Loud ‘n Proud: Independence is Messy

mummy's shoesTheoretically, this whole business of bringing up children is all about teaching them to be independent.

Is it bad that I kind of like them being dependent? Or rather, I would love them to be independent, but I severely dislike all the hassle of getting them there.

The other day I was at a friend’s house, and we fell silent when her nearly 3 year old wandered into where we were chatting, carrying a cup of milk.

“Did you get that yourself?” my friend asked him.

“Yeah,” he told her (to rhyme with “Duh”), sipping his milk.

When we had both finished having retrospective heart attacks, my friend told me that her sons do this more and more often now: they open the fridge, rummage around and pour themselves drinks.

Mine don’t, I thought. I squash that kind of initiative as soon as I see the thought developing in the Boy’s mind. I picture a lake of milk on the kitchen floor that I will need to clean up – and I hate cleaning. Carrying food or drinks around the house? No way, too much opportunity for spillage and breakage. Getting things out of cupboards? Nope. My cupboards are messy and precariously stacked – pulling the wrong item out in the wrong way will cause an avalanche. Let Mummy do it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised that my children moving from stage to stage, gaining independence, doing things for themselves terrifies me. I get used to the status quo, fit my life around it, and then they go and change things up and mess up my systems. This goes for the Boy at pre-school age, and doubly so for my little girl, who is nearly two.

I like carrying the Girl up and down the stairs, strapping her into her booster seat at the table, putting her in a corner with her Mannies and letting her

Please. Just sit here and play.

Please. Just sit here and play.

play while I work. I like it when she drinks out of sippy cups and eats everything I put in front of her. I like dressing and undressing her, scooping her up and plonking her in the car so we can leave the house ten minutes before we need to collect the Boy from pre-school. I like her sleeping in her cot.

But the time for these things is fading.

Lopen! [walk]” she insists and wriggles out of my arms. She wants to walk herself.

“Stairs!” she shouts, and I am not even allowed to hold the doll or the big book she wants to carry down with her as she takes step by reckless step.

Klimmen! [climb]” she shrieks, and I have to put her down next to the car and tear my hair out as she first winds down her window, then painfully slowly, slipping and getting a better grip, she clambers into her car seat herself and we tear down country lanes and arrive breathlessly at pre-school, catching the teacher with the phone in her hand ready to call and find out where I am.

“Open! Juicy!” she commands, climbing onto the little stool that she has carried into the kitchen herself, plonking the sippy cup angrily onto the work surface. She keeps a close eye on me as I take the lid off, fill it with a dash of juice and plenty of water, and offer it to her, lid off, on one condition: “Sit down! Sit down to drink!” I tell her. She yanks the cup out of my hands again and drains it, standing up on the stool.

She can do it. She’s nearly two.

Tonight, it was like she offered me a choice.

She pooed in the bath.

“Oh! Poo!” she said, surprised.

“No! Poo! Quick, get out!” the Boy shrieked hysterically and climbed out of the bath.

While I cleared up the mess, I offered the Girl the potty to sit on. “Haha! Potty!” she exclaimed in glee. She stood up and sat back down several times. When I had contained the problem and cleaned the most urgent things I was ready to shoo her off the potty and get her back into a nappy.

“No! Potty!” she insisted and walked back and sat on it again. I let her and helped the Boy dry his hair. Then we heard a sound.

“She’s doing a wee!” The Boy exclaimed in delight.

We both hugged and praised the Girl for being so clever. She got to flush the wee down the toilet herself and as a special treat, got to wash her hands standing on the step by the wash basin.

I considered this little vignette she had presented me with: what do you want mother? Do you want to scoop poo out of the bath forever, or shall I grow up and learn to take care of myself, step by messy step?

Of course, like always in parenting, it wasn’t a real choice. She is going to become independent, whether I like it or not. So I will embrace it, and offer her the opportunities to learn and grow that she is so desperate for.

I put her nappy on, and tucked her up in her cot with Pop & her million other favourite cuddlies.

“Tomorrow,” I sighed. “Independence can begin tomorrow.”

klimmen

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My body is beautiful: Loud ‘n Proud

True Beauty

True Beauty

If you saw me – if you have seen me – if you know me, you would probably want to kill me if I ever said anything negative about my body.

I am thin. I am tall. I have long legs. I can eat cake all day every day and not get fat.

(I will now duck down behind the sofa to avoid whatever projectile you managed to get your hands on while reading the above.)

And yet…

I have never been happy with my body. Like everyone else, in my spotty teenager years I took my good points for granted and just yearned for the things I didn’t have: thick, wavy hair (mine’s very straight and straw-like), a pretty face (mine is a bit blotchy, a bit spotty, a bit angular), less skinny arms (mine are slightly skeletal) and impressive breasts (…). I was a smart kid in school, but all I wanted was to be beautiful. I felt crushed every time I auditioned for a play and was yet again passed over for the role of the “pretty girl” and instead ended up playing somebody’s mother. It never occurred to me that perhaps this reflected my acting ability rather than my appearance.

I met my husband, who like the proverbial drop of water slowly hollowing out the stone set about re-training my eyes to see that I really am beautiful.

I actually struggled to write that down because somehow I still don’t believe it is true. I still feel like there are “beautiful people” and the rest of us.

I loved being pregnant, because it fulfilled many of my wishes: my hair was thick and lustrous, I filled out a little, my boobs were AMAZING (I am getting those nursing bras framed for posterity) plus, added bonus, I had made a tiny human.

I was proud of my body.

What skinny people look like when their stomach muscles give up. (C) Roger Hargreaves

What skinny people look like when their stomach muscles give up. (c) Roger Hargreaves

I was even prouder of my body when I had given birth. Maybe not so much the first time, but definitely when I gave birth naturally to my daughter, who came out feet first in record time. I was superwoman.

Since then all the teenage doubts have crept back in. Things I never really appreciated about my body have decided to take a holiday. Things I was never very happy with anyway have exacerbated.

I find it hard to be proud of my body.

How about you?

As women, we are being poisoned by advertising, by magazines, by public opinion. We are constantly being told that there is one way to be beautiful and one way only. There is no room for stretch marks, for sagging, for scars, for bulges. We are being told to “get your body back” with exercise videos and gym memberships – as if we had lost it.

My body is not lost. I have found it. I have discovered what it is for. I am learning and re-learning that I am beautiful.

A group of poets – and I am proud to be one of them – have banded together to fight for our works of art, our post-baby bodies. We have produced five poetry-postcards about our changed and changing bodies, which we are distributing around cafés and libraries and toddler groups for free. You can catch a glimpse of them here and read more about the project.

Our next step is our Twitter campaign #showusyourbelly. Please join us in creating a slideshow of what normal bodies look like. Send in your anonymous picture to sarah@paperswans.co.uk and join other proud women in showing off real beauty.

There is more to come: opportunities to write blog posts on the topic and share them, or to write poetry and fiction that celebrates the diverse and beautiful female form. Keep an eye on the website for new ways in which you can get involved.

Meanwhile, as usual, you can link up your Loud ‘n Proud posts by clicking on the link below. Tell us how proud you are of your kids, or yourself. Maybe you too are learning to be proud of your body? Link up and shout it from the rooftops!

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Loud ‘n Proud: How to Make Friends and Fake Reading


Hey Gamers!

Me, adventuring.

Me, adventuring.

I can see some new faces, so I’d probably better start by introducing myself: I’m The Girl (or GamerGirl2012) and sometimes when the Mummy is busy or asleep I hack into her laptop (not hard, she hasn’t changed her password for years) and go online to update all my toddler friends on how I’m getting on playing Life Game.  I joined this fully immersive RPG about 19 months ago and haven’t looked back.

I’m half way through Level 1 of Life Game now and I thought I’d share my latest discoveries with you, particularly the two great skills that I have been putting all my experience points into over the past few months.

They’re called Perception and Memory and the effects are quite remarkable: I only have to hear a character’s name a few times before I start using it, which gives me a massive influence boost over the character in question. Picture this, gamers: you’re doing a Play Date quest and your cuddle bar is running low. You could just run up to the nearest Mummy and whine, but if you say her name, and especially if you add “hugs?”, she will cuddle you until your bar is full and beyond, plus she will tell all her Mummy friends about it and that gives you Fame points. Learning your friends’ names will fast track the friendship process and turn them into reliable side kicks.

Thanks to my awesome Perception, I have noticed that the programmes on the Magical Viewing Device have theme max_and_rubytunes. If you also have Memory, you can memorise the tunes. Then, if you randomly start singing “Max-a Wubeeeeeeeee!” (Max & Ruby), it instantly neutralises the Mummy’s hostility towards the Viewing Device and she will actively go and switch it on and find the show for you. It also works if you say the names of the characters, but I think the music must actually be a spell of some sort because it has an instant effect. NB: The Miffy theme tune-spell requires you to hug a cuddly bunny while singing it. Don’t know why, it’s just one of those things.

— WARNING: SPOILER ALERT —

You may have noticed a Bunny theme. I won’t let you in on all the details because you have to figure this out for yourself, but bunnies are the key. Oh yes. They are VITAL to completing Life Game successfully.

— END OF SPOILER —

photo

So, what else can Perception and Memory do? From very early on I’ve been wise to the power of books. For months, I have been searching through the bookcase in The Bedroom for the tome that will give me the right spells for completing some of my trickier missions (Open Door, Get Inside Washing Machine, Play Outside for Ever, Re-attach to Mummy, Make Doll Drink Juice etc.) I empty that bookcase every single night, but so far no luck. In fact, it seems to have a negative effect on my relationship with the Mummy, who starts shouting and returns the books to the bookcase in a totally different order! That just means I have to do it again immediately so I can find the best volumes again and put them in my inventory for later.

I think the trick to books is taking the Read skill. I have noticed The Brother has put a few points in it recently, because he can now identify which

Willing grown up found.  Great success.

Willing grown up found. Great success.

supermarket the jam and the freezer bags have come from. He can also read “tiger” and “Maisy”. I have tried adding points to Read but I think it must be an Advanced Skill because it’s greyed out. Anyway, I have found a way round it: you take the book to a grown up and push it into their hands saying “tory?”. Then you make yourself comfortable on their lap and listen carefully to what they say. If your Memory is good, this means that later you can “read” the book yourself. Or at least, bits of it. Example:

FLOPThe Girl reads from “Dear Santa”“Izza? Nooooooo! Izza? Nooooooo!”

The Girl reads from “Some Dogs Do”“Sdo. Fly! Oh Ben. Flop.”

The Girl reads from “Penguin” “Duck!” [failed my Perception-check on that one] “Ben! Haha! Lion! Ow! Wow, Ben!”

The Girl reads from “Dora the Explorer: Bedtime Explorers“: “Dowa! Boots! Baby, baby. Map! Back pack! Jump! Night night, Dowa.”

The most significant volumes of Lore I have found so far are those in which all my favourite people appear. I don’t know how such a thing is possible, but there is a whole pile of these books on top of the bookcase, and when you get your hands on these precious stories, you can do Naming AND Reading all at the same time!

There must be important secrets encoded in these books

There must be important secrets encoded in these books

So I think I’ve made my case: Perception and Memory are the most important skills you can have.

Movement, you say? Climb? Balance? Run? Who needs those when you can be cute and get The Mummy to carry you everywhere? Or better still, you can just give it a go and make a roll at half your Agility. Then when you fall and hurt yourself, you can say “Ow! Head!” and get even more cuddles! Bonus!

Well, that’s it for me – now it’s over to you, Gamers! This is a special post called a Linky – if you have acquired any great skillz or completed any quests, click below and you will get to a separate page where you can link up your own post. Do it, do it! I’m dying to hear how far you are all lagging behind how well you are doing. I’ll come and visit of course and leave smug supportive comments.

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Explaining Easter: where do you begin?

20140420-085420.jpgIt is the early hours of Easter morning. I have been up late with friends and should really go to sleep now, but instead I find myself holding a little Easter vigil. More than a day would have gone by since they buried Jesus, and now, after the initial shock, the bleak reality of life without him must have started to set in for his friends and family. Maybe they were lying awake, like me, wondering what the whole thing had been about if it was all going to end in a bloody, painful and humiliating death.

It isn’t easy to explain what Easter is about. In fact, Jesus had to supernaturally appear to his friends, undercover, to explain it in person because they hadn’t twigged. It took him the entire length of the road from Jerusalem to Emmaeus. That’s seven miles. On foot.

Good Friday, 11.30am, found me in a crowd of people walking from one end of the high street to another, to the beat of a solitary drum, carrying the limp body of the actor playing Jesus in the dramatisation. I was crying my eyes out, like I do every year. Every year it gets to me. He is dead he is dead he is dead.

And I know why. And I know that he rises on Sunday morning. But in that moment I feel the desolation of a world without Jesus.

“Are those people religious?” I hear a teenager coming out of Top Shop ask her friend as we process past.

“Oh my god, are they carrying someone?”

They look shocked. Outraged even.

I remember that look from the faces of the shoppers during the first Good Friday walk of witness I ever experienced. The looks of disgust. How dare you bring some morbid funeral procession to our high street? What is wrong with you people?

It is hard to explain. As I watched them lift half naked Jesus, covered in wounds, onto their shoulders I wondered what my children were thinking sitting in the buggy. Christmas is accessible. It’s easy to get excited about the birth of a new baby; there are fun dressing up opportunities (angel, donkey, three kings); they can identify with having birthdays, being the son of a wonderful Daddy and being special. You can even talk about saving the world a bit, and maybe they imagine the baby will grow up to be a superhero and that they – small now – can do the same when they grow up. But how do you explain Easter morning without Good Friday? And how do you explain why Jesus had to die to a three year old? He has no concept of death yet, let alone sacrificing yourself to pay the price for the sins of humanity.

As we walked back to the car, The Boy asked if we were going to the party now. I was still crying.

“Yes, we’re going to the party.”

“Is it my birthday?”

“No, it’s an Easter party.” I paused, feeling that I should now try to summarise and define for him why we were celebrating the gruesome death on the cross of this Jesus that we sing about, in whose name we pray, who we thank every day for making life beautiful.

“At Easter we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. Because of Jesus we can all be God’s best friends.”

I am someone who likes to start at the beginning and explain everything in great detail. This did not seem enough. But as we went on to the party – loud, busy, children running about laughing and collecting chocolate and sweets in their party bags – I thought that it was enough for now. At 34, I still discover more about the meaning of Easter every year. We start here, with best friends and chocolate eggs and sitting in a buggy while people walk down the shopping street carrying a very tired man with red make up on his body on their shoulders, and we add the rest as we go along.

They have just started their road to Emmaeus and I am only a few steps ahead.

If you have any ideas on how to explain Easter to children that involve Duplo or dressing up please help me out in the comments!

I am linking up to Loud ‘n Proud, as I very rarely blog about my faith. This is my virtual walk of witness.

Loud ‘n Proud Week 3: Leaving Mummy’s Comfort Zone

Welcome to week 3 of Loud ‘n Proud! If you are new to this linky, you can read more details here. I look forward to reading about all the amazing things your wonderful children have done recently – and perhaps some of your own achievements as well. Feel free to be proud of yourself! You can link up your posts below, and don’t forget to grab our badge.

photo 1

Personally, I find it easy to brag about my children’s academic achievements (erm, I do realise they are only 3 and 1 1/2 years old), and to wax lyrical about their linguistic prowess, but something you will rarely hear me mention is their physical abilities. I’ll level with you: I am not into sports and I hate playing outside. Well – I like playing outside, but not if it involves too much supervision, mess, potential for injuries or physical exertion on my part.

So, I guess, I hate playing outside.

As a mum, I am great at encouraging music, art, reading books, imaginative play, but ask me to go and teach my son to ride a bike and I’ll suddenly be very busy with Important Jobs in the house, or you’ll find me asleep on the sofa with Team Umizoomi on repeat.

It took me 6 months of being nagged, prodded and reminded to sign my son up to Tots Tennis at our local tennis club. It was cheap, it was short, it was run by someone we know and trust, yet every week there was something. He didn’t have the right shoes. Or I had work. Or I didn’t know what I’d do with the Girl while we were there. Or I’d just forget.

Then just before half term, we went to the grand opening of a local community centre, and the Tots Tennis stand was there, complete with tiny rackets and soft balls. The entire time we were there, both the Boy and the Girl were running after the balls, waving rackets around and generally having a marvellous time. Before I could stop myself, I found myself saying to the Boy: “Would you like to have tennis lessons?”

“Yes!” he said breathlessly. “I have tennis lessons!” His voice went up to a squeak at the end, that’s how excited he was.

So I signed him up.

We bought him Special Tennis Shoes in Primark. He carried them home as gently as if they were made of porcelain, and kept showing them to everyone, telling anyone who would listen that he was going to have tennis lessons.

He has had three lessons so far and he loves it. In fact, he is quite good at it. He follows instructions quite well and does an impressive job of hitting the ball. I keep bracing myself for failure, or at least mediocrity, as this is all I have ever known in sports myself. But why should The Boy fail or be mediocre? Why should I set the bar so low for him? Why shouldn’t he have a talent for sports? Not just The Boy, but The Girl too. The first lesson I brought books for her to read along the side line, but it soon became clear that that was not going to happen. Within seconds she had appointed herself ball girl, and now every week, she invents her own little tennis lesson while the bigger children have theirs.

I am starting to entertain the idea that my kids actually really love being active and being outdoors. And as I watch the two of them running around on the tennis court, rosy cheeked and laughing, I think that maybe I could get used to it myself…

Tiny ball girl

Tiny ball girl

 

Link up your Loud n Proud posts below and we will read, comment and retweet! Next week’s host will be Tas at Not My Year Off.

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Dual-wielding Dutch and English: bilingualism second time round

Zhuzh

Zhuzh

From the start I have been dying to find out how the Girl would get on with the two languages spoken in our house. In case you are tuning in for the first time: I am Dutch and (try to) speak Dutch exclusively to the children. My husband is British and speaks English. And as we live in the UK, absolutely everybody else in the children’s every day lives speaks English too. I often feel like I am battling the tide trying to maintain Dutch – I myself have spent most of my adult life here and it takes a little effort to speak Dutch all the time, and as my friends and their children speak English, all our play dates take place in English.

I know people who have grown up in a similar bilingual set up and almost without fail, they tell me that their younger sibling barely spoke the minority language. This is not surprising, really. The second child in a bilingual family like ours grows up in a very different language environment to the first. Whereas the Boy spent 98% of his time with me, his Dutch mum, for the first 2 years of his life, and went on fairly frequent visits to the Netherlands with me where nothing but Dutch was spoken to him, the Girl has a constant confused language tutor by her side, even when we are at Opa and Oma’s house. Inevitably, and rather sadly, the Boy’s language of choice is English. Especially since starting pre-school and spending a lot of time with a group of people who just speak English, he will often answer me in English even if I start a conversation in Dutch. So of course he will always address his sister in English too.

I could see the effects in the Girl’s early vocabulary. Her first ten words or so were English: Daddy, cat, teddy, down, juice, cheese, shoes and so on. She had two Dutch words: “aai” (stroke), said running after the cat or when saying sorry to someone for yanking their hair out, and “dag” (bye), which she only used for a book I read to her in Dutch at bedtime with little animals you could tuck up in bed. “Dag!” she’d wave as the rabbit disappeared into his hole.

When children start to speak and come into contact with new words, they make several assumptions that help them learn vocabulary more quickly. One of those is that the new word refers to the whole object and not a part of it (“cat” must refer to the whole animal, not just the tail or the ears or the colour of its fur) and another is exclusivity: each object only has one label. This means that bilingual children start off learning just one word per object – which language they go for depends on what is presented to them first, but to start off with they will not absorb both “cat” and “poes“. So most bilingual children of the Girl’s age (18 months) have an expanding vocabulary that includes words in both languages, but only one word per object. In a later phase they will start to realise that Mummy speaks one language and Daddy another, and that they each have a word for “table”, “juice” and “bye bye”.

Except the Girl is already doing this now. And she has done from the beginning.

Not with every word, but from very early on I could hear her experimenting with Dutch and English words for the same concept that had a similar sound. She went through “hello” and “hallo“, as if trying to taste which version she liked best and got the most laughs. And sometimes, she kept both.

She says “neus” AND “nose”, mimicking the version that the person she is speaking to is using. I have also heard her use “voet” and “foot”.

And where she started off with just “cat”, she now also says “poes“.

She says “vast” plaintively when she can’t get out of her high chair or car seat (“I know, I did that on purpose,” I explain). But I also hear her say “stuck”.

She seems very aware of her own language learning, and when she tries out a new word and I repeat it in Dutch, she will repeat what I have said, looking at me proudly as if to say: I am saying it like you, aren’t you pleased, mama?

It isn’t just giving two labels to one object that is quite advanced about her language learning. Generally, she is speeding through the process much more quickly than her brother did. Bilingual children are on average about 3 months behind their monolingual peers when they learn to speak. I was already quite proud of the Boy, who hit each milestone exactly on cue and said his first two word sentence a few weeks before his second birthday (it may have been “bye bye baby” to his new sister…) But the Girl is blowing his progress right out of the water. Besides being an entire phase ahead in her bilingual language acquisition, she is also using personal pronouns, something her brother didn’t do until he was two. She started saying “my Daddy” at about 16 months, expressing a sentiment I had seen in her eyes from her earliest cuddles with him, when she would turn into him and glare at any bystanders who looked like they might be about to muscle in on her special time with Daddy. Also “my juice” turned out to be a necessary addition to her phrases to ward off any thirsty friends or brothers.

She also started making sentences a few months ago, waving “bye bye Daddy” when he goes to work, prodding me while I try to have a sneaky Team Umizoomi-nap saying “mama sleep!” and most recently breaking our hearts with a little sleepy monologue in the Fairy Godmother’s arms at bedtime, saying “Mama? No, mama work. Daddy? No, Daddy work.”

And so it starts. As they say, you spend ages wishing they would talk and then when they do, you wish they’d be quiet. I do love this phase. I love finding out what is in her head, how she is making sense of the world. And I feel more than a little proud of how quickly she is learning to talk, dual-wielding Dutch and English like the bilingual ninja she is.

"tat" or "poes"

“tat” or “poes”

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Miniature Mathematical Genius: Will my son end up being an accountant?

photo 2

Just before the Boy was born, I remember the Husband and I were out having a curry one night and we talked about our hopes and dreams for our son: the kind of parents we wanted to be and all the mistakes other parents made that we were obviously never going to replicate.

One of the things we talked about was: what do you think he might want to be when he grows up? We started off daydreaming about our son taking our own roads-not-travelled. Maybe, my husband thought, he’ll study military history. Or maybe, I mused, he will learn lots of languages and become a diplomat.

“But you know,” my husband cautioned, “we have to be prepared for the fact that he might be very different from us. We want to support him whatever he chooses to do in life.”

“Yes,” I nodded fervently, ever the tolerant Dutch-person. “Even if he wants to do sports.”

We grinned. We both hate sports.

“Maybe he’ll want to study Chemistry!” I suggested.

We tittered. Chemistry, how dull.

“You never know,” my husband said, scratching around now for something utterly outrageous, something no sensible arty-farty parent could ever support, “he might want to become an accountant.

How we laughed, dear reader.

Fast forward three years, and my husband has just picked up our son from pre-school. I am at work. Inspired by this fact, they are having a conversation about work, and at the Boy’s suggestion that perhaps he could do some work my husband starts explaining that you have to be a bit older. Some people start work at sixteen, some at eightteen, some at twenty-one…

The Boy nods sagely.  “When I am be twenty-one, I go to work.”

The Husband: “And what kind of work would you like to do?”

The Boy, without hesitation: “Numbers.”

“Would you like to tell other people about numbers, or do you want to do numbers by yourself?”

Again, the Boy is ready with his answer: “Numbers by myself”.

You guessed it. The Boy really does want to be an accountant.

It’s not surprising really, because he just loves numbers. Nothing fascinates him more. They are his friends, they make the world exciting and comforting at the same time. I recently went to an information morning about how Maths is taught in primary schools these days and we were given some handouts that the children might get in school: pages full of number lines and multiplication squares and rulers. I knew I would have a very happy boy when I got home and I was not wrong. We put all the handouts in a special folder for the Boy’s “Work” and now he likes to get it out importantly and pore over the Pages of Joy.

Maths - the Boy is in heaven

The love affair started almost as soon as he could talk. The Boy could count to ten fairly flawlessly before he was two, and has since moved on to bigger and better things. He now startles teachers and hairdressers by counting to 100, simply to amuse himself. In fact, he can count to one hundred in English and in Dutch. A few months ago he still had some interference issues, as in Dutch you say “three and twenty” where in English it would be “twenty-three”. This would sometimes cause alarm when he was reading out my friend J’s digital speedometer on the way to pre-school and confidently announce that it said “Eighty-two!” (I should just stress, for the benefit of my friend’s husband who is a police officer, that it really was the Boy’s error and she was doing a very conservative 28 mph).

However, he seems to be on top of the distinction now and doesn’t swap the numbers around any more. He has become quite enamoured of finding big numbers and will announce with glee that he loves me “one hundred”, and when entering a room full of people he will say in a (rather loud) awed voice: “There are thousands of them!”

At just over two years old he amazed me by taking a piece of chalk and writing the numbers from one to ten on the pavement as we walked along. He has been practising and perfecting this skill ever since. Last week I was sitting next to him at the table doing some work and he was busy with paper and a pen. I looked over and he had done this:

photo 3

It turned out to be a plan for the day, which he explained: “Step 1: Go to the moon. Step 2: Go to Nediland [The Netherlands]. Step 3: Go back home. Step 4: Is a surprise.”

Really, everything to do with maths is exciting to him. He loves going round with my tape measure to measure things and likes to spot shapes where ever we go. “Look Mummy, a trapezium!” he shouts from the back seat of the car, pointing at my rear view mirror. It’s only a matter of time, we think, before he’ll start adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and calculating the decay rate of gamma radiation in preparation for the nuclear apocalypse.

The other day in the car he was again musing on what life would be like when he was older. “Next week is my birthday!” he said. (It wasn’t) “And then I be 4, and then I be 5, and then I be 6…” (This was where I tuned out for a while.) “…and then I be 21 and I go to work…” The counting continued with this addition (“and then I be 43 and I go to work, and then I be 44 and I go to work”) until he arrived at: “…and then I be one hundred!”

“Well, when you’re 100 you won’t have to work,” I said. “You can have a nice rest.”

“Yes! Then I can have a nice rest.

I quickly switched the radio on at this point, to ensure that we did, just for a moment, have a nice rest from the counting. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of his skills, but let’s face it: (ac)counting is a bit boring.

All the numbers had to come into the kitchen at Opa & Oma's house to join in with lunch.

All the numbers had to come into the kitchen at Opa & Oma’s house to join in with lunch.

This is what Play Doh was made for

This is what Play Doh was made for. Outside the frame the line goes on to twenty…

All linked up to the first ever Loud ‘n Proud linky!

3 Children and It