‘Bleurgh’ he told me

That was back in February. He’d come signing ‘milk, milk’ and then give a cheeky smile and run away, ‘Bleurgh!’

‘Milk, gone!’

That was one night last week, snuggling before sleep.

And so it seems that my youngest is in the process of self-weaning. It’s slow, some days it feels like he still at least half lives off milk. But it’s real. He rarely wakes for milk in the night anymore. He sometimes rolls away as he falls asleep rather than lingering there. If we’re out and busy he’ll go all day without even thinking about milk.

He is 22 months, and at the stage where sometimes he’s gently chewing or hanging on more than drinking, and I am ready in many, many ways to reclaim my body. With the exception of 5 months, I have been breastfeeding for the last 4.5 years, and some of that time was tandem feeding my toddler and new baby. I am so ready.

But my youngest will also be our last birth child, at least as far as our plans go. Once he stops breastfeeding my babies will both be gone. Our slow baby days will become slow childhood days and I will slowly forget.

So I’m going to hold these moments as long as they last. Hold them now. Maybe impatiently at times, but always gratefully.

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I want to do something SUPER messy…

Like painting!

I had a good mama moment last week, where instead of leaving Zeph to play while I tidied the kitchen, I asked him what he would like to do while I was busy. I mean, he would have played happily enough – his ability and desire to play independently has come on in leaps and bounds since he turned four in January – but still, I felt like it was just the sort of thing one ought to do from time to time when one is doing this mum business well.

First I asked if he’d like the play dough out while I washed up after lunch… but I got that response ^^.

Super messy painting it is. Did he want to paint in the kitchen at the table where I was, or did he want to go by himself to paint in the conservatory? Outside by himself.

So we got out the paints and papers (actually opened up cereal boxes that I’d been saving for him to paint on) and off he went. After a while he called to me: Mum, come and see what I’ve done for you!

And, after finishing the dish I was on and drying my hands, off I went to see (like a good mama again). He’d painted me a cake, with candles, and cherries, and some juice. He called me back three or four times, showing me the pictures he was painting for me. Sharing all the thought and love that had gone into each one. Thoughts and love I might have so easily missed if I had prioritised finishing in the kitchen over going to see what he wanted to show me. And afterwards I went to sit with him, watching, without taking my phone or any other distractions.

Because the quiet moments together are precious.

 

Slowing down in the day to day

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things that need doing. The places that need getting to. The tasks that need completing to coax each child into their corresponding clothes and shoes and out the door. And so easy to then get stressed when the schedule doesn’t run on time. When things are spilled or ripped or lost. When chaos is created in the 2 seconds after some kind of order was restored. And then everyone’s wellbeing becomes secondary to the task or the schedule. The doing overtakes the being.

But that’s not who we are.

That’s not how people are made.

So here are some ways that we slowed down on an everyday trip to the supermarket today. Ways, perhaps, of realising that while we sometimes have to be there now, it’s not always such a hurry. And when it’s not a hurry, we don’t have to hurry.

1. Take a short (or not so short) detour and walk through the park instead of down the road.

2. Look at/smell/pick the flowers.

3. Find a bench and sit down to have a snack together.

4. Look at the live seafood section for as long as the kids want.

6. Stop to throw rocks into the most ginormous muddy puddle.

7. Listen to the birds.

8. Watch the machines on the construction site.

9. Collect sticks and stones along the way.

Do you have ways of slowing down as an individual or a family? Let me know in the comments.

‘Rhinos don’t eat pancakes’ and being a listening mum

That was one of our books from the library this fortnight: Rhinos don’t eat pancakes, by Anna Kemp. The premise is that Daisy’s parents never listen to her, so they miss the fact that she is telling them that a huge, purple, pancake-eating rhino has taken up residence in their home.

My 4 year old rather likes it. So do I. But, and I might be being over-sensitive, I was also a little dismayed. Maybe because I’m not sure I want my son to have the negative thought pattern, ‘no one listens to me’. Maybe because it made me think about whether or not I am currently doing a good job of listening to him.

Listening, and communicating, is something I consider to be very important. It’s a way of showing care and respect for someone, and something my children deserve as much as anyone else. I try to stop what I am doing and focus on Zeph when he speaks to me, to show him that I am listening and that he and what he has to say is valuable to me. I try not to give him vague pat-answers like yes sweetie, that’s nice, or I think so because I am distracted and haven’t really thought about what he is saying. I try to answer all the four year old questions born out of insatiable curiosity and why why why. I try to repeat myself five times without taking an irritated tone when he repeatedly asks me what?

I try.

Some days I do better than others.

I want to be a listening mum.

The is-the-baby-diabetic? stage

I don’t know about anyone else, but in my house this is now a well-recognised developmental stage.

It starts with the baby wanting to drink untold quantities of water at night. And continues with the baby wanting to drink untold quantities of water at night. He asks for a drink before lights out, lies down, drinks milk, asks for water, asks again as soon as the cup is put away or the bottle is closed, lies down and wriggles a bit then asks for more water… and it happens night after night potentially for weeks.

With my oldest I was genuinely worried about why he had suddenly developed a need to drink so much water.

With my second I know he’s playing me.

Off to the doctor in South Korea

A number of times last year we were at the doctor with Zeph having fairly severe breathing difficulties. He would get a cough or a cold and then start wheezing and rapid breathing. Once he was hospitalised overnight with it.

Thankfully he’s been fine since the end of last summer. Perhaps I noticed one or two minor occurrences, nothing we needed to go to the doctor about. But Thursday morning he was coughing and over Friday night the wheezing started. The fine dust is worse here in the spring. It makes for a really frustrating conundrum: the weather is warmer and I want to get the kids outside as much as possible, but the air pollution is bad and I don’t want them out in that too much.

So, back to the doctor.

I take both the kids to the women and children’s hospital here in Suncheon City for their vaccinations and if they need a doctor. It’s where they were born and it’s a place I trust. I mean, health care here is good. It’s different to the UK, but it’s good. Mostly. In some ways it’s frustrating. Either way I miss the NHS.

Health care here is all private but most of it is covered by our health insurance (Josh’s school pays half and we pay half from his wage), so the on-the-spot fees are minimal. From what I understand from my experience, most South Koreans take their kids to the doctor the minute they get a fever or a runny nose. Which is different to home, and particularly my family: my mum was a nurse and I’ve worked in health and social care for a number of years too. I wouldn’t tend to take my kids to the doctor for a fever unless it’s extremely high and I can’t bring it down, or they’ve had it for three days. At 20 months, Elly had his first unscheduled doctor’s visit last month because he caught flu over the weekend and after a day of seeming better the high fever returned midweek. I think the doctor was shocked at me for not bringing him sooner. But it was flu. He wasn’t dehydrated and I could control the fever with over the counter medicine.

We get to choose which doctor we see when we go, and we had a great woman doctor for a while. Sadly she left the hospital\ and I was worried that our experience might suffer for it, but here are now two other woman doctors there who are also fantastic. We have seen male doctors there a few times, but I’ve found it harder to communicate with them, and felt less informed afterwards. I get the general impression that in most cases here, the doctor holds the knowledge and the patient does as instructed. Whatever the case, medical things especially are just kind of difficult with a language difference even when the doctor does speak English.

So at the end of last week we were back in a process that has become routine:

Sign in at reception
Queue for weighing and a temperature reading.
Wait to see a doctor. (Some of them seem much more popular than others, so sometimes there’s a whole queue for one while another has nothing on).
Explain what’s going on and have Zeph’s breathing listened to and his ears, nose and mouth checked.
Go for nebulizer treatment.
Pick up a cough, cold and lung steroid prescription.
Go home and watch. Because sometimes it gets worse. Rapidly.

This time round, I’m grateful to say that he got over it fine.

Close your eyes Mummy

‘Don’t look! Keep not looking… Ta-da!’

This is what Zeph has been saying to me fairly regularly since around Christmas.

First it happened in the mornings. He would disappear behind the curtains or around the corner trailing t-shirt and trousers. The first times there was often no ‘Ta-da!’ Instead there were screams and tears of frustration when an arm got stuck or a button wouldn’t do up. But more recently there are jumps out of hiding and big smiles from the boy who dressed himself.

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More recently, I have started hearing these words in the evening and when I get the signal to look I find that he has picked up all his blocks into the bucket, or put all the cars back in the basket.

On the whole, I’m pretty happy with the tidying phase.