Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's beginning to sound a lot like...

Much as we love the spud's nursery, they are doing our heads in at the moment. Well, my head anyway.

It's November, folks, as I may have mentioned before. November. OK, so by the time you read this it could easily be December, it being nearly upon us and me not being what you might call the most diligent of bloggers.

Anyway, so it's definitively not December and yet, and yet the spud knows all the words (or at least, something that sounds proximate) to Jingle Bells, a song he defiantly refused to learn, sing or acknowledge last year. Not only knows the words, but insists on singing them relentlessly over and over and over.

Every day, he tells us that Christmas is coming. Every day we say 'not yet' and he says 'yes it is' and we say 'not yet' and he say 'soon'!!!! I ask him what will happen on Christmas day and he says 'Christmas Tree!' and that seems about that. He's not jumping up and down for presents but he did drag out a book about Thomas and the Christmas Tree today which we haven't read in a year and which I thought he'd forgotten about.

It's not good enough that everywhere we go is covered in spangles and tinsel; it's not enough that Old Nick St. Nick himself is popping out of every crack and crevice in the known world with his beard and his jaunty sack (snorf); it's not enough that we are already bricking it as the deadlines for getting packages to Canada and the rest of the known world pass in a flap of calendar pages.

No, these things are not enough. On top of all this hard-core commercial spew from the gorge of Mammon himself, we must have an over-excited three year old for the entirety of the time between Samhain and Yule.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I may not be a Christian but I love and in some way truly believe the story of the nativity, the birth of the child of light just as our little globe tilts our hemisphere back towards the sun. I love the whole schmoo, the mince pies and mulled wine, the chaos of friends and family, the rustle of secret wrappings; the velvet quiet of Christmas Eve midnight, carols and figgy pudding and broken ornaments and that feeling, just after lunch the next day, when one realises that no matter what the light might say, Christmas is the longest day of the year.

I love it, but I don't want it rammed down my throat and more importantly, I don't want it rammed down my son's throat. He's only three. The anticipation is ruining everything.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas... you MUST be joking...

If the levels of stress in every day living and working were not enough, I got an email from John Lewis asking me about our Christimas rules... but... Christmas is MONTHS away...

One of my favourite bloggers is pregnant and recently announced that she's made her cake. After reading this I immediately felt adrenaline rising through my body, my blood pressure dropped, my vision clouded over... it's November. Already. how did this happen?

So began one of what has become our own, personal Christmas rules: I buy the ingredients for the cake and pudding and the Frog starts pointing out how much cheaper it would be to buy them ready made. Apparently, the cost of the cooking gas needed to steam a pudding for 7 hours once a year will break us; the cost of his rusting Saab and its never-ending battery troubles however... well, that's not mine to discuss...

Either way, the rule in this house is that we make the cake in advance (and make a wish while stiring it) then lace it with so much brandy in the intervening weeks that the Spud isn't allowed to have any of the finished product.

I arrived into this marriage with a whole host of Christmas traditions evolved over the years of my childhood. My husband arrived into the marriage with none at all. I was hoping we could develop our own; he was hoping I wouldn't notice it was December. We have however managed to stumble across one or two of our own rules - to whit:

  • The Frog actually instigated our first real rule which is that we open one small present on Christmas Eve (it's very French, apparently).

  • Our Christmas stockings groan under their own weight and are The Best Bit.

  • We have a tree. This is a highly-contested rule due to my own conflict about killing a tree and the Frog's hatred of fallen needles. All the arguments however end every year in us buying whatever is left at the local garden centre on Christmas eve. Last year it was a mammoth. The year before it was a poor, dead, balding, shedding remnant. Poor trees.

  • We give our son a new decoration to hang every year. Each year we found we have lost or broken the one from the previous year.

  • The Frog sneaks away on Christmas Eve to remove half the tree decorations because 'they're tacky and bourgeouis'

  • We always save the best presents for last. The Frog hates this as he is chronically impatient and so he is always trying to work out which one is his 'big' present. This from a man who is over 50 and professes to hate Christmas.

I'm hoping that as the spud grows we'll develop more rules and traditions but for now, I think that's us done.

Now on to get that cake started...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spud Friday

We've been going swimming a lot on Fridays recently but this Friday we went instead to the Transport Museum in Covent Garden with our friend Einstein and his lovely Mum. It was a great day and he did a lot of walking; or, as he said at bedtime 'I walked far away!'.

Firstly, we rode on the top of the bus (his first time; requiring non-stop stream-of-consciousness chatter, around 60% of which consisted of the words 'look at that!') to Trafalgar Square and then we walked to Covent Garden, stopping briefly to admire the fountains.

It's a short walk for a grown up but quite a trek for a little tiny small person whose trousers keep falling down.

We then walked all around the transport museum for several hours, including an hour in which the boys stood up and played with the toy trains while stuffing their faces. The remainder of the time included much sitting in the driving seats of various public transport vehicles.

After being mugged in the shop for bendy buses, we sat at a cafe and the boys played on the cobblestones for another hour.

After bathing them in disinfectant, we walked all the way from Covent Garden to Waterloo station, a march of just under a mile - a significant distance for a little tiny small person, loose waistband or not.

With Einstein in his buggy and in peril of falling asleep too close to tea-time and the spud on what were surely his last legs, my lovely friend produced her hidden ace - a pocket full of Quality Street. Whenever a head began to loll or a chin began to wobble she would dig out a chocolate and hold it up for them to muzzle out of her hand like horses.

We stumbled from one sugar rush to the next until the tube home and then, after a much-needed bath, had neighbours and their son over for take-away and a playdate (featuring a certain bendy bus). The Spud finally slept at 9:30, having been on the go since 7am.

I may not be a little tiny small person but if he doesn't sleep in tomorrow morning, the Frog better have some Quality Street hidden away somewhere because I tell you, I'm going to bloody well need it...


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet song...

The spud is very keen on music these days. Following a trip to the wonderful Horniman Museum and an enthralled visit to the music room there he is keen to identify any wind instrument in a piece of music as 'a trumpet' and anything with strings as 'a piano' and he loves the music box that came with his baby mobile so much that he still plays it to himself nearly every night,

He's really in to nursery rhymes at the moment and is particularly keen on 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and 'Ringa Ringa Rosy', although is known to mangle 'See Saw Margery Daw' on a regular basis too.

Today however he excelled himself. As I rewarded him for being Very Grown Up and offered him a treat from his bag of Halloween goodies, he rooted around in the bag and started singing a little ditty which you can sing along with, to the tune of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star':

Little sweeties, little sweeties
How I love you little sweeties
Little little little sweeties
give me little little sweeties
Little sweeties little sweeties
how I love you little sweeties.

Following this, he smiled up at me beatifically, chose a lollipop, fluttered his eyelashes a few times and, in his bestest, squeakiest, cutest voice said 'can I have another little sweetie Mummy?'.

And I said.................


You know, I love him to bits... but that's one tune I'm not falling for.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Just a quickie update on my blog below.

The spud has responded brilliantly to me removing his toys. We had few hysterics and he has consented to do as he was asked and has been given back all his toys, praised, given chocolate and stickers and we'll see what happens next.

This has been really interesting and I hope was a lesson in consequences. I didn't take things away randomly or with anger, I just let him know that it was his choice - he could continue to do a certain thing and I would remove his toys. I let him know which ones would go next, and which ones would go after them. I let him help me take them away, showed him where they were and promised him he could have them all back very easily. We continued to love him and play with him and laugh with him and he doesn't seem to have been at all traumatised or upset by this.

When he did what we needed him to do, we gave him everything back with praise and chocolate and stickers and stamps on his hand and cuddles and he was really proud of himself.

Who knows if he'll keep it up but I hope he is beginning to understand that sometimes life isn't really fair, sometimes there are consequences but whatever has happened, he's really really loved.

Wait and see, I guess.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the value of everything

Recently, after failing miserably with a combined rewards system of star chart, praise, stickers, cuddles, smiley-face hand-stamps, chocolates, sweeties and new toy promises we have resorted to a punishment system that simply involves the removal of a favourite toy, with the promise of its swift return should our son actually deign to do something which he knows perfectly well how to do, can do all on his own and has done countless times, but which he has now given up on.

So far, we have removed ALL his trains (a major event), his new playmobil airplane, his Charlie & Lola books and his toy buses. Next will be the box with all his cars.

The upshot of this is that, after an initial moment of sheer disbelief as his train-set went on top of the wardrobe, he has become quite philosophical about losing these toys and has instead turned his attentions to previously less popular things.

In fact, despite the question of him not doing something he should be, I'm actually quite enjoying taking away his favourite toys and to be honest, so is he. Yesterday he rounded up his buses, handed them to me and then waved at them as they peered down from their new heights.

There are toys being played with now to which he's never much paid attention, toys that have been loved and then deserted; toys which are now getting a proper look in. He spent this evening building a garage for his cars out of building blocks and then building trains out of Playdough, it's like he's learning how much value is really there in his over-populated playroom.

I've decided to keep going until either he gives in or he has no toys left. I actually think it's going to be good for his imagination.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Always keep something back...

We're having negotiation. We've having a lot of failed negotiations to tell the truth. They go a lot like this:

"I want a biscuit."

"You have to eat your dinner first."

"No I want a biscuit!"

"Dinner first."


"Dinner AND THEN a biscuit."

"Dinner AND a biscuit."

"Dinner first."

"No I want a biscuit!"

"Do you want to go to bed."

"No I want dinner."


"And a biscuit."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The booms...

Some children are afraid of fireworks but not our little spudlet. He calls them 'the booms' and has been begging to see them every day since some dim-witted soul at the nursery let slip last week that bonfire night was coming.

Tonight he was so well behaved. All I had to do was to threaten to withdraw the fireworks and he bent to my will immediately. Oh ho, if only bonfire night was every night.

Actually, I wish it was. There's nothing so guaranteed to turn an entire field of people into ten year olds than a good fireworks display.

Granted, he did spend most of it with his hand clutched over his ears looking reasonably terrified but he would suddenly erupt 'Look at that red one! Look at the blue one! The green one! The red one... Look Mummy look' as the fireworks came too fast for him to name.

Shame he looks so terrified in all the pictures really...

Still. Never mind, eh?

Sadly however, since the garden fireworks on Halloween and now these, he is under the impression that he can just dial up fireworks at will; on the way out of the park he was already negotiating 'small fireworks in the garden again please Mummy'. Since, like icecream, this is one of the pleasures that we share most intensely, I am now on the lookout for the smallest excuse to purchase more fireworks.

Anyone have a birthday coming up I can celebrate?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Star light star bright

So. We've had a bit of a setback recently which has necessitated a star chart. I have stars, I have a chart and we have, or rather, the spud has, a goal. The goal is that if he gets all the stars onto the chart I will take him to the toy shop and buy him whatever he wants. He wants 'a car'.

He is clear about all of this. He does a particular thing, he gets a little gold star. Four gold stars equal one big star. Four big stars equal a new toy car.


You'd think he would be jazzed about this, but frankly, he's not. In fact, we have not managed a single gold star - au contraire, all we've managed is two big black 'x' marks. He doesn't seem to mind. I would even say he's cheerfully against the whole star-chart nazi system, possibly willfully so.

Hopefully this will change. This evening while reading him his bedtime story, I got up to turn off the oven mid-story and I managed to catch my foot on the doorframe and rip three of my toes to the left so hard that one popped out of its socket.

Turns out I'm quite a wimp.

I did my best not to scream or cry but there was a lot of puffing and saying 'owww' very meaningfully and in the end I found I couldn't walk and had to sit on the floor trying not to be sick.

The spud, bless him, was sweet as pie. First he kept asking 'are you OK Mummy?' then when I told him I'd stubbed my toe he insisted on 'kiss it better Mummy?' and then when I said 'no sweetie, it's ok' he walked over, squatted beside me and rubbed my head. I sent him to find the telephone, which he did, slightly uncertainly. On his way out of the door he banged his head and came rushing back to lie on the floor beside me for a cuddle 'I'm hurt too now Mummy' he said, before getting up and getting the phone.

The Frog high-footed it home and before we read the spud a final story I gave my boy a big cuddle and told him I was better and we put a gold star on his chart for being so brave and helpful. He looked at it. He touched the chart. He said 'a star Mummy!' He stood back and looked at it critically and turned to me and added 'I want a big star!'.

Maybe, just maybe, I buggered my foot up for a reason. I mean, it hurts much too much for it to have been in vain. Maybe this was the first in a golden galaxy of stars.

I live in hope...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Trick or... Trick!!!

We decided to do the Full North American last night and went for a trick-or-treating extravaganza on our street. Yeah, four whole houses and 8 very confused 3 year olds.

It was soooo authentic...

We've been warming the spud up for this for a week. We bought his costume and got him all excited... he informed his girlfriend who immediately requested the same costume from her parents... we had high hopes.

Friday I decided to invite more than just the neighbours and sent around an email and we had a great turnout. We cut the pumpkins, we made the pies, we popped the popcorn, bought the fireworks, decorated the garden and... the spud refused to dress up. Everyone arrived looking fantastic but still, the spud refused to dress up.

He ended up going around the houses with his little bag wearing his wellies, jeans, a big jumper and a witches hat. Actually, it was an excellent Worzel Gummidge costume.

I guess beggars can't be choosers.

The kids seemed to really love it though, they were agog at being offered free sweeties, amazed at the phenomenon of sparklers and garden fireworks and thrilled, mostly, at being able to stay up late and rub popcorn into the spud's carpet.

Next year maybe we'll manage 5 houses and, perhaps, even a costume...