For son number one

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dear Oliver,

In a number of years, when you are looking into your repressed memories with your therapist, and you discover some of your mother beating you, know that it probably happened on either a Monday or a Thursday between December 2007 and October 2008. The days that you were at home with her and your newborn brother.

Yesterday I discovered that when you misbehave and I’m taking care of you both on my own, I have a significantly shorter fuse than normal. On a normal day, I have way more patience than your father when it comes to discipline. But not yesterday. Probably because for the whole day I felt like I was on tinder hooks (complete aside: what the hell does tinder hooks mean anyway? And I always thought it was tender), like at any moment everything will descend into chaos and tears. So when you try to pour a glass of water over my alarm clock, and I end up throwing you across the room onto the mattress, it was not only because I was trying to help you avoid electrocution, but also because I felt RAGE.

You are a toddler and you are testing boundaries. Well, actually, you like to cross the boundary. Yesterday, you dropped your apple core in my morning coffee. You squashed your brother’s head when I wasn’t paying enough attention. And did a few other things I can’t really remember right now. The point is, none of it was really actually that bad (well, it would have been bad if you had electrocuted all of us), so I apologise now for my own bad behaviour. Perhaps with time, I will be able to manage these days a little better. I’ll do my best not to beat you for you real.

In January, we’ll use the mornings on these days to meet some other kids, which will make you really happy. Which will make me happy and less stressed. For now, however, we’ll be using the time to get some shopping done – at least it’s getting you out of the house, which seems to be the trick. We were all at our best during a trip to Walmart yesterday – I picked up random stuff we needed like cat food, egg nog, and a twin fitted sheet for your bed, you looked at people and toys and fruit and vegetables, and Callum slept contently in the car seat in the shopping cart.

The other trick right now? PVR’d episodes of the Teletubbies (Tellies! Again! Channel!) and Balamory (Banamee! Again! Channel!) with certain segments repeated again and again and again and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN. I now have it automatic to tape BBC Kids at the same time every weekday to ensure we have enough episodes to hand. Okay, it’s driving us a little crazy to watch it all the time, and the same parts all the time, but it makes you happy, and as we all know, if you are happy, everyone else is okay too. Because you have us all jumping through hoops – well done, Oliver! You win.

If only you were old enough to understand Christmas and then I could threaten you with Santa not visiting or with me returning all your gifts. Your father and I are trying to do a minimalist Christmas this year as (a) we have a reduced household income with me on maternity leave; (b) we are paying a ridiculous amount of money to spend the holidays in England; and (c) we’re not planning on taking much to England as we have to leave room for every day toddler and baby necessities. However, of course, I have still bought you loads of things – a Little People Farm and Airport (I might return the airport, though – sorry), a Mr Potato Head, the Leapfrog Fridge Phonics set, an art easel, some Crayola stuff, and some new clothes. I guess it’s for your 2nd birthday too, so it’s not really that much. But if only you could understand empty threats a little better…

Anyway, good luck with the therapy – I am sure there are going to be loads of other mothering issues to deal with!!!!

Love, Mummy

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