3 year old sleepovers

IMG_3011 (3)On the way home from pre-school today, the Girl (3) started arranging play dates from the back seat. I should add that this was completely unprompted by me – clearly these were plans she had been hatching by herself for some time, judging by the level of detail.

Girl: “Mummy, Rosie B. has to come for a play at our house and then for a sleepover the day after tomorrow.”

Me: “Right. Maybe she should just come for a play first. Rosie has never been to our house before, so she might be a bit scared to stay overnight.”

Girl: “But she can sleep next to me, where my cuddlies are, so she doesn’t need to be scared, and I’d switch my turtle light on, so she won’t need to be scared. And then she can come for a sleepover!”

I am very touched by her concern for this girl who is apparently a new and treasured friend, but gently insist that just a simple play date would be fine at first.

Girl: “Alright Mummy, when we get home you can ring Rosie’s Mummy and tell her to come and play and then after that she can come for a sleepover.”

In my head I am imagining what the Girl and Rosie might be like together at pre-school. Have they become close friends this term? I ask her if they sat together at lunch and what they play together, but the Girl’s brain is still whirring on the play date problem. Before long another solution presents itself.

“Okay Mummy, let’s ask Lily, the one with the white hair, to come for a sleepover. She doesn’t get scared.”

How foolish of me. Obviously, the important thing was the sleepover, not the friend.

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Lost Fish: Films and Fear in pre-school age children

watching a film

Last week while going around LIDL, I spotted some toffee popcorn and had a bright idea. It was time for a film night. We hadn’t really watched a film with The Boy since the endless Muppet-marathon of September last year, and he was probably going to be that much more able to grasp a longer story line now, six months later. I put the popcorn in the trolley.

“When we get home, we’re going to watch a film!” I announced.

“A film!” the Boy cheered.

“Which one would you like to watch: Cinderella, Ratatouille, The Muppets or Lost Fish?”

“Lost Fish!”

Finding Nemo it was.

I should explain that this was a risky venture.

We have made several attempts to have “nice family film nights” (or afternoons) with the Boy, most of which ended in tears. It turns out that Disney is pretty darn scary when you’re only 3. I realised pretty quickly that Ratatouille wasn’t going to happen when in the first five minutes the loveable furry main character is chased into a river by a woman wielding a carving knife and then a shotgun, after which he loses his family, gets lost and ends up homeless and starving in a sewer.

Cinderella took me by surprise, but it turns out a jolly set piece of a cat – with a broad, toothy, menacing grin – chasing a mouse – with an adorable twitchy nose, wearing a jaunty hat – is actually very distressing to a small boy. So Cinderella had to be switched off as well.

I was a little worried about Finding Nemo, to be honest. It starts with a massive great big shark eating the main character’s wife and all but one of his children, after which it goes on a roller coaster ride of separation, misunderstandings and mortal peril until finally, in the very last five minutes, you get your sugar-coated Disney ending and everything is okay. Mostly, my son doesn’t last past those first few heart-stopping minutes.

But he had once seen all of Finding Nemo – admittedly he was ill and drugged up to his eyeballs at the time – and had apparently been left with quite a positive feeling about it. Possibly because he had got to the end and realised all turned out okay. Whatever the reason, he had remembered the film as “Lost Fish” and I thought we’d risk it and I would just make sure I was to hand to comfort him and put things in perspective where necessary.

And the Girl? Over Christmas, when the Boy had been backing away from the television, terrified yet unable to unglue his eyes from the screen while watching the Gruffalo, she was calmly sitting on the sofa watching the story unfold, munching on a bread stick.

“Ah, she’s fearless,” we said to each other, with not a little pride. And that was what we continued to think, watching her try to scale climbing frames and slides meant for much older children, hurling herself through life, running away from us on tiny shoes adorned with strawberries. The Girl is a ninja badass. I didn’t even consider her feelings in my impromptu film night idea.

Finding Nemo was going really well I thought, and I was even able to retreat quietly into the kitchen to cook dinner. Then I heard a familiar whimper of fear. We were now in the midnight zone and Dory and Marlin were being chased by the angler fish.

But it wasn’t the Boy who came running into the kitchen. It was the Girl, padding on her little feet, reaching for me in distress, expressing with her limited vocabulary what the matter was: “Fish!”

And I realised that maybe it wasn’t that she was fearless. Maybe around Christmas time she was still too young, to understand context, to pick up on the implications, the scary music, what those massive teeth might mean, that the little fish she liked were screaming because they were scared of being eaten. And now, three months and a vocabulary explosion later, she had discovered fear.

So I did what any self-respecting parent would do.

I gave her a cuddle, then put her back on the sofa and wrote a poem about it.

 

Enter the World

Your world was safe, cocooned, defined
It was out and underlined
My arms your home
My hair your own
Image sound the world awash with colours friendly noises hugs and hair

You stood up, stepped and turned away
Charged into a world of play
A joke, a game,
You learned your name
Detach break free you ran off tugging me along by painful strands of hair

But with the wonder also crept in fears
New awareness came with tears
New lines to cross
With joy comes loss
Vast scenes and spaces gripping terror of a world without the comfort of my hair

Still I am always there
When dangers send you crying
you come flying to me cooking up some dish
you wail of “sad” and mourn for “fish”
unnamed undefined yet fear of dying
brings you crying hand still reaching
screeching for the soothing comfort
of my hair.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014

 

I read this poem at the Virtual Open Mic Night on 25 March 2014 – watch it here!

 

Prose for Thought

Fear Not – Prose for Thought

This post comes with a Sad Alert: If you are in any way hormonal at the moment or easily depressed, perhaps it would be better to go look at funny pictures of cats instead.

I have been discovering a lot of other blogs online recently and in between all the witty and light-hearted stories have also ended up reading sad stories about miscarriages and SIDS. Suffice it to say I have spent quite a lot of time not just laughing but also blubbering at the computer. So, what do you do when you are overwhelmed with The Sad? Write poetry of course.

This poem is about fear. The moment you find out you are pregnant, you start to worry about the new life inside you, and if you let yourself you can spend the next 18+ years worrying about your child. When I found out I was expecting my son, my mother in law gave me the little ornament in the picture and it has seen me through to this day. In this poem I have tried to put into words what it says to me.

Fear Not

I read about death sometimes and weep
hot tears of grief for another’s loss
and I am gripped with fear, I clutch you close
to ward off the day that you too must go.

Not now, I say, not soon, not ever,
I wish for long days and years with you
but my mind conjures up scenes of dread:
an accident on a busy road
a sudden illness, a fall, a fire
or a cold limp body in a bed.

Tears come and keep coming for my imagined lossGods hand
and I resolve to do better at keeping you safe
No “oh that will hold” or “let’s see if it goes away”
No compromises, no complacent joy.

But I cannot stop life
and this life does not last
I must not waste yours with my fear
Instead I must give you away
in faith
into a surer pair of hands
that will carry you from first to last
and beyond into a brighter, better world

(c) Judith Kingston

Check out Helen’s poetry here if you want to see what set me off. Bring tissues.

I am also linking this up to Prose for Thought at Victoria Welton’s blog.

Prose for Thought