Blood, Snot and Tears

Mini Minx made a hole in the new Burghead to Cummingston cyclepath with her head. She’s ok. I’ve aged 20 years. The end.

Setting off for some fun

Setting off for some fun

The detail:

The minxes have been badgering me to let them go cycling for the past week. Mini has steadfastly refused to go on the childseat at the back of my bike for weeks, now. The thought of trying to shepherd all 3 on bikes safely along the edge of a busy road, past thundering articulated lorries and speeding vans filled me with mortal fear. However, little Mini has been getting faster and faster on her little balance bike, so in a haze of extreme sleep deprivation, this morning I agreed.

It started very well and just got better and better: all 3 ate hearty breakfasts, reminding each other that they’d need lots of energy to cycle all the way to Cummingston and back. Normally it’s a fight to get more than a bite of honey toast past them in the morning. Then instead of our normal fights over suitable clothes (all 3 prefer flimsy pink, glittery, frothy nonsense over sensible clothes. They do NOT get that from my genes!), they actually requested thick jeans and long-sleeved jackets. As I shuttled back and forth to the garage, fetching bikes and helmets and gloves and a partridge in a pear tree, they stood safely at the door. There weren’t even complaints when I put a tissue, a snack bar and a milkshake carton in a little backpack for each of them. I got myself in trainers, grabbed the Connecta Sling “just in case” (forgot the sun cream, doh), then headed out the door.

backpacksI felt like I was dreaming: all 3 girls kept to the side of the road. When cars approached, they hopped off their bikes and walked, or nipped into driveways. They kept together in a group. They kept to the inside of the road. They called warnings to each other about oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Yes: these are the same 3 girls who can’t successfully WALK down the road to school without being reminded to look, listen, breathe in and breathe out again. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My step lightened. I might have smiled a bit. I started to praise the little blighters for showing such care and common sense. I especially praised zoomy little Mini, who was nipping along so quickly that I had to jog. The sun shone, a gentle breeze cooled us, the sea gleamed green: life was bloody wonderful!

snacktimeEventually, around the time we were level with Cummingston, Mini complained of being tired. Her sisters were up for cycling all the way to Hopeman and back, via Roseisle forest and the swings, but they listened to their baby sister, and suggested that we stop for some ‘energy’. I showed them how to get their bikes off the cyclepath and lay their jackets over the thistles so they could sit in relative comfort. They demolished their snackbars and milk shakes. I spent the time telling them how proud I was of each of the them: how they’d encouraged each other; how the elder 2 had held back and kept Mini company; the way Midi had passed on Maxi’s top tips on how to conserve energy cycling; Maxi for warning her sisters as they’d approached a slippy bit of the path; how they’d all looked out for each other, were safe in traffic, and been loving sisters.

“If you keep being this safe and lovely to each other”, I beamed, “I’ll let you cycle to your new school in August!”

Although all 3 were raring to go on to Hopeman, I decided to call it quits and started to head back to a chorus of minx groans. But better to feel they could have gone further than to face the prospect of carrying Mini and her bike up that hill home!

Maxi had a little wobble and fell off her bike with a loud howl. I helped her get her bike chain on again. She wanted to tell me all about her microscopic graze, but I was painfully aware that Midi and Mini had continued, and that there was a little downhill bit coming up. As I set off towards the younger 2, I saw Mini take the wee slope at full tilt, so I broke into a run, shouting over my shoulder to Maxi to catch up.

Too late. With a crash, Mini lost control on the downhill turn and fell off the side of the cyclepath. The cyclepath is just a smooth ribbon of tarmac, laid in a strip, so the edges drop a steep 4 inches or so slope down to rough stones then the dirt. It’s a sharp edge, and although Mini was wearing a helmet, as she tumbled off her bike she took the full force of the edge of the cyclepath on her forehead, right above her eyebrow. I didn’t realise that, though – I thought her helmet had taken the impact. She screamed. I picked her up and held her tight.

I’d let Mini take off her padded jacket because it was so warm. Yep: she was wearing a short-sleeved teeshirt. Her screams didn’t really abate, so I peeled her off my shoulder to check for grazed arms. I wasn’t expecting a thick river of dark purple blood running down her little face. Crap. Where was it coming from? It gushed a bit. My insides froze. It gushed again. Ah, gotcha – that black line there on her forehead. I grabbed a ball of tissues and pressed it hard on the cut. She shrieked louder. I told her something about it being all ok, that Mummy was here. Y’know, in case she was confused that I was hovering 2 miles overhead, or something. Maxi wailed a bit. Midi declared, “I feel sick!”

I’m not sure how I corralled them, but I got out the Connecta, got Mini in it on my chest, pressed the tissue to her head hard (it was still running lots of blood… don’t panic, head-wounds bleed… give it a minute… she’s hot and bothered and it’ll look worse than it is…). I grabbed her balance bike and helmet, calmed Midi and Maxi down, explained to them that we were going to go very fast back home and set off as fast as I could. Maxi offered to carry Mini’s backpack. I accepted gratefully, but it slowed us down while I transferred the pack. Then Maxi lost her bike chain again. Cursing, I helped her fix it. Then my shoe lace flapped undone. Holy God Almighty, will I ever get off this path? Mini whimpered and shivered. “I’m tired!” she wailed. I could feel panic clutching at the edges of my head. I walked faster.

I thought about whether to stop and call an ambulance. Nope – too hard to get to, and I’m not sure it’s that bad. I looked at the cut. Just oozing now. But oh my lurching stomach, it looks like a dent in her forehead. I looked at sleepy Mini. Concussion? Midi asked if Mini was going to die. In spite of myself I sniggered. And walked all the faster. I thought about how long to get home and to the car – maybe 20 minutes? Then another 10 minutes to A&E? How could I do it faster? Could I phone my friend J and abandon bikes and bags and 2 elder girls while I ran up the hill to the car with Mini on my chest? No – what if she wasn’t in? I stopped to fix Maxi’s bloody stupid annoying chain again. I told Midi again that Mini was fine and just needed a little stitch. Stitch… stitch… stitch… oh you doughball, what about the GP’s surgery in the village? Yep, faster to get there than home. But were they open? We’d arrive around closing time. I stopped to catch my breath and phone them. Shitty stupid head, don’t know the number and it’s not under the eminently sensible ‘Doctor’ in my mobile. No idea what I put it under. Crap, crap, crap. March on.

Maxi and Midi suddenly gained the ability to cross roads safely by themselves as I blazed a trail in front. After 15 minutes or so of marching / wobbly cycling, we swooped through the thankfully open door of the surgery and called for help. The receptionist ushered us through to the nurse. I sat the elder 2 down in the waiting room and carried the still-crying and clinging Mini through.

The lovely comforting nurse touched the cut and it gaped open, in a stubby T shape, very clean cut. And deep… “Oh my God!” I gulped as I stared down the deep hole. The nurse fetched the doctor. They agreed on steristrips (no glue). She applied 4 steristrips in a star shape, covered it with a dressing, reminded me of different reasons to go straight to A&E, then we were off, showering everyone in profuse thanks as we tumbled out. Well, I virtually had to haul out Maxi, who was determinedly talking to anyone with ears.

Mini wanted to walk home, clutching my hand, still whimpering. I was happy to hobble along: I’d hurt my back holding the dumb balance bike out to the side for over a mile, with a heavy 3 yo on my chest and one arm twisted round to press her cut shut. And I realised I’d given myself blisters on each foot. Mini checked herself for injuries: sore knees, grazed forearms, scratched tummy, one bashed palm. It took maybe half an hour to walk the rest of the way home.

Normal service now resumed

Normal service now resumed

After a drink of cold fizzy juice (normally only a birthday treat), my youngest Evel Knievel was back to normal, especially after a chat on the phone to Daddy. She’s wavering between not wanting to cycle again, and wanting to get back on. We’ve chatted about how everyone falls off their bikes at some point, even Mummy (comically, in front of a large group of RAF Regt recruits, who were far too frightened by the sight of the flabby, flapping skirt sailing through the air to laugh). Speaking of which, Midi’s been flapping around her, and come down from bed 3 times tonight already to tell me that Mini’s head is bleeding again (it’s not – it’s just oozing slightly). She’s asked to sleep beside Mini (no!) until I go to bed and take her into my bed with me (good idea – I will!)

I hate head injuries – they make me come over all irrational and panicky. Get well soon, my baby.

Ham Rod for My Own Back

She's walking in the air

She’s walking in the air

We had a really lovely weekend with The Boss back on his weekly commute: we went to the village fete and let the minxes run riot on the bouncy castle, bouncy slide, spinning teacups and facepaint. The next day we went to Wester Hardmuir PYO farm for me to run riot on the trampoline and let the kids loose on the playground and picking strawberries. We demolished donuts and icecream and strawberries on different days. We even managed to do a quick practise mega-behemoth-tent erection to check it was all fine from last year (it was).

All too soon The Boss had to pack his little car and set off back eastwards. An exhausted Midi was already asleep, whilst Mini and Maxi were too busy screeching and building dens out of their bedclothes to notice that he was leaving. I waved goodbye to him alone from their bedroom.

Predictably, they were distraught when they realised. Hopefully this will be the last week that we have to separate the family, but if not, then maybe they’ll realise that when I say, “He’s going, come and wave now. Right now!” that I’m not messing around.

I mooned around a very big, empty house for a bit, then on a whim decided to start making that massive, long dress out of Ikea curtain fabric. Four pattern pieces to cut out twice each, over 6m of fabric. I’m a beginner sewer – ulp!

Around midnight, as I was thinking about stopping, I heard the distinctive sound of Midi storming from her bed to mine; a confused pause; then a thundering to the top of the stairs and pointless tiptoeing down them. She stood in the doorway, her beautiful big green eyes filling her sleepy face, wanly asking if Daddy had gone yet. I should have ushered her wordlessly to bed. We’ve had a problem for the last 3 years of her waking most nights and disturbing me. I’ve tried different things. Tonight, though, I thought: sod it all! Just this once. She’s my little 5 year old, she’s missing her Daddy, and I know how to make her feel better.

“Do you feel hungry, Midi?” I asked her. She looked confused. This wasn’t the Get.To.Your.Bed.Now she got every night, or the Sound Ignoring.

“Yes! Starving!” she smiled, suddenly impish. “But my throat hurts”. Mini’s had a sticky green nose for a few days and Midi was obviously under the weather this evening, so I believed her.

I rootled around for some calpol. Because all the different equivalents all seem to have different dosages, I studied the label – and had to hold it further away from my tired eyes than I’m used to, to focus (damn… turning into an auld gimmer).

“Five”, Midi said.

Eh? What?

“Five. I’m five. You always ask me my age when you give me medicine.” Aye, auld and losing my memory!

I made us both a big ham sandwich on oat and spelt bread, spread thick with butter, and slices of cucumber. Big plastic beaker each of milk. We sat side by side, comfortably silent, troughing our delicious midnight feast. Silent except for the occasional mischievous snigger or stifled giggle. Partners in crime, me and my wee girl.

Don’t grass me up to the Parenting Police, will you? Or worse: Maxi.

Temper Tantrums

I’ve not been writing and it’s sending me mad. Well, either not writing, or trying to handle keeping a big house clean and tidy and ready for viewers / nosy people looking through the windows, and keeping 3 hyperactive, emotional little girls busy and occupied. Tonight I’m leaving the kitchen a scene of devastation and am writing instead of mopping that floor for the 3rd time today… (boiled egg remnants this morning, spilled hot chocolate this afternoon, spilled chicken curry and spat out chicken curry this evening).

I’ll fill you in on the days in between later, but it’s enough to say that it’s been a stream of depressing parenting fails: lots of shouting, tantrums and boundary-pushing behaviour. And the kids have been being little brats, too (ba-doom-tish!) Today, though, was going to be different.

We went to the nearest town to pick up some bits and bobs. First was 6 ballgowns I’d tried to sell through a shop. Nope. Not one. Maybe I’ll try eBay, or the 50p-a-kilo man. Anyway, I’d gone in steeling myself to be yelled at: the woman who runs it seems to keep a special voice for me – top volume and v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y, which I find irritating beyond measure. Today, though, not only was the volume painless, but she even filled a bag of hair bobbles and headbands for the girls, for free. They were gleeful; I was cut-up that my de-cluttered house was about to refill, but very touched at her generosity. Next was a wee trip to B&Q for a sprinkler… Look, we don’t have hosepipe bans up here. Don’t remember the last one. Stop gasping and looking horrified, ok? It doesn’t make me a bad person! And then, fulfilling a long-standing bribe, I took the girls to Evul MaccyDs.

No matter how much they cry, beg or plead, NEVER feed them chocolate or other caffeinated products after midday!

No matter how much they cry, beg or plead, NEVER feed the minxes chocolate or other caffeinated products after midday!

We made a right entrance: Midi and Mini Minxes fought to hit the button on the automatic door first, then fell in (splat). I plonked all 3 down at the nearest empty table and told them to sit and stay. Mutiny. Pouts. Midi leapt off her seat.

“Fine!” I huffed. “If I can’t trust you to sit here while I get the food, then that’s it – home! We’re going home now. Move!”

The people at the surrounding tables looked horrified. The minxes looked sceptical. I turned for the door. The minxes looked crest-fallen. Midi helpfully apologised. I came over, took a suddenly-compliant Mini’s hand*, sat the other 2 down, and went for food.

*This was a big deal! Mini and I are currently waging an “I’m not holding Mummy’s hand in public” war. When we’re anywhere near cars or potential danger, if she won’t hold my hand then I grip her by the arm. It’s not negotiable. Being a tenacious little madam, she’s still riling against this Absolute Rule of Safety nearly a year after it was first explained carefully to her.

We then spent a really happy 40 minutes troughing, chatting, laughing and even sharing a poke of chips and single pot of ketchup. And the ultimate in sisterly love: Maxi gave Mini her last grape from the fruit bag!! They were brilliant about going to the toilet and cleaning up, covering each others ears while the third sister used the rocket-powered hand-drier. I think it helped giving them Secret Missions. Example: “Midi, your Secret Mission is to go get 5 napkins; one for each of us and one for Mini’s nose. I’m not telling you where they are; you have to go find them” and “Mini, your mission is to eat a cheeseburger right now without getting out of your seat. How will you manage to get hold of one?” then feigning surprise at her whipping one out from her little cardboard box. The oldies are the besties.

We had to go via the GPs – one of my back moles was cut out, and the other is being frozen off. Today was session 2. The girls were ok about sitting on the floor in a busy, hot waiting room, cuddling toys or me. Mini suddenly piped up: “Mummy got die-a-rear!” I cringed. I don’t have diarrhoea. I hoped no-one understood Mini’s baby lisping. “Mummy got die-a-eah! Out her bottips!” she crowed (‘bottips’ = buttocks in Mini-ese). I shushed her. “And blood when she wee-wees!” I laughed aloud in shock. The mum opposite me sniggered and flashed me a I’ve-Been-There-I-Feel-Your-Pain smile. Then Maxi started up with: “Did you know that when Mummy eats peanut butter, she does the most amazingly…”. I cut her off with a sharp Enough! God, thank goodness I’m not an axe-murderer: those kids would tell everyone where I’d hidden the bodies!

On the drive home, suddenly out of the blue, little Mini’s bottom lip pouted, her chin wobbled and she cried piteously. “I miss my Daddy!” she wailed. Poor little mite! Maxi and Midi both leaned over their car seats to hug her. They’ve talked to The Boss every night and we’ve talked about him often each day. Of course we all miss him. But this was the first time, in 4 days, that any of them had actually articulated that or cried.

Brave Midi attacks the sprinkler selection dial

Brave Midi attacks the sprinkler selection dial

When we got home, I got out the hosepipe and attached the £6.95 cheap plastic 8 pattern sprinkler. Fantastic! Normally I’d never bother watering lawns. But I guess a patch of brown, dead grass isn’t too enticing to potential buyers. So I watered the lawns and the kids at the same time. An entire afternoon’s cheap entertainment, with ice-pops at half-time. Just like when I chased them with the hose a few days ago**, Midi was the mental, exuberant one, unafraid of attacking the water, while her sisters squealed and skittered at the edges. Midi was the one turning the dial to test all the jets. Midi was the one trialling how it felt to stand or sit on each jet, or wash her hair in it. The girls had an excellent time. The cats caught in the crossfire somewhat less so…

**The kids were really pressing all my buttons on Tuesday. I gave myself a 10 min time-out before I murdered one, and went to water the wilted flowers out the front while they played in the back garden. The little devils followed me so that they had an audience for their 3 day-long whinge. I may or may not have accidentally changed the nozzle from ‘gentle plant soak’ to ‘mega jet-propelled ouchy-whoosh’. I may or may not have cackled a little too maniacally as I drenched them…

Eek, it's water! I'm melting! Melting!

Eek, it’s water! I’m melting! Melting!

After a quick hot shower (I say ‘shower’… actually I stuck them all in the bath and hosed them down in one long industrial line), I saw that Mini’s lips were purple-black and even my hot-blooded Midi was looking a bit blue. And that’s when I made my big mistake: I made them each a big mug of hot chocolate with floaty marshmallows. Doh! So much chocolate and sugar at 4pm on top of a junk food lunch just sent them loopy. I could see it starting to affect them about half an hour later, when we were at the library (no, I wasn’t being a good, educational mum – I was looking for the audio books of How To Train Your Dragon narrated by David Tennant. A treat for the whole family! 😉 ) By the time I had dinner made, they were being little devils. Again.

So for the 3rd night in a row I found myself on the phone to The Boss, yelling and snarling at them, going incandescent at Mini spitting on the floor and Midi racing through a puddle of curry in her new white socks and trailing it up the stair carpet as she squealed in glee. I think The Boss is worried about how many daughters he’ll have left when he gets home tomorrow. He already knows what language I’m using (Mini can now use 4 or 5 adjectives to go in front of Hell).