Year Three – in which R and G became CHILDREN.

“I know from reading the stories of others that year three isn’t going to be magically easier. We’re going to have the terrible twos to deal with. There’s the frankly scary prospect of potty training. This time next year the girls will have abandoned their high chairs (that will probably happen quite soon) and in all probability, their buggies. We’ll have to think about turning their cotbeds from cots to beds. Their daytime nap will become a thing of the past (and will be greatly missed)”

Two days before the girls’ third birthday and I’m in a reflective mood. I wrote the above passage a year ago on the eve of their second birthday. If I were a box ticking kinda gal, I’d be feeling pretty pleased. Potty training? Completed by October (2yrs10m). Highchairs? Junked in January (2yrs1m). Buggies? Phased out over the Summer (2yrs7m-ish). Our Nipper Double and single Maclaren Volos sit forlornly in the cupboard under the stairs, gathering dust. I don’t quite feel ready to part with them yet. Moved into beds? Done in (ahem) December (2yrs11m), although, with bed guards we should have done it a year ago. Daytime nap? Sadly dropped in May (2ys5m) and much missed by both of us, although they sleep (touch wood) very well at night, generally.

I realised something a couple of weeks ago. Choosing to have a second (third, fourth, fifth, etc.) child isn’t just about providing a sibling or creating a larger family. It’s also an opportunity to make up for the mistakes you made first time round. When you have a baby it’s a bit like playing a new computer game. Level 1: pregnant. Ooh! Jump over the vomit! Don’t slip over on the ice with that bump! Level 2: newborn baby. You have to look after an infant while fighting off uzi-toting zombies hurling poo and food at you. The first time you play you’re crap – still trying to figure out the controls, wondering if that thing wonder towards you is going to give you a hug or kill you. Second time round, you actually know stuff. You know that three button clicks after killing the zombie with the machete you’ll find a pot of gold. There are things that we would do differently if we had more children but as we’ve decided that R and G are our one shot at this parenting thing, we’re not going to have the opportunity to put this theory into practice.

As for the ‘terrible twos’, closer inspection of the girls’ instruction manual (we have a poorly photocopied Welsh language version) reveals that they actually start when the child is two and  a half and usually last for a year, so that means we’re half-way through them. OHMYJESUSCHRISTGODONASTICK WHEN WILL THESE INFERNAL ‘PHASES’ EVER END? We had a tough time with R a couple of months ago (she still has her moments/breakdowns though) and are currently having a difficult time with G because she lives in Grace-world, which sounds like a lovely place but frequently clashes rather horribly with the real world, where she actually has to DO STUFF.

“I’m looking forward to having proper conversations with the girls. To explaining concepts and ideas to them. I’m even (god help me) looking forward to the interminable ‘WHYYYYYYYYY??’ questions”.

Ok, so this is quite fun and the conversations we have are hilarious but whenever R asks us to explain something, we’re treated to THE LOOK (a.k.a. The Ruthie Stare), which says “You are talking utter codswallop. That’s clearly not the answer. Why am I stuck with these imbeciles?” Last week I was asked where snow came from. I rooted through my brain and dredged up a bit of knowledge, which I imparted to R. She put her head on one side, gave me THE LOOK and replied “That’s WRONG Mummy”. I felt 6cms high. I asked her what the proper answer was. She didn’t know. I felt better.

So, year four. We’ve completed most of the milestone stuff now and the only outstanding thing is night training. I wasn’t ever very fussed about doing this before their 3rd birthday. The received wisdom is that most children aren’t ready until their fourth year to be fully night trained – you can try before that, but you’ll spend A LOT of time changing wet beds and I don’t know about you but I’m rather fond of sleep now I can have some – so I’m happy to follow the girls’ lead. G wakes up with a dry nappy roughly half of the week and R always wakes up with a wet nappy so there’s no rush.

I think the thing I’m really looking forward to is teaching them more stuff. I actually had a conversation with dh last night about teaching the girls to read. That’s pretty exciting. I want to take them on even more day trips. We might even think about going on a proper holiday.

Year One was physically and mentally exhausting. Year two was full of change. Year Three has been intellectually demanding on top of everything else, but it’s been my favourite so far. Let’s see what year Four brings.

The P-word

Any regular readers wil know that I have been a bit obsessed with potty training R and G this year. A bit? Just a bit? On HoT 1.0 I mentioned PT in no less than 17 different posts and alluded to it in several others

(If you want the chronology, you can see here, here, here, here, here and here – but why would you want to?)

Anyway, R and G are done. DONE. Do you hear me? I used to write HOME RUN on the calendar on the extremely infrequent days that they would both decide not to have any accidents but they’ve had such a good run recently that I’ve got out of the habit of doing it.

Things have moved on so much now that they are now using the toilet…when the mood strikes them. They are better at using an actual toilet when we’re out and about (although we are still their potty sherpas) but are both phobic about powerful hand dryers “NOT THE HAND DRYER MUMMY!” and I have to promise to wipe my hands with a tissue after washing them. Of course, they use the toilets at nursery as a matter of course.

They are still in nappies at night, although G has had a run of a few nights where she’s woken up after a good night’s sleep with a dry nappy (R’s is usually full) but I’m not going to push the night training until their third birthday. It’s very odd to get through a paltry 14 nappies a week as opposed to 14 a day. A pack of Pampers now lasts ages. I used to have dry patches on my knees (insert inappropriate jokes here) where I was constantly kneeling on the floor to change nappies but I noticed last week that they have disappeared.

We’ve always bought cheap knickers from Primark or Asda but on Saturday I treated R and G to some (relatively expensive) Peppa Pig knickers from Next and R is absolutely determined that she won’t get them dirty because she (I quote) ‘Loves them’. What a change from the rebellious little R that used to do dirty protests when she was in a mood.

I’m not daft. I know that they could rebel, that they could start having accidents again, that R could have another wobbler, but I’m very, very pleased that despite a lot of huffing, puffing, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, we have managed to potty train the girls before their third birthday.

What was I whingeing about? It was a flipping doddle! 😉

Maybe I’m amazed

Sometimes your children really take you by surprise…in really fantastic ways.

Today I had what can best be described as a rubbish day at work. Nothing major: just other people not doing their jobs properly and battling with a ‘secure’ IT system that is so ‘secure’ that it doesn’t work properly half the time. It’s fair to say that on my journey home I was in a bit of a grump. I have a deal with myself that if I’ve had a bad day at work I will try and get over it by the time I pick the girls up from nursery. Today I managed to do that by listening to MmmBop by Hanson – oi, you – stop sniggering at the back! I’m sorry, but you cannot listen to that song and feel remotely down.

I walked into nursery, the girls squealed with delight and dashed over to give me hugs and kisses (nice to feel wanted) and I noticed that G was in exactly the same outfit that she was dropped off in this morning. It was a bit grubby, covered in yellow paint, but definitely the same top and leggings. No biggie for a 2 year old really but I was truly taken aback. She didn’t have an accident all day. That’s amazing. A week ago – a WEEK! – she was still in nappies full-time and now she’s basically potty trained herself. That’s flipping awesome!

I take absolutely zero credit for this, much as I’d like to! She really has done it all by herself, motivated by the promise of a Peppa Pig sticker every time she uses the potty successfully. The room leader said they were so proud of G because she’s gone from nowhere to their potty training star in the last few days. She said that it just goes to show that you really do have to be guided by what the child wants. G knew exactly what she had to do – she’d seem R do it enough times – but had to do it when she felt ready and comfortable and now, apparently, she is.

I’m not daft. I know we’ll have good and bad days for a good while yet but maybe, just maybe they might both be potty trained by their third birthday.

Just don’t mention toilet training, ok? They are still terrified by ‘Mummy and Daddy’s toilet’, despite their little seat and stool. Can’t have it all though!