Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The difference between friends and shops

When you have a 16-month-old boisterous little boy, having friends who are understanding is an important essential.

We went for a meal at our friends' house at the weekend and took George. George played happily, obliviously stomping through completed jigsaws and scattering carefully arranged toys that our friends' daughter – who is reception-class age – was playing with. A little embarrassed, we apologised and dragged him away on numerous occasions, explaining that he is still learning to play.

When it came to bed time, George flatly refused and the only way we could get him to stop crying was to sit him up in his pushchair at the end of the table so he could preside over us eating. Eventually he realised that watching people eat wasn't particularly exciting and he dropped off.

It can be so easy to sit at home and not go anywhere or do anything, simply because it's less hassle, but having sympathetic friends takes such a lot of stress out of the hassle and makes going out enjoyable.

Next week is going to be an even more severe test of adapting to change in the daily and bedtime routine as we're off on a family holiday to Corfu. Once we're there, I'm sure things will fall into place, and besides, nanna and grandad will be there to help too.

I think it's the flight bit that's mostly filling us with dread – nothing to do with flying, just the fact that George will have to be restricted and confined to a small space for more than 10 minutes. Hopefully he won't find his way into the button-and-lights paradise of the cockpit, where he could do a lot more damage than demolish a jigsaw. On the up side, there definitely won't be any vehicles to look at out of the windows so we won't have to listen to him shout 'van' for three hours.

Then again, if it's half as stressful as shopping for him, then I think we'll be OK. I just can't understand the pea-brained logic of putting baby and toddler departments on upper floors so that mums and dads with pushchairs have to queue for lifts (which are nearly always at the back of the shop and the size of a toilet cubicle) or precariously negiotiate escalators. It's annoying, inconsiderate and potentially dangerous and certainly persuades me to patronise other more sensible shops in future.

I don't know, why can't shops be as understanding as friends?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A zooper day out

This week we went to the zoo with nannie and grandad. It's the second time George has been to the zoo, but the first time that he's had an understanding of what he's actually looking at.

This time he got really excited when he saw the monkeys, then he got all excited again when he came face to face with an elephant, and again when we compared the meerkats, and when a giraffe appeared from its giraffe house while we were eating our picnic. Sometimes he got so excited he tried to wriggle out of our grasp into the meerkats' manor or on to the penguin's island.

He was just as excited to see the digger in the car park, the toy tractors in the gift shop (grandad bought him a bright red one), the miniature train and the 'Bob-the-Builder' ride – although he wasn't so keen on sharing it with Bob himself.

But George got most excited when I returned from the car park after taking the picnic basket back to the car. He spotted me from quite a distance and started to wave. I waved back and then mummy let him go and he ran to me with his arms in the air like he hadn't seen me for weeks (I'd only been gone 10 minutes). It was one of those moments that will stay with me and one I'll treasure all my days.

I think grandad summed it up nicely when he gave me a picture montage of our visit to the zoo with the words 'To the world you are just one person, but to one person you are the world'.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

There's a cute nose and acute knows

I always thought the only nose I would ever pick would be my own – how wrong I was. George has a bit of a cold and his nose runs and then it dries in a crusty greeny-yellow coating around his nostrils.

He hasn't learned to pick his own nose yet – he doesn't even wipe it on his sleeve. He just lets it dribble, channelling its way down his philtrum before it builds up on his top lip, eventually ending up in his mouth... but we try our best not to let it get to that stage, even if it means using a finger or a thumb in the absence of a tissue.

I know the thought of this is a little revolting and may provoke reactions of "eugh!" but I don't think there are many mums and dads who haven't had their child's bogey on the end of their finger at some point (perhaps royalty and Hollywood A-listers might be exceptions).

The justification for the practice is that you are helping your child breathe more easily and relieving their discomfort, which means there is no guilt or secrecy and you can do it in public.

George really dislikes it when we try to wipe his face or go near his nose and ironically we'll soon be telling him off for putting his own finger up his nose. He's certainly reaching the next stage of understanding – the other day mummy reprimanded him for pushing over his stacking drawers that contain all his Lego, and his little face looked so endearingly sheepish that the chastening was closely followed by a big "aaah" and a cuddle. Even though we've told him "no" when he repeatedly turns the TV on and off, throws his food on the floor or attempts to rearrange the contents of the fridge, it was the first time he looked like he realised he'd been a bit naughty.

I wasn't quite quick enough to get a picture of
George looking sheepish, but this one's pretty close.

I think it goes hand in hand with his growing grasp of language, and George's vocabulary is growing by the week. Here's a quick list of some of the things he says or tries to say... and what they actually sound like:
Ball – "buh"
Bus – "buh"
Balloon – "buuuh"
Tombliboos (characters from a children's programme) – "boo"
Van – "BAH" (always shouted excitedly)
Bath – "A-BAH" (again shouted excitedly in repetition as he runs out of the living room to the foot of the stairs)
Train – "guh-guh" (for choo-choo)
Digger – "da-da" (this can be confusing when daddy is holding a toy digger)

Apart from "mama and dadda" that's about it, and at the moment everything else is referred to as "uh"– yet with little tweaks in intonation even "uh" can be quite descriptive. There's "uh?" with a question mark, "uh" with a fling of the arm towards a desired item, "uh!" with raised eyebrows and "uh" muttered frustratedly when a car won't go up a ramp or a jigsaw piece won't fit. Finally, there's the 'how-could-you?' "uuuh" when mummy or daddy have got a bogey on the end of their finger.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The old-uns are the best

The other day mummy had a brainstorm. In a moment of inspiration she decided it would be a brilliant idea if she went and 'rootled' (that's one of grandad's words which doesn't appear in any dictionary but is exactly the word I'm looking for on this occasion) in the loft at her childhood home in the hope she might rediscover some of the fantastic toys she had when she was little.

Grandad's eyes rolled in his head as he was ordered to fetch the stepladders and off they both went to 'rootle' in the loft.

A good 20-30 mins later and there's a pile of boxes and bags on the kitchen floor and everyone is joining in with sorting, washing, dusting and drying as loads of old toys get a bit of a clean-up so George can experience some of the fun mummy had as a child.

Mummy was positively excited as all her playtime memories came flooding back – not all the toys, though, lived up to the hype. Many were faded, jaded or worn, and a few were broken or no longer working. Mummy was very disappointed after setting up the oval track of her Tomy Merry-Go-Train – that was meant to chug round and automatically pick up and drop off little people – that it didn't move an inch.

There was a plastic giraffe with almost four legs, no ears, no horns, no nose and no pattern (for some reason it went in the 'keep' section), some pull-along toys and a huge raggedy rabbit with threadbare patches that had all seen better days.

There were, however, a few gems in the pile. There was a tray of wooden blocks that kept George amused for ages, a car dashboard toy that cleaned up quite nicely, a Tomy Space Shuttle set that will be great in a few months and a couple of pristine wooden jigsaws... with no pieces missing!

But the toy that George loved the most was the little faded Fisher Price bus that jiggles the people about as you pushed it along. Over the years though, most of the people had "got off the bus" and they were nowhere to be found. This didn't bother George who insisted on taking his empty bus to the park, the shops and everywhere else he went.

I think a lot of us have a rose-tinted fondness for the toys and items of our youth, and sometimes revisiting them doesn't always live up to expectations. But then it's not the intrinsic quality of those things that is important. A 'rootle' in the loft proved more about discovering happy memories than fantastic old toys, and in this respect it really did live up to the hype.

There's another other side to the coin too – that our little George's eyes can spot a new glimpse of magic in something that looks like nothing, and he's certainly quite taken with his "new" bus, his "new" building blocks and more.

One thing's for sure though... he's NOT having mummy's old dolly!