Rolling out of a big girl’s bed…

We took E’s cot sides down last weekend and she’s been in her “big girl bed” ever since. Except when she hasn’t.

She was incredibly excited about a big bed and loves to go and see it and climb on it and have one of us lie down beside her on it.  It looks very low to the ground now the sides aren’t on it any more and the room has expanded a little. Since we’re now able to sit on the bed for bedtime I also removed the chair in her room and put it back in the bathroom where it used to live so there’s much more room up there now.

The first night she managed to stay in the bed all night. The second night S, when he got up at 5.30, looked in on her and found the bed empty and the duvet on the floor with no child beneath it. She had rolled under the bed and was very cross at him waking her up to put her back in bed, although not cross for longer than it took to go back to sleep.

Another night we were woken by her crying in confusion as she’d rolled out, turned upside down and rolled under the bed and was cold out from the covers. Again, once she was back on top of her pillow she was fine and even laughed about it the next day. On Friday S found her fast asleep, lying on the mattress with her feet out of bed and on the floor, so sort of slumped in her sleep.

It’s eventful so far. She hasn’t yet figured out that she could, if she wanted, get out of bed and walk around – at night time or in the morning. So far, we’re not dropping any hints – once she’s awake on a weekend morning it’s still the norm that she stays lying in bed and chunters for a bit to her toys. How long this will last is anyone’s guess. To be on the safe side, we have been closing the gate at the top of the stairs…

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Our report card

One of the things I was looking forward to as a parent was getting to go to parents’ evenings. This was mainly in my mind I would question all the teachers on their close reading of Shakespeare – something that obviously isn’t going to happen in real life. There’s also the feeling that when they’re in school, their failings could in theory be blamed on the teachers (teacher friends – I know it’s not your fault) but while she’s so little any developmental problems she’s having are really going to be our fault… But still, our first parents’ evening – a 15 minute slot with E’s key worker at nursery had me quite excited.

Of course, we did try and think of some questions to ask. Bearing in mind this is the first time we’ve sat down formally with them and they’re discussing her basic development, we came up with the following:

  • Does she really eat carrot and pepper sticks?
  • What are the words to the songs she’s asking us to sing at home – a lion one and a snow one?

Colleagues at work advised me to be led by the nursery, that they would have some reports to show us and we can take their cue from that. This was indeed the case.

We went upstairs with E’s key worker – the deputy manager who is the staff member I’ve warmed to the most since E has been there. She had a thick folder of E’s evidence – little notes that describe a situation and how E acted in each, and how this relates to things they measure on her developmental scale. There were also photos – obviously the first one I opened revealed E to be covered in chocolate as she ate a massive cupcake. I’m so proud.

In short, the evidence revealed E to be a creative child who loves stories and singing, who waits to observe situations with groups of people or children before deciding if she will join in. Classic introvert behaviour. I was pleased by the creative part. She also likes to look after the babies.

It’s been noticeable the last few weeks that she’s suddenly changed – to develop a character and sense of humour. Since she started talking, her development has been really pronounced – like this was the trigger for it all to start. Her potty training hasn’t been as bad as we feared it would be. Her confidence is obvious. And nursery has started to influence her behaviour at home – the things she says and the names and observations she talks about. The session today really seemed to confirm to us that we definitely did make the best decision for her at the time – and that everything’s alright. Now, if I can have another few moments to ask when they crack open the Shakespeare…

*She really does eat carrot and pepper sticks – she’s also eaten all kinds of berries that she doesn’t touch at home, as well as things like passion fruit. The lion song is called Leo the Lion and finally gave us a rendition of it at bedtime this evening. It mainly involves roaring.

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Kiss and make up

There is a phase of parenting a girl I’m dreading. Make up. (If I’m honest, this is merely one of many phases I’m dreading but this is currently on my mind.)

I’m not good with make up – I don’t know the techniques really, I’m not ever going to put something called primer on my face (Really? They HAD to name it after the DIY stuff you put on crumbling walls? Really? They couldn’t have come up with a name that wasn’t so detrimental to women? Extra good foundation or something? But I digress…) I can’t tell the difference if I change my face cream, let alone know how to put lipstick on.

And let’s be clear, although I have issues with how this is marketed to women, about how body image is triumphed as more desirable than thinking, I’m not going to go down a massive old-style feminist-y “wrap thyself in sackcloth” path. I wear make up. I also believe in equality. Let’s leave it there shall we?

The challenge when having to get us both out of the door in the mornings is trying to get everything done and that includes bunging on some slap in front of E. We clean our teeth together, we wash her face and then we do something called “Mummy’s funny face.” Because, despite all the above, I don’t want her to think she will HAVE to do this stuff if she doesn’t want to. At least not from me. So I make light of it. I stick foundation blobs on my face and stick it close to her to make her laugh.

But she does take a cue from me that this is fine to do. Of course she does. Four days a week she sees me do it. She wants to “paint” with the colours I put on my eyes, she wants to draw with my eyeliner, she laughs when I waggle my large brush in her face. Then she takes it and cleans the sink with it.

She did once get hold of my eye shadow and painted two large brown stripes across her forehead. (For the eyeliner interest I recommend the Avon ones that have a twist-y bit to push up or down – E outlined her eyes, cheeks, chin and mouth with one this morning without actually getting it on herself.)

For now I can get away with making a play of it, of having her forget once we’re out the door. But it does start me thinking of how to shore up her confidence in herself, that she doesn’t feel she has to rely on these things. When she’s older I’d like to talk to her about it, in small doses and let her make up her own mind. For now, our painting is mainly done on paper.

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“She’s got to get used to it…”

I took E to the dentist today. It’s the second time we’ve been and the main purpose, apart from to check her teeth, is to familiarise her with going to the dentist. So wouldn’t you, if you were a dentist and had that stated purpose, make some kind of effort to treat her accordingly?

I realise you shouldn’t expect too much from dentists – never has a song been more apt than Dentist! in Little Shop of Horrors – but really, you can’t just sit down beside a two-year old, start to stick a mirror in her mouth and expect her to behave unless you talk to her first so she’s used to you.

It was a stark contrast to our trip to the hairdresser the other day, another experience she’ll have to get used to. The hairdresser said hello, didn’t wave implements about, and had a chat before we got anywhere near doing her hair. She also didn’t seem to mind too much when E wriggled so much, despite it mot making her job easier. At the end of the haircut E gave her a massive hug and waved goodbye.

She wouldn’t have done that to the dentist. The lady wasn’t imposing, but just could have been friendlier and had a bit more common sense. E clamped her mouth down, I had to explain everything to her, she kept her frowning eyes on the dentist at all times and the second the dentist had done a hand appeared from behind us and thrust a sticker into her hand. These people aren’t used to children.

The people in the waiting room, however, loved her. This was partly because she’d made them all laugh earlier while we were waiting. It was crowded and she’d been catching people’s eyes while I filled out her health form (The form contained questions such as “Do you chew tobacco? I was tempted to tick yes just to see if they were paying attention…) A toilet was situated just off the waiting room and a patient came out from the examination room and used it. E looked up and announced loudly, “That lady’s having a poo!” The family at the end cracked up. Luckily the lady in question didn’t hear…

For some reason all the first experiences books about dentists all contain a scene where the dentist removes a tooth. None of them talk to you about brushing properly. Why is this? As a first experience, I didn’t have a tooth removed until my 30s.

Which reminds me, I’ve not done a ‘we read’ column lately. Here you go.

I’ve been reading: Unexploded by Alison MacLeod. I think I liked this. It was slow. It was a little predictable. I think I liked it because it was set in Brighton and the wartime experience of Brighton was interesting. The writing reflected the period of waiting the town experienced before the Battle of Britain, when no one was sure where or when the German invasion would come. So the storyline of a fearful housewife stuck in an odd marriage, and her husband, Superintendent of the internment camp for enemy aliens, was rather languid as a result.

E is reading: Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb. Luckily E hasn’t noticed I’ve had to take this back to the library. It was a great hit with her – the story of two children whose parents go away for a night and leave them in the care of their mysterious Aunt Amelia, a crocodile. They go through their parents’ list of what not to do and have a lovely time. E finds it enchanting. The author is the illustrator of The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and the pictures have a similar quality to them.

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A pumpkin is for life, not just for Halloween…

Happy Halloween to all of you who celebrate such things. I don’t. For the last few years I’ve been trying to work out why not. Sometimes I think, “oh stop being so bloody miserable and give out some chocolate to the kids, it doesn’t do any harm!” But that feeling only lasts as long as it then takes me to think, “but it’s just weird having children I don’t know knock on my door to beg for sweets.” So I don’t do anything.

I realise of course, there’s more to Halloween than trick or treating. Pagan festivals, celebrating the turn of the seasons, days of the dead and all that stuff. None of which has even really interested me. And after all, those things are mainly drowned out by the ghastly commercialism of having to dress up and beg for sweets… I’m glad E is still too small for this.

2014-10-25 15.22.35But having said all that, we were visiting my mum and sister at the weekend and my sister thought it would be good to go to a pick your own pumpkin event at Hoo, in Kent. I had absolutely no idea what this would entail so we all piled over there in anticipation. My sister, C, had managed to pack things like wooly hats and gloves for the children and her wellies. E, who we struggle to keep a hat on, and who often waves her gloves about was enchanted by wearing her cousin’s things. This is typical. I, on the other hand, clomped about in knee high heeled boots, sunglasses and a skirt.

E enjoys a ride...

E enjoys a ride…

Essentially, the event was held on a farm who had grown loads of pumpkins, left them in a field and let the public come in to pick their own. There were masses of them and the event was incredibly popular, with at least one lady dressing as a witch for the occasion. We soon got into the spirit of the thing, despite not really being big Halloween people. The children loved the wheelbarrow – both E and her cousin rode in it, and E liked to push it as well. And they loved finding pumpkins and carrying them across to put in the barrow.

It’s funny, you start off saying, oh just one maybe for carving or something, and soon you find different kinds, with different markings and colours and before you know it you’ve got at least 14 pumpkins and gourds in the barrow. It was great fun. Some of the gourds aren’t edible but look so decorative. This pile cost us £14, with profits going to charity. 2014-10-25 17.25.59

We stopped for a drink and so the children could have their picture taken with a skeleton. The farm cannily gave out samples of pumpkin jam and chutney, with recipes on their website. I have also found a pumpkin bread recipe and the chutney will use up the rest, combined with the four enormous Bramley apples my mum’s neighbour gave us. Watch this space for a report if it goes well.

It was a lovely afternoon, the weather and the atmosphere was a lot of fun and for that reason alone, I feel more Halloween-y this year. But I’m still not buying any chocs for the trick or treaters…

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A clothing mountain

We’ve just returned from a weekend visiting my mum and my sister. My sister, C, has just had a baby – a girl, another E and so I’m an aunt for the second time. Hooray! We took some presents down and spent an enjoyable time smelling E’s hair and trying to put more effort into picking her up than was actually needed. (She’s about the same weight, at a month old, as E was at birth and I;m used to hefting a toddler about so nearly flung poor new E up in the air.)

Anyway, one of the reasons I was so glad my sister has had a girl was that I could clear out some of E’s clothes which have been languishing in the loft and under her bed for months. Aside from a few neutral ones I gave to a friend a while back, we have kept all E’s clothes since she was born. Even so, the amount of them was still a shock.

clothesBearing in mind she’s still wearing some which are a range of sizes between 1 1/2- 2 1/2 years, this is ridiculous.

We didn’t buy all these, you understand. At least three lovely friends with girls sent us some cast offs, for which I was incredibly grateful, plus my sister lent us some vests from her boy who had grown out of them. (I’ve not been able to return all of those as they were not all stain free. Oh the shame of it.) And we were given some as gifts too. So we only bought a few.

I sorted some into a bag for nursery (either those which were too stained to suit or that I didn’t think my sister would like) and still managed to take new E three black sacks full. This included sleeping bags, moon suits and a lot of tights. There may well be some things C decides are too manky and worn to use so she can do with them what she wants. But still, the house feels a little lighter now they’ve gone.

I did get sentimental over a couple of things and couldn’t bring myself to give one of her early sleepsuits away. It sits in a box with her Bruce Springsteen and Princess Bride t shirts. I held each item up saying “do you remember this?” Of course she didn’t but she liked the game and soon held everything up for me, saying ” do you remember this?” making a mockery of my sentimental mood.

I read somewhere that children mainly wear outfits about 12 times before they grow out of them. I’m pretty sure most of E’s clothes have passed that milestone but couldn’t say for sure with all of them. I guess that one day we’ll see a day where we don’t have to have a whole set of spares available for when she’s thrown her dinner down them, wet herself or fallen over, but those days seem far away at the moment. She goes to nursery each day with spare tights, trousers, leggings, 2 tops, 4 pairs of pants, socks and a cardigan. I do the washing 2-3 times a week.

Still, for now, we have a nice neat room and fewer bags of flammable material in the loft. And I got to cuddle a new member of the family and received some belated birthday gifts! So a good weekend all round.




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Frank talking about poo

A few weeks ago I expressed my concerns about how to potty train. It seemed a minefield to me. But here we are on the other side, or almost. E is pretty good with weeing in a potty these days, though she is still delighted when it goes right, often clapping at herself and smiling. And of course, when you’ve got into the swing of saying encouraging things to make sure she knows what to do, it becomes second nature to comment each time too, so we often have a chat, “Look at that wee!” This is parenthood.

This evening we came home and S and I were in the kitchen when we heard a small voice tell us that she needed a wee. She was standing in the dining room with trousers and pants around her ankles looking up at us. Nothing like being prepared…

Of course, the advice tells you not to yell if they make a mess or a puddle and we haven’t. Of course this means that once you start saying it’s ok if there’s wee on the floor, there’s then the mindset that it is, actually, ok to wee on the floor. E has pointed at the floor, told me she’s weed on it and repeated that it’s ok. All I can think of to say is that next time on the potty ok? Anyway, as I say, she’s pretty much there.

Portable foldable potties, if you haven’t got one, with plastic bags with soak-up-able pads in, are excellent though probably a killer for the environment. But in PC World the other day, we were able to get her to wee without any fuss and no one noticed, just by whipping the portable potty out of my bag and wrapping the wee up quickly. Then we bought new PC speakers and left. Had I not had the foldable potty there would, I’m sure, been wet pants and an upset toddler.

When it comes to poo, there’s a different story. E gets very upset when she poos in her pants but has mostly refused to sit on the potty to do it either. The other week she had an upset tummy and was heartbroken to find nastiness in her nappy we’d put on as a precaution. I have no idea who to encourage her except to remain calm. But if she gets upset either way, it’s hard to know how to carry on.

She’s so interested in it, which I also find hilarious. She likes to look in the toilet and wave goodbye to the wee before we flush. And she loves her pants. Especially her Paul Frank monkey pants.

So far I’m just grateful that she hasn’t talked about it on the bus but it’s only a matter of time, I’m sure.

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