Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A bear of very little brain

I love my son. I can prove it. I love him even though this morning he woke me up from a dream in which, magically single, child-free and wrapped in a towel, I opened the door of my appartment and Josh Holloway was standing outside telling me he would rather spend the evening with me than at his latest film premiere.

I must have done something lovely for my subconcious recently as this is definitively not the sort of dream it normally lets me have... a good dream for me is normally any dream in which I am not working or Charlie hasn't gone missing. Anyway, there I was, sat beside Mr Holloway on the sofa trying to convince him to go back to his party (my subconcious doesn't love me THAT much...) when Charlie crawled into bed having had a bad dream.

Five minutes later the Frog's alarm went off an hour early; the subsequent humphing about trying to get back to sleep then disturbed the cat who spent the next 60 minutes putting his paws up my nose at irregular intervals hoping this might entice me to the kitchen to prepare the first of his many breakfasts.

I think that the fact I have not harmed any of them today is a measure of my undying love and devotion, frankly.

I have however harmed myself trying to stay awake all day; a job that not even coffee could manage. Come bedtime Charlie is all about the stories and being a bear of very little brain I rather led him to certain stories that come with CDs, allowing a tired parent to sit, potato-like, turning pages and smiling beatifically without having to expend any energy actually reading aloud. This is Very Lazy parenting; however I learned it from the best, my own parents.

As children we had a small collection of excellent stories on vinyl; including a wonderful Winnie the Pooh record which my Mother presented to us on our recent visit. We've been reading Pooh on and off for a while and occasionally I brave singing one of the songs; however I am always commanded to stop; already my singing embarrasses my son. So, having the songs on vinyl for him to listen to is not only very sweet, but a big cheat which allows me to kiss him gently on the head, put the needle on the record and creep quietly out of the room.

Despite the Disneyfication of Pooh, the stories are timeless. Charlie sleeps under the same Pooh blanket that I slept under at the same age, we read from the same books and now listen to the same record. While the 100-acre wood is still new territory for him, it's sending my son off to sleep as successfully now as I'm sure it did me; to, I am certain, the same parental sighs of relief.

The Royal Mail have issued a set of Winnie-the-Pooh stamps featuring the original illustrations from EH Shephard; they're so lovely. I know the official Christmas stamps this year are Wallace and Gromit but I know what I'm putting on my cards this year - a celebration of sleeping children and, hopefully, sweet dreams for everyone.

Now fluff up my pillow; I'm heading back to dreamland.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Magic fingers

My Frog has magic fingers. No no no, I'm not about to let you into any marital secrets, it's OK. But he does have a preternatural ability to fix mechanical and electrical items simply by... and there's barely any other way to put this other than by describing it as... er... a laying on of hands.

It goes like this. You have a broken toaster (I am telling a true story here, I'm just making you the protagonist rather than my Mum for bogus literary effect).

You have for some reason allowed the Sparx family access to your house and, while the Spud turns your livingroom into an ersatz train shed, you stand in the kitchen with the Frog and I making conversation, during the course of which you bizarrely admit to a broken toaster. The Frog shifts uneasily.

Telling the Frog that something is broken is probably the most annoying thing you could do to him. More annoying then not taking out the recycling when it's your turn (you're the hero of this story remember. Not me, nuh uh). More annoying than leaving your shoes in the hallway. More annoying even than reading in bed after lights out.

As the conversation continues (we're back in your kitchen now, keep up), the Frog starts darting glances towards your toaster and gets all fidgety. Eventually we decide to move into the livingroom. We sit down, then realise someone is missing. Back in the kitchen, the frog is casually playing with the buttons on your toaster. 'Oh don't worry about that' you'll say. 'That side hasn't worked for over a year. We've had it apart and everything, we think there's a broken wire'.

At this point I like to put him out of his misery and just ask you if you'd like him to fix it for you. Visibly relieved, he'll pick it up and fiddle with it seemingly aimlessly, possibly opening it up and peering inside, while we all top up our drinks. A few minutes later he will hand it back to you, working perfectly.

You will be amazed. 'What did you do?' you'll ask. His reply is the same every time. 'I don't know.' A gallic shrug. 'The usual'. This is when you will hand him your blender, an old watch and your son's gameboy, all of which he will turn over in his hands a few times, press a few buttons, possibly peer inside and hand back to you in perfect working order.

I'm used to this now. It's ceased to annoy me that he is better than I am at fixing things. In fact, if something breaks I take a great deal of perverse pleasure in dropping it into the conversation and watching him lurch about like I've put a pea in his shoe until he slopes off to take a look.

So, imagine my glee when, the other day, I found him kneeling by the not-inconsiderable stack of aging electronics in our livingroom, unable to get the Wii to display on the screen. He had pressed all the buttons. He had fiddled with all the connections. He had switched things on and off and on again. He looked frustrated.

Don't get me wrong. Initially I was gutted and mentally adding the cost of a new TV into our exigent budget; when the frog says something is broken, you've pretty much got to call the appliance undertakers.

No, my glee came when the spud walked over and said 'Daddy you haven't pushed the button' and, ignoring the Frog's fatherly splutterings, protestations and highly-continental rolling of eyes and blowing out of lips, he squeezed past, laid his hands on the junction box, did some fiddling and... miraculously, everything started working.

'Now you know how I feel' I told my stunned Frog.

Magic fingers. There's clearly a gene for that.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Why you always get sick on planes...

Well that was a laugh. We're back from 2 weeks in Canada, having contracted a wicked lurgi on the flight between Vancouver and Calgary. No fun really. It took the shine off the last week, however it was a brilliant holiday. Here's a bit of what we did:

I watched while my brother let Charlie push the ignition button on his car:

...Then he revved the engine, really high so the car roared. You have never seen a happier boy. And Charlie was pretty thrilled too...

Then there was a bit of this behind the Frog's back (he hasn't forgiven me quite yet...)

...Charlie's used to it now but I'm not sure I am...

Then we did a bit of seasonal stuff which was way fun:

A few days later we headed to the grandparents and did various cosy snowy things with which I shall not bore you... stuff like this:

...yes, that's my Pa, BBQing breakfast in the snow. Well. In a few patches of snow.

Then we went further into the mountains. Charlie was very impressed. You can tell, can't you?

After that there was a lot of whinging about being homesick, at least until the day we took off into the cold to trek to the two nearest neighbours for sackloads of trick-or-treat. Nothing like walking home along a dark and deserted country road with one's 4-year-old to make one wish one had taken the bear horn along for the ride; all we saw were stars, however. Then there were fireworks. Then it was bedtime.

After that we laid low and enjoyed the family until our very good friend Allen came and picked us up for a rip-roaring night in Calgary with old mates. Shortly after that Charlie decided he had a fever. I debated missing the plane and settled for dosing him up. The fever abated. We got on the plane. I apologise to everyone who was on that plane.

I have worked out why one always gets sick on planes however. I reckon loads of people fly out and back in a week. This is just long enough to pick something up on one plane and still be infectious on the flight home, thus infecting another load of people. I see us as just one cog on the great wheel of international plague. I may never fly again.

We spent the last four days in bed. Would have been lovely if we'd been able to move.