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Boarding schools for three year olds: do such a thing exist? And if not: WHY?

I’m not even talking about entry age 3 until they leave school, I’m talking about: drop off the day before their 3rd birthday and collect at 3pm on the Friday after they turn 4.

Seriously.

I don’t know what it is about this age, developmentally, but it pushes aaaaaaaalllllllllll my buttons.

I feel terrible saying it, I mean obviously I love my child, that goes without saying.  And we’re approved foster carers now so perhaps I should have more coping strategies at my disposal other than ranting about my parenting woes here on my blog…but there’s a very good reason we put ourselves forward as baby carers.

Babies.  Babies, I get.  They’re demanding as hell, but in a whole other way.  I’d take a newborn over a three year old any day.  In fact at this point I think I’d take a baby AND a hormonal teenager over a three year old to be honest.  Because having a three year old seems to be a lot like how I imagine it is to live with a moody teenage son, but with the added ‘bonus’ of having to devote every single ounce of energy I have to keeping them alive, and having them in turn hate me for it.

I mean, let’s be honest here, who would given the choice, elect to spend time with someone whose idea of social interaction is to scream in your face at every suggestion, and whose idea of stimulating conversation is to ask 75 times in rapid succession for an ice cream?

When it comes to parenting, I am a firm believer in you get back what you put in.  Maybe not right away, I don’t think it’s always instant- but eventually, things should balance out, right?

Like the fuzzy feeling of a soft newborn head sleeping against your bare chest after cuddling them to sleep, every shallow baby breath seeming to whisper “thank you for loving me, thank you for keeping me safe” or the way your five year old’s eyes light up when they’re chatting about their new favourite topic and you ask them questions about it.  There’s something about 3, that makes the input/output more unequal.  Oh he says he loves me, but it’s usually after I’ve agreed to let him watch Ninjago for the 3,758th time (Coincidence?  I think not) He wants to show me affection but only on his terms, and usually when it’s highly inconvenient, maybe even downright painful for me, like when I’ve just sat down on the toilet, or I’m putting the shopping through the checkout at Aldi, or I’m in the middle of phone call with my bank. Then he’s all over me like a rash, elbowing my boobs, knocking my glasses off, smooching his face into mine, leaving a trail of snot in his wake.

In some ways it’s a bit like being in an abusive relationship: say yes to them and they’ll claim to love you forever, say no and expect violence.  But regardless of whether you’ve just had Buzz Lightyear thrown in your face for suggesting they tidy their toys up, you’re still expected to cook their meals, wash their clothes, and wipe their arse. And you’d better be smiling when you do it to, lest they somehow sense your resentment bubbling under the surface and take it to heart, growing up believing themselves to be unloveable at their core, when really, all you wanted was for them to be nice to you for five fucking minutes out of the day.

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(Let the fun begin!)

This blog entry was brought to you by THURSDAY MORNING!

And the fact that it’s not even 10am and already my 3 year old has hit me with an umbrella, screamed that he hates me, and peed his pants in the park as well as crying/shrieking/whining about the following things:

having to take his brother to school, wanting to be under the umbrella with his brother, not wanting to be under the umbrella with his brother, wanting to hold my hand, not wanting to hold my hand, the fact it was raining, the fact that wind exists, the fact he couldn’t go directly to playgroup from school drop-off (because it doesn’t start until 10am), the fact he needed a wee in the park, not wanting to pee against a tree, wanting to pee against a tree, unsuccessfully peeing against a tree, my refusal to buy him a McDonalds at 9.15am, my suggestion that he take his rain-and-pee soaked clothes off when we got in the house, his inability to take his trousers off standing up and so necessitating that he sit down, my offering him dry pyjama bottoms, his inability to put on said pyjama bottoms standing up and so necessitating that he sit down, my not turning the tv on immediately upon arrival back home, me leaving the room without specifying where I was going (the kitchen) and when I would be back (30 seconds later).

And if you found reading that in any way monotonous/confusing/frustrating then please spare a moment to consider HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW.

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The Gargoyle

I have just finished reading the second book from my Great Re-Read of 2015 list: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

thegargoyle

I am not going to lie to you, the reason I bought this book, back in 2008 is purely because of the cover and the black page edges.  It totally is.  I saw it and I wanted it and I didn’t really care what it was about or how good it was supposed to be, I just needed to own it.  Fortunately for me, it has not only turned out to be nice to look at but really fucking amazing to read as well.

“Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love…”

This was only my second time reading The Gargoyle, which was a bit of a surprise to realise.  You know how sometimes you have a favourite book or film or restaurant, and you could swear you’ve read it/seen it/eaten there loads of times, but then you realise that no, actually it was just the once…but that it left such a massive impression on you it seems like it should be more?  That’s The Gargoyle for me.  The truth is, I read it as soon as I bought it, devoured it in a matter of days and then have thought of it so often since that I’d mistakenly assumed I’ve read it several other times.  It was only when I added it to the list for my Great Re-Reads challenge that I properly thought about it and realised that no, I’d definitely only read it once before.

I remembered it well though, so not much came as a surprise this time, although in a way that was actually nice because without that “OMG, NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS” driving force, I could slow right down and enjoy the ride…and what a ride.

In case anyone doesn’t know what the book is about I suppose I should try to summarise.  The Gargoyle is written from first person POV, and the (un-named) narrator is a guy who is badly disfigured following an accident (this happens right at the start of the book so I’m not giving away a massive plot twist there or anything).  When he is in hospital recovering he meets a woman: Marianne Engel, who is a psychiatric patient and who claims to have known (and loved) him in a past life.  The story follows his recovery interspersed with her re-telling of their ‘history’ together.  So it jumps between past and present day and switches from his voice to hers.  Dante’s Inferno features heavily, in fact there’s a massive focus on religion, spirituality, and redemption.  There’s sex (the narrator having been a pornographer prior to his accident) and violence (at times quite graphic) and a lot of black humour, but I’d say above all it’s really about personal growth, and about love.

In fact, I can’t help but feel like it’s poignant my having re-read it in February, and posting this today, what with it being Valentines Day and all.  But The Gargoyle is one of those rare books about love that isn’t a romance.  In fact I don’t know what ‘category’ I’d put it in.  I guess it’s Literary Fiction, but it’s got a mix of everything in there, so I’d be hard pressed to think of a reader it wouldn’t appeal to- aside from the very squeamish maybe.

You will all know by now how I feel about book reviews, and my inability to articulate precisely what makes a book so special and why I love it so.  It’s a source of endless frustration to me that when I try to put into words how wonderful something is all I end up with is a sort of “SQUEEE! YOU HAVE TO READ THIS NOW!” but after my last Great Re-Read of 2015 post, about The Stand, a couple of people told me they’d decided to give it a try, based on my recommendation, so even though I feel like I’m failing to do these incredible books justice, I am going to keep trying.

I love The Gargoyle for it’s beauty, inside and out, the language is poetic without being un-natural or ridiculously hard to read.  The protagonist is no angel but Davidson quickly gets you on his ‘side’ (or he did with me anyway) and you find yourself sympathising and rooting for this guy despite his flaws.  The stories Marianne tells are beautiful and could probably be appreciated as stand-alone stories by themselves, but being woven into the novel alongside the narrative of present-day reality, makes them even more breath-taking.

I am at serious risk of over-hyping this book, which is a problem that actually occurred when it was released because of it’s critical acclaim, some people felt ‘let-down’, but I was living in a (metaphorical) cave in 2008 and so avoided all the hype and was able to just come across it by accident and appreciate it for what it was.  So I’m not going to keep going on and on about how much I love it, I’m just going to end by saying that I do.  And that I’m so glad I finally got round to reading it again after all these years, as it remains one of my favourite books of all time, ever.

Next month’s re-read is The Book Thief so I’ll be back in March with a blog post about that 🙂

The Book Thief

Pain

Since getting my foot tattooed 5 days ago, I have been thinking a lot about pain (funny that)

As a student nurse we were always taught “pain is what the patient says it is” and encouraged to use (but appreciate the limitations of) pain scales, which for those who aren’t familiar basically involve the numbers 1-10, and/or a series of emoticons with facial expressions ranging from blissfully happy (and one assumes, pain-free) right through to Just Kill Me Now.

The thing is though, pain is just not that simple is it?  There are so many different variations of pain, and each person’s response is going to be entirely different.

There are those everyday things that we all seem to agree are fucking painful, like stubbing your toe, getting a papercut, or stepping on lego.  They cause us to yell in pain or swear (or both) and maybe bring a tear to our eye without actually threatening our overall health or survival at all.

Then there are those things that sound so painful we struggle to imagine how it’d feel unless we’ve experienced it- being shot for example.  I’m guessing most people reading this won’t have been shot, but still agree it sounds like it’d bloody hurt.  But then when it comes to hugely painful and life-threatening injury, our bodies often step in and swiftly remove consciousness, so the pain is at least put on hold.

When people have asked me in the past to rate my pain, I have always struggled.

“On a scale of 0-10, 10 being the most pain you have ever felt, where would you put your pain?”

“Ummm…six, or like, seven maybe?”

I bet you anything, everyone ever asked  picks fucking six or seven.  Anything less than mid-point and it’s like- what are you even bitching about then?  Anything over 8 is going to seem melodramatic.  I’d save my 9’s and 10’s until the pain was so bad I couldn’t speak…and then what use would they be to me?

Plus there’s the difference between acute pain and chronic pain. OMG I’VE BEEN STABBED vs waking up everyday with dull pain. And you can’t underestimate the factor that fear plays in pain.  If your leg hurts and you think it might fall off, you’re going to be more preoccupied with that pain and less able to distract yourself from it, each niggle is going to increase your worry tenfold.

For me, I can handle short sharp pain, if I know what the purpose of it is, and know that it’s not causing me lasting damage.  So- piercings, tattoos, electrocution…no really…I had nerve conduction testing done 16 months ago and it’s basically just lying back and being electrocuted over and over and over.  But any kind of long-lasting throbbing, niggling pain- I’m outtie.  Also, I am a major worrier, as anyone who has ever spent more than 5 minutes in my company can attest, so I’m much less able to cope with pain if I think it’s the symptom of something REALLY TERRIBLE.

So, with all that in mind, I have compiled this List Of The Most Painful Things That Have Ever Happened To Me Ever so that I can refer back to it next time someone asks me to use a pain scale…

Rebecca’s World of Pain Top Ten Countdown

10. Actually getting my Foot tattoo

It’s tickling…buzzing…scratching, sweet baby jesus, really fucking hurting.  Every muscle in your body screams “Run away from this pain!  Why are you just SITTING THERE?!” while you force yourself to remain still and remind yourself I want this…I WANT THIS…I WANT THIS

9. Afterpains after having my second baby

It was soooo ironic that after my totally drug-free, beautiful home birth I was like “What is this shit now?!  Hit me up with some pethidine and look sharp about it!” (the midwives just laughed at me and told me it gets worse with each child and to think how the mothers of 6, or 7 or more babies felt when they got theirs)

8.Having a nerve hit during my first lumbar puncture

I have tried, many times since, to find the words to describe this but always fail, because it was a bit like how I imagine it would feel to be shot in the leg but only momentary, and there was the fact it was instantaneous pain from my hip right down to my foot. Basically: Did not like.  Would not recommend.

7.Mastitis

One of those times where you feel so bad you fail to see how it’s possible you still exist.  Mastitis is sneaky because it creeps up on you, one minute your boobs are just a bit warm and tingly and you’re thinking you’d better feed your baby and the next your whole body is slammed with aches and pains, and you’re feverish and your breast is like a red hot lump of rock and you’re verging on delirious.  I was capable of nothing during my worst bout of mastitis.  I took my baby to bed and didn’t get out, except to pee for the next 72 hours.

6. Foot tattoo healing

This is basically me right now:

feets

terrible mistake dog

5. Toothache

As a student nurse I was observing one of my patient’s surgeries, for the first time- an oesophagectomy, which for the uninitiated is a fucking loooooong and tense ordeal.  I stood on a stepping stool away from the sterile field and peered in at my patient’s internal organs, aware of a dull throbbing in my jaw.  Eight hours later, the surgery wasn’t done- but I SO WAS.  I drove home pondering what could have gone so terribly wrong in my jaw- the answer?  Impacted wisdom tooth.  I promptly had it yanked out and the cavity became infected- mmm mmm.  Have I mentioned I fucking hate teeth?!

4.Sinusitis

Dear god in heaven, what the merry fuck is this torture?  I thought my face would explode. Every movement of my head was pure agony.  I lay still, in bed, crying and fantasising about sticking needles in my face to drain away the gunk and relieve the pressure.

3. Labour augmented with artificial syntocin (aka, synto is a BITCH)

The contractions came out of nowhere- bam, bam, bam.  My whole body felt like it was being crushed in a vice, I could feel my uterus straining against the brutality of the action.  I couldn’t understand how I could be in so much pain and survive.  I completely forgot I was having a baby and began to think I was dying.

2. Sutures after childbirth

Get.The.Fuck.Away.From.Me

1. Earache

Now, this one may take some explaining.  Because I know people are going to be thinking “Earache?  Worse than HAVING YOUR VAGINA STITCHED?!

Well I’m here to tell you…yes.

I have a long tumultuous relationship with my ears, being as they have been attached to my head since birth but are also ridiculously unhelpful.  I had a childhood of recurrent ear infections, somewhat lessened when I had my adenoids removed when I was 7.  I can vividly remember nights spent crying on the sofa, with a wooly hat on, while my parents tried to distract me from the fact I wanted to CHOP OFF MY OWN HEAD.

Then as an adult, they stopped.  It’s like my ears grew out of being such shits to me, and realised “Hey, we’re actually attached to her- maybe we should work together in harmony?!” and then…AND THEN…

When I was pregnant with Rudy I was so run down, I kept getting cold after cold, and then eventually of course, I got the inevitable ear infection, and then it spread to my other ear, and in a moment of pure desperation I put a couple of drops of warm olive oil in there, which initially provided some light relief and then very quickly made it feel much much worse.

I sat on the bed, crying, holding my head and wishing to god that someone would shoot me.  I ended up having to call Chris home from work so that he could take care of our toddler while I drove myself to A&E (a challenge in itself when all you can think about is the white-hot needles someone appears to be stabbing into your skull).  I was diagnosed with a raging ear infection and perforated ear drum.

(Interestingly the pain was probably at it’s worst just prior to it perforating).

There is no getting away from earache, it’s right there, brain-adjacent.  I mused that if someone could offer me an epidural in my skull, I would totally take it, no questions asked.

You know how there’s the kind of pain where you are hurting but you’re still socially aware?  Like “OMG, ouch I broke my ankle but I am going to politely answer this health professionals questions through gritted teeth anyway because I still actually care what other people think?”

Well this was NOT that pain.  This was “I am a wild animal, I have gone deep inside myself and I will grab strangers in the street and ask them to knock me out with a baseball bat just to make it stop”  pain. And that is why it makes the number 1 spot.  Because as a student nurse I remember being told “people are not themselves in pain” and sort of thinking “well…surely they’re just themselves but in pain.  So if they’re rude or nasty when they’re hurting then they’re probably the kind of people who would act like that anyway”…nuh-huh.  There are types of pain that make people act in ways they never otherwise would and after that experience with my ear I totally got that.

So there you have it.

A few things that didn’t quite make the list:

  • coming off my bike at the age of 7 and going over the handlebars, and then having my Dad pour TCP into my raw gravel-covered knees
  • my sister breaking my nose with a hairbrush
  • skating into a wall and winding myself playing roller derby (although- oof, that was some shocking and painful shit)
  • bruising my coccyx (also roller derby)
  • falling down stairs (multiple occasions over the decades)
  • my second labour and birth (which I’d happily repeat any day- but won’t be, before anyone gets excited)
  • cracking my head open on my Dad’s metal toolbox at the age of 7 (I still have the scar and I can remember the blood and panic, but not the pain)
  • getting my bellybutton piercing caught in the button of my jeans
  • having my first set of earrings ‘removed’ as a toddler, when the skin had grown over them (sounds horrific, but don’t actually remember)
  • that one time I was hospitalised as a kid for ? appendicitis but it turned out to be a UTI (although that shit was intense)

You know, actually, the more I think about it, the more painful life is, but somehow it only seems to exist in the moment.  So aside from a handful of memorable experiences (see above!) you sort of forget what it feels like.  With that in mind, probably in another few months I’ll be wanting to reorder this list to de-prioritise my current foot tattoo experience, but for now I’m sticking because DAMMIT IT FUCKING HURTS.