Aquarium.

This morning my husband had to drive his Mum back to London and offered to take #2 with him so that I could hang out with the Mancub for the day. It’s always a treat to have a bit of one on one time with my biggest, and I had it in my head that we would do whatever he wanted with the day, while free from the schedules of preschool and his little brother. It would be nice to follow his lead and see what came of the time.

As soon as I asked him what he fancied, he instantly replied, ‘The Aquarium!’. Not what I expected, but I happened to have a 50% off voucher, plus it was a rainy Saturday, so feeling awfully spontaneous, we headed straight off on the bus.

So often we are out with others, be it the rest of our family or friends and, quite rightly, we have to find compromise and go at the pace of the group. It is nice, on occasion, to not have to nudge the Mancub along, or have him keep up a pace that is either too fast or too slow for his liking. Today the day was entirely his. We rushed through the initial tanks of tropical fish and straight to the rock pool area, where he happily stayed for half an hour, talking to the expert, leaning in and touching the starfish and shore crabs and operating the mini camera. I instinctively went to move him along several times, but he was clearly completely engrossed, so I bit my tongue and let him stay. We whizzed through several other sections too, pausing briefly to take in octopus and jelly fish, before getting to a digital exhibition on prehistoric marine reptiles. ‘Prehistoric is my favourite word!’, he declared, and that’s where we spent the remainder of our outing. It was an absolute pleasure throughout.

As we were in town we popped to the library and took out some books on sharks and fish, then headed home via a pizza restaurant, where he proved that he is still my favourite lunch date, because no one else I know scoops up and eats garlic butter using cucumber as a makeshift spoon, but really more people should.

Back home he spend the rest of the day playing PREHISTORIC MARINE REPTILES! using some of his dinosaur toys and told me that mudskippers are really his favourite fish.

I can’t remember a day where parenting felt so carefree and relaxing. A nice reminder that slowing down and letting them take the lead, avoiding that instinct to always hurry on, often pays off in the end.

On a Mission.

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This weekend the Mancub and I went to visit my friend in Nottingham. Thanks to the ever infuriating M25 it took us a solid five and a half hours to get there on Friday, but luckily that boy can stare out of a window for longer than most.

On Saturday we went to The National Space Centre, which is cool but if you’re American, please don’t EVER go there because, embarrassing. It’s on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Leicester and is essentially there to show case the fact that our contribution to space exploration amounts to basically zero. Nevertheless! They have some cool exhibits for littles, including a launch simulator and different shows on through the day. It was a great way to spend a morning, the highlight being the glass elevator ride up the side of a space shuttle.

It was also a big treat to have a weekend away with my biggest boy. We shared a bed, which we’ve never done before, and he LOVED it, snuggling up all night and waking me with the question, ‘Why is some snot wet and some snot dry?’. Okay kid, let me have a coffee at least before we get into today’s big philosophical questions.

Back home #2 got some quality time with his Dad, and on Sunday night we both reflected on how damn nice it is to have just one kid to think about sometimes.

Learning at home: Reading.

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This week, at just shy of three and a half, the Mancub learned to jump with two feet, and read. One of those things was just on the cusp of worryingly late, the other? Well allow me at least a second to Mom brag: the boy can read. Words. Short words admittedly (cat, dog, pot, win), but he sees them, sounds them out, and then tells me what they say. To say that he is excited by this development is something of an understatement. He laughed hysterically for a minute after he read his first word before shouting, ‘Write another!’. And another. And another.

At this point I believe I’m supposed to insert some sort of platitude along the lines of, ‘It’s incredible! Unbelievable! I don’t know where it came from!’, which would be something of a misnomer. I do know where it came from, because I taught him to read. So obviously I knew it was coming and it doesn’t really surprise me, but nevertheless, I’m pretty blown away by it. I’m only human, just like he is only three.

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share a few of the strategies I have used here, because they are things you can do with a child of any age, providing they find them fun and engaging and providing they are ready. Feel free to take a few of them away, or just ignore them and write me off as a terrible show off. If you’re new to this blog or don’t come here often I should also probably point out that I am a primary school teacher by trade, hence my ability to ramble on about this topic for far too many words.

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I don’t think there are many things that we are obligated to do as parents. Feeding and clothing our children is a good start. A few toys are essential I suppose. Love, warmth, affection, but certainly nothing as complicated as the thousands of parenting books on the market would suggest.

Reading for me, like clothes and food, is a non negotiable. Stories, comics and magazines. Poetry, nursery rhymes and information books. All children love being read to, and if they are read to frequently, all children will, eventually, want to learn to read for themselves. It might be when they are two, it might be when they are seven, but I fundamentally believe that children have an innate desire to learn that needs little encouragement.

What we, as parents, carers and teachers have the power to do, is to put out that flame of desire in an instant if we push them too soon, or make reading a chore. Learning anything, whether it’s riding a bike or reading a book should always come from a child’s willingness and ability to do so. I’m absolutely not advocating here that we sit down all kids at age 3 and teach them phonics (that that is happening in nurseries across the country makes my heart sink), just that we to read to them, as early and as often as possible, then the rest will naturally follow.

But, my kid showed an interest. He had that desire, and he has a good grasp of words and letters, so I did some things with him that moved his reading forward to the point he is at now, where he can decode short words himself and make a good guess at many others based on their context and initial letter. Here are a few of the things we’ve been doing over the past year.

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Strategies for Reading With Children.

As I have said, for me the single most important thing a parent can do with regards to their child’s education is to read to them. I had a bedtime story every night until I was around ten years old, and I still remember the feeling of sadness when I realised I was too old to have one any more. No child would ever want to read unless they have an incentive to do so. Reading them stories that they love provides that incentive, as well as about a million other benefits.

Alongside this you can begin to introduce your child to the phonetic alphabet. There is no harm in teaching letter names (A, B, C etc), but it is more beneficial in terms of learning to read to teach the phonetic sounds (A is a hard a, like at the start of Apple, B is buh, C is cuh, E is eh like at the start of Elephant etc). I bought a few simple alphabet books and used these as a starting point, (I would trace the letter with his finger and sing ‘Buh is for ball, Buh-Buh-Ball or whatever was on that page). We also played with magnetic letters (Can you find me puh for parrot?), letter jigsaws and stampers. We wrote letters on pebbles and we traced them in the sand. (Side note: our ridiculously complex language means that all letters can represent many different sounds, so it’s best to go with the most common. However the Mancub’s name ends in a y, which in his name makes an ‘ee’ sound like at the end of monkey, so I taught him right away that Y makes a ‘yuh’ sound at the start of words, but an ‘ee’ sound at the end. He doesn’t seem to find this too confusing, but usually refers to Y as ‘ee’. You might want to do this if your child also has a phonetically complex name such as Phillip or Cedric).

As your child begins to learn some of their letters and sounds you can introduce games like I Spy. The Mancub always finds this easier if instead of spotting things around the room that we can actually see, we play on a theme, (I spy with my little eye, an animal that begins with duh… Duck / a dinosaur that begins with sss… Stegosaurus / someone who begins with mmm… Mama). Sometimes I would collect a bunch of objects on a tray and we would play I spy with them, and you could also use those ‘find it’ books. The point of all this I spying is to focus on the initial sounds of words, as a segue into being able to spell and read them. As a way of encouraging them to think about it from the opposite perspective you could ask your child, I’m writing a card to Grandma, what letter does Grandma begin with? If they’re old enough they could write or use a stamper to print the first letter for you. You could also do this when your writing shopping list (what letter do I need at the start of bananas?), or you could write a story together (they tell you a story, you write it down, but ask them for help with some words).

If your child is enjoying books, they know most of their letters and can pick out the initial sound of familiar words, you might like to start helping them to segment words (break words up into their individual sounds), and blend them (put them back together again). This sounds complicated, but is basically what we’re doing all the time when we read and spell unfamiliar words. We sound them out, we turn those sounds into a word. A nice way to do this is play a game based on your child’s interests. The Mancub loves Octonauts, so I ask him, ‘Which Octonaut am I? D-a-sh-ee’, and he is able to put those sounds together to say, ‘Dashi’. We have done lots of this sort of thing on different themes, and he likes having a go at sounding out words for me to guess too.

Finally, once you put those skills together, you have the building blocks of reading. In time your child will go from having the component parts, to being able to look at a word and sound it out ‘c-a-t’, and know that it makes the word cat. It’s magic really, and it does just seem to happen over night. Of course not all children take this route to learning to read, but it is the one most commonly taught in schools now.

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This is the beginning of a long journey. The Mancub doesn’t yet know that sometimes two letters go together to make a sound like sh or ch. He finds it hard to read words longer than three letters, because it’s still too challenging to hold onto all of those letters in his head and blend them. And then there’s words like ‘the’ and ‘was’ and ‘he’, that can’t be sounded out and just need to be learned by heart.

But he’s on the road and he’s so excited to get going that it’s infectious.

I hope you’ve found some of these little activities of interest or of use. Ultimately I think my only advice is to be led by your child, to use their interests and enjoyment as a starting point and to do little bits here as they want to, (we play these games for no more than a few minutes at a time, and by no means each day).

If you’re child is anything like mine, the laughter that follows the first time they read the word ‘bum’ out loud will be worth it.

Kids on a plane.

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^^Photos from my husband’s Instagram.

Much like writing your birth story and (over)sharing in excruciating detail how you wash your nappies, a post about flying with your kids for the first time is a rite of passage for any bonafide parenting blogger. I think the apprehension beforehand is such that afterwards you feel the need to declare to the Internet, ‘I did it! I survived! I did not hurl them out of the aeroplane window!’

And we did! We survived! We flew to Portugal and back without major incident and luckily for us (although not so lucky for the rest of the passengers), a delightful stag do totally stole our thunder as the people you’d most like to stab in the neck with a cocktail stick, and drowned out the noise of a squirmy baby and then some with their gripping accounts of exactly how much alcohol they had consumed in the last three hours. Gotta love the Brits abroad #proud.

My main concern before we went was packing enough stuff to keep both boys mildly entertained for the duration of the flight. I shouldn’t have worried (about that at least). The perpetual bookworm that is the Mancub already spends hours sitting on the sofa looking at books and absorbing magazines, so why I thought that three hours confined to a chair would be an issue for him I don’t know. He read his copy of Disney Princess Magazine from cover to cover on both flights (what an absolute festival of sexism that is by the way, but that’s a whole other post), and barely even noticed the aeroplane taking off.

At the other end of the ‘keeping yourself entertained’ spectrum was fifteen month old #2. Fifteen months is surely the WORST age to take a baby on a plane and I swear you couldn’t pay me to take him on a long haul flight right now. He is that heady mix of wanting to be constantly on the move, but with no ability to stay focused on any one thing for more than 3 seconds, so he worked through our selection of toys, books and stickers before we were even on the runway. We also flew out at his bedtime, but getting him to sleep with the afore mentioned stag party so close by was impossible. In fact, the only thing that kept him remotely occupied was a steady stream of snacks, from biscuits to fruit leather to sandwiches, so by the end he was not only exhausted, but also entirely wired on sugar, an excellent combination to be sure. In short: if you’re flying with a toddler, fill all your available luggage space with food.

However, having focused on the potential for disaster in the air, I totally overlooked getting us through the airport, forgetting that we’d be there for nearly as long as our flight. Having arranged to borrow a pushchair at our destination, I naively thought that we would be okay with two kids and one sling between them. Hahaha!

#2 is content to be in the Ergo, as long as I am moving at a steady pace. If I stand still for more than 15 seconds (ie. to queue for security, queue to get into the gate, queue for an interminably long time to get onto the plane), he wriggles and squirms to get down before beginning a never ending campaign of whining until at last you relent and just let him run around desks and security checkpoints, pulling things off conveyor belts, because you’re embarrassment at being seemingly unable to control your toddler is preferable to the whiningOHMYGODSTOPWHINING!!!

The Mancub on the other hand was more than happy to walk through the airport. Totally happy to cruise along at a rate of approximately a mile a day, taking in every screen, every item for sale in every shop, every vehicle spotted out of a window. Our gate was a twenty minute walk away at a normal pace, so we were faced with the choice of either dragging him along the polished floors by his sleeve, carrying him the entire way, or nearly missing our flight because we indulged his desire to spend ten minutes carefully observing the patterns on a chair. Obviously we went with the latter, because we are ridiculous.

Unlike Gatwick, who don’t give you anything for free, Faro airport have banks of pushchairs available to borrow, which caused my husband to almost cry with joy coming home. #2 is always content to be wheeled around, and having him in a pushchair meant I could pop The Mancub in the Ergo if we needed to get anywhere quicker than at snail’s pace. Never again will I travel without that option.

Others things to note: Easyjet’s inflight baby changing facilities are appalling. Very glad that I took a fold up change pad. // €5 for a small tub of Pringles and a bottle of water. Gravely regretted packing a million snacks for the boys, but none for us. // Ears. #2 has been pretty miserable since his flying experiences due to a heavy cold plus cabin pressure, which apparently equals all sorts of pain. Our health visitor assured me this is normal, although unpleasant, but I certainly wished I had packed a sugar free lolly for him to suck and some Calpol for the following day.

In between times there was also the small matter of HOLIDAY! Three glorious days of sunshine sandwiched into this miserable British winter and thanks to my parents’ impeccable babysitting service, we managed to eat out, without the kids, for all three nights. This alone was worth the flights. The Mancub loved scurrying around on the beach collecting hermit crabs and sea anemones and hurling himself into every available body of water, usually fully clothed because HOLIDAY! SUNSHINE! FREEDOM!

I should probably have dedicated a thousand words to that instead, but there’s something about flying with kids that you need to get out of your system afterwards. So there it is.

Letting go.

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The Mancub has started preschool.

He goes three mornings a week from 9am until midday, term time only, fully subsidised.

He cries every morning.

He cries, my heart breaks a little and I wonder: Is this the right way to prepare our children for the world? To bit by bit break them into the fact that after years of being there to console their every cry, to hold their hand through every difficult experience, that from now on, we’re just going to shove them into a room and walk away stoically, and tell them to be brave and that it’s what they have to do.

I wonder: If I do this will he gradually embrace the group activities that have always made him so anxious? Will he slowly move away from his key worker and the safety of the book corner, where he sits, unsure of where he fits into all of these children confidently running around, playing with Duplo, crashing cars into each other, dressing up as nurses, taking each other’s temperatures and doling out imaginary medicine.

I wonder: If I don’t do this will school be an unmitigated nightmare? Will he inevitably be that child that clings to me at the school gates, older now, but still so attached. The other parents will look and think, ‘Wow, she must have really spoiled him’ and I’ll think, ‘Wow, I probably did’.

For the first few weeks he sobbed, brutally, every morning. He cried on and off throughout his time there, sometimes distracted, but always returning to tears. Not eating the snack at the free flow snack table, not helping himself to water from the water station. And then I’d arrive to collect him and instead of running to me and dissolving into my arms like I so wanted him to, he would just be so, so angry. It was as if all of the energy it had taken him to just keep it together came flooding out in a ball of rage, so he cried all the way home as well, and after so much bloody crying he was incapable of doing anything other than watching episodes of Octonauts on repeat, which really contributed to my confidence that I was doing the right thing.

He’s been going for four weeks now. There are still tears each morning, but drop offs are swift and I have gained the strength to just take him in, kiss him, and let his key worker do the rest. I always call ten minutes later and by then he’s fine, playing happily with the animals or the dinosaurs or a fishing game. He stays happy now, the whole time he’s there. Some days he comes home with pictures he’s made and tells me about the snack he ate and who he sat next to. He sits in a circle for story time, he enjoyed watching the others play with the giant parachute, he is no longer terrified when everyone sings the good morning song.

And when I come to collect him he runs out with his back pack on, smiling. It no longer requires all of his energy just to keep it together, so he now has a little left over at the end of a session for me. He chatters animatedly on the way home, asks where we’re going that afternoon.

I no longer feel as if I’m breaking him.

Which is nice.

Sick day.

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There have been tears around here of late. The Mancub is beginning the process of settling into new preschool and it has been… rocky. I will summon the energy to write about that soon I promise, I just need to bury my head in the sand a little longer.

Of course along with a new school comes new germs and inevitable sickness. So, both emotionally and physically drained, we spent the bulk of the weekend indoors, sheltered from the elements, trying not to lose our tiny minds.

And of course just when my inclinations were telling me just to snuggle under a blanket on the sofa and hibernate, what my children needed was some attention. And some fun. So when I saw this activity on the ever inspiring How We Montessori, I finally found a use for one of my husband’s old photography backdrops.

This is one of those ideal activities to do with children: It is inherently enjoyable, large scale, almost mischievous to be drawing on something so big. And yet, so many learning opportunities present themselves – art, science, literacy skills, all organically melded into one. It could easily be extended for older children (in fact I used to do a variation on this with my year fours when we were studying the skeleton), but is also fun for older babies who like to suck on crayons and turn themselves into tiny goths too.

I didn’t have high hopes for the weekend I’ll be honest. But sometimes it pays to raise your parenting game. Just a little.

The Snowman: A weekend kind of treat.

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Because my husband often works from home, and I don’t work at all (or work every day depending on your perspective), it can often feel as if we have lost sight of those signposts that tell us when to wind down, when to relax, when to take time off and just do… nothing. In other words life is either one long weekend, or we have no weekends at all, and more often than not we err towards the latter. I often still hanker after those days as a teacher, when I lived in a constant merry go round of half terms and holidays, just because they gave shape to my year, to my weeks, (although the actual teaching I am doing fine without).

Lately we have been making an effort to up the number of days that feel like ‘days off’, as opposed to just more of the same: getting the children up, fed, out of the house, to bed, up again, keeping everything vaguely clean and tidy, not dropping any balls. It can be hard, because the children don’t do brilliantly when there isn’t any structure, and my husband’s iPhone is always on and seemingly always buzzing, but we are trying.

So this Sunday, when we were still eating toast in our pyjamas at 10am and the Mancub asked if could ‘watch somefling’, I just had one of those, ‘fuck it’, moments, fished out The Snowman on DVD and put the laptop on the kitchen table. It probably says a great deal about me that this is my idea of spontaneity, but the kids were thrilled with their treat nonetheless, and it definitely gave the sense of ‘weekendness’ that has been missing.

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Side note: Am I officially an emotional wreck or is it normal to feel the lump in your throat before David Bowie is even off the screen? Who knew pencil crayons could create such pathos?

Creative Christmas.

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I learned a long time ago that art + child + predetermined outcome = inevitable disappointment. They, children that is, don’t do what you want you them to do, least of all when you are trying to get them to replicate something that a fictional ‘preschooler’ has made on Pinterest. The googly eyes always go in the wrong place and Rudolph’s nose gets eaten.

What I have found to be a more successful recipe for toddler art is this: a bunch of stuff on the table, a big piece of paper, no agenda. I limit my input to ‘Mmm, yes, I like what you’ve done with that massive blob of paint’, and the occasional ‘no, not in your hair!’. By choosing a few different materials (poster paints, PVA glue, oil pastels), as well as some interesting tools (different sized brushes, sponges, things to print with such as vegetables or blocks), and the odd tube of glitter or cut up bits of coloured paper, some interesting, very different and often beautiful results can be achieved (and sometimes some rubbish ones, but you can throw those in the bin).

Sometimes though, you do have an agenda, like when making a handful of Christmas cards to send to your nearest and dearest, as has become tradition in our house (you can see previous years here and here). You might actually want to produce… something that looks… nice?

To remove any cause for frustration, I stick with my usual ‘chuck everything on the table’ approach, only with a vaguely festive theme, (this year I went for stars, so put out yellow glue, gold and silver poster paint, tubes of yellow and ochre acrylic paint, a star shaped biscuit cutter for printing with and some gold glitter) and it’s a win win situation. He has fun smearing stuff everywhere, I get some good source material, but can tidy it up later and turn it into something that resembles, well, some very glittery stars in this case.

I always like using washi tape to pretty up cards, mainly because I have no discernible creative talent, but am able to cut a length of tape and stick it on some card, then I either use alphabet stampers or my own fair handwriting to etch a festive message.

Merry and Bright indeed.

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Like a girl.

‘I’m Sleeping Beauty’, he says. ‘I’m a pirate, I’m a fisherman, I’m a Princess, I’m The Queen’.

He doesn’t know yet. That there is intrinsic status (or lack thereof), attached to these roles. That some of them are strong, masculine, affirming. That some of them are weak, subordinate, female. And who would want to be female? He must be strange. Or gay. I have no idea if he’s either. I don’t really care, I just play along.

A while ago I wrote about how important it is to raise my boys to be okay with being ‘like a girl‘. The above video might be hawking santirary products, but it makes a good point. When did ‘like a girl‘ become an insult? It is, it was, it has been since forever ago. Our entire society is founded on that construct, it’s called the patriachy, now go buy some tampons, disgusting.

Much of modern feminism focuses on creating equality by elevating women to the same status as men: getting more (primarily white, middle class, but that’s a different post), women into senior roles, accepting and celebrating masculine traits in women (‘I’m not bossy, I’m the boss’), breaking down the glass ceiling. Obviously all of this is important, and really, really crucial for those women who aspire to be doctors or CEOs or presidents or Beyonce. But it is only half the picture.

The ascension of women only truly creates equality if society also gives status to what are traditionally considered to be feminine traits: being nurturing, gentle, emotionally literate. When men can, without shame, aspire to be a care giver, or a stay at home parent. (There is an excellent article about this in relation to how motherhood is so undervalued on Ask Moxie, which is well worth reading).

The bottom line is, should be, that we must accept that while some girls aspire to grow up to be an engineer or scientist, that they may choose to get there wearing a pink sparkly dress and high heels. Some women might choose to stay home with their children/get their nails done/bake a pie/go for cocktails with the girls, and that doesn’t mean that they are letting down the sisterhood. Wearing makeup doesn’t in itself make me oppressed, just like earning the same as my husband doesn’t mean I #dontneedfeminism.

So you see I’d got it all figured out.

Then my three year old son asked me for a princess dress.

And my instinctive reaction was: this is too much. Pink snowflake leggings are one thing, purple snow boots, long hair, Star Wars t shirts, pink eye shadow occasionally (but usually while wielding a sword and an eyepatch), a silver ‘space suit’ coat, a dinosaur jumper, penguin leggings. These are all things, which when combined, say, at most: androgyny. They leave a question mark hanging over his head, a gender mystery, which is no closer to being solved on hearing his unisex name. They do not, in my humble opinion, scream GIRL.

A dress screams girl. I don’t think I want him to get a dress.

But he is Princess Aurora, Briar Rose, Sleeping Beauty, he needs a sparkly blue dress and a yellow crown like in the book Mama. To be honest, he never really asks for much, so I agree to give it some consideration. I tell him we’ll go to the shops and just have a look.

In the changing room of TK Maxx I reflect that I have possibly never seen my son so happy. Are those tears of joy pricking his eyes? ‘I must go and show Daddy!’, he declares, and off he goes in a rustle of tulle and sequins, out onto the department store floor, to proudly show his father, who mercifully, is about as right on as they come and who nods approvingly, ‘You look lovely’.

‘Hopefully the sales assistant will assume he’s a girl’, I hear myself think and I’m horrified with myself. It’s not that I’m ashamed of him, certainly not, but it’s protection I suppose. I don’t want people to look at him and write him off as flawed, as one of ‘those‘ kids: the ones who get beaten up at school. I have no desire for him to be one of those kids either, but this is bigger than him, and I also don’t want him to be just another boy (100% BOY!), for who being ‘like a girl’ is basically a byword for being a right twat. Pun intended.

But he’s not just another boy. This is who he is, this is who we have raised him to be, twirling around with a paintbrush as a magic wand. I buy the dress. I determine to see through what I have started, to be proud of him, so he can be proud of himself. Like a girl, or not.

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When I was half way through writing this post, they had a short but very interesting discussion on this exact topic on Woman’s Hour, which you can listen to by clicking the link.

A present.

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He turns three tomorrow.

I think first birthdays are mostly a celebration of survival (for both you and them), second birthdays are rather daunting as you’re about to get heavily stuck into ‘the toddler years’, and thirds? It’s surreal really. I have an actual child. Who talks to me and tells me his likes and dislikes and how for his birthday party he would like to be a mermaid and to have balloons and cakes with jelly sweets and a present. Present, singular. There is nothing more adorable.

I’m feeling strangely undone by it. I just keep feeling this overwhelming sense of wanting to make him happy. Just wanting to make everything as lovely as it can be for him, not just on his birthday but for always. This will be the year he will slowly begin to inch away from me, to make new friends, to have new carers and educators. And I just want so badly to keep him happy, to keep him just the way he is: unashamed of wearing a golden shell necklace to the park, racing off on a dinosaur adventure with a guitar tuner as his gizmo, afraid to step off the bus onto the pavement without using his hands but learning to read the names of all the bus stops. I know he will change, but I’d love it if he didn’t.

I guess that is why it is so tempting to throw a bunch of money at a huge party and all the presents and sweets because ‘This is how much we love you! Look at all the things!’.

But all he wants is a present.

Tonight I lay with him and told him about when he was born at the hospital and how his Daddy had to gently cut his cord and then we cuddled and I gave him some milk. It feels like a lifetime ago. It was his lifetime ago.

Happy birthday my baby boy. I hope you have the happiest day x x x x