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back in the saddle again

In the normal course of things, Helena is about as affectionate as a sheepdog. She's happy to run circles around us, with excited noises and the occasional friendly headbutt but generally views kissing and hugging as an invasion of personal space.

On the other hand if she feels anxious or unwell then nothing else will do but to attach herself in a full-body hug to the first available Trusted Adult, baby koala-style, and any attempts to put her down and break the hold are met with the most bereft and grief-stricken wailing imaginable. If there were ashes to be had she would be smearing her face with them. On the whole I'm cool with this. It's nice to have a cuddle and since (unlike her brother, who seemed to have a built-in altimeter as an infant) she's perfectly happy to be held by an adult who is sitting down I've watched more than one episode of The Good Wife while she snuffled into my neck and elbowed me in the ribs and patted my cheek. It also feels like this is all I've been doing every third week since December 2011, when the whole family started coming down in rotation with the Respiratory/Sinus Lurgy of Satan.

When her style has not been cramped by terrifying coughing, or gastic symptoms or sinus malevolence Helena has been doing her usual acts of theft (there is nothing which makes her happier than lurking on the sidelines until she can swoop down like a falcon on one of Matei's toys and then make off with it, cackling, and demanding to be chased) and sabotage (of which more later).

Matei has been more or less golden and I give Four a cautious two thumbs-up. Four is a good age. A useful age. A bribable, biddable age. A veritable Renaissance, compared to that oppressive, aggresive yob Three.

We communicate better. He is more patient, less anxious and has at last begun displaying a certain usefulness as a family member. Just yesterday he helped me carry home several new plants from Homebase and didn't melt down once when I nixed a number of his suggestions in store about what we should plant in the garden (potatoes, cacti, orchids and the Venus flytrap)or what we should buy (all the toys and some tiles).

He has also been solidly involved in cooking - making a whole Victoria sponge by himself (under my supervision). He expanded a solid 40 minutes of effort on beating and sifting and measuring and folding in the various ingredients while his sister's contribution to the process was to headbutt the kitchen door and wail until we relented and let her in, then to grab the flour and throw it around in the joyful manner of confetti, or rice at a wedding and finally to fiddle with the oven while our backs were turned (foreshadowing!).

In blissful conviction that the oven was set to 180 degrees we left it to bake our cake mix, even going so far as to pooh pooh Z's observation regarding 'a funny smell'. On the other hand when the timer sounded and I saw that the oven was set to 250C and our cakes were rock solid and completely cremated, I shrieked and Matei burst into tears.

"My cake" he wailed. "My beautiful cake! I worked so hard on it! I am so so sad about it! The baby is the naughtiest baby who ever lived, in the whole world"* I did my best to comfort our own little Mary Berry, and salvaged a few pieces from the (still soft and springy) heart of our cremated sponge, which we served with ice cream and fresh strawberries, but two days on he still gets sniffly when he remembers The Episode and has come up with various plans on how to Helena-proof the kitchen.

"I shall stand in the doorway Mummy, and block her way with my arms and my legs and if that doesn't work then I shall roar at her like a dinosaur and if that doesn't work, then I shall hit her with a mop."

He'll go far as a project manager, I'm sure.

Matei has always been moody and sensitive, but lately he's become very compassionate and kind.
Following his damning judgements of Helena's parenting skills he has taken over the care for the babies himself, toting them around the house everywhere and issuing very specific instructions for their care. ("Mummy you should hold this baby and sing it a song about a star and then tell it a story about trucks.")***

We played Junior Monopoly recently, wherein he was Germany to my Greece and lent me money to keep me in the game after I went bust. There is a great kindness in him which is lovely to see and even nicer to live with. Z and I nominate him as "Child most likely to spoon gruel into our dribbling mouths."

He still headbutts us all accidentally** but this is followed by a kiss and an apology.
"I'm sorry I did that again! One day when I grow up I won't do it anymore." Something to look forward to, there.

*He may be correct.

** Same rules as with horses. Approach him from behind at your own risk.

***He has had a number of specific instructions to my own parenting approach as well. Like the time I shouted at him about not putting his clothes on and he looked at me sternly, then said: "Mummy, don't shout at me, it's not nice. You can have anger inside you and say "Matei stop doing that bad thing" but without yelling.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
"Mummy, don't shout at me, it's not nice. You can have anger inside you and say "Matei stop doing that bad thing" but without yelling

Bwaahahha! So it turns out being a family therapist is actually genetic?
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:14 am (UTC)
Bwaahahha! So it turns out being a family therapist is actually genetic?

Are family therapists born or created by their substandard families? I think Matei would argue the second, seeing how 'it's not fair' is his catchphrase.

I suspect he's more of a litigator.
Mar. 14th, 2012 09:26 am (UTC)
"Mummy, don't shout at me, it's not nice. You can have anger inside you and say "Matei stop doing that bad thing" but without yelling.
this is brilliant!
Mar. 17th, 2012 08:15 am (UTC)
Hehehe. He's got strong opinions and words to express them.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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