Posts in spirited children, crafts
Glimpses

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This is the view from my washing line.  I liked hanging out washing at the old house.  I actually think I might love it here. The only problem is that its quite a posh neighbourhood, so I feel like I need to be dressed to hang out my washing...flip flops and jammies doen't seem to cut it.

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I swear I cleaned this room mere moments before this photo was taken. Kevin thinks I just make up the cleaning so it seems like I do something all day.  I think its lucky he's still alive after 10 years. 

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Theo sleeps in a baby hammock. All day.  He loves it.  Except between the hours of 4pm and 3am, when he doesn't.

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We eat a lot of eggs.  A lot.  Well, I don't really eat that many.  Its because when I lived in Calcutta there was a flood and I was stuck in my accomodation and all they served us was eggs for two weeks.  Deep fat fried, curried eggs was my breaking point.  Of course I get a child that loves to eat eggs above all else.

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Georgia loves Theo. As in Hugo the Abominable Snowman "I will love him pat him and squeeze him and call him George" sort of way.  

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Ellis loves him to, but I am less worried about Theo being literally smothered with love. 

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My life is filled with Lego.  We've graduated to itty bitty lego.  Is it wrong to hate it? It'd suck it up with the vacuum, but then I'd have to listen to how all the pieces are missing. 

 

 

Relationships at 3 Feet Tall

To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.

-Brandi Snyder


Ellis has a best friend.  Six months into this relationship, I still find this fact surprising. I guess it never occurred to me that someone so young could forge such an intense relationship with someone outside of the family.  But he has one in X.

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Ellis talks almost non-stop about all of the things he has done or is going to do with his wee friend.  If we are going somewhere, each time we set foot out side of the house, Ellis asks if X will be at our destination. I often have to set aside a second snack to take to X when we see him next (sometimes a week later), because Ellis doesn't want him to be left out.

Both of them are equals in imagination, spirit and ability to cause mischief.  One day, whilst X's mum and I were downstairs chatting E and X went very quiet. I walked upstairs to find two small boys, the bed, the floor, the wall and the bed canopy covered in diaper cream.

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As with so many things in toddler world, the relationship is a passionate one. When they are getting along, they are the best of friends, brothers even.  In fact, X recently told his mum that his new baby brother wasn't his brother, but that Ellis was his brother. They run with squeals of joy to greet each other and hug every time they enter the same space.

And like brothers, when the tides turn, love turns to loathing.  Sometimes even a sideways look is enough to set one of them off and then on top of the other.  We have recently seen Ellis' rugby tackling aptitude and X can run like the wind.  They are like magnets...desperately attracted to one another until the poles get too close...

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No matter how bad the fight, Ellis still asks when he is going to see X again. Through thick and thin they are friends and I am so glad that Ellis and X have their relationship. Who knows were their lives will take them in future, but for now they mean the world to each other.

submitted for:

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Some other things:

  • I have updated my "Love Love Love" links on the left hand side bar.
  • Thank you for all of your emails last week and all the questions about wrap slings.  I'm planning a bit of a post on the subject soon, and sorry I haven't been able to answer questions.
  • For all of you photographers, in case you didn't know already, Adobe has a free Beta version of its Lightroom software available until the end of June.  I am in love with what it can do with photographs and the ease of the work flow.  I don't think I'll be able to afford the new version, but it is great software to have a play with. I thoroughly recommend Dawn Gordon's presets available here


Note to Self

Dear Me,

Please remember, at the moments:

when you actually think that you may completely lose your mind and drop your (almost) 3 year old off at a rehoming centre,

when he stands on the bridge for 45 minutes refusing to either go forward or back,

when he fights every time he needs a change of clothes or nappy, 

when he wants to listen to the same Thomas the Tank Engine audio book over and over all day long and calls Nina Simone, "rubbish",

when he, in the 5 minutes it takes for you to go upstairs and deposit a laundry basket on the bed, climbs up onto the kitchen counter, turns on the taps, overflows the sink, empties a full litre of milk onto the counter and is trying to climb out the window onto the rubbish bins,

that you love him.

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That he makes you laugh.

That you miss him when he is not with you.

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That he makes everything adventurous.

That he is very sweet and cuddly and will not always be so.

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That his desire to help, really does outweigh his capability to create chaos.

That he is ridiculously cute.

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and then put on Thomas (again), make yourself a cup of tea and remind yourself that the rehoming centre actually has been redeveloped into new houses.  So, for better or worse, the two of you are in this together.   

Love,

Your Self

A Note to Your Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Ellis-When you look back on this post, or any of the things I have written about you, I hope you take them with the joy and wonder with which they are intended. I hope that society has moved to such a place that teenagers aren't embarrassed by their parents or their childhood antics (and that pink fairy dresses are perfectly acceptable for little boys to wear, because lets face it they are much more interesting than boring boys clothes).

But if not, then I hope you realise we have all been embarrassed by our parents at some stage. Did I ever tell you about the time your Grammy met your Nana and Grandpa Harrison for the first time and asked them to tell her their "love story"? Ellis, you mother nearly melted with embarrassment. Now true, she didn't post something on the internet for thousands of people to read, but we'll call that a sign of the times. However, I did have to wear a PINK dress to my first communion when everyone else wore white and that was in front of the ENTIRE St John's Catholic Church. In my experience, embarrassment is worse and lasts longer when you have to see the witnesses every day.

I hear you ask, "Why do what you are about to do, if you know its going to embarrass me in the future?"  Well, my dear son, there are really two reasons. Firstly, I write this blog as a reminder for all of us about how magical your life is.  You see, you are the funniest, most creative and crazy person I know.  I love how you challenge my perceptions of right and wrong and my expectations of how children should act.  I want to remember how cute and funny you were (and I am sure you still are, though may not appreciate hearing it).

The second reason for posting this, is that quite frankly it was hilarious.  And I like to make people smile. You were so stinking cute in your "pretty dress", as you rolled pumpkins, chased the cats, wrestled with your dada and watched the movie with "big 'pace ships".  I laughed so hard I cried.  It was even more funny as the previous day we'd been to an all-girl birthday party and you'd spent the afternoon telling me you "No want to play with girls" and then beating them with balloons as they did the hair on My Little Ponies.

And so, here you go.  A lovely boy in a lovely pink dress.

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Pumpkin Fairy

I hope you look back on this and see adorable pictures of how lovely you were and how happy I am that you are able to express yourself. But just in case gender stereotypes are as valued 15 years from now as they are today, here is a "manly" picture for good measure.

Trucks

Yours Truely,

Mama

Captive Audience
Zoos make me anxious.  Perhaps I have been in theenvironmental sector too long and entering one instantly triggers epic internal monologues about conservation policy, the viability of captive breeding, genetic sustainability, biological potential and Saartjie Baartman 
 
Its amazing how the baggage of adulthood can be shed with the simple laugh of a small child**.  My doubts quieted as I saw the complete and total joy that spread from head to toe of my small boy as we entered Edinburgh Zoo.  Running from exhibit to exhibit, dragging us along to see what came next.

The sea lion was the major hit.  He stared and laughed in delight for ages at their flippered antics. Of course, we could not convince him it was a sea lion and not a seal like the many he's seen on our trips to the coast (and once on the River Forth near our house). But, being right has little meaning in the face of such love and adoration.

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The swimming penguins also were met with squeals of delight.  Apparently, the buckles on small man's jacket strongly resemble something edible to the diving birds and a fair few came up to investigate.
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Of course, the other major hit of the day was running and climbing.  Why walk when you can run, especially down hills and in crowded areas?  And why go around an object when you can climb it?  The zoo has an amazing range of play  parks dotted around its full length and breadth...and Ellis had a play on each one.

Climbing Running Monkeying Around

 

 

Oh and because the sun was shining, ice cream had to be consumed.  Its a law of physics, you know.

And so with my baggage put aside at the entrance gate, I too was able to be captivated for a few moments. 

** Green Twins Mummy recently wrote a beautiful post about the joys of seeing things anew through children's eyes here

 
Passing Judgement

It usually starts something like this:
Whilst out running errands, my 2 year old can no longer stand being in his pushchair.  The fact he's never really sat in it for more than 5 minutes at a time in his entire life is no reason for his father and I NOT to try and coax him in it when we are out at the shops.  After insistent 'begging' for a wee while, he is set free.

The moment he is released from the confines of the "push", he is action, movement, locomotion, motion, running, jumping, climbing, crawling, speed.  These two years of parenting this restless soul has taught us to trust that he knows how far he can go.  We keep a wary watchful eye, but understand that he needs to be free and his needs have to be accommodated in amongst the to do list of the day.

In the triangulation of the 3 of us, we accept this.  We can imagine how adventurous a shopping mall must seem at 3 foot something tall.  Escalators are mountains to scale, clothes racks are deep caves.  There is food and people and children and adventure at every turn.  Though, in a shopping mall full of people, it is never just us.

Recently, I was standing in a shop watching Ellis as Kev looked for work clothes.  E had run to the outside of the shop and was waving at me from the other side of the glass, in the shopping mall, thinking it was very funny. An older woman grabbed his arm and dragged him into the shop, calling out, "Who does this belong to?".  I had broken into a run when I saw this and met them at the door.  Understandably, E was upset at being grabbed by a stranger, but not nearly as upset as I was.  The woman began a tirade, first about E "getting in the way of the shoppers" and then about the dangers of letting a pane of glass separate me from my son with all of the predators lurking in Glasgow.

I wish I had come back with something, but I didn't.  The danger card is a hard one for me...no one wants to put their child's safety at risk, even if I would argue that the risk was negligible.  I just calmly asked her to let go of my son. I picked him up and walked away (to have him scramble down and run off a moment later to climb under the clothes racks).

This happens a lot.  Comments, looks, and judgement follow our family outings.  I have often been on the wrong end of a tirade about control, disruption and rudeness. We dare to let him free in busy shopping malls.  I support his efforts to scale walls, only step on the coloured tiles, explore puddles on cold wet days, get up close and waist-deep personal with pond life, climb slowly over a cattle grid . I feel it is not different than extending full access rights to people with disabilities or the elderly or anyone else who may not walk in this world with the straight path and single-minded focus on power walking from A to B whilst sipping a latte.  Children need space and to make their own mistakes.

Mark Twain is famous for saying that, "You can't depend on your judgement when your imagination is out of focus".  How did we get to a point in society when we can no longer imagine what it is like to be a busy two year old whose whole life is one great adventure? Why is it that so many people place tremendous value on charecteristics in children (quiet, complacence) that are looked down upon in adulthood?  I guess, I probably don't want to know. Quite frankly, I'd rather go play in a puddle.

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How to Make Friends and Influence People

Adult: Take almost 2 year old to well-known bookstore chain that has a permanent display of wooden railways that children can play with.

Almost 2 year Old: Start yelling "Choo Choo," the minute you see the storefront.

Adult:  Run through the store grabbing magazines and books of marginal interest to read whilst almost 2 year old is playing, attempting to get a stack before meltdown occurs.

Almost 2 year old: Increase the volume of "Choo Choo" until it reaches ear-splitting levels and people turn and stare.

Adult: Place Almost 2 Year Old in front of the train table.  Sit down and start leafing through Mason-Dixon Knitting: Outside the Lines

Almost 2 Year Old: Play happily for about 3 minutes, until another child is spotted making his way towards the train table.  Emit blood curdling yell and throw a train at the boy.

Adult: Sigh with small relief that Almost 2 Year Old can not throw very well and walk over to explain that other children can play with the trains as well. 

Almost 2 year Old: Agree to play nicely. 

Adult: Notice that new child's father has sat down.  New child runs over and tells his dad that, "He's pushing me" and points to Almost 2 Year Old. Apologise profusely and tell new child that Almost 2 Year Old  is a bit of a thug.  New child's father says something to the effect of, "Oh he can't be, what is he, just past one years old?".  Reply that he is actually 2 in April.  New child's father replies, " Oh my God, he's tiny. He's almost 2 and doesn't talk.  You should really see your peadiatrician!"

Adult: Resist the urge to say, "Gee you are nearly 40 and you don't have any manners.  Maybe YOU should see someone."  Smile noncommittally.

Adult: After about half an hour and at least a dozen minro scurmishes, realise its time to go and give Almost 2 Year Old fair warning.

Almost 2 Year Old: When the time does come to go, start screaming and throwing self down.  Ensure that you do one or more of the following:

- Throw trains

- Bang Head

- Hit and Kick

Adult: Pick up Almost 2 Year Old and move out of harm's way.

Almost 2 Year Old: Go into full-blown "don't touch me, look at me or speak to me" rage.

Adult: Remain calm and collected as small boy yells and thrashes on the floor.  Realise you have parked in the craft section and pick up a book to leaf through whilst intermittently offering consolation and distractions to Almost 2 Year Old.

Almost 2 Year Old: Respond "No." to all of the following requests:

- Do you want to go see your Aunt J?

- Do you want to get some lunch?

- Do you want to help Mama pay?

- Do you want your train?

Continue to yell at the top of your voice.  Ensure that you reach almost out of human range high-pitched screams when people walk by and look.

Adult:  Look up to see your very tall teenage nephew walking over.  "Hey, aunt Kate.  I thought that might be you two."

Adult: Try to remain cool calm and collected and not melt on the spot from embarrassment.  Tell nephew you will see him in a bit. Get out sling and coax Almost 2 Year Old onto your back with wrestling moves you learned in PE class in junior high.

Almost 2 Year Old: After a few moments thrashing, decide that actually mama is very fun and lovely and start telling her a story in Ellis-speak. At the end of a beautiful rendition of "Row Row Row Your Boat" ask, "Choo Choo?"

Seven

So, reading the last few posts, I realise how negative they all sound, so here are some random thoughts from the last few days:

1.  On my way into work yesterday morning, I started composing a poem to my washing machine (if Ktae Bush can do it, why can't I).  It seems my poetic skills aren't very good and I only got as far as:
Washing Machine, Washing Machine
Your make my dirty laundry so clean
You are 20 years old and smell of mould
But to get a new model'd be obscene

Don't worry.  I am not giving up my day job

2. Ellis is convinced that choo choos go in the sky.  He will not be told otherwise.  I have yet to meet the person who can argue successfully with a two year old.  As an aside, apparently when I was 2, I used to argue with my oldest brother who is 11 years older than I am.  T is logical and persuasive, but I am stubborn and he used to give up in frustration.  I am beginning to understand...

3. I think I have to give up red wine (sob, sob).  If I have so much as a glass these days, I wake up feeling sick.  Someone may as well cut off my left arm. 

4. we tried taking a "fun family foto" last night.  This is what we came up with:

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5. My house, which normally only falls into the disgraceful catagory from Thursday onward, hit this catagory on a Tuesday night.  Now the choice...do I attempt to rectify?  Or just give up and live in (marginal) squalor?

6. E Man is not a happy bunny this morning.  I can confirm that spirited/high need children are a wonderous gift to humanity.  However, on the days where the extreme sensitivity and tearfulness come out, its a challenge.  I think this afternoon we will go and take a long walk somewhere wooded.  That usually helps.

7.  If you haven't seen it already.  I really recommend reading Kate Evan's article in the Independent yesterday about miscarriage.  It is beautiful and touching and articulates so clearly the loss that women feel when you lose a baby in pregnancy. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/features/miscarriage-the-loneliest-grief-of-all-1516750.html

Worst Mother in The World

I know you thought that you were it, but I a here to tell you that it is official that I am the worst mother in the world. Ellis told me so, so it has to be true. My offence: I offered him grapes in a bowl. I know, how dare I? The audacity of that simple act sent him into hysterics, including, but not limited to: crying, stomping, throwing himself on the floor and hitting. To top it all off, I was not immediately repentant which meant further despair.

In my defence, I had just given him a bowl of grapes that he had happily eaten and then asked for more. My telepathy must have been down for that moment, as I didn't get the sudden thought-memo that clearly stated I was not to give him grapes in a bowl, even though he asked for them. The metal plate in my head doesn''t pick up signals like it used to.

To add insult to injury, rather than thinking about how to diffuse the situation, a Janis Ian song popped into my head and I had to laugh at the line, "Folk is the new black. its's cheaper than crack and you don't have to cook." God, I wish I could have written that!! E man was NOT pleased and "decided" that he had no choice but to retire to a dark room to recover from the sheer trauma of having me as a mother. When do I tell him that its incurable?