Chapter 14-The Third Musketeer

They may blossom and bloom for a few months, or flourish for a lifetime, but friendships can lay down their roots in the most unexpected of places.

I’m not game for many things, so found my inner frown furrowing rapidly as Daddy bought Raffie some prize draw tickets at a classic car show. Every single one turned out to be a dud. Trying to explain the logic of spending £2 on this to me is difficult, but almost impossible to a two-year-old.

Lighting up her cigarette, the lady running the stall took pity on us and pointed loosely with her lighter at the lucky dip bags, suggesting we might like to try one.

And despite my suspicions, it was good advice. I don’t ever remember there being an elephant in Winnie-the-Pooh, but Raffie pulled out a bag containing a purple Disney glove puppet to his enormous delight.

We had only been at the show about half an hour. Long enough for Monkey, Ted and Raffie to climb into a racing car and get behind the wheel. But this was before we’d been to the lucky dip. Therefore it was the elephant who took his place on the running boards of a beautiful vintage Bentley.

Raffie on the running boards.

Raffie on the running boards.

It was then that Raffie and elephant heard a voice behind them. “Is he enjoying it?” asked a smiling man who appeared from behind the boot. “O yes, it’s lovely,” we all chimed. “O good,” he replied, “it’s my car.”

After some embarrassment and apologies on our part the very nice man let Raffie sit in a car easily worth far more than our house. And courageously he was more than happy to let a two-year-old and his elephant pull at the steering wheel, wooden dashboard and gears of his 1935 Bentley. “Just like Daddy’s car!” he squealed. Sadly this is something of an exaggeration.

A steering wheel is about the only thing a Bentley and Daddy's car have in common.

A steering wheel is about the only thing a Bentley and Daddy’s car have in common.

Monkey and Ted stayed in my change bag, but I don’t think they minded, having already had their turn in the driving seat, and Ted had the chance to ride a motorbike briefly too.

Raffie and Ted love flashing lights.

Raffie and Ted love flashing lights.

Raffie adores elephant, subsequently naming him Teddy. He gives him biscuits, kisses his nose and we found him sound asleep in his cot that night, still holding his trunk. But day or night Monkey and Ted are never far away, and as a third Musketeer Teddy completes them, the fun-loving Porthos to their Athos and Aramis.

So we have the kindness of strangers to thank for turning an ordinary day into a special memory. And further Winnie-the Pooh investigations revealed that Teddy is in fact a Heffalump.

But either way, Raffie’s thrill of discovering love at first sight remains unsullied. And elephant or Heffalump, he could have done a lot worse.

Monkey and Ted, always ready to embrace change. And the change bag.

Monkey and Ted, always ready to embrace change. And the change bag.

Blogorama

Another blogger who’s been getting out and about is Celesse, and you can read about her family’s adventures on her lovely blog here http://www.nommonster.co.uk/

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Chapter 13-Ding Dong

The setting was perfect.

The church, the flowers, the sunshine streaming through the stained glass onto chattering guests.

A romantic idyll having taken months of preparation, shattered in an instant by a screaming toddler yelling “I not go to church, I not like church!”

Having stayed on holy ground just long enough for a few pitying glances, Raffie was carried swiftly out of the wedding under his father’s arm, never to return.

He was instead taken on several laps of the nearby field, looking at the stream and the birds until we shuffled out of the service an hour later. This is not the first nature walk of shame we have had at a wedding, and I suspect it won’t be the last.

So it came as something of a surprise to find Raffie has discovered a joyful enthusiasm for churches, their spires, and most importantly their bells.

When I was pregnant I was convinced I was having a boy. I mused at length as to what we would do together, what his interests would be. Where I once predictably imagined planes, trains and automobiles, there is now medieval masonry and monumental bells.

Watching him engrossed in the Wednesday Evening Ringer’s Association from Holsworthy in Devon playing their eight bells in peal, eight bell call change on my laptop (you can find them here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eKjWCQ0dv0) was not something I could have foreseen.

Nor his excitement at the sight and sound of York Minster’s bells bonging away at full belt.

Studying the bells.

Lost in the bells on YouTube.

This has predictably cued many attempts at reproducing the same sound around the house, smashing a tiny beater repeatedly against a metal lampshade, rattling saucepans and turning the frying pan into a gong.

“I like church bells Mummy, it sounds like a church bell,” he shouts.

“Yes Raffie, that’s lovely. How about drawing a picture of them now?”

“Ding dong, ding dong, bong!”

A previous attempt at a wedding. The expression says it all.

A previous attempt at a wedding. The expression says it all.

I feel I may not be alone in having an empathy for bells. I think we share some common ground.

Like my constant attempts to ask Raffie whether he’d like cereal or porridge, they are often heard but usually ignored, a mere side show in the circus of toddler life.

But unlike my pleas for a breakfast-based decision, bells for Raffie are a source of fascination, a call to action. And, although we’re not expecting any wedding invitations in the near future, his recent passion is further testament to how the little things in life can ring in the unexpected.

Blogarama

Another blogger living with a two year old toddler is Jaime. I have been following her lovely blog and their family’s journey through toddlerhood and it’s well worth a visit at http://theoliversmadhouse.co.uk/

I’ve also been enjoying reading about My Life as a Mummy and Laura’s little boy, who is also two. You can read more here http://www.mylifeasamummy.com/

Chapter 12-Art Attack

Wombles, R White’s lemonade, and woodchip wallpaper.

Three iconic items that this child of the seventies couldn’t live without. And the urge to pick away at the latter drew me like a moth to the flame of my parents’ rage.

I was always somewhat disappointed to find that the irresistible tiny bumps on the hallway wall did indeed just contain a woodchip, but not nearly as much as my parents. Small wonder then that the house always smelt of fresh paint and wallpaper paste.

Times, houses and walls have changed, but the lure of that giant blank canvas has also proved too much for Raffie to resist.

Our house is a DIY work in progress. We have battled rampant woodworm, mystery damp patches and multiple electrical failures. But even the short-lived invasion of giant wasps pales in comparison with the at once creative, and destructive, hand of a toddler.

Boy interrupted.

Boy interrupted.

Although he enjoys his Gruffalo breakfast set and piggy bank, Raffie only has eyes for one of Julia Donaldson’s literary creations-Cave Baby.

Cave Baby loves to paint on the walls of his cave, which infuriates his parents.

And naturally Raffie has been inspired to do the same, leaving joyful zig zags of crayon (yellow above the sofa and black on the stairwell) and frenzied spirals of ballpoint pen on the fridge.

There are scribbles all over his garage, and even Cave Baby himself has been coloured in.

Raffie talks to Cave Baby, holds him up to the telly so he can see, gives him toast and takes him on car rides. “I do a handprint like Cave Baby Mummy! Show Cave Baby Mummy!”

On the paper for now, it's the walls next.

On the paper for now, it’s the walls next.

Pablo Picasso once said that every child is an artist, and Raffie does thrive on making his mark. He draws wildly with crayons, but insists on only writing in ballpoint pen, making small careful lines while repeating A, B, C.

Raffie is a busy boy. But he still spends a few quiet moments with Cave Baby while colouring himself in. He is Raffie’s muse, inspiration and companion in a toddler’s ever-changing world.

And toddlers are a fickle sort. But although Raffie has started to carry a torch for Bob the Builder, I have a feeling he and the gang will never quite hold a candle to Cave Baby.

Blogarama

The lovely Up All Hours blog, written by Sam, has a smashing piece on the obsessions of a two year old, and is well worth a visit. You can read more here: http://www.upallhoursblog.com/2013/07/13/the-obsessions-of-a-two-year-old/

And if you fancy finding out more about Cave Baby, there’s lots more information here: http://www.cavebaby.co.uk/