Thifty, shouting, ruined stuff

So, today I have been shouting at my children quite a lot. And I no longer feel any sort of guilt about doing it. You know sometimes people share those parenting articles on Facebook about how the family finally came together once the mother learnt to keep her voice down? How she learnt to control her spit-spraying alarming demon shriek into some kind of meaningful, thoughtful, levelled voice, even when the kids do really bloody horrible things, and now no one is scared of her and everyone feels more loved and calm and stuff like that? Well, I call bullshit on that. What a lot of navel-gazing, anxiety-inducing, guilt-indulging rubbish. Sometimes, the kids are awful, and they need to see what happens to people when you are awful, or if you do awful things. People get mad, people get angry, people express that feeling, kids see what happens when other people have had enough, some sort of reconciliation occurs, kid learns forever not to pour whole bottles of Chanel No. 5 EDP onto the carpet, boundaries are redrawn, everyone high-fives each other, they go out for hot chocolates and no one needs a therapy session.

Current Tally Of Ruined Stuff Which Leads To My Shouting:

  1. As above. Whole bottle of Chanel No. 5, poured onto carpet, making a damp, rapidly evaporating mini-pond which stunk out my bedroom for days, a cruel claustrophobic reminder. The baby did it, the others watched, their bright little eyeballs wide with excitement and fear, and then they came out to the living room to confess what they had witnessed, kind of fakely disapproving, but actually triumphant and delighted by the whole thing. They made out they couldn’t do anything about it, because they were ‘down the long hallway’ and could only just see him do it ‘from very far away’. The baby laughed, I shouted at all of them, then I sulked and bought some more on eBay, which turned out to be 100mls of counterfeit and now I am having an ongoing eBay squabble with a lady in Blackpool who refuses to give me my money back.
  2. You all know about the Tom Ford lipsticks. They now have to be carefully applied by dabbing, not swiping, because if you swipe, the lipsticks, now smushed into little crushed pieces of heavily-pigmented crumbs, get spread onto your lips like tiny bits of cake decorations. There is very little elegance in leaving the house with tiny hunks of broken lipstick on your face.
  3. I found my new Balenciaga sample sale heels out of their box and tipped out next to my bed, with the lid of the shoebox missing. I know that the lid of the shoebox is only a bit of cardboard, but it is Balenciaga cardboard and I sometimes have fantasies of myself becoming that kind of person who stacks their shoeboxes into some sort of order and polaroids a photo of the shoes and sticks it to the box and puts it back neatly into the fantasy walk-in wardrobe in which all things are clean and colour-coordinated and so I liked bringing out the box and just looking at it and stuff. I asked the kids where the lid was, and Ned said the baby had been hitting him over the head with it, and I asked him exactly where he had been attacked with my Balenciaga lid and he said the hallway and I walk down there and find my lid squashed, ripped, folded and with jam on it. I shouted at all of them.
  4. They disappeared for a while today and then they all came back out into the living room and told me they had found a Buzz Lightyear. Which, of course, is one of Ned’s Christmas presents. So they had been hiding in our bathroom cupboard, a nice big cupboard which is largely under the cupboard radar and which has, for many Christmases, housed the presents. Not any bloody more. So I shouted.
  5. The old, glorious playmobil nativity set gets smaller every year, as pieces end up flung and vacuumed and eaten and repurposed. This year I have had to replace the animals with old McDonalds’ toys from the Penguins of Madagascar era and other mismatched playmobil sets, which upsets that tiny part of me who wants colour coordinated closets and polaroided shoeboxes. And it is only December 5, and the nativity set has only been out of its year-long hiding place for five days. But worse – the new nativity set that we bought from the big Cathedral in Ghent when we went away without kids a few weekends ago (scream!) has already been compromised – a Wise Man is headless and the tiniest baby lamb is no where to be found. Probably sitting in someone’s lower intestines. I shouted about that too.

There are many things going on here. I am mostly annoyed by their lack of respect for other people’s things. They have a roomful of toys and boxes and a dog and books and they should be fiddling with those things. Not my stuff. So I shout, I vent, I spit a little bit and my voice cracks, Mark gets alarmed and tells me to stop now. I get a lock for our room.

Baking My Way To Parental Redemption:

I made a beetroot brownie which tasted of dirt, so I had to fashion some sort of chocolatey, creamy, buttery sauce to pour all over it which negated all the goodness but it did get the little ingrates to eat. Here they are, before the truth of the six beetroots were revealed to them, signalling their approval for the drowned vege cake:


And then on Friday, after getting annoyed at the remains of the granola, all milky and sloppy and half-eaten:


I scraped it all into a bowl, added some butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon and I baked these rock-hard biscuits and they gobbled them up and I am going to do that every week as long as there are leftovers at my table because thriftiness is next to awesomeliness and therefore I am an awesome mother:


I also keep those half eaten bits of apple, peach and plum which I find under beds and in the soles of shoes and in drawers and I stick them into the fridge until they outnumber all other types of food and when their mouldering becomes finally a bit too off-putting, I bake them in a cake and they eat that up with proper enthusiasm too. Because I am awesome, as I keep trying to tell you, even if I shout a little bit too much.




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8 Responses to Thifty, shouting, ruined stuff

  1. Diane Ellison says:

    Loved the article. Jodi you’re awesome.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I was feeling guilty for being shouty last week. But then, I shouted because I was being kicked and hit and having my hair pulled by a three year-old, and where’s the fun in that? So then I started muttering Shakespeare, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” and scared myself and called it a day. I agree with you though that sometimes raging is the natural and logical consequence of things like perfume on carpet and glasses being knocked off one’s face. And that’s surely a worthy lesson to learn?

    • theharridan says:

      I believe so. After all, it’s probably best they learn it with us than at work somewhere in an office in a far-off time, when the boss shouts at them and they weep, or rage, or try to break the computers. And denying the expression of anger can’t be a good thing for us, can it? I’m just not that good, frankly.

  3. shambition says:

    It took me having my own kids for me to understand my mother’s shoutiness. I was trying to think of some way of getting my kids to understand the shoutiness without (or before) them having children of their own. It occurs to me that making them read a blog like this may help, once they are old enough to have grown a bit of empathy!

    Also you are almost in the possession of kids who care what their friends and possibly even the general internet public think about them and you have an awesome vehicle with which to name and shame them right here! Oh the possibilities for extortion!

  4. catalpa99 says:

    You are awesome in general but the baking of cereal leftovers has taken your awesomeness to another level. I salute you. And also sympathise with your lovely things being ruined. But then it does look like a really fun tea table with homemade cake and masks and a ready-made party every day of the week!?

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you! We have gone off-piste with the granola creations – last week it was a granola cake, this week, some flat, soft, flappy biscuits, with added ginger and nutmeg to Christmas it all up a bit. They love them, and I feel vindicated. As for the ready-made party at the table – no, it is mostly rocking back on chairs in that ‘you’ll break your back! Stop ROCKING ON YOUR CHAIR!” kind of way and separating kids because one is throwing food onto the other one’s plate – so, you know, a party of a kind. A Misery Party, but with wine.

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