Hysterical blindness

Silver has just discovered the mega tantrum. Yes. She is two and a half. But it has been pretty much plain sailing so far. Little tantrums here and there. Now…whoosh. There she goes. She screams with such ferocity that it makes my ears pop.

While trying to get ready for a rare night out, little lovely Silver decided that she was not going to go to bed. Or rather that she will go to bed, as long as it was on top of Phoenix while emptying her water cup on the pillow – Nope, not going to happen!

So the tantrum starts. First the ear splitting shriek then onto low gurning with every breath. Her little face was red and she swings from the bedroom door handle – both feet up, making the most of her childlike upper body strength.

What can I do when I look into my child’s eyes to calm her down and yet I don’t exist? She couldn’t see anymore. Hysterical blindness has set in.

Wait…Just, wait. I sit down on the bed, pick up my make-up bag and keep getting ready. The screaming subsides to groaning noises but with some coughs added in for good measure. Her throat is probably as dry as a popcorn fart.

After another five minutes. She walks across and sits her ass next to me. Smiles and says “Water, Mummy”. Then gets into bed and closes her eyes.

That’s it. She has forgotten all about it. She has moved on. Maybe she realised half way through screaming that she didn’t actually know why she was screaming. But added an extra couple of minutes of grunting, to give herself time to maybe remember,or just to make it look more effective.

I do sometimes wish that I could deal with my problems in this way. I bet I would feel so amazingly relaxed if I just swung from the door frame screaming and crying for ten minutes…then moved the hell on.

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Spring Break

School is such a buzzkill. I know that in reality we can’t have an eternal Spring break and that actually I would probably go totally insane having all three kids with me all the time, but this week has been sort of magical. Even though Jacob has been missing for some of it, we totally made up for it at the weekend.

Our Easter week started with a bang. That bang being a friend (Rebecca) and her two kids arriving from London. Summer and Rebecca’s eldest were in the same class in London so they were super excited to see each other and talk about who was a bit naughty back in her old class and who was the funniest person ever.

Our apartment is not really the best for having seven people staying in it but we made it work. I now quite like the idea of having a wife or living in a commune. Seriously things just got done. We worked well around dinner, cleaned up after with such synchronicity that in next to no time we had all the kids in bed asleep and were sitting out on the balcony with a cocktail. Not once did I have to ask for anything to get done, it was just done. Beautiful!

We started the week with a trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is also my first trip to one of the local museums. Summer went here on a school trip a few weeks ago so she was really happy to show us around. In true London style we got on a couple of buses to make our way there. Not really sure why everyone uses their cars all the time here as it was super easy, although I’m sure it would be hell getting out to the beach on a bus…must google that!

The outside of the museum was pretty amazing, lots of room for the kids to run around. Inside the various buildings were photographs, paintings, sculptures…everything you would expect from a Museum of Art. It was not the most child friendly of museums, lots of marshalls around telling off the children for being too loud or fast. One fella said that art was not interactive and also not for children.. Not sure I agree with that one! However, they did have a children’s area where the kids could paint for a while and we could relax a little.

The next day we decided to go to Universal Studios. We had originally said we should go to Disney but it takes 15 min on the bus to Universal compared to a two hour drive to Disney, so it was kind of a no brainer with five kids in tow. We arrived at the park nice and early to make the most of the day. The older children wanted to go on all the rides, while the younger kids either couldn’t or wouldn’t. So Rebecca took the older kids while I took my young ones for a walk around. After a while of walking, Phoenix, Silver and I decided to take the studio tour. It could not be that frightening, right?! Hmm. Turns out that after 15 minutes of sitting on a train looking at various famous street sets you enter a dark tunnel. Then – in 4D – dinosaurs start attacking the train, spraying water and rocking the carriage back and forth. Phoenix and Silver both start screaming and shaking uncontrollably, fighting over who is going to be closest to me. I hung my head in shame for taking them on the tour…I could see the glares from the old biddies!

Next up was the famous animals show. I double checked with a steward that there was nothing remotely scary in this show. Apart from a few pigeons flying over head we were totally safe. Phoenix and Silver loved it, especially when one of the dogs from Beverly Hills Chihuahua came on stage. Oh, what a treat that was!!!

Then lunch and a run about in the water fountains and onto the next show, Waterworld. Seriously amazing. I love this stuff. Explosions and water flying everywhere. A crappy plot line. It’s so cheesy and fabulous…next time I’m going on my own and sitting in the splash area!

We caught a couple more shows and then it was time to head home with five tired kids –  and two even more tired Mums.

The rest for the week was filled up with kids arguing, winding each other up, then laughing and chatting. Kids are so amazing, I do wish I could wear my emotions on my sleeve the way they do.
Poor Jacob arrives home, tired and Jetlagged and I get him straight back into family life. Best way to get over the lag I say!

I had the weekend planned. It is Easter and we must find somewhere amazingly American to do an Easter egg hunt. Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark was going to be the place. So with a picnic packed we headed over to the land of oversized egg baskets. We hunted for sweetie filled eggs in a hay covered field and avoided the rather creepy looking Easter bunny. Really, what more could you want. Well, a little less sun, as being deep in the valley it was baking. We were baking. Being the pasty Brits we are (with the exception of Jacob) I was slightly fearful of us looking like “Brits on holiday” – you know, the lobster look. We did manage the whole day, taking a sun break in the hillbilly ranch style cafe and seeking trees to hide under. It was a perfect way to spend a family Saturday.

Easter Sunday arrived and we were going to a friend’s potluck lunch. I baked my Spanish Omelette just in time. The kids were all ready and off we went. Not really knowing what to expect as the friend (Tiffany) who invited us is really a new friend. Jacob and I actually met her the day before we got married in Vegas a couple of years ago. She was a gorgeous maitre d at the Paradise Cove in Malibu. She gave us her email and lots of advice on the different areas in L.A to live with kids. But on an actual day to day friendship level she is pretty new. Turning up at her house in North Hollywood for Easter Sunday was so fun. Her family and friends are just as amazing as she is. All gorgeous and welcoming. I felt like I had known some of them for years!

The Kids played outside. Summer playing catch, Phoenix running around with a boy his age trying out skateboards and Silver became the doorman for the day (or door person – don’t want to be sexist).

The Holidays are always so special, but this is our first one in Los Angeles so maybe that’s why it was extra special. Or maybe it was the friends visiting from the U.K or even the new friends making us feel welcome. What ever the magic factor was I don’t want it to end. Maybe I should home school. Maybe I should try unschooling, maybe I should go set that alarm.

Old Friends, New Friends.

The truth is that when you get to a certain age, making great friends becomes harder. Moving to another country, mid-thirties with three kids is certainly not the best idea for anyone’s social calendar. But then you make friends with someone quite special and you known that it is totally possible.

The past couple of months I have been hanging out with a gorgeous ozzy gal who makes me laugh like I’m a little kid again. This is great…apart from the fact that she is going back to England (where she actually lives) in a couple of days. We have had such fun. Mostly at her house with all our kids running about. Although a couple of times we have managed a night out – one at a 70’s bar which had a roller booting couple dancing on a bar roof. Another in a Greek restaurant, with dancing waiters (who made us dance too). Both nights we drank and talked, and talked and drank some more. It is not often you meet someone you click with instantly. Someone who gets your silly jokes and giggles along with you. I will miss her so much (but will be looking for her replacement!).

So I’m back to thinking about my girlfriends in London…what are they up to? Have they been for tapas lately? Or to Borough Wines? How was that 40th birthday party I missed? I feel both envious of the fun they will be having together and happy that the ones that met through me are still getting together. I wonder if it is like in a film, where they look to an empty chair and sigh saying “oh, we do miss Laura. It’s just not the same around here” The reality is they are super busy ladies with families and jobs. When they find time for a night out they will be sitting laughing and drinking as it should be.

The next glass of wine I have, I shall stop for a moment to think of how lucky I am to know such wonderful, driven and quite frankly adorable women. All of whom are totally mad in their own unique way.

I like that thought that we all have a load of friends out there that we have not yet discovered.

Old friends, even new friends are just that, Friends – no matter what the distance.

It’s all about the kids.

After spending way too many years in London, I felt like I lost my identity. A lot of this also corresponded with becoming a mother and stopping that crazy thing called work, because before that I really did feel like I knew who I was. I was a ballsy bass playing grunge rock gal. I wore clothes too tight, drank like a fish and swore like a fishwife (sorry mum!). This move to another city is making me remember what it was like when I first moved to London – that excitement – but this time I get to share it with four other people, all of whom are having their own individual reaction to the change… well, not Silver really – she so little and is pretty much just happy as long as I am nearby.

Summer starting at the local school was probably really hard for her but she a tough nut to crack. She is really friendly and always wants to please everyone so I was not too worried about her. There was always going to be an adjustment period. She stands out a little with her London accent. The other kids have been together since kindergarden so they have pretty tight friendships going on.

Summer mentioned once that she had no one to play with during break but what seven year old kid doesn’t say that every so often. We had a little chat about it and now she is bouncing to school, not needing those extra hugs in the morning…I miss those hugs!

The school itself is really really good. She is back to getting weekly homework, which her London school stopped for some reason in favour of termly homework. Her teacher is beautifully scatty, super easy going but gets the work done. What stands out the most though is the after school clubs. There seem to be hundreds of them. My experience of after school clubs is that you sign up for anything you can and they allocate you a place on one…the one the school choose for your child. Here things are a little different. There’s Drama, Glee, Dance, Art, Knitting, film making, lego robotics, woodwork…the list goes on. It is so interesting, the schools are used as a community. They don’t lock down at the end of the school day, they open up. There is a tuck shop with a massive queue all the time. A running track with kids counting laps for others. A stage where some make up dance routines. Every inch of the campus is covered with kids having fun.Their parents are able to be there, sitting in the sun enjoying a popsicle.

The acting, singing, theater after school enrichment is run by a wonderful but crazy lady. I never really knew what to think of her until Saturday past. Summer and I went along to a kids production of ‘Wicked’ in the school auditorium. The whole thing was so elaborate. The costumes, the lighting, the set. So much effort was put into this. It was more like a theater production in the East End rather than a simple school play.

The drama teacher sat in front of the stage the whole time, she knew the performance back to front. Helping anyone that got a little stuck for words. You could tell the kids doated on her and that she really cared. She had so obviously been up all night going over things in her head – and yet her energy was through the roof!

What struck me the most though was that all the children were in charge. Even the back stage. The ones not in the play were doing makeup and wardrobe. Some choose to do lighting so had a spotlight that was theirs. They all had little ear pieces and mics to communicate to each other. They were trusted to do the adult jobs. They sell the tickets, they man the door, they smile and help.

A few Americans have said to me “why have you moved here from the UK? The UK has a much better school system” and that may be right. I am yet to find this out. It’ll take longer than a few months to really see if there’s a difference in class room education, but for community spirit and child involvement, it’s one up for America.

Sunday, Sunday.

Yesterday was one of those challenging days, the kind where you think you have things under control but actually…nope. All manner of shit is waiting. We’ve had a long day from getting up oh so early. Saying goodbye to Jacob who is away to London for a few days. Then going to the neighbour’s house who have three kids the same age. Also shopping and Laundry. Pretty much a normal Sunday. I left the kids in the living room while I made a start cooking dinner. The normal shouting started, Phoenix was annoying Summer, Phoenix was annoying Silver, Silver was sitting too near Phoenix, yadda yadda yadda. I would walk through every so often to calm the whatever situation was going on. I then found Phoenix with a pair of kids scissors, cutting Silvers hair. she was quite happily sitting there, shouting ‘hair, hair’.

As I type this, I have just pulled another small clump of hair from the sofa. I wonder if she would have been bald if I had left them any longer. I think I may have to hide the scissors from now on. Actually how do children scissors cut hair? Surely this should be one of the requirements for kids scissors – ‘does not cut hair’. I mean, they can hardly cut paper but hair, totally easy!

We moved onto the normal bedtime routine once we finished dinner. The kids have a special routine reserved for me. Jacob gets away scot free, reads a book, kisses them, then walks out the room. I however get the full pantomime. Jumping up and down, screaming, clothes being pulled off, nappies being thrown around. All the while I’m ready to snap, blood is boiling, veins pumping. What will be my next move? I’ve already taken away two of the three bedtime books and made some threats about taking sleepy toys away. I actually don’t have a next move, I’m not going to get them up to put them on the naughty step. These kids have totally trumped me. Oh what would super-nanny do? Why didn’t I pay more attention to those programs?

What I wouldn’t give to be my husband right now. An eleven hour flight with no one climbing on my head, screaming in my ears, or pulling my hair. You wait for so long to hear that magic word – “mummy”. But then they get to 3 and you wish they had only learned to say “daddy”. Over and over and over.

‘Mummy, can you open this box?’

‘Mummy, I’m thirsty’

‘Mummy, I want a snail as a pet’

‘Mummy, I’ve had a poo, and I’m finished’

‘Daddy…oh, I mean Mummy’