Month Eighty-One

Dear Husband,

You know what, I get it. All those times you’d say I just want to spend some time with you, some time for us and I’d respond with we did or what do you think we have been doing? I always knew that time spent with someone was not the same as time spent beside them but I see now that when all you want is one and all you get is the other, its not fair. I see that because its right in front of me with you and Genevieve. Now using words like all and every when I am talking about this isn’t really fair either. You do still spend quality time with her. Every time you are in her presence, you do not ignore her. However, frequently you do not hear her, nor do you actively spend as much time with her.

Ages ago you used to rant to me how social media is helping to make us anti-social. People should really just learn to put down the phone or the tablet or look away from whatever screen was in front of them so they could see what else (or perhaps who else) was in front of them. Last week I am sure you once again told me how excessive tv was corrupting behaviour. You meant hers but the problem goes a little wider than that. And before you get too defensive, I am not immune to this, I do it too. But the thing is, I am not so far removed yet and I have noticed it in you.

Your phone is the first thing you pick up in the morning. It comes with you to meals and is never far from your side. You are browsing if we sit down together to watch tv and also if we go out to coffee. You don’t pull out your phone when we are actually out socialising with friends or extended family but your own family seem to have been somewhat demoted from this standard.

Now as I said, I do it too. If I am actively watching something on tv then it can take me a second to realise that my daughter is trying to talk to me. It seems that at least once a day I am asking her to repeat herself because I have tuned out to pay attention to something else but I am trying to keep an ear out for others trying to get my attention. I am no saint but I am frustrated when I see our three year old try and get your attention repeatedly because you have failed to acknowledge her. I can’t tell whether you haven’t heard her (which is unfortunate) or you are ignoring her in favour of finishing whatever you are doing on a screen. You have said yourself that you have recognised the lack of one on one time now that we are all at home and I am not working four days a week. She is missing that too.

I think she is just missing us. She doesn’t mind what we do though. She doesn’t event mind just watching tv with us but to make it count, we need to watch something she has chosen with her rather than letting her watch something we have chosen with us. Even if we pick what is ostensibly a “kids” movie or a family movie for us all. Its not the same to her. But this could be a sort of compromise for you when you’re tired. I know that you have been having a hard time with study and everything else we have on in the week recently. You have been burning the candle at both ends. Specifically after your three day marathon of manual labour for others. On the spur of the moment, you decided to help my god-brother get his house ready for rent. The next day you figured you were on a roll so you donated your time for yard work at my sister’s house in thanks for some dog-sitting. The day after that, you must have been in the groove or something because you gathered some gents together to go and dig a trench for a friend.


I have to say that I think it is awesome that you are so giving and generous to others. Apparently some conversations you have had recently have led you to question whether you give too much or if you are seen as (at best) unconventional or (at worst) weird by others. Although not in as many words, you have asked me whether what I thought you were doing was wrong. I can tell you now that I hope all our children grow up with your generosity of spirit. I hope they grow up with a sense of community and an awareness of those around them like yours. But I would also hope that none of them sacrifice or lose sight of their own family. Family is important.

And in other good news this month, you don’t have hemochromatosis! You were concerned recently that the symptoms you were experiencing all pointed towards this and some family history would seem to support it but apparently you are just a carrier. Of course, this means that we really don’t know why you are so tired and run down but hopefully a couple of good nights’ sleep in a row will help this. You know, if we can get them with two young kids.

Ever yours,
Your Loving Wife


Week 174

Dear Genevieve,

We hit a low point this month. At least I hope it’s a low point. We have been dealing with tantrums and defiance and attitude and it seems the full spectrum of threenagerhood this month but we also hit on a day where you landed the trifecta; you deliberately picked up your dad’s safety razor after being warned not to touch it because it was dangerous (you have previously shaved the soap bar to make it smooth so we have already had a big discussion about not playing with them) and you cut your thumb, you couldn’t find the old diary that I gave you to draw on so you drew in one of your father’s books in crayon (unfortunately unlike your previous efforts in graffiti which had been confined to lead pencil use) and you had an “accident” on your way to the toilet which meant you weed on the floor. Thankfully it was the bathroom floor so we could clean it off the tiles with comparative ease. I’m not so sure that it was really an accident though…

When you were toilet training, you had accidents. And yes, sometimes, you can’t get to the toilet fast enough or your clothes are too difficult to get off in time but this month we have had a remarkable amount of accidents because you have made it only as far as the bathroom floor. Its like you can’t actually wait till your bottom is over the toilet seat and you let it go as soon as you can see the porcelain bowl. I have to say kid, that’s not how they work. And as an attention seeking behaviour, I’m not sure that its getting the reaction that you want. I don’t know that this is why you are doing it but the occurrences of such accidents do seem to have spiked since we brought Elliot home. The main result seems to be though that your dad gets really mad and you get banned from tv. And underpants. You are now limited to one pair of underpants per day. If you have an accident, you are back in nappies until the next day. You sound very contrite and apologetic right afterwards and promise to do better but its not good enough. Although I did feel sorry for you on one occasion and kept your pee transgression from your father. He was not in a happy place that day and I felt that whatever punishment would be swiftly dealt would far outweigh the crime.


And this is another struggle that we have at the moment. Finding the appropriate motivation or incentive to promote your good behaviour. Because we are somewhat lazy parents at times, our modus operandi to date has been withholding (Genni) television. Clearly that is not working. You got yourself a three-day ban this month and it didn’t really do anything. Except make my life harder. Which is not really surprising. The suggested period for a “time out” is the number of minutes for the years of the relevant child. A three-year-old should therefore get a time out for three minutes. Three days is simply beyond your comprehension at the moment. I’m pretty sure your father threw that one out before thinking about. A couple of weeks ago though, I threatened to pull ballet lessons and you immediately lost it. You were so distraught that I couldn’t even have a discussion with you about what you were doing to earn a punishment. Your father and I swiftly decided that this was not a suitable threat. Besides which, we have paid for your lessons already. So that leaves us with trying to come up with a more effective form of behavioural management that is both fair and enforceable. And that we can consistently communicate and apply. I have a feeling that we will be working on such a solution for a while. You know, until you’re thirty and really don’t need it any more…


The same can also be said in regards to our efforts to get you to eat dinner. We had the period of a couple of nights where you refused to try, let alone eat all your vegetables. You ate all the meat so we know you are getting enough iron in your diet but you wouldn’t eat anything else. You told me that you were finished eating once the meat was through and you were ok with getting ready for bed and having no more food that evening. On one such evening when your dad was out, I had gone through a number of incentives and threats and you wouldn’t budge so I came up with I will put your dinner back in the fridge and give it to you for breakfast and you will get nothing further to eat until its gone. Your response was something like oh yes mama. Which was not the desired result but I thought to myself, we’ll just see how this goes since I have to follow through. So you got your leftovers for breakfast which you didn’t want to eat (surprise, surprise) and you decided that you didn’t really need to have breakfast either! I threatened to give them to you for lunch and you thought that was a great idea. It’s meant to be a punishment kid, not a treat! And by the way, this whole not eating (a perfectly reasonable) dinner when we are out with friends and then coming home and asking for a sandwich because you are hungry? This is not happening any more either.


You need to pull your socks up girl. And maybe join the land of the living a little more often. I swear sometimes its like you retreat into your own fantasy world and just wander about in a daze. Especially when we ask you to do something. You’re like oh-oh, request. Awareness, ABORT. ABORT, I say, ABORT!! I asked you to pick up something from under the white footstool the other day. Something of yours so it wasn’t like you didn’t know what I was talking about. And we don’t have a lot of furniture in the living room, let alone white furniture so I didn’t think the request was particularly taxing. Since the footstool cushion was totally white and not coloured with some white on it, I thought that was a fair descriptor too but you just did a 180 degree sweep of the room without focusing on anything and pronounced that you couldn’t find the thing. So I told you to turn around, to think about what I said, to identify something white, to look on the floor, to pick the damn thing up from where you had left it. Its like pulling teeth with you sometimes. What should have been a quick and easy process became a belaboured couple of minutes full of your apparent bewilderment with my mounting frustration.

So it hasn’t been the easiest of months. I think we saw more personal worsts than personal bests over the last couple of weeks. It definitely gives you a bit of a kick up the pants as a parent when you hear why don’t you like me? from your child. Your father was the recipient of that one but if I had been the one to get cross at you that day, it could easily have been me. And whilst I reject the premise of the question because most of the time we do like you, honestly, those other times? At those you are usually infuriating us. In general though, we both deeply regret that you felt the need to ask that question and we want you to understand instead that we love you unconditionally and completely.


Because you are an awesome little girl and we are very proud of you. You have chutzpa my little chickadee. It’s in the way you go about your life and especially in the way you respond to your father’s games. One such occasion recently cracked me up and left me with no sympathy for him whatsoever. I was on the rocking chair with Elliot and you were standing in front of me having a chat. Your father thought he was going to be clever and started stalking up behind you like a tiger on his hands and knees. When he got close enough, he made a loud roar to scare the pants off you which did indeed achieve the desired result as you turned around and screamed. However, you were then backed into a corner as you couldn’t retreat into my occupied lap and this apparently makes you equally as dangerous as your dad. Did you curl up in a ball, act like a shrinking violet or just burst into tears? No, you defended yourself against future transgressions and went on the attack! You gave your father an almighty head butt!! You go girl. Serves your dad right. He hasn’t tried to scare you like that again.

Alles Liebe,