Babies are for Life

So I read a story today that really bothered me. A couple adopted a baby boy from China who, it turned out, had some medical issues. They knew he had a brain tumour but he was later diagnosed with Autism. After two and a half years they decided they couldn’t cope with his special needs and decided to ‘re-home’ him.

It also turns out that the mother is a YouTube influencer whose videos are based on her journey throughout motherhood and her family life, for which she has some lucrative sponsorship deals. Her followers are now up in arms and are calling for these endorsements to end.

Now I can understand how difficult it must be when you have adopted a child and it turns out they have certain needs that you weren’t aware of. However, even with biological children, you can end up with issues and situations that you could never have foreseen. Parenting is hard, precisely because you have to step up and face whatever is thrown at you. I have a particular issue with their use of the word ‘re-home’ as if they are talking about a dog and I also wonder if one of their biological children had developed a medical need, would they have ‘re-homed’ them also. Not only has this child already been taken to a different country to live within a different culture once, he now has to contend with that all over again and at an age where he will be aware of what is going on and feel confusion and upset over being taken from his ‘family’. On top of that his Autism will make it even harder for him to cope with his feelings and emotions.

I am married to a man who was adopted and the effects of his situation continue to have an impact today, despite the fact that he was placed with a loving family who stood by him. Although he didn’t have any special needs in terms of a disability, his behaviour was extremely challenging and this made life very difficult for all involved. Fortunately, his adopted family rose to the challenge and never once contemplated ‘re-homing’ him. For a child who had been ‘let down’ by his birth family to have another family stand by him, despite the difficulties, taught him about responsibility, determination and resilience. These traits have stood him in good stead to enable him to become a hard working and dependable husband and father. It is for this reason that I wonder how this little boy is going to cope with the knowledge that, not one but two families have abandoned him. The saving grace is that, fortunately, his new mother is medically trained and so is more than capable of coping with his needs. Lets hope that he has now found the right family for him, who will love and cherish him and help him to fulfil all his future potential.

Cuts and Bruises

The Husband has decided, again, that he needs to get fit (he has these funny turns every so often) and so has had me out walking three times a week. I haven’t minded that, as I have been inside the house on lockdown for two months now, so it is actually quite nice to get outside. Of course, it isn’t as simple as that with our family though. The first night we went walking, both girls decided to come with us. Youngest Child whined and moaned for the whole hour that we were out. We had only been walking for ten minutes before she started the whole “how much longer?” carry on. She then decided to tell us a story about a girl, and that is about all I can remember because the story went on for so long that I think I actually dozed off, while walking. The Husband was also clearly not paying attention, as he started wittering on about how dreadful every driveway that we passed looked. This sent Youngest Child into meltdown and we had a whole diatribe about how rude we were and how we never listen to her and if she interrupts us she gets told off. I suggested she carried on with her story, to which she replied that she wasn’t going to tell us now and walked ten paces behind us, while calling out every so often to enquire if we were nearly home yet. We had been walking for about fifteen minutes by this point. The muttering carried on for another ten minutes, which we ignored and then she caught up with us and asked, “can I tell you my story now?” Of course, after all the carry on we had to actually listen this time. Well, I pretended to but after ten minutes had gone by and she was still talking, I had lost the will to live and the ability to retain any of the information she was giving me. Hopefully she wasn’t going to ask us questions to test how well we had been listening, which I wouldn’t put past her.

The second time we went out walking, accompanied this time by just Youngest Child, was quite pleasant. Youngest Child brought a scooter and didn’t complain once. I think she actually liked being the only child with the both of us, as that hasn’t happened very often for her, being the third child. The third time, however, was just as stressful as the first. Youngest Child had brought the scooter again, which turned out belonged to Middle Child. Middle Child didn’t seem particularly troubled by this but in fairness she hadn’t used the scooter in about two years. All was well until about halfway through our walk. Middle Child now decided that she wanted to use the scooter and proceeded to try and persuade Youngest Child to hand it over. Of course, this wasn’t going to happen without a fight. To give The Husband his due, he actually engaged in some proper parenting and told Middle Child she couldn’t have it. Despite being fourteen, Middle Child then stomped and whined enough to give a toddler a run for their money, for the next fifteen minutes. In the end we persuaded Youngest Child to let Middle Child have a go on the scooter and placated her by telling her how she was being such a good girl. She still proceeded to mutter about it wasn’t fair and how Middle Child couldn’t just decide she wanted it. By this point I was coming to the conclusion that family walks really weren’t the way forward as both times had turned out to be very stressful. It would be much better for my mental health (although maybe not my physical health) to stay at home and sit in my armchair with a book and a box of chocolates, while the kids stayed upstairs and played their video games. Middle Child, now all smiles because she had managed to procure the scooter, did two bunny hops on it and promptly gave it back! FFS!

In between our walks The Husband decided to go out running and Middle Child accompanied him. Halfway through their run The Husband decided to go for a Burton and tripped over and skidded along the pavement. Apparently Middle Child found this fairly hilarious and instead of helping him up, stood bent over laughing. The poor Husband came home with very large grazes all over his hands, up his arms and down his legs. So out of four attempts at exercise, three of them turned out to be a disaster and each time the common factor was Middle Child 🤔🤔.

I cannot blame Middle Child for the next incident, however, that was completely down to my own stupidity. I had been bothered by the patio doors and kitchen window for a couple of weeks because they were looking streaky, where clearly I hadn’t polished them properly the last time I cleaned them. I don’t know what possessed me on a hot, sunny day, but I decided that now was the time that I was going to do something about it. I managed to do the doors and the main window and was quite pleased with myself that I had actually done something productive that day. I looked at the small window, that was just out of my reach and considered just leaving that one. However, I was on a roll and I was going to do the job properly. I looked at my new armchair and decided against standing on it, as it was new and my favourite piece of furniture and sod’s law says that I would go through the bottom of it. So instead, as I reached up to the window, I decided to put my knee on the very small and not very strong book shelf at the side of the chair. You know when you are about to do something and that little voices tells you it’s not a good idea, but you do it anyway? Well that is exactly what happened and that little voice always ends up telling you, “I told you so!” As my knee touched the top of the shelf, I knew it was a bad idea but before I could stop myself, the knee went down, the shelf collapsed and a large screw sliced through my leg. FFS! I stared at the shelf for a few minutes feeling extremely pissed off with myself before I realised that I was in pain. I looked down at my leg and there was a rather nasty gash, with the skin around it already starting to bruise. On a positive note, I now felt justified in spending £25 on a nice, new first aid kit 😃.

In other news, the Next Door Neighbour has to have surgery on her leg, after she hurt it exercising. The moral of the story is, exercise and cleaning are, clearly, bad for your health. I have now resumed my usual position, in the armchair with a book and a box of chocolates 😊.

Last Summer

Today I have been updating The Monster Diaries and so thought I would entertain you with the funniest story from last summer. After reading this you will understand why, perhaps, I am not too disappointed that we may not be able to go anywhere this summer, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I decided it was time for a day out and so packed a beach bag, and we headed off to the coast with the Mother in law. Surprisingly Eldest Child emerged from the tree house and decided to come with us.  How lovely, a rare day out with all three of my offspring, is what I was thinking as we set off. It was not what I was thinking as we set off for the return journey!

The first incident was shortly after we had arrived at the beach, which was after we had first stopped off for a fish and chip lunch. Middle Child had brought her sliders so that she could wear them as she hobbled across the pebble beach down to the waters edge but they were, in no uncertain terms, for actually wearing into the water, as they might slip off her feet, be washed out to sea and be lost forever. Eldest Child, who has his own sliders but didn’t think to bring them, was the first to take his shoes and socks off and immediately put on Middle Child’s sliders and off he went down to the water. Middle Child became apoplectic, screaming and shouting at me to “tell him to bring my sliders back” and basically had a nervous breakdown. Mother in law had just sat down in her fold up chair, I hadn’t even got mine unfolded yet, and proceeded to look aghast at us all as Middle Child continued her melt down while I made myself hoarse shouting down the beach to Eldest Child to bring her sliders back. Of course, he completely ignored us and started splashing in the water with a look of pure glee on his face. Sometimes I do wonder if he really is nearly seventeen or actually seven.

After several minutes of screaming from Middle Child and shouting from me, back he came, kicking the sliders off and started ranting about how he didn’t see what the problem was. I patiently explained that the problem was that they were her sliders and she didn’t want him to wear them, but he had taken them without asking and if he wanted to wear sliders, he should have brought his own. There were then several more minutes of Eldest Child shouting and stamping about the beach, exclaiming that he didn’t see what the problem was, while I repeated what I had already told him and him shouting back at me, before declaring he didn’t understand why I was making an argument out of it! FFS!

It then all settled down for a while and the children actually played nicely together in the sea. It all went wrong again when they decided that they’d had enough of the water and were going to play on the beach. As I mentioned it is a shingle beach and at the top end, where we were sitting, it was covered with quite large stones. After a couple had been thrown towards the sea, and we had been given a look by someone who had been quite near to where one had landed, I firmly told them that they were not to throw stones. Eldest Child, however continued to throw several more stones, while my voice got firmer and firmer. He then picked up a stone that was part of the collection Youngest Child had amassed in her bucket, and which she had decided was the shape of a boot and therefore was very special. Of course, Eldest Child threw it so that it landed in the edge of the sea. Youngest Child started screaming and crying, Eldest Child started laughing and Mother in Law again looked aghast. I sent him off the find the stone that looked like a boot with the challenge that he would never be able to find it. Five minutes later he was back with the very same stone and repeated his actions, clearly thinking this was a great game, while the whole beach had to contend with Youngest Child’s screams because he was throwing her special stones.

Fortunately, Middle Child came to the rescue by suggesting that she buried Youngest Child in the shingle. This appeased Youngest Child and Eldest Child, now that his stone throwing game was no longer having an effect on anyone, soon decided to join in. When Youngest Child was almost completely covered in stones, Mother in Law, quite rightly, became concerned about her chest being covered with stones. Of course, Eldest Child aware that this was causing the adults some distress, proceeded to completely cover Youngest Child’s chest with stones. Mother in law was becoming increasingly agitated and we both told him, what felt like, 46 billion times to stop. Sometimes I do understand why his Food Technology teacher asked me if he had special needs, he never listens and seems to get pleasure out of annoying everybody. He has always been a bit of a pain in the arse but he is currently stuck in that stage between still being a child and being almost an adult and so swings from silly, childish behaviour to stroppy teenage angst, which I have absolutely no patience for. So, before I decided to bury him on the beach and leave him there, I decided it might be best to pack up and go for a walk on the pier.

Since we had arrived Youngest Child had been desperate to find a crab like she had done the previous year and so it was that when we got on the pier there were a number of people with crab catching nets hanging from the railings and of course she wanted to have a go. I purchased a net, a crab bucket and a packet of raw bacon (which apparently, I needed for bait), tied her net to the balustrade and sat back on a bench while she happily spent the next hour winching the net up and throwing it back in the hopes of catching something.

It was during this activity that Eldest Child decided that he was hungry. Now anyone with a teenage boy knows that they eat often and if their culinary needs are not met, then all hell will break loose. He had spotted a pizza stall on the pier and so off he went to purchase one. He soon returned without a pizza and I could feel the anger emanating from him.

“Didn’t you get a pizza?” I tentatively asked him

It turns out that there was a wedding reception on the pier, for which the pizza stall was doing the catering and so it was not accepting orders from the general public at this time. That is not, of course, how it was relayed to me. I was met with a lot of eye rolling, puffing, stamping around and shouting about how hungry he was and how there is nowhere to get food. I suggested that he left the pier to have a look on the promenade. It seems that was not a sensible suggestion and this only succeeded in inflaming his anger, which produced more shouting and stropping about. Mother in law decided to take matters into her own hands and went off to have a word with the proprietor of the pizza stall to see if there was anything they could do for us.

In the meantime, Youngest Child, who was having a great time and had caught two crabs, was in the process of winching up her crab net when Eldest Child decided to keep his hunger pangs at bay by interfering in what she was doing. He stood so close to her, trying to muscle in on the winching up of the net, that when she lifted the net up over the rail it touched him on the arm. Well, this set him off in an absolute rage because the net had raw bacon in it and it had touched his arm and he shouted so loud the whole pier must have known how stupid his sister was. I calmly pointed out that she had done nothing wrong and he shouldn’t have been standing so close to her or interfering in what she was doing. This did nothing to assuage his temper and he stropped off the pier and up the promenade.

It is quite possible that the ruckus had reached the ears of the pizza stall, who felt that they needed to do their bit to calm the situation, because at that point Mother in Law returned and enquired where Eldest Child had gone because they had agreed to make him a pizza!

Youngest Child decided that she’d had enough of crabbing and after accepting that she couldn’t take the two crabs she had caught home to be her pets, she returned them to the sea and packed up her net.

We set off up the promenade and after a minute saw Eldest Child coming towards us, joining us without a word. We were all now feeling hungry and so we decided to go to the pub where, would you believe, we all pizzas, which were surprisingly good for a pub, followed by ice-creams from the ice-cream parlour. On the way back to the car Eldest Child quietly said to Mother in Law “Thank you for the food and ice-cream.”

Mother in Law pointed out that I had also paid for the food and the ice-cream but, of course, no thanks were forthcoming my way.

We got to the car and we had one final hurdle to overcome before we could set off for home, who was going to sit in the middle of the back seat?

On the way here Youngest Child had sat in the middle, because she was the smallest, along with Middle Child and myself (my fear of motorways prevents me from sitting in the front). Youngest Child was adamant she was sitting in the front on the way back, while both Eldest and Middle Child were adamant they weren’t sitting in the middle. This argument continued for a good five minutes, with even Mother in Law raising her voice to them. In the end, for a peaceful life I decided that I would sit in the middle. After several minutes of trying to manoeuvre my legs either side of the raised bit in the centre of the car and Youngest Child trying to move her seat forward to accommodate me, I finally snapped.

With a cry of “right that’s it, I’ve had enough now!” I dragged myself back out of the car and stormed around to the front, while Youngest Child, realising that The Beast that lives inside of Mummy may have just woken up, meekly climbed out of the front seat and went and got in the middle of the back seat.

“The three of you get in the car,” I shouted. “You,” pointing at Youngest Child, “are sitting in the middle and I don’t want to hear another word from any of you. I dare you to say one more word and I promise, you will be punished within an inch of your life!”

Even Mother in Law got into the car without saying a word but a few minutes after we had set off, she turned to me and said, “I think the whole of Herne Bay knew who was and wasn’t sitting in the middle seat.”

There was not a peep from the back seat for the first hour of the hour and a half journey and I silently promised myself that if we do come again, we will come by train and I will definitely not be bringing Eldest Child. FML!

Read about the rest of our summer, including how I got lost on a train by clicking the link;

https://themenopausalmonster.co.uk/diary-entries/15/

Home Insurance

So a bit of an emotional afternoon. As mentioned in the last post, we had a fire three weeks ago and we have been waiting for the insurance company to send someone out to look at it. A guy from a restoration company came this afternoon, expecting to be looking at a smoke damaged summer house. Instead, what he was confronted with were three outbuildings consisting of a large treehouse (think log cabin), workshop and huge ‘man cave’. All of which were completely destroyed. He took one look and declared that he would be writing off the building and all of the contents as beyond repair. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from them, but I was feeling daunted by the mammoth task of clearing the site and cataloguing all of the contents. However, we were told that they would be doing all of that for us. They would be getting in builders and landscapers to remove, repair and rebuild not just the outbuildings but the garden, paths and fences. They would also send round a tree surgeon to assess and if necessary, take down, the huge conifer that was destroyed. On top of this they would remove all of the contents and photograph them for the insurance company, as well as clean and repair anything that can be salvaged. I was not expecting them to do so much. I really thought that all of those things would be left to us. I feel that this company has swooped in and engulfed us a big bear hug that has left me feeling that we are being looked after by these angels in disguise. The moral of this story is that everyone should make sure they have buildings and contents insurance. It is the best money I have ever spent. Not just for the financial remuneration of all you have lost, but also for the help and support that you are given, during what is an extremely devastatingly traumatic time.

In Memory of Chip the Man-Eating Tortoise

Chip the Man-Eating Tortoise

So today I re-potted Phoebe the Date Palm. I bought Phoebe to brighten up our patio, after half of our garden was destroyed in a fire. Phoebe is a little bit troublesome and when she is not falling over in her nursery pot, she is attacking us with her sharp spikes. I currently have a swollen finger where she left one of her spikes behind. Phoebe is fast taking the place of Chip the Man-Eating tortoise, as the garden devil.

The story of Chip is a sad one. As mentioned, part of our garden was destroyed in a fire, along with three outbuildings. The fire was caused by Chip’s heat lamp falling and his bedding starting to burn. Unfortunately Chip was in his enclosure at the time and did not survive.

While we as a family are devastated about the loss of our pet, we are left with some funny stories of chip, as he was quite a character. We’d had him for six years after his previous owner’s mum handed him into a pet store, while her son (who he belonged to) was away at college. As it happened, my brother-in-law worked at said pet store and knew that I had kept tortoises in the past and so brought it home to us.

It soon became clear why he had been given away. Chip was not people friendly at all. Whenever we stepped foot off the patio, wherever he was in the garden, he would run (yes run) and begin to bite our feet. Although he didn’t have any teeth, he did have a grip like steel and a very sharp beak, which wasn’t so sharp after he fell down the shed step and snapped it. When he wasn’t biting, he was humping anything that didn’t move, so in the end we had to get him a ‘special friend’ made out of stone. One friend did not believe that 1. a tortoise could run and 2. a tortoise could cause such terror to our household. So it was that I invited her over to meet Chip. When she arrived I was in the middle of hanging the washing out and had a laundry basket in the middle of the lawn. Hanging out the washing had become a frightening experience since the day that Chip had bitten down on my toe so hard that I flung my leg up into the air attempting to shake him off. The vicious beast clamped down even harder while I swung my leg around, screaming at him to get off. Said friend confidently strode onto the lawn and it was only a few seconds before Chip appeared from out of the flower beds. “Aw he’s so cute,” she crooned. A couple of minutes later she was running around the laundry basket in circles, chased by an angry tortoise who had been denied a taste of fresh meat.

I’d always thought that tortoises were meant to be vegetarian and I am sure most of them are. However, Chip was often to be found wandering around with a half chewed snail hanging out of his mouth, like a dog with a bone. When The Husband was landscaping the garden, he would often throw a worm over his shoulder rather than accidentally chop it in half with his spade. There was Chip right behind him catching them and swallowing them down whole. I have video evidence of Chip trying everything he could to climb up onto the patio while I was sitting there in order, no doubt, to attack me. He would go from one end to the other, trying to find a way to get up there. I often said if one of us were to drop down dead in the garden, then he would definitely eat us.

There was only one person that Chip did not seem to attack and that was The Youngest Child. In fact he used to follow her around like a little puppy. 🤔🤔 Maybe he could sense a kindred spirit there.

Despite the fact that he wasn’t the easiest pet, we have all been deeply affected by the death of Chip, particularly the manner in which he died. We will miss him so much and it has seemed quite odd that we are now able to step out into the garden without fear of being attacked. That was until Phoebe came along! Can tortoises be re-incarnated as plants I wonder. 🤔🤔

Phoebe the Date Palm

Cola Gate Part 2

Sunday 17th May 2020

So Cola Gate continues. The Youngest Child comes down and says “I’m getting my drink,” while making her way to the fridge. I enquired if she had had breakfast. Yes was the reply! The Husband then pipes up that she was not having cola before 10am. This of course resulted in more flouncing and shouting and cries of “it’s not fair!” Off she flounces back upstairs. About ten minutes later she comes down and asks if she could have leftover pasta bake for breakfast. I pointed out that she had said that she had already had breakfast, to which the reply was a wicked grin. 🙄🙄 Well I suppose it is more substantial than a handful of grapes.

At 9.59am she returned to the kitchen to declare that she was now getting her drink. When I looked again she had poured herself a PINT of cola. FFS! She then asked for a green straw because apparently she has to have a different colour straw for different drinks. She then told me how she had been reading stuff about this online and enquired as to whether I thought she could be autistic! 🙄🙄

While standing in the doorway listing all the ways in which she could be considered to be on the spectrum, The Middle Child came up behind her and grabbed her in a bear hug. You can imagine what happened to the pint of cola that she was trying to clutch in her blanket covered hands! FFS!

There then ensued a lot of shouting, stamping and flouncing, but from me this time, as I raged about how this is why I do not want fizzy drinks in the house. FML!

Cola Gate

Saturday 16th May 2020

So the day has started off extremely well (please read in a sarcastic tone of voice). The Youngest Child came downstairs demanding cola, while flouncing around in a blanket. It was around 10am and as she had not had any breakfast and I am trying to be a good mother, I informed her that she was not having cola at this time when she had not even had breakfast. She grabbed a handful of grapes out of the fridge and asked if she ate those would they count as breakfast. Whatever. I could already sense how things were going to go. She again asked for cola. The thing is with the fizzy drinks, despite them being sugar free, I do not approve of them being in the house. Not only is the fizzy not good for Eldest Child’s braces, it causes no end of arguments over who has had more than who. However, The Husband insists that during lockdown everyone needs some treats. So the rule is do not involve me in any fizzy drink saga. So it was that I declared that fizzy drinks are nothing to do with me, go and ask your father. The Husband said that she was not having the cola as she has drank the other bottle and the remaining one is for him. Well, this resulted in more flouncing, stamping and shouting about how she wasn’t the one who drank it and the usual catchphrase of ‘it’s not fair’. After several minutes of The Husband trying to justify why she can’t have the cola and her shouting and stamping, I intervened by informing my husband that he didn’t have to justify himself the answer is no and that he does not have to give her a reason. Well of course this earned me a lot of back chat, to which I muttered that if I had spoke to my mum like that I’d have got a smack in the mouth. She clearly heard me as, while flouncing up the stairs, she shouted “you are not allowed to do that!”

It’s going to be one of THOSE days!

Later she came back down the stairs to shout at me over the fact that I had given a necklace to The Middle Child and to inform me of how mean and unfair I am and how I shouldn’t give something to one if I am not giving it to the others. I do appreciate what she is saying and usually I am all for fairness, but The Middle Child just happened to be there when I came across the necklace. I am sure if it had been The Youngest Child who had been there and she had been given the necklace it wouldn’t have been an issue!

Later still, she came down to ‘make herself a coffee’ and as I was over the shouting by that time I just let her get on with it, though not sure if, at 11 years of age, coffee is any better than cola, but you do have to pick your battles. As she walked out of the kitchen she looked over to me and sweetly whispered “love you mummy”. 🙄🙄

Hello

Life with kids can be funny, exhausting and downright difficult

But as mother’s we are never supposed to complain and only talk about how wonderful our precious darlings are. Don’t get me wrong my kids are wonderful, bright, confident human beings, who I am extremely proud of but…..

Because they are bright, confident human beings they are also opinionated and are more than capable of standing up for their rights (which often involves threatening to call ChildLine for the slightest perceived insult). Most days I take it all in my stride but some days I am tired, pre-menstrual or just not in the mood. Add into the mix peri-menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and a burning rage that I like to call my menopausal monster and we have an explosive combination. These are the days when I feel the need to vent. After a particularly difficult few days I began to keep a diary of sorts, to give myself a place to ‘get things off my chest’. Reading these stories back I found myself laughing and thinking that, although at the time I was angry, frustrated and even tearful, it was sometimes like living in my very own sitcom. I shared a few of these stories with friends and they too found them funny and it was suggested that I write a book. Now in between looking after three kids, various animals and a plethora of troublesome plants, not to mention the degree I am currently in the middle of, I really don’t have the time to write a book. However I did feel the need to share my stories in some format, even if it is just to brighten up someone else’s day. So that is how this blog was born. As stated in the disclaimer, my children are very much loved and cared for and are at no risk from harm. These stories are full of things said ‘in the heat of the moment’ and do not mean that I do not love my kids or would not die for them. Please keep this in mind when reading before you inundate me with cries of what a bad mother I am. I tell myself that many times a week so you don’t need to.