Chapter 19-The Importance of Being Nemo

I have a number of things to thank Morrissey for. The first is getting me through my teenage years, the second is introducing me to Oscar Wilde.

Like many other awkward teens I spent many hours bemoaning my lot in my bedroom, listening to Morrissey and poring over my books.

Once my family cottoned on to my appreciation of Oscar Wilde, I unwrapped tome after tome every Christmas and I loved being immersed in his elegant poetry and prose. As a teenager I was rarely lost for words, but if I ever wanted to find one, and remember why I loved them, I just needed to dip into any one of his books.

So it was only a matter of time before Raffie picked one up. “Read it to me Mummy please, what’s it called?” he said, waving a paperback in my face.

“It’s the Picture of Dorian Gray Raffie, I’m not sure it’s really your thing.”

“Dory? Dory! Mummy, like Finding Nemo, I like Dory. Read me the Dory book Mummy.”

“Well it’s not quite the same,” as I begin to flounder.

“I want to read it, right now!” he yelled.

Raffie enjoying a spot of light reading.

Raffie enjoying a spot of light reading.

It was very early in the morning. And so I turned the opening page of one of Wilde’s most acclaimed works into a précis of Finding Nemo, minus of course the painting in the attic. For this I can only apologise. Raffie looked about as impressed as I was, and promptly turned on the DVD player.

When he was tiny I bored him senseless with book after book, from the dog-eared Ladybird classics I grew up with to recipe books. And although he’s no longer a captive audience in his bouncer, reading a book is about the only thing Raffie will sit down for.

Like many children his age, he’s a big fan of Julia Donaldson. He hasn’t warmed to the Gruffalo, and despite his enduring affection for Cave Baby, Stick Man is currently top of Raffie’s book list.

And it’s one of my favourites too, as I am constantly reminded that, after being chased by a dog, thrown into a river, and weaved into a swan’s nest, Stick Man’s day is, generally speaking, usually worse than mine.

He’s also enjoying one of her other books, the Snail and the Whale. My first introduction to whales was a preserved one which came to our town on the back of a flatbed truck. I was very small, it was very big, and I remember being very confused looking at it in the park. I am glad that Raffie’s first introduction to the species has come from not only Finding Nemo but a book where the whale is still exploring the oceans rather than the M5.

The bears enjoying a story.

The bears enjoying a story.

I’ve grown to love reading Raffie stories, especially those that rhyme, and it’s reignited my love of reading books too. It doesn’t sound like a hoot, but delving into the history of Restoration London is a joy, partly as it’s the first grown up book I’ve been able to read in two years.

And with Raffie now insisting on reading books himself, I might even get the chance to get reacquainted with Wilde, and remind myself why Raffie made the right choice, just at the wrong age, to single out The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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I often wonder how to help Raffie get more out of reading and liked the tips on the Reading Rockets website http://www.readingrockets.org/article/23794/

I love New Mummy Review and the adventures of Cherry and her family. You can read more here at http://newmummyreviewblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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Chapter 18-Me, Myself and Mine

Although Mr Why turned up on the doorstep only a couple of months ago, Mr Mine has been helping himself to the contents of the fridge, and refusing to share them with anyone, for some time.

The wonders of a new floor level fridge.

The wonders of a new floor level fridge.

He turned up earlier in the year but after a brief sojourn has returned with a vengeance.

What I hoped Raffie would say to Grandad was “Yes, you can have a crisp” what he actually said was “I will never ever share.” And so it remains, usually very loudly in front of other parents.

One of my first blog posts was about the irrepressible Hugo, star of CBeebies’ What’s the Big Idea? I wrote about how I loved his freckles and his orange jumpsuit, and how he had an answer for everything. What I didn’t realise was how he easily Hugo’s best efforts could be misinterpreted by a toddler.

The episode about sharing seemed the natural choice for Raffie to watch. Which he did, but failed to grasp how when Hugo says he will never share, he has made the wrong decision. Cue Raffie telling anyone who’ll listen, and those who won’t, that he will ‘never ever share’ just like Hugo.

As an only child until my mid-teens, I am well used to hearing people’s assumptions only children can become spoilt and selfish. I’d like to think though that I can set a good example when it comes to sharing. I share my food with Raffie to try and help him get the idea, although sharing chips is still a difficult step to take. Fortunately for me he’s not keen on them anyway.

Just don't ask him to share it.

Just don’t ask him to share it.

Some days the world, and everything in it, however, belongs to Raffie. And it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s his. We’ve had the usual suspects, my milk, my toys, my teddy, to the more unusual examples, my church, my statue, and my moon.

And following a visit to the aquarium shop we were all treated to ‘my stingray’ being yelled across the car park.
So thanks to my good intentions, Mr Mine has now taken up permanent residence, taking up all the space on the sofa and hiding the remote control.

But there is a sharing light at the end of the tunnel. Raffie’s Grandma is currently poorly, and moments after refusing to share his crisps with Grandad, he gave her his teddy bear to help her feel better. It is still keeping her company in hospital, where she is proudly showing it to her fellow patients.

With this in mind I am hopeful that if we persevere, one day Raffie might just share spontaneously, and Mr Mine will move on to pastures new. And, if we’re really lucky, he can teach me how to share my chips.

Raffie is unwilling to share the box with the binmen.

Raffie is unwilling to share the box with the binmen.

Blogorama

For me, parenting is a very steep learning curve. I recently met Jenn on Twitter and her blog is all about how her learning curve includes homeschooling her children. She started in July and it’s a really interesting read, and well worth a visit! And we also share an appreciation of wine. Find out more here http://mashedpotatoesblog.com/

This week I’ve been really enjoying Stephanie Sprenger’s candid look at motherhood, and the highs and lows of parenting, and for more information take a look here http://www.stephaniesprenger.com/

Chapter 17-A Game of Two Halves

From unrequited teenage crushes to failing exams, the path to adulthood is full of moving goalposts.

But for those of us not blessed with athletic ability, training in rejection usually starts on the sports field. It’s been a while, but this week was a keen reminder of being last in line.

Scampering into the community centre Raffie yelled “I exciting Mummy!” But I should have known after about five minutes of Raffie’s try out for the mini football club that we were heading for an own goal.

Watching from the sidelines, the other toddlers took their seats nicely. I watched my budding Beckham run around and around the little cones counting to 20 over and over again until I had to carry him to one side before the class had even started.

But Raffie could do the tasks with ease. Putting the right coloured balls in the right coloured hoops was a breeze, until it came to sitting down at the end. After several attempts we sat down to listen to the next task, but I wasn’t ever sure what that actually was as it was pretty hard to hear what was coming next.

A regular response to being asked to listen.

A regular response to being asked to listen.

Instead of hearing how we were going to be kicking the ball, I instead had a barrage of questions from “What’s the lady doing?” to “Where’s the ball go?” and “What’s that fan in the roof doing?” ringing in my ears.

And as Raffie ran off with the ball under his arm I realised all that watching rugby with Grandad had probably had made more of an impression than any of us realised.

We’d been looking forward to the trial after a friend told me what a great club it was. And from my experience so far, it is a good club, well structured, fast paced, and run by kind and professional lady coaches.

But when it was time to leave, it was a flashback to my old school days, hovering expectantly on the hockey field. The only difference being I wasn’t wearing a bib. As all the other parents picked up their enrolment slips and arranged their football kit delivery, I stood awkwardly with the pushchair, shuffling from one foot to the other. The last in line.

The lady coaches looked at me sympathetically. “We’re not sure about Raffie…” To put them out of their misery I said I wouldn’t be offended if he wasn’t old enough. “He’s a bit too young really, but he can come back in the new year,” they said.

“I want to go home now Mummy,” said Raffie, vexed in his attempts to escape from his pushchair.

“Did you enjoy it a lot or a little bit?” I asked him. “A little bit Mummy, but I do like football.”

So although it’s time to blow the whistle on his burgeoning football career for now, whether he returns to the beautiful game or not in January, I have a feeling he’ll always be in a league of his own.

Raffie enjoying other outdoor pursuits.

Raffie enjoying other outdoor pursuits.

Blogorama

I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Maltby on Twitter this week after discovering her lovely blog at http://malteserupdate.blogspot.co.uk/ I also really loved her forum for people to share their funny parenting stories, I certainly recognised a few of them. You can find out more here http://mumdiaries.tumblr.com/

I also had the pleasure of joining the Small Steps Amazing Achievements linky on the enchanting Ethan’s Escapades blog, please do take a look at http://www.ethans-escapades.co.uk/ it’s a smashing read.

Chapter 16-Bottoms Up

It was only a matter of time before my parental angst bit me on the backside. Almost literally, when an insistent hand started pulling at my jeans.

I should have known better than to ask why. “I’m smelling your bottom to see if you’ve had a poo Mummy.”

“Oh I see. What do you think Raffie?”

“Yes, and your nappy needs changing.”

And with that, my vaulting Yummy Mummy ambition finally put down her lipgloss, packed her Orla Kiely change bag and closed the door behind her. I don’t think we’ll be seeing her again.

Raffie attempts to leave with Yummy Mummy.

Raffie attempts to leave with Yummy Mummy.

Watching her leave however, I realised that no angst is an island. If I’m not worrying about what how much he’s eating then I’m worried about what kind of food he does. If I’m not worrying about Raffie having enough poos then I’m worried about him having too many and waving him in the air to check his bottom.

In short, worry runs through me like a stick of rock. The dream was of an easygoing, yummy mummy. The reality is a relentless stream of new things I can agonise about while trying to wrestle my mascara from a toddler. And unfortunately the anxious apple hasn’t fallen from the tree.

Raffie comes with me to the toilet. Partly as he’s too little to be left alone downstairs, and partly because we are on the cusp of potty training. “Here is your paper Mummy, you must have some paper,” I am told, while handing me a postage stamp sized corner of toilet tissue. “You need to put it down the toilet,” he tells me before flushing the loo whether I’m still there or not.

“Now you need to clean your teeth Mummy. Do the back.” “Yes thank you, will do.”

And then we have to put on our make-up. “Look, I putting on make-up like Mummy,” he beams, while rubbing his face with the dishcloth. “Yes Raffie, thank you, that’s just like Mummy.”

Raffie ready for the day.

Raffie ready for the day.

Unsuprisingly our morning ablutions leave me feeling less than glowing. But I am beginning to realise that fretting is infectious. So perhaps it’s time to take the plunge, ditch the nappies, start potty training and flush my worries away with the much anticipated contents. And last but by no means least, buy a tighter pair of jeans.

Chapter 15-Bouncing off Satellites

For some, they are the building blocks of life. But physics has yet to build a home in my heart.

My performance in the subject was found wanting by a world weary teacher who had been doing the job so long he also taught my mother. She went on to work as a radiographer, which by comparison must have made seeing my baffled expression in the front row even more of a disappointment.

I remember only too well the arrogance of my youth when exploring the subject of why balls bounce. I thought this was because they were made of rubber. What with all that rubber tapping homework in geography this seemed far more logical than a formula, graph and a big wavy line. And that was the beginning and end of my brief and woeful romance with something I still fail to grasp.

So taking Raffie to the Science Museum was a new experience for both of us. And what an experience it was. Huge cavernous spaces filled with amazing feats of experimentation and endeavour, topped off with a water table in the basement, thoughtfully accompanied by waterproof bibs. Projections, interactive demonstrations and even a wall filled with springy doorstoppers, one of Raffie’s favourite household items, made it a memorable afternoon.

The boy in a bib.

The boy in a bib.

The museum was heaving with visitors, but despite being confined to either a pushchair or reins for much of the time Raffie seemed impressed with what lay inside, particularly when it came to space.

“I like the satellite Mummy.” This took me by surprise though as to my shame I had completely failed to notice the Sputnik over our heads, staring instead at a model of a soldier with a rocket and a very big ladder. “O well done, that’s a great word to learn,” I replied enthusiastically. Followed also rather sympathetically by “And I like rockets too Mummy.”

Enjoying fish pond projections.

Enjoying fish pond projections.

As we arrived home to Grandma’s this new found passion for the final frontier had moved to the next level. We talked about how much we liked planets, and whether it would be fun to be a spaceman. And how we liked Mr Tumble as a spaceman. I always thought it would be until I caught sight of the teeny tiny Apollo 10. I couldn’t imagine popping to the shops in it let alone being blasted into space.

Climbing the stairs to bed, Raffie was filling Grandma in with the important details of the day. “I like satellites Grandma.” “Do you Raffie? What about being an astronaut then?” This met with a pause. “No. I want to be a satellite Grandma. Or a planet.” Proof, if any were needed, that when it comes to the ambitions of toddler space cadets, the sky really is the limit.

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Raffie has a yearning for brioche and guava juice. Two foodstuffs which may have well have come from outer space when I was a toddler. Actually Mummy’s lovely blog has lots of down to earth recipes and much more. You can read about them here http://www.actuallymummy.co.uk/