Chapter 53-School Daze

“Look, people here pick their noses too!”

And so after weeks of looking at Ofsted reports, calculating preferences, and phoning around schools, it became vividly apparent that Raffie’s criteria bears no relation to ours when it comes to choosing a school.

We have been to five schools already but on the sixth visit he needed to come with us, and he loved it. We were shown around by a very nice pupil and our tour incorporated most of the classrooms. As he charged into each and every one Raffie relished nosing around at their work, testing teachers and asking lots of questions to some very patient staff.

Practising what he does at pre-school.

Practising what he does at pre-school.

While we chatted to other parents he burrowed around in the sandpit before having to be almost dragged out when it came to leaving. “Maybe we’ll see you next year then” said the serene head teacher who didn’t seem phased at all by a very, very overexcited pre-schooler.

After some of his pre-school friends left for school this September it has been something of a mystery for Raffie, who was confused as to why he wasn’t joining them. They are trying to prepare them for school and have been spending a lot of time on letters and numbers.

Practising with Fireman Sam.

Practising with Fireman Sam.

This week we’ve been using the CBeebies app on my phone and he is now getting more interested in spelling and sounds, and the Alphablocks part of it has done wonders for getting him used to putting letters together.

We’ve been trying for months to encourage him to hold a pen for writing, as well as drawing. It’s been a long haul in fits and starts, but finally he produced his first written word-cat.

First written word-and something Raffie wants for Christmas.

First written word-and something Raffie wants for Christmas.

So while I continue to fret about filling out his school preferences, Raffie is full of excitement about his visit, and his previous trip to an after-school club where the big boys let him play football with them.

Seeing other people pick their noses was the icing on the cake.

“I love it Mummy!” he yelled as we got into the car. Only time will tell if he recalls this enthusiasm next September, but for now, we’ll just keep reminding him of his happy school day memories, and to keep his fingers out his nose.

Chapter 52-London Loves

Showing me the world through his eyes is second nature for Raffie.

And while for some of us, struggling through London with a pushchair can fade its charms every now and then, for this little beholder there is no beauty quite like it. And every moment is magical.

Raffie has been asking for weeks to go on holiday, to either the beach or London, so we chose the latter and headed to the big smoke. Despite a flat tyre his trip on the Saturday started well, only to be interrupted by tears when leaving Charing Cross station.

“But I want to stay in London, I don’t want to go home!” he sobbed from his pushchair. Having explained that the city was much more than just the station we set off and to his delight found two Paddington Bears which were promptly clambered over and cuddled. There are 50 of them around London to celebrate the new Paddington Bear film which opens on November 28, and you can find more information here http://www.visitlondon.com/paddington/

Cuddling Blush, by Nicole Kidman.

Cuddling Blush, by Nicole Kidman.

Meeting Paddington the Explorer by Ripley's Believe it or Not! London

Meeting Paddington the Explorer by Ripley’s Believe it or Not! London

Our tiny tourist sponge revelled in Trafalgar Square, with its living statues, huge lions, fountains, and enormous blue chicken. He loved the busy streets, the bridges and the buskers.

But all Raffie really wanted to do was to return to the Science Museum, and rave about it at every opportunity. “It is my best place in the world. There’s the water table, the bean bags and the big blocks,” he gushed before we even got there. Hopefully as he gets older we can interest him a bit more in some of the other areas of the museum, but for now, he is happy enough playing around with a gagillion other pre-schoolers followed by eating ice-cream in the café.

Swinging London. Or the Science Museum to be more exact.

Swinging London. Or the Science Museum to be more exact.

On the way home the following day we drove into the London to see the poppies. Raffie was unfazed by an enormous but good-natured crowd while we crawled along with the pushchair. We haven’t broached the subject of war with Raffie, but he had lots of questions after making a poppy at pre-school and we have explained that the poppies are to remember people who were, and are, very brave.

Even before we’d left London, he couldn’t wait to return. According to Samuel Johnson, “He who is tires of London is tired of life”, and Raffie couldn’t agree more. So from now on I’ll be taking a leaf out of their books and exploring the capital with fresh eyes, enthusiasm, and in Raffie’s case, plenty of ice-cream.

There's always time for an ice-cream.

There’s always time for an ice-cream.

Chapter 51-1,000 Reasons Why

Measuring time can be a matter of opinion. For some it’s coffee spoons, for others it’s carriage clocks. For me, it’s a diary.

I started it when Raffie spent his first full day at nursery early in 2012, and this week, I reached the thousandth entry. For 1,000 days I have written about what we’ve been up to, the progress he has made, the good times and the bad. And of course, what he’s had for dinner.

Meal times are only marginally more successful today.

Meal times are only marginally more successful today.

Leaving him at nursery was, as is often the case, much harder for me than him, who had a whale of a time playing with all the new toys and enjoying cuddles with his lovely ladies. The first entry begins with what he did and how he was when I picked him up, all smiles and cuddles.

Smiling and books. Two things which are still popular with Raffie today.

Smiling and books. Two things which are still popular with Raffie today.

As the months went on he started walking, then talking, and hasn’t stopped since. This week’s baffling question being “Where do octopuses keep their pyjamas?” only to look horrified when I suggested they might not really need to wear them.

Usually composed late at night in haste, his diary will never win any awards for writing. But from his first proper fall and split lip, to his trip to see the Olympics, his first overseas visits and love of playing with eggs, his adventures are all documented, whether or not anyone cares to read them.

On the way to the Olympic Park.

On the way to the Olympic Park.

Some things haven’t really changed. He used to love being read to in his bouncer, and then following me around with book in hand. He used to delight in giving the cat a book and a banana. Now he demands to hear story after story, and has even memorised his first one from cover to cover, The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, a simple tale of, rather predictably, a boy and a snowy day.

His early love of cleaning has continued, this week sweeping and mopping the floor and taking turns to do the dusting with the thing on a stick. And of course he still doesn’t sleep through the night.

An early love of art.

An early love of art.

Raffie told us recently that he wanted to work for a newspaper. “What would you write about?” I asked. “My day, and all the things I do.” I suppose my diary on his behalf is the next best thing, and did think that when I got to the thousandth entry it may be time to stop. But with less than a year to go until school, I’m hoping that by continuing be a reminder of the last few months of having more time together.

I am not sure whether all diaries are meant to be read. But for me, it’s a reminder of all those little things in life that has made Raffie the person he is today. Should he ever decide to dip into it when he’s older, it’s hopefully a reminder of 1,000 tiny daily adventures which are so easily forgotten. And 1,000 reasons why we love him.