Tuesday, 31 July 2012
The G is becoming quite the comedian . . . .
Or at least, so she thinks.
She hasn't quite mastered the perfect punchline and her timing leaves a great deal to be desired. She does have one 'joke', though - one particular piece of japery - that she has been practising hard in recent times.
I'm not sure where this has come from, although I'm certain that, if I asked Dr Z, she'd hold me accountable. For that reason, I haven't asked Dr Z.
The G's gag goes a little like this . . . .
THE G (looking all innocent): "Daddy?"
ME (pretending I have no idea what's coming): "What?"
Short pause for comedic effect.
THE G (giggling): "Nothing."
This can go on for some time. Like I said, The G is becoming quite the comedian . . . .
Sunday, 29 July 2012
The G doesn't like to sleep alone . . . .
Like The B she has got her 'special friends', her favourite soft toys, whose presence on her pillow is an important part of the night-time routine.
This elite squad is five strong and is comprised (in order of preference) of Big Bunny, Dolly, Baby Bunny, Baby Bear and Elephant.
The G used to find that gnawing on Elephant provided comfort during her younger days and, as a result, he looks as though he is suffering from some mange-like disease.
This perhaps explains his less-than-impressive place in the pecking order . . . .
Ordering things is important to The G, a trait that I suspect she has inherited from Dr Z.
For instance, just putting her special friends into bed each night isn't enough on its own.
Indeed, until each one has been positioned carefully in its correct place on the pillow, The G is not content.
The all-important order (starting from the wall side of the bed) is: Dolly, Elephant, Baby Bear, Bunny (Baby), The G and Bunny (Big). It is quite clear that this isn't something she gets from me . . . .
Saturday, 28 July 2012
I've never been one for leaving parties . . . .
Perhaps it's because, prior to doing this, I worked for a company that operated a revolving door policy (one that drove someone to leave most weeks, that is). Perhaps it's because, having sat through countless jovial leaving speeches, I soon came to realise that the subsequent gatherings, having begun in the same spirit of bonhomie, always became bitter occasions. Perhaps it's because I have an irrational fear of unexpected strippers . . .
The reason doesn't matter really. The point here is that such soirees are not for me.
I bring this up because, four-and-a-half years after my last one (mine, that is), The B is preparing for his first leaving do.
It will be his own leaving party, thrown to mark his imminent departure from the pre-school circuit.
He has just four sessions remaining at the nursery he has attended, bi-weekly, for the last two years. To mark this sad departure, the staff have decided to organise a bash.
There's going to be singing and dancing, some food and drink and it will come as no surprise if some in attendance get a little over-excited and start to fight at some point during the proceedings.
Put like that, it doesn't sound unlike lots of the leaving parties that I've endured down the years . . . .
Thursday, 26 July 2012
The B&G love opening letters . . . .
Those addressed to them. Those not. Bills, bank statements and junk mail. The Road Tax reminder for our house's previous owners, who - two-and-a-half years after moving - have still not informed the DVLA. It's all the same to them.
In the main, the contents of the correspondence in question tend to be ignored (or, in The G's case, torn into shreds). The postman delivered something this morning that cannot be overlooked (or destroyed), however . . . .
It's notification from our GP that The G is due to receive her next round of immunisations.
Next week. Gulp.
Tetanus, Polio, MMR et al, I appreciate that these are important. Yet the prospect still fills me with dread and a longing to start thinking up excuses.
The big needle, the fear (The G's, that is, not mine), the tears, and the risk of subsequent symptoms (tiredness, temperature and general grumpiness), this is not an occasion to relish. The G is oblivious at this point. She'll find out soon enough.
It's going to be important that, when she does, I remember that, no matter how bad it seems, this is going to be worse for her than it is for me.
But it's not going to be easy . . . .
Monday, 23 July 2012
The G has, I'm afraid to report, developed one or two rather unpleasant habits . . . .
These, in the main, involve sticking her fingers into places she shouldn't stick them.
There's nothing here that most pre-school children don't do . . . .
That doesn't make it any nicer.
Earlier this evening, whilst watching our regular pre-bath Fireman Sam, I thought I'd caught her committing the worst of her current bad habits.
"Stop biting your nails," I told her.
She looked up at me and glowered for a moment.
"I wasn't biting my nails," she informed me, all indignant. "I was picking my nose."
Oh, that's OK then . . . .
Sunday, 22 July 2012
Earlier this afternoon, a trip to our local annual air show . . . .
This followed a two-year break, our previous visit having proved to be a rather unfortunate experience.
Back then, The B still not three and The G just 16 months old, the approach of a low-flying jet plane turned out to be a rather frightening affair.
This time proved to be a little more successful, even if The G's initial reaction didn't inspire great confidence.
"This boring," she declared, not long after our arrival.
Not the best response, although tedium is much easier to manage than the sheer terror that marred our previous visit. Indeed, that it didn't all end in tears is, in itself, a marked improvement.
The B enjoyed it rather more than his sceptical sister - his highlights including the helicopter formation team, the Red Arrows and the Tornado, even if said jet (the boomy-boom plane, as he calls it) did cause a little concern with its ear-splitting acoustics.
"They're just showing off," he said at one point as two planes, each trailing smoke, performed their impressive aeronautics for an appreciative audience. Being four, such grandstanding does strike a certain chord . . . .
Friday, 20 July 2012
The B has a problem. It's his trousers . . . .
His build - quite tall and super thin - means that finding good-fitting leg-wear is just about impossible.
Get the length right - all the way down to his shoes, that is - and the waist becomes too large by several sizes, meaning that he is forever hitching his trousers up or, from time to time, wearing them around his ankles.
The ones that have the adjustable waists are great in theory. In practice, however, in order to make them fit, such trousers must be tightened to a fearsome degree, so much so that doing so threatens the circulation in his feet and legs.
Shorts are better, although only because he's still in the ones that he has worn for the last three summers. These, according to the labels, are intended for children who are 18 months old. The B is almost five.
So, although I doubt it exists, the search goes on for the perfect trouser . . . .
Until the time that such a mythical garment can be found, The B will continue to wear his at half-mast. You see, given the choice, he'll pick comfort over fashion every time . . . .
Thursday, 19 July 2012
Don't get me wrong, I understand their adhesive attributes. Their astonishing allure, however, is rather more difficult to figure out.
The basic rules of parenting suggest that children can be made to do anything just as long as stickers are introduced to the proceedings at an appropriate juncture.
I get the fundamental principles involved in rewarding good behaviour and incentivising achievement. But the power over pre-schoolers that stickers appear to possess seems - to me, at least - to be disproportionate.
I guess that, for as long as said power endures, such incomprehension is irrelevant . . . .
If it works, and all that . . . .
The reason for bringing this up is that, in recent days, I've come into some rather excellent reward stickers.
These come from The Sticker Factory, an established supplier of motivational products to the educational sector that is aiming to break into the household market with a newly-launched Stickers at Home range.
Their general glueyness aside, said stickers do sparkle rather . . . .
Factor in the accompanying extras - including a customised chart and badges (real ones, pins and all) - and the praise-laden package couldn't be more attractive to The B&G.
I'm preparing to use these in a last-ditch attempt to help The G overcome her long-standing aversion to eating.
Should this quest prove successful, the esteem in which I hold stickers and their remarkable influence over children will move to a whole new level . . . .
This is a sponsored post.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Household hierarchies are not something I've ever encouraged here . . . .
For The B, however, establishing his place in the pecking order is an important business.
Take our most recent trip to soft play, for instance.
In the car, en route, The B&G had been planning their imminent activities.
"I'll go first on the big slide," The B informed us in a magisterial manner. "That's the rule, because I got born first."
In fairness, The G accepted this without question and appeared quite content with the arrangement. It seems she knows her place, even if I don't agree . . . .
Monday, 16 July 2012
Nowhere special, just to Sainsburys. He didn't complain, though. He doesn't get out much.
En route, The B&G stopped outside a neighbour's house to peruse the spectacle of an enraged canine, slavering rabidly whilst clawing and barking at the window, desperate to escape its incarceration.
"Look," I said, not thinking it through. "There's a real dog."
Hearing this, The B's face darkened.
"Rollo's a real dog," he snarled before stalking away, his indignation obvious.
Like I said, I didn't think it though. I shan't make that mistake again . . . .
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Thursday, 12 July 2012
|Trust The B to spell it out.......|
I fear trouble might be brewing at school . . . .
The B stands to bear the brunt, but the mistake is all mine.
You see, I appear to have committed a cardinal sin. I should, perhaps, explain.
The B's thirst for all things educational proving unquenchable, he has been making great strides with his writing in recent times . . . .
Or at least, so I thought.
During our latest meeting at the school he is due to start in September, we were told that under no circumstances should children interested in developing their pen skills between now and then be allowed to write in capital letters.
It turns out that, once capitals have been mastered, persuading the child to use lower-case characters is all but impossible . . . .
The B is brilliant at writing, but it turns out that, thanks to me, he's been doing it wrong all along.
I had been hoping to give him a head start. I hope that, in attempting to help him to get ahead, I haven't set him back too much . . . .
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Still on the food theme, some eating-based observations from recent days . . . .
1) Spaghetti Hoops seem to have been added to the ever-growing list of things that can be categorised as a fruit or vegetable.
Confused? Me too, although a look at the label has cleared things up a little.
The ingredient list showing that a typical tin contains 46% tomatoes, whoever is in charge of such things has decreed that canned pasta can be classed, quite legitimately, as one of the all-important five-a-day.
Given that said foodstuff ranks amongst The G's all-time favourite eats, this is great news for my quest to improve her diet.
That said, I can't help feeling that this is cheating . . . .
Baked beans, I can just about accept as organic in origin. Spaghetti seems to be stretching it a little, even if it does help us to tick the boxes.
2) Curiously Strawberry having been blacklisted, the search is on for a suitable substitute.
First to audition are Sainsburys' Multigrain Boulders, described on the box as a 'Honey-coated wholegrain wheat, corn and oat cereal, fortified with vitamins and iron.'
So far so good, although a closer look at the label shows said cereal to be almost one-quarter sugar . . . .
It comes as no surprise then that The B&G love them.
Sainsburys do make cereals that have a far lower sugar content . . . .
One is called Malties, an own-brand take on Shreddies. We have a box of Malties - it has been sitting in the cupboard, untouched, for several months now.
That can't be a coincidence.
3) The G ate some fruit last night . . . .
Quite a breakthrough, this, given her longstanding aversion to all things organic.
The fruit in question, a baked apple, an experiment that produced better results than expected.
It must be noted that said dessert contained sufficient sugar and butter levels to render all the nutritional benefits of the apple irrelevant. Still, it's a start.
4) I'm sometimes not sure what is better - unhealthy food or no food at all.
This is a subject I ponder frequently, not least during times of fast, when it seems as though The G isn't eating enough.
There's often a temptation to let her eat anything, just as long as she eats something.
Deep down, though, I'm certain this isn't the correct course.
There's nothing I'd like more than to provide a diet - acceptable to The B&G - that isn't sugar-coated, that doesn't contain Strawberry Powder or mechanically-recovered chicken and which doesn't rely on canned goods to make up the all-important five-a-day.
Unfortunately, unlike Annabel Karmel and her cronies, we live in the real world . . . .
Monday, 9 July 2012
|*Dogs not included (although dogs might be preferable).......|
The G's aversion to eating isn't always a bad thing . . . .
Take this morning, for instance.
Our petits pois supplies running low, we'd gone to the supermarket and, whilst there, some canned hot dogs caught The B's eye.
Having learnt from the strawberries-not-included affair, I decided to take a close look at the packaging before making a decision as to whether or not to acquire said sausages.
There, printed on the label, I discovered a phrase that I suspect is going to remain with me all my days . . . .
"These hot dogs are made," it said, "using mechanically-recovered chicken. In brine."
In the trade, I believe this is known as marketing suicide.
The B's badgering ceased for a moment as, starting to feel unwell, I relayed the above information.
The G thought for a moment before a nauseous expression began to form on her face.
"Yak!" she snarled. "I'm not eating that."
For once, I couldn't disagree . . . .
Sunday, 8 July 2012
|*Strawberries not included.......|
Our breakfast table has always been a Coco Pops free zone . . . .
The B&G always attempt to make a case for them whenever we're at the supermarket, but on this subject, Dr Z and I are in full agreement.
Chocolate-based foodstuffs - indeed, anything that takes pride in being able to turn the milk brown - just don't seem such a good idea for small children at 7am.
The clamour for Coco Pops has died down a little in recent days, however . . . .
You see, The B&G have discovered a new breakfast cereal - one that sounds much more suitable. It isn't, as I shall explain.
The cereal in question is called Curiously Strawberry, although on closer inspection, there can be found an important asterix.
This takes care of the fact - via the medium of small print - that there are just about no actual strawberries involved in the manufacturing process. Curious indeed.
The ingredient list shows something called strawberry powder. But strawberries - the fruit, that is - the thing that the cereal is named after, and that which is pictured on the packaging, is an obvious omission.
In the interests of accuracy, I should perhaps point out that the aforementioned strawberry powder does contain 0.2% strawberry. Given that, through the box as a whole, that percentage perhaps equates to about half of a single pip, I'm not sure it can be counted.
For what it lacks in strawberries, Curiously Strawberry more than makes up for in sugar. This is the second item on the ingredient list and is so prevalent that each cereal square sparkles with the stuff. To reach into the box in order to serve it by the handful is to guarantee the close attention of several hundred wasps for the remainder of the morning.
Needless to say, The B&G love it, so much so that my refusal to replace the current box once it has been emptied is certain to become a significant bone of contention here in the coming days.
To cushion the blow, I'm thinking I might get some Coco Pops in.
I still don't agree with them and their considerable cocoa content, but at least they're honest about it . . . .
Friday, 6 July 2012
|Not the best for ailing eyes......|
I remember the first time I realised I had failing eyesight . . . .
I was 17 and in preparation for my impending driving test, my instructor asked me to read the number plate of a car parked a short distance up the road.
"Read the number plate?" I replied. "I can't even see the car."
Given that I'd been driving him around, half blind, for the previous six months, the instructor in question was far from impressed.
Indeed, he dropped me at the nearest Specsavers.
The subsequent decade that I spent employed as a newspaper journalist - much of that time passed sitting too close to a computer screen - did nothing to aid my vision and the gradual deterioration continued . . . .
Indeed, not until 2008, when I took a career break in order to become a full-time stay-at-home dad, did it stop.
Since then, things have been better.
In recent times, though, it has begun to feel as though my eyesight is again starting to worsen. For this, I blame The B.
You see, he has discovered the Where's Wally? books and, when it's too wet to go out, as it has been too often of late, there is little he likes to do more than sit down together to search for the elusive explorer. They're not the easiest on the eyes, these, so much so that I think a case could be made for including a health warning on their respective covers.
For boys bored on rainy days, these books present the perfect pastime. For those keen to preserve their depreciating vision for as long as possible, they're not quite so great . . . .
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
|Fresh produce, The G-style......|
The G's aversion to all things organic endures . . . .
The code that has long governed her eating habits continuing, getting her to even consider trying anything that has grown on a tree or a bush or beneath the ground remains a challenging undertaking.
Fearing the imminent onset of scurvy, I've spent recent times engaged in an important experiment. The conclusion I've reached is that getting The G to eat her five-a-day, for so long unthinkable, might not be as difficult as it first appeared.
The important thing here is to ensure that the component parts are never presented in their conventional form.
Take an apple, for instance.
On its own, this is deemed to be 'Yakky'. In the guise of juice, however, it is more than acceptable.
Blackberries, grapes, strawberries and blackcurrants? Forget about it.
Smoothie? Yes please.
It seems it's just about being creative.
Factor in raisins, mashed potato and 'fruit pots' - these the simple apple and pear purees, more often fed to small babies, that she has, for inexplicable reasons, always enjoyed - and improving The G's diet has at last become a manageable task.
The secret weapon in all this is the faithful baked bean which, thanks to some shrewd marketing from Heinz, I've come to realise can be counted as one of the aforementioned five.
There's little that The G enjoys more than beans. I just have to hope she never finds out about their organic origins . . . .
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
|The warning signs are there already........|
There are still two months to go until The B starts school but I'm getting the sense that the playground cliques are starting to form already . . . .
I got this impression after the latest visit to meet the teachers and discuss the logistical details involved in his imminent introduction to the classroom.
Following the main event in the assembly hall, some distinct groups began to form.
There's the obvious in-crowd - those clad in the trendiest gear and clutching the latest gadgets. These, in the main, hail from the most popular pre-school (not ours). Some proved a little pushy, others demanding, and most showed themselves to be reluctant to stand in line and do as directed.
Then there were the more reserved ones, those shyer, better behaved and less interested in jostling for position or showing off.
I should, at this point, make it clear that the above meeting took place sans-children . . .
Yes, I'm afraid it's the parents I'm talking about here.
I'm not always the most outgoing person in such situations and, as the evening progressed, I found myself pushed to the fringes, wondering how it was that everyone else was acquainted already, and how I'm going to fit in once September comes around.
For some time I've been concerned that The B might find it difficult to adapt to the school environment. On recent evidence, he's going to be fine and it's me facing the struggle . . .