Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Baby Wearing And The Timid Toddler

Have you heard the one about spoiling your children by carrying them too much?

Me too.

I've heard it a lot over the last few years, both overtly and also from people telling me the wisdom of their own parenting approach in very pointed tones as if it might lead to an epiphany where I throw out my slings while bemoaning the fact that my children will never learn to walk

I'm still waiting for that particular epiphany, which means I have carried on carrying on; particularly Miss Olive who is by far my most attached child. She does NOT like to be held by anybody who isn't me (or papa bear at a push) and she is not shy about sharing that with the judicious use of NOISE.

In many ways that has been a curse to me, as well as a blessing. 

The hardest thing I do every day is to walk out of the door on my way to work. The blow is softened by the elder children pinned to the bedroom window waving me off, but it’s still heart wrenching to hear Miss Olive wailing at the injustice of being separated from me. 

“I feel the same baby girl” I tell her in my head and wave furiously at the children until I am out of sight.

Conversely, my second favourite moment of the day* is walking back through the door and having three pocket sized zombies tear arsing across the house to launch themselves at my legs. 

Once those first few moments of welcome are over, Miss Olive demands to be picked up and I am more than happy to oblige. Wearing her is a very literal act of connection which is usually sound tracked by the gentle “mpph, mpph” noises that always seem to go along with her getting cosy. 

It benefits us to have that cuddle time in the same way it benefits Alfie to describe his latest project to me at a million miles an hour; or Esme to share her latest “favourite” thing with a goofy smile. And just like those moments, this need to be physically connected is a fleeting moment in Olive’s life.

I was treated to a taste of quite how fleeting at the weekend when Miss Olive and I went to her very first birthday party.

Sitting with another mama, I kept a weather eye on an unusually curious toddler as she bimbled along, taking in the other guests and occasionally checking back in with me in case I had abandoned her. 

She was completely and entirely her own little girl; composed and assured. 


It was the first of many bitter-sweet moments for me; watching my timid little girl finally pulling on her brave boots and plucking up the courage to walk away from me. 

The same child, who hides her head in the crook of my neck when anyone offers their arms, in her own time, and in her own way, took herself on an adventure leaving in her wake a very proud, and slightly dejected mama.

* My favourite moment, should you be interested, is snuggling into a fuzzy little toddler neck as I fall asleep.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Yoga Poses For Toddlers

Wednesday night in our house is couples yoga night – oh yes twenty-something me, this is what your future holds – but don’t go making assumptions, it’s probably one of the funniest evenings of the week.

The funnies come from having found an amazing yogi who sings frickin LION KING songs when she demonstrates positions, but mostly, it comes from my daughter.


Yes, that is Miss Olive getting in on my yoga practice.

She laid her head on me and repeatedly poked her finger up my nose until I was laughing so hard I fell flat on my back and did the flappy hand bee-round-my-head move to get rid of her.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Baking With Small Children

It’s a testament to my optimistic nature, the triumph of imagination over reality, but somehow I forget that baking with a two year old is a really stupid idea. 

It has glimpses of awesome, moments where I wrinkle my nose at the sight of my child stirring resolutely with a spoon as long as her arm, but mostly there is stress, and the ever increasing desire to scream into a tea towel.

Last Sunday, when Keith and Alfie went to a birthday party, I decided to take Esme and Miss Olive shopping for a few essentials and get our bake on.

I had humble aspirations, a quick and easy upside down cake because, well, it’s simple, quick and it’s a taste of my childhood. My romantic heart wants them to become the tastes of my children’s childhoods as well. 

So shopping we went, and it wasn’t until a few aisles in that I remembered that only last week, Esme had plucked a seared pineapple ring out of her burger between her thumb and forefinger and flung it unceremoniously across the table.

I pushed the thought to the back of my brain because the front of my brain was busy trying to plot a tightrope path that meant neither child could reach the shelves. 

I had thought that giving Esme the shopping list had saved me from 50% of The Grabby Twins, but either the aisles are narrow or the trolleys are wide because I was caught on the hop at the egg department when Esme announced in a booming voice that eggs were, in fact, her favourite and lunged towards a large display of free rangers on special. 

After that, I was taking no chances.

Unfortunately having found all the other items on our list the niggling thought about Esme and pineapple was the only one left so I grudgingly parked the trolley in front of the display of tinned fruit.

Esme is very much a child who does not like to be second guessed so I knew that this conversation was going to take delicate handling.
“Esme, shall we get some tinned pears for our cake?”
“No, I want pineapple”
“OK sweetheart, but you remember last week, you picked the pineapple out of the burger that daddy made? Maybe peaches would be better for the cake?”
“I want pineapple”
“Esme, you don’t like pineapple. How about mango?”
“I want pineapple”
I admitted defeat and picked up a tin of pineapple. Apparently this was the right decision because according to Esme’s booming voice, pineapple is also her favourite.

Back home, I wrapped Miss Olive on my back and parked Esme in front of the goggle box while I prepared the kitchen. It was a simple cake, possibly the simplest cake ever conceived, but I was aiming for drama free baking and fortune favours the prepared mind just as surely as tired two year olds favour sobbing rage when frustrated.

I laid everything out on the counter, turned on the oven, put the stool in front of the sink, took a deep cleansing breath and called Esme into the kitchen.

What happened after that moment is a blur. 

I know during the next 30 minutes there was measuring, a mushroom cloud of flour, the stealing of cocktail cherries and the delicate negotiation of when Esme was allowed to clean the electric whisk with her tongue.

Small children and raw cake batter - it's true love
Somehow, we came out the other side with a well baked, tasty cake, two injury free children and only the merest hint of lost shit on my part.

Apparently in the few days since burger gate, Esme really had rethought her position on pineapple because when we huddled over our still warm slabs, she declared it to be – you guessed it – her favourite and scoffed the lot before passing out in a cake drunk stupor.

Afternoons like these are rare beasts, and they explain why I will forget all about the stupidity of baking with a two year old, and do it all over again next week: Because mama can’t help but push her luck.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Introspection


Today there are more questions than answers: About how I parent, about how I live, about how I work. 

Just ... questions ... and no answers in sight.

So while the world is drawing in a deep, collective breath, I will simply share a blue coloured aeroplane with you: Alfie's latest masterpiece borne of his latest obsession.

And I will tell you about how he camps out in front of the TV every morning, drinking in each detail of the latest Air Crash Investigation

That he quietly eats breakfast afterwards, processing the details of what went wrong and how a plane came back down to earth.

And how he goes, full bellied, to his Lego table, or gathers up paper and paint, and recreates his own record of events, quietly and with purpose, until he is sure that he can retell the story with accuracy.

I feel like I am the only person who sees magic in this small gesture of respect, but see it I do.

 
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