Time to learn

I love Penelope Leach. I’m going to come right out and say it. My love affair started long ago when I was in my early teens and I found one of her parenting tomes, cracked spine and well-thumbed, on a shelf in my parents’ junk room. Once I’d discovered it, I often snuck in there in unguarded moments (somehow I felt this was an illicit activity) to find out how to bring myself up.

When I was about to become a parent myself, I randomly decided to read everyone but her. I think the memory of the seventies-style cover of the book my parents owned made me think she must be Old and Out of Date. So I read Gina Ford (talk about out of date!) and the Baby Whisperer and Dr Miriam Stoppard. It wasn’t until I was seven months pregnant with baby number 2 that I found “Your Baby & Child” by Penelope Leach (in a very modern-looking binding) in a charity shop for the appealing price of £1, and decided to see what she had to say. I have been dipping in and out of her book every since, mainly reading about toddlers, and everything she says just makes such perfect sense.

Here is something I read in a section on how to join in with toddler play that made me rethink my life:

“Try, sometimes, to arrange unlimited time for [your toddler’s] games. Many toddlers have to nag ceaselessly in order to get a grudging game from an adult and then they spend most of the 10 minutes allotted to them waiting for the dread words: “that’s enough”. You cannot play with him all day but […] do try, sometimes, to seem willing or even eager, to play yourself, and let him have the luxury of going on until he is ready to stop. He learns by continuous repetition. If ball-rolling is on today’s agenda, he may need to roll a ball for 20 minutes at a time.” (Penelope Leach, 2003, Your Baby & Child, p. 408.)

(The fancy referencing and the elipsis and such are for you, Dad.)

I read this and realised that I am always limiting my playtime with the Toddler. I will play with him for a little bit, but I am always plotting an exit strategy to get back to Important Things like the washing up or Twitter. As an excellent parenting course I attended put it: I am always half-busy. Never with my mind completely on my children, or completely on something else, but always doing both at once and not giving my best, full attention to either. This is not something to beat myself up over, though of course I do, because it is normal. There is not enough time in the day to spend every second completely focused on either the children or the house work or being self-employed, because something will end up not done. You have to multi-task sometimes.

However, I decided that I can, once a day, give the Toddler my unlimited time and attention for something he wants to do, and not stop until he wants to stop. I have tried it with playing his favourite game, Doodlebugs, which is actually very enjoyable. It is no hardship to spend 20 minutes playing Doodlebugs, or playing football, or drawing numbers on the pavement with chalk. And the thing I secretly fear – that he will never ever want to stop – is not true. He does eventually tire and want to do something else. Just not as quickly as I do. But that is okay.

I am not just telling you about all this to show how I am growing as a parent and a human being. There is something in particular that struck me about this passage from Penelope Leach’s book: “He learns by continuous repetition. If ball-rolling is on today’s agenda, he may need to roll a ball for 20 minutes at a time.” (Leach, 2003, p. 408) (for you, Dad) The reason my Toddler – and, it turns out, any toddler – wants to play or do the same thing for hours on end is not because he is obsessed, not because he is a bit boring, but because he is learning. 

A case in point: This weekend, the Toddler was playing in the garden while my husband was cooking on the barbecue – this was a fascinating new phenomenon. To observe it better, the Toddler ran inside to get an apple and installed himself on a garden chair with a good view of Daddy.

“Doing, Daddy?”
“I’m doing the barbecue. What are you doing, S?”
“I’m doing apple.”
[pause for munching]
“Doing, Daddy?”
My husband said they must have had this exact conversation about twenty times in a row. When the apple was gone, our son ran inside, got a pear and carried on where he had left off, except now he was “doing pear”. Daddy, being a good sport, was very happy to keep going for as long as the Toddler wanted to. What was he learning? I imagine he was learning about chatting, about turn-taking, about how you can use the verb ‘to do’ to describe an activity, but primarily about how you ask and answer questions, which is a relatively new feature of the Toddler’s language.

A while back, I wrote about the wonders of self-education. I have been looking on, in awe, as my son has taught himself to count and to recognise letters and their sounds, while I have spent my professional life witnessing British teenagers come out of secondary school unable to spell or do simple maths. The question I asked in that post was: what has gone wrong between the joyful self-education of the pre-school years and the antagonistic reluctance to be educated that you find in schools? Now I ask it again. It would seem that toddlers are built for learning. By instinct, they know what to do. They find something that interests them and they are not quite competent at yet, and they explore, experiment and repeat repeat repeat until they have mastered it. We don’t need to teach them how to learn. They know. In fact, we’re mostly the ones trying to stop them doing it.

So, let’s start the debate once more. What do you think? If we start from scratch and invent school as if it had never existed, what would it look like? How can we use what children are born with to help them learn? Should we have listened to Socrates? Or Montessori? Or just Penelope Leach? Tell me what you think in the comments and let’s re-imagine education!

PS: If you haven’t already, watch this amazing TED-talk by Ken Robinson on the subject.

Learning is taking place: even exciting new moulds could not measure up against the joy of just getting Mummy to make more numbers out of Play-doh

Learning is taking place: even exciting new moulds could not measure up against the joy of just getting Mummy to make more numbers out of Play-doh

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Too big, Mummy

The Toddler, although a mathematical genius, is a bit confused about opposites.

We are about to leave the house.
“Hat off, Mummy?”
“You mean you want your hat on?”
“Yes, Mummy.”

He is playing downstairs and wonders where Teddy is. He remembers he left Teddy in bed.
“Teddy beneden [downstairs], mama,” he says. “Get-it Teddy?”
“Do you mean Teddy is upstairs?
“Yes, Mummy.”

His latest confusing opposite is “too big, Mummy”.

He is playing in our new sandpit and filling his bucket with sand, tipping it over to make sandcastles. Then he wants to write numbers in the sand. We have some other moulds, and I ask him if he would like to make a crab out of sand perhaps? “No, too big Mummy,” is his reply.

What he means is: I am too little for that. What he actually means is: I’d prefer not to do that. I don’t think I can do it so I’d rather not try.

We come in from an outing and I suggest that maybe he could take his own shoes and socks off. “No, too big Mummy.”

At dinner time: “S, why don’t you have some cauliflower as well, instead of just picking out all the carrots?”
“No, too big, Mummy.”

Since his little sister arrived, he has become aware of the possibility that you might be too little to do certain things. We’d explain that the baby was too little to eat bananas, or grab things, or sing songs. Soon, he started telling us she was too little – but ironically, too little to do things that by then she was actually capable of.

Now he has started to apply this concept to himself. It seems to have given him a way of expressing insecurity, a lack of confidence – or sometimes just stubborn unwillingness to try something new. He can be a bit of a cautious boy. For about six months after a little mishap with a slide, he would climb up the steps to slides of any height with great excitement, only to peer down and decide: “No. Not.” and turn around to climb back down the steps again. He seems to have forgotten that reluctance now. But he does seem aware of his limitations, he is not one of these fearless boys who will throw themselves into new adventures regardless of the dangers and risks. He wants to try the more difficult climbing frame but insists I stay right next to him as he climbs up the first bit, then squeaks “Carry!” as he can see he is “too big” yet for the monkey bar section that comes next. I lift him over to the other side, where with great joy he zooms down the slide – something he has mastered and feels confident with. The monkey bars don’t put him off wanting to get to the slide. The difficult ladder section at the beginning doesn’t put him off, he wants to give it a go, but he wants me to stay close and coach him, help him decide where to put his hands and feet next. And I look on in amazement, because the last time I looked he had no hope of even attempting that climbing frame.

He is growing up and getting bigger all the time.

Special bed

Special bed

This week, he moved into a real bed from his cot. We were quite nervous about how he would take it. We talked about leaving the cot up in the room for a while, in case he was really upset and wanted his old bed back. There was no room, though, so we had to take it down and go cold turkey. My husband and I were both very cautious as children and very resistant to change, so our assumption is usually that our son will be the same. We prepared him that he would have a new bed that evening and billed it as a wonderful surprise. Once it was built, made up and all his toys had moved in, my husband got out his camera to record this moment – hoping that the Toddler’s reaction wouldn’t be: “No, too big, Daddy.”

It wasn’t. He rushed into his room to see his surprise and said: “Special bed!” He got straight in and wanted us to stroke his hair so he could go to sleep. Every morning now when I come up to get him, I find him sitting on the floor reading books and he greets me with: “Lekker slapen nieuw bed!” [Nice sleep new bed!]

He wasn’t too little or too big for the new bed, but just the right size.

Well.

Maybe I think you’re getting a bit too big. Don’t grow up too fast, little man.


Making Home

Something I find utterly bewildering is the fact that this house, that my husband and I bought just after we married and have been filling with junk ever since, is my children’s home. All the random things we have done and not done to the house (done: made sure they each had a bedroom; not done: order and tidy our belongings) set the scene for their early childhood memories, in the same way that I look back on my own childhood and most of it takes place in my home in the Netherlands.

At my parents' house the table is always set for a fancy dinner

At my parents’ house the table is always set for a fancy dinner

I can paint you a picture of this house with my memories:
On the 5th of December, someone would knock on the door and our wicker laundry basket would be outside filled with presents from Sinterklaas. The back of the sofa in the extension could be pushed forward to create a reception desk, a bar, a bus or aeroplane. My mother would always play Scarlatti on the piano and when I was older I taught myself to play the first 16 bars of it, out of nostalgia. Now I play it on any piano I come across. My brother and I had our own computer but for most of my writing I would sneak into my parents’ study and sit at my Mum’s far superior PC to create never-to-be-finished novels and deeply sentimental poetry.  I slept in the loft and had always wanted a four poster bed, like a princess. For one of my birthdays, my parents put up curtain rails around the bed, screwed into the beams, and I woke up in the middle of the night to find my Mum quietly putting up pink curtains to make my princess bed, all ready for when I woke up on my birthday.

These are the moments that we are creating for our children right now, in this house. The enormity of it hit me this week. Hence my poem for today.

Making Home

This is the home of your youth
where your childhood takes place
where your foundations are laid
where your memories are made.

You will think back to this house one day
with a thrill of nostalgia:
remember how the wind would howl
around the house, in all seasons
– you will say –
the house on the hill, the overgrown garden?

Remember the mess, the boxes in corners
that didn’t have homes
YET, Mum would say
but there they would stay
we never looked at them, they were
furniture, part of the décor,
just papers and wires and broken CDs.

Remember how we played hide and seek
and had picnics with teddies and plastic cake;
and how we were explorers, built towers,
climbed mountains of cushions,
made a pirate ship out of your bed
and sailed off to plunder the kitchen?

Remember how I’d sneak into your room
in the dead of night, with a flash light,
and we’d talk in the dark about bullies
and loneliness and friends who were cruel?

One day you will meet, all grown up, over coffee,
the house may be sold, or you have moved out,
and your minds will have blended and softened the edges
so even sadness or sorrow gain a magical glow.

But first, you must live through these days and grow up here
make memories for later, grow love play and cry
in the unfettered joy of your childhood
build our love for each other
into a happy home.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought.

Prose for Thought

What to buy a newborn baby

Some lovely friends of ours have just had their first baby. I won’t embarrass them by naming them in my blog, but you know who you are and congratulations! We’re so thrilled your little daughter is here!

When our son was born, it was this friend (we will call him T) who was the very first to send him a card. It said “Dear S, congratulations on your zero-th birthday!” This made me chuckle. Also, T came to visit a few weeks later with a present for our tiny baby. It was a lovely cutlery set, with a knife, fork and spoon that slotted into little holders to make them look like people. He apologised, saying it was a long way off still but he just liked the look of the cutlery and thought it would be fun, in time. That time was a time we could barely imagine when our son was only 7 weeks old, but it has now arrived. The Toddler loves the cutlery but also loves playing with the people-shaped holders and often gets them out of the drawer when my attention is occupied elsewhere. He plays some elaborate, imaginative game with them that I don’t get because I am not two.

It got me thinking about what to buy for a newborn baby. It is actually quite a minefield, and I think our friend T did an excellent job. So I thought I’d collect some thoughts, in case you also have a lot of friends about to give birth to their first baby and you are loitering with intent in the Mothercare sleepsuit aisle, unable to commit to a purchase.

Thought No. 1: Buy for the (far) future
Clothes for a newborn are always welcome, but you could also consider going up a few sizes. A ten month old baby is usually limping along from wash day to wash day, bursting out of sleepsuits that are really a size too small because nothing else was clean. If anything, a ten month old baby needs twice as many sleepsuits as a newborn. They still do all the explosive poo and the sicking up, but they are also eating – and they’re not very good at it yet. You don’t know this when your baby is a few weeks old, of course, but you will thank the kind friend who gave you a five pack of 9-12 month sleepsuits later. 

You could also take a leaf out of our friend’s book and provide equipment for the future. Weaning is probably the last thing on a new parent’s mind, but when they get to that stage they will be pleased to find that they are all ready with little bowls and spoons and plastic plates and cutlery.

Thought No. 2: Avoid sensitive parenting issues in your gift-giving
When my first child was five months old, one of my friends was about to have her first baby. I felt like an expert by that point, and thought I knew exactly what would be a good present: I bought her a swaddling blanket. It had been a life saver for us. We had discovered that our son was keeping himself awake and waking himself in the night because his arms kept flailing and he’d bop himself on the head involuntarily. The day I bought a proper swaddling blanket he slept through the night. Obviously I wanted to share this miracle cure with my friend. However, what I hadn’t considered was that swaddling is one of those hotly debated topics in baby-care (and there are many) and people are just as likely to feel really uneasy about using a swaddling blanket as to embrace them with enthusiasm. There are many things like this that could go either way: Gina Ford books, weaning spoons, nipple shields… I even felt a little bad buying a friend’s little boy pants for his second birthday, because I didn’t want her to think that I was giving a subtle hint that it was about time he was potty trained. Basically, if you’re not sure, just ask for a wish list!

Thought No. 3: Cuddly toys are forever
The great thing about cuddly toys is that children are not going to grow out of them, one size fits all. Even if it doesn’t end up being The Favourite Toy, your gift will almost certainly be a frequent guest at tiny tea parties or a student at a cuddly toy school. It will be given a name and a personality and might even be awarded the great honour of sleeping in the child’s bed. Tip: many soft toys shed bits of fluff and are therefore not suitable for newborn babies. You can get special teddies that are baby-safe, for cuddling from birth. Don’t worry if you have already bought one that isn’t though – fluff shedding is not frowned-upon at teddy bear picnics, just in cots.

Thought No. 4: Practical help
The most amazing gift our local friends gave us was food. Every night for two weeks, a rota of lovely people brought us dinner (usually dessert as well) so that we didn’t need to worry about cooking and could just focus on being new parents. Most people actually brought us enough for several meals, so we ended up being able to eat left-overs from the freezer for another week. Sometimes people would ring to say they were in the supermarket and did we need anything. Other times they would offer to take the baby for a walk in the pram while we had a nap. These are all amazing things to do for new parents and I feel quite sad that most of my pregnant friends/relatives live too far away for me to be able to be of any practical help to them. Again, if you are not sure whether what you are thinking of doing for someone is going to be helpful, just ask!

Finally, I just want to say: Happy zero-th birthday to little baby M, I am sorry we live too far away to cook your parents dinner, but we hope to meet you really soon!

Got any more good present tips? Please add your own in the comments below!

Swearing for Toddlers

I’d like to start this post with a disclaimer. I am not usually a swear-er. I tried to get into it when I was about 10, as all the cool kids seemed to be doing it, but I could never get the words to roll off the tongue naturally, and I was quickly spotted for the fake-swearer that I was and didn’t get in with the cool kids. So I stopped, and stuck to the occasional “s***”, which in The Netherlands is a much milder swear word than it is in Britain.

Motherhood, I have found, brings out sides to you that you never knew were there. Rage, for me. I never knew I could get so angry, particularly about very minor things that, on reflection, usually turn out to be my own stupid fault rather than the Toddler’s. So it may be that, very occasionally, I may have used the F-word. To myself, or the world at large, in the kitchen. Not to my poor son, I promise.

However, I think he must have heard.

The other day he was playing with his play dough numbers and number 3 got squished. I came into the room and found him frowning at the shapeless lump in his hand that used to be his beloved number 3 and heard him say to himself: “Fik – fak – ff…” He was clearly searching for the right word for the situation, trying to remember what he had overheard.

“Fok – fox!” That was it. His face cleared up. It must have been “fox”, that made sense. Then he added his favourite expletive for good measure: “Oh bovver!”

I was killing myself laughing – and of course also very ashamed that my son had heard me use a word I thought I’d never use.

“Fox” as a swear word for toddlers really appeals to me. In fact, I propose the introduction of a whole range of animal-swear words to cover all occasions. “Sheep” can replace sh**, and “beetles” b****cks. We have been trialling the system in our house and the results are very pleasing.

“The internet is foxed again,” I grumble at my husband.

“Yup, it’s because [our internet provider] is a bit sheep,” he replies.

Now this is swearing even I can cope with. Although I think the cool kids probably still wouldn’t let me in their gang.

IMG_1903

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Have another sandpit picture

Have another sandpit picture

Still dreaming

3o wasn’t a big deal for me. As I said in my birthday post, I generally quite enoy getting older and am still holding out hope that one day I’ll be old enough to be taken seriously. But I have to say that so far I have not worn 33 as comfortably as previous ages. I am starting to rethink my self-image: am I who I think I am? Or am I still operating on assumptions that are no longer valid? Sometimes I feel like I have lost all the opportunities of youth but not yet gained the wisdom that comes with age and am just sitting here, in the middle, staring into space.

This is the chirpy subject of this week’s poem.

Still Dreaming

When I’m not looking and just living
I think I am still young, sometimes,
too young to have two little children,
to own a house or read The Times.

I imagine I’m still standing
on the brink of life, still waiting
for the show to start
the future open, nothing decided
full of potential, thinking
the world is holding its breath
for me
waiting for me
and what I have to say.

I am still dreaming
of a greater life
than this.

When I look into my rear view mirror
I look old sometimes, and cringe in shame
at my knee high boots and miniskirts
and my dreams of literary fame.

I had my chance and made my choices
ships have sailed and trains been missed
tethered to domestic life now
plans for writing interrupted
by a sudden need to snooze
or by my miniature muse
who says nuff puter, Mummy,
calling me to feed his dreams
to nurture his potential
and ambitions
not my own.

I am still dreaming
of a greater life
than this.

And in this dream I see you laughing
You say I haven’t understood
You’re only thirty-three, you tell me,
It’s only starting to get good.

You spent all these years in practice
while I built this life for you
Now enjoy it and get writing
it’s what I meant for you to do.

Woman, writer, mother, wife
there really is no greater life
the future will be ever gleaming
just as long as you keep dreaming.

(c) Judith Kingston 2013

Linking up to Prose for Thought and I am Me.

Prose for Thought
I am me

Songs, Mummy?

The Toddler has always been fond of music. We did our best to introduce as much of it as possible from early on. We had a special song from a Dutch children’s show that my husband and I sang for him in the bath, lullabies at bedtime, a ‘Mummy-is-busy-now-but-you-are-still-important”-song for during the housework and all manner of nursery rhymes for general amusement. Before my son was able to say much, my parents would sing him songs over Skype and he would join in with the actions once he knew them.

star

Any star-sighting will prompt a quick chorus of Twinkle Twinkle

Something I have loved as the Toddler grew up has been seeing him develop favourites. At our local toddler group, he came to love Twinkle Twinkle. He would get excited when someone suggested singing it at the group, but he would also start singing it to himself in the car, randomly, or if he saw a star-shape anywhere. I was touched to find that I could tell what he was singing not just from the occasional word, but also from the tune. Two year old singing is more tuneful than I imagined it would be.

He has also developed opinions on what I sing to myself, which I do a lot, mostly subconsciously. If it is not to his liking, he will yell: “STOOOOOP! Poesje mauw!” Poesje mauw being a Dutch children’s song about a cat, which he prefers to any of my suggested songs. It is also his go-to suggestion if I ask him what we could sing for The Baby. If you want to get a (rather warped) idea of what it sounds like, check out this slightly disturbing rendition of it from a Dutch children’s channel.

From children’s songs and nursery rhymes, he has now moved on to taking an interest in the CDs I play him in the car. As soon as he is strapped in, he will ask for “Songs, Mummy?” He is also very decided about what he likes and doesn’t like. If a song comes on that he is not pleased with, he will start demanding I play something else at top volume until I change the track or crash into a tree out of frustration. If a song comes on that he does like, he will smile broadly and say “Yes!”. Then he will start bouncing up and down in his car seat and singing along. There is nothing quite like a toddler trying to pick up the words to a Destiny’s Child song – “Hm la happy faaaaaaace… mmm ahh sunshine”.

I have been amusing myself by trying to find a theme in his preferred songs – what is it that attracts him to them? Perhaps you can help. For your delectation and delight, I present to you My Son’s Favourite Music:

Happy Face” by Destiny’s Child.

I’ll Fly Away” from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. This is his number one favourite and if I’d let him, we would listen to it on repeat all the way from our house to Gran’s (45 minutes).

Don’t Stop Believing“, the Glee version. He calls this “Ta ta ta ta”.

“Proud” by Heather Small, which he refers to as “orange”, because of this karaoke version. Yes, the text changes to yellow not orange but give him a break, he’s two.

Go Home” by Barenaked Ladies – which I have to make sure I stop just before the very last two words…

Do you believe in magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Looking for an underlying principle, it would seem his preference is for cheerful music with a strong beat. It also helps if there are frequently repeated, familiar words in it, preferably including ‘smile’ or ‘sunshine’ or something like that. Basically, as our friend Z observed, he likes cheesy inspirational songs.

The other thing I am loving is watching my son play around with music. He surprised me one day about six months ago by composing what I have called The Ballad of His Life. He was playing with his toy aeroplane and hit his teeth on it. He exclaimed “Pain! Neow [plane]! Pain!”. Then he instructed me to play on his toy piano and he grabbed the tambourine, started bouncing up and down to our improvised music and sang roughly the following (here translated into English, but it was a mix of Dutch and English:)

“nanana neow nanana pain nanana piano nanana neow nanana singing nanana Maisie nanana mouse nanana mummy nanana upstairs nanana bath nanana tortoise nanana teddy nana milk nana myam myam nanana please nanana mummy nanana daddy nanana Maisy”

I was just killing myself laughing.

Now he has started adapting existing songs by giving them new lyrics. His favourite for this at the moment is the Bunny Song from Veggie Tales. Bit of context: this is meant to be a ‘bad’ song, in which the Veggies are forced to sing something like “The bunny, the bunny, ooh I love the bunny. I don’t want my soup or my bread, just the bunny. I won’t eat my beans and I won’t eat tofu, that stuff is for sissies but bunnies are cool.” My son has taken to inserting this song into any situation.

1) Maisie Mouse/Bunny song mash up. “A bunny, a bunny, ooh a bunny. No beans. No peacocks. A bunny.”
2) No-not-Bedtime version: “A bunny, a bunny, ooh a bunny. No beans. No bed. No hugs.”
3) Numberjacks mash up: “A blob, a blob, ooh a blob. No blob. No slime. A blob.”

pianoAside from making up his own lyrics, the Toddler also likes making up his own notes. We have made sound-stories on the piano, which he loves. He will go up to the piano himself now and play very low notes saying: “Giants, stomp stomp”, then run to the top end and do the light fairy footsteps. Then he runs back to the middle and accompanies himself singing what is still his all time favourite nursery rhyme:

“Twinkle twinkle tee tee tar
Ha wonder what-oo are
Up above world so high
Tee tee diamond inna sky
Twinkle twinkle tee tee tar
Ha wonder what-oo are.”

The Sandpit

IMG_8209sLadies and Gentlemen, this week saw a momentous occasion in the life of my family and my blog.

My husband built a sandpit in our garden.IMG_8105s

A real, actual sandpit.

My decision to keep my children’s faces off this public blog sadly prevents me from showing you the sheer joy on our Toddler’s face at the discovery that there was a sandpit in hisIMG_8365s garden, for him to play in. “And your sister!” we quickly added, because we could see where this would be going: “No Baby, is my sandpit. No play.”

For the significance of the sandpit, I refer you to my very first post, where I explain how the Toddler used the word to express extreme excitement. His language and understanding have come on a lot since then – dare I say: sadly – and we don’t hear it so much anymore.

So now he has his very own sandpit. He has asked to play in it, rain or shine, every day since it arrived.

Rather than tell long stories, today I just want to share these lovely photos with you that my husband took on that very first afternoon. The sleeves below belong to our friend Z, who taught him how to fill up his bucket and make sandcastles. Impatient Toddler thought a third of a bucket’s worth of sand should be plenty, but he soon took over Z’s instructions and muttered: “Bit more, bit more” as he kept scooping sand until we said that was really was enough and it was time to turn it over.

IMG_8114s

Our sandcastle bucket has bricks. Oh yeah. Tesco’s finest.IMG_8250sBricks in the sand. Toes in the sand.

IMG_8412sEvery castle needs a flower on top. IMG_8484sSandy fingers

IMG_8497s

The Baby having her first play in the sand.IMG_8503s

Teeny tiny sandy fingers.

A Change in Perspective

My patience is at zero today and I can’t cope with the Toddler’s exuberance (read: running around knocking things over, pulling all the books off the shelf, littering the floor with tiny sponge letters and a whole deck of cards) and seemingly boundless hunger (6am: Mummy, bread stick? 6.10: Mummy raisins? 6.20: Mummy banana? 7am: Mummy porridge? 7.15: Mummy more porridge? 8am: Mummy apple? and so on until at 10.30 he was consuming another whole bowl of Weetabix and asking for more). Even his affection was getting on my nerves, as he came and snuggled up next to me while I was trying to do work on my laptop, wanting hugs and cuddles. I may also have been on Twitter but that is entirely beside the point, of course.

Anyway, for Prose for Thought today I was planning to post an old poem that I wrote a year or so ago, but instead I found myself writing one about how frustrated I was feeling with my son. My poetry doesn’t usually rhyme, unless it is Sinterklaas, but it felt appropriate in this case.

A change in perspective

I love you, but you wind me up.
Your goals don’t mesh with mine.
When you want midnight cuddles,
I want a glass of wine.

When you want to watch a DVD
I want you to play.
And when you think you’re helping me
you’re getting in my way.

Your games involve a lot of mess
and take up all my time,
and when I want you to stay still
you want to jump and climb.

I have so little patience
and you have so much joy.
Life’s one big experiment
and everything’s a toy.

I keep telling you ‘be careful’,
‘don’t touch’ and ‘don’t go there’,
but isn’t it much better
to try things and go everywhere?

Better to get down on my knees
and see life through your eyes.
I may be a bit more sensible
but you are far more wise.

(c) Judith Kingston , 2013

As I was writing this, my son started playing and interacting with his baby sister, making her laugh, playing games with her, trying to attract her attention and amuse her. This is a new development. My poem is done and he is still playing with her.

I’m linking this with Prose for Thought.

Prose for Thought