Love

This Christmas was one of firsts. The first in our new house, the first as aunty and uncle, the first we didn’t eat at my mums. It was also our first Christmas as parents of a child.

D is no longer a baby and at 2 years 4 months old she is growing up. This year she learnt about Santa, the nativity (her baby JoJo was rechristened, Jesus) and what Christmas is all about. Christmas as a mummy then took on a whole new perspective. My number one job was to make sure the magic of Christmas, the magic I have always felt at Christmas time was passed on to her. This was a tall order.

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. For me it was never about the presents but the warmth, the family time, the cosiness, the lights and the pretty decorations (I have always been a sucker for anything sparkly). All these things come free don’t they? (well minus the pretty decorations, especially if you love the Gisela Graham ones as much as I do!) It can’t be hard to recreate, can it?

Within a week of moving house, we had decorated the tree together. I say together, little D decorated the bottom layer and I the rest. In among the moving boxes stood a perfect little tree, glistening. We lit the open fire and hung the stockings strategically over the fireplace. That was as far as our decorating would stretch this year. But it felt just a little bit magical. Ok the decoration bit came easy, now for the rest.

And here was where I began to struggle. Santa. How to present the magical man? Tricky stuff. It all started when we saw 2 santas at the bus stop. Try explaining to a curious 2 year old why Santa is taking the bus instead of his magical sleigh and why there are 2 of them. Ugh. I did my best uttering something about some people dressing up as Santa. Was that the right thing to say? God this was hard!

Her first face to face encounter with Santa was eagerly anticipated (I’d obviously done a good job of painting him in a favourable light.) We went to the village party where surely enough Santa appeared through the chimney to deliver presents to the good girls and boys. Little D spent the entire time saying “Santa is it my turn? I’ve been such a good girl” and I spent the entire time worrying they hadn’t added her name to the list as we had just moved in to the village and her dream of Santa would be shattered when he didn’t have a present for her. Luckily he did. Phew. She was thrilled and a huge smile of joy spread all over her little face.

It went a little pear shaped when Santa had finished his work and she wanted to ask him a question. He didn’t hear her and walked away. Disappointed she turned back to me “Mummy, he didn’t hear me”. I could tell she was thinking, hmmm this Santa doesn’t seem so magical after all. Deaf bastard (that was me thinking that!) Note to self: Do not swear in your blog or insult deaf people (I really didn’t mean it like that, mum) or your hard of hearing mother will complain. When I suggested we could see Santa again the following week she declined the offer, she wasn’t that bothered.

And then there was the presents and my well meaning family asking what we wanted for Christmas, what I was getting for so and so for Christmas, every day in December. Honestly by the 25th I got so sick of my own voice saying “shhhhhhhh you mean SANTA”, “what is SANTA bringing?”, “thank you S.A.N.T.A.” If my parents were as crap at keeping this Santa malarky under wraps as they are now we must have been really, really stupid as kids.

Anyway I think I might have tried too hard. She wasn’t that bothered about Santa. He wasn’t much to write home about. She wasn’t even that bothered that he had bought her lots of presents. It was pretty much a day like every other. As long as she had her family around her, playing with her, chatting with her, cuddling with her and she had something to eat, she was happy. Just like every other day. So I guess the lesson is love, family time and magic is for life, not just for Christmas :)

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she'd drive herself if i'd let her

Our beautiful little baby is growing up. At 28 months old she is well and truly expressing her independence from us and has been for quite some time. The words “I want to do it, on me own” have become somewhat of a catch phrase in our house. The range of tasks she wants to do on her own gets longer every week. This currently spans walking down stairs, going to the toilet, washing her hands, carrying her own things, opening her own things, the list goes on and on. God forbid you should try to help her do any of this and you WILL know about it. I have learnt my lesson after several red faced tantrums only solved by me carrying her back up to the top of the stairs so she could come down them “on me own”.

After 2 or 3 of these epic tantrums I’ve learnt to accommodate this desire for independence by giving her control where I can, listening to her requests, respecting her desire to be a big girl. I’m sure to some outsiders it looks ridiculous (I feel like they are thinking but she is a child and you are the adult) but she has always been strong willed, independent and I find the best way is to work with her and to listen to her. She might look little but she’s got BIG plans.

We sometimes have frustration when she realises she cannot do it all on her own and of course accidents, when she can’t quite get down those awkward leggings in time or spilling her water because she wants to carry it down the step, on her own! but mostly it works. She knows what she can and can’t do and we let her do the things that she can that present no danger. Sure they might make a mess, they might not be how WE would do it but its boosting her self esteem just trying, especially if we follow it with some words of encouragement.

I have found doing small things to accommodate her search for independence really help build her confidence.

  • A few months ago we went out and bought two sets of small steps so she can reach the sinks herself to wash her hands (one of her favourite past times).
  • We have just created a cupboard in the new kitchen completely for her with her own cutlery (all metal like ours), her own plates, glasses and she now likes to get her own plate for dinner, every time.
  • She helps out in some way preparing the meal for dinner. Mums will know that this is not always easy when she wants to chop all the vegetables, just like you mummy. I’ve taken to giving her the blunt knives, the ones she uses for eating and setting her on the mushrooms or the peppers or something else that is possible to chop with a ridiculously blunt knife. She is happy, I am happy :)
  • I get her to help me make sandwiches, spread the butter on the bread, ok they may not be the most beautifully spread sandwiches but they taste just the same.
  • And then there is the Montessori way to put on a coat! This is her little party trick :)

It’s all a lesson, for her but also for us. We are learning to let go, learning to slow down, learning that everything doesn’t need to be done on our terms. It isn’t always easy but giving her room to be herself and do it herself gives her so much, it is worth it.

 

My daughter loves reading. If it was up to her we would read books all day long and quite often she requests them on repeat. With Christmas fast approaching we will no doubt be adding to her library. It got me thinking, what makes a good book in the eyes of a child? Is it the story, the adventure, the excitement? Is it the pictures, the colours, the detail? I’m guessing just like adults, children are attracted to different books depending on their character. In my little ones case (imaginative, funny, observant) I think it is the combination of detailed illustrations that she can muse over for hours, rhyming text and a good helping of humour that make a perfect book. This is her top 10 books of all time (so far!)

1. The gruffalo – A clever tale about a little mouse and a big gruffalo. It’s the humour, imagination and catchy rhymes that she enjoys, oh and mummy’s funny voices!

2. The gruffalos child – A follow up story, with the same clever mouse and this time, the gruffalo’s child. It uses the same winning recipe as the gruffalo.

3. The tiger who came for tea – A classic about a tiger that comes to a little girls house and eats all their food. My little one loves the humour and the fact that it is about food (she looooves food!)

4. Mog the Forgetful Cat – One of a whole series of Mog books. Written with brilliant humour and best of all its about a silly, fat cat. I love the illustrations of Judith Kerr.

5. Don’t wake the bear, hare! – This was one we took out of the library which had to be purchased immediately after! A story of a tea party and a big scary bear, who turns out of course not to be so scary :) A firm favourite and great to read outloud.

6. Tiddler – My daughter adores this story about Tiddler, the fish with a big imagination who tells tall tales. I have to say this is probably MY favourite book to read to her. I love that she points out all the different types of fish to me!

7.  The tale of Mrs Tittlemouse – A Beatrix Potter classic about a houseproud little mouse who keeps getting unwelcome visitors! I’m suprised she loves these stories as much as she does as the originals are written in quite old fashioned English. But she does!

8. The tale of Mrs Tigglewinkle – Another Beatrix Potter classic about a hedgehog who does all the other animal’s washing. The house in the side of the hill and the talking animals really capture her imagination.

9. We all went on Safari – This counting book looks at all the animals on safari. She loves the African names and guessing who might be Mwambe or Akeyla and I love the beautiful illustrations in this book.

10. Rosie’s hat – Another gem by Julia Donaldson. A different style to her normal stories, it is a lovely little story about a girl who looses her hat. Its the great rhyme and rhythm that make this one such a hit!

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