Chapter 50-Begging the Question

One of the joys of being little is having a lot of time to think, and not just about the little things.

Although Mr Why has been keeping himself to himself recently, the shorter days have prompted longer questions about life, the universe and just about everything in between.

And although I fear even Google can’t help us now, there have been some magic questionable moments.

Looking for the answers.

Looking for the answers.

This week, what should have been a relaxing bedtime turned into a heated disagreement about what happens to dreams when you wake up. A few days later, Raffie is still refusing to accept that they stop when you aren’t asleep.

“When you wake up do your dreams go out and play together?” I was about to correct him when I realised this was a lovely idea and muttered about maybe before rapidly starting his next book.

Raffie's thinking face, apparently.

Raffie’s thinking face, apparently.

I got off lightly however as the next bedtime was an inquisition on why dinosaurs don’t exist any more and was I sure they weren’t going to come and eat him.

Even the current animal kingdom isn’t safe. I can just about cope with ‘What’s for breakfast Mummy?’ at 6.30am, only to be foxed the other morning by the ever-perplexing question of “What do cats do?”

“Why do I have legs Daddy?” was a particular favourite in the car this morning, “because it makes getting around a lot easier” was the right answer from Daddy.

But then we moved on to matters of the state, and the government. “If we don’t like them, we can just throw them out the door,” was his response to a brief discussion on what a government is. “Are there monsters in the government?” “No, not really Raffie.” “Oh well,” replied the budding anarchist, “we can just throw them out the door anyway.”

We don’t have many, if any of the answers. But at least he’s keeping us on our toes, and for Raffie, even the little things in life are some of the most important-whether or not they have an answer.

An early morning experiment to see whether sticks really do float.

An early morning experiment to see whether sticks really do float.

Review-Storytime Sounds App

Whether it’s long or short, big or small, we love a good story in our house. Bedtimes meander from one book to another and there have to be at least four before Raffie will even think about going to sleep.

So when we were offered the chance to review the Storytime Sounds app for the iPhone through Mumsnet I jumped at the chance to see how it would work, and whether it would add to his enjoyment of one of his favourite pastimes.

The app, by notonthehighstreet.com, was easy to upload onto my iPhone and features five soundboards themes-pirates, lost world, space, fairy tales and monsters, plus a new seasonal storyboard for Hallowe’en.

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Raffie was very excited at the colourful pictures and interesting sounds but settled down nicely for the Hallowe’en story which is available here at notonthehighstreet.com He laughed like a drain at the organ sound and really enjoyed pressing all the buttons at the right (and wrong!) time in the story.

Enjoying making sounds for the online Hallowe'en story.

Enjoying making sounds for the online Hallowe’en story.

It was such a success that I found a few of his favourite books which we could use the app with at bedtime. We started with Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, and then read The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers, using different sounds from a range of storyboards, to much hilarity. Raffie asked for it again the next night and we tried it with Pirate Small in Big Trouble, by Julie Sykes.

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He has really enjoyed playing with the sounds and using them for various situations during the day, as well as books.

The app is aimed at children aged between three and seven. So at three and a half, he is on the younger side of the target audience, but has got a lot out of it nonetheless, and we’ll keep trying it with different books to give him a new perspective on some old favourites.

Chapter 49-A Boy for All Seasons

When Raffie began his new pre-school, I dreamt of him coming home, wearing a winning smile and clutching a shiny new bag full of drawings.

When Raffie actually came home from his new pre-school, he was wearing one of their T-shirts and carrying a new passion in his heart.

We all love Raffie’s new pre-school, for lots of different reasons. But for Raffie, there’s one reason in particular he can’t wait to get there.

“Mud pies Mummy, I made mud pies! I went collecting all kinds of things to put in them and I made an amazing mud pie!”

And there we have it. Forget phonics, forget singing, mud is where it’s at. In his bag is the T-shirt he left the house in, now covered in it. And this weekend he taught me how to make the first mud pie of my own.

A lesson in pie making.

A lesson in pie making.

Singing his new autumn song, he bounds off into the garden at home with more enthusiasm than ever. This week when the heavy rain finally stopped around 4pm, he raced into the garden waving his hands in the air to seize the last hour or so of daylight. “Don’t worry Mummy,” he gushed, “you just need to put your raincoat on and you’ll be fine!”

So as the days get shorter we are spending longer outdoors until there isn’t enough light for him to do his sweeping, his digging or clean his playhouse. While some are quite rightly in the warm and dry, we are outside keeping warm with hard work and shifting mud around the garden.

Chastising Mummy for not getting stuck in.

Chastising Mummy for not getting stuck in.

His new pre-school have an emphasis on practical skills, perfect for a boy like Raffie. He spends a lot of time practising moving tiny things with tweezers, and learning how to make factories from cardboard, and he loves it.

But what he loves the most is that no matter what the weather they will take him outside in his wellies-a hardy lesson I can definitely do with learning from. And when he comes home, he loves nothing more than teaching me a thing or two about making my own mud pies.

A finished mud pie.

A finished mud pie.

Chapter 48-All by Myself

Lively. A word which once simply meant full of life and energy. A word which has become a euphemism for not sitting still, not listening and wreaking havoc in small spaces while everyone else sits nicely. A word which is applied regularly to Raffie’s music club.

Every week we start with great expectations, but every week I have to take Raffie out to calm down. Every week I spend most of the deceptively short 45 minutes picking him up and putting him back on his cushion. Every week, he is ‘lively’.

But not this week.

Music club usually starts like this.

Music club usually starts like this.

It might have taken the best part of a year but this time his lovely, and boundlessly enthusiastic teacher, suggested that it might be an idea to try leaving him on his own. We agreed to try next week, only for me to be told (by Raffie) in no uncertain terms to go. He didn’t even say goodbye.

So, reluctant to leave the building in case of a mammoth meltdown, I bimbled aimlessly around the corridor. Every now and then I peered through the glass to see Raffie not only sitting down, but joining in and listening. Not one of us, teacher, the other parents, and especially me could believe it, but it was true.

“I listened Mummy” he said as we got outside “and they said I did really well.”

But this week he wore his listening ears.

But this week he wore his listening ears.

Whether it was a fluke, or whether it was the future, it was certainly a revelation. We persevered for so long because music club is great, he gets to play with different instruments, learn new songs and then practice them at home.

So it may have been a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction. And hopefully we next week we can be the right kind of lively, and keep hitting the right note.

The reason we joined in the first place.

The reason we joined in the first place.

Chapter 47-Pearls of Wisdom

“He’s all talk this morning, has he used all his 10,000 words for the day already?”

Eerily, Raffie’s swimming teacher had the measure of him within moments of meeting. It was almost uncanny. As a boy who loves to talk, with a generally helpful nature, Raffie has been full of advice this week, and no topic is safe. Here are some of his magic advice moments.

On learning to drive:
“I’ll show you how to drive Mummy. It’s easy. You beep the horn, turn the wheel, and make sure you don’t bump into things.”

Back seat driving instructor.

Back seat driving instructor.

On reading a bedtime story:
“You mustn’t keep yawning while you’re reading Mummy, because I can’t hear the words. You need to read it properly.”

One bedtime story too many.

One bedtime story too many.

On eating breakfast:
“The right way to cut up toast is in triangles. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

On eating dinner:
“Don’t talk with your mouth full Daddy, you might choke and no-one can hear what you’re saying.”

On forgetting the shopping list at the supermarket:
“Don’t worry Mummy, I know what to get. We need wine, beer, tomatoes and milk. And wine.”

On examining the (comparatively large) lump on my head after banging it this week.
“No, I still can’t see it Mummy. O do you mean that tiny tiny lump just there? Don’t worry Mummy, I’ll just poke it with my finger and it will be fine.”

With his intentions sound in spirit, I think he is doing pretty well with some valuable advice for life.

Perhaps if I’d remembered not to bump into things, I wouldn’t have ended up banging my head in the first place. And I don’t think I’m alone in believing that you can never really buy enough wine.

So I’ll be listening closely for some more words of wisdom, and be sure to stop yawning should I ever be reading them out loud.

Under a watchful eye.

Under a watchful eye.