Thursday, May 29, 2008
I'm off to Tesco - well till they get stupid too :-(
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Anyway, time for bed, if tomorrow is to be another hard day... Poor Pudge and Anna are getting a bit bored with all this already.
Friday, May 23, 2008
I like to watch Child of our Time, given that the 25 kids it is following were all born within days of Charlotte. I generally like the psychological tests and know instinctively whether or not Lots would have conformed to the general outcomes. When they were analysing how the kids conformed along gender lines last week, I just knew Charlotte, if left to her own devices, had she been chosen for the study, would not have come out the changing room in the mini-adult pink sparkly dress all the other girls chose, for example.
This week was interesting on many levels. It followed 24 hours in all 25 8 year old kids' lives. The statistics it gave were dreadful. I felt more and more smug as the programme went on because I realized I was actually doing better than most of the families.
The first surprising statistic was that only 3 of 25 kids ever sat at a table with the rest of their family for an evening meal. The majority ate quick foods in front of the TV on the couch. In some families the mum ate at a table with the kids while the dad came home too late. The last and also popular scenario was one where the kids were fed and sent to bed before the adults even started to think about their meal. Twenty two of the twenty five kids had no concept of a family meal. That in itself might not seem important but the dinner table is a place where families talk about their day. It is a place of communication. Communication between partners but also as your kids get older and want to spend more time with friends or in front TV, a small chance for you to have relaxed communication with your child. Having spent years married to a man who came home and checked the microwave after we'd eaten every night, I set that as one of the rules for my new life. We'd have a meal at the table every night at about the same time and it would only be moved or cancelled in exceptional circumstances. There are 2 more rules in my house: no toys at the table, no texting at the table. This may annoy the kids but it means the family meal is just that - a family meal. I sat gobsmacked watching kids play, read, text, even play play station while eating alone. They did everything but eat and talk.
The next astounding statistic was the number of hours kids watched TV or played PS2 (and the likes). Ask my kids, I am the first to rant constantly that they are turning into zombies, that the TV has to go off and I jump up and down like an irate lunatic. So I was worse than horrified to find out my kids actually were at the low end of the TV hours scale. There were kids watching 9 hours in a row on there!
Next, but no surprise to me were the hot house kids, as I like to refer to them. I see them at my kids' school every day. I mean the kids that are enrolled in so many afterschool activities that they don't actually get a minute to draw a breath. They run from school to football, to piano, to chess, to karate. They have to buy a takeaway and eat it in the car as they don't actually get home till bedtime and their parents are always moaning their kids can't fit in homework. And the parents, of course, never see each other! I sat in horror watching a crazy mother driving her kid to tennis lessons 4 times a week over an hour's drive from home, returning all 4 nights at bedtime. The 8 year old cried a tantrumed in such a dangerous manner beside her in the car from exhaustion, that I genuinely think she should have stopped driving as she couldn't possibly have been concentrating on the road. What benefit is this regime to an 8 year old? I have nothing against the odd afterschool activity - My 2 big ones have tried several: football, martial arts, badminton, swimming, tennis - but an hour, 2 at most a week, never 4pm-8pm every night. Let them have time to relax, play, use their imagination!
Finally, and worst of all I sat with my mouth hanging open as the parents discussed the freedom they allowed their kids. I thought back to 8 - I was allowed to walk to school, walk to a friend's house, walk from my granny's to the corner shop and buy Saturday breakfast - rolls, eggs, juice and a few added extras. I could play in the field behind my house, in neighbours' gardens and generally wander about my estate. By 9 I was cycling to school on the road with no helmet! I can't remember the exact numbers but I know only 1 child in this study was granted the freedom I had at that age. Two, perhaps three more were allowed to play outside their garden but within sight of their parents. They weren't allowed to walk to school either. The most shocking was the fact that many of the kids weren't allowed in their own garden, none were allowed to the park. This wasn't because of traffic levels, which are much worse since we were kids but because people actually believed kids were so likely to be kidnapped or abducted that they wouldn't allow them out. Time and time again parents said they preferred their kids alone upstairs on a PS2 because they knew where they were! Don't people realize that abductions hit the headlines because they are uncommon, not because they are common? How are these kids, caged till 16, going to cope when they are thrown out into the world? When they are forced to leave home to go the uni or whatever, before they have even learned to cross the road alone. What damage are these people inflicting on their kids?
I let my kids cross the road and go shopping alone. Charlotte can go see granny just as Little red riding hood did many moons ago. They can go play football out of my sight in the field. Lots is allowed to go cycling up and down the pavements round the corner in neighbouring streets away from my line of vision. I have given them mobile phones so I can contact them. I am not 100% happy when they are out of my sight, no parent is, but I am 100% sure I am better preparing them for adulthood than by locking them in a bedroom alone. What will these kids remember of their childhoods? What life skills will they lack? How will they know how to parent themselves?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I mentioned a few Danish idiosyncrasies last month when we returned from Denmark. A final one, which I overlooked at the time, came to my attention last night. Thomas came home from work full of joy at the realization that Anna was exactly 5 months old. He couldn't bake her a birthday cake as she's too wee for cake so he headed for the fruit bowl and squished her a banana. He then stuck a Danish flag in it! I suddenly remembered Denmark's flag obsession. One of the first things you notice when you walk down the street in a village or even suburbia is that every 2nd house has a flagpole in the garden usually topped with a rather strange skinny version of a Danish flag. When we first arrived at Anna's grandparents' house, they had raised a proper Danish flag in her honour. You can actually buy large (several-metres-tall) flag poles in your small-town sized supermarket, off the shelf along with your bread and sausages! And there is at least half an aisle devoted to flags to decorate your house, your cake, your car, your fridge - you name it! This might not surprise an American reader but as a Scot this is extremely alien. At 40 I have never received a birthday cake topped by a Scottish saltire, I have never once put saltire bunting on my house, waved a saltire or felt the need to buy a flagpole. I wouldn't know where to buy one if my life depended on it... I wonder, if Scotland was to adopt this flagmania, how quick my dad would be to plant a large saltire in the middle of his front lawn (mum-permitting!)?
Having just seen this in the flesh in ASDA car park, I am wondering whether they are likely to make a 7-seater version? :-\ It was my first love in cars and though I tend to be a driver of very big cars these days, I still have a soft spot for these. If I win the lotto tomorrow (though I guess statistically this is unlikely given I have never ever played lotto), I will be buying myself one for use on any trips where there are fewer than 4 occupants in the car. It is just stunning, and cute into the bargain. Failing that I guess I'll buy one once the kids leave home...
Today I was feeding Anna so all I could do to entertain Léon was sing. Fed up with Incy Wincy, I tried Ten Green Bottles for a change. Léon listened, smiled a bit and when I stopped singing he asked seriously: What was in the bottles? Now there's something no one ever told me!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Today Thomas suggested we should go try the sushi bar in Silverburn shopping centre as we needed petrol at Tesco anyway. It turns out you can eat there for a reasonable price and it is fun to choose your dinner by colour-coded bowls rather than actually knowing what you are about to eat! We tried about 10 dishes for £25. The best, I think, was the salmon sushi, though I did like the deep-fried aubergines too. Not all Glaswegians are quite ready for sushi though. Standing in front of the sushi place a couple passed. He suggested 'trying sushi', she gave him a withering look and said she wasn't about to have 'sticky rice and deed fish' for her lunch - (I think you'll find it's raw, not just dead...) I was, however, touched by a slightly more adventurous couple, pictured here in the background of my photo. A grandson and grandmother sat down. He seemed genuinely pleased granny had joined him and asked what she was having. He took a prawn and rice something and tucked in with his chopsticks while she carried on cautiously watching the little dishes trundle by on the belt. Eventually, probably around when the octopus passed, she suddenly claimed not to be overly hungry and reached out to the belt. I was surprised this little old granny had the courage to try but of course she simply took the chocolate cheesecake in a little sushi bowl - one of only 3 desserts I saw passing while he ate all the other fishy delights.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Anna has taken to talking a lot. She does it a bit during the day but her very favourite time of the day for a conversation or monologue is 4am :-( I'm sure what she's saying is very interesting and I can definitely see the beginnings of language in her lip positions. She herself is definitely very serious and passionate about it, but I haven't a clue what she's on about!
If you can't see the attached clip (I have been having a problem seeing flickr videos in Internet explorer, though Mozilla Firefox is working fine) then click on this link.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
It's been a bad week for nettles. As Léon mentioned in his blog the other day, he was already suffering all sorts of itches, so the last thing he needed this week was to learn the hard way what jaggy nettles are.
Thomas and I were sitting on a log by the canal having a picnic when Léon decided to join us without warning. He had been at our feet watching the ducks. He crawled up beside us on the log and sat down in floods of tears muttering about nasty plants. He raised the legs of his shorts to expose two legs covered in scores of white sores all the way from his knee to his shin. We concluded he had crawled through a stinging nettle to get to us. Poor wee man, nasty jaggy nettles.
Today we were gardening - I noticed a very large nettle in our garden and remembered poor Leon's pain. Thoughtfully, I took a spade and dug it out from the root. I brought over the organic waste bin. I made sure not to touch the leaves and picked it up by the stalk in the middle. I remembered from childhood that the stalk is ok, it is only the leaves that sting, and given this was a huge plant with a central stem about 2cm wide, I wasn't taking any chances. The bloody thing instantly burned my thumb badly... hmmm was it actually thistles you are meant to hold by the stalk? I am no longer sure - but it sure isn't jaggy nettles - my thumb has been throbbing all day, worse than my last wasp sting, and that was a queen! :-( I guess that makes me a nettle numpty.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Oh, and don't you love what the breastmilk has done to her legs!? How come on a baby those legs are just gorgeous but on an adult woman the same legs would be considered hideous!?
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
This probably is related to my ex-husband's barbecuing habits. Barbecues with André tended to consist of an hour of him lighting copious old newspapers in a vain attempt to light some charcoal. Thereafter, with dinner running late and family assembled, he tended to throw on the sausages as soon as the coals did finally catch fire, leading to black-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside sausages which my family constantly cringed at. I explained at every barbecue that we should wait till the coals heated and the flames died but he was a bit impulsive, so we just never got there.
Consequently, I always assumed barbecues were beyond me.
Tonight Thomas asked me to start one and have the coals ready for him coming home from work. Arg! That's a tall order! He must have had faith in me, though. He has bought a Weber Chimney Starter so I figured I could try and if I failed, I failed.
I took out the chimney contraption. I stuffed 3 pages from the Glasgow Herald in the bottom. I put 60 charcoal bricks in the top and I took 1 match. It lit in less than a minute and 40 minutes later my coals were glowing beautifully. The barbecued food was absolutely perfect.
I think this would be the perfect gift for André. If we actually got on these days instead of fighting every time we try to have a conversation, I'd buy him one, but given we don't, I won't! :-\
Friday, May 02, 2008
I was parked in ASDA car park yesterday in a Parent and Child bay. The stupidity of it got me really annoyed! Why? I don't have a problem given Charlotte has a booster seat, Léon has a child seat and Anna an infant seat. So if I park there I am unlikely to get a £60 ticket slapped on my windscreen. However, imagine Anna was my first child. I drive into the Parent and Child bay completely legitimately, and what do I see parked 3 metres from the bay? I see these wonderful parent-friendly trolleys. Great, no need to waken the little angel up, I'll just take out the infant seat.I go round ASDA, I do my shopping and I come out to a fine stuck to my window because, by using their parent-friendly trolley, I remove from my car the evidence that I am a legitimate user of the space! How stupid is that? When I finish my trip round ASDA, the last thing I need is to then have to look for a traffic warden to show I do have a child with me, then no doubt to be told that they can't cancel the ticket, but I have to write in some kind of appeal. Especially as my frozen food sits thawing in my fancy baby-friendly/ or not-so-friendly trolley!