Tag Archives: cuddles

Tiny Teachers

Siblings Together

Siblings Together

 

Motormouth has a new role in life.

He’s recently taken on the role of teacher when it comes to Mini.

He’s consciously making sure she’s included in his games, even if she is a little too young to really understand what’s going on. The fact that she will slavishly copy everything he does goes some way to helping in this. With a little nudging, he’s also making sure she gets some of the interesting jobs as well. It’s really noticeable when they’re role playing, which Motormouth has a tendency to do a lot of, whether it’s playing doctors, running a café or rescuing dragons from lava, he’s adept at creating entire universes that work on Motormouth-logic. He’s also very good at bring others into his fantasy worlds, giving them characters, complete with back stories, to take on. I’m still getting to grips with the various alter egos he’s assigned to me over the last couple of years, whether it’s Dashi from Octonauts, Penny from Fireman Sam or Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon. It could be worse – poor Mini gets to be Fishlegs. His dad is Stoick the Vast (I think that must be something to do with the beard).

It’s more than just another person to play with though. It’s a way of him reinforcing what he’s been learning at school himself. He works through his homework story books with Mini and he’s even sat her down with a pad and crayon so he could teach her her letters. Admittedly, he makes me learn my letters more often, but she’s not left out of the schooling entirely.

Underneath all this is a strong feeling of protectiveness. He will try and teach her how to cross the road safely (unfortunately she’s not taking to that quite as quickly as Motormouth did). If she falls and hurts herself, he’s the first to go running (provided he’s not been involved in it, of course). To be fair, she will do the same for him. They’ll give each other a hug when the other is upset and quite often I’ll find them snuggled up together on the settee, under the same blanket, thumbs in mouths (their own) whilst they watch How to Train Your Dragon, Masha and the Bear or Fireman Sam.

What is particularly striking is his generosity towards his little sister, the person he could so easily be jealous of. He’ll share his food, often giving her over half of whatever delicacy he has, rather than the token amount, and sometimes we don’t even have to ask him to share with her. He’s certainly better at sharing his food than I am.

And, most importantly, he’ll share his time.

It puts me to shame.

Because he does it naturally, as something that’s the right thing to do. He doesn’t have that feeling of almost smug satisfaction that we can (and I’m speaking from personal experience) feel as adults sometimes as we earn virtual brownie points for being “good people”.

Which made me wonder, when do we get more attached to things than we do to people?

When do we learn to become more grudging about sharing, so much so that often sharing becomes a conscious choice rather than an automatic action? When we first learn to talk, one of the first concepts we learn is mine. It’s my teddy. My blanket. My dinner.

Then we grow out of it.

And I don’t think we realise we’ve grown out of it until somebody reminds us.

Motormouth has taken on the role of teacher and mentor to Mini.

But I’m sitting at the back of the classroom.

Dragon’s Tears

stoick*** PLEASE NOTE: THERE ARE SOME MAJOR SPOILERS HERE ABOUT HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 ***

I took Motormouth to the cinema for the second ever time a few weeks ago to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. He’s a big fan of the first film, and the TV series, and it’s a special treat to snuggle together while I read the books to him. We were both looking forward to having some son/mummy time together, although I suspect he was looking forward to his packet of sweets even more.

The film was good with the standard of animation we’ve come to expect from the series but there was one thing that took me totally by surprise – *SPOILER ALERT* – Hiccup’s dad, Stoick the Vast, dies.

Yep. Stoick.

A major character.

Dead.

He does it in a heroic way of course, saving Hiccup, but it’s a death from which there is no coming back. No dragon magic or sleight of hand that will help him get up again. It’s permanent.

Motormouth has lost someone he genuinely liked and cared about. And Hiccup, someone he cares about even more, has lost his Daddy.

He cried (Motormouth that is, Hiccup was a little more stoical about it all.)

He (Motormouth) sobbed his heart out for the rest of the film. And during the walk across the car park. In fact, he was near inconsolable for the whole drive home.

This was a BIG EMOTION.

They don’t really tell you about all the things you need to do as a parent. You take it for granted there will be messy mealtimes and stinky nappies, some cooing and cuddling, and more messy mealtimes and stinky nappies, but it takes a while for it to sink in that YOU are the one who needs to teach that tiny human how to interpret and express their emotions.

This all the while most of us (and certainly me) are trying to cope with our own emotions that have suddenly got more complicated with the insertion of a person whose welfare and happiness are so firmly placed ahead of our own. We have to teach them that not only will they have a reaction on an emotional level to different situations but those reactions are normal and there are accepted ways to express that emotion.

It’s a double-edged sword. We want our children to empathise with others, to understand the emotional bonds that can exist between people, and to modify their behaviour so they can have positive relationships with those around them.

We want them to have the imagination to understand the problems they encounter and be able to make the intuitive leaps that allow them to be creative and inventive when facing everything that life throws at them but…

This same imagination is what allows them to identify so closely with the characters in films and books that, when one of them goes away forever, it’s like a bereavement. No. It IS a bereavement; they have lost someone they care about. Add to that the ability to take those intuitive steps and we have a boy looking at a friend who has lost his father, so who’s to say Motormouth can’t lose his own father? Maybe not to an evil Viking’s thrown weapon, but loss is loss.

Do I regret taking him to see the film when it made him so upset?

No I don’t.

Why?

Because I’d much rather he had the opportunity to experience these feelings and learn to deal with them when he loses a fictional friend. That might make it just that little bit easier for him to cope with losing someone in the real world.

Would I let him watch it again if he wanted to, even knowing how upset it’s likely to make him?

Absolutely.

And I’ll be there with him for every frame, answering every question and returning every hug and squeezed hand because parenting isn’t just about the happy things and, in a weird way, it can be more rewarding helping him deal with the big bad emotions than the big happy emotions.

Because nobody can do it like a parent.

Pass Me the Hook Brush Please

"Let me tell you a secret..."

“Let me tell you a secret…”

It’s been chaos this afternoon, with screams and shouting and even some biting (or at least attempted biting).

Yep. I’ve had both kids at home this afternoon and they’ve swung from holding their own little love-fest to trying to deafen each other (I think my subsequent hearing loss is considered collateral damage) on a regular basis.

If you call every 4 minutes regular that is.

It’s a bit weird really and I can only put it down to the fact that the relationship between Mini and Motormouth is changing.

Maybe it’s because Motormouth starts school in a few weeks. Perhaps he’s stepping into a more grown-up persona. That would explain the times he pulls Mini close and says “hush, sweetheart, it’s all right.” I know he’s copying the words we use, but I think the same sentiment is there.

He even counts the stairs as he helps Mini climb down them, (although it was a bad joke for every step instead of numbers the other day), and is very careful when he’s showing her how to cross the road safely.

Some things haven’t changed – Motormouth is still first choice for holding hands and Mini still has to copy everything that Motormouth does, including walking along walls, poking drain hole covers, picking dandelions… well you get the message.

Yesterday was a classic. Motormouth decided I needed a make-over, specifically I needed my hair to look like Princess Jasmine’s. There he was, with his faithful assistant Mini passing him his “equitment” on demand. He did put his own unique spin on things, using “hook brushes”, toy swords and other random items. He and Mini are on the same wave length as well. She doesn’t seem to have any problems understanding what he wants, which is lucky really, the way his imagination works. Who knew a fire ladder was an essential hair dressing tool?

There are some moments when I catch them unaware, when they snuggle up to each other whilst watching TV or they sit there holding hands in the back of the car.

Those are the memories that make the screaming and the crying worthwhile.

I just wish I could stuff them in my ears to block out some of the noise (the memories that is, not the kids).

In the meantime, I’ll just turn the radio up and grin and bear it.

X is for Kisses

X is for Kisses

X is for Kisses

Yes, I know. This is cheating a little bit, but the only other X that came to mind was x-ray and we haven’t had to deal with those yet and, if we’re lucky, we won’t have to for a while (touch wood, she says, hand on head).

Kissing.

Hmm.

It seems to be all or nothing with our two.

You either get a big, slobbery, snotty kiss when you least expect it (have you ever had that experience when you’re in a deep sleep and you open your eyes just before they plant one on you?) or you have the struggling, trying-to-hold-on-to-an-angry-eel manoeuvre where you get a hope-you-make-contact-with-a-body-part-that-doesn’t-smell-kiss.

Just us then?

Really?

Are you sure?

Oh, OK then.

Anyway, it’s a balancing act, like so much else in parenthood. You’re trying to show them affection so they know they’re loved and trying to time it so they get it when they need it most, like when they’re feeling poorly or vulnerable or in need of a little injection of self-esteem.

And don’t talk to me about their attention span. No sooner have I started to move in for the kiss than they’ve got distracted and are trying to disappear in the other direction. I’ve had far too many air kisses (as far as I’m concerned air kisses should be between consenting adults only) so I’ve learnt to get them in a bear hug before I try to deliver the all-important kiss on the cheek or the top of the head.

But it’s more than just physical contact isn’t it? It’s comfort for both of us that we belong together, that families are important and showing that you love your family is good. I know they’re going to go through a phase where they won’t want to be in the same room as us, let alone be kissed, they swing in and out of that particular frame of mind at the moment. (Why is it so funny when your 4-year-old retreats to his bedroom and shuts the door, saying he wants some alone time?)

And you start to accept that any demonstrations of affection will be on their terms and we’ll be lucky if they let us know what the rules are.

You just get used to this, then they’ll add the chaos factor and want a full-out cuddle (OK so that usually happens when you’ve been trying to get them to go to bed and stay in bed for the past half hour) but you leap at the chance anyway. At least the first four or five times.

Or they’ll declare at the top of the voice that they love you best in the whole wide universe. (That accolade usually goes to the Other Half.)

Then you’re (or at least I’m) left in a gooey mess and we start all over again.

A bit like life really.

U is for Upset

U is for Upset

U is for Upset

Before the kids arrived there were times I got upset. That’s perfectly normal. I got upset by the usual things like bad news or seeing others in pain.

Then the kids arrived and there was a whole new world of upset waiting for me.

Holding those tiny babies, I made the usual promises to try and protect them from all the horrible things in the world and to give them the best life I possibly could.

I knew intellectually that I would need to let them make their own mistakes, that I would have to stand back and ignore all my natural instincts to step in and pick them up before they’ve fallen. That’s one of the hardest things about being a parent.

So I bite my lip and hope they succeed and give them a cuddle when it doesn’t happen the first time they try. Or the second. And with a bit of practice I’m managing this, though some days are easier than others.

And I can’t let them see me worry, that might stop them from trying, and that’s the only way they’re going to learn and develop.

It’s about protecting them from the grown-up world as well and the sort of things that have been on the news so often that we take them for granted. They catch a word or a phrase and you’re struggling to explain it in a way they can understand. War. Poverty. Climate change. All the big things that we struggle to understand ourselves.

Even explained in the simplest of terms, it can still be upsetting to hear about children who are starving or people who have lost everything. One of the things the kids need to learn is how to be upset, and how to deal with it, along with disappointment, rejection and not being chosen to join the sports team (if they still do that these days of course).

Then there’s this ability my children have to upset me without trying.

Like when they miss daddy more than me.

Or when they’ve fallen over and I’m not the first person they run to for help.

The fact that I like to think that I’m the most important one in their lives like they are in mine and it turns out I’m not, not at that particular moment anyway.

But I know that I am when it counts.

In the middle of the night when they wake up with leg pain or after a bad dream.

Or when they just want a cuddle and a story read to them.

So I’m going to hold onto those memories and bite my tongue when all they want to know when I pick them up from playgroup is when their father’s going to be home.

Siblings

Follow My Leader

Follow My Leader

This week has been a bit mixed, with Mini still suffering the effects of the chicken pox her brother so kindly gave her (and me) but it’s good to see she is starting to get back to her normal self.

Even if that does mean mischief.

It’s only as Mini gets older and more inventive that we realise how lucky we’ve had it with Motormouth when it comes to getting into trouble. Not that Motormouth hasn’t got into his fair share of mischief, but Mini is putting him to shame.

How you ask?

Well, we’ve had the usual drawing on walls from Motormouth, faithfully copied by Mini.

Then we’ve had the gravity game. (Why do children never stop being amused by the view of us poor parents scrabbling around on the floor to pick up the bottle or spoon they’ve dropped for the 10th time in quick succession?)

But it’s only Mini who’s managed to flood the bathroom in less than the time it took me to have a wee.

She’s the only one who very nearly got away with flushing her father’s net book down the toilet.

It’s not Motormouth who emptied the contents of several packets of baby wipes and scattered them over the living room.

And Motormouth isn’t the one who squirms under the table just to get to the contents of my bag, especially the purse and pencil cases in there.

And that’s only in the last couple of weeks or so.

One thing she does have in common with her brother is that cheeky I-know-I’m-being-naughty-but-I’m-so-cute-you-have-to-forgive-me grin. You know the sort? The one that reaches right to the eyes?

And yes, we do forgive her. We still tell her off, but we forgive her. Just like we forgive Motormouth, after all, you have to forgive the master if you forgive the student.

It’s quite funny when you see how she copies Motormouth (it was also quite nice when she helped him give me a back rub earlier) but every so often that little spark of initiative lights a tiny little fire of destruction. It’s at times like that when Motormouth turns police officer, so we tend to get a full and detailed report of her activities (he’s obviously practising for his future career), which is probably just as well considering.

Part of me is pleased that she’s using her imagination, solving problems and testing her ideas.

Another part of me is wishing that perhaps, just once, she’ll settle down for a cuddle.

It’s interesting watching her play with Motormouth. He may not enjoy the experience sometimes (he’s starting to understand that his requests to put her in her cot so he can play in peace and quiet are not going to be granted) and he’s a little young to appreciate the fact that she wants to copy him is a compliment, but other times they will play together happily for ages. I’ve noticed that this tends to happen when Motormouth is in charge. I suspect things will be a little different when Mini starts talking more and asserts her authority (not that she’s needed any words so far).

I admit I’m dreading the time when they start working together properly.

Then we’ll be in for real trouble.

N is for Nursing

 

N is for Nursing

N is for Nursing

I think everyone realises that when you are a mother you take on the role of nurse, along with caterer, dresser, toy-fixer, taxi driver and everything else I’m too tired to think of at the moment.

It isn’t until you actually try nursing a small child that you get a reality check.

When the Other Half is ill, nursing consisted of providing soup, drinks and words of comfort. And the occasional stroking-of-brow if I’m feeling sympathetic. Which I will admit doesn’t tend to be very often.

And when I’m ill? It’s sod off out of the way and let me be miserable in peace. You may leave an occasional cup of tea or bowl of chicken noodle soup in the doorway. Then sod off and leave me in peace.

It’s a whole new experience when children are ill, especially toddlers.

When Mini’s ill, it’s a case of more feeds and cuddles, but Motormouth?

Well.

Where do I start?

If he’s in pain then he wants the magic strawberry medicine, the one we adults would know as paracetamol, preferably in the funny little syringe we’ve just discovered. (We were reduced to buying the posh stuff while we were on holiday.)

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants to sit down.

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants a cuddle.

Then he doesn’t.

Then he wants… well, you get the idea.

This is frustrating, but you learn to deal with it. Eventually.

It can be a bit scary at times. Not the fact that my children have hurt themselves, we’ve been lucky that neither of them touch wood, have hurt themselves badly enough to warrant a trip to the hospital so far.

It’s how hysterical they can become.

Motormouth fell over and cut his hand when we were at Riverside Country Park one day. The poor soul was cradling his hand and running in circles screaming. We almost had to herd him into a corner before we could start to talk him down.

That took some patience and typically, the offer of a cold towel from a complete stranger. (Does anyone else find it as annoying as I do? You know the times when you’re trying to deal with your child and some stranger steps in and interferes, and, most annoying of all, it works, leaving the stranger to smile at you condescendingly, as if to say, don’t worry, you’ll get it eventually?)

Then you get the opposite effect. Ten minutes after they’ve had their medicine, they’re running around doing exactly what they would be doing if they were healthy.

You know.

Getting into mischief and stuff.

So, now when I think of nursing, it’s not just making toast and tea and wiping fevered brows, I think of toddler wrangling and hysteria-reducing.

And patience.

And lots of cuddles.