True adventures…

skydiving mission beach

I think there must be an optimum time in your life for true adventures, you can’t be too young but you can’t be too old. Depending on your definition of the word ‘adventure’, I feel there has to be an element of risk, of danger and the unknown.

As a parent, you are never going to want to see your child go off on a true adventure. I remember my sister cashing in her life’s savings at the tender age of about 25 and heading off to Katmandu for the start of a year travelling alone around Asia and Australia. I think I may have been studying the third year of my degree in Texas at the time, so I only have vague memories of how my parents felt about this, but I do remember a very tense time when she wasn’t contactable and a British girl had been abducted and murdered by a thai monk near to her last known location. That was a scary one.

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The trickiness of treats

Pick your battles

My children are still very young but they are very lucky – to live in the western world, to come from a happy home, to be loved and doted on, to never have to worry about where the next meal is coming from or whether or not they will have somewhere to sleep at night or a roof over their heads.

They have already been given so much, so many treats (although not as many as some) and sometimes I wonder at what point they will realise that they have so much to be grateful for and that the treats they receive are very special and to be treasured.

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Mindful Saturday…

This Saturday the hubster was working so I took the munchkins over to my mum and dad’s for the weekend. I have to admit that normally, when we go over there I have been guilty of taking the opportunity to pop into town unencumbered by either of them to mooch about a bit and buy the odd birthday pressie or other necessity. This is normally while EJ is napping and therefore I tend to miss out on spending quality time with JJ. He adores his Grandma and she is fabulous with him, patiently playing games and letting him help her with the dinner preparations whether I’m there or not. However this week, for whatever reason, I decided not to go out. I had taken a couple of things over which I thought JJ might enjoy – an Usborne Appletree Farm ABCs sticker book and this  pack of colour and create headresses:

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Collaborative hoovering

005I’d like to think I’m not the only person out there who’s house cleaning standards dropped somewhat with the advent of children. Not to say that my home was ever a Mecca of dazzling surfaces and rarely was furniture ever moved – even in spring. Nowadays though, the entire fiasco generally consists of an hour and a half flying around the house with a cloth and a hoover once a week on a Tuesday afternoon. Occasionally a dustpan gets involved.

Last week however, my annual leave petered out at work with three whole weeks left to go. Drastic action had to be taken in order to fulfil my lacklustre yet obsessive need to maintain my own half-arsed standards. Yes, that’s right, I enlisted the assistance of the boy.

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The Mirror Stage

001

Anyone who’s ever seen a baby progress through their first year of life will be aware that, at some point, they become aware of mirrors and the fact that there is another little person on the other side. When my eldest first went through this phase I was reminded of something I learned when I was at university studying literature. Part of the course involved getting to grips with literary theory – a lot of which crosses over with psychology and philosophy. There is one particular theory by a French academic, Jaques Lacan, called ‘The Mirror Stage’. He suggests that babies between the ages of 6 months and 18 months discover themselves in mirrors for the first time and it gives them a sense of (false) power and control (as they can force movements in their reflection by moving themselves). It’s false because of course the reflection is not a real person any more than is a shadow.

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Pink is for girls… (The Prompt Week 6)

Well it is, isn’t it? I wouldn’t dream of sending my boys out dressed in pink – it would just confuse everyone! Is that right? No of course not, but society says…

Should we challenge society? On this I ponder. The hubster is a bit of ‘man’s man’ and would shoot down the very suggestion of mixed gender roles – which is why I had to laugh when, one day whilst driving along with the boys in the back JJ suddenly said “I’m going to drive a pink taxi when I grow up” and then, without any sense of irony, “Daddy will be pleased won’t he?”

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The Prompt: Sweater…

WinterworriesDontoverdressyourbabyfull

I’m a bit late to the “Prompt” party here but this week I’m finally joining in with this new linky devised by Sara over at Mum Turned Mom. Each week Sara is throwing out a phrase, sentence or quote which can mean different things to all of us.  This week she has given us:

Sweater, n.  garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. Ambrose Bierce

I remember when I was pregnant with JJ we had one particular ante-natal session which involved handing round a life size baby doll which was programmed to cry like a real baby. The idea was that we each share an idea for what might be wrong and how to fix it. I guess it came as a bit of a surprise both how relentless a newborn cry could be and how many different things could be wrong!

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The joy of a flushable poo!

Poo

I just know that any of my friends or followers who don’t have children will have just read this title and backed off in a hurry – hee hee! I know, I know, its probably way TMI but this is a subject that’s very close to my heart (well, very close to my toilet as well!) at this moment in time.

EJ has recently been suffering from many particularly delightful runny nappies and for about a week he was even taking out about 4 outfits a day (which did the poor, strained washing machine no good whatsoever). The thing was that, despite what, for all intents and purposes, would be described as diarrhoea under any other circumstances, he was absolutely fine in himself, running around, happy as the proverbial Larry. Then one day I suddenly had a flashback to a similar stage in JJ’s development and a quick web search revealed that both children had, most likely been suffering from a syndrome which is probably not all that uncommon and goes by the name “Toddler Diarrhoea” (not very imaginative, I think I’d prefer “Exploding Nappy Syndrome” or “Sudden-onset Heavy Internal Turbulence”*).

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Attachment parenting…with detachment

attached child I’ve read a fair bit about this subject recently both positive and negative and I also have friends who either fully or partially embrace Dr Sears’ notion of effective parenting through adhering to the ‘7 Bs’. This type of parenting has been labelled a fad by some, but other, more accepting and thoughtful commentators argue that, despite faddish elements, the core belief in raising your children with sensitivity and empathy (with an emphasis on responsiveness in the first few months of a child’s life) is the key to raising balanced and well-adjusted children (see Dr Laura Markham’s article on the subject, highlighting the need to set limits with empathy). Also see this post by Psychologymum. This is my take on the 7 Bs:
  • Birth bonding: I didn’t really do this with JJ as I ended up having an epidural and after a long labour gave birth in the exact wrong position – flat on my back! EJ was a completely different kettle of fish as I managed to have a water birth with no drugs for pain relief and consequently I do feel like I did right by both of us as it was a much more natural, intuitive experience, but I’m not sure if it really makes us any more closely bonded as mother and son.
  • Breastfeeding: if you follow my blog you will already know my thoughts on this expressed in this post. I managed it for five months with JJ and five days with EJ. Whilst I am sure that, if you get it right, it is a wonderful close, nurturing thing to do (with added immunological benefits), I don’t actually believe that the key intended outcome of attachment parenting is affected either way – there are a myriad of ways in which you can care for, nurture and bond with your baby leading them to start life feeling loved and secure.
  • Babywearing: By the time I had EJ as a newborn I had the benefit of hindsight and knew (even before he was born actually) that I would be doing us both a favour by investing in a nice stretchy sling. And I was right – sometimes having him in that sling was the only thing that calmed and soothed him. I think newborn babywearing is a great idea for practical purposes. However I’m not so sure that continuing to exclusively carry your child in this way throughout later baby- and childhood can be classed as anything more than a personal choice in the preferred method of transporting your child.
  • Bedding close to baby: JJ started off in a Moses Basket, spent a few occasions in bed with me and then transferred to a cot in the same room, later transitioning to his own room at about 8 months when he was sleeping through the night. EJ spent his first few months next to me on the bed before going into his cot in my room at 4 months (where he still is now at 16 months). I think it was what worked for us. When they’re very little they do need you to be responsive and proximity is key, but I do believe that gradual detachment is no bad thing and leads to better sleep patterns all round.
  • Beware the baby trainers: Personally I didn’t follow any particular ‘trainer’ although I know people who swore by Gina’s strict regime (and have lovely well-adjusted school-age children). Having said that I truly believe in structure and introducing patterns that give a child a sense of security in the world (and I think children really respond well to daily routines and thrive within them). I have a friend who will definitely think this is anathema to her! Certainly each to their own – what works for one does not work for all.
  • Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry: I think this one is trying to get at the idea that you should never leave your baby crying. This is a really emotive one, particularly if you have/had a baby with that most commonly cited condition ‘colic’ which is basically just what doctors say when they don’t know what else to tell you about your child’s constant crying and fussing. The sound of your baby crying is certainly one of the worst sounds in the world and I’m sure most people would agree that you never stop trying to find a way to calm and soothe that crying away. But sometimes you’ve got to eat. I’m just saying.
  • Balance: this, to me, seems the most sensible B of all when it comes to achieving those ‘attachment’-related goals. It is described as ‘being appropriately responsive to your baby: knowing when to say yes and when to say no’. That makes perfect sense to me and I try and live by this one above all. That doesn’t mean to say I always get it right and god knows you have to choose your battles wisely, but on the whole, I believe that this is the key to everything we do as parents and sometimes, some of the other Bs seem to be taken to ‘Earth Mother’ extremes that counter-act the notion of balance altogether.

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