A Trip to the Dentist

imageI’m not a great believer in the Terribe Twos. I mean, I know they can be awful but I’m not sure they are much worse than the Ones or Threes for the most part. Also, when you have one nicknamed Terrible T, I think you would be wise to expect trouble at every age.

Well, two-year old Terrible T has been well and truly living up to both his name and age this week. It has been meltdown central around these parts. He is at nursery today and I have had a blessed and very rare day off from both kids and work, but between him waking up and me handing him over at the nursery door he managed to have scream ups about all of the following:

  • having his nose wiped
  • having his nappy changed
  • having lost Luigi in bed (a little plastic figure that is his current toy obsession)
  • getting milk on his PJs
  • not being allowed more Shreddies – whilst sitting in front of a bowl full of Shreddies
  • not having Marmite on his toast – having just requested honey
  • not being allowed to use his sister’s toothbrush
  • having his teeth brushed at all – I ended up sitting on him
  • putting his jumper on to leave
  • not being allowed to wear Crocs to nursery
  • not being allowed to sit in his sister’s seat in the car.

And this was all in just one hour. On the occasions when he has been with me all day this week, I’ve been in bits by about 2pm and counting down til Wine o’Clock. I know he has a bit of a cold, which probably isn’t helping his mood, but I really don’t think that is an excuse to be evil personified. Almost everywhere we have been this week, we have eventually had to leave with him bundled under my arm,  screaming his bright red little face off.

So, you can imagine my joy when I got a text on Monday reminding me that we had a dentist appointment for all the kids on Wednesday, which I had entirely forgotten to add to the calendar. Going to the dentist is often quite an experience with my mob even without devil-child T’s foul temper so I admit I had a wave of weakness and contemplated postponing it. But I have been a bit worried about one of H’s teeth for a while so I thought I’d better bite the bullet and face up to it.

The appointment was early, so getting out the house on time was a trial in itself, but we made it. I then had to quickly fill in loads of forms stating that none of my children were heavy drinkers, pregnant or smokers (why do they make you do that every time?) So I was nicely distracted for a few minutes, allowing the mob to run amok, climbing all over chairs at high-speed, around a poor fellow patient who looked less than delighted to have T’s snotty, grinning face thrust at him from standing on the next chair. H, being the oldest and vaguely responsible one, was very loudly shhhhh-ing the other two and saying “We have to be quiet! There is a MAN!”, which was somehow more embarrassing than the climbing and giggling.

imageLuckily our lovely dentist took pity and called us all in before anything got broken. When asked who wants to go first, T shouted “Me me me!” and was full of smiles as he climbed onto the chair and took a slow ride backwards. I literally couldn’t believe my luck, having been fully expecting him to kick off over it. He was good as gold in the chair and, apart from thinking the little mirror was a spoon and trying to eat it – which the other two roared with laughter over – he was a model patient.

Next was H, who is an old hand at these things and was very good. However, T now realised that his role had switched from ‘centre of attention’ to ‘waiting patiently’ and was, as a result, getting rather stroppy. He started asking for Luigi, who had been left at home, and the moaning was gradually ramping up, with a full-blown meltdown on the not-so-distant horizon. I was trying to keep him calm with whatever I could find in my bag, whilst also listening to the dentist telling me about H’s problem tooth and a not unexpected orthodontist referral coming our way soon, complete with possible tooth extraction. Ugh.

I hit on the idea of giving T some paper and the pen and clipboard I’d used to fill in the forms, which miraculously worked for a short while and kept him distracted while I dealt with M. My girl has white coat syndrome, after a couple of very traumatic A&E trips, so she is always tricky at the doctor or dentist.

imageWell, having been happily giggling while the boys were in the chair, she decided to kick off when it came to her turn. I finally persuaded her onto the chair by sitting down on it myself and lying her on top of me, which has worked in the past. But she is now a leggy five-year old who was kicking and squirming to get away. I can tell you, lying on your back with a bright light in your eyes, trying to hold a kid of that size who doesn’t want to be there, whilst conversing with a toddler about his picture of an octopus and attempting to listen to instructions about how to deal with weak enamel teeth is not any kind of easy.

The thing that really did M in was having some protective paint put on her weak teeth. She started screaming that it was disgusting, thrusting both hands into her mouth attempting to scrape it out and biting her cardigan sleeves, which came out covered in white goo.

Whilst M yelled and made dramatic fake retching noises, I said thanks to the dentist (who was beyond lovely and understanding, thank God) and attempted to get T to return the clipboard and pen to the receptionist. Well, I expect you can imagine how well that went down. Suffice to say, we left with T under my arm, beetroot faced and so angry his screams had gone super-sonic, and M crying and shouting “I am going to be sick!” whilst clawing at her tongue. Poor H had his hands locked over his ears and a look of dread on his face about the potential tooth extraction.

So, a jolly morning was had by all! I know all toddlers can be awful but, when he gets into one of these phases, T has the power to make the challenging almost impossible. A trip to the shop to buy milk becomes a mountain to climb and a trauma to be endured.

Hopefully cute, cuddly, happy T will be back soon. Sure, the cute version is naughty and far from pliable but he is also fun and funny. Terrible Tantrum T is no fun at all. Even if he does still manage to look cute from time to time, when he pauses for breath between screams.

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Saturation Point

imageAs I packed the older two kids off to school this morning I felt that usual mixture of sadness and relief that I always get after the holidays. But I also felt a little background niggle of feeling slightly guilty that I was sending them back to the classroom far more exhausted than they were at the end of term. I’m pretty sure the point of school holidays is to give everyone a rest but we’ve never quite managed to achieve that in this house.

As per usual, we’ve had a very busy break, filled with family and friends, Easter antics, a trip to Dorset and an 8th birthday for my eldest. We’ve hunted eggs, dug forts on the beach, visited zoos and farms and basically been busy every single day. We’ve all loved it but it is hardly a surprise that the kids were yawning on their way to school this morning.

imageI know how they feel. It has been a fantastic holiday but I’ve been looking forward to the relative peace and quiet of today for a while now. Today it is just me and T, trundling along together. It is a blessed relief from the mayhem and I can tell that T agrees. He was in the best mood that he has been in for ages this morning, full of smiles and happy babbling. I think he was delighted to have me back to himself for a few hours and, more importantly, to have time to sit on the floor and play to his heart’s content, without being dragged off for yet more Organised Fun. Two year olds don’t always deal so well with Organised Fun and I think he was sick to the back teeth of being carted from pillar to post at the expense of time alone with his beloved trains. His mood went to shit this afternoon by the way, but we’ll gloss over that.

I have to admit that can see T’s point and I’ve been feeling the strain myself this last couple of days, with the end of the holidays in sight. I’ve basically reached kid saturation point. No matter how amazing the break was, there is no question that it was exhausting, especially when trying to meet the needs of three little ones. I’ve been drowning in demanding kids and high-pitched nagging voices for longer than I’d like and certainly longer than I deal well with. I lost my cool badly on Sunday morning when I was trying to tidy the house and the nagging reached a peak. There was screaming. It wasn’t pretty. A sure sign that I need to step away from the small people for a while.

imageI’m used to having two kid-free days a week while I work but, with time off for our holiday, I’ve not had a child-free moment for nearly two weeks now. I know that is par for the course for many stay-at-home Mums with pre-schoolers – and I salute you if you are one of them – but it simply doesn’t suit me. I’ve tried it and it nearly did me in. I quickly worked out that I’m not designed to be a full-time stay-at-home Mum. I love my kids deeply and I generally thrive on the mayhem – why would I have gone in for three of them otherwise? But I’ve learnt that over-exposure to them without a break leads to screaming meltdowns all round and bad parenting misery. The constant moaning, the bickering and the endless questions really start to get to me over time. I am just so in demand that I feel they are chipping away at me slowly and, if I don’t escape for a short while, there will soon be nothing left but a pile of bones and twitching nerves.

When I reach saturation point, I can hear a voice in my head screaming for time off. By time off, I don’t mean sitting about watching This Morning and eating ginger nuts. I’m actually not that good at sitting about and relaxing. Time off when saturation point is hit is basically anything else. Seriously, ANYTHING other than being surround by kids. A trip to the dump, bombing round the supermarket, hell, even a visit to the dentist. All beat being with my own offspring. This is why work is my salvation.

imageI am in serious need of a work day right now, to be sat at my desk, focusing on grown-up tasks, without small voices getting at me endlessly. Without the luxury of being able to afford much child-free time besides when I am working, having my job is the reason I can cope with three kids nagging me the rest of the time. For two days a week, the cacophony stops for a few blessed hours. Yes, OK, so I am busy working hard on those days which brings its own stresses, but it is a different kind of pressure and a welcome change that keeps me sane. Working tomorrow is going to be bliss.

All parents cope differently with school holidays and there is no right or wrong. Whether you love them or loath them, holidays can be bloody hard work. There is the work/childcare juggle for some and the endless days to fill for others. They are nothing like a break for parents and far from relaxing, no matter what your circumstances or your outlook. So I think we all deserve a pat on the back for getting through them once again.

So, to all the parents out there who have just sent their kids back to school, I say well done. To the ones who are sad and miss their kids already and the ones who couldn’t wait to push them out the door. To the rest of you who are somewhere in between, like me. You all did a bloody good job. Whether you were jet-setting round Europe or wracking your brains every morning to think of something to do, whether each day was a joy or a trial, I say well bloody done to you.

You did it. We did it. Go us.

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