Children’s Ice Bucket Challenge

Really quite wet. But not cold

Not the Ice Bucket Challenge – this was the Thunderstorm Challenge. And that was traumatic enough!

The Ice Bucket Challenge has made its way to our sleepy part of the woods. Eight year old Maxi Minx has been nominated by a classmate. I discovered this because the girl’s mother, who’s a FB friend of mine, videoed her little girl doing the challenge, and tagged me on the video. Over dinner that night, I had a loooong family discussion with the minxes and The Boss about peer pressure, charity donations, people acting like sheep, party-pooping and free will. (Blimey – makes us sound like the Waltons, or at least a functioning family unit!! ) I do feel the need to add my opinion to the mix, but remember: it’s just my opinion.

Whether adults partake in the Ice Bucket Challenge or not is none of my business. I can think of funnier, better and more efficient ways of donating to charity, but hey, it’s entertaining and I’m sure it’s boosted the coffers of the charities concerned. Charities plural – although the phenomenon started by raising awareness of ALS (Motor Neurone Disease in the UK), it seems some other charities jumped on the bandwagon, and people have also decided to send their donations elsewhere. Regardless, that’s grand! Where I get a bit antsy is when children get involved.

I’m talking young children: kids who’re too young yet to think it all out, and process cause and effect. Children who can’t assess or anticipate what a bucket of icy water dumped on their head will even feel like, never mind whether they mind this happening to them or not. Kids who maybe don’t get pocket money yet, so presumably won’t be able to make a donation to the charity of their choice? And this offends my clean Vulcan mind: if the parent is actually going to be paying the donation, then why is the child doing the challenge? And if no donation is going to be made, then why is the child doing the challenge at all? Heck, I’ve seen some videos on my FB feed of very young children who’re too young to understand what charity means!

Judging by my FB feed, there are a lot of parents and children who have absolutely no problem with it at all. And that’s fine – crack on! But I’ve been upset by some videos of very distressed littlies doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, distraught at what’s just been done to them by their genuinely loving parents.

Now, I’m not taking the moral high ground. I’m a pretty rubbish parent in other areas, believe me (this blog is kinda evidence of how often I get it all wrong. Again and again and again…). And there are lots of 8 year olds who have their own money, have previous experience with icy water, and are mature enough to rationally decide for themselves whether they want to do this, and whether they want to donate money and to whom. My 8 yo doesn’t, hasn’t, isn’t and can’t. She won’t be doing it. I won’t be pressurised into making her do it, either, by being tagged on public videos.

Fine. The end. Or is it? What about when the peer pressure starts? How is she going to handle her classmates potentially trying to shame her into following them?  We talked to her about how tough peer pressure can be to resist, but she’s not really experienced that yet, so innocently thinks that standing her ground will be a breeze. Hmmm…

Have your children done the Ice Bucket Challenge? What’s your take on it? Am I being too precious about the minxes?

Things to Be Grateful For, Part 1

My friend AW nominated me on the current FB theme doing the rounds: list 3 things you’re grateful for, for 5 days. Well, I thought I’d be a bit more efficient than usual and join it with a blog post. And be awkward: I’m going to do 5 things for 3 days.

Local Library We have a brilliant little library in a room at the local school. It’s only open a few hours a week, and is only 2 minutes walk from home. So over the summer we’ve been in 2 and sometimes all 3 days a week that it’s open. The librarian, C, is very welcoming and helpful. Right now, Midi is in 7th Heaven because there were 4 books about owls on display. She read them overnight from when she got them yesterday, and returned them today. She earned another prize on the library Summer Reading Challenge and chose a green ruler/calculator, which she promptly gave to her Daddy to ‘help you draw pipes at work’. Awwwwww!

 

Stonehaven Open Air Pool: taken at 8pm after it shut. The big slide is in the middle of the photo, at the back

Stonehaven Open Air Pool: taken at 8pm after it shut. The big slide is in the middle of the photo, at the back

Family Fun After the success of last week, we went to Stonehaven Open Air Pool again, meeting up with The Boss as soon as he’d finished work. It was right on the verge of being a bit too cold, but it’s still a lovely luxury to bob around in clean, warm seawater after 6pm!

Lovely Strange Kids Maxi bottled out of going down the big slide at the pool twice last week. This week she bottled it once, managed it with an almighty scream on the next try (hooray!!!!) and backed down on the 3rd attempt. I expected the kids waiting in the queue each time to get impatient with her as she wavered at the top for literally 4 or 5 minutes each time. Not one little bit. The Boss said that one boy asked understandingly, “Ah, is it her first time?” The other kids offered advice and encouragement, but (crucially) weren’t pushy or over-boisterous. They waited so patiently: no arm-folding, sighing, eye-rolling. When she walked back down the steps, they said, “Next time!” Us adults generally aren’t anywhere as understanding.

 

Ice-cream from Aunty Betty's. Tasty, creamy, fun.

Ice-cream from Aunty Betty’s. Tasty, creamy, fun.

Being Skint When every penny counts, you really appreciate the big blow-outs. Tonight after swimming we treated ourselves to fish and chips from The Bay, Stonehaven. Juicy fish, onion rings that actually melt in your mouth with a delicate crunch, and super-posh San Pellegrino fizzy grapefruit. Eaten by the sea-front, in the summer evening sunshine. Followed by Aunty Betty’s ice-cream. All the ‘extras’ come free: sweets, rainbow drops, wafers, flakes… I had peanut butter and chocolate ice-cream. Oh my word… I think my face says it all!

 

A very rare pic of Midi and Mini finally, utterly, worn out (from 2 weeks ago). They were so tired that they crashed on the floor, waiting on me finding their PJs.

A very rare pic of Midi and Mini finally, utterly, worn out (from 2 weeks ago). They were so tired that they crashed on the floor, waiting on me finding their PJs.

Funny Kids On the drive home, the minxes played my favourite car game: what does the cloud look like? Thanks to Maxi’s wild imagination and infectious laughter, we all definitely saw a jointed chicken, a dog, and a scary clown in the sky! At home, trying to bath everyone, Mini was on the toilet. This past week, she’s finally realised that I don’t like an audience when I’m sitting on the toilet, so she’s decided that neither does she. “Mummy, go ‘way! I need some prizetsy! (privacy)” she wailed

Thunderstruck

Saturday – hooray!

After Midi dropped such a sweary clanger last night, I calmly explained to her that anyone hearing her use bad language wouldn’t want her playing with their children. She’d have no friends. We’d go on no play-dates. No-one would want to come round anymore in case she taught their kids to swear, too. It really got through to her. A bit too much – we suddenly had a deeply upset and hysterical little 6 yo on our hands. I told her that I wasn’t punishing her or shouting at her: she’d made a mistake, I’d told her not to do it again and why not, and that that was the end of it. Look, Midi – I’m still making your circle skirt!

That calmed her down a little. For once, she’d actually asked me to make her something. It was to be ‘swishy and swooshy’, and longer than her knees. Easy! It took me about half an hour to make. Same as Mini’s Tartan Skirt: just stitch a thick strip of elastic into a circle; cut a donut shape for the skirt; attach skirt to band; hem; iron on owl motif; get kid to swirl it.

Maxi's favourite hammock branch (!)

Maxi’s favourite hammock branch (!)

We decided that Midi really needed to go out somewhere to show her new skirt off, so The Boss made up a picnic lunch, and we asked Maxi to take us on a jaunt around the Glenesk Retreat – she’d visited it recently with her school. She was delighted to be the Leader, and took us round its little Nature Trail and the Museum. After ice lollies, we decided that the ‘overcast’ weather forecast was wrong and that because it was still such a beautiful day that we should go for a walk, so we drove further up the glen to the car park at the end of the road, in Glen Mark, and decided to walk the 2.5 miles from there to Queen’s Well.

The Leader susses out how to open the gate. The Leader orders us through

The Leader susses out how to open the gate. The Leader orders us through

From the end of the carpark, Mini started to whine about being tired. I almost believed her, till I saw her scamper over to a deer gate. Ahhhhh – you’re *saying* tired, but you *mean* that you’re bored! So The Boss and I deployed everything in our Parenting Arsenal to keep those little legs moving. She was The Leader and was to walk in front. She was to set the pace that she wanted. She was to tell us what to do. She was to tell us where to go.

The Leader is on strike

The Leader is on strike

“I can’t do that, Mummy – I’ve never been here before!” she scoffed. Yes dear – see that enormous, wide, stony track? Just follow that. I’ll teach you to read maps later…

Every time she slacked off and decided that she was going to give up, I’d say: “Ah, that’s a shame. OK, you’re sacked. I need a new leader. Who wants to be leader now? Maxi? Midi?”

Looking towards Mount Keen

Looking towards Mount Keen

As they raced forward, Mini changed her mind (every single time!) and ran to the front, to set a fresh pace. Even so, it took us well over 2 hours to walk the 2.5 miles to Queen’s Well. The other pair of monkeys enjoyed the walk: Midi filled her pockets with quartz (I insisted all bar one small piece were returned to the path) and found a heart-shaped pebble that she dedicated to her big sister. Maxi told us in detail about her walk up Mount Keen in June, showed us what myrtle bushes look and smell like, and found a (Victorian?) stone marker that coincidentally had her initials on it. She’s also a keen cloud watcher, like me.

“Mummy, look at those towering cumulus!” she pointed.

“Oh yes! Pretty, aren’t they?” I said.

“Will they turn into cumulonimbus?” she asked.

“No. Not enough heat and energy in the air”, I said, and we talked about the conditions that turn fluffy summer cumulus clouds into towering cumulus, then cumulonimbus. We talked about thunderstorms and looked for funny shaped clouds.

With just a hundred yards to go to our destination, we came across a family of 3 who’d passed us on the way there. I think my body language spoke volumes.

Keep up, Mini Leader!

Keep up, Mini Leader!

Queen's Well! At last!

Queen’s Well! At last!

“I guess you guys aren’t aiming to get anywhere in a hurry, are you?” said the dad with a kind, understanding smile. I ranted for a bit about being as tired as if I’d been walking at full tilt for 2 hrs, not just walking for a mile. “Ah, enjoy it, though”, he said, “They grow up so fast!” That was something we all agreed with.

The mum fished out a little pink rubber duck on a key-ring.

“Look! We found this in the well! It was swimming away. Would you like it?” she said, handing it to a delighted Mini. Mini agreed to take care of it, and return it to its well.

Bye-bye pink duck!

Bye-bye pink duck!

As we finally reached Queen’s Well, I took off my sunglasses. The sky had suddenly gotten quite dark. I squinted at dark rain clouds that had appeared out of nowhere over the edge of the mountain.

Frowning, I warned the kids that the picnic stop was going to be superfast and that we were going to head back right away. Luckily we’d already eaten everything except the boiled eggs and water on the way there. I lectured that if they weren’t done in 5 minutes, that they were to move on anyway. No ifs. No buts. Midi wailed that I was scaring her. I felt a bit scared myself, to be honest. I really didn’t fancy being 2.5 miles from shelter with 3 little girls and no rain-jackets (the forecast had been <5% chance of rain all day). I explained that I just wanted to make sure that they knew they had to get back fast and not dilly-dally; it would be fine.

I'm not uneasy or scared at all. This is my standard 1000 yard stare.

I’m not uneasy or scared at all. This is my standard 1000 yard stare.

As I was strapping Mini to my back in the worst Reinforced Ruck tie in the known Universe (newly washed stiff-as-a-board sling, and I was beginning to flap a bit), I looked again at the massing dark clouds. Rain. Definitely inbound. I warned the family that we were going to get wet. Maybe more than a tiny bit. But it would be ok – we’d not freeze, and we’d just keep walking. We could dry out and heat up in the car. OK, let’s get moving!

<rumble of thunder> Oh shit…

Midi squealed and Maxi whimpered. I reassured them that it was ok, it was far away. If we were very, very lucky, we might see some lightning.

<jaggy fork of lightning> Double-shit.

All 3 girls screamed while I counted seconds. Two miles away. Crap. Do we stay? Is there any shelter within 15 minutes walk? Do we walk? Is it safe to walk? Will we be going near trees? If we wait out the storm, would it get dark? Would we be flooded out? We had no jackets or warm clothes – how would we keep the kids warm? Our fast walking march moved up a gear to an out-and-out scamper.The Boss and I quickly conferred and had both come to the same conclusion: push on and stay warm. If we could keep up a good pace, we’d be back in an hour or so.

“I’m going to kill myself, I’m going to die! This is the worst day of my life!” screamed Midi.

I retied the crappy sling-tie and explained to the kids that we were going to keep walking. I told a panicking Midi over and over again that she *wasn’t* going to die. She wasn’t going to get hit by lightning – we were in a valley and the lightning strikes were on the hilltop. We were going to walk as fast as we could. We were going to get very wet and a little bit cold. We weren’t going to stop. We’d keep moving to keep warm. We weren’t going to waste energy screaming or shouting melodramatically for help or running; we’d just walk fast. We’d be at the car in an hour and we’d drive home for hot chocolate and marshmallows and a hot bath. Walk fast, kids, keep up!

The Boss tried to get the minxes to sing songs about rain and thunder. They were having absolutely none of it and said how frightened they were. Little Mini started to get cold, and as I tucked her arms in the sling, her bum popped out. Argh! I stopped again for a re-tie. I tried to stop flapping and just concentrate on getting a rock-solid wrap. I scanned the countryside slowly for other people. I could see 4 figures about 300 yards away, striding down from Mount Keen. Great. Safety in numbers! I got The Boss to keep an eye on them and check what they were doing in case they ducked away to safety somewhere.

The storm was getting closer, and the lightning flashes more frequent. Every time I stopped to re-tie, we sent Maxi and Midi on ahead themselves for us to catch up with them. That was a struggle! Those little legs were fairly pedalling! The girls scampered hand in hand, reassuring each other the whole way. The Boss glanced at the 4 figures. I glanced at the grey sheets of rain slowly gaining on us. I had to get that sling tied tight before it got wet or I’d never sort it out.

The rain reached us. The girls wailed. I reminded them that we wouldn’t freeze and we weren’t made of sugar – keep up this brilliant pace! We’re nearly halfway there already!

Suddenly the wind whipped up and the thunder got louder. Ah, crap – incoming! Like walking through a curtain, the very heavy rain hit us. It was so hard that it felt like hailstones. Little Mini was wearing a sturdy sunhat, so that shielded her face well. The other 2 were drenched within a second or 2. The Boss and I separated them and led a girl each, while they had their faces down.

March, march, march. Dripping hair in eyes. Try hard not to stumble on the rocky ground. With a heavy 4 yo on my back, that’d be a twisted ankle or broken leg if I slipped crossing a burn. I kept counting flashes-to-bangs. Closer. Ever closer.

Suddenly I smelled ozone. Didn’t that mean that lightning was about to strike close by? Should I drop to the ground? Run? Scream? I dropped The Boss and Maxi’s hands and looked round like a panicked sheep. Nah – not ozone: just smelly stagnant water in a silted-up burn! Still, I sent the girls a little ahead, and us adults walked separately.

I started to sing rain songs as loudly as I could to cover up my own unease. It’s Raining It’s Pouring; Incy Wincy Spider; I Hear Thunder; Rain, Rain, Go Away. The Boss sang just as loudly. Maxi and Midi joined in occasionally, in between flashes and bangs and rumbles. Mini just clung to my middle and nestled her nose into my neck.

The girls raced across the little burns that we’d taken an age over crossing on the way there. I was relieved to get across in 5 swift, sure-footed strides, still dry-footed. (The next bout of heavy rain did for my little Vivos, though – soggy feet!) The girls later admitted that they’d just waded through the middle.

As we ducked around another turn, we realised that we were finally away from the most exposed bit. We were more than halfway to the carpark. Only about a mile to go, and the rest was mostly in the ‘shelter’ of the dips. We weren’t so exposed. We were still ahead of the 4 men following us. I told Midi how cool she and her sister were, walking faster than 4 real, actual, grown men. She chuckled with glee, that turned into a sob at the next lightning flash. I jumped into a big puddle to surprise her out of her fear and panic.

“Well, I can’t get any wetter, can I?” I reasoned with a wink. She sniggered and joined me, jumping and splashing through the biggest puddles.

“This is the best day EVER!” squealed an overjoyed Midi, when I called her a Wetty Girl as we splashed each other in a deep trough of a puddle.

In a fit of euphoria, I pointed out to the girls how green the world looked in the rain; how we never really got to see this because we never went out in rain-showers. How lucky were we? Nevertheless, we were all so very relieved when we finally got to the carpark, 52 mins after setting off from Queen’s Well. What a pace those little girls had set! The 4 men passed us as we got to the carpark. I’d wondered if they’d hung back and made sure we’d gotten to the carpark safely. The Boss scoffed and pointed out how miserable they looked – they were thinking only about their rain-jacket failure (they were all as wet as we were).

Bit wet and glad to be safe

Bit wet and glad to be safe

Really quite wet. But not cold

Really quite wet. But not cold

The Boss threw his rucksack in the car and took the quickest of photos before he was going to help the girls strip off then get in the car. Well, we *were* going to do that. But as the 2nd photo was taken, there was just under 2 seconds between a lightning flash and rumble of thunder, so we abandoned plans and just dived in the car.

The Boss and the minxes stripped off their wet clothes and shoes, while I opted to stay soggy, sloshing water around my feet with every clutch change and brake. For the first time ever, I appreciated the heated seats, that dried my wet bum.

While we waited for the windscreens to de-mist and the car inside to heat up, though, The Boss sorted out the tunes. It kinda had to be AC-DC’s Thunderstruck…

The drive back was fairly hair-raising, too. I’d pootled along there at about 40mph, but with sheets of standing water, I didn’t get out of 3rd gear until nearly at Edzell. Probably just as well: we passed a stopped car that had its front stoved in and its airbags had deployed. I reversed so that we could check that no-one was in there, needing help. As we looked inside, like a car-load of naked, nosy snoopers, a man came out the nearby house.

“Everyone ok? Do you need any help?” The Boss called out the window. The man gave us a grim thumbs-up and said they were all fine. We wished them a quick “Take care” and tootled off. Phew! Must have been very frightening for them. (Both the crash and being approached by a car-load of wet people with no clothes on)

From The Mouths of Little Thugs

25 July

Yet another late start for the minxes – I had to haul them all out of bed by 0930hrs. Yes, I’m mad. Yes, it made them grumpy. Yes, they turned their noses up at fruit salad for breakfast for a second day, and asked for croissants. Ha – like we keep those in stock!! So we walked round to the local shop and bought some butteries and girdle scones. Such a treat – both are just a bit too yum to eat too often.

burn wadingBy 1045hrs, the kids were dressed in UV suits, sandals, sunhats, covered in sunblock, and were being marched to the burn to go guddling for … well, whatever lives in the burn. We’ve not been there since early Spring, so it looked completely different: the big oak tree is in full leaf and the rope-swing that the minxes were full of bravado about swinging on had rotted Pooh Sticksaway.

They messed around for maybe half an hour, then asked to go home. I managed to eke out a few more minutes of being outdoors by persuading them to play Pooh Sticks over the bridge, but I was pushing my luck.

The rest of the afternoon was spent eating home-made ice lollies again, and blowing bubbles. Have I ever told

check out the size of bubble Midi is blowing!

check out the size of bubble Midi is blowing!

you that Midi Minx is a champion bubble-blower? Last weekend in the hotel we were staying in, the girls were having a bath. Midi started messing around with the shower gel, rubbing her hands like an otter washing pebbles. Then she cupped her fingers into a loveheart shape, blew gently, and smiled: off floated the most perfect, hand-sized bubble across the bathroom. It completely distracted me from scolding her about something or other. The Boss says that she’s been blowing bubbles with soap and her hands every night when she’s getting washed for bed, for years. Today, she got tired of blowing bubbles made from commercial bubble mix, and blew her own from shower gel. What a skill! I tried and totally failed.

Maxi spent a happy afternoon curled up on the picnic blanket in the shade with Killer Cat. The other 2 wanted to watch DVDs and occasionally run outside and pester their sister. It finally got so hot that I relented and got out the sprinkler again. Jumping through that kept them happy and cool for an hour.

After dinner, they were messing around in the garden while I finished sewing a nightie for Mini. Midi and Mini were role-playing Mummies & Daddies. They were just a few feet from me, so I kept an ear out while I sewed on the last few buttons. Midi had on her ‘Bossy Mummy’ voice and Mini was playing at being her daughter, along with 3 or 4 dollies.

“F*ck off, kids”, said Midi, in a loud, calm voice, talking to her brood.

The hub-bub of 100 barbecues in the gardens around us fell to a thunderous silence. 400 sharp breath intakes were made.

I guess we won’t be getting invited to any more play-dates.

Day of Sport and Chips

24 July 2014

The minxes really struggled to get moving this morning. I really struggled to get my eyeballs focussed. No way was I going near a car this morning in this kind of sleep-deprived state! Cancel the Early Bird cinema and bring on the domestic bliss chaos.

It was hot as soon as we woke, so the first thing we had to do was make ice lollies. I normally use whichever carton of juice is open. None was, so I let Maxi choose a flavour. She selected grapefruit (ewwwwww!) and asked for bits of leftover red grapefruit to go in. Bleeee! She’s the kind of kid who’ll eat a lemon like others would eat oranges. D’you know what, though – it really worked! The bitter tangy flavour was just perfect in the hot sun*, and the chewy grapefruit made it interesting.

*Hot sun. North Scotland. Shhhhh, it really does get gloriously hot up here sometimes! Mostly I find 19degC and above pretty warm, but this week it’s been 20 – 27degC. Delicious!

She only likes making cheesecake because she gets to bash hell out of some biscuits

She only likes making cheesecake because she gets to bash hell out of some biscuits and I won’t shout about the crumbs

I drank coffee after coffee as I powered through making strawberry conserve and strawberry cheesecake with the PYO stobbies, then a vat of houmous. Different minxes helped with different things, so it counted as craft activities and parent-daughter time. Honest.

The girls do occasionally play together. I caught Maxi and Mini role-playing being in a hairdressing salon. So at least now I know where the hair-rinsing jug has disappeared to!

So, are you going anywhere nice for your holidays, Sis?

So, are you going anywhere nice for your holidays, Sis?

Later that afternoon, the minxes continued to dodge the sun and stay indoors, like crazy vampire kids. Mini dressed up as a princess, with her Cinderella long gloves, freshly-wiped shoes, bling and home-made tiara (paper and foil: Maxi made it with her). Midi taught her how to stand up regally (ish). Maxi showed her how to curtsey, then took her to the Ball outside in the garden and danced with her.

I go a bit mental praising them whenever they DO play together nicely, in the hope that it lessens the times spent sticking sharp things in each other’s rear, poking arms or shouting. All the coffee had finally had an effect on me. A quick check of the met showed that for once, there was no haar on the coast this afternoon, so I phoned The Boss and arranged to meet him at the Place of Treats For Great Behaviour: Stonehaven Open Air Pool.

We’ve never been, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. We arrived about 1715hrs, absolutely sweltering. Surely the place would be standing room only? Not at all! (Though it had been heaving earlier in the day, as you’d expect). We whooshed into our cozzies faster than Superman gets into his red kecks and cape and sploshed into the heated seawater. Salty. Stingy eyes. And floating too high in the water to swim properly! But perfect for comedy floating poses.

The minxes splashed about in the paddling pool side for 30 seconds before Maxi and I eyed up the water slide at the deep end. I couldn’t see any signs to say that large adults were banned, so we nipped over. I went first and promptly split the tip of my finger on a bit of wood (I think I flailed around a bit on the descent. I’m scared of heights but love water and splashes. Tricky dichotomy. I coped). It smarted a bit in the salt water, but I kept the smile on my face: “Come on in, Maxi: it’s brilliant!” I called from the deep end. Maxi got all the way to the top of the slide, then bottled it. She walked the Walk of Shame back down. I hauled out and we had a chat. The other girls in the queue encouraged her. She walked back up. She sat down. She stuck her little legs in the flume of water and clung to the top. She climbed back out, burst into tears and plodded back down. I told her it was ok to be scared and that we’d go back to the shallow end and the rest of her family. She took this as a rebuke and had a wailing, tearful meltdown that only subsided when Midi and The Boss took off themselves to have some fun away from the wailing siren noise.

fish and chipsAfter an hour of splashing and swimming and being thrown off floats and around floats and into floats, Mini’s lips went blue. Time to go! Back to the old-fashioned changing room with half-door stalls. It wasn’t too much of a drama because we just had a quick rinse and intended to go straight home for proper showers and baths. Then one greedy guts suggested we amend the plan and go to The Bay for the best fish and chips (and onion rings, mushy peas and posh San Pellegrino lemonade) in the entire world. I wonder who would be thinking of her stomach like that…? <whistles innocently> The batter on the onion rings is properly, crunchily, melt-in-the mouth. So light and yummy. I could eat food from there till I burst. We’d happily have had some of the wonderfully, magnificently gaudy ice-creams from Aunty Betty’s next door, but we’d waited about 40 mins for dinner, the queues hadn’t gone down much and I didn’t fancy queuing for as long for pudding, as delicious and entertaining as the ice-creams are.

You’d think that would have been enough of a good day, wouldn’t you? Oh no – after baths and changing into jammies, we also had the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games to watch, too. The minxes squealed and laughed whenever I did. Though I think our opinions of John Barrowman, Tunnocks Tea Cakes, Nessie, maudlin Proclaimers cover-version and a blue Celtic Park can just stay private, thanks. Mini finally faded around 2100hrs. Her sisters revved themselves into a proper frenzy by the time the Scottish team came out (they’re half Glaswegian)! Maxi chanted Scotland, Scotland and signed each letter in case people 10 streets away couldn’t hear her; Midi jumped and punched the air and scissor-kicked and threw a sudden forward roll. 10 minutes later, though, before the fireworks had lit the sky, Midi was snoring. Wee souls! Maybe they’ll sleep well tonight, eh, without waking me up?!

Keep Off The Grass! And the drums and teepees and borders and …

23 July 2014

Like a moron, I dragged the remaining sleeping minxes out of bed at 0830hrs, thinking that they needed to get back into a sensible-ish routine again of meals at the same, regular times; early bed and early rise. I’ve no idea why – it doesn’t suit me, and it definitely doesn’t suit them!

Best breakfast ever? Just add coffee. About a gallon

Best breakfast ever? Just add coffee. About a gallon

In a sudden flurry of wannabe-Uber-Mummy activity (don’t worry – it soon passed), I heated up a Treat Breakfast of croissants and mixed some fruit to counter-balance it a bit: not-quite-ripe melon, over-ripe strawberries, festering red grapefruit, on-the-turn blueberries. The kids loved it. Ever-hungry Midi even polished off some toast and nutella, too. I bet if I made it tomorrow they’d hate it and declare it poison.

They’re canny, those girls – I was so pleased that they’d enthusiastically eaten all their breakfast that I let them watch DVDs while I made up a packed lunch. They huddled together in front of the screen, cackling, “Mission accomplished”.

Beautiful tree

Beautiful tree

The lunch was because I was meeting a friend and her little girl for a bit of a play and walk around Drum Castle. We’d never been before. And I’m afraid that based on today’s visit I don’t think we’ll be back,

It’s a beautifully-presented National Trust castle and grounds. Everything is very well-kept. The adventure playground is only 2 weeks old. As we went in, an irate sign noted that the living willow tunnel was broken already, and that parents were to keep their children in the tunnels only. Oh? A quick look told my inexpert eye that perhaps little kids thought the wide spaces between the willow stems were meant to be there, and to walk on through? Or maybe it really had been trashed by trunk stepping stones

Mini walks on air

Mini walks on air

I hope we don't get scolded for letting the kids climb this tree!

I hope we don’t get scolded for letting the kids climb this tree!

boisterous louts. I shrugged and got on with admiring the wooden stepping trunks inside the woods, the submerged tyres, the scrambling net, and the teepees. Oh. They had an irate sign on them too (see photo) instructing us all that there was to be NO CLIMBING on them. The all-wooden drumkit looked cool. But it too had a painted sign (see photo) – NO CLIMBING. The meadow flowers in front of the summerhouse were pretty. But the sign beside them ordered us not to stand in the borders.

no climbingno climbing eitherHmmm… So many bossy signs ordering the adults around (well, most kids who go to playparks can’t read yet)! So much pretty equipment and facilities, but you can’t play with it how you’d like. Look but don’t touch. My friend confided that one of her friends had phoned to complain about the playground twice already since it had opened a week ago, on the grounds of it being unsafe. For example, one of the gates can be opened by a child onto a road beside the carpark. But surely you’d keep an eye on your child? I glanced around the playground at my fellow carers: tartan blankets in every colour, strewn over all available, manicured grass; the entire Boden summer catalogue draped over said tartan; kids leaping around, decked out in the Ikea Family hi-vis vests. Maybe; maybe not.

We found 12 fairy doors like this

We found 12 fairy doors like this

We broke for picnic lunch, then strolled a short mile walk around some ancient woodland, spotting some miniature carved doors propped up on tree trunks (“fairy doors”). They motivated 3/4 girls to walk around the path with some interest, but caused 1/4 to get upset that she’d not spotted the doors first.

By this stage, Mini was fading fast and wanting to go in the sling. I distracted her with a short jaunt over to the pond and back, then over again to the adventure playground. That worked. Then Midi doubled over with a sore stomach. Time to go home! And as I suspected, a drink of Ribena sorted out the stomach pains – they’ll be your innards complaining about not getting enough fluid, dear!