A holiday

Blog holidays can be ace. And in this case, unplanned. Back now though.

One of the things I’ve found most interesting in parenting is watching and understanding how E’s mind develops. There’s a point when you see someone who was a baby turn into a little person, but in the last few months we’ve really seen E develop beyond that to get a glimpse of her character; her sense of humour, the way she interprets things, how she sees the world have all come on markedly.

She’s now able to recognise things we’ve done before, or realise that there was a time when we did things without her or when she was very small. She makes jokes, she makes up stories with her toys and she remembers and relates experiences to us. Last month we had a day trip to a local castle that had a re-enactment day from the Civil War. All interesting enough until they set off some cannons and scared the living daylights out of her. Now, if you talk to her about being scared and having to be brave she talks about ‘the bangs’ – it was a really big thing for her to get past it and be brave.

She’s also much more independent and adventurous than she has been. We know she’s probably an introvert but recently at the playground she’s been chatting away to other children she doesn’t know happily enough. And she’s really adventurous. Climbing is her current passion. I found this out in a terribly inelegant and embarrassing way recently.

S has been more cautious with her than me, always telling her to be careful – I don’t know if it’s a dad thing or related to them both falling down the stairs at Christmas or both – but I’ve been worried about telling her to be careful because it feels like something we say to girls because they’re delicate and ladylike. But still, I wasn’t ready for her level of exploration. We were at the playground at Paignton seafront (incidentally, the English Riviera is a dreadful hole, and I say that as someone who loves the British seaside.) She wanted to climb on a thing that was a combination of tunnels and rope bridges. “Come with me Mummy!” We’ve been on these before, though not as high off the ground as this one, and she likes to have a hand to hold for difficult bits.

We went up together – I pushed her through the tunnels which were angled upwards, and across the platforms towards the bridge. It was quite high. How to get across together? I thought perhaps if she was on my lap we could clamber over on my bum. It started well. Then I realised the rope bridge net was also angled upwards. It turns out it’s quite hard to climb on your bum up a rope slope with a toddler on your lap and handbag slung over your shoulder. I got stuck.

We got down somehow and she decided to go up again. “You stay here because you couldn’t do it,” she said. The shame. I can, I can do it! Luckily I had to go up again to help her across the bridge so I was able to prove I could do it but she didn’t really need me – she knows where to put her feet and what to hold on to.

Of course, in reality this makes me proud and pleased. But I do wish I’d spotted her fearlessness before being stranded on my arse in Paignton.

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