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…

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current stage of parenthood: The I need eyes in my arse stage.

Today began as a picture postcard of parenting. Hubs got the boy and settled him into our bed with his morning milk, Captain joined us wedging himself between me and the bald kitten, then snuggling up to Will whilst the boy gently stroked him. Beautiful, I felt all warm and fuzzy.

The boy got a little fidgety so hubs let him off the bed. We lay there, listening to the patter of his feet, his exclamations of ‘Marm’ at the cat. Then another sound, it was the scraping of bristles against the toilet brush holder. I don’t think hubs and I would have got out of bed quicker if it was on fire. The duvet seemed to be momentarily suspended in mid-air as we desperately scampered out of bed. After relieving the small boy of the loo brush we gave him his toothbrush, he loves brushing his teeth and it’s a most excellent distraction from his second favourite thing (brandishing the bog bush about). Whilst I put his toothbrush back in the pot he did his third favourite thing, unravelling the toilet roll. The speed at which he can reduce an entire roll of paper to a ribony pile on the floor is almost impressive if it wasn’t so frustrating. Today, as I tried to roll it back up he grabbed a big mound and started ‘blow his nose’ on it. As he doesn’t really know what this entails but he’s heard his Grandad do it lots of times he just bends over and blows raspberries with his face buried in the tissue.

Feeling breakfast would be an appropriate intervention to the carnage already reaped upstairs I took the little scamp into the kitchen.

‘Do you want banana pancakes?’

‘YEAH!’

I go to the fruit bowl to get a banana. I turn around to see the boy has pulled some utensils out of the kitchen drawer and is beating the floor with then. Wrestle utensils off the boy put back into the drawer and find he’s used the split second that took to make a good start on taking all the plates out the cupboard.

He has this very second tried to ‘blow his nose’ on my dressing gown.

On Thursday afternoon after ‘helping’ me to change the sheets, I heard a familiar sound and found him in the bathroom plunging the loo brush into the toilet, splashing water EVERYWHERE with a look of sheer delight on his face. Whilst I tried to clean up he emptied an entire pack of cotton buds (Q-tips) on the floor.

I know what you’re thinking, put things out of reach, close the bathroom door! But he doesn’t seem to have an out of reach. I suspect he has secret extendable arms and legs and can make himself at least six foot tall! As for closing the door he can open them now, it serves only to slow him down a bit.

So it sees that for the time being, vigilance is the key. Sitting and relaxing are not an option whilst he’s awake. And whilst not all the things he does pose a danger or risk of damage to property (he’s currently walking round hugging an empty milk carton) you can guarantee if you fall asleep on the sofa he’ll defrost the freezer whilst eating cat biscuits.

If you need me, I’ll be chasing after a toddler.

In other news:

I *think* one of the cats might have peed somewhere but I can’t find where.

Will is still calling both cats ‘Marm’.

I should be leaving the house in 20 minutes but I’m still in my pyjamas.

 

One week in.

I’ve completed my first week back at work (well two and a half days…) and it’s safe to say it’s nearly killed me!

My son continues to shun my affections and on Wednesday instead of giving me a kiss goodnight he shouted ‘No!’ and smacked me in the face. I felt my eyes well, hubs said not to take in personally (easy words from the favourite…) but I’ve decided, instead of getting upset I’ll wait until he’s a teenager and wants a fiver or a lift somewhere, I’ll refuse. That’ll learn him.

I am considering taking the little scamp out for a walk today, but reluctant after the new years day shenanigans. And if it’s only me with him and he kicks off I can’t walk away and pretend he’s not mine. It’s safe to say the festive season has taken its toll on my waistline, hubs and I have resolved to walk more (even if it means carrying a bawling toddler all the way round). On Tuesday evening we did a belly comparison, Will walked into the kitchen to see us pressing our bellies together and was furious. There was shouting and arm waving involved. I guess either he didn’t like the fact I was touching daddy or he knows the midriff is a dangerous area to carry extra weight and he’s concerned for our health…

Before any of that though, I must give the boy a bath. It seems he’s a little under the weather. It could be his teeth, it could be something that’s going round. All I know for is whatever the issue is he ‘sharted’ as some point last night (a fart with poo) so a bubbly bath should freshen him up a treat.

In other news:

The cats are at loggerheads again. The season of peace and goodwill is most definitely over.

Hubs and I attempted to learn how to whistle last night, fingers in mouth whistling. All we managed was loud blowing. Must. keep. practicing.

Two sleeps until my 32nd birthday.

 

 

It’s been a while…

It has indeed been a while since my last post, I’ve been going through some things, maybe it’s a  mid/quarter life crisis. The most upsetting thing I’ve been trying  to handle is the unshakable feeling that my son doesn’t love me anymore.

Sounds a tad dramatic, so was calling my sister last Sunday in floods of tears declaring ‘He hates me! I love him so much but he hates me!’ She tried to calm me down and I tried not to choke on my own snot.

I’ll explain. It’s been gradual, my decline in his esteem. It started as a running joke when he preferred to be cuddled and put to bed by his dad. Wrapping his little arms around hub’s legs, hugging him and exclaiming ‘Ahhhhhhhh’, but not cuddling me. Despite the fact that I would put myself in his way giving him lots of opportunity to do the same to me. Like a silly schoolgirl going out of her way to be around her crush. The thing that pushed me over the edge was trying to kiss him when he was in his dad’s arms and he pulled away from me, swiped at me with the little arms, (that I grew, inside me) and burst into tears.

Wow.

Hurts much. I excused myself sharpish, not wanting to ball in front of the boy and proceeded to alarm my sister by wailing like a dying moose down the phone.

In company I’d joke about it, and relish the days when I was at home and hubs was at work being the only adult around meant I would get affection from my son. Hubs is still the clear favourite, but waking up on the sofa, with my son’s favourite monkey teddy wedged in the crook of my arm was all the proof I needed that actually… he quite likes me.

In other news:

The new year is upon us and in lieu of a resolution I won’t keep, I’ve accepted I’ll be the same train wreck of a person I’ve always been.

My sister gave birth to my new niece in October and has confirmed birth the second time round is a walk in the park. (That’s definitely NOT what she said but I spoke to her on the phone afterwards and she had the same care-free tone as someone who’d just popped out for a coffee)

If I have to read Meg and Mog one more time, I may kill myself.