Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh Canada

Another monumental thing happened this week, Canada sent through citizenship and my son, here-to-fore only a Frog, is now a Canadian too. I couldn't be happier. What he's going to think in 16 years time when he realises that he has two nationalities but is not formally a citizen of the country he was born and raised in is anyone's guess.

It's odd, I was raised in the UK and have spent more than half my life here, bouncing back and forth between the two countries. I left Canada for the last time 15 years ago and have no real desire to return there to live; however when his card came through I really felt that I had given my son a passport to a better world, a sort of milk-and-honey paradise of staggering beauty and kindness... With 6 months of winter thrown in. Just for the heck of it.

It seems that in my absence, I have grown a LOT fonder of Canada than I was when I was there. Funny that. I seem to have forgotten about white trash hosers and red necks and narrow-minded prairie towns; I've forgotten about the tortuous commerciality of TV (and pretty much everything else); I've forgotten about the long, cold, relentless winters.

All I can remember is how great the bands are; how cool the writers and artists, how amazing Vancouver is, how much I love Toronto, how much I miss my friends and family, how beautiful the place is, how lovely the people are there. I kinda have this vision of Canada as some sort of vast, endless Center Parc full of camping and fishing and mountains and lakes, seas and islands... all that sort of lark.

It's not true. But it's not false either. Tom Brokaw says it well here.

I have no idea how my son will feel about being Canadian but then he can sort that out later if he likes.

Meanwhile, I've just processed my application to become British.

Nothing like consistency.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daylight spending time.

We found a frog in the garden today. When I say 'found', I don't mean we found its carcass under Sammy's paws. I also don't mean we just happily encountered it hopping along in the grass the way I used to encounter my last frog.

No, I mean nearly broke my back digging out 5 years of leaf-mold from the back corner of the garden and somewhere near the bottom I narrowly missed hacking him* into two with the edge of the shovel. I actually thought I'd had his leg off and picked him up in dread, but there he was; completely whole, a massive fat frog spilling over the edges of my hand.

I felt like I was about ten years old as I rushed him over to the spud shouting 'look what I found in the garden, look look look!! The spud was not as thrilled as I'd have hoped; in fact he didn't even come out of the house, he just stood at the doorway and smiled uncertainly. 'Isn't he lovely' I raved 'Yep' said he said 'It's a big frog' he added, unecessarily, then he went back to playing games on my iphone.

I put the frog back where I found him and half-buried an old planter for him based on my previous frog experience, where I left a small planter with some water under a bush and 90% of the time would find the frog happily sitting in it.

I'm feeling a bit guilty now though, having disturbed what was undoubtedly the perfect frog-hole: an open pile of rotting leaves and twigs full of insects and worms, snug from cold and prowling cats... however I've finally opened up the last awful corner of the garden and now I'm in the market for some ferns so clearly not feeling THAT guilty. I did however leave an area undisturbed and will look into what might be reuqired to maintain the garden as a good home for him.

Between the tone-your-butt Reeboks, the 3 hours of leaf-mould attack and the nightmare of trying to get a three-year-old into bed when his internal clock is telling him it's an hour too early, I am a complete croc at the moment, however am delighted that daylight has been restored to it's rightful place at the end of the day... hooray!

Roll on long summer evenings. I'm hoping to hear a few croaks this year.

* yes, this frog could be female. I don't care. For the purposes of this blog, it has froggy balls.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bin it

We've had an epic week, due mainly to one small thing. One tiny little thing that happened this morning. It took 10 seconds and it has changed my spud's life. This morning - this spring morning - my son walked up to the rubbish bin, opened it, and threw in his last baby bottle. And I, I didn't rescue it.

I mean, I probably still could. I could rummage in there and dig it out and boil it and sterilise it and scrub it a few more time and buy a new nipple and it could see another day but no, sadly for the planet, this bottle is land fill. OK so I may put it in the plastic recycling.

I know, I know he's three and a half and should have lost the bottle two years ago or more but he's not really bonded with a teddy or a blanket or a comforter of any sort, he goes to sleep cuddling his bottle and I think his relationship with it is less about the milk and more about the shape and feel of it.

Recently he's been drinking his night-time milk out of a cup but he still occasionally really wants the bottle and we've been letting him have it. Last night he woke up incoherent. He wanted something but didn't want to say what it was - he was moaning and saying 'I just, I just, I just want, I want... my I want my...'. I knew what he wanted and that he knew he wasn't supposed to ask. He went back to sleep but around 7:30 he got into our bed and he said 'I just want to hold it Mummy, I just want to hold my bottle'.

I told him he could have one last milk and then he had to throw it away and bless him, he did. I could almost hear the funeral march as he walked into the kitchen.

As a reward we're going tomorrow to see his good friend Einstein for lunch and possibly a day in the park, something I'm looking forward to enormously as I've not seen Einstein's Mummy for a month and she always makes me laugh like a train.

She is also somehow involved in this extravaganza for kids which is at the Clapham Grand from 2-5 on Saturday - £10 for a sing and dance-a-thon, face painting and massage for Mums; sounds like a blast.

We'll probably miss it, I feel as though this weekend I'd quite like to spend extra time with my boy as he takes his first steps completely free of the last accoutrements of babyhood. He might need a few cuddles, and me, I'm planning on being in range.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thumb twiddling... and the Peppa Prize

Quick one here - some very amusing responses to the Peppa Pig vs. Thomas debate, however Emily O has won the free DVD because it just makes everyone I know laugh their socks off that I not only have a crush on Daddy Pig but have actually found someone else who has one. Thanks everyone.

So on top of the wonderful world of swearing and potty humour (today he pretended to eat my nose, swallow it and then extract it from his bottom with much laughter) and the sub-world of resistance we have catapulted ourselves into the nightmare world that is Gameboy addiction.

The spud is very keen on computer games and has taken to the games on my phone with the sort of dedication normally seen in spotty teenagers, or perhaps Pixel from LazyTown. Given that we fly a lot and are looking for things to occupy him with on the plane it occurred to us to buy him a cheap old gameboy and a couple of games.

We did this.

He's only 3.

He can now sit for hours making little beeping sounds and wiggling his thumbs and I ask you - is there anything redeeming in this activity at all? He plays outside, he plays with his wooden trains, he loves bubbles and painting and jumping up and down and riding his scooter and... well he loves his Gameboy.

There is something wrong with this; there must be...

Saturday, March 20, 2010 can't catch me...

What I really needed to do this weekend was rest up and play with my son. What I actually ended up doing was going on a Reebok PR jaunt to trial the new Reetone shoes. I wasn't planning on blogging about this today but after 45 minutes walking around in them, my legs are killing me.

The first thing the spud said to me when I got home wasn't "Hello Mummy" it was "Let's make gingerbread!". I keep forgetting that he's not a goldfish, he has a memory like a steel trap and even though we've not made gingerbread for ages, he's clearly spent some time selecting this activity from the list of possible tarifs I might usefully be expected to pay out.

What I love is how things like this show changes in him; last time he was content to stamp out shapes and claw them, broken, to the biscuit tray. Now he carefully wiggles the cutter until he's got the dough out intact - or he did until I made the critical error of letting him eat a broken bit of dough. The next half a dozen biscuits he cut out were, sadly, broken.

I learned something else about him today which is that he has entered the magical world of swearing; apparently I am a poo face with a bum-bum on it. What I learned about me is that I still think this is actually quite funny. We made a few poo-shaped dough-balls and then he ate them. I went 'eugh' a lot and he killed himself laughing.

After we baked them we all sat down and scarfed back a bucket-load of gingerbread and then I magicked some dinner into him and put him in the bath where he spent some time pretending to do poos and cracking up.

I've been looking at my computer for several minutes now trying to work out a funny closing line but my legs hurt, my tummy hurts and I rather think I need to drag myself into bed next to my nice warm frog.

Night night.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

How I learned to hate Thomas the Tank Engine and Love Peppa Pig

It's no secret that I hate Thomas the Tank Engine. I hate most moralising children's shows but I reserve particular venom for Thomas despite the fact I loved the stories when younger and have seen a marvelous stage show.

Thomas and his friends are a whiny bunch of disobedient brats; everything about them is gloomy and miserable and tedious. There is no joy and to top it off, every new series has half-a-dozen pointless new characters crow-barred in solely for the merchandising opportunity.

I hate Thomas which is not to say that we don't own quite a lot of Thomas kit. It's unavoidable and part of the reason why I have a particularly soft spot for other, less overtly commercial offerings; 'Pingu', for example, 'Miu Mao' the fabulous Italian claymation cats; and Peppa Pig.

Years ago a friend of mine informed me that her three-year-old son loved Peppa Pig and I was slightly bemused as to why a boy would like a show focused on a pink girl-pig but the moment the spud was old enough to watch TV I understood. Peppa, like Pingu and the cats, is all about fun; there is no harsh moral. Sometimes someone might be a little bit naughty, often things go a bit wrong but there's no breast-beating; only kindness and funny and pigs falling about laughing.

I love Peppa Pig. In fact, I may possibly have just the teeniest tiniest crush on Daddy Pig, as it happens.

We already have two Peppa DVDs - it was Peppa who informed my spud that Santa comes down the chimney; Peppa who showed him that it is OK to jump into a muddy puddle and Peppa who makes him laugh at me every time we hear that Peppa's Mummy loves her computer.

We probably wouldn't have bought the latest DVD however having been given it for review, I have to say that if you have a boy who loves Peppa or who hasn't met her yet, this is officially your DVD. It's called 'Peppa Pig: The Fire Engine and other stories' and in it, Peppa goes on a train, a fire engine, a rocket and there's even a pirate episode. Seriously, all she needs to do now is to go on a bus and an airplane and the spud might never watch anything again. Until he's buying porn on the internet in 10 years time, that is.

Oh, and by the way, the nice Peppa Pig folks have given me an extra copy of "Peppa Pig: The Fire Engine" to pass on to one of you if you can tell me in 20 words or so why you love Peppa (or hate Thomas) and make me laugh in the process - UK format only, I believe.

I only have one copy to give away though so funniest wins, as judged by me and a team of Mummy mates, next Friday.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Well that was a long time to leave you with a nauseating post. Turns out that staying up and working to 2am 5 or 6 days a week don't leave much time for... er... anything really.

I was going to write about the little opening ceremony we went to for Brixton's fancy new square but I lack the motivation to get the pictures off my camera. Instead, I am going to write about the flip-side of parenting, the dark side of my little spud-u-like, the side we've been seeing for a few days now.

It starts, this slide into the netherworld, with a bad night. Perhaps he had a nightmare, perhaps a cough... whatever it is, if he has to get up early the next day, he's guaranteed to be in the sort of mood which involves the phrase 'I don't want to'; as in 'I don't want to get up'; 'I don't want to get dressed'; 'I don't want to eat breakfast'; 'I don't want to go to nursery'.

Eventually of course, he does all those things.

Recently he's taken to wanting me to pull him home from nursery on his scooter which does my back in. On a bad day, if I refuse he whinges all the way home. 'It's too difficult'; 'I'm too heavy'; 'I don't want to' or more accurately 'I'm too difficult!'

Today was bad. He screamed blue murder all the way up our quiet street. I offered to carry his scooter, I held his hand, I walked 3 feet in front encouraging him to follow, I stopped, I pushed him gently from behind thinking it would be fun... this is what it sounded like to the neighbours: 'No, Mummy! No, Mummy! Not like that! Don't go far away Mummy! Don't leave me! Don't Stop! You're pushing me down! You're pushing me down!'

We got to our front steps and he refused to walk up, instead lying down on the wet pavement, sobbing at the top of his lungs. I tried to pick him up and he flopped. I practically had to stuff him into the house.

Within seconds of getting inside he was happily demanding pasta and turning on the Wii. I was at the window, nervously waiting for child services to show up.

Inevitably the day closed to a familiar sound-track: 'I don't want to habba bath'; 'I don't want to wear my jamas'; ' 'I don't want to go to bed'.

Eventually, of course, he did all those things.

The key word here is 'eventually' as it takes a lot of negotiation to get him to stay in bed and even then he can remain defiant until the last: