Friday, 22 September 2017

I Need A Bigger Bedtime

"I need a bigger bedtime," said Eddie, as I went in to wake him up for a second time for school this morning when he failed to appear at breakfast after the first call.

Yes, I thought, perceptive of you. But, on the other hand, at whatever point in the evening I decide to brace myself and mention the 'b' word, you embark on a sort of squawking performance which I have come to interpret as indicating a level of resistance to the proposal. You are also master of delaying tactics, able to draw out the whole process for a good hour or so. It is, in fact, a tad stressful, if am to be entirely honest.

Though a bigger bedtime would make all of us happier, I thought, longingly. My wine glass could be filled earlier, for one thing. Not to mention the fact that I myself could also do with a bigger bedtime, frankly.

Still, it's hard to believe that something as small and innocent-looking as this can be so noisy and ferocious before sleep, or so grumpy when it wakes up.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Making and Breaking

Eddie's sixth birthday party is fast approaching. Last year he had only just arrived in reception and didn't know anyone's names, so I panicked and invited the whole class. This year is much more sensible: three friends to a trampolining place - don't know much about it other than the fact that I have had to buy 'special socks' for them to bounce in. That's the party bag sorted, then.

But some of his friends' mums have contacted me to ask what Eddie might like as a gift.

This is quite tricky to answer. Eddie has two main hobbies: making things, and breaking things. By 'making', I mean that he is the most creative of the three. What he can do with a couple of cereal boxes, some toilet rolls and a roll of masking tape is quite astonishing. But he wouldn't be terrifically happy, I suspect, if he unwrapped a box full of recycling. He likes Lego, and insists on making the thing, then remaking it 8-10 times until he can do it without having to follow instructions; useful if I need to keep him busy for a couple of hours. But Lego is very expensive and I wouldn't want to suggest that people spent that kind of money on a birthday present for him.  His newest hobby is whittling, and he's desperate for his own whittling knife, but at six, it just doesn't seem entirely appropriate ask someone to buy him a knife.

By 'breaking' things I do mean smashing things up. He quite likes demolishing the junk models after he has made them, but also shooting, slashing, hitting, firing, blowing things up, throwing things: in short, weaponry. All types, medieval to modern. This is quite a difficult thing to word appropriately in an email or What's app message, and so I made light of it:

"We have bought him a crossbow! Don't tell social services! 😀😔😕😨😩" That sort of thing.

Unfortunately, one of the other mums in the group is, in fact, a social worker. Oh dear. Busted.

So, it transpires that I have indeed bought my son a crossbow for his sixth birthday and am contemplating getting him a knife. I can't help feeling that something has gone a teensy bit wrong with my parenting somewhere along the way.

Currently reading: Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Cost of Reading

As it is the end of the first week back I am playing perfect mother and am on it with the reading and the homework. This will last for another week and a half, approximately, when we will return to hastily scribbled made-up entries in the reading log and Sunday night homework conversations conducted through gritted teeth, but right now I am in the zone.

Biff, Chip and Kipper have a lot to answer for. Eddie was reading the fairly innocuous-sounding Victorian Adventure. The magic key began to do its thing and the children found themselves at Buckingham Palace in the nineteenth century. Spoiler alert: After getting arrested they are mysteriously released. Gran appears near the end as she is also in the adventure and has made friends with Queen Victoria. (Obvs.) The problem page was this one:

Eddie stumbled over the word 'scones'; in part because he didn't know what they were.

"Well," said I, "that is a problem easily rectified!" And off we went to a lovely little tea shop on the banks of the Arun. "I'll just force down an afternoon tea for the sake of your reading homework..."

I know how to take one for the team...

Moody skies, though.

Currently reading: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Little Mix Up

I thought that, with all the children now settled at school, we had passed the point of major milestones but Gertie achieved one last night with her first 'gig'. We went, (along with most of the primary-aged girls in Sussex) to see Little Mix at Ardingly. Someone was VERY excited about the prospect.

Her mother was, well, less so.

Preparations were extensive: the choosing of the outfit, the hair, the earrings. And of course we bought the t-shirt, which was modeled immediately:

It was a nightmare getting in and out of the ground, and we ended up spending longer in the car park afterwards than the band actually played for; but, logistical gripes aside, I enjoyed the whole thing much more than I thought I would, and mostly I enjoyed Gertie's joy in the whole experience. We went with two of her friends and they danced and screamed and hugged each other all night long.

With all that car park time to kill, the post mortem was extensive, and involved the three girls reliving every word to every song. Which was nice. But Gertie wished that she could have bought one of the lanyards designed to look like a back-stage pass. I pointed out that I'd needed to remortgage to cover the cost of food and their soft drinks, AND she'd got a t-shirt.

"But Jess went to see The Next Step Live and she got a sweat-shirt, a t-shirt, a programme and one of the necklace things," she pouted.

"Lanyard," I muttered, correcting her, and the conversation changed.

Except that, a few minutes later they were discussing another friend of theirs that they thought was a bit spoilt, and I heard one of them say, 'Yeah, she's such a lanyard...'

Hoping for an entry in the next OED.

Currently reading: To Miss With Love by Katharine Birbalsingh

Friday, 25 August 2017

Hooray for Walkie Talkies. Over.

In the age of the ubiquitous mobile phone, the walkie talkie is redundant, surely?

Not according to Gilby and Eddie, who decided that this was the best invention phones.

The rediscovery of a walkie talkie set (following the house move) caused breathless excitement. They secreted themselves in different parts of the house, one upstairs, one down, and this is the conversation that ensued.

Gilby: (Crackle, beep) Eddie, can you hear me? Over.
Eddie: Yes! Yes! I can! They're working. Gilby, they're really working! Over. (Giggle of glee, beep)
Gilby: I can hear you, too. They're definitely working! Over.
Eddie: Hooray!  Over.

I'm delighted that in the joy of the moment Eddie didn't forget his newly-acquired walkie-talkie etiquette.

Currently reading: A Son of the Circus by John Irving

Monday, 7 August 2017


Instead of a summer holiday this year we have decided to spend the time at home doing the 'work' that needs doing on the house.

The first job is to construct a home office in the garden. A log cabin is arriving from Holland tomorrow morning (delivered by 'Roger', whom we have now nicknamed 'Roger the Cabin Boy', inexplicably collapsing into laughter whenever he is mentioned). Today's project therefore involved clearing the space ready for its arrival.

At one stage Hearth-Father was being roundly beaten by a stubborn tree stump; he broke a spade trying to dig it out.

Eddie came over to take a look. 'See, what you want to do there, is, you want to bury a bone just beside it?'.  As four pairs of eyes gazed questioningly at him, he patiently explained, 'Well, then Kempy (our golden retriever) will just dig down really hard and dig up the stump for us!' Simple. He gave a detailed description, with some accompanying mime in case we couldn't quite picture his solution.

When I asked how he had come by this idea he told me nonchalantly that he 'read a lot of books'.

This evening we have acquired a digger, so tomorrow should herald faster progress...

Currently reading: Theft by Finding Diaries Volume 1 by David Sedaris

Friday, 28 July 2017

As Sure as Eggs is Eggs

Gertie announced at breakfast that she had been studying reproduction at school.

Me choking on my cornflakes was taken as a sign to proceed.

"We were mostly looking at where the eggs come from and how they go through a system inside you."

At this point her younger brother decided to intervene.

"Eggs don't go through a system," Eddie explained dismissively. "They go through a duck."

I spluttered again. The cornflakes were not going down well this morning.

In other news, we have been doing this:

At least I can be safe in the knowledge that discussion of pelvic floor is a good few years off.

Currently reading: Teacher's Dead by Benjamin Zephaniah