Thursday, 11 February 2016

Is Valentine's Day Meant For Children Too?

When I was a child, many moons ago, I never received a Valentine's card from my parents.

This did not make me sad. Probably because I don't remember them giving each other cards. I'm sure they did, but it's not the kind of thing you notice as a child.

My husband and I have always given each other cards, but we draw the line there. The first year we were together he bought me flowers. Personally, I would prefer to see flowers thriving in a beautiful garden than dying on my windowsill. I thanked him and, a few days later, I gently broke it to him about how I felt about them, although I made it clear it was a lovely gesture. Sometimes it's hard not being a girly girl and not liking what people expect girls to like. He's used to me now, so all is good. I'm a cheap date.

Anyway, back to the subject matter. Once my child reached the age of three he started to get upset when we exchanged Valentine's cards. He couldn't understand why he was being left out. Hubby and I no longer bother with presents. After 26 years together it gets difficult being original.

We tried to explain to him what the day was meant to be about, but the more we explained the more we realised that is about celebrating love, not necessarily romantic love, and there is no greater love than between a parent and a child.

Now, we let him join in. He gets us cards and we get him one. You can buy ones with son and daughter on now, so it seems the card marketing business has also spotted this potential broadening of the definition of the day.

I hear you all shouting, it's just commercial rubbish where they hike up prices and put extra stress on partners. In part, I agree, but I do love that, for one day, we are mindful of the people we share our lives with and what they mean to us. I think we should be allowed to express that however we like.

My son is happy now and enjoys the day with us and, frankly, it makes us enjoy it more too. The three of us probably do what we normally do when we are together, but there is an extra bit of love in the air, which, to me, is never a bad thing.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day in your own way. You don't have to buy stuff to show your love, but if you want to, that's fine.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Skating On Thin Ice

My son uttered those words that every parent dreads the other day, "I quite fancy going ice skating".

Maybe not every parent dreads them, but I do!

About 10 years ago I decided to go ice skating, as a birthday treat. Hubby and I set off for the rink, looking forward to a refreshing skate, followed by a nice pub lunch. It was not to be.

As a child, I went roller skating every Saturday night and I became a fairly confident skater. I'd often venture into Birmingham with friends and ice skate at the Silver Blades ice rink. I'm not sure if it's still there. So many have closed down.

My memories of confident skating lulled me into a false sense of security that 25 years later I would still be Jane Torvill (in my head). We ventured onto the ice and fear took over. I persevered and clung onto the side until I felt safe to let go. Eventually, I let go and did a few 'Bambi' steps across the ice. Slow and steady was my plan. I felt quite pleased and stopped to gather myself. Happy to set off for round 2 I went to put my foot forward and the stop bit of it (not sure if there is a technical term for it) had wedged itself in the ice. All I remember is my feet leaving the ice and my body going horizontal in mid-air. My only thought was, "Save the face!" I put my arms out to lessen the impact. Big mistake. As I landed I lay on the ice and felt like I wasn't there. I was almost passing out. Hubby rushed over, along with the few people who were on the ice. As I was helped up I was aware my arm was just limp. As it turned out, I had dislocated my shoulder.

Hubby took me to the nearest hospital in Chester. There seemed to be thousands of speed bumps on the way there. I felt every one.

Spending your birthday in hospital is not fun, especially when you are in agony. I ended up having 6 months of physio and it has created a weakness in my shoulder now, due to tendons being damaged as the shoulder was dislocated.

So you see, the thought of going ice skating brings back bad memories. As much as I don't want to pass my fears onto my son, I also don't want him to see me hurt myself.

Should I take some ice skating lessons and get back on the horse/ice? Should I never mention ice skating again and hope my son doesn't either? It's a tricky one.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Hop, Skip and a Jump to a New Year

Happy New Year!

I'm so sick of saying that. It seems especially odd saying it a few days after January 1st.

The decorations are down, the 'naughty' food is finished and my boy is back at school.

I must admit, I am missing my boy. He is a great chatter. I wonder how he can breathe sometimes! His speech knows no punctuation. His little brain just needs to get it out there as quickly as possible. Who cares if it doesn't make sense?

We were all longing for the weekend after our first week back to reality.

I have decided we don't go outside and play enough in the winter (a wise choice, I have previously felt) One resolution is to get out, based on the fact that we do not have the wrong weather in this country, just the wrong clothes.

After school, we are managing to catch the last hour of light. I wanted to do something with my bouncy, chatty boy that we don't normally do. Skipping! I told of days gone by, when mummy would skip for hours with her friends. This seemed to ignite a spark in him. I tied a long piece of rope to his swing and proceeded to circle it around and around and around and around ...

Now, I have to say, I had not factored in that I am not seven anymore. My boredom threshold for skipping is somewhat lower now. It also takes less time for my arm to ache. However, once my little cutie pie realised it was a challenge where he could count and beat his personal best, it was game on. He is currently up to 20 skips in one go. His favourite programme is Ninja Warrior UK so this may tell you quite a bit about his competitive streak. It's good to be competitive, but he needs to also learn that when his mum is wilting it's time to stop.

I'm torn between spoiling the fun I invented in the first place (note to self: please think all ideas through before making suggestions) and going with it. It is lovely to see how happy he is when he believes he is winning at something.

In contrast, his losing face is something quite different. A game of Snap can turn into tears, stomping and folded arms quite quickly ... and that's just me! Of course, I'm joking. I don't stomp. I'm afraid to say I may have encouraged his competitive side when we played I Spy on a walk home from school. When he challenged me with a particularly tricky one and then asked if I gave up, I replied, "Never surrender!" Maybe I went too far.

Can you remember the last time you skipped?


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

6 Essential Skills to Learn Before Your Baby Arrives

Welcome to the land of winging it!

5 years ago I gave birth to my beautiful son, only to realise that my idealistic views of motherhood, during my pregnancy, were way off!

The first time you see your baby a state of euphoria envelopes you. Those precious first few hours are a wonderful time for a new parent. This, however, is short-lived. Reality has a whole new plan.
My first attempts at nappy changing resulted in no nappy again once I lifted him up. Previous origami skills did not prepare me.
Breastfeeding was a struggle, after having an emergency caesarean. I did master it eventually, after numerous visits from a lifeline of breastfeeding counsellors and their knitted boobs (not their real boobs ... the ones they demonstrated on ... that would have really freaked me out!)

You will require new skills that will make parenthood easier. These skills need to be honed before the big day to prevent the chocolate box cottage view of parenthood becoming the derelict house that nobody wants to visit.

The following list may just be your saviour.

1.    Think happy thoughts around strong smells

Your new baby cannot put a tiny foot wrong, but perfection does not extend to sweet smelling nappy changes.

What lies beneath is too much for any human nose to bear. It seems impossible that so much can escape from something so little, but it sure does.

2.    Learn to Speak ‘Cryish’

A baby is not satisfied with just one standard cry. There are several modes of crying to identify before the calming can begin.

A baby crying is like someone shouting at you in a language you don’t understand whilst going purple with rage at your lack of ‘CryLingual’ skills.

3.    Increase Pain Threshold

Razor milk teeth from a teething child can gnaw through any finger quite easily. No mercy is shown in order to soothe areas of the gum where more teeth are about to appear.

Being head butted by your baby is a shock the first time it happens. Their lack of spatial awareness and structural integrity of their neck lends itself to a blow to rival any featherweight.

4.    Stay Awake for Hours

Sleep is overrated. Your baby will feel you are getting far too much of it.

Your only hope is to get used to it or buy a large supply of matchsticks to prop those eyelids open. The latter, not being practical, gives way to the former, in the hope it is a temporary measure. Baby will have other ideas.

5.    Dress a Jelly

Babies fidget – a lot! A jelly would probably be easier to dress.

6.    Never Go Alone to the Toilet

A copy of your favourite read in the little room in the house will be a thing of the past.

Now you will be subjected to your every move being watched from a baby bouncer.

You will learn to go in record time, before your ‘Cryish’ skills have to kick in.

In Conclusion

You soon learn to adapt to your new addition. It’s a steep learning curve, the gradient of which is greatly underestimated.

A new baby is wonderful. There are many great memories ahead. They make you laugh, cry with frustration, cry with love and the rewards are limitless.

You look back and wonder how you managed to get through it, but you do. It’s an amazing experience. Enjoy every minute, as it goes by in the blink of an eye.