“I LIKE the number 10!”

…And other things that rock my boy’s world

How I wish I could get inside the mind of my toddler sometimes!  Yes, toddlerdom is clearly tough at times but the simple pleasures he finds in everyday life are both fascinating and spirit-raising.  I feel so lucky that he so vociferously shares these pleasures multiple times an hour (in between more negative trains of thought, naturally!).

Time for a list; this time a chart countdown:

Top 10
Things that Rock my Boy’s World

#10:  His sister (“I love youuuu”).
Just creeping into the charts, Pipsqueak has waited 6 looong months to gain a space in her big brother’s affections. It has taken much charming on her part; smiling, cooing, reaching out to him and staring at him endearingly whenever he is within eye-shot.

Finally, he now tells her he loves her, tells us he likes her, shows and teaches her things and has even been known on occasion to hold her hand, stroke her hair or kiss her goodnight. We have yet to convince him to actually cuddle her or hold her for ‘that’ frame-worthy photograph, however.

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#9:  Shapes
With the purchase of Usborne’s ‘Lift-the-Flap Shapes’ book a couple of weeks ago, a new shapes obsession was born. He points out shapes to his keyworker at preschool, and to us around the home and out and about.

When we visited Milestones Museum in Basingstoke, he noted on arrival that the building was a ‘semi-circle’. That’s my boy! (This is a lesson starter that I have used when teaching 7 year-olds!)

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Much to our amusement, at the start of our recent potty training mission, he would do a little wee, stand up and declare “That one’s an oval, Mummy.”  Whatever floats your boat, E!

#8:  The Zoo
The Boy likes animals. I like that he likes animals. Maybe one day he could become a vet and earn bucket-loads of money whilst saving the lives of our furry friends.

We are lucky enough to live just 20 minutes away from a really decent zoo, so of course we have taken advantage of this and have bought an annual pass for three years running.  Many a memorable morning/afternoon/day has been spent at the zoo and I’ve loved witnessing how The Boy’s engagement with the animals has grown: From signing ‘duck’ and ‘tiger’ whilst flapping his arms or banging on the glass at 10 months to really observant and detailed descriptions now at 32 months.

The Boy’s favourite animal at the zoo is the giraffe (the same as Mummy’s) and he can tell you lots of facts about them, including that they live in Africa and have black tongues.

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But, just to be a bit different, his second favourite is the mongoose.  I wasn’t even sure what a mongoose was until recently!

#7:  Marks and Spencers (“Can we go to M&S? Peease?”)
Please don’t judge! Honestly, in general conversation with The Boy, you would be forgiven for summising that we have spent his entire upbringing to date dragging him around the shops. This is so far from the truth it is laughable.

However, we do happen to have a rather large retail park style M&S practically on our doorstep and we *might* have made it sound like the most exciting place on the planet, just so that (once or twice a month) we can go and have a coffee in the café there.

The tractor-shaped pasta and the escalators have become particular highlights of this ‘trip’ since the buggy has been ditched (before that it was the lift; before that sitting in a highchair and charming all the elderly ladies with his cutsie smile and baby babble).  Mr Don’t Say maintains that The Boy’s love for this retail chain began as young as a week old, when we went emergency shopping for larger feeding bras and he ‘posed for the camera’ in the lingerie section.

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#6:   The number 10. (“There’s TEN! I LIKE the number ten.”)
The Boy has been obsessed with numbers for a long time, too. This may or may not have had something to do with the rather large IKEA print that featured in his nursery (Mr Don’t Say often pointed the numbers out to him upon fetching him from a nap). I guess as a teacher I have encouraged this interest and we do count things often when out and about or when reading. But I do wonder what’s so special about ten.

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#5:  Singing & dancing
The Boy’s penchant for singing has been discussed in a previous post; he still declares daily how much he enjoys it. This has been clear to us from a young age: his first ‘sentences’ were heard down the monitor one evening as he finally added the words to his nightly hummed rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.  I am fascinated to know how long this love will last and where this passion might lead him; he is pretty much note perfect nowadays. The school choir? Lead singer in a band? The sky’s the limit.

The Boy’s love of dancing really became clear during a recent trip to a bouncy castle soft play area. This was somewhere we hadn’t been before, but we will definitely be visiting again.  We went with The Boy’s best buddy who, upon entering the room, immediately began scrambling over and jumping off the soft play pieces, running around and generally making the most of the equipment provided. Meanwhile, The Boy stood in the middle of the mats absolutely entranced, swaying his body and staring into the distance.

When quizzed, it became clear that he was trying to work out if he recognised the children’s song currently blasting out of the speakers.  “I LIKE this one!” he declared excitedly as ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ came on, and he immediately broke into all the actions!

Honestly, the amount of time spent on the equipment probably totalled 10 mins (and took some persuasion); the rest of the 90 minute session was spent dancing (often intentionally to the ‘audience’ of other parents: “Look at ME!”) and pointing out the numbers on the gymnastics posters on the gym wall!

#4:  Stories (“Can I have just ONE MORE story? Peease?”)
The Boy is a book junkie.  He is absolutely hooked and extra stories are the ultimate bribe treat here.  This is one boy whose eyes light up at birthdays and Christmases when he gets to open a ‘book shaped’ gift.  Stories have never been reserved just for bedtime in this house, and I hope they never will be.  They are constantly reached for, by The Boy himself, by us, and by his Grandma.  I’m glad: we all get so much pleasure from reading with him.  The staff at preschool did get a bit of a shock though when they asked what his favourite story was: “Anything by Julia Donaldson” was his confident reply!

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#3:   Miro (our cat)
Any toddler who has grown up with a cat, dog or any other pet who is treated as part of the family is going to become very attached.  Miro and The Boy have been hanging out together since he was about 4 months old. Luckily Miro is far more tolerant of The Boy than he is of us and puts up with a lot of rather rough cuddling, stroking and even tail pulling. This is probably mainly due to the fact that The Boy is the only one to really give him any attention during the day, as I can generally be found running around like a mad thing keeping the two little humans of the family alive and out of trouble!

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#2:  Brand and sign spotting (“Look it’s from IKEA shop, Mummy!”)
With a father who is a graphic designer and a mother hung up on displays as a teacher (and, if I’m really honest a bit of a sucker for certain clothing/toiletry brands), perhaps this interest was inevitable. But this interest is actually bordering on obsession! The Boy literally stops in his tracks wherever he is and whatever he is doing or saying if he spots a logo or label that he is familiar with.

When he was just starting to talk, the main interest was in cars. Whenever he saw a VW, he’d point and say “Daddy car!”; for Fords it was “Mummy car!” Navigating car parks became very tricky and time-consuming, especially as he had to go up to a stationary vehicle and actually point to the badge, then circumnavigate it searching for further logos, for example on the wheels or number plates!

Next came a preoccupation with shops. He recognised (‘could read’!) the wording and logos for Marks and Spencers (obviously), Co-op (“Co-op shop, Daddy!”), Sainsburys and TU clothing, IKEA and Next. He still points these out on packaged food items, carrier bags, clothing labels, branded lorries and advertising boards.

Right now, he is also really interested in signs. Yes, any signs. The boy has always been a rather laid back sort (read ‘slow and considered in all he does’) but this makes walks about town infuriatingly slow! In order to ask his favourite question, “What does THAT sign say, Mummy?”, he has to stop, point, make sure that I am giving both the sign and him my full attention, get an answer and often get a detailed explanation! It is exhausting, but he is insatiable.

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Believe me, when we are out and about, we constantly get amused/incredulous/pitying looks from strangers. I do love our quirky little man.

#1:  The garden.
This only just pips brands and signs at the post in the battle for first place in The Boy’s top ten. And only because of the many facets of opportunity for pleasure that it presents. Amongst recent declarations are:

“I LOVE stones!” Well, don’t we all?! Playing with stones was a favourite activity last summer: moving them, throwing them, sliding them down the plastic slide and his favourite – lining them up along windowsills. This year they have become “Treasure!”

“Look at me, I’m running!”
Running, bouncing on the trampoline, throwing the football around; we are all for encouraging these activities since physical accomplishments don’t exactly come naturally to The Boy.

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“I am GOOD at watering!” Which is quite helpful now he’s strong enough to hold his can and use it without soaking himself in the process. #slavelabour.

“Peease can I do some SWEEPING?” Top marks to Daddy who transferred The Boy’s love of the dustpan and brush at toddler group into another pretty helpful job – sweeping leaves from the patio.

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…And then there’s bubbles, the sandpit, the tent, the easel, picking daisies, mud pies, picnics: the list is never-ending and saved our sanity during our recent incubation period necessitated by a double-wammy of chicken pox.

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I am so pleased that my boy is an outdoorsy type, just like his Mummy 🙂

I adore witnessing The Boy constantly evolving in the way he engages with the world. I wonder what Pipsqueak will grow up to love?

I would love to hear what turns your little people on so please do comment 🙂

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50 Things that make me Happy

Thank you Mrs R at My Life After Logan for the nomination for this.

I did promise myself when I started my blog that I’d keep it ‘pure’ and simple, with EVERY post being related to something my son has said.  It didn’t take me long to get sucked in, did it?  But maybe it is about time I wrote a bit about myself for a change.

Happiness makes the world go round and I have really enjoyed reading about what makes other bloggers smile.  So here is my list:

happyMy Happiness List

1.  My amazing hubby.  He rocks my world, and is my rock.  I’d be in a constant tizz if it wasn’t for his calming influence and constant love and support.

2.  My gorgeous kiddiwinks.  Especially my boy’s constant chatter (the inspiration for my blog) and my baby girl’s peachy lips, smile and cute coos.

3.  My cat.  Poor Miro – he has been rather relegated to the bottom of the pile of late in our hectic family life, but I love him so much.  He is so handsome and affectionate.
IMG_20130521_1150154.  Family in general.  You can’t choose them, but I am very fortunate in this department and love my family dearly.  The relationship my Mum has with The Boy melts my heart (she looks after him two days a week) and my little nephews Oscar and Rowan are a delight.  I am also lucky enough to have acquired in-laws who I love spending time with.

5.  Family days out.  Particularly if a) It doesn’t rain; b) The Boy behaves and enjoys himself and c) Pipsqueak naps and eats something.

6.  Spending time with good friends.  I am blessed to have many good friends in my life, old and new. As family life ‘takes over’, I know that they are always there for me.  When we do spend time together it is precious.

7.  Me time.  By this, I mean the new luxury (time out from the children), but also just being alone.  I quite enjoy my own company and have never, ever experienced boredom when on my own.

8.  My morning cuppa.  Put it this way, I am not happy without it!

9.  Baby yoga.  The highlight of my week during this maternity leave has to be the Bibble & Bubble baby yoga class that I attend with my now 6 month-old.  Life with a baby and toddler is so busy, but this is an hour where I can completely relax and focus on my baby.

10.  Seeing children learn and discover.  This is the reason why I became a teacher.  And now I am relishing seeing my own children develop and learn.  Bliss.

11.  The Great Outdoors.  It is just such a spirit-lifter and Mother Nature never ceases to amaze and inspire me. It saddens me so much to know that we are slowly destroying our beautiful planet.

12. Fresh air. As above. Preferably administered in big, restorative gulps.

13.  Spring and Autumn.  When it is sunny but crisp/fresh (i.e. no sweaty upper lip but all the feel-good vibes).

14.  Tulips and daffodils.  So colourful.

15.  Birdsong.  But not birds per se.  In fact, I am terrified of pigeons and seagulls.

16.  The seaside. (Seagulls aside).  I love the sound of the sea, collecting shells, building sandcastles and, of course, ice cream.

17.  A good stomp up a mountain. My favourite thing to do pre-sprogs was to head out, often alone, find a hill and hike up it.  I still do it when I can. It makes me feel so alive:  muscles and lungs burning, the sense of achievement and the ultimate reward of the view from the ‘top of the world’.

18.  An exploratory cycle. I’ve loved cycling since I could pedal.  I have such fond memories of being out and about with my brother and school friends, exploring the roads and tracks around where we grew up.  I haven’t done much cycling since The Boy arrived.  We have got him a seat, but then I fell pregnant again.  I’m really looking forward to the summer when we’ll get Pipsqueak on the back of mine and head out as a family.

19.  Swimming.  This, for me, is the ultimate way to keep fit.  I love a bit of front crawl and can get a bit competitive in the lanes if the truth be told!

20.  Colour and pattern. As my current blog theme suggests, I love a bit of brightness in my life!

21.  Orla Kiely.  Her use of colour and pattern is right up my street.

STACKED CUPS - WELLIE'S [Converted]22.  Creative interiors.  My mood is really affected by my surroundings and I love to be in a creative space.  I am really enjoying the current trend of up-cycling and wish I could find the time to indulge!

23. Textiles.  Cushions.  I do love a cushion.  Especially with a bit of appliqué or an interesting pattern.  Ooh and buttons.

24.  Notebooks & journals.  I have quite a collection.  I have a whole series documenting my travels when I was in my mid twenties.  They are in the loft at the moment but I look forward to reading them back.  I have several filled with notes about my babies.  And still more where I note ‘ideas’ – for the books I will one day write, the small businesses I have thought about starting up, craft ideas.  Maybe, just maybe one day I’ll have the time to work on some of these!

25.  Talented friends.  I have several friends who are super-talented and I am a big fan and supporter of each of them.  Special mentions go to:
– My colleague Jon Senior of 60ft Chicken (@60ftchicken), a band of self-taught musicians and singers who played at our wedding and had every single guest on their feet dancing;
– My colleague Hannah Ross of Little Black Dress (@LBD_Southampton), one half of an uber talented singing duo who are a must-see if you are based on the South Coast.
– My little cousin Daisy Farris, who has set up her own dance collective and has impressed me with her passion and hard work.
– My old school friend Leigh Hodgkinson (@hoonbutton and @TheWonkybutton) who is a successful children’s book author and illustrator, maker of lovely things and all-round very clever creative who must never sleep.
–  Another school friend Lisa Good AKA Chocamama, who makes delicious homemade chocolates from her kitchen.
Whoops – a long entry, but they deserve it!

26.  Chocolate.  In particular, Minstrels.  My son now points to these and calls out ‘Mummy chocolate’ whenever he sees them in a shop!

27.  My man’s cooking.  Especially his lasagne.

28.  Prosecco.  There’s something so decadent about a glass of fizz.

29.  Strawberries.  They make fruit worth eating.  Also good with chocolate/prosecco.

30.  Coffee shops and wine bars.  For the coffee and wine they sell, and for the atmosphere.  I spent a lot of time in my twenties visiting friends in London.  My ‘young, free and single’ days!  Whenever I visit a trendy coffee shop or wine bar it reminds me of these happy times.

31.  People-watching.  I’m nosey.  I just can’t help it.  I just hope I’m more subtle when doing it than my mother is!

32.  Cornwall.  I am so glad our parents took us holidaying in this county when we were young.  The coastline is stunning with its rugged rocks, sandy coves and rock pools.

33.  Thailand.  This is such a special place to me.  I’ve been several times: with friends; on my own when travelling; to meet my now husband (and decide that our future was together!) when he was living in New Zealand; and twice since then with him.  The Thais are so friendly, the scenery breathtaking, the food and accommodation so cheap and the massage out of this world.

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34.  Camping.  I guess this links back to my love of the outdoors.  I have now successfully persuaded Mr Don’t Say that this is a viable holidaying option, although only since we have kitted ourselves up with a super-sized tent, chairs and camp kitchen!  I’m really looking forward to lots of camping adventures with my little family.

35.  The smell of freshly cut grass.  Lush.

36.  Blue skies and cloud watching.  The ultimate way to relax.

37.  Trees.  They are so beautiful.  I always think about how old big trees are and what they must have ‘seen’ in their lifetime.

38.  A long bath.  Preferably listening to music or reading a book.  Or (my new discovery) listening to an audio book – this way the pages don’t get soggy!

39.  Candlelight.  So romantic and cosy.  Back to basics.

40.  Clean bed linen.  And the smell of freshly washed clothes generally.

41.  Origins ginger body lotion.  In fact the whole Origins range.  And Sanctuary.  That fragrance transports me straight back to South Africa where I was when I first used Sanctuary shower gel.

42.  Music.  I used to spend a fortune on CDs and listened to music all the time when I lived alone.  Somehow, this habit has got dropped in the busyness of family life.  Note to self: play more music!

43.  A good book.  Getting lost in another world – I love that this can happen through simply reading words.

44.  Hugs. ‘Hugs and snuggles’ as The Boy calls them.

45.  Memories (good ones) and dreams.  Definite smile-worthy material.

46.  Photographs.  Photographs are so important to me, especially as I have such a terrible long-term memory.  I love capturing special moments or beautiful things and being able to look at them again and re-live them whenever I please.

47.  Celebrations.  Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas.  All excuses to party.  All make me happy.

48.  New clothes.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love clothes.  I am a White Stuff addict! This is an addiction I have had to seriously curb since having children due to a lack of funds.

49.  A new haircut/colour. Incidentally, my hair is not red in real life: I applied a pop art filter to my blog photo.

50.  New adventures.  Travelling, living, working.  I am not one for standing still for too long and I embrace new challenges and experiences.  Blogging is my latest adventure, and so far I’m loving it.

Wow.  This is my longest blog post to date.  And I dare to call my toddler egocentric!

I now nominate:

Emma at Tropical Tot
Aimee at Mum Amie
Dad Without A Map

You Baby Me Mummy

Thank you Aby at You Baby Me Mummy for the lovely mention in this week’s #TheList.
Why not pop on over and have a nosey at some of the other amazing blog posts there?

“Let’s talk about ME.”

My boy LOVES to talk.  He may not be able to jump yet, is overly cautious on climbing equipment and is reluctant to try out his balance bike. But he’d be a champ at a 12 hour toddler chat-a-thon.  I don’t know WHERE he gets it from.

In the afternoons when I go in to get him up from his nap, as long as he is already awake, he often likes to instigate a conversation (otherwise, of course, he is a right grump).

One much-rehearsed conversation point is a(nother) recount of his day so far:  “This morning we…”.  This is a prompt for me to talk about the highlights of the morning; a story peppered with plenty of questions for him to answer – posed by me and by him. He positively digs a question and answer session: he’s going to be a right teacher’s pet when he gets to school.

I like this one as it makes me realise how much learning is going on in his little head-nod.  It also allows me an imaginary pat on the back that he is enjoying lots of memorable experiences at such a young age.  It’s often a great opportunity to praise him again for good behaviour, talk to him about bad behaviour and consequences and also of course to help him to make sense of the world.  Once a teacher, always a teacher!

Yesterday he surprised me with “Let’s talk about Daddy.  I like Daddy,” which I found endearing (but what about Mummy?!).  In response to my question “What does Daddy like?” he replied, “Going to Marks and Spencer shop and going up and down on the moving stairs!” which is, of course, one of the things HE likes doing on a rainy day with Daddy.  (Daddy just so happens to rate the M&S flat white.)

But my all-time favourite has to be the totally innocent and self-indulgent “Let’s talk about ME!” (said with the world’s biggest grin).  He loves to be reminded about how gorgeous and handsome he is; he is his father’s child through and through. We talk about his likes (currently preschool, sharks, dinosaurs, the zoo, singing, numbers, letters, shapes, digging, our cat, hugs, Julia Donaldson books and Tinga Tinga Tales on CBeebies) and dislikes (the duvet cover being on his bed, doing anything under time pressure, his sister crying and getting dressed). We talk about family and who loves him and he recites his home address. We talk about how brave and confident he has been starting preschool and how clever he is that he knows all his shapes and can count so well. And he smiles and smiles and smiles.

And so do I.

Blog post 6Yes, toddler egocentrism can be downright frustrating at times, but I can’t help but love this side of it. Long may his self-belief and confidence last before self-consciousness and social conventions squash such natural, unrestrained self-adoration.

Mummascribbles

“It is NOT breakfast time. It is lunch time.”

Swearing Black is Blue

In my last blog post ‘Planting a Seed’, I talked about the importance (for toddlers) of feeling in control. This desire is guaranteed to lead to regular altercations, frustration all round, tantrums (mostly from the little person) and sometimes, just sometimes, amusement (definitely only from the parent’s point of view).

Alongside ‘planting a seed’, a favourite strategy of mine is ‘reverse psychology’.  This ignites The Boy’s natural desire to object and want to do the exact opposite to what is being asked of him.  For example, the old trick of “So you’re not hungry; can I eat some?” when mealtimes are particularly slow, or “I don’t think we should go to playgroup today,” to spur him into getting his shoes and coat on.  I always allow myself an inward snigger when this works.

Our boy’s need for complete control has really stepped up a level now though: he is actually redefining reality! And it can pretty entertaining (when it is not completely tiresome of course).

His latest habit is making statements which he knows are untrue but that, importantly, are the exact antithesis to what we have just said. I’m not sure if this in itself is a toddler ‘thing’?  None of my real-life mummy friends seem to be experiencing it. Here, it is invading every aspect of life!

Let me provide some further examples (my personal top 10):

1.   Upon opening the curtains:
“Oh no! It’s raining!”
“It is NOT raining. It is a sunny day.”

2.   At preschool:
“The doors aren’t open yet – we’re early.”
“The doors ARE open. Everyone is inside. I want to go in NOW.”
(Everyone is actually standing outside within earshot).

3.  Reading a story:
“Can you find the toadstools?”
(Pointing to the toadstools) “Those are NOT toadstools! They are helicopters.”

4.  At lunch time:
“It’s pasta – your favourite!”
“It is NOT pasta. It is BEANS!”

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5. Going up the stairs at nap time:
“Hurry up because your sister is getting overtired.”
“She is NOT tired. She is dancing.” (She is 6 months old and definitely not in a dancing mood.)

6. On the motorway:
“There’s the sign for Junction 9.” (As previously mentioned, The Boy is a number spotter.)
“It is not 9. It is ten. Ten! TEN!”

7.  Playing in his sandpit:
“Wow, that’s a big hole – have you hit the blue water [plastic] at the bottom?”
“It is not blue, it is ORANGE!”

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8.  At 7pm:
“Daddy’s home!”
“Daddy is NOT home. Daddy is at work.”  (Actually Daddy is standing right in front of him, looking rather dejected.)

9.  As darkness descends:
“It’s morning time! I LIKE mornings.”

10.  At bedtime:
“Mummy loves you.”
“Mummy does NOT love me. You are NOT my mummy.”

You have to laugh…don’t you?

 

You Baby Me Mummy
Friday Frolics

“I’VE got a good idea!”

Planting Seeds and the Quest for a Quiet Life

A successful day for a toddler is deemed as one where they’ve felt that THEY have been in control for the majority of the time. If you own a toddler, I am sure you are well aware of this and have undoubtedly developed a full repertoire of coping strategies just to get through each day without reaching for the wine bottle before wine o’clock.

Particularly savvy parents will have refined the art of planting an idea in such a way that their little person shortly afterwards presents it as their own, thus leading to a win-win scenario.

The opportunities for giving yourself an imaginary high-five or for secretly punching the air in triumph are, let’s face it, few and far between in the land of parentdom. Therefore, I feel the need to blow my own trumpet on this subject.

So far today today, I have surreptitiously managed to persuade The Boy to:

  • Choose to wear a warm jumper by alluding earlier to his love of birds, but in particular owls (his warmest jumper has an owl on the front):
    “I want to wear THIS one.”

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  • Clean his teeth in the morning (a very hit and miss affair here, I’m afraid) by selecting Clarabella Crocodile to read upon waking up: ‘She brushes and brushes and brushes her crocodile teeth.’ Thank you An Vrombaut:
    “NO! NOT downstairs yet; I haven’t bushed my teeef.”
  • Eat his breakfast in record time (The Boy’s habit of eating slowly is the cause of much personal stress and frustration) by eating mine greedily with much dramatic emphasis in role Daddy Pig. The boy does like a bit of am-dram.
  • Ride on his buggy board to our Maraca Jacks class (he loves to walk but it triples the journey time) by talking during breakfast about what a big boy thing it is to do; then being able to point out a very happy looking boy ‘racing’ past the window on the school run on one:
    “NO! I not want to walk. Buggy board, buggy board!”
  • Go upstairs to the class in the lift with me and Pipsqueak in the buggy (this lift is a particularly antiquated, noisy press-and-hold-the-button type one and he prefers the stairs) by talking on the journey about the ‘magic lift’ (he is ‘into’ magic since seeing a Meg and Mog DVD):
    “Can we go in the magic lift? PEEEASE?”
  • Leave the park after the allocated 30 mins (usually involves a tantrum) by talking about numbers and counting pushes on the swing, then reminding him of all the numbers on the houses and signs on the walk back (he is a bit obsessed ATM):
    “Can we go now? I want to do a NUMBER hunt!”

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  • Happily eat eggy bread for lunch by reminding him on the walk home that he had collected some eggs from Grandma’s neighbour’s hens last week (these were not those eggs; he didn’t need to know that!).
    “Eggy bread! Yummy – I WANTED that!”

And it is only nap time!  I can definitely chalk today down as a GOOD DAY.

Of course this strategy, like all other parenting-a-toddler strategies, is relentless and exhausting and, let’s face it, cannot be maintained 24-7 unless you are properly super-human.

Factor in toddler tiredness, parental sleep-deprivation, time deadlines, siblings with their own wants and needs or any number of other challenges that occur in a standard day, and ALL control can and does go out the window. Like it probably will this afternoon. But we all have to celebrate small victories, don’t we? Happy toddler = slightly less frazzled mum.

Bottoms up!

“No Mummy NOT Incy Wincy Spider: Big FAT Spider!”

My two-year-old cracks me up.  Every day.  

If you have read my first couple of blog posts, you will probably have already realised that he can be quite vocally demanding.  Bossy, even.  Show me a toddler who isn’t.  But he is also quirky, mischievous and highly entertaining, and I love the bones of him.

Part of the reason for me starting to record his little sayings in writing is because I want to cherish them forever.  Childhood is woefully short and I know that even his most utterly frustrating outbursts will raise a smile and even have me reminiscing in the future.  His ‘little gems’ (as I call them) will have me laughing out loud.

Here is one of them.

At lunch time today I was asked to sing a song. Keen to sustain his good mood, I asked what he would like me to sing.  We started with a thankfully fairly succinct version of The Wheels on the Bus, then entered into an enthusiastic rendition of If You’re Happy and you Know It.  

So far so good.  His little legs were jigging to the rhythm under the table.  In between forkfuls he added the hand actions. His singing was endearing and even pretty much in tune (luckily it doesn’t look like he’s going to take after his dad in that department!).

Next?

Incy Wincy Spider peease Mummy,” he asked politely.  So I gladly complied. He doesn’t often request this and it brings back hazy but fond memories of my own childhood.  We sang it once through with aplomb.

“Again!” he declared happily.

Then…
“No, no, no! NOT Incy Wincy Spider: Big FAT Spider!”

But of course.  What else?  And so another traditional rhyme is creatively adapted according to the whim of a toddler.

This is not by any means the first or only musical demand I have had thrust upon me.  Also common in our household is:

“I want to dance, Mummy.”
Whereby the iPod is duly spurred into action. I have refused to download not yet got around to downloading any children’s songs onto it, but he takes great delight in boogying on down to a bit of Toots and the Maytals.  

I take great delight in watching him try to coordinate his body in time to the music.  His special move is all in the wrists!  Then his imagination kicks in:
“Look at ME Mummy.  I’m a lion!”
Priceless.

Blog post 3

His favourite trick is to reach up on tiptoes and whack the volume up REALLY loud.  When I am not sighing in exasperation, I am smiling broadly as I remember the days when I too used to have regular opportunities to get completely lost in music.

“Let’s make music, Mummy!”*
Which involves him emptying the whole box of toy instruments out onto the wooden floor with an Almighty clatter, then proceeding to bash and crash with much force on his drum, xylophone and pretty much any other hard surface within arm’s reach. If we’re especially lucky, the toy trumpet and the toy CD player will also be worked into the repertoire.

“I want a CDdvd on for breakfast. PEEASE?”
Daddy is the sucker for this one.  My morning head is not usually in the zone to comply.  I want to sometimes listen to the news like a normal human being.  But at the weekends, we are often listening to songs from his baby signing class or a number from the Julia Donaldson boxset that he got for Christmas.  Then, by default, I am singing them either out loud or (worse) on repeat in my head for at least the next 24 hours.

And when I decide to put on some chill out tunes for myself or listen to the radio?

“I NOT LIKE this, Mummy.  Mummy switch it OFF!”


* This is most often requested when I’m just getting/have got the baby off to sleep.

“I not like THAT one!”

There are some all-too-familiar phrases shouted by The Boy that must be spoken by toddlers umpteen times a day the word over. Universal toddler-speak if you will.

The Boy has been going through a bit of a negative spell recently.  At least, I hope it’s just ‘another phase’…it has been rather a while now.  Currently, his most often communicated phrases can pretty much be filed under one of two categories:

  1. His dislikes (those statements containing the all-encompassing ‘no’; phrases/sentences including the keywords ‘no(t) like’ or ‘no(t) want’).
  2.  His desires (‘I want’; ‘I do it’).

Today, just for fun,* I decided to keep a list of such declarations made by The Boy, along with a tally. Try it: it’s very satisfying, a little like crossing off numbers in bingo (I’d imagine). At the very least, it meant that with each irritating whine or shout there was a positive outcome too, in the form of a satisfying pencil mark and a smug ‘see – I’m right!’ smile.

My results are as follows, presented in categories in order of frequency from most to least often said (the teacher in me is loving this!):

1. “I not like…” (24 utterances)
Examples today included that story, that T-shirt, having to wear a jumper, tuna sandwiches, that cup, his sister’s feet touching him on the sofa during stories, that episode of Peppa Pig, shoes on, Maracajacks (the music class he’s been going to since he was 10 weeks old and always loves once he’s there), his nappy being changed, his teeth being cleaned… The list goes on and on.

Blog post 2

2. “I want…” (19 utterances)
More grapes, one more Mr Maker, Mummy’s phone, another story, to ‘do’ numbers, to go in the garden, his felt-tips down from the shelf, the volume up loud on the iPod, stickers, to bash the hell out of his toy drum (whilst his sister is napping, naturally).

3. “I not want…” (11 utterances)
To go downstairs, breakfast, shepherd’s pie, to sit at the table, to have a nap, to go upstairs.

4. “I do it!” (7 utterances)
How dare I try to unzip his sleeping bag, hurry him up the stairs by lifting him the last few, choose the game he can play on the tablet, feed the playdough into the logging machine (don’t ask!), count the triangles in his shape book or pull the bath plug?  Outrageous.

Life is so flipping black and white for these little people!
They see it as their prerogative that their wants MUST be met; after all, their needs were as a baby. The universe centres around them.  And of course it opens that whole parenting can of worms about when to indulge them (for a quiet life) and when to teach them that the real world sadly doesn’t operate that way and throw some ‘no’s right back at them!

The child in me loves the idea of playing The Boy at his own game: “Well I don’t like boys who are stroppy/unreasonable,” or “And I don’t want to sit here for another 20 minutes while you do everything in your remit to avoid eating your lunch.” But obviously that strategy always backfires and ends up with him teetering dangerously on the edge of the black hole that is tantrum central.  Also, of course, hearing these words being spoken out loud makes me shudder at what a mum I have become.  Much like at work when I catch myself doing the teacher’s raised eyebrows or telling a pupil, “It’s your time you’re wasting, not mine.” (Lie.) Fitting the stereotype and inwardly squirming as a consequence.

I know ‘they’ say that ignoring is the best strategy, and I try, really I do. And, considering the frequency of the outbursts, I think a 50% success rate in doing this is admirable. Let’s admit, it takes A LOT of effort to keep natural reactions in check, particularly when sleep deprived.

Confession time: Sometimes, whilst ‘ignoring’, I have been known to gesticulate wildly (behind The Boy’s back of course), violently mouth profanities (again, not in his eyeline) or swiftly exit the room to sit on the bottom stair and sob.  We’ve all been there…haven’t we?

Oh and guess what? Ignoring it doesn’t always work. You know, much like the ‘put them down drowsy but awake’ advice of the early baby years. Maybe this only happens under our roof, but The Boy takes such offence at not being listened to that he ends up just shouting it louder and louder and LOUDER.

It has taken a while (and hats off to the hubster here, for it was he who forged the way with this strategy, having infinitely more patience than me) but we have found that the secret to a (slightly) less shouty household lies in good old-fashioned bribery. Even this took a tonne of patience to ‘teach’; the main hurdle being finding opportunities where he actually complied to a request in order for him to see the positive consequence. Luckily The Boy considers extra stories at naptime and bedtime, Innocent smoothies and educational games on the tablet to be ultimate treats. Ha! We win. Here’s hoping that these preferences will last.

Nowadays, the usual exchange goes something like this:

Me: It’s lunch time.
Boy: It is NOT lunch time!
Me: Err, it IS lunch time. Look – pasta! Your favourite.
Boy: I not WANT pasta! No, no, no! NOT pasta!
Me: (Sigh) But you love pasta. Look – its got yummy butternut squash and chicken in it.
Boy: I not LIKE chicken. Yuk. I want to PAYY (play).
Me: (In my best teacher voice, calm and low) E, do you want a story at nap time?
Boy: (Sulkily) Yes.
Me: Well then, you need to eat your lunch. If you don’t eat your lunch, then no story. Do you understand?
Boy: Yes.
(I battle him into his seat and, with many more words of encouragement, he reluctantly proceeds to eat. VERY slowly.)
Me: (Adjusting my face into an animated, inviting smile) E, if you eat up ALL your pasta in BIG mouthfuls like a dinosaur, you can have a smoothie!
Boy: Oh yes! I LOVE smoovees!
(Eating speeds up to approximately half the desirable speed. I concede that half-speed is probably ‘good enough’ – I am tired of this cringeworthy pantomime. I manage to get The Boy down for his nap minutes before Little Miss is about to turn from smiley happy adorable bubba to ferociously eye-rubbing overtired nightmare bubba. A hollow victory is once more mine.)

Any of this sound familiar?

In conclusion, as much as it pains me to say so, it looks as though some stereotypes ARE worth conforming to. Let’s all just admit it: There is such a thing as ‘universal mum-speak’ too. And it is every bit as irritating as the little people’s negative outbursts.

* I know, I know. How my life has changed.

Friday Frolics