Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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Christmas & New Year 2017

A Little Bit Elfish

Kerry Thomson is writing her own letter to Santa this year...

It's amazing the way modern homes are designed these days. Santa can actually see through the light on our smoke alarm. That little flashing light? That's him. Just checking in to make sure everyone is on their best behaviour. “Does that mean he can see you too, mummy?” I guess it does. So here's my letter to the big man. Just in case…

Dear Nick,

Firstly, if you are actually watching I find that a little bit weird. And secondly, I can explain. I won't be handing out lemon bonbons to kittens and posting inspirational quotes on Facebook before dawn (she always gets there first). But I’m nice. I think. I love my children, my family, my friends, my Amazon Prime. I listen well, care about important stuff, enjoy silly things, advise reasonably sagely, give to charity and try not to take the lids of things in Boots to see what they smell like before I buy them.

But, the thing is… I’m selfish. Sometimes. On a good day, I’m a selfless mum with a slightly annoying selfish one trying to get out. Nick, I think most of us probably are if we’re honest. And it’s a funny thing to get your head around because there is no magic gene that kicks in as soon as you have children that makes you suddenly 100 per cent altruistic. Devoted, yes. Die for them, yes. Throw yourself in front of a sleigh for them, yes – in a blink.

However, deal with a spilt Weetabix situation before you’ve even had a tiny sip of coffee in the morning? That is really hard. In fact, I’d definitely have to weigh up the pros and cons of just leaving it. Although Weetabix is a poor example, as the super glue of cereal it actually is worth cleaning it up before it dries. They should swap the b for an f.

Nick, I don't want to be insensitive – because I've been there myself and it took me a lot longer than I would have liked to become a parent. But I'm pretty sure you don't have any yourself yet and you only work one day a year so let's not get into competitive busyness. And while you're great at buying them all the cool stuff (oh how I loved that plastic flute and the chocolate coin maker that required a degree in product design engineering) and letting them stay up late eating cookies – well, I'm more of the 'walk a mile in someone else's snow boots before you judge' school of thought. And (look away now if you’re a new parent, reader) I don’t think it gets all that much easier. It gets better and it gets more jam packed full of love, yes (or love packed full of jam – there we are back to the spillages again) and more full of belly laughs and utterly amazing stuff, stuff you never knew existed before children were part of your life. But I don’t think it gets easier. Please don't take me off the 'Nice' list for admitting it.

Nick, you should know this by now – you've been watching after all. Nice doesn't cut it. I adore them, beyond adore, consistently, unequivocally, equally but differently – there just aren't even enough words. And even when the words I utter, when I untangle My Little Pony's mane from the hoover aren't exactly child-friendly, I still love them. Nick, let's be blunt – we had a few cr*p Christmases – I wasn't at my best when I was 'trying' to become a mum. I loved and lost and then, quite suddenly, I won. I hit gold. My numbers came up, and up and up and up as the test showed. Every Christmas wish came true that year – and then again the Christmas after.

But it is still a bit rubbish, Nick, let's face it, when you just want to sit in peace, sip eggnog, eat a bag of Sweet Chilli Sensations and you have to go deal with a big messy poo.

It has taken me longer than it should have to realise this: that it is okay to complain on a tough day or to be selfish – the difference is whether you act on it or not I suppose. You can scoff the crisps by stealth later with your head partially hidden in the fridge door while disguising the noise by rustling through bags of out-of-date salad leaves. Some people do that apparently.

So Nick, I'm laying it all out – I find it useful to look honestly at what I’m good at and what I’m not – CV style. Did I go to soft play centres before I had children? Exactly. You think your toy factory is hectic on 24th December, well get those elves down to our local soft play for your next North Pole Away Day. I can assure you they will not know what hit them. And from experience I can say there's a good chance it was an 8-year-old trespassing in under 3's section with a Fruit Shoot 'missile'.

There are some things I am good at though which I hope get me onto The Nice List. I’m good at telling stories and making up funny-if-you’re-four rhymes. I’m good at pottering about with coins and boxes and playing shops. I’m good at discos in the living room, with Beyonce’s All The Single Ladies and talking to them about their day. I’m surprisingly good at just mucking about. This isn’t a stealth boast by the way, I'm not great with glitter and craft. I read with great delight this week that both have been banned completely. I'm getting better at juggling – I mean the life sort – not the bouncy balls. Although the ones I have dropped (of which there have been many) seem to have bounce-back-ability. I don't juggle the precious stuff  – I've got better at that this year. I'm trying to practice mindlessness. I mean mindfulness.

I'm not good at crowds. I am genuinely always impressed when people say they’ve had a fabulous family fun day out at the such and such Christmas event with crowds of 5,000 plus in attendance. It’s the same gene that means, although I love clothes, I hate sales and as for that 5am opening thing – the chaos blows my mind. I just know I’d come home somewhat confused, dehydrated and full of The Hunger with an acid-green broderie anglaise vest and a  pair of yellow culottes reduced to £4.75.Nick, please don't think I'm a bad person but I do secretly love it when I meet someone else who is a teeny weeny bit bored at the swings.

So Santa, you've seen it all. I haven't always been good for goodness sake. Most of the time I'm winging it. I hope I've made it onto your Nice list but if I haven't it's okay. Because in my own way, with my favourite Two Small Things, I've made it – we've made them. Their randomness, their chaos, their made-up words and worlds, muddled musings and brilliantly beautiful messy faces. Santa… I have all I ever wanted.

Kerry X

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