Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Postman Pat and guns? I don't think so

So I have just written an article for the parenting website Emma's Diary *shameless plug* about the dangers (and positives) of screen watching. By this I mean telly, laptops, games consoles. Research has shown that British children have regular access to an average five screens at home by the age of ten and that a child born today will have spent a full year watching the box by the time he or she reaches seven. 
The concern is, as you can imagine, that this could play havoc with our kiddies' attention spans, social skills etc. I reckon, everything in moderation. There's plenty of good, healthy educational stuff about that can enhance rather than detract and as long as any screen watching is kept to a limited period (as in not plonking your child in front of the TV all day while you paint your nails and surf the internet) and it is mixed in with other stimulating activities such as painting, puzzles, playgroups, music-making, then it all seems okay to me, nothing to worry about. 
Which means I don't feel too guilty admitting that watching YouTube has become a teeny bit of a favourite hobby of the little man's. I do keep a fairly tight rein on this, and the most exciting it gets is a particularly animated rendition of Jelly on a Plate. He also loves The Wheels on the Bus, all thirty versions of it, and he can't get enough of the Postman Pat episode someone has kindly uploaded where PC Selby learns to play the banjo so he can serenade Dr Gilbertson - very sweet those two although they never seem to get it together. The annoying ad at the start is admittedly something of a nuisance and I always skip over it as soon as I am allowed, however, the other day instead of the usual advertisement for curry sauce or Ikea, the screen was suddenly filled with buff men and women charging about firing guns, jumping off buildings and chucking explosives about. It was a high energy preview for an action film and clearly not suitable for a toddler to see so why was it attached to something as innocent as Pat? I quickly covered the screen with my hands to shield the little man until it was all over. 
It just shows you can't be too careful when it comes to the internet and what your children are accessing. I was reading an interesting post by fellow mummy blogger 3 Children and It discussing what age children should be allowed to start social networking. I find the whole thing rather scary and my little one is only two.  Heaven knows what sort of thing will be available to him when he hits those teenage years but until then I will be monitoring what he watches like a hawk - even if it is only Postman Pat.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

I'm sorry, just how much are those tiny shoes?!

I love the summer. Kids' shoes are so reasonable then. You can go into a shop, buy a pair of sandals and have enough change from a twenty for tea, lunch for two and icecreams all round. Not so in the winter. If you want decent footwear, in leather, you'll be lucky to get away with anything shy of fifty quid. And they are so small these pesky shoes - surely the smaller the size, the less it costs, no? No.
And they have you by the you-know-whats in the shop. Here is your precious little boy who you want the very best for. His tiny feet are newly formed and growing and need to be encased carefully, with room to breathe and expand, somewhere warm and watertight. You can't buy him any old cheap rip-off from Primark. Basically you need a pair of shoes that doesn't make you look like a bad parent, and that costs big bucks.
I was admiring another little girl's pink leather boots at playgroup this week and her mother admitted, in wincing tones, that they "cost a fortune". Turns out she didn't think to look at the pricetag until she got to the till when her daughter, pleased as punch, already had them on. "I don't spend that on my own shoes," she told me grimacing at the memory.
Another friend found the shoes she wanted for her two-year-old son but did a quick u-turn on finding out the cost, managing to back out of the shop empty handed while mumbling excuses about her husband having the family credit card. What tosh - her credit card was tucked safely in her wallet but she was going to need a quick lie down or a strong drink at the very least before she was going to wrack up such an enormous bill for such a teeny tiny pair of shoes.
It seems this kind of trauma is not a new thing for parents. My mum said she always found going shoe shopping something of an ordeal. She would go into the store with a perfectly normal child and leave with a freak of nature whose feet must never see the light of day for fear of scaring others. The shop assistant would take one look at me, take a sharp intake of breath and shake her head. "Your daughter has very wide feet at the front but very narrow heels at the back." In comparison to what? For the record, my feet are perfectly normal - what they didn't do was fit in with their company's idea of what a foot should be like, but who does? Goodness knows what my grandma did with my aunt, who has six toes on one foot. I know, six toes - how cool is that?
Anyway, I plucked up the courage to take the little man winter shoe shopping yesterday. He was very good while he had his feet measured, I found the perfect pair of navy leather shoes, steeled myself to spend the £42 it was going to cost to take them away, and they were out of stock. Typical.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Your child is about to get hurt - would you step in?

I have a question for you. When is it okay to step in and stop another child from hurting yours? Is it at the first sign of trouble? Or is it when you have given the other parent a decent enough chance to take control and you can stand it no longer? Or is it not at all?
I ask because I was faced with just such a dilemma last week at one of our regular playgroups. Actually, it was only after the event that I did any of the above soul searching because, as it turns out, when I saw the little man was about to be set upon, I got stuck in in a heartbeat. And it rather took me by surprise.
So here is what happened. I was watching the little man sitting happily on the floor beating out some notes on a xylophone. In fact, I was hovering close by as he had muscled in on the instrument while another boy was playing it and I was ready to intervene if there were any tears. Surprisingly the other boy had generously given up half his toy to my son and they were rather touchingly making music together. As I looked on, a third tiny fella came up behind the little man with a cymbal in each hand, raised them aloft and was in the process of crashing them down onto his head when, seeing what was about to happen, I threw myself forward and caught him by both arms.
It stopped the assault and the little man carried on making music with his new buddy completely oblivious to the danger I had just diverted but I was left a bit shocked. What would his mother think?
I immediately let go - I was in the middle of a large circle of other mums and dads and I dread to think what they thought - and my first reaction was to look for her. She was quickly on the scene (although being heavily pregnant she wasn't as quick as me) and far from being annoyed, she was actually relieved I had stepped in. Her son is a bit of tearaway at times and I could see she was tiring of chasing him around trying to head off disaster. In fact, she wished more parents would do the same. "I think they would let him run in front of a car rather than stop him" she told me.
While it felt right to stop my child from getting hurt, I did worry what others thought and I certainly wouldn't dream of disciplining anyone other than my own (besides a gentle, "it's nice to share" or, "perhaps wait until it's your turn" and even then I would do it in a whisper so no adults could hear).
So was I in the right? Would you do the same? I'd love to know.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Bursting with happiness

Somtimes, having the little man is so brilliant I have to pinch myself. What a tiny joy giver he is. Last week, my parents visited in the afternoon and, as my lovely husband works from home, this meant that for those couple of hours, all my son's favourite people were in the same room. He loved it. In fact, by the end, he was dancing around in circles shouting "I'm so happy. I'm so happy". Isn't being a toddler great? To feel your emotions so vividly and express them so unapologetically. Perhaps I will take his lead and do the same next time I am feeling brimful with happiness - which is likely to be 6.30pm on Saturday when I collapse on the sofa with a glass of red wine ready to watch Strictly Come Dancing (okay, I will be recording it and putting the little man to bed at that time, but you get the sentiment). 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Getting to know you

I've been awarded a Liebster Blog Award by Meg at http://thelondonmama.blogspot.co.uk/. It's a great award that lets you find out a bit more about other bloggers you follow. Here’s how it works...

The rules are simple:
- post 5 random facts about yourself
- choose 5 other deserving blogs with less than 200 subscribers to nominate and link their blogs in your post.
- tell your nominees you have chosen them for this award by leaving a comment on their blogs
- answer the 5 questions the tagger has asked you and ask your own 5 questions to the people you nominate.
- no tag backs.

So, 5 random facts about me:

01. My favourite film is Jurassic Park. It’s the John Williams soundtrack that does it, plus the dinosaurs – those velociraptors scare the life out of me. Anything with Bruce Willis comes in a close second.
02. I play the violin and piano and am learning the ukulele. I would love to improvise jazz but I can’t shake off that classical training. I need to find my inner Oscar Peterson.
03. I write a regular interiors page for a magazine – I’m no interior designer but I do love talking paint and wallpapers.
04. I have got a fancy camera but not got around to reading the manual. I really want to take one of those pictures where a dew drop on a leaf is in clear focus and everything around it is fuzzy.
05. I lived in London for ten years which was great fun but quickly lost its appeal when a baby came on the scene. The three of us now live a 20-minute drive from the seaside.

Meg's Questions:

01. Of all your posts, which was your favourite to write?
I rather liked my post ‘I’m somebody’s mummy’ but more for the content than the enjoyment of writing it. I was talking about how delighted I was that, after a lot of ‘mamamama’ noises, the little man had finally said ‘mummy’. I was rather chuffed.

02. Have you ever met a blogger you follow in real life?
No, but I would love to. Reckon that would be lots of fun. Can’t see it happening though. Now if you all moved down south...

03. What's your favourite book - one for you and one for reading with your little one?
My favourite book is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The way he paints a picture with words is pretty impressive.  Not if I could write like him... My favourite book for the little man is Dogger by Shirley Hughes. It first came out the year I was born and it gives me that lovely warm feeling that comes with nostalgia sometimes. The message is lovely too.

04. What's your favourite blog, the one you read every post for and will skip reading others before you read this one?
I was rather addicted to Kelle Hampton’s blog, who is an American mum with a Down Syndrome daughter. She is an amazing writer and photographer but sometimes I have to have a break from reading her. She can be a little too perfect! Have a look: http://www.kellehampton.com/

05. Did you blog before you became a mother? and if so what was it about?
No, I only started blogging after the little man arrived on the scene, and I was rather reluctant to do it then. But I love flexing the creative muscles when I write, and I love the camaraderie between my fellow mummy bloggers. Everyone is so supportive.

My Questions:

01. Why did you start blogging? What do you get out of it?
02. What's your parenting style?
03. What is the best place in the world for you?
04. What has been your most exciting experience?
05. What has been your scariest moment as a mum?

The blogs I'm tagging:

It’s a bit time consuming but rather enjoyable!