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
We are not scientists in this house. I have a very hazy notion of what an atom or a molecule is, and I haven’t noticed my husband leafing through a copy of New Scientist or playing with a conical flask and a Bunsen burner (apart from when he’s brewing up crystal meth. I’m lying, of course. He brews tea and coffee only. And does one ‘brew’ crystal meth? I’m not sure I’ve got quite the correct terminology there. Again, proof of my unscientific bent). So, should I be surprised that neither of my children can make the link between touching snow repeatedly, and then having miserable, throbbing hands from the cold? Himself the Elf suffers most from this because a) he has least sense in any case and b) he behaves as though gloves are the work of the devil and he must cast them out as soon as they touch his skin. He uses his teeth to slide them off and isn’t happy until they have been flung as far away as possible from him. “Nonononononononono!” he warns me, as I dutifully approach him with mittens each time we left the house. I’ve now given up. The first mitten had already been removed before the second one was donned, and I’d rather just pull the rainhood over the buggy and risk the tsks of people in the street who are clearly thinking “Selfish beast of a woman, her hands are all cosy and encased in wool while that POOR BABY freezes,” then have my hair pulled and eyeball scratched, as was my fate last time I leaned in the buggy to dress him appropriately. Continue reading