Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Gilby's New Game

Gilby's communicative skills are developing fast, and I am definitely guilty of not giving him the same attention that his elder sister received. He doesn't get the quantity of books read to him, and it is hard to find that precious solo time when I am completely focused on him, and not splitting myself between the two. This does not seem to have hindered him though, and whilst slow to walk, he is gabbling for Britain , acquiring new (and surprising) words daily.

The fact remains, however, that he is a boy, and essentially likes to hit things. He will make as much noise as possible and seems to have an instinct to destroy...pretty much anything that comes into his path.

His new favourite game fits into these categories. He has made it up himself and it has very simple rules: He likes to gather together as many people as he can (Mum, Dad and big sis at once, if possible) and pat them firmly and repeatedly on the head whilst saying, 'Ow!' on their behalf. He will occasionally hit himself over the head, in the interests of fair play.

The amusement this game causes is difficult to describe. He seems to think that his victims derive some kind of anticipatory thrill from not knowing who will be next to be smacked over the head. It can provide high levels of entertainment for much longer than you might imagine...though only, generally, for one person.

And it doesn't work particularly effective if one of the 'hittees' is suffering from a hangover.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Night-Time Ceremony

I wonder if anyone else's night-time ritual is as complicated or as fraught with potential upset as Gertie's?

It begins straightforwardly enough, with the evening meal, followed by a bath every other night and into pyjamas; then back downstairs for one, two, three, and on rare occasions when we have been slick and professional and are ahead of schedule, four episodes of Peppa Pig. (These are 'series-linked' to record automatically, providing an endless supply. I believe that we have 167 episodes saved. The joy of watching a previously-unseen one is unparalleled. I think that goes for me as well as Gertie...)

The quantity of episodes correlates directly with the number of minutes remaining before 6.50pm; which is the magic time by which we try to get upstairs for the bedtime story. Whilst Gertie is engaged with the final programme, I nip up with Gilby to give him his final bottle and put him to bed. He is generally very quick and easy (until about 1am, which is when he comes into his own, but that may be saved for another post).

Gertie chooses one or two books which Daddy usually reads. And it is after this that the complications begin. To indicate that we are summoned for the good-night-kiss, Daddy performs an elaborate stamping ritual on the floor of Gertie's bedroom. Everyone in the house now recognises this as the signal, and it includes anyone who may be around, however tenuous their link with Gertie. Any current visitor and occupant of the house must assemble in the bedroom, in line, to bestow their night-time greeting upon the waiting lady.

But there are some important rules of etiquette which must be observed. Sometimes, she will have insisted that Daddy 'hide' prior to our entrance. Whilst her bedroom is small, and it would be perfectly clear to anyone without severe visual impairment that Daddy is in fact stationed beneath the sofa bed (feet and most of his body protruding for all to see) or behind the door (a giveaway since it will not open properly), all must feign incredulity at Daddy 's disappearance. He must not be discovered too quickly for that will incur the wrath of Gertie.

A variation on this is for Gertie herself to hide. This will, without exception, mean that she is lying on her bed beneath her duvet, but because she is face down she believes that she is effectively hidden, and therefore entirely undetectable. Again, 'discovering' her whereabouts too early will invoke a tantrum too terrible to contemplate.

Once the 'hiding' has been safely navigated, and believe me, this is much easier said than done, the actual business of the kiss must be carefully performed. This is a ritual which extends and develops on virtually a daily basis. Gone are the days of a simple peck on the cheek whilst she is lying down. No. Currently, she must stand on the end of her bed, jump off between your legs for 'squeezy leg cuddle' before coming up the other side for a kiss. Last week you had to do a bed kiss and a floor kiss and ensure that the transition between the two corresponded to a careful set of rules which only Gertie herself was fully party to. It is, to steal a well-worn metaphor, a mine-field.

But it is always over by 7pm. Well, ok, 7.10pm. Maybe 7.15pm if we happen to really need to be organised because we are trying to go out.

I wonder if we might just have been ever-so slightly indulgent of the whims of our first-born?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Double Announcement

Though it is not quite on a par with the proclamation of a royal wedding, today I would like to announce that my son, aged 16 months, finally took his first steps.

Hooray! They were a long time coming, but worth the wait. Clearly he is now the cleverest little boy ever to have walked upon this earth.

There has also been a development with Gertie. She has decided that only Daddy has the necessary skill and power to wipe her bottom after a poo.

I'm celebrating this one with equal satisfaction.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Discussions in Lilliput

Parents' evening.

As a teacher I'm usually on the other side of the desk for parents' evening, but this week it was my turn to hear about the shortcomings or otherwise of my children. Except that at three-and-a-half and one-and-a-third respectively you might expect the issues to be a little different.

My husband and I dutifully squash ourselves down into the low mini-chairs that the children use, flesh oozing unattractively over the sides, to hear that all is wonderful in the pre-school world of Gertie (apart from the fact that they are not allowed to encourage her literacy, but we didn't seem to be able to bring that up). She is good and listens and is extremely helpful and always polite. Oh. Do they have the right child? We look through her 'Learning Journal' at all the boxes that have been ticked. There are a scary amount of categories in which she is expected to succeed, but she, and consequently we, appear to have passed most of the tests.

So the first meeting goes well. Smiling, we move on to Gilby. And we learn that he will be staying behind in the Baby Room (oh dear, being kept back already) because though he is due to move up to 'Toddlers' in six weeks time, he's not yet walking so it wouldn't be safe. So his Learning Journal has not so many boxes ticked and he seems to be a little, well, below average, in a few sections.

I try to explain that his elder sister was just as slow at getting to her feet, and that perhaps Gilby is compensating by, um, being good at words. Whilst his 'key-worker' is smiling and nodding sympathetically, I can't help feeling as though I have somehow engineered this slow-walking situation and am responsible for his disappointing behaviour.

So he's gone from being the youngest baby in the nursery by a good few months to being the oldest by some way. Still, the ratio of staff to children is better in this room, so every cloud...

We eventually make it to our feet, escaping from the Lilliputian chairs, and wonder what parents' evening will be like when they are both actually in school; when there are many, many more boxes to be ticked and tests to be passed.

And it seems that perhaps the issues aren't so very different after all.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Hot Cross Mum

A week ago I was delighted by Gertie's reading development. That was half term, and now that she is back at pre-school, I am cross.

She has a little 'communication' book, you see. The idea is that we write stuff in there relating to Gertie: special requirements, concerns, anything that her carers might need to know about. It's a good idea, though I don't really know how it works because I've never had occasion to use it before. But with the young lady making a sudden breakthough with her reading, I thought I should alert the staff so that they might encourage her to spell or sound out words if she was sitting with a book. So I made a little note to that effect.

Oh dear.

Because then I had THE SUMMONS. And THE TALK. About how the staff are not allowed to 'do' any letters or numbers or anything that might remotely be considered educational with the children. At all. Under any circumstances. Regardless of how excited they might seem to be about it. Oh.

And now I seem to have had my 'communication book' confiscated. Which seems to have put an end to any...communication.

Still, I did get to go swimming with Gertie over half term, which meant that I also got to smile as I heard her complain about how her ears were 'turned off' afterwards and she couldn't listen properly. She kept pressing them like buttons to turn them back on, so I guess that might have helped the water to drain away, because she announced in the car on the way home, to everyone's great relief, that they were 'back on'.