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Compulsive Religious Education ?

🙂 A friend asked my son if he was doing compulsive RE at the dinner table the other night. My son said yes, not really knowing what his friend had asked.

I explained the difference between compulsory and compulsive and then improvised someone with ‘compulsive RE’ disorder that meant they were constantly genuflecting to everyday objects, getting down on their knees to pray and singing hymns.

Everyone joined in with their ideas and we had a laugh.

Maybe they both learnt the meaning of the two words?

Mistakes come in many forms, from the impertinent, to the accidental, but as Greyson Perry says about art and creativity, ‘Creativity is mistakes.’ And sometimes very funny.

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Naming a child

Tuesday 29th March 2005

‘I sometimes wonder what can be said of people when they are young, whether the full expression of their personalities is truly discernible. Do we offer hints? Do murderers seem like murderers at eighteen? Do stockbrokers? Waiters? Millionaires? An egg hatches. What will emerge – a cygnet? A crocodile? A turtle?’

Douglas Coupland, ‘Girlfriend in a Coma.’

MIECZYSLAW

In a conversation with my Polish father-in-law, we wonder about Polish names that my son could have been given. He comes up with ‘Miewczyslaw.’

Pronounced ‘My-ech-is-lav’

Meaning ‘Sword-bearer’

That would fox them in an English Primary School! My wife Wanda hated being called ‘Vander’ (The Anglicised pronunciation). Teachers mumbled her surname because they could say Pelczynski. When a supply teacher was doing registration, the class laughed as she approached the letter ‘P.’

We thought had ‘we’ known ‘our’ family history better that the children may have had a Polish middle name such as this, even called Pelczynski.

Imagine:

Zoe Emmeline Pelczynski Vernon
Toby John Myechislav Pelczynski Vernon

But what about the maternal side, my mother’s side or the family, let alone Denise Cremona’s side of the family? So a hearty ‘Geordie, Quaker name from the bible and a Maltese/Italian name too)

Zoe Emmeline Joanna Cremona Pelczynski Vernon
Toby John Myechislav Cremona Pelczynski Vernon

Or would we stick with the Vernon family name and only have Polish, Italian and English first, second and third names?

We thought as much about ease of pronunciation, a desire NOT to have the potential of a pretentious quasi-aristocratic double-barrelled surname nor to have an unnecessarily embarrassing middle name ‘in remembrance of a grandparent, for example

Zoe Emmeline Sheila Barbara Cremona Pelczynski Vernon
Toby John Myechislav Denis Eric Cremona Pelczynski Vernon

I contemplated dropping my surname in favour of my wife’s.

Zoe Emmeline Vernon Pelczynski
Toby John Vernon Pelczynski

Would I have then desired a double-barrelled surname in order to retain my surname in alphabetical order?

Zoe Emmeline Vernon-Pelczynski
Toby John Vernon-Pelczynski

But why did I never consider a combination of maternal surnames?

Zoe Emmeline Wilson Cremona
Toby John Wilson Cremona

And having considered a need or desire to reflect the maternal line, why not extend this back more than one generation. On my mother’s side, I’d need to add:

Wilson, Hogg, Pig ….. mmmmm
On my father’s mother’s side, I’d need to add Alder and Ferguson

As for my mother-in-law or father-in-law?

I can’t even start to think of the complexity of adding names of relations from Poland and the Ukraine on one side and from Italy and Malta on the other.

Perhaps our children should be numbered, a barcode would say more about the nature of this random bundle of DNA we have brought into the world, that we created mid-evening on the 8th September 1995 desiring conception, desiring a child and then again, give or take the shift in menstrual cycles, around the 8th September 1997. See. We’re not even teachers but we follow more closely the Academic Year than we do the seasons or the Calendar.

DNA

I learn from a recent article in the press that they have discovered that parts of the DNA string are passed through generations; is this such a revelation to any observant parent?

A child is more than simply mum and dad’s DNA combined, two strings unzipped and combined.

There have to be residual strings from his and her parents and their grandparents that get passed on and show in both PHYSICAL and MENTAL traits.

He has the nose
She has the ears
He has the chin
She has the legs
He has the interests in construction
She has the photographic memory
He has an artistic bent
She’s into cuddly toys, dogs, ponies and lots of children …
He can draw
She can’t
He can catch and throw a ball
She can dance and swim
He can hit
She can wrestle
He is compulsive, impulsive and obsessive and accepting
She is quizzical and questioning, early to read, never needs to learn to spell or add,
He can fix a computer or TV age three and defeat Vertingetorix in Rome: Total War.

The things my daddy does while I’m at school

I feel as if I do this all the time.

‘All I ever doing is walk up the path to school. I blink, and I’m coming to pick you up, I blink, I fall asleep and I’m here again in the morning. It’s all I ever do.’

‘No you don’t.’

‘It feels like that. I am always here, walking along this path. I do nothing else.’

‘Yes you do.’

‘What?’

‘Thousands of things.’

‘Okay, name ten things I do every day other than walking along this path to school.’

‘You talk to me.’

‘Other than walking to school to take you in or pick you up and talking to you.’

‘You arrange for us to have friends over with the other mummies and daddies.’

‘Other than walking to school to take you in or pick you up and talking to you and arranging for you to have friends over with the other mummies and daddies.’

‘You feed the guinea pigs.’

Here I start counting it out on my fingers, we’re up to three, or is that four?

‘Other than walking to school to take you in or pick you up and talking to you and arranging for us to have friends over with the other mummies and daddies and feeding the guinea-pigs. What do I do?’

It’s turning into one of those songs you ding on long journeys, ‘One man went to mow …’

‘You cook us meals.’

‘Other than walking to school to take you in or pick you up, talking to you and arranging for you to have friends over with the other mummies and daddies and feeding the guinea-pigs and cooking meals.’

‘You talk to Mummy.’

Zozo struggles, I haven’t got up to five, or have I.

‘Other than walking to school to take you in or pick you up and talking to you and arranging for you to have friends over with the other mummies and daddies and feeding the guinea-pigs and cooking meals and talking to Mummy.’

‘You work.’

‘I don’t work, I write.’

(i.e. I don’t work. nor do I write. Not writing is what I do!)

‘You write.’

‘I don’t write.’

Zozo gives some a look of incomprehension.

‘Not writing is an activity.’

She doesn’t get it, I don’t try to explain, and I add it to the list. Not writing is my biggest activity of the day.

I run through my list; we are approaching school. TBT has run off with a friend, I narrowly miss walking into a lamppost.

‘Other than walking to school to take you in or pick you up, talking to you and arranging for you to have friends over with the other mummies and daddies and feeding the guinea-pigs and cooking meals and talking to mummy and ‘not’ writing. What do I do?’

Zozo runs out of things that I do

She must be thinking I lead a dull life. I remind her that I shop for food, that I swim and take them swimming and coach swimming; these are duly added to the list. I add that I watch TV and sleep too. With my help the list is made up to ten.

Just in time

A teacher rings the hand bell calling kids into class; the kids grab their things and make a dash for school. My day is over, next thing I know I’ll be walking back down this path to pick them up.

Dinosaurs are unstinct

08/05/2002

The Day that …

The day TBT swims a few yards, unaided. Leaps from the poolside, into water too deep for him to stand in. Zozo, in goggles, checks that he isn’t cheating.

The day Zozo loses her first baby tooth.

The day the bathroom comes out.

The day I decide I am an alcoholic.

Dream

I get a part in a film being made in a castle. The only role is for an extra who is a granny. I get the part. Months later when filming begins I am dressed differently by the wardrobe department. Picked out by the 4th A.D. I am nearly thrown off the set until i am spotted by friends, ‘higher up in the ranks’ who quickly introduced me to everyone. This includes JW, the producer, who I embrace, we make up … blah blah. I find myself welcomed on set, in their mess and so on … passing security because i am with someone important, such as a senior producer. Details I remember are a new front put on a castle that includes a Starbucks sign. Also the growing discomfort that I had privileges without having something to do to justify this level of access.

Draw Me a Star Eric Carle

I read this to Zozo last night. It is short. She was permitted a short story. On several occasions I was told to stop elaborating just to read it, even when there are pictures to share. Zozo and I are joined by TBT, he tucks himself under my arm. This upsets Zozo, not because TBT is irritating her, but because she wanted this time with me alone. Somehow we find peace. It is the letter beginning, ‘Dear Friends’ at the end of the story that interests me the most. He says how recalling a nonsense poem told to him by his grandmother and having a dream led to the story. ‘I had a beginning for a book, and an ending. The middle was easy!’

That’s what all writers need. I explain this to Zozo, that writing a story is liking going on a journey, like the one we do from home to school, we have a beginning and an ending and the bit in the middle is easy. She asks what would happen if we didn’t have an ending and I tell her we would get lost. (As I so often do, I think to myself).

Back on the Detox

Not hell, but not pleasant. I may not be drinking, but I do like chocolate and fudge.

The Day when …

We find action man trussed up in a white sock with a Barbie handbag on his head. Why? Because he has been naughty and killing people.

I learn that a dead dinosaur is called ‘un-stinct’

I suspect TBT has a lactose intolerance, Like me he gets dreadful tummy aches.

I think about giving up my cash card.

I hate what I am writing (I sit back and correct work I wrote weeks ago fearful that everything may at worse go in the bin, at best be shelved for a month or two.

A dream pisses me off. I don’t need to go into heavy analysis to recognise myself as a ‘ligger’.

Children at night

It is dark. I am tired. I let him cuddle in next to me. He wants to get up. I want to stay in bed. We compromise. I tell him a story. Make one up. I’d like to tell a ‘Photobooth’ story but he doesn’t want one. Nor does he want ‘Hapless Harry’, rather he wants a story about a ‘Good Boy’. So I make a start, a story about a good boy, it has to be TBT, who helps Daddy. So I say how he unloads the dishwasher, puts out the things for breakfast and wipes down the table while Daddy goes to the loo. TBT uses lots of soap and lots of water to make it really clean. Daddy is pained at the slop on the table. This upsets TBT who turns into … (here I think up the kind of thing he might become, a chair or packet of cereal. TBT has other ideas, so I let him run with it). Into a ‘Dinosaur’ says TBT so I describe a Triceratops. TBT the Triceratops helps Daddy feed the guinea-pigs, but eats all their food; he helps feed the rabbits, but eats all their food, he follows Daddy into the garden and eats all the plants. TBT the Triceratops must still go to nursery. Daddy puts him into a trailer. When he gets to nursery Mrs Barrow and Mrs Maitland must find two pairs of plimsolls for his feet. TBT the Triceratops stands on the children’s toys so must go to the end of the classroom. He is sad, but when they go out to play all the children want to ride on his back. After nursery Daddy takes TBT the Triceratops swimming When he jumps into the baby pool he makes such a splash all the water spills out and in the big pool when he jumps in a wave washes everybody out. Finally they go for a walk along the river.

Feeding the kids

The choice is no choice at all

Children’s meals are sausages, chicken nuggets or pizza. Vegetarian Zozo wants none of them. TBT, thinking he should have as much choice here as he would at home wants broccoli with sweet-corn. There’s nothing for me either, I don’t eat meat or pasty and no loner enjoy white rice. I end up with a vegetarian pasties and rice, the kids have chips and beans (Zozo) and chips with sweet-corn and peas (TBT) Their helpings are heaped on the plate and would run for three meals.

TBT won’t come away from the play area

I find a table and put our assorted coats and tops on the backs of the chairs. Looking around the restaurant I find a grandfather, apparently on his own, abandoned amongst a heap of flashy coloured ski-jackets; kids’ drinks bottles, a couple with their couple of kids, both pre-school, pram tucked behind them; grandparents (I presume) with a single grandchild. Each gradually sinking in a heap of discarded food, serviettes, tomato ketchup sachets and cardboard coke cups.

Loo Time

I get Zozo to come, then TBT begins to wet his pants. I take him to the loo. I get them both to the table and Zozo needs to go. I think I might be able to leave her at the ladies, but the door is too heavy and she shuts herself in and let out a plaintive cry within earshot. I rescue her. Meanwhile TBT has left the play area, found the table but no me and has gone off in a panic. I take Zozo into the men’s and point her towards the loo. Task complete she is fascinated by the child’s seat within the lid and is difficult to remove.

Food down in under five minutes

We eat, it takes less than five minutes to eat less than a tenth of what is on their plates. Then they want to draw, they know where the colouring sheets are and go off to find these and crayons. I did not enjoy the pastie, I have left the rice and my only comfort is a bottle of Bud hat I’d prefer not to be drinking because of my no alcohol, no caffeine detox, but given the pain of my earache and my state of mind and the need to calm myself for an afternoon of ragging kids and request to buy these sweats or another I drink as both medicine and an antidote.

Eating Styles

I glance around the room. Eating styles are as varied as the people, forks jabbed skywards, elbows stretched across the table shovelling food into their gobs, dainty etiquette taken to its extreme as a gran tries to balance a few peas on the back of her fork. The dress sense swings between country walk and floss rompers suits, bubble gum pink willies and matching jackets. A Young dad in a baseball cap, a short sleeved vest over a sweat shirt, walks in pushing a pushchair as if he is carrying a cartoon of tiles to a delivery van.

A baby yells and burbles as it stretches its lungs

There is he burbling high itched chit-chat of mums and the subdued, bass tones of dads trying to share a word or too between interruptions for drink, for ketchup, for wee-wees for rides, for ice-creams. A little one isn’t getting the attention, or the food that they want, or they are too hot, too cold, or tired. Were I not a parent I would winch at each stab of shout, cum, yell, cum cry. cum kick. But I am, so I don’t. But as this one child ups he volume, the entire restaurant ups its volume to compensate, a second child chirps in with a similar chorus and soon the calm of a library is turned into kids outside the classroom as the bell goes on a damp Friday morning.

Staffed by Sixth Formers

The staff give you the feeling that you are eating at a charity fund raising do for the local sixth form college, they are all casual weekend workers, all in their late teens or early twenties and all wearing chummy Drusilla’s sweat-shirts.

There are further distractions

Zozo and TBT argue over having a 20p ride. It is Zozo’s money, TBT goes first, but he won’t get off. I persuade Zozo to leave him be, persuade her that he will tire of it. Then he has a ‘gurt idea’. (sic) His ‘cunning plan’ is to cadge a ride on the back. Zozo is having nothing of it. I distract him, their are several regal animal decorated chairs for a birthday boy or girl who may come here. We find one that says ‘three’. TBT and I run through a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. He won’t sit back down and finish his lunch though. He has had five or six chips. No corn no peas, no rice.

Time to leave

A little boy drums his feet with irritating gusto on a table. He is two, he is sitting in front of his Dad and his Dad is doing nothing about it. The beat is picked up by another two year old boy in a high chair across the room. The restaurant slowly empties. No one wants to say anything to the parents and the parents are oblivious to the disturbance their anti-social children are causing.

A guy bringing an ice-cream dripping in syrup manages to dribble it over the floor and then over TBT’s shoulder. He is apologetic and offers a napkin. I’m cool.

The drumming continues

Zozo is then attracted into the play area at the entrance by kids her age. TBT wants to leave, but she doesn’t. And so it goes on. I tell TBT to wait outside that’s one of them out, while I get Zozo. I return a few minutes later with Zozo to find that TBT has swung both doors open and bolted them.

Zozo does the Twizzle-Ladder

Slowly. Patient, knees out, frog leg push, wriggle and slide gradually to the top. It is unsatisfying to find the bell doesn’t work. She has a couple of admirers following her technique. She goes inside, shoes off, onto the rocking horse. TBT plays filling the milk float with fuel (though it is an electric-milk float). I follow his progress with a pair of binoculars. It’s fun to be up close, to watch his mischievous curiosity and sense of play as it unfolds to see that he is daring himself, dreaming up some activity, then giving it a go. Trying things out. He clambers up a spiral staircase dragging a matt with him, meant for six year olds, but he has no trouble with it. At the top I see him carefully unfold his matt, twist it around the right way, climb up onto it, tuck in his feet and set off. It strikes me that he could make his own bed. Zozo does ‘Spy kid’ over-arm.

Zozo reappears with her shoes and socks

What does that conjure up? Te increased sensitivity of the bare foot on the pedals? Taking it a step further i imagine the Flintstones style vehicle, bare-feet on the road. The idea is reinforced a quarter of an hour later when the sun goes behind clouds and I retreat to the indoors. TBT is in a pedal car, he even has a passenger. He is contentedly tip-tapping along, feet going like the flap on TV’s Wheel of Fortune. Ample time to doge and steer, too slow to do any damage should he crash the car. I ask how fast he can do. For all his haste he barely picks up any speed.

Another School Run

9-2-2002

The School Run

Soon after 7.00 a.m. I make moves to get Zozo and Darlingest up. I start gently, with the curtains. TBT joins me and climbs up on the desk I have made in front of the radiator beneath the window that offers a panoramic view looking South East towards Seaford Head and the English Channel. A cinematic sunrise is forming. Jut as well, TBT is ranting about watching TV and Zozo is loathe to get up. Soon I have them both looking out at the sunrise. The foreground is made up of dense heavy purple bishop robe clouds, above the sky thins to blue and above our heads there is still a hint of night. We spot a dragon forming over the rooftops. Patches of purple in many shades splats teh sky. The blue brightens through turquoise. Our eyes are protected, shielded by the lower clouds. They push and shove. I am about to lose it. I suggest that all the fish in the sea have stuck their heads out to take a look. I tell them as much. They buy it, adding that they can see dolphins.

Darlingest is numb with tiredness. I need to get Zozo and TBT dressed. I use an electronic egg timer to good effect. I want to see if they can undress in under ten seconds. They can. Zozo is yet to get under six seconds and TBT just gets in under ten. Getting dressed takes longer. I give Zozo two minutes. She does it in one minute and six seconds – a record. TBT refuses to be timed, just as well, it takes four or five minutes. He has to be distracted by more antics out of the window just to get his socks on. A failing I’ll have to deal with later is that he only get one T shirt on instead of the two, a short sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved shirt that to my eyes gives him the impression of an American Surgeon. Our way of making sure he is warm, until we came up with this devise he would run about in a single T shirt. He refuses to wear other tops much of the time much of the time he storms about at such a rate he might not need any other layers, but to stave off colds and coughs we’d prefer him to be warm.

We were doing final through breakfast, TBT lining up ‘Monster Inc’ square nibbled from Nestle across the table, Zozo content with a Weetabix, but they get into a Lego building frenzy and are loathe to give it up. Meanwhile I go upstairs for I know not what, tidy up some books and am distracted by a year old copy of Empire magazine.

Out. Zozo asks what ‘Noon’ says then what it means. I tell her that there is also a ‘midnight. She wants to know if there is something shorter. I have to say I don’t know, making a mental note to check it in a thesaurus tonight. There is talk all the way to Lewes, for twenty minutes.

It’s a humid heat, a heat that makes you sweat in your clothes, that makes you flush and thirsty. There’s a tang of chlorine and recently cleaned tiles, the gently wash and splish splosh of water lapping against the pool side and hands hitting the water.

The learner pool is empty. I try to tempt TBT in for a dip but he gets it in his head that he wanted to do softplay first, the reason for this was that I had said the food came with softplay and in fact he is hungry. He isn’t just hungry, he wants something, anything from one of the vending machines, orange Lucozade, Ribena or crisps.

It is with great difficulty that I get back to the car to pick up lunch.

From here, as we are going to be near the vending machine for some time pressure, I decide to take a seat. He finds a way onto the balcony so I follow.

The heat makes me feel sick.

You need to be wet and in swimming to appreciate it’s warm, cosy comfort. I find it unpleasant. May face feels scorched. Droplets of sweat prickle along my hairline.

The getting dressed game

9-2-2002

Half an hour on Diaryland, half an hour taking my February entries off the Psion. Barely look at JTW which I am keen to correct and print off.

The Getting Dressed Game

It terms of getting them out to school already that we are getting behind. Use timer on Zozo. Dressed in 63 seconds – a record. Prep for Pevensey.

Wednesday 6th January 2002

5.50 a.m. Up and into the study

I resist the attractions of Diaryland and manage to spend an hour checking through the first two chapters of JTW. They’re becoming muddled. I don’t know which version is which as I have made corrections both on the Psion and on the PC. In truth I should be making no corrections at all. I need to plough on to the end, if anything, take more care as I write so that there is lest to do the second time round. I still manage a sneaky peak at Diaryland. There’s a ‘Notify’ from Chanter with an invitation to read some of his erotica. I glance through it. OK. I’ve lost my list of diary rings, no time to fix it now though.

Does anyone like to cook in Diaryland?

While I’m in the kitchen I dwell on a couple of things that never seem to make it into the diary, yet they are such an important part of my life – cooking and eating. We eat so well, freshly made cream of mushroom soup last night, I had oysters at lunch, I have mussels planned, also Italian backed fish. I regularly cook up Terrence Stamps ‘Vegetable Ragout’.

Get Zoe to school

A gloriously sunny day for their trip to Pevensey. Drop Toby at nursery. The morning is mine.

9.13 a.m. There’s too much to write about

Though I had hoped to spend a couple of hours writing the next instalment of JTW I cannot help but want to write about the trials and tribulations of family life. Getting Toby and Zoe up, dressed, fed and into the car this morning, putting the rubbish out, feeding the rabbits and guinea-pigs, playing ‘The Soldier Game’ on the way in, being able to leave Zoe in the classroom, getting Toby settled into nursery and me round to a coffee shop (Lewes library closed) only to get a call from Wanda saying I have forgotten the bottle of water Zoe needs for her trip. Will she flip? Surely the teachers will be able to give her a drink of water somehow.

Panic at the front door

I had a panic myself, when I was at the front door ready to go the kids had found some half-complete Lego mosaics and decide they need to finish these, need to do ‘just tow more bricks’. I tell Wanda that I can’t do it, that I don’t know how to get them to respond other than by shouting which means they cry which means we are delayed even more. What works, and I need to remember this, is distraction and attraction. I need to collect my thoughts, use my wits and device some trick, some challenge, some game to get them away from their current distraction. I need a magic cattle prod, a wand that throws a net of alternatives their way so that I can put a virtual lasso around their bodies and tug them in the direction in which I wish them to travel.

Should I pay them? Probably not

This morning when she should have been having breakfast I found Zoe counting her money at the front door. She has £4.74 I promise her another 26p if she gets the breakfast things out. It works. I find Toby and Zoe sitting at the table, Zoe wolfing down her Weetabix, five minutes later. When she begins to waver at school, getting into a panic attack, I promise her 20p. This does the trick. All I have to do is remember her purse when I come to collect her.

Park up in Needlemakers

Had thought of parking on top of a hill. Too cold. Cafe closed so head across high Street. Americano. Try to write rather than do the journal (though the two often overlap).

Photobooth Galleon written

Move on after an hour for a change of scene. l like coming to the end of a period (lesson) at school.

Noon Collect Toby

Sorrowful sight of two kids whose parents haven’t made it. Seahaven Pool all to ourselves

Back home

Toby wants to use my ‘denocularses’ (sic).

Play ‘Age of Empires’. Toby is becoming as obsessive about the game as I am.

Feeding Time

Kids have eggy bread – Zoe’s with beans, Toby’s with corn. Zoe gives me what I call a ‘double cuddle’. She wraps he arms around my neck then wraps her legs around me to and gives me a squeeze. She writes it up on the blackboard, ‘Daddy Daughter Double Cuddle’.

Own recipe

Mussels with courgette ragout

Spinach in white

Watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Stripped bare the plot doesn’t stand the Hollywood treatment.

At the front door

TBT won’t get his shoes on just as he wouldn’t get his clothes on earlier. Back and forth from the car for this and that, he trips and slams his forehead against the banister post. Bruised he stays.

Make up a story about Zozo making friends with the Pompom head at the bottom of the garden, then making friends with a magic tyre.

On time to school, but Pevensey is tomorrow. Zozo is distraught, I bring her home (Via Tescos).

I feel like drinking, feel lie doing to sort out my mood, sensitivity, negativity. What’s the expression? A bare with a sore head? With the children in front of CITV I retire to bed and sleep for an hour.

TBT winds me up over wanting Smarties. I give up and get Darlingest to take over.

The rest of the day?

I struggle against craving for alcohol or coffee but resist both. With both at home I’m happy for them to sit in front of kids TV. I sleep for an hour. When I get up I’m unable to handle the children fighting and beg Darlingest to take over while I clear my head. I walk up and down the shoreline admiring the angry waves, there is a sharp wind, the sun is crisp. I let myself beach comb for items that might be used in an Art Attack. A couple of stones attract my eye. I pick those up too. This is what Alfie in the Time Telescope would do …. wander the beach looking for things.

The afternoon is spent in their bedroom

TBT does ‘The Solider Game’ while Zozo dresses up. I say no to face paints so she does them on her own. The effect is stunning, the Princess from Star Wars Episode 1 is the look. Plain white with purple highlights, a stripe on each cheek and a dab in the centre of the forehead.

I crane my neck out of the window to watch the waves. There are no takers for a trip out.

Zozo takes herself off to bed. She is tired

She is under the weather. TBT is less easy. He just won’t settle, he’s not even tired. I escape for an hour around 7.00 p.m. only to be presented with him at 8.00 p.m. as Darlingest wants to finish her report.

TBT and I watch ‘Battle Stations’ on Channel 4

It is about Sherman Tanks, I read him a few books. I retire to bed and read ‘Charlie and Tyler’. I nod off and he shoves me back into consciousness.

I make up some Photobooth stories

As has become the case the intro bores them, they want to get to the story. I offer TBT choices from ‘Age of Empires’. He can have a ‘Castle, a ‘Galleon’ or an ‘Elephant’. We go for the galleon. TBT helps fend off and attack and is given his own boat to captain. He has to have the elephant ride too. I fade out as I make it up. He gives me a shove with both feet. I stir from a deep sleep and shout my complaint. He is inconsolable. I fall back to sleep as he goes off to find Darlingest. It is 9.45 p.m.

I am caffeine depleted and exhausted

I stir three hours later as Darlingest comes to bed.

Darlingest works into the night

kids are exhausting

5/02/2002

Half an hour on Diaryland, half an hour taking my February entries off the Psion. Barely look at JTW which I am keen to correct and print off.

The Getting Dressed Game

It terms of getting them out to school already that we are getting behind. Use timer on Zozo. Dressed in 63 seconds – a record. Prep for Pevensey.

At the front door

TBT won’t get his shoes on just as he wouldn’t get his clothes on earlier. Back and forth from the car for this and that, he trips and slams his forehead against the banister post. Bruised he stays.

Make up a story about Zozo making friends with the Pompom head at the bottom of the garden, then making friends with a magic tyre.

On time to school, but Pevensey is tomorrow. Zozo is distraught, I bring her home (Via Tescos).

I feel like drinking, feel lie doing to sort out my mood, sensitivity, negativity. What’s the expression? A bare with a sore head? With the children in front of CITV I retire to bed and sleep for an hour.

TBT winds me up over wanting Smarties. I give up and get Darlingest to take over.

The rest of the day?

I struggle against craving for alcohol or coffee but resist both. With both at home I’m happy for them to sit in front of kids TV. I sleep for an hour. When I get up I’m unable to handle the children fighting and beg Darlingest to take over while I clear my head. I walk up and down the shoreline admiring the angry waves, there is a sharp wind, the sun is crisp. I let myself beach comb for items that might be used in an Art Attack. A couple of stones attract my eye. I pick those up too. This is what Alfie in the Time Telescope would do …. wander the beach looking for things.

The afternoon is spent in their bedroom

TBT does ‘The Solider Game’ while Zozo dresses up. I say no to face paints so she does them on her own. The effect is stunning, the Princess from Star Wars Episode 1 is the look. Plain white with purple highlights, a stripe on each cheek and a dab in the centre of the forehead.

I crane my neck out of the window to watch the waves. There are no takers for a trip out.

Zozo takes herself off to bed. She is tired

She is under the weather. TBT is less easy. He just won’t settle, he’s not even tired. I escape for an hour around 7.00 p.m. only to be presented with him at 8.00 p.m. as Darlingest wants to finish her report.

TBT and I watch ‘Battle Stations’ on Channel 4

It is about Sherman Tanks, I read him a few books. I retire to bed and read ‘Charlie and Tyler’. I nod off and he shoves me back into consciousness.

I make up some Photobooth stories

As has become the case the intro bores them, they want to get to the story. I offer TBT choices from ‘Age of Empires’. He can have a ‘Castle, a ‘Galleon’ or an ‘Elephant’. We go for the galleon. TBT helps fend off and attack and is given his own boat to captain. He has to have the elephant ride too. I fade out as I make it up. He gives me a shove with both feet. I stir from a deep sleep and shout my complaint. He is inconsolable. I fall back to sleep as he goes off to find Darlingest. It is 9.45 p.m.

I am caffeine depleted and exhausted

I stir three hours later as Darlingest comes to bed.

Darlingest works into the night

The school run

We race through. There is new decor, I’m sure of it. The kids are less certain. There is an expert mural and plaster work to take us in at the beginning. There are far fewer residents in the mouse house. Zozo picks up on some mother’s chat to her daughter and wants to join in, taking and asking questions. I move us along, TBT has already run right the way through, passed the lemurs and primates, passed the farmyard and (marmots) to the Volcano slide. A tree has been taken out. This disguised slide was once hidden beneath the skirt like drapes of a huge tree. Gone.

I now have Zozo somewhere in the farmyard stroking donkeys, goats and Shetland ponies, while TBT helps himself to a matt and goes up and down the slide-like chute. Once I’ve got them together I challenge them to Zoo-Olympics.

Zoo Olympics

They take it in turns seeing for how long they can dangle from a suspended bar. I time them:

Zozo 20 Seconds

TBT 45 Seconds

Zozo 23 Seconds

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