Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Losing it

My friend from preschool came up to me this morning, and before you laugh, yes, I have a friend, we've bonded over finding the whole talking outside the school thing quite challenging. So in true friendship fashion we sit each morning in our respective (warm) cars and ignore each other and everyone else until we absolutely have to get out. Only then do we chance a quick smile and chat as we usher in our children.
Anyway, she looked worried. Just this morning, she confided through the corner of her mouth, she'd lost it with her boys. Shouted. Screamed. And get this she whispered, thrown all their toys out of the window. The fear was palpable, the light sweat on her forehead belying the cool exterior of the mummy-out-and-about.
Fair enough this was good going for before 9am, but really, toys out the window? That's nothing! I've torn heads off Barbies, thrown perfectly good princess tippy toe shoes in the bin, thrown toys out of the car window (there's a lot of throwing it feels really good), made an Easter egg sandwich and thrown (yes) it onto the table shouting 'there's you bloody dinner, happy now?' And before you phone social services, I don't know any mother that hasn't done similar things.
It's just what happens, it doesn't do the children any harm (well none that they can't see a therapist about later on), in fact, we tell ourselves, it's good for them to see that mummy has a line (a good line in throwing especially).
I was listening to an awful, pompous man on radio four the other day (and I know that's probably what I get for listening to radio four), and he was chatting to a woman who was worried about losing it with her sons, apparently she shouts at them, shouts. OK, I was waiting for the next bit but there wasn't one. Shouts? That's nothing! I've.. (see earlier list). Anyway the point of this bit is that the pompous I've-never-stayed-at-home-on-my-own-with-the-children-day-after-day-while-other-people-get-to-be-citizens-of-the-world man asked her is if she would ever lose it public, say in Boots? No, she replied, well then he said, you can control it. Sorry? The taste of chalk and cheese stuck painfully in my throat. Boots? But there are so many more options available in Boots. Shelves and shelves of things to accidentally sweep to the floor (I've managed a whole aisle), shopkeepers to smile at as you drag your child away from the teletubby bubble bath into the corner for a good shouting at. In fact you can feel like a good mummy in Boots (and it doesn't have to be Boots either, I've done it lots of times in Thorntons). Look, you are saying as you raise you voice without embarrassment, I'm a zero tolerance mummy, I stand up to my children and lay down the Law. Hoorah for me, you won't be seeing me on Super Nanny, (though you're hoping that they didn't see last Summer's episode that you starred in, and have obviously failed at miserably hence the Boots/Thorntons tantrum). You see, when you're out in public it's not other people that stop you losing it and carrying out bizarre and, let's face it, pretty stupid punishments (it took me ages to glue Barbie's head back on, and Easter egg sandwiches have had to become part of the weekly menu), it's that other people mean company, freedom, space. A good disciplining can be admired, taken note of, I'll try that shouting-in-the-corner-thing myself you can hear people thinking, I'd look really good doing that. At home there is nobody around to admire your handiwork, and nowhere else to go but bizarre. Four walls leave you with no option , when you've tried everything else, sometimes you have to lose it, let it go, take it out on Barbie (you never liked her anyway), do whatever it takes to lose control without actually losing control. It's the only way. And if you don't agree then you don't have children.
My brother in law, Alec, has been staying with us for the last few days and I haven't lost it once. Not because I'm being polite, we know each other far too well, but because I've had some company. I don't mean to insult Isla and Jack here, they're lovely company, but it's been nice to have some that I didn't also have to feed/wipe/bath/nappy (although it's been close, he's not that domesticated). He's been someone to chat to (at), he's played with the children while I 'got on with things' (oh how blissful to actually get on with it all), he's held the baby to stop him crying instead of me holding him in one arm, pushing the dummy in with the other and stirring the sauce with my toes. He's even read stories, made mud pies, tickled, played 'you can't catch me' for two hours and generally entertained in the manner of Koko the Klown all day. It's been great, everyone should have a visitor that isn't child-jaded (it took him going to South Korea for a year but still). It has, in a nutshell, been blissful. And it's going to carry on for sometime, I've hidden his passport.

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