Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hair today...

OK, so our son needs a haircut. The thing is, he has an incipient mass of blonde curls and everyone keeps telling us that if we cut them off, they won't grow back. I had a mass of strawberry ringlets when very young however now my hair hangs only just on the curly side of 'wavey' and so I, or rather we, are scissor resistant.

Back in May when Mum was about to arrive, I was all about setting him an appointment at Trotters for one of their special 'first haircuts' where children sit in model cars and have their first curl preserved in a little box. Oh, I was all about that first-curl-in-a-box. Now I am all about the first-curl-still-attached-to-his-head - and so, it appears, is the frog.

Well, you would, wouldn't you?

A few months ago, cutting his hair seemed a pressing issue. 'No no' other Mums would tell their offspring as they pushed their way in front of my little potato 'Let the little girl go first'. Little girl? Little girl? Didn't the pirate tee give him away?

Apparently, in this day and age where modern parents are terrified of imposing gender stereotypes on their little puddings, guessing the sex of anyone under, say, 11 years old, is damn near impossible. I dread being roped into playground conversations with unknown Mums because eventually I'm going to have to take a stab at guessing whether their little darling is 'him' or 'her'. This is because once, despite the fact her pumpkin was wearing blue and had a crew cut, I greatly offended one Mum by not guessing that her pushy little car-clutching nightmare was a girl.

I, however, am not innocent here. I have, bad mother that I am, been known to paint the spud's toenails. In fact if he spots me having a go at my own I am under fairly persistent pressure to paint at least one of his...however, crucially, when someone told me 'your daughter has lovely hair' I was happily un-offended because any mother displaying a child wearing yellow with long blonde curls and blue toenails is clearly asking for it - and it seems, I don't particularly care.

These days however, brushing and drying the spud's locks is taking longer and longer and is incurring increasing levels of toddler impatience, not to mention toddler wrath, toddler screaming and toddler struggling. And, if said toddler goes to bed with wet, un-brushed curls, he wakes up with either a single, massive dreadlock or worse, bad, eighties, Flock of Seagulls hair.

Spot the difference:

So. We have established that we don't care what people think about his hair. We have established that he has truly lovely curls and we have established that maintaining it is causing a breakdown of parent/toddler relations.

What we haven't established is whether or not we are actually going to cut it and this is where you come in, dear reader...s...

Scissors? Or no scissors?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Planes, trains and MORE CAR!

Our little spud is finally venturing into the world of language. While other toddlers his age are conming out with fairly complete, if basic, sentences such as 'I fell out', 'He bit me' (or, in the case of our friend Einstein 'We went to the park to feed the ducks and then we ate our tea') my little pumpkin is still at the stage where he repeats random words and once in a while latches on to their meaning. Thus, everything with wheels is a 'car' including airplanes, trains, buses, motorbikes, suitcases and the wheelie thing we put all the towels into to go to the beach.

We like to think (and are backed up by all sorts of well-meaning folks) that because we are a bilingual household, this is slowing down his speech. Why, only yesterday we stopped in the street to talk to a nice French couple and their dog who informed me, after realising that he was speaking his own, personal language to their pooch, that children with two languages were 'un peux en retard'. Just what I needed to hear merci VERY much...!

This morning he was demonstrating the word 'other' and everything was 'other car'. 'Car, other car, other car, other car, other car, other car, other car, other car' ' Enough to make me go a little Other myself. At least it makes a change from 'More', a word which, once he realised it would get him 'More', the spud has worn so very thin that there is practically no more of anything left in the house whatsoever... my wizard wheeze for fixing the word in his head was that whenever he said 'More' I would say it back to him 'Would you like More?' and then give him more of whatever it was ('More Car' for example...) which led him to think that it was a magic word which would get him anything he wants under its well-known alternate meaning: 'Please feed me'.

Resultantly he is More Potato than ever, as can clearly be seen below.

We're learning 'No More', now.

We've been on the beach nearly every day this week and his love affair with it appears to growing. Today we had surfing. Or rather, we had standing in front of the surf class mimicing them and making them fall off their boards laughing. We also had this:

and this:

Please note the very, very cute little swimming trunks and lack of nappy which makes him look very sweet and grown up but doesn't unfortunately stop him peeing in them.

Ah yes, it was all joy and happiness today except for the moments when he would see a woman sunbathing topless as they do here and he would smile and, despite the fact he has not been breasfed for a year, he would point and say 'More?'.

That, unfortunately, is something which appears to translate into both languages quite successfully.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside...

So here we are in Biarritz again and this time, heaven forfend, it's actually sunny and we have been on the beach, which has been amazing. We're on the beach this time with a completely new spud, I have to say. We've been on the beach with a little baby spud who sat on my lap wide-eyed until his gaze fell upon my boobs and lo, he was hungry. We've sat on the beach with a little crawling spud who ate handfuls of sand until lo, his nappies could double as industrial abrasives. We've sat on the beach with a scaredy little spud who didn't want to leave the towel, touch his feet in the water or do anything that involved touching anything other than the grip he had on the back of my neck and, earlier this year, we, or rather I and my Mother were on the beach with a braver spud who was happy to paddle about in rock pools but much much too frightened to go anywhere near that sea stuff.

Today however we were on the beach with a wholly new spud, a spud who could not be restrained from the sea, a spud who could fall face-first into the ocean and come up spluttering and laughing and ready to do it all again. Oh yes. Today, we had buckets and spades and sand castles and moats and paddling and jumping over waves and sandy hands and a sandy bum and sandy peaches and sandy sandwiches and did I say sand? And heat rash... but I digress.

Finally, all my dreams about being able to lie on the beach reading a book while the spud plays sweetly beside me may be about to come true - hallelujah! It does however help that his French cousins are with us for the week and having three mini babysitters and sand-castle builders in his vicinity is a big impetus for him to get busy with a shovel. Having said that, he is definitely over-joyed to be here and after the first day, he greets the sight of the sea by struggling out of his restraints and legging it at top speed to the edge of the surf where he does a sort of vaudeville dance which lacks only a set of spoons and someone singing 'Knees Up Mother Brown' to bring the house down.

The downside is that he's too excited to sleep meaning that our nights are somewhat less joyous, however he did manage 12 hours in the land of nod yesterday and for that we are ever grateful.

In other news he has been doling out kisses to his french grandparents which trick is wonderful for diverting attention from the other activities he's been getting up to recently, vis a vis stealing enough beer behind the frog's back at our recent barbeque to warrant an actual hangover and potentially a stern warning from social services should they ever find out where we live. He is now to be found lingering about with intent where-ever a recognisable beer can has been spotted and so despite the endless soaking of clothes in seawater, this is proving to be a pretty dry holiday.

More anon.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Will power

My son and I share a toothbrush. Yes, I know. Yes, yes, I know that too. Mum, we gave him the worm medication already. I know. Yes, I KNOW dammit. It's disgusting. I spend a lot of time washing it before either of us use it. I spend more time, however, charging it up.

The spud's obsession with pressing anything that looks like it might be a button (which means stopping at every car we pass on the street to press the headlamps, the indicators, and, oh yes, try the door handles once or twice) means that eventually, he's gotten around to pressing every button in the house. He started with the obvious ones, exploding the CD player, tearing apart my laptop, sticky fingers all over the telephones... but then he moved on to less obvious things... the bedside lamps, the book light, the buttons on the sofa cushions... finally he resorted to examining anything that came his way and pressing any mark just in case it was a hidden button.

One evening when faced with his little baby 'first toothbrush' he demanded mine and, broken I suspect by a long Battle of the Bath, I gave it to him as a distraction and there in my lap after pressing every part of it at least twice, he turned it on. In an attempt to dissuade him, I brushed my own teeth with in and watched in horror followed by relief as he tried to put it in his own mouth and pulled away in shock. Our son, however, is nothing if not dogged and now, a few months later, he will happily spend five minutes frothing up the bathroom brushing his own teeth with the electrics turned on.

On the list of things we'd like him to imitate in the bathroom, using the electric toothbrush was probably pretty far down the list. What was perched precariously at the top was 'potty training' however we're not having much luck. It's not that he doesn't know what it is he has to do as he's perfectly happy to run naked to the potty, sit down, fart, laugh and then stand up again. It's not, he wants us to know, that he doesn't understand, it's that he just can't be bothered.

We don't mind. Not really. Not specifically. It's just that we have no idea what else he can do that he is simply not bothering about and so whenever he goes quiet for longer than a minute we are running in to see what he's up to and I, frankly, am shattered.

night night...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Rogue Trader

In the land of the very small, possession is not nine tenths of the law, it is, in fact, the whole of the law. This law, the law of childhood possession, is normally referred to simply by it's common name 'Mine!' and its finer points are often argued in open court. One only has to spend a few moments in a crowded playground to hear multiple small constables patrolling around sternly enforcing this edict while parental mediators cite the popular 'sharing' clause and the less popular 'it's not your turn' sub-clause.

The 'mine' law appears hard-wired into the human psyche and while one doesn't necessarily hear the word bandied about in polite society, one only has to watch grown adults circle warily around a newspaper on the tube to understand that there, amidst the suits and briefcases, stand the ghosts of their mothers admonishing 'she was there first, let her read it. You take you turn later. Yes? Later. Not now, later. Later I said. Oh for crying out loud - look, juice, would you like some juice? Shall we go home now? Is that what you want?'

Anyway, the spud amazed me this week by willingly offering up his toys to the youngest son of a good friend. I was sitting beaming in my chair, pride stashed relatively unsuccessfully under my motherly bottom while he presented the boy with a succession of toys when I realised that, rather than any advancement in his human nature, true to form he had a hidden agenda.

Once the smaller child was safely playing with something about which, frankly, the spud doesn't care, he turned on his heel and ran as fast as his piggies could take him into his bedroom and onto his ride-on Thomas (£3 at the local charity shop - mine!) and proceeded to parade around in a particularly satisfied manner, stopping only when my friend's oldest got onto his trike and used the pedals, at which point, inevitably, everything was 'Mine' again.

It's not all legal beagles around here though. The other day he shocked us by doing his very first swapsie with his mate Jake - and no ordinary swapsie either, they traded their very favourite 'Don't Touch It, It's Mine' cars. I thought I had dreamed it but then a few days later he did it again with a different friend and different toys and... well it was all roses for a couple of days until they turned to... er, to worms.

Pinworms, in fact.

Two days later he came home from his minder with a note saying that he had recently traded something rather less savoury with someone and could we take him to the doctor?

Rather embarrassingly we've had to confess all to our swapsie friends and I rather suspect that this is one trade they wish the spud had kept to himself.