40 Blog Post - Birthday Cake - 40

What Does Being 40 Mean?

40 Blog Post - Julie at 40

Milestone Birthday

Last November I had a milestone birthday – I turned 40. This is so momentous it needs emphasizing with some emojis.

After almost a year of being 40, it is not at all like I thought it would be. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I thought 40 was old. Old with capital letters. OLD. I also thought 40 meant many other things as well. This is a navel-gazing blog post on what I thought being 40 would mean versus the reality for me.

 

Destination: 40

I had thought that at the age of 40 I would have ‘arrived’. You know, have it all sorted. Be ‘there’. Whatever ‘there’ means. Confident. Assured. Successful.

Nup.

And I am OK with that. If I had reached a destination it would feel at best a little dull and at worst, like a death sentence. Instead I am flailing through a messy life full of chaos and surprise. Things I could never have imagined: Donald Trump as President of the US, professional Pokémon hunters, the popularity of hash tags and selfies. Life is anything but boring.

 

Multi – What?

I also thought I would be on a career path, have a great job and working my way up the corporate ladder.

Nup.

I have switched jobs and careers more than I care to admit. I haven’t found exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life and doubt I ever will. I discovered a name for this the other day: I am a ‘multipotentialite’ according to a wonderful TED talk from Emilie Wapnick. I don’t know if I have made all the right choices but at the moment I am having a blast writing books.

 

Tiny Humans

I imagined that my kids would be older, maybe even teenagers. After all, I was 16 when my mother turned 40.

Nup.

Although my kids can be loud, frustrating and downright exhausting at times, I try not to wish away these years. Dylan has just started school. Eloise is in her own bed now. They are still so young but seem to be growing up in a blink of an eye. These times go by so, so fast.

 

Information Underload

I thought I would know a lot or at least feel like I have a basic knowledge about key things.

Nup.

As time progresses I feel like I know less and less. Perhaps being 40 is accepting that you will learn the things that are really important and turn to others or the Internet if you really need the answers for the rest.

Here is a random list of just some of the things I know almost nothing about:

  • what electricity is
  • recognizing dog breeds by sight
  • how TV works
  • what RSS feeds are
  • Bitcoin
  • where all those hash tags that are the same end up – I am fairly sure they can connect somehow

 

Young at Heart

Being 40 does not mean being OLD in all caps. In fact, I feel quite young. Immature even. It may seem clichéd, but I feel like life is only just beginning. The first 40 years have laid a foundation and now I am finally getting to the good stuff.

In saying that, I do find myself doing ‘old people things’. I wrote a letter to the paper the other day. I have only ever used hash tags as an attempt at wit or irony, not ‘properly’. Like my late grandmother who never attempted to learn computers, I think Bitcoin has passed me by. Last week, I found myself agreeing with another 40-year-old friend who was complaining about millennials.

And I have absolutely no idea what any of the emojis are supposed to mean.

40 Blog Post - Emojis

 

You Know You Have a Toddler When Blog Post - Eloise 2nd Birthday

You Know You Have a Toddler When You Say These Things

You Know You Have a Toddler When Blog Post - Eloise 2nd Birthday

Happy 2nd Birthday, Eloise

“Eloise, please, for the last time, get your head out of the toilet.”

As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I realise my baby daughter has grown up. I now have a toddler. This new stage in Eloise’s development means many things for me as a parent.

It means toilet training, hence the sentence above.

It means Eloise now spends some of the week in childcare.

And most importantly, it means uttering bizarre sentences that have probably never before been spoken in the history of humankind.

Our beautiful daughter Eloise turned two this month. A milestone for her and a celebration for our little family. For the world this means the English language will be collated together in sentences that are both innovative and eccentric.

 

Don’ts

I know this to be the case, as when Dylan was a toddler, I had to say some ridiculous things. Mostly in the form of commands to stop him doing something that as a grown-up I wouldn’t have thought of doing in a million years.

For example:

  • Don’t pick your nose with the Minion toy
  • Don’t stick the bean into your croissant
  • Don’t do yoga in the shower
  • Don’t dance on the toilet seat
  • Don’t bring the deckchair into the bathroom

At least I do not feel completely alone in all this. A friend of mine said she had to tell her young boys to “stop licking the TV”.

 

Just a Phase?

I am not saying such surreal things to Dylan as much any more, so I thought that this original take on language construction might only last the toddler years with Eloise. I do find it interesting but it is also a bit exhausting and will be glad when this phase is over.

However, I have found out these weird sentences may continue to produced with older children, even if only occasionally. This story is from another friend who was in the middle of telling her school-aged daughter off for something inexplicably strange, but was corrected:

‘Went to the supermarket with the kids and was looking at bread rolls in the bakery section. I turn around and Lucy is head butting the lamingtons!

“Don’t head-butt the lamingtons, Lucy!” I growl at her in an urgent stage whisper.

Lucy looks offended and somewhat haughtily returns, “I was NOT head butting them, I was kissing them. I LOVE lamingtons!”’

 

Does anyone have a similar story? I would love to hear them. Please share in the comments below.

You Know You Have a Toddler When Blog Post - Lamingtons
Lamingtons

 

 

No Don't Stop Blog Post - Dylan and Eloise - Super

Don’t! No! Stop!

Don't, No, Stop Blog - Dylan and Eloise Photo Feb15

“What is it Like with Two?”

One of the main questions I get nowadays is ‘what is it like having two kids?’ or ‘how has life changed with the addition of the second child?’ or some rendition of that. It is a nice way to make small talk and it is easy to give a polite answer – ‘oh it’s a lot busier’ or ‘it is sometimes a challenge having to juggle them both’.

But what I really want to say is this – the primary difference is how often I exclaim the words “Don’t!”, “No!” and “Stop!”. Usually, I don’t just say them -the exclamation marks are a mandatory part of the word. It is often a cry, yell or bellow. Yes, I used to shout these words often enough when there was only one child. However, they now form the predominant part of any conversation I have with my ferocious toddler when he interacts with his baby sister.

 

Over-Love

To give him credit, Dylan absolutely adores Eloise. He has never displayed any jealousy, and like my husband and I, has effortlessly accepted her as part of the family. There was never any talk of giving her back (to where?) or that he doesn’t like her. Actually, it is the opposite – he ‘over-loves’ her like a stalker with a smothering infatuation. About 95% of the time, the interaction with Eloise is not malicious, but instead the workings of a curious, healthy toddler who does not realise his own strength.

And just so we are clear, we do not leave the two alone all that often, at least we didn’t in the first six months. Sometimes these things occur while I am in the same room with both of them. Sometimes they occur when they are both sitting on me.

Here are some examples of bellowed instructions and commands I have found myself barking since we brought Eloise home.

 

DON’T!

There are a lot of DON’T!’s that involve not poking, prodding, pinching or pulling.

  • don’t poke her in the eye
  • don’t pull her ears
  • don’t squeeze her cheeks
  • don’t pat her tummy in a way that turns into heavy karate chops

Then there are a bunch of DON’T!’s that shouldn’t really have to ever be said.

  • don’t sit on her face
  • don’t lick Eloise
  • don’t wipe your nose on her
  • don’t drive your toy car over her face
  • don’t clap her feet together and say “eek eek” like she is a seal

 

NO!

As an alternative to all the DON’T!’s, sometimes I change it up a bit and instead find myself saying ‘NO!’. Some of these involve not using the baby or baby stuff as a toddler plaything.

  • no pushing Eloise around in the bouncinette and pretending like its a lawnmower
  • no getting into the bassinet
  • no sitting on Eloise when she is crawling and pretending she is a horse and by saying “neigh”

And some of the NO!’s involve asking Dylan not to ‘help’ in a way that is not helping.

  • no brushing her teeth with your toothbrush
  • no feeding her your food and sticking the spoon down her throat
  • no creating a make-shift slide for her to play on by leaning a cushion against the couch

 

STOP!

There are plenty of actions involving Dylan’s or Eloise’s body parts that need a STOP! issued as soon as they start:

  • stop putting her foot (hand, fingers, toes) in your mouth
  • stop putting your foot (hand, fingers, toes) in her mouth

And then there are the flat out STOP! commandments that get blurted out when things look really dangerous. STOP! has been roared during these scenarios:

  • placing a toy car in her mouth
  • driving a ride-on toy bee over the baby
  • jumping off the couch and over Eloise who is lying on the floor
  • holding Eloise by her feet to get her to do a headstand
  • bashing her on the head with a talking Minion toy to get it to talk (“banana”)

 

Why It Continues

The other night I was checking dinner in the kitchen so left Dylan and Eloise playing in the lounge. The next thing I notice, out of the corner of my eye, is Dylan walking slowly up the hallway, dragging something behind him. It was Eloise. Being dragged along the floor by one leg. And she was giggling.

The reason Dylan continues over-loving Eloise, despite being issued with copious NO!, DON’T! and STOP! requests, is because most of the time, Eloise absolutely loves it.

Lick her and its all smiles, sit on her and you get fits of giggles. She seemed almost disappointed when I placed her the right way up after Dylan had her in a headstand.

Much more significant to Dylan than any number of DON’T!’s, NO!’s and STOP!’s I can issue is Eloise’s adoration of her big brother and her love of any attention and interaction Dylan gives to her. So he will continue to be a boisterous big brother and I will continue with my repetitive shouting.

No Don't Stop - Dylan and Eloise - Super

he WHY Stage Blog Post - Lots of Whys Cartoon

The WHY Stage

 

he WHY Stage Blog Post - Lots of Whys Cartoon

Like a Switch            

Dylan turned three years old a few months back and just like that he snapped into the ‘WHY’ stage. I think most people have heard of this phase. The word ‘Why?’ and sometimes, just for a bit of light relief, ‘What’, ‘How’, or ‘Where’, is spoken copiously.

There is no regard to conversational rules, how irritating it can be or indeed, a lot of the time, what the answer even is. Asking the question seems to be the only priority.

I know it is essential for a child’s development, enhances learning and shows that a child is reaching another milestone and all that blah blah. But my goodness, It really is one of the longest and most infuriating phases during toddler and pre-school years. When will it end?

Argh, it has caught on and now I am asking questions as well.

 

The Different Types of WHY

What I have noticed over the past few months are patterns of questions. Here are a few:

  1. The no matter what is said, the answer is ‘Why?’

“Its time for a bath.”

“Why?”

“Let’s read a book.”

“Why?”

“What did you have for lunch at daycare today?”

“Why?”

 

  1. The double why:

“Its time for a bath.”

“Why?”

“Because you are dirty and its nearly bedtime.”

“Why?”

 

  1. The I have no idea of what the answer is questions:

“Why is it called ‘ham’?” (Wikipedia here we come)

“Why do leaves fall from trees Mummy?”

“Because it is winter time” (feeling good, know the answer)

“But why?”

“Er…”

 

  1. The inappropriate why:

“Why has that man got many chins?” (Move trolley fast down aisle one).

 

The Different Types of Answers

I have also taken note that how I answer depends on what sort of question it is, whether I know the answer and how often ‘Why’ has been used that day (i.e.: how exasperated I am). Sometimes I do answer the question properly and directly but often I use these alternatives:

Do not say anything

Used when I am irritated, do not know the answer, realise that answering would not make any sense, or all three combined. Best time to employ this approach is with the ‘double why’.

“Its time for a bath.”

“Why?”

“Because you are dirty and its nearly bedtime.”

“Why?”

-Silence-

Of course this may backfire and I sometimes get a continuous stream of ‘why, why, why’ but I find if I hold my ground they dissipate fairly quickly.

Fire the question back at him

This tactic is good when I think Dylan knows the answer but has gone on autopilot with his ‘Why’. Best used to reiterate a learning point.

“Stop sitting on Eloise.”

“Why?”

“Why do you think you should not sit on your baby sister?”

“Cos I squash her and she cries.”

However, it is dangerous to use it when you are not certain what the answer will be. Believe me, do not reply back “Why do you think that man has many chins?”

Make up the answer

I find it fun to make up the answer sometimes. It shows imagination and creativity on my part and has the added bonus of not letting on that I really have no idea of the true reason. Sure, he may get to school with some weird beliefs but who is to say what is real these days?

“Where has the other part of the moon gone?”

“The stars and clouds took a bite out of it”

The clichéd response

I even use the proverbial “Because I said so”. Every time I say it I cringe at how unoriginal I sound. However, sometimes it eliminates a long and unnecessary response.

“Why do I have to brush my teeth every day?”

(I could say that it makes teeth strong, because I care for him or it is a great habit to continue if he wants to be a fully functioning adult, but instead…)

“Because I said so”

 

Navel-Gazing

The ‘WHY’ stage is not all bad. It helps me to see the world from Dylan’s point of view. It allows me to revisit accepted beliefs, learn new ideas and see things from a young, fresh perspective.

The other day, Dylan said to me “Mummy, why are we here?” And I started thinking. Why are we here? What are we all put on this Earth for? What is my purpose in life? How can I construct a legacy I would be happy with?

I wasn’t sure where to begin to give a full and appropriate answer to such an esoteric question from a three year old. While I was still ruminating, Dylan’s little voice popped at me again:

“Why are we here at this shop Mummy? What do you want to buy?”

– Oh, no meaning of life answer required today. Thank goodness.

“Mmmm, lets buy some sandwich things, maybe some ham.”

The Why Stage - Ham Picture