Gender Neutral – We’re doing it wrong.

Normally I would steer clear of something potentially controversial, but this ‘gender neutral’ term is being bandied about in a effort to raise more rounded human beings but I think we’re going about it the wrong way.

Firstly, let me be clear, I applaud the idea of not sticking to the stereotypes. Sayings like ‘Big boys don’t cry’ and ‘That’s a girls toy’ make me both furious and despair in equal measure. I don’t intend to chose my son’s hobbies, toys and clothes based on what I think is appropriate for his gender.

But at the same time he is a boy and that should be celebrated. Just like girls should be celebrated.

The problem with trying to be gender neutral is we’re fighting against centuries of learned behaviour. What seems to be happening is the idea of ‘gender neutral’ is becoming a gender in itself; Male, Female, Neutral.

I’ll explain further.

A typical example, there was outrage from parents trying to buy school shoes for their children in Clarks, what (quite rightly) made some parents cross was that the shoes available for the girls were mostly pink in colour and not as robust in design as the boys. How are we to encourage our daughters to play and explore if their shoes are only fit for playing house. Clarks responded admirably to the criticism by announcing they would be creating a line of ‘gender neutral’ shoes. But in my opinion if you are choosing something designed to be ‘gender neutral’, you are in fact not be gender neutral. A truly gender neutral approach would be to let you child pick absolutely ANY pair of damn shoes in the shop. That’s neutral, child needs shoes, child chooses shoes, you buy shoes. Gender neutral. Child has shoes. Colour, style, design mean nothing, they are shoes. But we seem incapable of thinking like this. What seems potentially dangerous about this is  we are potentially raising a generation of confused adults. So instead of aiming for neutrality, let’s celebrate children. Imperfect, capricious, wonderful children. Let’s give them the power to decide what clothes they want to wear, what toys they want to play with and what activities they want to take part in. And be truly supportive of the decisions they make. Because in order for true ‘gender neutrality’, it needs to come from the children. Not us.

In other news:

William has developed a love of dried wheetabix. He helps himself and sprinkles crumbs all over the house.

The boy has been snoring his head off all afternoon despite me trying repeatedly to wake him up. Looks like we’ll be taking a long evening walk tonight.

Date night for me and hubs tonight, pie, chips and an evening in front of the telly. Let it never be said we don’t know how to party.

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A family day out with a raging hangover.

Hubs and I went to a wedding reception last night. NannyGran was babysitting, hubs was driving and I let my hair down. Pretty sure I let it all the way down, in a way that would put Rapunzul to shame.

Fast forward to this morning, I hear my son calling for Mummy and hubs telling him ‘Mummy’s in bed. She got very drunk last night.’ I got up, drank two cups of tea and made poached eggs.

Impressed?

You shouldn’t be. The earlier I get up and the more functional I am, the more stinking the hangover will be when it finally kicks in.

Hubs and I decided last week that we’d take William to the air museum today. He loves watching planes fly over the garden and can spot them before anyone. I got dressed. My makeup still looked okay from last night so I put a bit more mascara on and was ready! (I’m not ashamed that I’m not ashamed of that.)

Hangover issue one: I’m in no fit state to drive.

No problem, hubs is driving.

We arrived at the museum with a very excited toddler, who kept exclaiming ‘Ooooohhh’ loudly whilst pointing at all the planes.

Then we encountered hangover problem number two: Museum smell. Most of the exhibition was outside, thank Lordy because the hungover body doesn’t tolerate smells very well. Chundering on an old jet engine wouldn’t have gone down very well with the over visitors.

Will was given the freedom of his reins, which leads me to hangover problem number three: when you can see the earth spinning the last thing you need to see if your toddler running round in circles. Pretty sure chundering on my son would have been frowned upon too.

We left the museum and popped to the supermarket. It was crowded and Will, after being an absolute treasure in the museum screamed blue bloody murder the whole way round. Hangover problem four: I’m barely humaning, parenting is out of the question.

On the way home my hangover hankering for a McDonalds peaked and we took a detour. Hubs doesn’t eat anything from this particular fast food outlet and only goes at my request. (or my preggo rage that could only be quelled by their chips!) Hangover problem five: do as we say not as we do. We’re trying to make sure Will eats the best possible food to help him grow into a healthy young man. He’s had one McDonalds in his life and we’re in no hurry for him to have a second. (Although he got so excited when we pulled in to the car park we have some questions for his grandparents…)

We’re home now and this hangover is really kicking in. (And kicking my arse) which leads us to hangover problem number six: Will has no idea I’m hungover. So he’s been climbing on me. Kicking a ball at my back (repeatedly) trying to claim the blanket I’ve wrapped round myself and yet more climbing on me, and needing all the things from me he always does. And throwing in a few extra tantrums for good measure. I’m letting hubs take the reins.

Can you have a family day out with a hangover?

Yes. Yes you can.

Should you?

Not unless you like torturing yourself.

In over news:

Will crushed a snail in his hand and then licked it. Must keep sharper eye out for snails. (Think of me as a one woman snail protection unit.)

Will has named his bedtime bunny ‘Me me’

I’m never drinking again. (Until Saturday)

Am I a ‘helicopter mum’?

A while ago I took a quiz on Facebook, ‘What type of parent are you?’ More out of boredom than curiosity I answered the questions and gave a derisive snort when it informed me I was a ‘helicopter parent’ which is basically hovering around your child twenty four seven, not giving them an awful lot of freedom and being a smidge too helpful. Which transpires is actually ‘not very helpful’.

Not me I thought, carefree parenting, that’s my style. And I have noticed that when we are with family, I take a step back, relax, have a rare hot cup of tea. But when we’re out together, I allow him non of this freedom. I don’t let him out of my sight ( although my anxiety tells me if I look away, he’ll get abducted) I follow him around soft-play, at children’s parties, hovering a few feet away.

When William was a few hours old and I was in hospital with him alone, I looked at his tiny form and couldn’t bear the thought of him being hurt or upset. I saw it as my sole job to make sure that didn’t happen. So when I’m wedging myself around soft play, and helping him across the rope bridges, it stems purely from my want to keep him safe.

So imagine how I felt when I noticed that when I wasn’t right beside him, despite my encouragement, he would not explore on his own. Oh lordy, it’s happening, I’m fucking him up already! My desire to keep him from harm, free from worry has backfired slightly. Like it or not I can’t always be there for him, first day of school, new job, driving tests I can’t be there, he’s got to do it alone and I’m seriously restricting his opportunities to be independent with my helicoptering! And how can he ever learn about coping with worry and upset if I never allow him to expose himself to it?

I need to take a step back, I want an independent little boy so I need to let him be just that.

I also need to not think of myself of any type of parent other than ‘parent’. Because doesn’t society already try to put enough labels on us already?

In other news:

I’m furious that hubs has avoided TWO toxic poo nappies.

The boy is becoming quite the bookworm. So reading the same sodding book fifty million times is now part of our daily routine.

My son has just head butted me and acted like I’m the one in the wrong…

The terrible twos… three months early.

The boy is entering a new phase. One that I hope will be over soon. Our once angelic, blue eyed, golden haired boy has changed to a blue eyed, golden haired tantrum machine. His brand new today thing is to shout ‘ow!’ When you try to move him/strap him into his car seat/ put his shoes on.

To the passer-by it looks as if this poor boy is being mistreated by his witch of a mother. To me (and others experiencing a similar phase) It’s the reason why we drink. Toddlers don’t care how loud they scream or how many people are around when they do it. To be perfectly honest I don’t care that much either but why do they insist on being at their worst with an audience? When I’m trying to get us home and he point blank refuses to get in the car:

‘Come on William, get in the car.’

‘We’re going home to see Daddy and the pussy cats.’

‘Come on in you get!’

*Resist urge to shout GET IN THE FUCKING CAR WILLIAM!!! Go to take his hand to lead him in*

He pulls away crouches in the street screaming. I pick him up to put him in the car, he arches his back screaming ‘No no no!’ Get him into car, try and get him in car seat he starts planking, try to bend child so I can get his seatbelt on. Child. Won’t. Bend. Wonder when my child was replaced by steel girder. Child become less plank like as occupied with hitting Mummy. Use window of flexibility to click in seatbelt. Say in calmest voice can muster ‘We don’t smack’, tighten seatbelt to ensure child safe. Child starts shouting ‘Ow! Ow! Owww!!’

Try and placate child with favourite toy.

Child throws favourite toy.

Clamber out and climb into drivers seat with toddler wailing in the back.

Ignore glares from passers by. Drive off with child still wailing.

Question life choices.

Every time we’ve got in the car today.

Every.

Time.

He’s also doing the fun thing of wanting something (food, toy, seat) then instantly changing his mind when he gets it. This causes a tantrum. We are at the mercy of the whim of a toddler. If you need me, I’ll be hiding in the summerhouse drinking wine.

In other news:

Writing this post was interrupted when the boy broke his ‘splat mat’ the one that only yesterday I insisted to friends was ‘very strong’. The boy thought pouring the water that was in it onto the carpet was lots of fun. I grabbed it off him, chucked it in the sink then started mopping up the puddle on the living room carpet. Whilst I was clearing up, the boy pulled the splat mat out of the sink and started pouring the water on the kitchen floor. Spinning round to ensure full cupboard coverage too. I got mad, he laughed at me.

Captain has been trying to catch bees in the garden. It’s obviously been a while since we’ve had an expensive vet bill.

My two year old niece (for reasons unknown) did a poo in her back garden today.

Time to get fit(ish)

I’ve been rather alarmed by my growing waistline. The final straw came on Friday. The boy and I were changing the bedding. This is mostly arsing about, pretending the duvet is trying to eat him, putting the fitted sheet over him and exclaiming ‘where’s the baby?’, etc. Half way through the process we were rolling around on the bed doing our ‘Oh no I’ve fallen over and I can’t get up’ routine, when the boy clocked my belly. He was mesmerised by it. Pressing his hands into it and wiggling them about, slapping it and watching it ripple and finally (which nearly tipped me over the edge) grabbing handfuls of it. (Yes. HANDFULS) As much as I’m all for anything that keeps him amused I’m drawing the line at my belly.

I’ve not been taking care of myself recently. I’ve been leaving that up to the various pharmaceuticals I’m on. But I need to take responsibility for my own health, I need to help it along and as much as I enjoy sharing an Easter egg with hubs I’m certainly not blessed with a metabolism that lets me get away with that. And I’ve said it before my clothes size is closely linked with my self esteem.

Today I exercised. I’d downloaded an app that gives me a little routine to follow. William found this fascinating, which caused a problem. When I was planking he decided to lay on me and exclaim ‘ahhhh’, when I did a wall sit, he tried to climb on my lap with a book and when I did crunches, he straddled me, bounced up and down squealing and slapped my tum like it was his tambourine. Thankfully hubs removed him before I was winded.

Will this health kick last? Probably not, but I’ll make the most of the enthusiasm I currently feel.

In other news:

The boy has started going to Nursery half a day a week. He’s not too happy about this.

Cat/bald kitten relations are going very well. (If you ignore Marms) although Captain wasn’t too sure what to do when he had a sippy cup thrust in his face.

It seems I am the current favourite parent, and although I’m enjoying being flavour of the month I know how upsetting some of the rejection is for hubs. (Although he’s pretty stoked that I get the pleasure of reading the sodding alphabet book eleventy billion times a day.)

Is it bed time yet?

Mostly, today has been a good day, I’ve been to work and met mum and Wills at the shops for a bit of retail therapy.
Will was not in the mood for retail therapy so opted for arching his back, fighting against the restraints of the push chair shouting ‘NO!’ at the top of his lungs. I got looks from the shop assistants, clearly appalled at my wayward child. Not that I care, one year olds can’t help being arseholes from time to time. Anyway after our noisy shopping trip we returned home and in the small amount of time we’ve been here he has wreaked havoc, willingly assisted by Captain.
He has thrown a box of cards all over the floor, Captain then sat on them to show them who’s boss. He pulled my knitting off the needles and unravelled it (it’s beyond popping back on the needles). Cat and boy then indulged in chasing (and getting tangled) balls off wool. Captain then decided my slipper was a threat and started batting it with his paw. Will decided to play ‘wingman’ and took over showing the slipper what for in a decidedly less elegant manner than the cat. Had to wrestle a knitting needle off Will after he started smacking the cat with it. The cat didn’t seem to mind this. Boy pulled apart a toy car, Captain ran round the living room with toy car parts poking out of his mouth. I ran round after the cat retrieving car parts from his mouth. Boy wandered in with the filter from the tumble dryer after depositing all the fluff on the clothes he’d pulled out of it and scattered on the kitchen floor.
‘Why not intervene?’ I hear you cry, well I just ain’t got it in me this afternoon. I made him a brew (don’t judge it’s caffeine free and  keeps him quiet AND means I can drink mine in peace providing I finish mine before he finishes his…) and some toast. Captain decided to drag a little round the room and lick the butter off it.
And now I’m sat surrounded by wool, cards and car parts with a toddler who’s thrusting his now empty sippy cup at me demanding ‘MORE!’ impatiently whilst I decide whether or not hubs is coming home to carnage or a clean room, (Probably carnage), and wonder what is the earliest socially acceptable bed time.
In other news;
The boy has a delightful new habit of pooing just before we get him out of his cot. He did a mega poop this morning and I believe is in the process of another as I type.
We brought a new pushchair, on seeing it Will pushed it round whilst screaming at it. We’re still not sure if this means he’s happy with it or not.
Captain has been getting hugs today! I asked for a cuddle earlier and got a smack in the face. Pretty sure that means ‘No thank you Mummy.’

A trip to the farm

I booked today off work and decided to do something fun but relatively inexpensive with the boy. After a quick google: ‘farms kids are allowed in near me’ (yes really), I found the answer to my parenting prayers. Hoar Farm (…yes really), a mere 17 minute drive away and cheap to get in!

We weren’t able to leave the house before the emptied nearly an entire pack of wipes in his bedroom. He thought this was hilarious. At least someone did.

When we got to the farm, (which owing to  some heavy rainfall last night was mostly mud, thick, sludgy slippery mud), I was excited to show him the chickens that had crowded round the gate. Will loves to try and say ‘chicken’ and he’s getting better at it, and gets very excited in the process. So I thought he’d love to see some real, live, clucking chickens. (Thought).

‘Look Will, Chickens!’

It was at that moment a cockerel decided to crow. Will did not like that. In fact it made him cry.

Want to know what else made him cry?

The rabbits (they jumped on something that made a noise)

The brown sheep

More chickens

The cat (it surprised him)

Yet more bloody chickens

The deer

The goats

When I asked him to walk

When the big flock of birds suddenly took flight

When I turned the tap on to wash my hands.

There were moments when he wasn’t crying. He quite enjoyed the cat. Which followed us. He felt better about the deer after the cat shielded it from view. He loved mooing at the cows, and the curly white sheep didn’t make him cry. In the short time we were there crying at all the animals, we got absolutely covered in mud. Will fell over, which to be honest, I expected. His insistence that I then carry him meant I have an alarming amount of mud on my coat. Front and back. I have to say walking across the car park with big brown patches on us did earn us some funny looks.

Was it a disaster?

No. You see if you want a day to be perfect, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Do I wish there’d have been less crying. Absolutely. But I got exactly what I wanted out of today; quality time with my little boy.

In other news:

We’ve discovered breadsticks are like crack for babies. We keep moving the box round the kitchen so he can’t see it. He pretends he wants a cuddle and when we pick him up he scopes them out, points at the box and says ‘more.’

Today Will took all the (damp) washing out of the machine, piled it on the floor, climbed on top of it and snuggled down exclaiming ‘Ahhhhhhhh’.

Will has some new shoes. They light up.