Wednesday, 24 February 2010

bending the rules

i'm sitting at my desk with the fire on, gas hissing away in a very lady's parlour sort of way so i feel somewhat decadent but unusually i'm not feeling guilty. not about the global warming element of this activity because it must be better than centrally heating the whole house. not about not earning money because i did yesterday and have possibles for next week (more later...). but largely not about the children being in childcare.

sometimes i do fret about this; usually when i'm not fully occupied by paid work. i sometimes feel that income justifies not only the expense but also the decision not to have them with me everyday. but i've been thinking about this recently when weighing up the options: pulling the plug on childcare to free up the domestic p&l vs continuing to pay for two days a week so that when work does come along i can do it. albeit at the immediate cost of holidays, groceries and scarily my daily wine quota. and i've been almost relieved to find that i'm not sending them to nursery simply to bring more money into the house (wine shortage remaining an issue) but also because i think it is good for them. i feel they flourish in an environment where they have to interact without a mum in attendance. this might not have been the norm in our parents' generation, but our kids are going to start school with a whole class of other kids who HAVE been in nursery/childcare for at least a few days a week and i don't want mine to be behind on the social skills front when it comes to nabbing the best chair, sharing pens, taking the biggest biscuit etc.

naturally these aren't the skills i advocate at home; sharing is sacrosanct, as is "she's your guest so she can choose" and even more painfully "she can have the pink fork/spoon/cup/plate..." chocolate is dutifuly halved, thank-yous adhered to and please-may-i get-downs a must. but that being said; i don't want them to be the sooks; the little-miss-perfects, the goody two shoes, and sometimes i find this hard to parent for. how to encourage non-compliance when also showing the right way to be. to give a moral code but then whisper "but don't always do it; gauge the situation, feel your way through the social rules in play and choose your route".

maybe i worry too much about this and we should just assume that they will break rules in a very human way; that no child is altruistic and the selfish gene will always out. i think i worry because my eldest is very compliant. #2 is a monkey and was possibly picked up at the scrap-heap. she seems to intuitively get the real rules; she smiles agreement then does the opposite, says "i love you mummy, i want a hug" then purposefully uses my cardi to wipe away her bogey and giggles. she eats her chocolate really really quickly, safe in the knowledge that #1 will give her a share of her own. and my god can she shriek; i do seem to remember this from my first at the same age: a high pitch scream that must have genetically evolved to scare off anything they've just prodded and galvanise action in any previously non-attentive adult. it must be survival: in the same way that they go off anything green on their plate. the gene for easy vegetable ingestion was extinguished by the cave-dwelling 2 yr olds pre-disposition for all things poisonous and only the picky eaters made it through.

i say #1 is compliant but her mot-de-jour is bottom and derivatives thereof. so not that compliant. botty, fat botty, big botty, you've got a fat/big/botty etc etc. she knows she isn't meant to say it, although i have been grilled on the rules. "can i say it when i'm on the loo talking about my bottom? can i just not say it, like, in a shop? when i shout it really loudly? can i talk about my bottom when i'm not in the bathroom if i'm telling you about something on my bottom? can i say the lady on robots does big pops from her bottom?". so i did impose a no-bottom-comment rule and now i have "i just thought about saying bottom mummy, but i didn't say it. but i imagined it." and in the same vein "i just picked out a bogey and put it up my nose again" or "i thought about hitting my sister but i didn't do it" and even more derangingly "i just breathed like this mummy. no like this, look at me, like this, can you see me? well wait for a red light. like this" infinitum. i know that they all get OCD but this is extreme and drives me up the wall; i try and try and try to just listen and respond, with the occasional "well i don't think mummy needs to know all of this" (which was met with outright hurt "but i like to tell you things mummy, why can't i tell you things"...........) and when she's really testing it "i thought about saying bugger" which has been totally vetoed with the threat of 1) no bed-time story and 2) no playing i-spy for one day

yesterday she had time-out, really for general naughtiness, over-excitement culminating in leaping on the television table like something from planet of the apes when i turned it off, bellowing and ranting like a bull. she threw herself to the floor snorting in abject anger. so off to her room for time-out, first time in a while. 3 mins of stamping, snotting, yelling: super-nanny like i remained calm while #2 delighted in not being in trouble and bouncing on the bed. on entry to her room, through the snot and tears we had a conversation about appropriate and acceptable behaviour. she was repentant and happy to be out of time-out then brightly said to me "you'd have been even more cross if i'd pulled your eyes out like i just imagined doing"................

tumble weed actually blew through the bedroom; i'm reading a thriller at the moment which is always a mistake, i love them but as the dark of night comes in and when adam is away i FEAR the attack of the insane killer. and i panicked that she might be a sociopath in the making. that her first crime would be against a woman who wronged her and she took her eyes out with an ice-cream scoop. that in a post-crime admission of guilt she would blame it all on her up-bringing "i mean i couldn't even say "bottom", what sort of freaked out mother did i have? how could i have flourished? she didn't even have a stable income and used to pretend to us that she was going to meetings but it was just to starbucks because i could nearly see her getting there when i stared at her until she'd vanished into a little dot from my nursery window, deserting me and my sister simply to fulfil her caffeine need" etc etc.

so of course i blame nursery; a good reason for not packing it in quite yet.

and another good reason is because the quest for work is more positive than in the past few weeks. albeit agency generated rather than under my own label but no matter. i have interviewed for a public sector role; rather predictably they then advised that confirmation of the funding wouldn't be possible until a week on thursday due to the need for a sub-sub committee to convene to approve it. i'm feeling the red-tape curl luxuriantly around the process already. however they were very positive about our conversation and to their credit didn't even blink at the question regarding flexible working and part time hours. and another agency has called with a role for a different public sector client also happy to consider part time hours so i should hear about an interview next week. i've also decided to apply for two full time director roles for charities in the hope that i can then talk about virtual fd possibilities. we'll see: one of those was actually really interesting and i'd have loved to have given it a go on a full time basis but them's the breaks.

and from a rules perspective; perhaps it is wrong to apply for a job knowing that you can't do it on the basis that they have advertised it and hoping to change their minds on the structure of the team. but i've always been a bit of a rule-bender. i blame my mother.


  1. Well you don't know unless you ask, do you? that's my moto.

  2. Hooray, I found your site at last! I LOVED this - the snot on the cardigan, the 'look at me, look how I'm breathing,' the scooping out of your eyes... Your kids are almost as weird as mine. Better go, my freaks will be back any moment, but am sticking you on my blogroll immediately.

  3. I have had to somehow hide the fact I am crying with laughter from my team at work and ping up a spreadsheet when anyone passes. This is hilarious. I totally agree that nursery is a good option for socialising small people. I remember bossing my table at nursery around and making them do maths with milk bottles - essential preparation for managing a team I think!

    Another fab blog Kate, really tickled me. And well done on the work front! Jen xx

  4. Kate, you are a totally fab blogger - can you apply for work in blogging roles now instead?? Maybe since your mention in the Times you could apply for some sponsors for your page, then you wouldn't actually need the financial work at all!
    Have been meaning to ask though, what's with the no capital letters?? Is this a current blog trend? Obviously I am out of the "blog" loop....


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