Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The pants behind the bathroom door.

There is a pair of pants behind the door in the bathroom right now. I know this without even getting up from my desk to look. How do I know? Because there always is, every morning. One of my three boys (I won't name names) drops them before he gets into the shower. And almost every day I say, "Please don't drop your pants behind the bathroom door". 

When I went away with some mum friends recently I came back to find three pairs of pants behind the door, one for each morning I was away. And when I stayed in a B&B with this particular child - who will remain nameless - he left his pants behind the bathroom door there too. I only saw them at the last minute as we were leaving.

The pants behind the door is just one of the petty frustrations of being a mum to three boys who are 17, 15 and 12. 

To be honest I sometimes don't mind. I trudge upstairs from my office to the top floor, where they each have a bedroom and share a bathroom, and pick them up, along with the wet towels, and open the window and wipe the toothpaste off the sink. Sometimes I even use the pants to wipe the sink. 

On a good day, when I'm not particularly busy and feeling calm and relaxed, it can give me quiet satisfaction to tidy up. On a bad day, when I have lots of things to do and not very much time, it makes me want to pull all my hair out. 

But this is not the only irritating thing about being a mum to three boys who are 17, 15 and 12. 

Here's more...

Empty glasses bowls and plates in bedrooms so that there are none left downstairs in kitchen. This is compounded by "Where are all the glasses?!" issued in an outraged manner by a boy who opens the empty cupboard. In your bloody room, is usually the answer. This is another thing I do almost every day after the pants/towels/toothpaste routine - a glasses sweep.

This leads me neatly on to "Where is my… ?" And you see where that ellipsis is? The three dots after "where is my?"? Well in that space feel free to add pretty much anything you like from the following list - P.E. kit, book bag, vest, trainers, phone, Oyster card, shirt, favourite jeans, important letter from school, I.D. card, money. To be honest it's endless.

Following hot of the heels on the old favourite "Where is my…" is "Where is the…" In this case please feel free to place any of these - nail scissors, kitchen scissors, glue, sellotape, bread, juice, biscuits, remote control, back door key, printer ink etc...

So this is the mother's dilemma. Does she tell them where this item is and/or go and look for it only to find it moments later in the EXACT place she said it would be? The advantage of this approach being that she can then feel quietly satisfied that she does know SOMETHING, which will give her empty life some sort of sad and twisted meaning. OR, should she jolly well keep her mouth shut and let them look for themselves because a.) they should and b.) no one ever helps her when she has lost something? So there.

"There is no food in this house". That old chestnut (and yes there are some of those in a tin in the cupboard). No matter how much food I haul back to the cave, and I haul bags and bags of the stuff over the course of a week, it is never enough and they are never satisfied. I am poor mummy bird endlessly flapping back to her open-mouthed brood. I will never get enough juicy worms for their liking. I know this. I should give up trying. Especially the quest to have enough biscuits. It ain't never gonna happen. 

Recently I have taken to hiding food stuffs so that I can produce more without having to go out to buy it. I did this with the tonic water this week. I hid two bottles behind the wine. When I went to have a glass of tonic last night it was all gone.

There is more, of course, clothes and shoes on the floor, mess everywhere, washing not put in the washing basket, or ever put away, holiday/school trip packing never done for themselves, unpacking never done for themselves, and I haven't even mentioned the noise yet, which is epic at times. I'll save all that for another time. 

Because I am aware, I do know, that in some strange way I love it really. Because it's them. They are MY boys, with all their mess and chaos and noise. Family life is challenging and busy, often exhausting and frustrating, but I love them to pieces with a passion, a fervor, that I cannot begin describe. They are ace, fab, super, brilliant, wonderful. We have enormous fun, laughing and rowing and cuddling and fighting and shouting and singing and guitar playing and having meals times and dashing in and out. I love that we all live together in this mad, crazy house. 

And God knows I'm going to miss those pants behind the bathroom door when they are gone.

After breakfast - the kitchen table mess they all leave behind for me. Thanks.

Love E x



Monday, 2 June 2014

Meal times are for arguing.

Meal times are for arguing. You might think that's a bad thing, but I'm not so sure

Sitting down for dinner is special family time. We eat together every night at 7.00, unless there is a very good reason why we can't, like it's parents evening for one of the boys, or one of us is going out to a 'do'. 

I cook. Usually I begin cooking at 6.00. Meals are made from scratch and almost never from a recipe. Because I've been cooking for a family for more than 17 years now, every night, I have become inventive. Perhaps it is a lasagne, or a fish pie, or a roast chicken, always proper food, but more often that not it's something I've made up using the things I happen to have in the fridge, especially leftovers. Often these will emerge in a pie or as fritters or in a stir fry, their favourite...

This is the one time of day when all five of us are guaranteed to be together in the same room for at least half an hour and so this is when conversations happen and also, very often, when we argue. 

Lately there have been a lot of arguments, or perhaps it would be better to call them 'heated debates'. They are often began by something I have read in the paper and decide to share, or by Eldest, who tells us something he has read or something he has heard, or, more often than not, just something he thinks.

And recently, for fairly obvious reasons, politics has raised its head. I was going to say 'ugly head' but I am not one of those whose mantra is that all politics is boring and irrelevant and who declares emphatically, 'they are all the same anyway so what's the point'. 

I think being politically engaged, or at least aware, is a good thing. I want my children to know what is going on in the world around them and to form opinions based on information so that they can vote in elections, or at the very least decide not to vote in elections, because of things they believe. The worst thing by far would be for them to have no beliefs, no ideas, no passions. Political apathy is anathema to me.

And so lately we have argued about UKIP (even though we are all opposed) and immigration and what exactly constitutes racism and whether voting matters and how politics divides people and what exactly the Nazis stood for. Just the little trivial things, you understand. 

And although we don't all agree, and we rarely come to any firm conclusions, I hope that by arguing together as a family, in a safe environment around a dinner table, we are doing something that is valuable and helpful to these three boys, with their three very different developing minds, and that is making them think. As the famous philosopher and atheist Bertrand Russell once said: "Most people would rather die than think; many do."

Here is a recent stir fry. Always better to argue on a full stomach...

Love E x