It has reached that time of year where I am angry at the blossom on the trees - with its false promise of Spring. Spring is not here. We are at the fag end of a shitty wet winter, my home is more mud than brick now and my children have the pallor of Victorian consumptives. We are all itching to get outdoors, to run and be free to clamber and climb over logs and under tussocks.* Then we open the door and a squall of moist air smears itself against our faces and we sigh resignedly, shut the door and go back to watching A New Hope for the millionth time. I wish I was in a galaxy far far away. Tatooine looks pretty temping at this time of year.
I fucking hate rainy days. Today I have been cooped up in the house with a three year old who has spent the last five hours zipping from room to room like a blue bottle; never stopping, ever changing direction and spreading shit wherever she goes (metaphorical shit, luckily there is no d&v virus to tip us over from bored to traumatised). I have been following in her wake trying to maintain some sort of order. In the last two hours I have rescued a barbie from a watery grave, caught a china dragon inches from shattering on a laminate floor, dressed undressed and redressed 5 baby dolls, done the same puzzle 15 times, banged my head against the wall 20 times and thrown at least 100 longing glances at the bottle of wine in the kitchen.
I have even resorted to craft activities. My husband and son now have beautiful valentines cards that contain the last shreds of my sanity as well as an abundance of glitter. Glitter. What was I thinking? Never, under any circumstances, allow glitter into your home. Even if it means the slaughter of your firstborn to avoid it, do not let it in. That shit is like herpes. You think you've gotten rid of it but a little patch will pop up out of nowhere and contaminate the whole house once again. Even Canestan can't combat it.
Mind you, at least it's not play-doh. Play-doh comes out of the pack in a such a lovely range of colours. Then you put it through what ever themed variation of mangle it has come with; be it a truck, a hamburger factory, a hair-dressing set, you just know that by the end of one session everything will be a uniform brown colour and the children will have lost all interest in playing with it ever again. It's almost like it's some sort of cynical ploy to make you buy more play-doh. I know there are mothers who trill 'Well, you can always make your own' but honestly I've tried - when I make it, it either stays that uniform brown, or I get over ambitious, put too much colour in and end up having to explain why my children have hands of blue** for the better part of a month. I'm not really a do-it-yourself kind of mum.
We have found one activity that has kept us relatively sane on a wet and windy day. After the 6th episode of Topsy and Tim I had reached my limit, I was feeling very strongly that neither child was 'twintastic' and I was developing deep-seated suspicions about their mother's valium intake. No one is that calm. But in the final episode we watched the twins were decorating cardboard effigies of themselves. So I thought 'Screw it, let's try that.' Now I must admit it was a massive ball-ache to set up - sellotaping the uncooperative paper was nothing compared to getting an over-excited three year old to lie still. I know she wanted to see what I was drawing but as I was drawing her it did up the difficulty level somewhat. But, with some mild growling and one short sharp 'Lie still!' it was done. All told it took about 10 minutes effort from me and she then spent a good half an hour decorating herself (see above). Never underestimate the power of a small child's narcissism. I even got to finish a whole chapter of my book.
Craft activities are usually a nightmare because the level of effort you put in to set them up is not worth the three and a half minutes a toddler will actually attend to it for. See below for evidence.
In comparison, my six year old has decided he's spending half term writing the Great British Novel. It will be AT LEAST THREE PAGES long. I love this with all my soul. Self-directed and no mess - this is the greatest present a mother could wish for... check back in a week so you can read about just how wrong I was.
*I'm not entirely sure what a tussock is or how you would navigate one.
** Yes, that's a Firefly reference should any of you care