Interview with dh – deleted scenes

This is the very final part of my Interview with Dh series. When I transcribed the original interviews I noticed that I’d forgotten to ask him a few questions and that other things came up as a result of the first interview. I sat him down with a gin and tonic and recorded the conversation… (p.s. the stuff about boys is his opinion, not mine so you can shoot him if you want to…)

This is the deleted scenes – the extras – the out-takes, if you will. I’m hoping to put the interviews on the blog as an audio file at some point but for now a written transcript will have to do:

Me: Do you ever wish we’d had a boy?

Dh: No. Initially I would’ve liked boys but now I’m really pleased we’ve got girls. Boys are more naughty aren’t they? At this stage at least. More mischievous, especially twin boys. The girls are quite naughty… We’d thought of boys names and didn’t have boys names when we found out. We didn’t get a Tom and a Lewis.

I didn’t get my Freya either.

I really didn’t like Freya.

How do you feel about your wife writing a blog?

I quite like it. I always read it. It often makes me laugh. I know it helps you to talk about things as well. You don’t talk about me very much. It’s always based around the children.

It’s one of my rules. I don’t discuss you with my friends in ‘real life’ so I’m not going to do that on the Internet either. I really like our relationship and I think it should be kept as private as we can keep it. I hope everyone knows how much we love each other but it’s between us. I’ll happily discuss how weird I am but I won’t talk about you and I.

It’s your blog so you talk about what you want. I’m happy with what you write.  I know other people like reading it as well, so it obviously strikes a chord with them.

It’s always going to have quite a niche appeal I think.

I don’t know how many random people that don’t know us read it. Don’t you check your pageviews? It’s quite a lot isn’t it?

The other thing I wanted to talk about was our YouTube sensation. How many views are we up to now?

I checked today actually and it was 320,000 views. It’s just the girls in their playpen [about 8 months old] laughing and making noises at each other. It’s like they’re talking to each other but they aren’t. It’s made £18 in adverts this month so far [on the 16th of the month]. It’s made us £12-15 per month in ad revenue over the last few months.

We posted it up in August 2008 and no-one looked at it really. In the last 3-4 months it’s shot up from 20 views to over 300,000 views. It’s linked to a video that’s had millions of views, of the twin boys wearing nappies in the kitchen.

You can click on the stats for our video and most people discover our video through that one. It’s all through over twin videos. It’s amazing how quickly it’s gone up. I tried adding another video but no-one’s looked at it!

You say that the girls’ generation is the most videoed and photographed generation ever. Their legacy [of content] is going to be enormous.

My Mum sent me some photos to print out for My Dad’s 65th birthday and he’s got 10-20 photos of himself as a kid in total. We take 100 photos of the girls a month, often more. I love all the little videos of them doing stuff as well, especially now they’re chatting and you can hear their voices. It’s amazing…not just how much you record but the fact that it’s online so our parents can look at it and it’s updated pretty often, at least once a month.

How do you think the children will feel when they’re old enough to realise that I wrote about them?

It’s hard to know how they’ll react.

I have thought that maybe I should stop writing it when the hit their fifth birthday but I don’t know…

You were saying that you quite like reading blogs and form posts about teenagers but I guess that’s in secret and they probably don’t know. You don’t have to stop. There’s no need to.

I go through phases of wanting to stop. Especially if I’ve written something and someone has got really hacked off with me.

If you don’t like it, don’t read it! Equally there are people out there that love it.

I have my cheerleaders – two of them! Do you feel that you can offer advice to people now?

I don’t like to. If people ask I will but equally I don’t want to say too much. I’ll give my opinion but every baby is different so I can’t say ‘Oh you should do this…’ Instead I say ‘We did this and it worked..’. There are people that don’t necessarily agree with what we did…

…but they’re wrong!!

How did you feel when I was really involved with that parenting website?

I quite liked the website. It was really useful but there are some strange people on the forums.

I even met some of them!

Yes. Some were fine and some…weren’t…

Some I thought were fine and turned out not to be, which was quite painful. I don’t need it now.

It must be interesting to talk to other twin mums and see what they’re doing.

There are two sides. It connected me to other twin mums when I felt incredibly isolated. The flip side is that I beat myself up about silly things that didn’t matter, especially when I first went back to work, we were all weaning and they were producing beautiful home-cooked meals and purees and I tried to keep up. I judged myself against standards that were almost impossible to live up to. It also pushed me to be a better parent, or to try harder at least. Someone would post that they were deep-cleaning their cupboards and I would think ‘Oh my God! I must go and do that now! I’m a complete slob! It’s terrible and I’m disgusting’! There is more to life than deep-cleaning cupboards

I did find those websites useful to look up stuff, especially the paranoid stuff. The forums could be interesting but they were more haphazard. You had to filter through a lot of crap. I didn’t write anything or contact anyone.

You did once. You got set upon by several million hormonal women!

You get to the stage where you call someone a Nazi and it ends there! Are you still friends with any of them?

Yes. There are 3 or 4 I would regard as friends and the rest as good acquaintances and I’m not going to say who!

That’s fine though. If you meet 10 or 20 random people you will filter it down to the people you really like. It’s useful to know a few people in the same position as you.

I do find myself comparing though, and worrying if their children are doing something that mine aren’t. That’s probably just my competitive nature

Competitive parenting is such a big thing ‘Ooh they can write their name…they can write a sonnet…’

You’re very laid back about it all and I fret, especially in relation to the education stuff.

They’re 3!! There’s nothing they have to be doing at the moment. They should just be playing.

What do you think they’ll do when they grow up?

Ruth’s very serious. I think they’ll both go to university. I can see Grace doing drama classes, although I think she’s fairly typical of kids her age. I think Ruth’s more unusual in that she’s so aware of what people might think of her. She gets so embarrassed about things and worries about other people. I don’t know what Ruth’s going to do.

She’ll either channel all of this and be brilliant, or she’ll be incredibly frustrating and muck about at the back of the class.

She’s quite boisterous and likes being with older kids. She puts a lot less effort into doing things, but is good if she actually tries. She’s a bit of a Ronnie O’Sullivan character. Naturally clever, but can’t be arsed! I read an article where it said that you should praise the effort rather than the achievement and we try to do that, but it’s easy to praise something and say ‘Oh that’s good’. Especially when they’re small. They don’t really understand effort. I keep trying to explain to her that you have to practice to be good at things.

We’re going to look back on the last four years, and probably the next 14/15 years, when we get old and grey I think we’re going to be incredibly proud of what we did.

I hope so.

Do you think that having children is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

I think it’s actually quite easy but because it’s every day for years and years it’s difficult. If you look at an average day it’s easy. You feed them, etc. It’s the pressure of doing it all the time…it’s strange to do such a simple thing but we have to do it permanently. It’s the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to make up your own rules and systems.

It’s like having a piece of flat-pack furniture and not having any instructions or any idea what it’s for.

There’s no way of changing that. People can tell you what it’s like but it doesn’t actually help. That’s why I don’t like to give advice. It’s going to be hard and you have to work it out for yourself.

The thing that struck me about the transcript of the interview we did was that you sounded quite down. There was a lot of stuff about your lack of quiet time, it was hard work, they had a lot of tantrums, you were shouting at them and a lot of it was really downbeat and I felt quite sad.

I’m not sad overall. It’s hard work. I’m happy with the way it’s worked out now. Maybe not initially. It should get easier as they get older. I think it’s the same for everyone.

We chose it. It’s not like we were forced to have them.

I wouldn’t change it, no matter how hard it is. I didn’t mean to sound so down about them. I don’t think many people enjoy having babies to look after. They’re much more fun now. I love taking them out now that they can understand things, like going to the zoo – asking and answering questions.

They love you in a very unconditional way and equally you love them unconditionally. If they were a partner you would have kicked them out years ago! That’s the paradox of parenting.

I watched an episode of Top Gear where they do a silly challenge with rubbish cars [that’s pretty much every episode then] and end up falling in love with them. Jeremy Clarkson said that it’s a bit like a toddler – most of the time they’re quite annoying but if someone tried to take it away you’d kill them. You can be really annoyed with them but if they ran into the road or hurt themselves you’d worry about them. I love them really.

Things that go bump in the night

Many months after their peers moved from cots to beds, we finally took the sides off the girls’ cotbeds yesterday. We’ve been debating it for months and always had it in our minds that we’d make the transition when the girls started climbing out of their cots, but they never did. I knew the game was up when we went to visit the girls’ old nursery (oh how we miss it) a few weeks ago and I mentioned that we only had two things left to do to help the girls become pre-schoolers rather than toddlers: 1. Get them night trained, 2. Move to beds. To their credit, they disguised their horror/surprise well (about the cots at least) and kindly gave us some advice.

The girls went to bed as normal at 7pm and were rather excited about their ‘Big girl beds’. Instinctively, dh and I went to lift them up to put them in their cots and felt silly when the girls clambered into bed by themselves. They went to sleep pretty quickly and all was well. We had debated buying bed guards but dh po-poohed the idea and was convinced that the girls wouldn’t fall out. I was fairly certain we’d need them. G can fall over walking in a straight line (she gets it from her mother) and has always been a wriggly sleeper so, to my mind, there was no way that she would stay in bed all night.

At 10.30pm we head a ‘bump’ on the monitor (yup, haven’t got rid of that yet either) followed by a wail and G shouting ‘CUDDLE MUMMY’. I went upstairs to find a rather confused G sitting on the floor surrounded by her duvet. If she had been a cartoon she would have had stars and birds whizzing around her head. I gave her a big reassuring cuddle and popped her back into bed. R was snoring throughout.

In total, G fell out of bed a further three times in the night. I sent dh in each time to sort her out. On the last occasion she had fallen out, clambered back into bed herself but had forgotten to take the duvet with her, so he had to help her with that. That’ll learn him, I thought, smugly. R didn’t fall out at all. Typical really.

So, this morning we went out and bought two bed guards – the flexible ‘roll-up and pull out’ variety. Dh paid. They have been installed and the girls are sleeping peacefully. For now at least.

The end of the toddler years…

….is nigh. Three months today R and G will be celebrating their third birthday (Actually, I very much they’ll be in bed at 9pm after celebrating their birthday). Tomorrow they are (finally, but that’s another story…) moving up from the toddler room at nursery to the Little Star Room, for the children that aren’t quite pre-schoolers  (the girls become Big Stars and official pre-schoolers next September and start school in September 2012) but are beyond the nappies and toy-bashing stage. I’ve been airily telling people that the girls are now junior pre-schoolers but that’s a bit of a lie to be honest and I should shut up and stop wishing their lives away.

The girls know that they will be moving next door tomorrow but they don’t seem that fussed about it. In all honesty, not that much will change from their point of view. R’s key worker is moving up with her so there’s continuity for her. G’s old key worker was the deputy room leader of the toddler room so won’t be moving up but G will now be looked after by the Little Stars room leader who is also the potty and toilet training guru.

They will now do more formal learning – the emphasis in the toddler room was on free play with some learning whereas they will now be put into reading (to) groups and while they won’t exactly be having lessons I’m hoping that the girls will soon realise that they can count beyond 12 and that ‘Eleventy’ isn’t a real number. I’m also hoping that the girls will learn to say ‘Three’ rather than ‘Tree’ – blame their Irish ex-room leader for that one! We say Three Three THREE until we’re blue in the face and the girls don’t take a blind bit of notice.

I’d better say at this point that we do all this learning stuff at home as well but I find that the girls pay much more attention to the nursery staff than us. Plus ca change…

The girls will be moving up with most of their little gang of friends, which I’m really pleased about. This also means that they might leave poor little T alone, one of the new members of the toddler room, probably about 18 months old, that they have recently taken a shine to. They give this poor little thing massive gooey hugs while she stands there looking bemused and (dare I say it?) a little bit terrified.For her sake alone it is very good that they are moving next door.

The girls may not be that bothered (we’ll see how they are tomorrow morning) but Dh and I feel that it is a more momentous change and the start of things to come. The teeny 18 month old toddlers that started at BDN back in June 2009 are now robust, talking, bright (hopefully…) almost pre-schoolers, ready to terrorise their new and existing carers. The Little Stars room is going to be an interesting place for the next year…