Friday, 24 July 2015

Little Nudist

E has decided to start the day with a bit of music. She's currently running around the flat naked, and setting off a variety of musical toys, including her bedtime seahorse and a music box that plays happy birthday :-).

Monday, 20 July 2015

Dear E, Now You are Three.

Dear E,

Three years ago at this moment, I was in labour. I was probably just having a bit of backache at this point, and your Dad and I spent the early part of the evening sat in the conservatory of our rented house, eating a broad bean risotto he had made, and trying to decide whether I was just having bit of backache or whether it was something more. It's funny what you remember. It seems both a long time ago and yet hardly any time at all now.

Tomorrow you will be three. You're gradually becoming more of a small person than a toddler, and your baby years are behind you, although you'll always be my baby. You may not be much taller than you were at two (sorry, you've got the short genes), but the past year has seen you grow up in many ways.

You've lost your adorable wobbly toddle, and now you walk and run with confidence. You can jump and climb, so much more than before. You like to scribble and do puzzles, and love helping cook in the kitchen. FINALLY after what seemed an eternity, your last molars came through this month. You actually now have some hair - enough to have needed it to be cut, which you think is brilliant because the hairdressers sit you in front of a DVD while it's done. I like your cute pixie cut, but your Daddy prefers your hair longer. Who knows what you'll go for one day?

Lots of the changes we see in you have happened slowly. After 10 months of living in our flat, you're now at home chatting to the neighbours without being too shy, although put you amongst a group of strangers and they would never believe you're a chatterbox. The two children in the flat opposite, both cuddly by nature, have helped you learn that cuddles can be a good thing. Not for Mummy or Daddy, or other family members of course! We still have to force them out of you at times. But whereas you didn't like being cuddled by friends much before, that's fine now. If you see another child cry, you want to give them a cuddle and make them better. It's utterly sweet to watch.

You're a determined little girl, always wanting to "Do it MYSELF!" and be independent. At heart, you're a kind yet shy little one. You're very aware of the feelings of others, and a keen observer of the world around you, a.k.a nosy like Mummy! Example: We went out for the day today, and you took forever to eat lunch because you were so distracted by everything you could see! If another child or baby is crying, you want to know why. There's a lot of "Why?" at the moment. You're full of questions, and share your ideas with us and we love that about you. Dinnertime in the evening is great because that's when we get to sit down together and have little conversations. I also love you watch you play with your toys. We see you act out your life with them, making up little stories and songs, talking about their likes and dislikes, mimicking your own. I'm so glad you're still at an age to play aloud. I don't know at what point that stops, but I know I will miss it when the time comes.

We may be biased as your parents, but we think you're pretty intelligent. You've got a very cheeky sense of humour and it shows when you make up silly things on purpose. There's a certain grin you do that gives away the joke. You catch on to ideas quickly, and we can't get anything past you! That's why, as much as you hate it sometimes, we're determined to hold on to our boundaries with you. So "No" means "No". Believe me, we have certainly dealt with our fair share of the "terrible twos"! Not fun, but a necessary part of life. You might think we're strict at times, but it's only because we want you to learn the limits to your world, and to keep them safe and consistent for you. Maybe you'll appreciate it when you're a parent yourself one day? Maybe not! But we do it because give you an inch and you'd take 10 miles, and remember it for next time! Your memory is amazing. I write lists to remember what to do tomorrow. You will randomly bring something up in conversation that happened 6-12 months ago!

You're starting Pre-School in September, and I think it will help you to feel you can join in games and play with other children a bit more. Often when we see friends, you're doing your own thing while they play together. I feel sad watching it sometimes. I know that's because I spent many years as a child feeling left out of "the group", always not quite part of things. So I know it's my issue, or interpretation of the situation, that worries me, rather than it necessarily being a problem for you. When I see you standing in a group and looking a bit lost, feeling unsure of you place in the world, my heart breaks for you. That's why we try to help you spend time with others, to help you become more socially confident and join in. You go to Gym Tots, because you love it (and the soft play afterwards), and we take you swimming, because we're both rubbish and wanted you to have that life skill! I must admit - I always said I wouldn't live through my child, but I did encourage you in those activities! However, if you decided you hated something, you wouldn't be forced to do it (except swimming. You're only allowed to stop that when you're able to swim unaided a reasonable distance - because that might save your life one day. But any other hobby......).

Mostly, you're not unhappy. You're just a bit in your own world. You're much quieter when among large groups of people, whether adults or children. We had a birthday party for you on Saturday, with a bouncy castle and lunch after. You had a brilliant time bouncing, and when asked what you thought of your party, you said "It was lovely". But it was still a bit overwhelming for you. Overall you had a good time, and that was what mattered. I think your friends had fun too, and it was something we wanted to do as a celebration of the last three years and the friends you (and us) have made along the way. Because your life is something to celebrate. You make the world a better place just be being in it.

I miss the baby cuddles we used to have, and the way you used to smell. But I'm so proud of the little person you are becoming, and you make us laugh and smile so much. You're this little mishmash of our genes, and when we look at you we see ourselves, and combinations of grandparents and aunts/uncles and that's something special. Your Dad and I both agree, that having you was the best thing we've ever done. I'm hope we'll always feel that way.

As each birthday approaches, I'm sure we'll feel that time is moving too fast, that you're growing up rapidly. I want to hold on to each year that passes, to remember how it felt to be your Mum at that age. So, my angel, I plan to write to you each year, so that one day we may always remember each stage of our lives together.

For now, sweet dreams, and happy birthday for tomorrow.
Lots of love,
Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 17 July 2015

Phew!

This afternoon, as I often do, I was hanging washing out in the garden. Unusually, I'd forgotten to put my door keys in the peg basket "just in case". See where this is going?!

It's been a windy day here today. So there I was, doing my laundry duties, when a gust of wind blew the front door shut. We have a firsf floor flat with it's own front door -  one of those doors that locks automatically when closed - and it wasn't on the latch.  Now of course my OH has a key, and luckily only works 10 minutes walk away. But here's the thing: I was outside, but E was inside. On her own. You see, she'd gone to fill up a bottle of bubble mixture,  intending to play with it in the garden.

Our neighbours were on hand if needed, but I managed to get E's attention. With directions she was able to take her stool from the kitchen, put it by the key hooks on the wall, get the keys, bring them downstairs, and put them through the letter box to me. Hey presto, open sesame. What a little star!!!

You see, I've already called the police on myself once, I don't want to have to do it again.....

When E was 1 year old, we went to the petrol station, and after putting my shopping in the car boot, I shut it. Problem was, E was in the car, the car was locked, and my keys, phone etc were then all locked in the boot as well. Shit. I  borrowed a phone in the shop to call for help. Long story short: the police picked up the OH as he left work to get us a spare key, while kind strangers tried to force down the open windows of the car, and E and I both cried as I tried to sing "wheels on the bus" and other such nonsense to calm her down through the tears. Of course, some old biddies walking past us at the petrol station were very helpful, "There's a baby locked in that car!". Yeah, we hadn't noticed!

FYI, a 2006 Ford Focus won't allow the "open boot" button to ping open the boot of a locked car, even if you can reach it through an open window (open yet irritatingly shut too much to climb through).

Anyway, a fantastic woman managed to wind down one of the back windows by looping her handbag strap round the windy handle (before you ask...the front windows were electric). So by the time the police arrived with the OH, E was out of the car and getting cuddles. It all ended well, though I'm sure it's all on a police file somewhere.

My point is, I  would never, ever, deliberately put my child in harm's way. I love her more than anything. It's just that accidents, or gusts of wind, happen.  What happened today won't ever happen again.  I like to think that I'm a decent Mum, my logic being that cruel parents would never call the police on their own behaviour! That, and E is loved and adored and that's not even doubtable for one moment.  I guess I'm just human.

What I'm trying to say, is that no parent is perfect. We all make mistakes,  but we try our best (in most cases). I once heard a therapist say that we try to give children "roots and wings" and that what matters more is not being "the best parent" but instead being "good enough". And if nothing else, I am that. I think that love counts for more than anything where parenting is concerned. So as we come up to E's 3rd birthday I will try to hold on to that.

Will I make more mistakes along this parenting journey? Certainly. Either through my eyes, her eyes, or someone elses. Will I be a good enough parent? Absolutely. E is loved and is perfectly imperfect, and whatever else befalls us, she will know it. Job done.


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Some More Memories

Things have been hectic lately. I'm just not sure where the time is going, the weeks are zooming by. I'm reminded of how fast the time goes whenever I look at E and see how much she's grown.

This evening after dinner, E was talking about when she's older:

"When I'm bigger, I'll give my toys to babies and I'll do important things!". Bless her. She remembers us giving some of her old things to other people for their children who are younger than she is/yet to be born.

Then she started listing the important things she might be doing: "I'll push my child in the supermarket, and I'll wipe the table mats, and....". Guess what I was doing at the time? :-) This follows on from two baby related incidents earlier in the week:

1. One evening she said "I'm going to have a child when I'm bigger. Who will be the Daddy?!"
2. Recent play of sticking toys up her tops and telling me she's having a baby. Apparently I'm going to be a Grandma in September! This is before I actually am due to become an Auntie for the first time in the New Year (hooray!). E is aware she's going to have a cousin, and we've also got friends expecting in November, so it's kind of clear where this is coming from.

Anyway, she was being very lovely and adorable. A complete contrast to the tantrumming toddler we were faced with in the supermarket this morning. The upset all started because a song came on the radio in the car on the drive there, and she wanted me to "start it again from the beginning", which of course was impossible, given that we were listening to the radio not a CD. Cue meltdown! One of those ones where E produces a mass of tears, and hiccups and goes red in the face.

The situation deteriorated as, mean parents that we are, we then refused to grant her request to play a certain certain CD, as the result of her having a hissy fit. E was told she could listen to it on the way home instead, which went down like a lead balloon. As we got to the shops she continued with cries of "I want to go home!" and shared this with loudly with other shoppers as we made her sit in the trolley and bought food for the week ahead ("I don't want to do shopping, we don't need food"). We eventually got through it, and cuddles from Daddy made the world better again, as they always do.

Looking back on this morning some people might think we were harsh not to just play the CD E asked for. It made sense she wanted to hear it, as the song from the radio is on that CD, so she was very logical in her thinking. I can also see that as a toddler, it's asking a bit much for her to delay gratification and wait until the journey home for that song (a certain psychological experiment about sweeties springs to mind). The problem was, she had become so worked up when I couldn't fix the radio how she wanted that she then started thrashing in her seat and generally playing up. The question then became: how to grant E's request without her learning that screaming and crying and kicking got her what she wanted? Which when it comes down to it, was more the reason we said no.

Of course the real problem was that E was shattered after she & I went on a sleepover/playdate last night. E and her friend C eventually fell asleep around 10pm, then were up again by 6:30am. The late bedtime was the usual result of parental optimism that two small children might be able to share a bedroom, even though both are only children and not used to doing so. Ha! After much chaos, swapping of duvets, getting up for drinks, talking, changing pooey nappies etc, the two were separated, as they always eventually are when we try sleepovers. We keep hoping that if they're put in the same room together enough, that they'll learn to go to sleep ok, thus allowing for room sharing on group trips in the future. Ah well. We had fun though. E probably coped with the tiredness better than I did overall- I was the one who had an afternoon nap, she pushed on through then went to bed this evening still adamant she wasn't tired! She's bloody stubborn. Gets it from her Dad.

But just like her Dad she is also very kind and sweet, and makes us all laugh. In fact, E told me today that she & Daddy are going to go Tesco together when she is "bigger". She plans to use her own money to buy herself a blue bike, and also will buy Daddy a lion costume, because he wants to be a "princess lion" apparently! Who knew?!