Calm mum wannabe

I'm just a calm mum wannabe, muddling on through from tantrum to tantrum, one big deep breath at a time. Ommmm....

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The great Spanish "puente"

Have you heard of the great Spanish invention, the "puente"? Unlike bank holidays in the UK, which are usually moved to the nearest Monday, here in Spain holidays fall when they fall and if it's a weekend then bad luck, but if it's a Tuesday you can take the Monday off work and make a nice "bridge" (puente) between the weekend and the holiday. Well, Tuesday and Thursday were holidays last week, so we had ourselves a big ole mama aqueduct.

We decided to go away with my sister-in-law and her family to the Picos de Europa, the mountains of Cantabria, one of Spain's hidden treasures. We stayed in a cottage in the picturesque village of Tudes. It's a working village -the cows and sheep are herded right past your window daily, and chickens roam freely through the streets.

You can walk out of the cottage and straight up the mountain path with spectacular views all around you in every direction. You'd never think you were in Spain -it's just like Switzerland, with cows grazing in the lush green hills and craggy snow-topped peaks in the background. My Swiss-loving friends are going to lynch me now, because my photos really don't do it justice...

We walked to an abandoned village, not far from Tudes. Here's a picture of the tiny church. Of course we had to give the bell a ring.

My youngest and I ended up lagging behind the others. Not-quite-three-year-old legs don't walk so fast, you see. We took our time getting home and had a photo shoot along the way. I took a few pictures of him...

And he took a very fetching one of me!

It was a fantastic trip. I've not disconnected so well in ages. And the best thing about the December puente is that it comes just as the festive season begins, so it's like a pre-Christmas-holiday holiday. Man, I love Spain!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Longest time-out ever

For a while, things were relatively easy around here. I even started to think I might need a change of blog theme. And that's of course when it hits you -bam! And you're back on the slippery slope down to the deepest depths of feral toddler (and mummy) behaviour. In short, there have been far too many time-outs and shouty moments in our household of late. And this is the story of my youngest son's longest time-out ever.

Rewind a few days, we are at my in-laws' house for the weekend. I am in the bedroom and the sounds of a bit of a "ruckus" come floating up from the kitchen. The next thing I hear is Alejandro marching our youngest son up the stairs and shutting him in the bedroom opposite for a time-out. (I don't like time-outs, but they do help all parties calm down and get some thinking time...)

The only problem is that there is a lock on the inside of the bedroom door. And yes, you guessed it -my curious not quite 3 year old gives it a try. So when we go to get him out, we can't. My mother-in-law goes into panic mode and my 4 year old bursts into tears, crying hysterically as if he's seen his little brother get abducted by aliens or worse. "Mi hermano! My brother!!" he wails over and over again, changing languages depending on who is nearby to listen.

On the other side of the door, my youngest son remains pretty unfazed by all of this. He lies down on the floor by the door and plays "I can see you!" for a while. I try to talk him through the "this is how you unlock the door" process, but although he seems to be giving it a go, his little fingers can't quite manage to turn it back.

Meanwhile, out in the garden, my parents-in-law and my partner get a long ladder and prop it up against the balcony of the bedroom. My mother-in-law climbs up the ladder and over the railings onto the balcony, but the bedroom window and door to the balcony are firmly shut. Dang.

Alejandro and his dad come inside with a whole array of scary-looking tools that they're intending to open the door with -there's a giant crow bar, a radial saw, screwdrivers and a heavy hammer. They remove the doorhandle, dismantle the doorframe, and make small cuts in the wood, but it's a sturdy oak door and it ain't budging. An alarming smell of burning pervades after the use of the radial saw, bringing with it a cloud of thick smoke and a fresh round of hysterics from my eldest son. And I'm starting to panic now as well.

My mother-in-law is keeping my youngest entertained through the window, by telling stories and drawing smiley faces in the condensation on the glass. It's foggy and wintery out there on the balcony and she hasn't got a coat.

My attention is divided between calming my eldest son's fears ("We're never going to go home to Madrid"!?!) and liaising between the break-the-door-down team and my mother-in-law out on the balcony, making sure my youngest son (who I can't see, but she can) is far away from any demolition activity (which I can see, but she can't).

It takes well over an hour for my partner and his dad to get into the room. Those doors are made of solid oak. They are beautiful doors that have been there as long as the house my father-in-law built when my partner was a boy. Well, they were beautiful. Now, Alejandro's old bedroom door looks like this...

(And that's my first photo insertion. Woo hoo! Going all high tech here...)

Oh well. At least it was only the door that got hurt. In the end it was a simple hammer-a-hole-through job that did the trick.

My son was happily crayoning away at the table when the rescue mission finally met with success. He couldn't work out what all the fuss was about.

Needless to say, we'll be choosing our time-out locations more carefully next time...