Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Every mum gets really excited when her child does something for the first time and there are so many important milestones. We reached another one of those today.

But first, a quick example from the past. Ridiculous as it now sounds, Gilby's first poo was one such moment. How can you be proud of an ordinary bodily function, you ask. Well, easily, as it happens. Due to some minor complications at birth, the powers that be at the hospital were insisting that the young man had filled a nappy before they would allow us to leave.

In fact, we took it upon ourselves to discharge from the ward before that happened, and I think he was nearly a week old before the momentous occasion occurred. I was thrilled to finally see a little portion of the tarry black stuff. Needless to say, over the past fifteen months he has more than made up for this early reluctance in the nappy department.

But today's milestone was REALLY, really exciting: Gertie made a breakthrough with her reading.

She has been fantastic at learning her alphabet and can recite her ABCs. She could also recognise the letters in her name. But today, finally, she has started to put those letters together to 'read' her first few words. It is amazing. I am absolutely delighted. She is nearly three and a half. I have no idea if this is good, or late, or normal, and frankly I don't really care. It has just made me want to tell everyone I meet. And sing 'La-la-la-la-la-la' to the tune of La Donna E Mobile or something equally showy-offy.

I think of the doors that reading opens up. She is already happy to sit for hours pretend-reading her books; how much more thrilling will it be when she can actually read them?

And of course, with the delight comes the inevitable guilt. It is half term and so I am on holiday and at home with her spending time playing and learning and reading, instead of thrusting her in front of Peppa Pig before a quick bedtime story.

It just leads me to wonder what would happen if I was actually here all the time....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Licking Drips

Bath time never fails to provide some light entertainment.

It is a time when Gertie is really relaxed so she might come out with the strangest question or random observation about life in her universe.

I was busy playing the Dolphin Game with Gilby (not nearly as demanding as 'Duck Chess': You merely pass the plastic dolphin toy backwards and forwards. Gilby says, 'Mummy' as he does it; I say, 'Gilby' as I return it. That's all there is to it, but it seems to keep him entertained indefinitely).

I looked up and noticed that Gertie had her tongue out and appeared to be sampling the flavour of the wall of the bath.

"Um, darling, what are you doing?"

"I'm tidying up." (Her potential for OCD is well-documented.)

"Excuse me?"

"I'm licking off the drips for you."

"Oh, don't do that; it's yucky."

"No. It isn't."

"Ok; well what do they taste of?" (I was wondering how long it was since Mr Muscle had last visited; probably some time ago)

She looked at me as though I were quite mad.


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Duck Chess

It was bath time. I had run out of food suggestions for Gertie to mix up for me. Spaghetti bolognese, chocolate mousse, salmon pasta, a cup of tea had each been presented as a bubble-filled boat at which I was expected to slurp and make appreciative noises towards.

Suddenly the game changed. My beloved bath pillow was upturned and became some kind of gaming board. "What game would you like to play, Mummy? Fuzzy felt?"

"No, I'd like to play chess," I revealed, thinking this might floor her and we might make an earlier exit from the bath.

"How do you play chess?"

"We-ll; you have different types of pieces that you move across the board whilst trying to get the other person's king."

"Oh." She pondered my description for a moment. "Does it have ducks in?" she asked, waving a yellow plastic bath duck at me hopefully.

"Um, no."

"Well it does now. We're going to play 'Duck Chess'.

Ah. The impeccable logic of the three year old mind. Duck Chess. Of course.

I didn't win. The rules are quite complicated and known only to my daughter.

Baby Sale Hate

It's a year since I wrote my first blog post: a whole twelve months of revealing little secrets about my children to a small community of strangers. It still feels like a rather odd thing to do, but I'm hooked now.

Yesterday we went on our bi-annual pilgrimage to the local 'baby-sale'. I have to mentally prepare for these days; a necessary evil, it seems to me. Children's clothes, shoes and general stuff is so expensive that the only way we can do it is by making considerable purchases of nearly-new goods at a fraction of the price they would be in the shops.

The trouble is that the baby-sale is not a pleasant shopping experience. It is a frantic, frenzied grabbing competition where only the toughest will survive, snatching out dangerously in an effort to locate that Jojo Maman Bebe bargain or Monsoon special.

In exchange for waiting patiently and keeping her baby brother entertained whilst I wrestle with clothing racks, Gertie gets to choose a toy to take away. So it was odd to hear her say, very firmly, "I hate baby sales, Mummy," as we were en route in the car. (Of course, I hate baby sales, but I can't imagine why she should have this strong reaction.)

I thought I should get to the bottom of this, so decided to probe a little further. "What exactly is it that you don't like about them?"

This floored her for a minute. She thought very carefully, then said, "What does 'hate' mean?"

"Um. It's when you really, really, really don't like something..."

Later, as we came out (me, armed with bags of winter stuff; she, clutching her new cuddly hippo, which she christened 'Vanessa'...?) she told me that actually she didn't 'hate' baby sales. I think she genuinely didn't know what the word meant.

I felt quite pleased that it had taken her three and a half years to come across the concept of hate.

Then, on reflection, worried that she had now encountered it too early in her little life.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Love and Infection

Gertie has been suffering for the last nine months or so with something called 'Molluscum Contagiosum'. I say 'suffering' but it doesn't really bother her too much, and though it sounds terrible, it manifests itself as small clusters of pink lumps across her neck and underarm. Sometimes it can look very 'angry' and sore, and it can itch a bit from time to time but is not really troublesome. It is some sort of viral infection common amongst the little people with their underdeveloped immune systems.

We were visiting friends recently, who have a little boy just about the same age as Gertie. Although the two of them don't see each other very often, they seem to get on really well when they do. They tore off across the village green together, and Gertie even managed to briefly overcome her fear of our puppy, Kempton, in an effort to impress her young beau. It evidently worked, because they came back out of breath and holding hands, and I overheard him tell her, "I like your spots. I'm going to get some."

Well, if he gets too close, he probably will.