Sunday, November 30, 2008

Milky bar kid

We’ve been a bit poorly here in spud central. I had to rush off to pick him up from nursery two Mondays ago because he had lost his dinner (and by the size of the patch of sawdust, his lunch and possibly his breakfast) all over the toy shelf.

I came to get him, expecting, as I usually do when he is ill a pale, limpid slip of a thing but getting my usual rambunctious spudlet showing no indication that anything was wrong, other than the softly lingering scent of his incident and a constant desire to be carried. I bathed him and he refused his dinner, demanding instead the first of what must now be 100 bottles of warmed milk.

The next day, barred from nursery, the frog stayed home with him so that I could work and the spud bounded around the house, defiantly being well, but still not eating. He had a smidgen of breakfast but then refused lunch and dinner, demanding instead an ever-increasing number of bottles of milk. Yes, he is still having milk from a bottle. Alright, YOU come over and give it to him in a cup. Go on, I Dare You. You face that look of betrayal, the clutching hands around the cup, the quivering lip as he bravely raises it and then... the wail of humiliation as he sips, the howl as it all becomes Too Too Much and he lets it go all over his lap and lies down sobbing as though he was All Alone in the Void. I thought not.

Anyway, so here we are, two weeks later and still going through 4 pints of milk in less than 2 days. Friends rang us on their way over the other day and asked if they could pick us up anything and I asked for 4 pints of milk. They brought over two 2-pint bottles ‘so that the last part doesn’t go off in your fridge’ and I looked at them as if they were completely insane. It’s not just milk though, oh no, it’s fluids in general. He can now pad his way over to the fridge, take out the juice, open the lid, pour it into a cup (aha, now juice – THAT goes in a cup), put the lid on, take it back to the fridge, drink down the cup and go back to do it all again. Notice I don’t add the words ‘without spilling anything’.

He’s eating again now but not really that much. Now we’ve all come down with a cold and a cough it’s hard to resist his husky little voice holding up an empty bottle and wheezing ‘maw?’ so I guess we’ll just keep bothering the cows until he decides he’s had enough.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nineteen to the dozen

Out of the blue the other day, the spud, sitting with a pile of bricks, counted clearly to 10. Well. Almost clearly.

There must be some sort of song that goes with the counting because, as with 'Twinkle Twinkle' he has the beginning and the end part nailed but is a bit woolly in the middle, so we get ONE TWO THREE, ffo, fff, SEX, seh-het, NINE TEN and then we get 'nineteen nineteen nineteen nineteen nineteen nineteen nineteen' Today he added 'sixteen' to the mix, possibly because, just as 'boo' is his favourite colour, 'sex' is his favourite number. Combined with his constant use of the word 'bugger', which I think means 'bigger' and the frog thinks means I need to watch my mouth, we're having a wonderful time out in public as he points to car number plates and shouts 'SEX' really loudly and then sits back and says 'bugger bugger bugger'.

All preparation for the trials and tribulations of grown-up life, I suppose.

We've also discovered puppets. If you want to make my son fall over laughing, put a sock over your hand and make an animal noise. Lunge for his nose a couple of times and he's helpless - gods, if I'd known toddlers were so easy to please I'd have saved a fortune on all those christmas presents cowering on top of the wardrobe. Seriously, I'd have just gone to Primark and lurked around their hosiery division with a needle and some buttons.

Actually, I already knew he was easy to please - we've had over a year of fun and games out of the cardboard box his carseat came in and yesterday he entertained himself for nearly an hour with nothing but a plate of paint and a pad of paper. He plopped both his hands in, waved them about on the paper then pointed to the resulting splodge and said 'Airplane!! Airplane!!' I did the dutiful Mummy thing and nodded wisely. 'Very good' I said. 'Airplane!!' he said and promptly wiped it into oblivion counting 'one, two free, nineteen nineteen nineTEEN!!!'. I was hoping for some masterpieces to hang up but as I wasn't policing his use of the pad, most of what he did got stuck together. Given that paint and paper cost me £1 each and we've got enough left for many more hours of mess, perhaps I can take a break from eBay.

I may be showing the rapid advancement of my years, but I don't remember anyone I knew as a child having as many toys as some of the children I know have now (untangles tongue). Piles and boxes and storage containers and rooms of the things. Spud has two wicker Ikea boxes that pretty much everything fits into and sometimes I feel badly for him that he doesn't have more - but mostly, I look at what he does have and wonder if it's too much.

My sister in law is spending Christmas in India working at an orphanage with Families for Children, a private, non profit, nonsectarian agency operating homes that care for hundreds of destitute children and women in India and Bangladesh. She's taking donations of clothes and toys out to the orphanage and in the run-up to Christmas, I'd like to support what FFC do by asking anyone who reads this to buy one less present for someone who already has a lot of stuff and donate the money to a charity, perhaps even this one which does a bang-up job of caring for kids who rarely get their own toys to keep.

To donate to FFC directly you can get information from their web site here or you can donate to them through

The spud, for his part, isn't going to miss out on much. Frankly, he already thinks he has nineteen of everything and so one less won't make a difference. Pretty much all he ever plays with are his wooden and his Thomas trains anyway.

I know. A train puppet! Get me a pair of tights. And your credit card - Christmas is coming and folks need help.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

nothing but a dreamer...

There's a new happening in the life of our little spud this week. Not that I've had anything to do with it mind you, I was handily out of town when the frog initiated the Big Change.

Recently, as some of you may know, we've been having Difficult Nights in which our son refuses to go to sleep. They've been getting worse and worse recently with him spending hours shouting and crying and begging to be taken out of his cot, usually ending with us taking him to our bed to fall asleep.

Anyway, so while I was safely tucked away on another continent, the frog took the initiative and transformed the spud's cot into a bed - and our son into a happy sleeper, just like that.

It's amazing. You have no idea how thrilled the spud is with his new bed - we have to sit on it, put the trains on it, pretend to sleep in it, jump in it, sing in it, eat breakfast in it... it's bed central. Today we went to Ikea and bought him a baby duvet and he basically spent the entire rest of the afternoon pretending to sleep under it.

It has, however, introduced a very strange vibe to the flat and I'm not entirely sure how to put it into words. Imagine this, then. You're asleep in your bed. It's dark. Some little quiet sound has woken you up. A sound you've not heard before. You sit up and your heart lurches to a stop as, caught in a beam of moonlight, a silent figure glides to the end of your bed and... touches you!!!


I know, I had to take a moment to get my heart down past my epiglottis. It was, as you have no doubt guessed, only the spud coming to lauch himself at me. I however was completely unprepared. This evening it happened again. Normally, after we put him into bed, we give him a half a bottle of milk, warmed over to put him out. After he's downed it he shouts for me to get the bottle and then he falls asleep. Tonight, I had given him the good stuff and was pottering about waiting for him to shout when a little elfin figure padded into the livingroom, handed me his bottle and hot-footed it back into his bedroom before words could be spoken.

I'm not sure what I love about this the most - the lack of shouting; the new grown-up sleeping or, that he is stubborn enough to make his point even in the teeth of bedtime: he will get out of bed when he damn well pleases - but he will also get back in without having to be told. Either way, I am preparing myself for unexpected evening sightings and waiting for the inevitable day when we wake up to find him sitting in the middle of the kitchen eating butter with a spoon.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Potty Mouth

Bemusingly, this post is nothing to do with toilet training. I know, I know, I’m letting you down. We skyped the spud’s Aunt and Uncle in Canada the other day and halfway through the call he displayed his naked bottom and we had to admit that he was running around pantless in hopes of a potty wee. In fact, we went much further than that. Given the time difference I suspect we ruined their breakfast but this is of no import to us, we’d already eaten and are smugly used to the odd dirty potty. In fact, potty training is pretty much all there is to talk about in our house these days. Poor little bean, the workings of his innermost plumbing are public enough without me rabbiting on about it to all and sundry (apologies here to anyone who has dared visit us in the last month).

No, there are more important things on the agenda today. This is, in fact, all about our current, massive dilemma.

The spud, as some of you may know, is currently in a wonderful Montessori nursery. He loves it. He’s happy. He’s talking and counting and using the toilet and singing and tidying up and using a handkerchief and saying ‘Miss Bharti, FUN’ all the way home about his key worker. Frankly, we love it too. Rather a lot. However, this garden of delight is in Streatham, which is, on a good day an 8 minute drive and on a bad, 20 minutes. Each way. In rush hour. Twice a day. This means [gets out calculator] between 30 and 80 minutes in the car every day just to get him there and back.

He has, since birth, been on the waiting list of our local, non-Montessori nursery. It has a long waiting list because it’s a particularly good nursery and all the spud’s bestest friends are either already there or on the waiting list. He knows it because his childminder used to take him there twice a week, because she is part of their affinity programme which is the entire reason we chose her in the first place. Finally, it is a five minute walk from our front door. This week they rang us to say that he’s been offered a place starting in January.

With the exception of one neighbour who has a PHD in anthropology and won’t let her child watch TV (so, depending on how I feel her opinion is either the most valuable of everyone's or the ranting of a mad person) everyone thinks we are bonkers to even consider turning it down – I mean, it’s the best nursery for miles. And all his friends will be there. Or have I said that already?

We have, on balance, decided to go ahead, although we haven’t told Montessori yet. I may possibly cry during the meeting because I wanted him in Montessori so badly. He’s doing so well, you see. He loves it. They have French lessons, for crying out loud.

Anyway, the deciding factor is the distance. Yes, it will be a matter of seconds for us to dash out the door and fetch him from the local nursery. Yes, we will be saving gallons of petrol and carbon emissions and ultimately the planet.

The best thing however is that the spud will no longer be party to my road rage.

Quite a lot of the journey to Montessori involves complex little neighbourhood intersections where everyone just kind of gets in each other’s way and, ultimately, tempers are raised. I, unfortunately, am absolutely useless at curbing my tongue but it wasn’t until someone honked at us yesterday and the spud yelled ‘BUTTER’ at him that I realised that things have gone Too Far.

Yes yes yes. I know. We’re signing him up for the local. I’ll get my coat.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Guest Blogging.

How terribly, terribly exciting - I have my first ever guest blog over at Tara's house: From Dawn Til Rusk! Her blog is ever so fab and I am basking the wild glow of reflected glory at the moment... sigh... So anyway, head over to re-live my birth story... just what you always wanted. I know, I'm so nice to you. Tara's blog however is very funny so go over anyway, go on, go on, gon on.

Actually, for clarity, this is clearly not MY birth story. For that you'd have to ask my Mum. No, this is a re-hashing of the day that Charlie was born, and I, having already contracted blogitis, probably blogged about it before I'd even told my family.

For any of you who have been brave enough to venture over from Tara's blog, hello and welcome. This blog started as a way of keeping my family amused by my pregnancy and has continued for the last two and a half years... although recent posts have been slightly less humorous now that I am faced with the realities of my toddler, his hundred tiny hands and his ability to interrupt what is left of my beauty sleep.

I think that I have to face the fact that there may never be enough sleep in the world to regain what shreds of beauty I may ever have had and, while pregnancy confers a wonderful, youthful glow, there is nothing like having a two-year-old to suddenly display one's Real Age to all and sundry.

Still, thanks for coming over - do leave a comment if you have a minute as it would be my pleasure to seek you out in the next few days.

Forgive me while I go crawl into a vat of face cream.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

... the old man is snoring...

I just want to show you a little bit of what sort of a day this has been.

Cold, basically. And wet. And grey and somewhat glorious. With the frog at work all day, the spud and I went out in the rain, foolishly, me with the desire to run him into some semblance of exhaustion and he with the desire to ride his scooter and throw himself into the park at full throttle.

We started in the playground where he abandoned his scooter. The slide was too wet even for him so we proceeded to the one-o-clock club where he rode the hell out of anything with wheels for 10 minutes; but we had to leave a little sharpish when he got protective of his rights to the wagon.

Then I carried his scooter to the duck pond where, due to it being a freezing cold rainy day, the ducks hadn't had a hand-out in living memory and therefore swarmed the spud's proffered crumbs. Hungry young crows muscled swiftly in on our bread action and for a moment it was very Hitchcockian - but by the time my superior mothering instincts had kicked in and I had got out the camera, the bread had been consumed and my son was gaily scudding about the flock with his arms at full mast.

The crows retreated.

This, however was by no means the end of the sojourn, despite the increasing rain. Next, I followed behind him (carrying his scooter) into the walled garden where we spent time sitting on various sheltered benches and walking around all the paths and patting rogue dogs and jumping over things a lot. When I stopped clapping at every jump, the spud walked up and grabbed one of my hands in each of his and clapped my hands for me.

Then, I tried to get him home, but instead he demanded that we go to the paddling pool - the sort of demanding that involves no screaming or shouting or tantrums but rather the sound of little wellie boots on tarmac, running the wrong way. It was belting down and the drain in the centre was gulping water - luckily leaving a few messy puddles around its lip for some handy stomping.

By this time I had been carrying his scooter for nearly an hour and was soaking wet, cold and thinking hungrily of a cup of tea.

I picked him up to carry him home but he struggled down and ran up the hill to the long way home. We picked up some leaves and he said the word 'yellow' and 'reaves' and finally asked for his scooter. He scooted merrily up the hill and then along until he was distracted by some absolutely bonkers people playing tennis, the yellow balls like emergency flares against the sky. Then he ran off across the grass in the general direction of the BMX bike track, at which point I picked him (and his scooter) firmly up and carried him the rest of the way home, warming his icy little hands against my cheeks singing 'It's raining it's pouring' while he giggled and pretended to snore against my shoulder.

We had hot chocolate while our coats steamed on the radiators. We took off our socks and sat on the sofa making 'mmmm' noises and grinning at each other and then the spud went for a nap and I made pumpkin cookies. Later, he had some friends over, still in their pyjamas having had a rainy day inside; and they ran amok and devoured mountains of baking while the cat cowered and their parents drank tea and kept a low profile.

If I tell you that he went to sleep like a stone, I hardly think you'll be surprised.

I rather hope it rains again tomorrow.