Seder night 2017- well it was on Monday.

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“Why is this night different from all other nights?”

This is one of the questions asked at the passover Seder – the special meal shared by Jews to celebrate the escape from slavery in Egypt so many years ago.  Every year the family comes together to annoy each other  to move through the Seder ceremony with the aim of being fed generously usually by the head matriarch of the family – my mum – and minus any breaded goods.  I’m guessing that many seders are quite serious affairs in which the participants sit patiently at the table and listen quietly, perhaps even studiously, as the chosen leader, usually the patriarch – my dad – reads through the Seder ceremony. Our Seder is rather a cacophony of various noises. Firstly my Dad doing what he is supposed to be, then the various grandchildren chatting not quite discretely enough, the voices of their mothers telling them to shush, and my mum telling her own children to schtum. This is together with the the voices, coughs, sneezes of the guests – this year was 22 people in total. Add in various people from around the table correcting the leader or commenting- “no now its the washing hands”, “Oh were we not supposed to drink that cup of wine yet? “I’m not eating that”, “Don’t lick your finger!” Now there is also Big O to remind Papa he’s forgotten a crucial part, and there is Little A to come in with her “Ooooooooh wooowww wossat” every 5 seconds.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way and if you are lucky enough to have young children participate it is all the more special. This is the first year Big O has known what is going on (sort of). After telling me she would be too shy, she without hesitation accepted Papa’s invitation to stand on his chair and since the Ma Nishtana (traditionally sung by the youngest) in front of everyone solo and then all joined in. My other favourite moment was when Papa asked for the front door to be opened for the Angel Elijah. This was always my favourite bit as a child. I’d always open it then run as fast as I could back to the table. O was too nervous to open it herself  but when the door was closed and Papa declared that a miracle had occurred and the glass of wine he’d poured had been drunk  (no need to wonder where that really went) – she was amazed. “I didn’t know he was invisible!” her eyes had welled up and she was wrapped up in the magic of it just as I was.

Find the afikoman (hidden matzo) was always forgotten and inserted towards the end of the evening. To a chorus of conflicting ‘Hot, hot, cold, freezing, warm hot, no warm, no cold now’ it’s a wonder a child ever finds the treasure but when they do they get a prize. Of course Papa did not secretly tell O where some pieces may be hidden or make it incredibly obvious, and of course I’m not upset that grown ups aren’t allowed to take part and get a prize also.

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Little A made me proud also. From start to finish she never grumbled – she grazed continuously on whatever food was going (though she drew the line at chopped liver pate) and made the most of any attention she received.

So Why is this night different from all other nights?

My personal answer is that there is family, food, laughter, enchantment, memories of past Seders and participants, food…other parents to share the parental duties – all in one evening.

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And now I am F&$%ing exhausted (no difference there then).

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It was Mothers’ Day…

Mother’s day, it is a lovely idea. I appreciate the sentiment but it never really lives up to  the hype. I’ve never yet been able to actually stay in bed or fight the urge to tidy up or find time to be pampered without interruption (that’s not to say I never to get to any of those things….there are 364 other days in the year). I suppose I’ll be able to enjoy it in that way when the kids are older, for now we celebrate as a family (and therefore, it is not a stress free day). Of course I am very much in favour of rewarding (generously) mums for the really hard job they do day in and day out, especially whilst children are still young; physically, mentally and emotionally challenging in various ways as they grow up. The result of all that energy is how rewarding your children can be. Though mine do bug me every day frequently, they also make me smile even more.lovemamaNot all still have their mums around, so all the more important for us that do to appreciate our own and spare a thought for those that can’t. My mum is a great support and hopefully I’ve learnt well from her, thank you Mum x
Grandma

 

Gryffle

The poor dog. He was the first baby. Gryffle (Griffle) aka toilet brush face, chicken, Fuzzbutt, Lil’ Jerk. Our Welsh Terrier. I’m his Mama too.

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He was just skeetering along happy in his ‘only child dog’ status, until Big O arrived and eventually Little A. mamadaddyGryff02

He is a good boy, always gentle to them, though doesn’t seek them out. Sure, to him they have their perks. They don’t guard their food very well and their playroom furniture is pretty comfy; but we can’t deny, he’s had to adapt to a decrease in attention. He has to compete with the girls, and of course since he is a canine and not human, they come first. Still, we do love the fuzzball and remind him every day (mainly after 7pm when O and A are snoring).

So Gryffle, your sisters are bathed and combed every day and you…..Gryfflescruff

And finally they get round to sorting you out, and you appear to lose a few lbs:gryflesmart

 

 

Booking Parent’s Eve…

Big O’s second parents evening is approaching, and so as parents we are directed to book appointments. An email arrives stating your date options accompanied by a two page visual + descriptive guide on how to book your appointment. What it should really have said was “Log in via this link…..then refresh and click like a manic click addict who needs a hit desperately until you manage to book a totally inappropriate time that in no way suits you whatsoever”.parentsevesml

You sit there refreshing the screen until 9.30am arrives and booking opens. As it is Reception luckily it’s just 2 teachers, how I will simultaneously book more teachers than that and get a good appointment time I do not know. Booking screen appears,”OOOh check me out I’ve got the first slot, just click confirm, no its gone, ‘busy’ ok quick next one, confiiiirrrrrr- no now its busy.  Quick second teacher, book her instead, confirm YESSSSSSSSS, back to other one now (which in the last 4 seconds has had most of the slots booked) don’t be picky, just pick! CONFIRM, YESSSSSSS and done.”

I thought watching and waiting to click bid in the final 10 seconds of an eBay auction was stressful but this can definitely outdo it and instead of winning the item, you win a session of crossing your fingers that your child isn’t the naughty one, mean one, smelly one (all of which we have none in our class of course). Somehow I managed to book two not-so-terrible appointments (with a 25 minute wait in between) but I think I need a mindfulness session and possibly massage after those 3 minutes.

 

Bad Mama

So just the other day, I seemed to forget I had a 16 month old. I’m waiting to pick up Big O from her class, letting Little A have a wander around and talking about juice (juice!?) with another mum. Meanwhile others have arrived and have entered the cluster around the door.  And suddenly Little A pops into my head “Where’s A?”

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So I start manically looking at the feet of other mums as I spin around “Where is she where is she??” Then I hear “Elinor?!” I turn round and A is through gate 1 (which is never closed behind anyone) and halfway up the path leading to another gate. She is happily standing with another mum as I grab her and I display a face declaring “Oh my G-d, can’t believe what a terrible mother I am!” whilst I’m assuming the look on other mum’s face meant “Oh my G-d I can’t believe what a terrible mother you are!”

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That was probably less than 20 seconds.

I then ran back to the door to be greeted by Big O “Mama I don’t want to go to my swimming lesson” and Mama has to then calm down the inner anxiety and flusteration (wish it was a word) and get back to Mama business, starting with dragging both into their car seats and then escaping the dreaded school car park.

Of course I know this happens all the time. I also know I’m not a bad mum, but we have to have a nice stab of mum guilt to offset against the occasional buzz of confidence just to make life more exciting.

 

 

Pom-Pom Jar

pompomjarAt home we have a pom-pom jar (instead of a reward chart). Big O gets a pom-pom each time she listens well and does a task (the major ones like brushing teeth or whatever works for us at the time, really it’s just another form of bribery). When she gets to 10 she gets a small prize, when she fills the jar she gets a bigger prize. We try to keep it positive, more carrot than stick, but the threat of losing a pom-pom does come in useful at times. Suffice to say, it doesn’t always work.

For Example:

Me: “Eat your peas, remember you’ll get a pom-pom.”

“Eat 5 spoonfuls” (5 is her favourite number….as she is 5. Everything must be 5.)

“2 spoonfuls O”

“OK 5 peas”

Good

O: “Do I get a pom-pom in the jar?”

Me: “You only ate 5 peas!”

O: “Waaaahhhhhhhhhh”

Then I bite my lip as I spoon the peas into her mouth whilst she watches some TV. “Wow look, you ate all your peas, good job, we can put a pom pom in the jar!”

O “Huh? Yeyyy, do I get a prize?”

Me: *sigh* “No, not yet, you need another 4”

O “Awwwuuu I wanted a prizeeeee.”

Me: “O…Pom-pom or no pom-pom??

O: _________

I can’t tell if the whole pom-pom jar concept is helpful or if it just adds more to the mental exhaustion!

Occasionally this also happens:

O: “I WANT PRIZES”

Me: “But you can’t get a prize unless you have 10 pom poms.”

O: “BUT I WANT ONE NOOWWWW”

Me: “Well if you were behaving nicely you could have a pom-pom and when you have 10 of them, you can have a prize”

O: “AHHHHHH PRRRIIIZEEEEEE”

Me:”The way you are behaving at the moment will not get you anything”

O: “AAAHHHHHHHHHHH!”

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After deciding I really wasn’t helping matters I left the general area of the 5 year old, and after 10 minutes of hearing occasionally semi distant grunting “AH”, “PRIZE” I heard a different voice, “Mummy can I do Aquabeads?” and that was that.

I really try to keep this going. Pom-poms for prizes, no other surprise gifts or you end up with comments like, “I still get things even if I’m naughty” (as her eyes glow red). There can be nothing else to take the shine off the value of a pompom. But then the grandparents enter the scene!

Every time my parents (who live around the corner) see the girls they give them presents. Often just children’s magazines with free rubbish attached. Before O even says hello she usually says “Have you got something for me?”

Occasionally my mother’s answer is “just my love” to which O will say,

“No really, where is it?”as she peers into my mum’s handbag.

Eventually she accepts the gift of love, but looks forward to the promise of next time.

I’m thinking we have it the wrong way around. Pretty sure it’s mums who should get rewarded for good behaviour. We should be mature enough to know how to behave of course, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take great effort at times. Where’s my pom-pom? Where is my prize for not just staying in bed and refusing to move the entire day? I really think motherhood would be easier if there was some kind of reward concept. Of course “I love you mummy” and an unprompted cuddle is so very valuable, but I don’t mind a little bit of materialism now and then.

“Oh well done Mama you didn’t shout at me this time! Here is a pom-pom.”

“Oh well done Mama you didn’t throw my dinner across the room when I refused to eat it. Here is a pom-pom.”

“Well done mama, thanks for not just letting my teeth rot, here is a pom-pom.”

“Well done Mama good job, you got 10 more, here is a Mulberry purse.”

“Oooooh you really are a good Mama aren’t you, you filled the whole jar, here is a Chloe Handbag.”

Yes, I think I could tolerate that.pompomjar2