Banana-Gate: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing

Learning to live as a family again

It’s been over a month since Braai Boys been home.  There’s been some readjustment, as you can imagine.  It’s taken a while for the kids to understand that Daddy going to work this time doesn’t mean Daddy going to the desert, I think they’re missing their daily Daddy sweetie.  It’s alright though, Wee Man will be potty training soon so he can eat all the sweets all day, as long as he sits on the damn potty and stops throwing it at me.

We’ve been catching up with friends and family and are frequently asked ‘what’s it like being back together after 2 years of mostly living apart?’, our bog-standard answer is ‘it’s great!’.  Then I’m take aside and asked ‘how is it REALLY’.  Well, the last month has been like an extended team building exercise. 

When any employer told me we were going on a team building day I would get excited at the thought of a day paintballing where I could target any colleague who had p*ssed me off.  Sadly paintballing or other such fun was not to be had instead we were normally packed into a sweaty conference room, sat at tables which had a crappy free pen, a large bowls of boiled sweets and a bottle of luke warm water on it.  An HR Bod would be at the front delivering uninspiring slides about team building blah blah blah, followed by an activity or role play, urgh, makes me cringe just thinking about it.

The one presentation I do remember must have taken place first thing in the morning when I was buzzing from drinking a lot of coffee and eating most, ok all, of the sweets. The HR Bod talked about Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.  I think it’s because it all rhymed that I’ve always remembered it, similar to I before E except after C (which I still sing outloud when I am writing).  Basically this HR theory can be applied to our family life over the past month: 

Forming:  This was all about dependence on a leader, yep that’s me!  The kids have enjoyed telling Braai Boy frequently that Mama is the Boss, Mama knows best (they got that from the Disney movie Tangled) and Mama would let us do it.  That last phrase, Mama would let us do it, isn’t strictly true.  There are times when the kids have been destroying the house making their umpteenth den of the day and frankly I can’t be ars*d to argue with them so I let them get on with it. As the Boss, I am responsible for answering all the questions and making all the decisions, until the family have reached a point of harmony (pah!).  To help Braai Boy out I wrote him a Kids list, a list of changes to the kids, their likes and dislikes, routine changes and so on.  My expectation was for him to read, digest and act on said list to ensure a smooth re-entry into family life.  I know he read it.

Storming:  Does what it says on the tin really.  After being the sole decision maker for the last 2 years I now have to, I can barely type this, I now have to discuss things and even worse compromise.  Argh that awful word, compromise, I don’t think we had anything about compromise in our wedding vows, I must check that.  It is no longer what I say goes, no longer me making the decisions on everything all the time.  I actually have to ask for someone’s opinion, erm, yes, it’s been difficult for me to relinquish control.  You see, it’s not the big things that cause all the bother, it’s the small things.  We’ve had a few ‘lively discussions’ about really very important things like where pans should go in the kitchen, self-emptying dishwashers, where the hoover lives and what we should have for dinner. 

To be honest food appears to be the most ‘discussed’ topic in our house.  You see, I’m used to buying what food I want when I want, deciding what I eat and when I eat it, as long as the kids are fed and happy I have no-one else to worry about.  When I try to plan dinner this is pretty much how the conversation goes ‘what do you fancy tonight?’  ‘I don’t know you decide’, ‘I decide every night why don’t you decide’, ‘I can’t think I’m tired’, ‘so am I, how about pizza?’, ‘nah I don’t fancy that’, ‘what about stirfry’, ‘nah too much chopping’, ‘Jackets potatoes?’, ‘nope that’s lunch not dinner’, ‘Ok so what don’t you want’, ‘I don’t know’ and so on. 

Norming:  Settling in to family life again, we all now know where we stand.  At this point I would like to point out that the kids still say that Mama is the Boss but Daddy makes the best egg sandwiches and basically does everything better than Mama, but I am still the Boss so I will take that. 

Performing:  Getting on with life and that’s where we are now, life has settled down, especially now the kids are back at school, Braai Boy is at work and I can actually get sh*t done.

Despite going through our extended family team building last week we had an incident.  This could have been avoided if Braai Boy was psychic, sadly he is not.  Let’s talk about Banana-gate.  Braai Boy returned from deployment fit, healthy and slim, really very slim.  Me?  After the school holidays, The Move and the family holiday I was back to snugger jeans.  Time to sort myself out.  First up was to start eating brekkie and not just filling up on coffee.  The healthy option was banana on toast, easy because there are always bananas and bread in the house.  So, there was me, all set for Day 2 of healthiness skipping down the stairs to have another yummy fruit filled brekkie when I got to the fruit bowl and the last banana was gone.  I stood there like some kind of idiot just staring at the fruit bowl.  The last banana had gone, MY last banana had gone. 

When he got home that night I questioned his choice of breakfast, he stated ‘You don’t like brown bananas Charlie’ to which I replied ‘That’s not the point, it was my banana, brown or not it was mine’, he frowned at me and said ‘You would have thrown it in the bin and not eaten it’, to which I replied ‘Yes, but it was MY banana to throw away’, ‘But Charlie that’s a waste of food’, I rolled my eyes and feigning defeat sighed ‘It’s OK, don’t worry about it’

Little did he know I had just used one of the 5 Deadly Terms Used By A Woman.  Looks like we may be back to storming for a while.  Given his lack of psychic skills I have sent him the list of Deadly Terms, you know, just to remind him that what I say and what I mean are rarely the same thing.  Anyway enough wittering on for today, I’m off to decide what we’re having for dinner, no wait, he’s not here, jacket potato it is then.

Thank you, you lovely lot

Now that Braai Boy is home I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to family and friends.  It’s been a tough 2 years for our family with a lot of separation made even more difficult because I can’t just jump in my car when things are tough and drive to see my nearest and dearest. 

We’ve had so much support from everyone, being spurred on by comments like ‘you’ve got this’, ‘you’re smashing it’, ‘you rock’ and so on.  What people didn’t see was when the house was a mess, toys strewn everywhere (Dinosaurs grrrrr), dishes in the sink, washing to be put on/folded/put away.   When the Kids refused to go to sleep, when I’d been upstairs to sort out a sore nostril, an itchy bum, that weird noise in the duvet cover or answering really important questions like ‘How many wrinkles do you have mama?’(yes, I know what you’re thinking Miss Sassy is very good at giving your morale a boost).

I joke about the grey hairs, honestly, I now have to dye my hair more frequently or risk resembling Cruella de Vil, in looks not personality of course.  I worry that make up free I could easily audition and get a part in the Day of the Dead parade, ghost white and dark, dark, very very dark circles under the eyes.  Miss Sassy can now operate Netflix and Sky, Wee Man is a pro on the tablet and they have a lot of Happy Meal toys.  I don’t think I have ever eaten so much marmite on toast or drunk so much coffee, not even decaff, I mean proper strong stand your spoon up in it coffee.

But you know what? It’s all ok, we have survived and that’s all thanks to the love and support of those around us. 

Here’s a few things that I am grateful for:

  • The friend who wrestled Wee Man into his car seat when I had no more fight left in me.
  • The friend who took Miss Sassy for the day when Wee Man and I were throwing our guts up and couldn’t function.
  • The friend who paid for a flight and gave up a weeks holiday to look after Miss Sassy when I couldn’t get childcare in the school holidays.
  • The mums in the playground and at clubs who made me laugh and would listen to me whinge on the tough days, ok I know it wasn’t only the tough days, it was most days.
  • The friends and family who paid for flights to come and see us, sorry the weather was so rubbish.
  • The friend who came over to celebrate Wee Mans 1st birthday when Daddy wasn’t here.
  • The friends who tidied away the toys at the end of the day, please note my usual form is to kick them into a pile and ignore them.
  • The neighbour who had Miss Sassy for sleepovers, little did she realise just how much Miss Sassy can actually talk.
  • The Welfare team who put on events that filled the kids with sugar and kept them entertained, giving me a much needed break from parenting.

Finally, A HUGE thank you to all you lovely lot who messaged me and didn’t expect a response, who called me and did not expect a call back.  Thank you to those who have visited us, not to see the Game of Thrones touristy stuff but to see us, to play with the Kids and drink wine with me.  The love and support we had received from our family and friends has been absolutely wonderful.

Wow!  I am going to stop right there, that’s enough pink and fluffy for one day.  I think Eeyore sums it up pretty well so I will leave you with this:

‘A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference

The Home Coming

Braai boy is nearly home!  Me and the Kids have survived.  I have more grey hair and wrinkles and the Kids have probably had too much screen time and sugar but there you go, you do what you need to get by.  There’s a whole host of things that I really should get done before he returns, and no this does not mean completing the Deployment To Do List.  This is a totally different list, this is the ‘Show Him I TOTALLY Smashed It’ list. This list absolutely, totally and utterly has to be completed.  It’s the list that will show Braai Boy that I coped magnificently whilst he was deployed, to show him that I am indeed Super Woman/Super Mama. 

So, in no particular order:

  • the house needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
  • the washing done, folded (I don’t do ironing) and put away.
  • the kids need their hair cut, I need my hair cut and coloured.
  • the grass needs cut and the weeds removed from the patio.
  • the wine rack needs filled.
  • the BBQ needs cleaned as there’s a whole other ecosystem growing in there.
  • I need to drive his car, sh*t I need to drive his car.  I was meant to turn it over every week, I totally forgot.  Note to self, turn the car over after writing this. 
  • clean the inside of my car, it’s filthy, cheerios are stuck everywhere, biscuits lay half eaten on the floor, the back windows are covered in sticky hand prints and there’s heaps of rubbish in the footwells.  When I say rubbish I mean sweet wrappers, and if Braai Boy asks they’re all mine and the kids have never ever had Lindor Balls for brekkie.
  • Get turquoise nail varnish off Wee Mans toes, it turns out it wasn’t peel off after all.

It’s odd when they get home, those first few days you’re readjusting to each other, things like I can’t starfish in bed anymore, I have to share the remote control, I can’t put tomatoes in everything (Braai Boy hates them) and I no longer get to make ALL the decisions about everything.  As well as that, this time I have one major concern about Braai Boys return, two words:  Love Island. 

You see I have invested a lot of time, chocolate eating and energy into watching, discussing and reading up on each show.  Last year, after 4 months away, he got back the day before the Love Island final.  I made him watch it, he still hasn’t forgiven me.  So, this year he comes back half way through the series.  Oh my days, after the bust up we had last year how on earth am I going to convince him that at 9pm every night of the week he needs to sit down and watch a bunch of wannabes pretending to be loved up whilst saying ‘100 percent’, ‘my type on paper’ and so on?  Hang on, how could I be so stupid?  They are all wearing bikinis and there is A LOT of flesh on show, right there, that’s my leverage. 

To make his re-entry, that makes him sound like an astronaut, into family life smoother I send him a list, yes, yes another list.  This list outlines any changes to the Kids their routine, character or appearance for example; Miss Sassy has the attitude of a teenager, Wee Man is obsessed with dinosaurs and can spend hours roaring at you, Wee man has a carpet burn on his head after Miss Sassy dragged him from the lounge to kitchen and so on.  I do not tell him of any changes I have made to the house, as I type I am desperately trying to think about any new bits and bobs I have purchased.  You see, I need to be prepared for him walking round the house and raising his eyebrow or rolling his eyes as he asks me his favourite question ‘is it a need or a want wife?’.

The Love Island issue aside, I am looking forward to Braai Boy coming home.  My partner in crime will be back, my support, the good cop to my bad cop, my drinking buddy.  We will settle back into family life fairly quickly, although I give it a few weeks before I ask him ‘when are you off again?’.  You see it’s not that I don’t love him it’s just that I need to know when I will once again have full control of the remote.

If he’s not delayed (all fingers and toes crossed) I expect him back tomorrow which means I have just over 24 hours to complete the ‘Show Him I TOTALLY Smashed It’ List.  Have a lovely day, I’m off to find my Super Woman cape.

The Deployment Challenge

So, Braai Boy sent me a photo last week, I was pretty impressed to be honest I never knew he had it in him.  Come on people not that sort of photo! It was a screen shot of a run he had done. 

Apparently whilst away they’re doing a physical fitness challenge every month.  The latest challenge is who can run 10k the fastest.  Bloody hell, who wants to run 10k and in those temperatures? So, Braai Boy is taking part in the challenge,  now I have 2 issues with this:

  1. Braai Boy is getting fitter
  2. I’m not

Here’s the screenshot he sent me:

When I saw the screenshot this is what ran (no pun intended) through my head:

  • Time 38.44                     That’s an episode of Killing Eve
  • Distance 10.04km       That’s a return trip by car to our nearest McDonalds
  • Calories 872                   That’s a bottle of wine or 100 Lindor Balls

Whilst he is training like a lunatic to show the youngsters that he’s still ‘got it’, I am channelling the tortoise, slowly slowly wins the race.  Not that we are in competition at all, not really, sometimes, maybe a little bit now and then.  You see Braai Boy owns 3 different sizes of jeans they are pre deployment, R&R and post deployment.  I own one size of jeans in snug, snugger and even snugger.  My aim by his homecoming is to return to snug.

I’ve done my research which mostly involved watching Joe Wicks doing HIITs in just a pair of shorts.  Not going to lie I very much enjoyed researching how to get fit.  I’ve come to the conclusions that you need to integrate fitness into your daily routine.  Whilst it’s a great idea to try and do HIIT with the Kids around its virtually impossible.  Wee Man uses my legs as a tunnel when I’m attempting squats and Miss Sassy asks me question, after question, after question……..I can barely breathe let alone answer as I try to keep up with Mr Wicks.    

So, I had a look at my life, not in a deep and meaningful way, although that wouldn’t take too long.  I quickly realised that I am actually getting fit without even knowing it, who knew?!:

Cardio:   HIIT  – 30 seconds looking for a food item in the supermarket, 30 seconds chasing Wee Man as he runs down the aisle looking for the exit.  This can repeated in most public places.

Strength:  lifting or carrying either child when they’re upset, or being lazy, lazy, lazy or just lazy.

Stamina:  Stair climbing, every night without fail up and down the stairs a lot, a lot of times for the most bizarre Miss Sassy requests and questions.

Wow! I am feeling quite motivated.  Obviously I can’t do any fitness this morning as my 2 Personal Trainers are at school and nursery.  Instead I will have a coffee and continue my research with the lovely Mr Wicks (and his naked torso).  I never thought I would say this but instead of dreading taking the Kids to the supermarket I am very much looking forward to it, let the training begin!

The Deployment To Do List

I should really talk about my Deployment To Do List.  Every time he goes away I have all these grand plans, you know they type; start a new hobby, learn a language, learn to garden (then landscape it), run for Prime Minster and change the world as we know it.  I like to aim high.

In reality I know I am probably never going to achieve anything on my list but it’s a list and I LOVE a good list.  That brings us to Spring 2019.  I had all these plans when he said cheerio this time, this time I was going to get sh*t sorted.  So I wrote a list, itemising things that seemed fairly achievable in the ‘New Year, New Me, its 2019, let’s smash it’ frame of mind.  This years Deployment To Do List included:

  • Get fit
  • Get healthy
  • Make family photo albums
  • Paint the garden shed
  • Upcycle Wee Mans bed
  • Sort garage

It’s been 4 months so do you want to know how I’ve got on?

I have failed to get fit.  I’m a fair weather runner and as the sun rarely makes an appearance here (it’s not called the Emerald Isle for nothing) there’s been a handful of runs completed.  I do go to the odd lunchtime gym session but it’s more of a social event, if my legs worked as hard as my tongue I would have killer pins.

Getting healthy? Well, it really depends on what your idea of what healthy is doesn’t it?  I buy the healthy stuff and then spend time and energy bribing the kids to eat it.  Meanwhile, I’m reaching for a loaf of bread and jar of marmite and washing it down with a bottle of Irn Bru.  As usual I told Braai Boy that I would go ‘dry’ to support him whilst he was away, and as usual I broke after a week, I blame a particularly tense Dancing on Ice skate-off. 

Family albums? yeah one day, probably when the kids have left home.  As for Wee Man’s bed, well let’s be honest he’s a toddler and as long as the duvet cover has dinosaurs on it he doesn’t care.   Next week if its sunny I will make a start on the garage.  However if its it’s raining, which is highly likely, I won’t, you see the garage floods and I have a hole in my wellies

So, there we have it in 4 months I have completed one of items on my list.  The garden shed is painted. 6 weeks left to smash the rest of the list, I hear they’re looking for a new PM so watch this space!

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