Saturday, 29 January 2011

The End of the Affair

Gertie was a bit sad when she came home from pre-school this week.

She shrugged her shoulders helplessly, arms outstretched in a curiously adult gesture as she told us that Harrison, corduroy-clad love of her life for nearly a whole year now, 'didn't want to get married'. In fact, he 'didn't want to be in love, or anything.'

Oh. "Did you have an argument?"
"No, mummy, don't be silly."
(That told me.)
"So is he still your boyfriend?"
"I suppose. We're still going to sit together at lunchtime."
I see. "Just no love and marriage?"
"No." She shook her head, sadly; an aged head on three-and-a-half year old shoulders.

One of life's lessons, learned very early.

She seemed to have got over it by the weekend, though.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Bunnies, Bangs and Things that go Bump in the Day

You know how you have those days where the sun is shining, the kids are happy and everything goes right? Yes. Well, today was not one of those days.

We were heading off this morning to our local farm park to take part in a pet show, bringing along 'Bella' the rabbit. Except that we received an email to say that we couldn't bring the rabbit along if it hadn't had all its vaccinations. It hasn't. This news did not go down well, particularly as I had been using the pet show as a bribe for good behaviour during the week. So we had to take a toy rabbit instead. Needless to say, we did not win the show. No rosette for us.

And then on the way home...well. We've just paid a small fortune to have some new fencing done in order to create a larger parking area (the nice men finished the job at about midday), and yet I still somehow managed to hit our neighbour's car whilst trying to manouevre mine. It would not be controversial to say that they are not the most easy-going of neighbours. I have not plucked up the courage to make The Phone Call yet.

Daddy is singularly unimpressed. Especially given the fact that I now have about three metres more space than I did when we left the house. Though, to be fair, this would not be the first time I have alluded to my lack of spatial awareness, particularly where parking's concerned. 'Oh dear,' said Gilby, with characteristic understatement.

And then Gertie's little friend, Jenny, came round to play this afternoon. Her mum dropped her off just as Gilby was going down for a sleep.

'Perfect,' I thought. 'I'll get some ironing done while the two of them play nicely together.'

But then the next thing I heard was a terrific clatter and some horrendous bumps followed by some screaming. Both girls had been pushing against the stairgate and the whole thing had come away, so they had surfed down the stairs (no carpets as we are trying to sand the boards at the moment...) from top to bottom and landed in an undignified heap in the kitchen. End result? Two hysterical three-year-olds, lots of tears, an apologetic phone call to the other mum, chocolate, cuddles, plenty of applications of Mr Bump, and miraculously, no trip to casualty.

Glass of wine, anyone?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

My Teenage Three-Year-Old

I can remember as a teenager the desperation to look and be older: Hair (big), make-up (ridiculous), high heels (painful and unsteady). A combination of details that only served to make me look less mature.

Gertie, at three-and-a-half, is experiencing this same painful desire a decade too early as far as I am concerned. Here's tonight's conversation in the car on the way home from nursery:

Her: Mum, I look like I'm four, don't I?
Me: Um...I suppose that you could pass for four.
Her: Some people might even think that I was four, mightn't they?
Me: Yes, they might.
Her: (Sadly) The nursery people know that I'm not four though, don't they?
Me: Well, they do. They know you very well. They know when your birthday is, so they know that you're not four yet.
Her: (Brightly) But people who don't know when my birthday is could think that I was four!
Me: Well yes, they could.
Her: So what else would make them think that I was four?
Me: Well...I suppose it might be the way you behave. The better you are, the more likely people are to think that you are four.
Her: I'm going to be really, really good. Always. Like I'm four.

I know, it was a little naughty, but irresistible...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Alternative Nursery Rhymes

Gilby is talking non-stop. He has reached the 'repeating-every-single-thing-he-hears' stage. The phase where you have to be extremely careful about what you say. This has so far not, thankfully, produced any howlers.

Though he has a great vocabulary now, he seems quite lazy with his pronunciation. In particular he seems to have some problems enunciating the letter 'p' clearly, sometimes turning it into a 'b', sometimes at 't'. His grandfather frequently goes to the 'bub' for a drink; I have to change his 'nathy' after a 'boo'.

But the worst, by far, is his rendition of the popular nursery rhyme, whose first line sounds, in Gilby's mouth, like 'Bra Bra Back sh$t'. He is fond of declaiming this loudly and publicly at every opportunity. He doesn't seem to be able to get past the first line, either, so he just repeats this over and over.

In front of teachers, nursery staff, and even the parish priest we just have to smile, talk loudly and hope that they haven't noticed. I promise I have not taught him this!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Getting Our Skates On

Yesterday was a really special day. It began with a typical exchange over breakfast, the kind that makes me marvel at my daughter's playful approach to language.

Gertie detected that the marmalade on her toast was "too blimpetty". When I raised an enquiring eyebrow she explained patiently that that meant that it "gets right on your tongue and makes it hurt a bit". ('Sharp', I concluded to myself, but chose not to share it, since blimpetty seemed a much more apt description.)

She then observed that marmalade was obviously for mummies, really, because it had the 'marm' sound in it. I didn't think I ought to mention Daddy's penchant for marmite at that point.

But then we headed up to London to visit Grandpa Mac and after a quick coffee and lots of presents at Victoria Station, we decided on the Natural History museum as a good way to spend the day. It must be twenty years since I have been there myself and although it might be a bit beyond Gilby, my sponge of a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter would certainly get something from it.

But it took us a long while to get there, because as we came out of the tube station at South Kensington we were confronted by the temporary ice-skating rink. Isn't that nice, I thought. We can watch all the other people skating round and it still feels Christmassy. Gertie had other ideas. "Can we do it, Mum? Dad?"

Mum and Dad tossed for the pleasure. (Not entirely sure about that sentence; let me confirm that we tossed a coin...) I lost, and found myself clutching two pairs of skates while Daddy and Grandpa clutched a baby and a poised camera, respectively.

It did not begin well. The intervening time between me last donning a pair of skates is probably close to that of my last visit to the museum, so I wasn't exactly 'solid' on the ice. Gertie had no idea what she was letting herself in for, and it took us fifteen minutes to edge our way down to the little learner-rink with several slips along the way. Gertie had no balance at all. We finally got there and I left her clinging on to Daddy on the other side of the wall while I skated back to try and purchase a £5 stabilising penguin for her to cling on too. No luck. All the penguins were already taken. This was looking like a disastrous idea. Then some kind soul lent us their penguin, and we were off. Slowly, inching, but we were definitely off. The pleasure on her face as Gertie edged a few feet forwards without falling was amazing to see. And she picked herself up each time she did fall over with admirable determination. After another fifteen minutes she was ready to let go of the penguin, and skate over (very slowly and cautiously) to me.

"I'm doing it, I'm doing it!" She was thrilled and so was I. And it meant I got to skate off in the big rink for a few moments (badly and without the grace of many of the other skaters, but I was doing it, I was doing it, too!)

The museum was fantastic. How scary is that T-rex model? I struggled to explain volcanoes to Gertie, but she quite liked that exhibit anyway. Her favourite thing was the wave-machine. I think that might be on next year's Christmas list to Santa, which could cause problems. Daddy was in his element in 'Creepy Crawlies'. I can't wait to do it all again when Gilby is a bit older.

The two of them giggled all the way home on the train, even though it was an hour past bedtime by the time we got back.

Why do I have to go back to work tomorrow? Oh yes, because we wouldn't be able to do stuff like that if I didn't, I remember now.