Friday, 29 August 2014

When Honesty is Not the Best Policy

After working on manners over the holiday, I think I need to move on to lessons in diplomacy.

My children are...too honest, it seems.  The latest example came in the confines of the family changing cubicle at our local swimming pool.

"Mummy's tummy is very wobbly!" pronounced one, to the general giggles and chortlement of the others as I was busy getting changed.  Chortlement, of course, isn't actually a word, but should be, since it so accurately describes the atmosphere within the cubicle.  Though Mummy, it has to be said, was not feeling it.

Particularly not as she had spent the summer determined to get into shape, swimming 30-50 lengths three times a week (and every day on holiday), not to mention occasionally bypassing the camembert and brie.

"Yes," she snapped.  Notice I do this third person thing when I don't come out of a situation glowingly. "And her tummy is mostly wobbly because it's had you three in it!"

There.  That really told them.

It was on a par with them discussing the fact that Daddy could never have head-lice because his hairs weren't close enough together.  Must admit that caused me a small amount of chortlement.

Or when they decided that Nano looked exactly like Mummy only one hundred times wrinklier.

So, I look forward to turning into a wobblier, wrinklier version of myself as the years pass by; and for it not to be acknowledged openly by my children as they gradually become more diplomatic versions of themselves.  (Or possibly not, in Eddie's case.)

Currently Reading: A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

On Manners

Eddie's favourite word is, and has been since he first began to utter human sounds, 'no'!

It is usually delivered as a short bark and accompanied by a frown and a pout that would give a blob fish a run for it's money:

And he is incredibly demanding.  The phrase you are most likely to hear after, 'No!' is, 'I want...' with the emphasis on 'want' and usually in relation to some ridiculous request. 'Spoiled brat' might have been too kind an epithet. In fact, I hadn't realised how bad it had got until we were on holiday with friends and relatives and I was suddenly finding his behaviour very difficult to deal with. Worse than simply terrible twos because there seemed to be no let up.  (Though I do look back over posts from a couple of years ago when Gilby was the same age and the tone is remarkably similar...)

So with time off together I have spent much of the summer working on his manners.  We have been practising how you ask for things and appropriate responses.  It has taken a good deal of will power on my part, but having been at home with them all for five weeks now I have got used to ignoring anything that isn't accompanied by at least a 'please'.

And, success, of sorts: Eddie has perfected the art of an elongated 'plee-ease' accompanied by an irresistibly cute grin, which, whilst irritating, is much more palatable than what came previously. It's significantly more successful than his previous modus operandi, and I think he's managed to work that out for himself. Could you say no to this?

I'm going to ignore the grammar though, because he now begins most requests with 'Please MAY CAN I have...' which his siblings find highly amusing. Again, not right, but much more preferable than what came before and I'm just not sure he's quite ready for a lesson on modal auxiliary verbs yet.

Currently reading: A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Chronicles of Cabrieres

I love what has become the annual family pilgrimage to the south of France.

I would have found it anathema before children to return to the same place each year when there is a whole wide world out there to explore. 

But now there is comfort in the familiarity, joy in the patterns re-established, surprise in the little things that have changed in the house or the village.

And we do the same things each year: kayaking under the Pont du Gard, market day in Uzes, lunch at the Fountain, a mad day of sliding at Aqualand. Though there is always something new.  This year we found a new restaurant in Nimes, and took the kids to the Musee de Bon Bon.

But the best thing this year have been the 'Chronicles of Cabrieres'.  When Gertie and Gilbert were very little I wrote some stories based on events and photographs of real things that had happened to us, but always with a magical or adventurous twist: building a snow dragon that came to life at night, or having go-cart races in the sky.  Absolute nonsense, but the children love it when they feature in the stories, and laugh at any recognisable mannerism or turn of phrase. There is excitement at bedtime surrounding what the day's story will be.

So, in the Chronicles of Cabrieres we have had Hearth-Father and Hearth-Uncle transforming into superheroes to rescue hedgehogs from the pool with their Velcro heads; an explosion at the sweetie factory that covered everyone in the mixture for their favourite sweet; a dramatic rescue at the Pont du Gard; a tidal wave at Aqualand that everyone had to surf, and transportation back to Roman times in the Nimes amphitheatre. Not bad for a couple of weeks in the south of France.

Only downside is that it's interrupted my sunbathing time a little as I have to write the damn things each day.

Currently Reading: Spies by Michael Frayn