation- seemed to solidify this slightly obnoxious boy-ism as just another part of his evolving, kaleidoscope personality.

I know it’s probably natural, just a ‘boy thing’. Something that I wouldn’t even be aware of, I think, if his dad was still around. For the last two years, the Chop has had very few rough and tumble male influences in his life. That’s okay- it evidently hasn’t hurt him. It’s just that the emergence of this side of his personality has taken me by surprise, happening all at once rather than through the slow osmosis of continual exposure.

rrsahm

Curbing his behaviour, deciding and managing appropriate punishments… that’s become more difficult. How many times can I send him to this room, before it reaches a point where it simply begets more stress, more pent up energy resulting in more frustrated outbursts? (The answer to that would be, roughly, a few hundred before we move onto iPad and TV restrictions. Which work just as well.)

One day during the seemingly endless school holidays, my son was in complete bored five year old mode- tearing around the house, jumping on couches, harassing his sister with nonsensical rules to complicated make-believe games, and generally being, in the politest terminology I can think of, completely feral. There was no physical violence, no losing control, no real danger of hurting himself… nothing that required refraction beyond a verbal reprimand (“Stop… being… annoying!” was met with maniacal laughter and a HotWheels car zooming past my feet); and I was not, for reason of my own mental health and sanity, restricting TV privileges on a day like today.

rrsahm2

So I, half-jokingly, instructed him to come outside and presented him with a rake, which I used to mark out a four foot long, two foot wide stretch of browned and fallen leaves in our backyard. “Rake these,” I told him. I expected him to thoroughly object, and I certainly wouldn’t have pushed it… the idea of forcing a five year old to rake leaves as punishment seems a little bit… Edwardian, maybe?

But he didn’t object. He took to his task, finished, and then resumed playing with the Bump. That frenzied edge of energy had been burnt off. Total win. It’s become the ultimate technique for those days when his energy is just too big for the house.

And thank the gods, school is back in session as of now. Next holidays, I’m planning to be significantly more prepared.

{ 10 comments }

Gastronomical Subterfuge‏

by Lori Dwyer on March 8, 2013 · 5 comments

My children are fussy, finicky eaters. The Chop especially. He takes after me. The Bump has inherited her father’s appetite (”Can’t talk, eating…”), but has still been sadly influenced by me. Both my kids will pick and pull at food. They often demand nothing but garlic bread for dinner. On the rare occasion I do get them to the something new, they gag to the– point I’m almost positive it’s involuntary.

The anti–food phenomenon is absolutely my fault; and the requisite parental guilt is gutting and hollow and flagellating. I’d always naively assumed that the process of teaching my kids to eat healthy would be one of those things that just ’happened’, as if by some kind of magical intervention. I think things like that a lot. My own mother made parenting look so easy.

Actually, to be completely honest, I’d always assumed that The Chop and The Bump would pick up their dad’s relatively healthy taste for all manner of different foods. Had he stuck around for long enough, they might have.

But it didn’t quite work out that way and, after the sky fell in, so did my attempts at cooking. My little darlings have developed the eating habits of their mother. Very, very bad ones. Or, as I like to say, we are ’simple eaters with limited tastes’. Because that makes it sound so much better.

Like most kids, mine would both eat nothing but junk food, given half the chance (and let’s face it, so would I). In order to maintain some control over what we munch on, I’ve taken to trying not to fill the kitchen cupboards with junk food. If all they will snack on is yoghurt, fruit, sultanas, cheese and biscuits…. then that is all I will buy.

In theory, that works wonderfully.

In reality, it’s never that easy. Some days it feels as though the array of foods my children consider ’acceptable for digestion’ is shrinking and waning– they eat less and less. Each week they strike another foodstuff off the list with declarations of “I don’t like that!” and “Neither do I!!”

I get the feeling God is laughing me and my foolish best–of-plans intentions. Home made baby food. Carefully prepared toddler snacks. And two kids who, some days, seem to get all the nourishment they need from a packet of popcorn, an orange and a tub of yoghurt.

Somewhere along the line– a year or so ago, I do believe– I gave up on the dream and illusion that was raw, unprocessed foods, and started buying anything that looked even reasonably healthy and appealing, in order to get the little darlings to eat something– anything– other than milk arrowroot biscuits

Most attempts have been utter failures.

The Bump and I spent an inordinate amount of time playing with these. They look just like they're having a conversation, do they not?!

The Bump and I spent an inordinate amount of time playing with these. They look just like they’re having a conversation, do they not?!

And I actually thought that the SPC Fruit Crush–Ups thingies I had been sent to review would end up the same as most everything else I’ve tried– that is, relegated to the occasional parcels of untouched food that I pass on to friends whose children are less fussy than mine.

Initial trials showed the Fruit Crush–Ups to be unsuccessful, led in opinion by the Chop (the Bump, in general, defers to his decisions. As little sisters do). I’m not sure how this conclusion was reached. The packets are pretty. It’s one handed, which is important for busy kidlets. and there are six– six– different flavours to choose from. No child can be that fussy.

Except mine.

Numerous attempts to beg, bribe and coerce the children into just trying the bleeping things, please, resulted in… Failure. I froze them. I chilled them. I decanted them into glasses with straws and bowls with spoons. (All of that refer to the SPC’s, obviously, not the kids). I even put the strawberry over ice cream, for pity’s sake.

Fruit Crush-Ups over ice cream. Like au naturel strawberry topping!

Fruit Crush-Ups over ice cream. Like au naturel strawberry topping!

No, nay, nuh–uh, no way. Ugh.

“Please? Try it? Just once?” I beg the Chop, “it’s for my blog.”

That results in a wary, slightly worried look. He knows that ’mum’s blog’ is where lots of cool things– like PS3′s, road trips and Skylanders eventuate from. “You will still have your blog but, if I don’t try it, right Mummy?”

“Yes.” I sigh, “of course. But really, you should try them. They’re yummy. They’ve been named Product of the Year!” I am clutching at straws here and he knows it.

“No. Thanks.” At least he’s polite.

Eventually, I resort to total subterfuge and stealthily pack the Fruit Crush–Ups into lunch bags, for big school and daycare, hoping to sneak them into my kids subconscious via peer pressure and distraction. Unfortunately, the Chop is far too old for this kind of disillusionment, and the Crush–Up returned untouched.

But the Bump… she’s still just a baby, bless her, and it’s far too easy to play with her mind sometimes. At the daycare teachers insistence that the Fruit Crush-Ups were, in fact, ’way cool!’, the Bump not only tried it, but loved it. And has polished off half a box of them since then.

Total success.

***

If you’d like to broaden your kids foodstuff intake and add an extra half piece of fruit to their day in a stealthy squeezie pack that can be frozen as an ice pack for lunchboxes (killing both the snack and potential food poisoning birds with one frozen stone!); I’ve got a whole terms worth of SPC Fruit Crush–Ups to give away– that’s eight of each six flavours, RRP $1.29 each, all to the one lucky winner. To be that winner, tell me in 25 words or less–ish; what is the ultimate subterfuge you have pulled on your kids, to get them to eat what they don’t want to?

This comp is open to Aussie residents only. It opens now and closes midnight 22nd March. The winning answer will be whatever tickles my pickle and makes me smile at the time of drawing. Winners must have a valid email address, and will be contacted soon after the competition closes. Winners have 48 hours to respond to the winning email or the comp may be redrawn. My desicion is final and no bitching, whinging or discussion will be entered into.

This post has been sponsored by the awesome people at SPC.

Can’t see a form? Click here…

{ 5 comments }

I’d forgotten how completely, totally annoying three year old children can be. Especially when they’re your own children.

It’s been two years since my son was preschool-aged, all temper tantrums and dramatics and stamping feet and grumpy faces.

Of course, the Bump, my darling little fairy girl, didn’t let me keep that voluntary regressive amnesiac state for long. She is three years and five months old. (Good grief… three and a half. How and when did that happen, where has my tiny baby gone…?) and is absolutely making the most of her small-child-as-terrorist status.

Cute. Don't let that fool you.

Cute. Don’t let that fool you.

 

The bump is up, intermittently, at all hours of the night… simply because she can be. Her temper tantrums are still fabulously dramatic; and and she thinks nothing of having a full meltdown at any given time or place. Because of course, three year old’s are not governed by social expectations, nor such ridiculous concepts as time– they are, completely, the center of their own– and, in their own humble opinion, everyone else’s– universes.

To exasperate the general difficulty of just-being-that-age, the Bump is currently at that awesome stage where she no long really needs to take a nap during the day. But if she doesn’t sleep at lunchtime, she’s likely to pass out on the lounge somewhere between four and five pm, sleeps like a log for an hour or so; then refuse to go back to sleep until almost eleven o’clock at night.

Attempting to break the cycle in any way– namely, by withholding her late afternoon siesta– is met with resistance in the form of a screaming, possessed banshee child. Who is so over-tired that she still may not go to sleep again until many long, torturous hours after the sun goes down.

And anyway, as previously mentioned– just because she’s in bed does not mean she’ll stay there. Some nights I’m lucky if I get even two hours between shrill demands for milk or juice or more (godforsaken) dummies or because there are goddamn monsters in her room or because she wants a cuddle or something.

She is a chatterbox, my gorgeous little girl-child, all incandescent words tumbling over one another. And, like all children, she’s a question-asker. But questions from three year old’s, they differ and vary to those asked by older children, and often they make no sense at all. Quite possibly because preschoolers are rarely asking a question to receive an answer. They just like the sound of their own voice.

“Where are we going now, Mumma?”

“Home, darling.”

“Where are we going now, Mumma?”

Home, darling.”

“Where are we going now, Mumma?”

Home, Bump.”

“Where are we going now, Mumma?”

“HomeAndPleaseStopAskingMeSillyQuestions!!!”

Because, really, there is only so much my temper can take before it frays and breaks into a thousand pieces and irritation just overcomes me.

As I’m sure I’ve said at some point in the past– it’s extremely fortunate that children are so cute. Because, if they weren’t, their mothers may just eat them in the middle of the night, delirious with sleep deprivation and unable to control primal urges dictating that rest is essential for sanity and function and would somebody please shut this kid up??

Bump3

***

On a slightly related note– the Bump is, actually, cute enough to eat in great big gulps, all pink dresses and sticky hands and fairy dancing. And I tell her so. “Bump, you are so cute– I am going to eat you all up!”

“No Mumma!” Says the Bump, full of three year old attitude, hand on hip and pout on face. “You can not eat me! I am not food. I am just people.”

The irrefutable, exasperating logic of small children. Really, who am I to argue with that?

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