South London Photographer: Dealing with my little apes

I’m very lucky to have such nice neighbours. They’re very understanding. I should think it’s like living next door to a group of howling monkeys for them. Mornings can be fairly frantic in this house, as they are all around the world where young children are concerned. But on Saturday mornings my lot really do take the almighty piss. We have a club to get to by 11am so not too onerous time-wise, you would think. Only, No 2 likes to languish in bed for as long as possible, by default refusing to get dressed. He favours reading, which is hard to be discouraging about, or watching someone with an incredibly loud and annoying voice play games on YouTube, which is best to stay as far away as possible from; and No 3 is just ornery about getting dressed whatever the day, time, or mood he is in.

Son no 1 does not have the patience of a saint. In fact, he might have the exact opposite amount of patience. So he can be more than a little disgruntled when 10 O Clock passes and the small ones still haven’t bothered to put any clothes on, despite having been asked several times by then. If we don’t leave by 10.15 then we can’t walk and No 1 likes to walk. At which point he goes, well, I think the phrase might be ‘ape-shit’. I do tell him his tempestuous encouragement towards the small people is not actually terribly helpful, but he’s usually too far-gone to hear me, bearing his teeth aggressively and howling like a proper monstrous primate from the deepest unconscious depths of our collective evolutionary past. And that obviously sets the small ones off. From the safety of my own screen, where I might be trying to get some work finished, I try in my ineffectual way (‘come on, boys!’) to calm it all down but I seem only to make things worse. (Yes, I do hear the voices out there suggesting that perhaps I shouldn’t be trying to get some work done at that particular moment and therein lies the problem… but … a woman’s gotta do what a … and all that….)

After some grunting and pushing and shoving, whilst attempting to drag his brothers to the pile of clothes I’ve left out for them, No 1 eventually recovers access to language and I get told, “It’s all your fault! You don’t bring us up to be normal! Why can’t you parent like other people? They’re psychotic and it’s because of you!” It’s quite hard to hear though because of the crying and yelling behind him.

Mmmm… Is now the right time, I wonder, to discuss the word ‘normal’ – what is normal anyway? Do you really think your friend’s parents are normal?  Ha! You just wait….I decide now is probably not the best moment but mentally log the philosophical debate for later.

“They need more rules! I had more rules when I was their age…” he continues to rant at me while his younger brothers run round howling and beating each-other up in a confused and pointless act of retribution aimed in entirely the wrong direction, although for them it would seem, any direction will do. But they don’t get dressed.

“We discussed rules last week,” I tell him, “but you said the rule about no food outside the kitchen was a dumb one. And have you bought that collection of cups and bowls down from your room, while we’re about it?” I ask.

“That is a dumb rule. And I don’t mean those sorts of rules…”

“Oh… how about a rule saying you must help me with the dishwasher every day instead of randomly every few weeks or so. Or you must bring your own washing pile down and put it in the washing machine, and change your own sheets? They sound like good rules to implement.”

He grunts. But by now we are far too late to walk and must drive to the activity, which annoys me too. So it becomes hard not to sympathise with No 1 even though he’s clearly being selective about what sort of rules we should have and who should be required to follow them.

I manage to get all of my various sized simians into the car; more yelling, more howling, more gnashing of teeth from all of us. And on our journey No 1 declares we should have a chart that clearly identifies the rules he thinks we should start following. I dreamily imagine what I would write:

‘No fucker will grow up in this house to become an imbecile who can’t take care of themselves as an adult….’

No, that ‘s not right… I know exactly what the oh, so sensible No 1 will say…

“Mum, children whose parent’s swear at them are more likely to grow up depressed!” He keeps telling me.

“No, no – that, my love, is likely to be down to a genetic predisposition… sorry.” But he’d be quite right to chastise me, not because I shouldn’t swear at them, which of course I shouldn’t. But because we’re meant to be thinking about a set of rules, not a manifesto. And in any case a manifesto is a pointless thing because one of us is bound to creep in during the night, alla Napolean the Dictator Pig along with his helpers, and cross out bits or add words to suit whatever changing relationship we have with the rules anyway. In the end I don’t think a set of rules up on the wall will suit us.

And anyway, it’s not all bad because No 2 isn’t always howling like a deranged primate. Sometimes he’s wandering around with a pigeon-feather tucked behind his ear like Haiwatha and laughing hysterically at the thought of ‘mature’ cheddar. “Is it really called mature cheddar? Oh, I’m such a mature cheese, I’m so very, very, very mature! Hahahahahah!” I loved that moment. And when No 3 isn’t screeching like an absolutely maniacal and outraged mini-ape, he’s hugging me and telling me I’m the best mummy in the world. And as for No 1, he’s really being amazingly mature most of the time right now, although not in the same way as the cheese thankfully. I do just feel for the neighbours though. Because really, all they get to hear are the howling animals we’re all so good at impersonating.

On the work front, my iPhone photography session for children is full but I’ve been asked to do one for adults too. I will probably hold one on the 10th of June from 6pm for 1.5 to 2 hours.  More details to follow this week.

SJ x

DSCF1742
Son No 1 wants some rules implemented… (c)SJField 2016

 

 

 

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