Family fun – top shot.
Sitting patiently at the kitchen table, ‘reading’ to herself whilst I tidied round and washed up the dishes after breakfast. Some books are her favourites and she has requested them so many times that she is nearly word-perfect. With others – especially ones like this, with less words and more scope for interpretation – she just chatters away about what she can see. I love listening to her putting her own narrative to books.
Pause for thought.
I read an opinion piece in the Washington Post written by a teacher in America about the difficulties of doing ‘lockdown drills’ with very young school children. These drills are becoming ever more common in American schools, in response to the dangers of school shootings. A modern day addition to fire drills.
It’s very well written, as well as intensely sad and depressing. I am not based in America, but as a mother it does make me think about the difficulties in navigating young children to safety in such scary circumstances. Whether it’s a drill or not, what an incredible responsibility to place on a person’s shoulders.
“I stand, make purposeful eye contact with my preschoolers and gesture with my hands that we are going to the closet, right now. My body language here must be just so. Too much smile, and they’ll ask questions and laugh. Too much severity, and they’ll balk, rebel or be fearful. Make a sound with my hands or feet, and they will, too. Tip-toe too slowly, and they will, too. All is well, I must convey, but I am not kidding.”
(Launa Hall, Rehearsing for death: a pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills).
I read the piece a few days ago now, but it has haunted me, and I keep going back to it. This is so sadly a very real part of our modern world. The writer is talking about it from a very American perspective, but the truth is that nowhere is guaranteed to be safe anymore, if it ever was. The idea that anyone has to try to prepare such young children for such a terrifying experience is just awful.
Memories are made of this.
Being literally half the world away from home, having friends and family to stay is a really, really big deal. This weekend my husband’s brother paid us a flying visit as he is working in Singapore at the moment.
Our girly hasn’t seen her Uncle Paul since we were back in the UK last summer, so I wasn’t sure how much of a big deal it would be to her that he was coming. But actually, she was super excited, right from the first time we mentioned it.
She was practically delirious with excitement when he first arrived, and totally loved playing tickle chase with him. Tearing round and round the dining room table, screaming with laughter and shouting ‘Uncle Paul, Uncle Paul, chase me!’. It’s been so lovely watching her bonding with him.
As well as maintaining regular contact (thank heavens for FaceTime!), we’ve always had loads of photos of friends and family around the house. Since she was just a few months old we’ve looked at them with her and talked about the people in them. Helping her to connect with the people who are important to us, and put a face to a name. It has definitely really helped; we’ll be doing the same thing with our little man.
Laugh out loud.
Last weekend our girly gave us the fright of our lives, falling out of her chair at the table with quite some force and landing face down. She didn’t cry – never a good sign with a child, because you know they’re actually really hurt then! And then when we scooped her up off the floor her mouth was bleeding, the source of which seemed to be above her front teeth. They were still in her mouth, but we were terrified she’d knocked her front teeth loose.
After reassuring ourselves that it was in fact just a badly bitten lip, and comforting her with lots of cuddles, we treated her to a Kinder Egg. Basically a miniature hollow chocolate easter egg, available year round, with a little toy hidden inside. Kiddy heaven. We only had one in the house because it had been included in a party bag from a birthday she’d been to recently and I was saving it for treat.
It was a somewhat tactical choice, as I was pretty certain she’d tackle it with her front teeth, and I wanted to check they really were okay My husband looked sidelong at me, laughed, and said ‘you want to be careful, she’ll be throwing herself off furniture all the time’. Of course her teeth were absolutely fine, the kinder egg was an enormous hit, and we breathed a big sigh of relief and thought no more about it.
Four days later, she’s clamouring for a snack, barely minutes after she’s just wolfed down an enormous breakfast. I said she needed to wait; that she could have a snack but it wasn’t time yet. I can see the cogs turning; figuring out how to get what she wants. She turns away, head downcast, then she comes back, sad face on. ‘Mummy, I bumpy head. I poorly. Need chocolate egg’. Cunning! A proper laugh out loud moment. But oh dear. We’re in big trouble!!
It had to be:
“Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: deliciousness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.”
Music makes me happy.
‘Music’ might be stretching it a bit, but toddler sung tunes have to be some of the happiest sounds I hear, day to day. Considering that we have always sung to our girly, and she has been able to communicate from a fairly early age which songs she wants sung to her, actually singing them herself has taken a while. But this week, for the first time, properly recognisable ‘Happy birthday to you’ and ‘Happy and you know it’ have been regular repeaters. Ridiculously cute.
Sat on the sofa in the morning sunshine, cuddling with little man as he slept after a feed. Just me and him in the house. Leaving the jobs. Making the most of it.
I really struggle with the sense that I need to be productive. That sitting in peace with the children is a ‘waste of time’. There is always so much stuff to be done. But really, it’s just ‘stuff’, isn’t it? I am trying really hard to loosen up my approach a little; seize a few of the opportunities I get to just sit and be with them, snuggle them, treasure the moment. After all, I’m not going to wistfully look back and think ‘do you know, I really wish I’d spent more time hanging out the washing/putting the dishes away/preparing dinner’, am I?