Tag Archives: games

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.

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.

W is for Wet and Muddy

W is for Wet and Muddy

W is for Wet and Muddy

There are some really good things about being a parent, and one of those is being able to experience the fun of being a child all over again.

Like playing on the swings (though I am positive the seats have got narrower over the years since I can’t possibly have got wider can I?).

Or running through piles of autumn leaves.

Or puddle jumping.

I don’t really remember puddle jumping when I was younger, possibly because, growing up in Australia, there weren’t that many puddles and by the time we moved back to England I was too old and grown up to do things like that.

But now we all puddle jump, providing we’re wearing wellies. (Thank you Peppa Pig.) The Other Half has taken Motormouth on Boxing Day to play on the swings and jump in puddles to get thoroughly soaked and mucky, giving me some peace to get dinner ready. I’ve welcomed them home with a bath ready-run and my sanity in tact. We’ve even got soaked on the walk home from the child minder.

The kids love it and, I have to admit, I quite enjoy it too. It’s liberating, consciously making the decision to stop worrying about them getting dirty or what people think and maybe that’s the secret.

I choose not to care what people think if I’m running around the park chasing my child and pretending to be whichever baddie they’ve decided I’m going to be. They’re having fun and if they’re having fun, I’m having fun.

Maybe one of the best gifts we get as parents is the ability to recapture some of that “live in the now” attitude to life.

I’m not advocating we do too much of that, after all, we have a bigger responsibility to keep our kids safe and teach them how to function in society for when they become adults. But sometimes, just sometimes, we shouldn’t we allow them to coax our inner child out to play?

I know we’ve only got a few years left before they’ll be too old to jump in puddles and run around the playground pretending to be sea monsters and I think I’ll miss these times more than they do.

In the meantime, I am tyrannosaurus rex, hear me ROAR!!!!


V is for Vulnerable


V is for Vulnerable

V is for Vulnerable

We spend our lives building up our ability to deal with the sometimes horrible things that life can throw at us. In fact, employers often see that resilience as being a good thing, having someone that will soldier on when everyone or everything around them might be falling apart.

And for the most part, it’s a good thing, unless we take it too far and it becomes uncaring or leaves unable to let anyone in and heading into loneliness territory.

Then you have children and you get to start all over again.

Some of those worries you had relegated to the “forget about it pile” come back in full strength.

What if I die? Have I made enough provisions for the kids? If I lose my job (thank you very much recession!) will I be able to keep a roof over our heads? Who’s going to take care of things if I get sick (and let’s face it no one looks after us mums when we get sick – sorry dads, but it’s true)?

And that’s just the vulnerabilities we have ourselves. What about all the ones we adopt on behalf of our children?

What if they fall off the swing and have to suffer the pain of scrapes and bruises? What if another child is mean to them at playgroup? How will they feel if a strange adult pushes in front of them as if they were beneath notice when they’re queuing to buy their very own copy of their favouritist, favouritist magazine?

How can a toddler fall over so often, and so spectacularly, which a certain small girl does at least 10 times before breakfast, without apparently suffering any ill effects apart from dirty hands (which she hates)? I watch her and I’m sure that within the hour we’d be waiting for the paramedics if I fell over even a quarter as much, and that’s if we were lucky.

There is a positive side to this added vulnerability we have. How many of us are more aware of what we are doing to the environment, or adopt a healthier diet because they need proper food whilst they’re growing up?

How about the life-long heavy metal fan who is quite happy sitting there in a glittery tiara whilst drinking pretend tea from a pink cup they could barely fit their little finger into? (Yes, Other Half. It is coming!) Or the body builder walking down the road carrying a Dora the Explorer back pack and the My Little Pony that wouldn’t quite be corralled inside it? Or the mother who will adopt whichever character name that’s been assigned to them for the day (today it’s Dashi – we’re back in Octonauts mode)?

How about showing our children that it’s all right to be caring and sensitive towards the needs of others? Or giving them a sense that they have some control over their lives, since daddy will comply with the tea-party-etiquette, as laid down by them, without any argument?

Yes, having children does make us more vulnerable when it comes to threats to them, but in dealing with those threats we get the opportunity to show our children the best of ourselves and give them something positive to aspire to.

And maybe that’s a vulnerability for us to aspire to.

You’ll have to excuse me now. Someone’s just sounded the Octoalert.

I’m Going On a Dinosaur Hunt!

We're working our way round the evolutionary spiral.

We’re working our way round the evolutionary spiral.

For the past few weeks Motormouth has been obsessed with dinosaurs. You might already have guessed this from previous posts and Face book updates, but it is definitely an obsession that shows little signs of waning.

We’ve got used to being told that the reason the toilet roll is not only all over the bathroom floor but the landing as well is because the velociraptor was bored.

Or that a passing ankylosaur made him drop his sandwich on the floor. (Apparently ankylosaurs don’t like Marmite sandwiches, or tidy up after themselves.)

I went though my own phase of being into dinosaurs, in fact, I’m pretty sure I still have a few of the books tucked way in Nanny Nutjob’s loft. (I’m planning to give them to Motormouth when he is a little less tyrannosaurus rex-like with his more fragile books).

This morning I had to tell him all about a documentary about Megalodon that his father and I had watched last night. He had the usual Motormouth run of questions. You know, the sort of things a 4-year-old boy will come out with?

What did it eat? (Smaller sharks and whales.)

When did it live? (Millions of years ago.)

Is it still alive? (No. It’s extinct.)

Why did it die? (They think it didn’t adapt well to the loss of the large prey it ate when an ice age hit.)

Is it related to the Great White shark? (They don’t think so but opinion is divided – it’s something to do with the spine apparently.)

And so on.

And on.

And on. As only Motormouth knows how.

It’s great that we have a son who is interested in learning and I hope he never, ever loses that. I also hope we’re setting him a good example. He knows I’m going to college and always checks to make sure I’ve done my homework. I have a dream that one day, when he starts school, we’ll all sit around the table doing our homework. (Yes, I know that’s sad and just a little weird.)

I’ve also been doing my homework on dinosaurs to give me at least a little bit of an edge. (There’s only so many times I can take him rolling his eyes and saying in a very patient voice “No Mummy, that one was a mammal but it lived in the sea”.)

Typically for Motormouth, he’s not just interested in tyrannosaurus rex, stegosaurus or brontosaurus. Oh no. His particular favourites this week are dunkleosteus, sarcosuchus, icthyosaurs, ankylosaurs, orthocones and lots of others I have to look up. (Knowing the name isn’t enough, I get tested on habitat, diet, size, enemies, fighting styles, methods of defence and reason for extinction.) Plus I have to know odd facts.

Did you know that velociraptors had feathers?

That tyrannosaurus rex and stegosaurus never met (there were millions of years between them)?

That dinosaurs were around for about 165 million years? (I doubt we’ll make that long before we become extinct – look at how close we’ve come and how often in only a few thousand years!)

That suchus means flesh eater?

I could go on, but I wouldn’t want to bore you.

I could also mention the slightly unnerving habit he has of creeping around and muttering to himself. When you can get close enough to hear what he is saying you realise he is basically re-enacting the script from Walking With Dinosaurs, complete with waving arms and crouching walk. He also keeps producing sticks of varying sizes for consideration as fossil bones, classifying them by species and subspecies.
Still there are worse people he could emulate. The other day he told me that Nigel Marven was the coolest zoologist around and he wants to be a zoologist when he grows up.

Or a builder. He quite fancies that as well.

It can be exhausting keeping up with it all, especially as, like most kids his age, he wants to go over the explanations several times to make sure he understands.

I’ve noticed that he wants it more frequently when it’s something that’s worrying him.

There was a burglary in the next road, so we’re making extra certain we lock all the windows and doors at night (they broke in whilst the occupants were asleep). Motormouth was there with his usual questions and we’ve explained what we’re doing, why and how he’s going to be safe. He has shown an interest in the subject before and spent days asking us at regular intervals what burglary was and that was just after seeing an advert on the TV (thank you alarm company I shall not name). Now he knows it’s happened for real near us. This all happened last night and I was preparing my mental notes for “explaining what burglary is eight different ways”. All he wanted to do today was look at the house, not possible since I didn’t know which one it was, and besides it was morning and we’re always running late in the mornings.

So it is with some relief I left him at playgroup this morning. He wandered off without a backward glance at me, on a mission to find some pens and paper so he could start drawing today’s batch of dinosaurs.

And me?

I’m reading up on the Triassic era. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a test tonight.

Newsflash – Hunting Expedition Launched

Sarcosuchus means "flesh crocodile"

Sarcosuchus means “flesh crocodile”

Motormouth called a press conference to announce the launch of a new expedition, the aim of which was to locate and trap the mysterious sarcosuchus. Members of the press were treated to a demonstration of his hunting techniques, which consisted of putting a blanket over his head and going on the prowl with his ray gun.

Motormouth seems confident he will be able to deal with this “King of Crocodiles” which can be up to 40′ long and weigh in at an estimated 8 tonnes. “Most of the length is its snout, so I’ll be fine.”

This reporter awaits developments with interest.

Mini Me

Follow My Leader

Follow My Leader

We have a problem.

It’s not a serious problem, but it is proving to be a problem none-the-less.

I suppose we should have seen it coming. Maybe we were lulled into a false sense of security? Started to take it all for granted?

The problem?

Mini has started copying Motormouth.

And when I say copying, I mean the exact actions and within seconds of him doing it.

Motormouth does a mad dance around the room, then Mini does a mad dance around the room.

Motormouth jumps on the bed cackling like a lunatic, then suddenly there are two of them. I’m more than a little surprised that our bed has survived it so far. (And I really, really wish this would all start some time after 6am.)

Motormouth climbs onto the back of the settee and the next thing we know, Mini is trying to drag herself up there to be with him.

So, as you can see, we have a bit of a problem.

We’ve been trying to curb Motormouth’s natural tendencies (that’s a bit like trying to train a cat to roll over and beg for food).

We’ve tried explaining to him that, as the big brother, he has a responsibility to think about the consequences of his actions, he needs to think about Mini’s safety. He’s still struggling with the concept of thinking before he does things.

He’s a creature of instinct and impulse is our Motormouth.

In the meantime we’ll just to have eyes in the back of our heads. And the sides.

And think of a way to see around corners and through walls.

And when we’re asleep.