Dulcie, as a baby, was described by someone far wittier than I, as having ‘a whim of iron’. She still displays some pretty resolute behaviour but can be as flakey as pastry when the mood takes her. A wish to open a bottle of nail varnish and coat the scruffy little nails of a group of two friends and a neighbour’s toddler? Then she can spend ten minutes (which in a preschooler’s life is like a supereon) with her concentration-tongue poking out, sweaty palms twisting the lid and nostrils flared with the effort, until the silence and the smell cause me to run up the stairs and put a swift end to proceedings. Sadly only after twenty digits have been swathed in Hello Kitty pink. A long day, a slippery bit of jelly that won’t get on the spoon? Then she can curse jelly and renounce it after a nano-second of trying.
Himself the Elf is made from sterner stuff. He won’t allow obstacles to bend him from his path, whether they are physical (SHOVE goes the chair put in his way. PAH to the fence as he tries to slither underneath. UMPH to the door that has been shut on him) or his own limitations. There is now nothing that is out of reach, for he just climbs to get it. I honestly now find it simpler, easier and a darnsight less dangerous to hand over what he wants before he makes too much effort to get it (obviously, I don’t count knives, matches, medicines and the like under this as they’re dangerous, or dried apricots as too many have a predictable outcome and I’m the person who has to deal with it). Continue reading
Repetition is an important part of life with small children. I don’t just mean the endless wiping of oozing or leaking body-parts, or constantly saying “If you stand right in front of the buggy, I can’t push it” or “Get down from there, please”, or even the days when you look at the clock repeatedly in the hopes that it is now 5 o’clock and you can start making dinner and see the fabulous light at the end of the tunnel that is bed time, instead of the time actually only being 1.04 and not 1.03 like last time you looked and you’ve got a marathon of childcare to endure first. There’s the repetition of questions that can be like being pecked on the head for hours on end by a sharp-beaked bird, but also the gratifying slow arc of seeing how the answer to “Where do apples come from?” becomes becomes more complex as the child can grasp more information (Disclaimer: do not take it to heart if you’ve bloody well looked up how the blossom turns into apples and made sure you’re clear on stamens and what they do, if a child then looks bored, and asks “I just meant Waitrose or Sainsbury’s,” before wandering off.) Obviously, there’s repetition to the shape of most days, and in the house that includes an awakening that leads me to believe my second-born will be a milkman, there’s plenty of hours to fit in activities that are a repeat of the day before. It is, I believe, called Routine, and some are more fanatical about it than others. I prefer the day to have a familiar shape, punctuated by meals, and spend the rest of the time making hay while the sun shines (or clambering over the sofa when it doesn’t). Continue reading