The beauty of three?

I have touched upon the idea of having a third child on this blog before. There are all sorts of pros and cons, of course, but last week a friend of ours called Aimee summed up the dilemma beautifully.

‘The thing is,’ she said, ’90 per cent of the time they drive you mad. But it’s that golden 10 per cent that makes people have more.’

And that’s why people have more than two children. Rarely are they bold enough as Aimee to admit the real reason why, remaining in denial of the nightmarish 90 per cent time that they are about to increase in intensity by 50 per cent and therefore making people think they have it good all the time when obviously they don’t.

I’m only too aware of the 90-10 ratio here, having just returned from a four week stint in London. I came back late on Friday and was thrown in at the deep end on Saturday morning when my wife and her friend went off to their photography course, leaving me with not just my two but also her friend’s daughter. I had to take them to ballet, after which we went to the Tesco cafe where all three kids kept me waiting outside the toilets for a good quarter of an hour. Jem emerged first from the gents having, I presume, carried out an inspection of the facilities (he’s at that age where automatic soap dispensers are fascinating) but I ended up having to send in an older lady after the girls. I was half expecting them to have caused all manner of chaos in the ladies but the older lady soon brought them out, saying ‘they were just standing by the sinks having a chat.’ They start so young!!

Anyway I coped but it was at some point during Sunday morning when I was trying to use the laptop and Jem kept pestering and pestering me to go on the Milkshake website that I did that thing where you bellow at them, mainly in frustration but hoping that you might get through to them in some small way that you are a teensy weensy annoyed and they’ll get the message to do as you say. Except they never do and worse I crossed the line of insanity and he started laughing, not through amusement but nerves as though my eyes were beginning to pop out like ones on those glasses you get in joke shops.

And that’s when my wife came out and said I was clearly struggling to readjust to life at home with the kids again and for me to step back for a moment. So I did and I was able to calm down and then speak to Jem calmly and explain why he had made me so cross. Because you do lose it sometimes but the important thing is recognising when you do and doing something about it before things get out of control – we went on to have a lovely family Sunday after that. Like anyone going through PND, the recognition that you have it is the first step to dealing with it and getting help.

I’m sure Supernanny wouldn’t approve. I’m sure there are people reading this – some with three kids – thinking ‘oh but my children are angels 99 per cent of the time and I don’t get like that at all.’ But clearly they are lying or else have domestic staff.

We have got to be honest about this. Kids drive us mad. If 90 per cent of the time seems too far-fetched, take away the time you’re at work because that doesn’t really count and think what you do for 90 per cent of the remaining time. Chances are you are always doing something for them and in some small way, no matter how minor, it will usually drive you mad. Maybe you’ll lovingly cook them dinner that they won’t eat or you’ll have to have some godawful Cartoon Network show on the telly and, a common occurrence in our house, you’ll have spent ages tidying up one room in the house only for the kids to have messed up another. Yes, you have learnt to accept these situations and deal with them but, be honest, they still drive you a little bit crazy, if not to the extent I went off on one on Sunday (which, incidentally, doesn’t happen very often). But we get through them because we can be sure that just around the corner is one of those golden moments.

See, Aimee really has hit parenting on the head. It wasn’t just a statistic pulled out of a hat, it’s the truth. Of course we don’t all want to harp on about it. Non-parents would just call us moaners. They just don’t understand how hard it can be and think we have it easy and that they shouldn’t have to pay for it, etc etc. But to mention it between ourselves from time to time can only help reinforce that we are not alone when we lose it with our kids and, more to the point, there’s a good underlying reason why.

You will be pleased to know that as the week has gone on, I have settled back into life at home with the kids again and feel ready for whatever the 90 per cent of the time can throw at me. Just as well, really, because it’s the wife’s turn to go away for the best part of a week from tomorrow – to look after one of her sisters as she recovers from an operation. Yes I am to be alone with both my children overnight (for six nights at that) for the first time ever.

My mum doesn’t think I’m going to be able to cope. Even my wife made a joke to another mum this morning to look out in case the kids come to school shivering because I haven’t dressed them in warm enough clothes.

But I am determined to prove them wrong and intend to go all out in search of those 10 per cent of golden moments to keep me going. I will report back in next week’s blog – providing my eyes haven’t bulged too far out of their sockets by then.

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