The Strength of Mini’s Head

Tuesday 9 April 2013

I’ve been very quiet recently because we’ve been away on a week’s holiday in Orkney. It was brilliant, despite me being a hormonal, shouty old bag. As usual, I took my paper journal to offload all the minxy goings-on, and I may or may not share them on this blog over the next week or so (though all the outdoorsy things will go on the Little Trekkers Ambassadors blog, as usual). I also have about 40 unpublished draft posts from the past month or so sat waiting to be finished… So, as usual, I’ll have to revert to dating each of my next few entries to make some kind of sense (!) to this. Anyway, despite all that, I really need to offload today.

We’re onto Week 2 of the Easter Holidays, now, and The Boss is back at work, so I have the job of keeping the minxes from killing each other or me every day on my own.  Yesterday’s trip to the beach totally failed to tire them out*, so today we met up with some friends and little Merida Minx at Brodie Castle, between Nairn and Forres.

*They’re like dogs: if they don’t get enough exercise they fret (Maxi), get over-excited (Mini), don’t sleep well (all) and chew shoes (Midi). It has to be vigorous enough to “give me the sweats”, as Midi puts it so delicately. Bless.


Hey-hey we’re the Minxees


See? Sailing ship. Two Leaves. Twigs.

After a long, loud, but excellent lunch, we took the 4 girls over towards the castle grounds because they could be as noisy and scampery as they liked without me nagging and scolding the poor things to sit up / eat up / be quieter / etc. and it would be free (I’ve pretty much run-out of fun tokens).  They had fun trying to tempt the bread-stuffed swans and ducks to eat more, then raced around the pond like 4 mad things on speed. Actually, I lie – like 3 mad things on speed. Maxi was doing her usual Dreaming Tortured Artist act, wandering around with her head in the clouds. Other kids grab a stick and chuck it in a stream to play Pooh Sticks. Not mine: Mini mostly remembers that sticks float whereas stones sink. Every. Single. Time. And Maxi has to craft and whittle out a perfect replica of a 17th Century sailing ship out of 2 rhododendron leaves and 2 twigs, and use *that* as her Pooh Stick…

They startled a huge Clydesdale Clopper out for a ride. The poor rider apologised to us after it had bucked and reared and kicked before she’d gotten it under control, yet it was our shrieking, flailing minxes who’d half-frightened the horse as it had drawn level and just forward of them – luckily for kids and horse that they were many, many metres apart the whole time. Then they headed straight for the Adventure Playground to wreak havoc there.

I think by now you know I’m a helicopter mother: over-anxious, paranoid, smothering, controlling, wrap-them-up-in-cotton-wool, very risk-averse kind of parent. Every day I try so, so hard not to be, even though it physically wrenches my guts. I have a huge struggle with not being the clingy parent I am, and trying to be the hands-off parent I think I should be. Well, I’m sure I stunt their emotional growth with my shouty bad temper, so I really should make an effort not to stunt their ability to assess and take on risks and hazards.

So: when Mini wanted to follow her sisters up the big tower to the high tube slide, my instincts screamed NO!!, but I found myself reasoning out loud: “Well, if you can climb the ladders by yourself with no help, then ok”. I shouted over to Midi to go with her, and in fact to go first, to stop her toddling off one of the open ‘windows’ in the tower. One risk dealt with: next? I then started fretting about little Mini falling backwards. I went to shout over to Maxi, to get her to follow Mini, so she was marched up the tower in a sort of sister-sandwich. I even shifted my camera across my body to prepare to nip up the tower myself. But not in time…

Predictably, Mini got to the top of the 3rd ladder, missed her handhold at the top, and fell backwards. She bounced off the first platform, then fell down the next ladder and collided with the next platform right on the top of her little bonce, and kind of twisted halfway out the wee open ‘window’. Well, I levitated up the first ladder before she’d even let out a scream (I think I managed a big loud “F***!”, though), and grabbed her up. My paranoid head was shouting inside about broken neck and spine injuries and not moving casualties until you know they’ve not broken anything, but the bigger Mummy Bear bit of my head just wanted to cradle my baby and kiss it all better. I know I probably sounded and looked very calm, but I just plonked down, halfway up the tower, and held her, rocking, for a few minutes. Partly to comfort her, partly because I was shaking too much to do anything else, and partly because I wasn’t sure that I’d managed to retain bladder control getting such a fright (I had. I stayed dry. Just in case you were wondering). After a bit, I dared to look and check that she was waving her hands about, kicking her feet, and seemed to have full control over her limbs as well as her lungs. When she’d calmed down a bit, I handed her down the ladder to Merida’s mummy. She instantly demanded to be let back up. No chance-eroony, little daughter! Baby playground for you! Where to be fair she demonstrated some nifty footwork on the rope bridges and happily scowled at all the boys in a 10 foot radius.

No apparent damage. Ish.

No apparent damage. Ish.

Actually, the afternoon was a bit of a parenting fail. Maxi fell off the big round hammock swing, Midi fell off the aerial slide multiple times onto her (rock-hard) head, and then for an encore tumbled down the tube slide of that tower and out onto her bum. Although I made sure I could see the 3 of them at all times, and spent a bit of time hovering over each, I mostly stayed with Mini. But there’s only one of me and 3 of them. I’d never have gone to the playground had my friends not come too, and really lightened my load of both amusing and safeguarding the girls, but being typical children, they only fell when there wasn’t an adult immediately next to them.

Looking for trolls

Looking for trolls

Now that a wee bit of time has passed since this afternoon, I can see some funny bits: I could see that Midi was falling off into the soft woodchips and bouncing up, laughing, and making comedy bows, so didn’t need me to come over fussing. And when she fell off the slide, she made quite a funny “bang… bang… bang-bang-bang… thump” noise as she clattered down. She related it breathlessly to her Daddy later as: “I did a double-cartwheel and went over and over and over!” Um…. not quite. But nice story. When Maxi fell, she also fell onto soft ground, and had a good, solid, whole-body-contact kind of fall. I went over to check she was ok and one of the kids on the swing with her farted. I mean, I know my bright orange hair is a bit scary, and I’m a bit haggard-looking nowadays, but honestly, I didn’t mean to frighten him that much! I quipped: “Wow, who just farted?” and the 4 of them bomb-burst to opposite ends of the playground. Oh, the power!

Things did get better, though. In a bid to include The Boss in this week’s, um, ‘fun’, we picked him up from work at 5 then drove round to the swimming pool. I guess we picked the perfect time, because we 5 had the entire learner pool all to ourselves. Maxi and Midi threw themselves about boisterously in the water, and The Boss marvelled at Midi’s new-found water confidence, trying to swim under everything that she could. Mini was typically slow to get her water feet. But when the aqua aerobics class started, she had me in stitches as she danced along in delight. She bounced and twisted her little hips, chanting: “Wiggle-wiggle! Wiggle-wiggle! I wiggle my little fat bum-bum, Mummy!” After a bit, she got too tired to remember to stand back up again when she fell over in the water. And she forgot that she’s scared to go down the little slides into the pool and got almost as noisily splashy as her sisters. I think I laughed non-stop for half an hour at their antics.

After an hour, I called it quits and got them properly washed and shampooed in the showers. Trying to pin down 3 little soap-dodgers with long, thick hair is NOT easy! We spent so long in the showers that I think the pool attendants suspected we were jakeys in for our monthly clean. Then some bright little buttons decided to scrub the entire changing room floor with soapy, bleachy, smelly water, all in a oner. Great – so how are we supposed to stand in a little cubicle and avoid the bubbles flowing in? How do I get everyone dry and keep them dry? No point just missing out our cubicle, Clever Clogs: gravity and a big changing room on a slope will defeat you every time…

Looking at 3 tired little minxes who’d never last the journey home, I twisted The Boss’s arm, and off we went to Evil McDs, where I got to scare a whole restaurant full of people with my frizzy, half-wet, orange fright wig. Extra bonus points!