‘Tis the Season for Hulk and Ouzo

This is a story of tiredness. Don’t worry, it isn’t a moan about how tired I am. My kids sleep now. I just couldn’t do it to all those of you with younger ones, keeping you up half the night. Nope, this is about dealing with the tiredness of a new school starter. Because that shit is real, my friends.

I have to admit that I’d temporarily put from my mind how a cute little 4-year old preschooler turns into a weepy rage-monster overnight when school kicks in. I’d been too busy planning my (relative) freedom. Oh the beauty of that kid-free time a couple of days a week! It still hasn’t lost it’s shine, over 2 months in. It’s bloody wonderful, to be honest, and I like to think I’m making the most of it. I deserve it, right? If I didn’t I couldn’t really justify going bowling on a Monday morning, could I?

But oh, I’ve definitely remembered that school starter tiredness now. It has landed with a thud. And it’s brutal.

My dear little T has had a few problems starting school, if I’m honest. He has cried at roughly half of all morning drop offs and there is no sign of that stopping just yet either. He seems fine when he is actually in school but that separation thing is very hard for him. And the relentlessness of a five day week has hit him for six.

The first day of school was horrendous beyond my imagining. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, this being my third time. But nothing prepared me for it. My baby boy was in floods and clinging to me. I could hardly speak to reassure him. I tried so hard to hold it together for his sake but I spectacularly failed. I sat down to give him a cuddle and thought neither of us would ever be able to let go. That neither of us ever wanted to let go. Kindly teachers helped to separate us eventually and I spent the morning fighting back the waves of emotion hitting me like sledgehammers. It took my breath away, as my decade of preschool crashed to a close.

So, knowing what it did to me, is it any wonder that starting school has taken it’s toll on my little summer-born boy? He is utterly exhausted, both physically and mentally. I’m so proud of how he is getting on, putting so much effort not only into understanding how school works and making friends but also into his learning. I didn’t really expect him to be very switched on with it all in his Reception year but he is trying so hard and making huge progress.

But that hard work is really taking it out of him. The impact that is having on life at home is pretty painful. His emotions are through the roof. Play and laughter with his brother and sister can turn into a full blown weeping hysteria at the drop of a hat. Dare to suggest his much needed bedtime and he’ll collapse in a small, crying bundle. Lost toy? Well, surely that must be worth a weep-fest for at least half an hour, right?

M – who was an equally horrendous little monster when she started school as I recall – looks at her usually happy little brother in bemusement when an amiable game goes ballistic for no apparent reason and T loses his shit.

The clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in. T seems far too knackered at school pick up to do anything but go home so, as a result, it feels like our evenings are ever so long these days. Home by 3:30 for hours and hours of grumpy evening, stretching ahead of us. I’ll freely admit I’ve taken to hiding in the kitchen in the dark with a glass of wine to escape my tiny Incredible Hulk, who can tip over and turn green at the slightest provocation. Add to that the bickering of the other two and by the end of the night I feel as knackered and entirely over being around the kids as I used to when I had preschoolers at home with me all day.

The Christmas half term is always the most manic, with endless excitements and festive goings on at school, accompanied by relentless asks for money, natch. It’s all very lovely for the kids but it is also bloody exhausting. And this is all to come, on top of T’s tiredness upon heaped up tiredness. I’m really hoping it won’t all push him over the edge.

I tried to explain the school nativity play to him today. He said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do it. I didn’t like to tell him that he can’t really opt out. He eventually said he’d do it if I was up on stage with him. Much as I’m sure the other parents would find that amusing, I don’t think it’s a viable option but I’m going to let the school explain that one to him. I have painful memories of H’s first couple of nativities and the floods of tears. I’m dreading a repeat performance of that.

We had the school Christmas Fair last Saturday. If I’m honest, it’s always a challenge that costs and bomb and you end up with bags full of tat you don’t want. Yay! Happy Christmas (in sodding November). But this year was worse than usual. T was looking angelic in his new Christmas jumper. Pity he cried at literally every opportunity. The reasons ranged from not winning in the tombola or the hoopla to it not being Christmas Day tomorrow. How dare I ruin his life so beyond measure by refusing to fast forward time to skip the next four weeks?

It’s not his fault really. You can’t have a bloody Christmas Fair in November and not expect a bit of confusion. But it was exhausting and I was a shadow of my former self in need of a drink or 4 by the time we left with armfuls of crap we don’t need, including a bottle of Ouzo from the tombola. Some unwanted gift palmed off. Does anyone actually drink Ouzo? I’m keeping it in the cupboard to donate back next year…. I’m not desperate enough to drink it. Yet.

It may not be coming quickly enough for T but Christmas is most certainly on its way. I’ve tried hard to hold off starting my preparations too soon this year, which made for a more relaxed November, but December is around the corner and I have lists of things to buy and organise coming out of my ears now. It would all be so much easier to face if I could have my cuddly little youngest back and could banish the Hulk Baby. But that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

My best bet for the weeks ahead, as the Christmas juggernaut cranks into gear, is to be as patient as possible and cuddle my little Hulk Boy as much as I can, in the hope that I can keep him in his calm, adorable Bruce Banner alter ego. But I don’t really fancy my chances.

At least Hulk’s green and T’s little red screaming face are the colours of Christmas, I suppose. And if things get really bad, there is always the Ouzo.

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