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Boxers Not Briefs Please, Mummy

I Love My Uniform!

I Love My Uniform!


I know it’s been a few days weeks since the last post and all I can say is sorry – real life sort of took over and hijacked me.

Motormouth started school, which was of course a really big thing, and we were trying to cram as much as we could into the time we had left with him, mainly because the Other Half works a lot of weekend days. I think we did pretty well getting to the Historic Dockyard (twice), Sitingbourne and Kemsley Light Railway (twice), the Royal Engineers museum, picnics, trips to the park… Eventful if knackering.

Then, of course, there were the mutual support communiques with other parents whose children were about to take the plunge into education – the difficulties of getting exactly the right colour of fleece in something approximating the size you think you’re child will grow into around Christmas had the potential to generate quite a thread.

Strangely enough, we all seemed to be doing OK with underpants. At one point, oh, maybe a week before school started, I had managed to get two pairs of PE shorts and a dozen pairs of boxers (Motormouth has decided he’s too grown up to wear underpants, so boxers it has to be. Why are boxer shorts for a 4 year old more expensive than they are for the other half anyway?). I felt really bad until I found out I wasn’t the only one. Thank you Facebook.

Motormouth loves his school uniform, at least so far, which is a bonus. I really didn’t fancy the arguments to get him dressed, the daily Battle of the Toothbrush is quite enough, thank you very much. We have had the odd meltdown, especially when I wouldn’t let him wear his baseball cap to bed, or his trousers in the garden. I can deal with those. At the moment anyway.

As to how it’s standing up, Motormouth is proving to be a true boy. On the first day he came back with a lump of play doh the size of my head ground into the knee of his trousers. (OK I might be exaggerating there, it may only have been the size of his head).

The second day he managed to get tiny little splatters of blue and yellow paint all over the back of his sweatshirt. It’s just a shame his school colours are red, white and grey.

Then we had a day’s grace before I had to pick up MudBoy, which was odd since I was sure I’d dropped Motormouth off there in the morning.

It’s just as well they make trousers with Teflon these days (it must have been a parent who had that idea.) It was quite sweet when he put his trousers in he washing machine on the Friday night and came to ask me how to turn it on. It was a little while before I could persuade him that we really did need to wash more than one item at a time.

Then of course we have the mystery of the disappearing socks. He started school (was it only 10 days ago) with 10 pairs of socks. They all went into his newly-cleared school uniform drawer. Three days in and I was scrabbling in the washing bin to find a pair of socks, hoping he wouldn’t notice since he has a strong belief that everything in the washing pile must be stinky (including the T shirt he wore for a whole 3 minutes).

I think I’m just going to have to get used to having one of those boys. He’ll be climbing trees before I know it.

So, do you think Motormouth will grow into his father’s shorts by Christmas? Maybe? Perhaps I should just order some more socks instead.

Baby’s Guide to Older Siblings

Motormouth and Mini

Motormouth and Mini

Welcome to your new Baby’s Guide. Today, I thought I would talk about siblings. Specifically older siblings, the most dreaded of all being the big brother.


You get used to noise before you are born and it is logical things will be louder when you are no longer protected by that nice comfortable amniotic fluid. Noise will increase exponentially when there are older siblings around. Studies have shown that small children don’t really have a volume switch until they are four. Be patient. Your time will come. When they have learnt to be quiet, you will still be in the noise making zone. This will help teach you the truth of the adage that revenge is a dish best served loudly.

Moving You

When your siblings try to move you they will not be able to demonstrate the adeptness of the adults around you. Their relatively small size means they will tend to drag you around. It might be better to try and make this easier for them by lifting your legs up. It’s either that or wait to be squashed when they trip over your feet and you both fall over.

Be happy when they learn to pick you up under the arms and not under the ears. It’s a milestone for them.

Feeding You

Your sibling will want to share any new skills they have learnt. It’s possible that feeding themselves is one of these skills. If your adults agree to let them help feed you, do not expect any consistency in what you are offered or how it’s offered. Common experiences can include difficulty in identifying the minute portion they have assigned to you; working out how you absorb yoghurt through your nose; and trying to identify whether you are being offered food, play dough, toy vehicle parts or some other item that your sibling has decided will be of nutritional value to you.

Present Giving

Otherwise known as bribery. It’s a good idea to buy them an arrival present. For your arrival that is. Anything small will do but it’s best if it something they will like. Trains are good for small boys. So are robots. They’re good for girls as well. You might want to take the advice of your parents for this one.

Kisses n Cuddles

Older siblings may be prone to bouts of physical affection. These could be regular or completely at random. You may have a sibling who gets protective when you are faced with strangers but doesn’t seem interested when you are alone . They tend to show their affections in two main ways. Kissing and cuddling. Expect kissing to be wet. You may or may not have any say about which part of your anatomy is at the receiving end. Don’t be too hard on them. It’s unlikely they have any control over it either.

Cuddles are slightly different and, well, squishier, with you taking on the role of the squishee. Again, they may opt for a full body hug, in which case be prepared to hold your breath, or a partial body hug. Perhaps a foot. If adults around you laugh, don’t worry, they’re not being unkind, they’re just sympathising with your feeling about the matter which will be written across your face. Clearly.


This is the darker side of your sibling but is a totally normal emotion. If you are the second child, they will be adjusting to a situation where they have less attention from surrounding adults on a one-to-one basis. It’s likely they’ll be expected to do more for themselves and they might not be prepared for this. Reactions can differ. Anger towards you, anger towards your parents, misbehaviour like hitting or pinching. Or they might just sit on you so they are physically between you and your parents who will step in to stop this if they witness it. If they don’t just make lots of noise.


This can be a tricky area to negotiate. It’s likely that any older sibling will be adhering to the Toddler Rules of Possession, which to summarise in four words, is “everything belongs to them”. Learn this early and learn it well. You may want to play with an intriguing object but beware if you reach for it. It may be snatched from under your nose, often with a cry of “no, that’s mine!” There are two ways you can overcome this problem. One is to wait until your adults are in the room; they will intervene and require your sibling demonstrate sharing behaviour. The second tactic is to switch your attention to another object. Do this quietly and without fuss and a toddler’s natural short attention span will see them distracted by something else leaving you with the pick of the toys.


Playing when there is an older sibling present is different. You will have to accustom yourself to having no control about play – the game, the toys, the location, your role…

The best thing to do is suffer through it, take the entertainment value where you can and remember that you will have time to play alone. Then you can be the boss.

I would like to  be able to tell you that things will get better as you get older but they will always be older than you. Take comfort in the fact that you might be the older sibling or cousin one day. Then it will be your turn.


A Tale of Two Bubbles


Bubble Trouble

Bubble Trouble

I was going through the annual ritual of bathing Motormouth and Mini when it struck me that they must have very different experiences of bath time.

Motormouth is quite happy to have his bath but he has one stipulation – Mini has to join him.

He is very much the more experienced of the two and needs to be surrounded by bath toys and plays quite complex games that involve submarines, Octonauts and trains (well he is a boy!). He will happily fill bottles, taking great delight in emptying them into the bath, over the side of the bath and, most often, over Mini’s head.

I think that’s partly why he wants Mini in there with him. Not so much to play with as a little sister but more as a toy. He’s especially keen to help wash her hair. Funnily enough, this involves dumping more bottles of water on her head.

For her part, Mini seems content watching the splashes as she slaps the water, or catching the odd plastic ball that floats past her. Or grabbing any stray parts of Motormouth that come into reach.

Fortunately she doesn’t seem at all bothered by him pouring water over her, though she does give me the odd look as if to ask “is this how it’s meant to go?” Bless her, she doesn’t cry. At least she hasn’t yet.

That is until I take her out of the bath, then it’s as if she is being tortured. I haven’t quite worked out why. It might be that she was having too much fun. It could be she doesn’t like the sudden cold or sensation of being wet. I suspect I will never know.

Maybe it’s the whole performance around bath time.

I remember when Motormouth was first born. We took endless care – using a special baby bath, making sure the water was exactly the right temperature, that we had everything to hand, including towels that were heated snuggly warm for him.

Now we’re much more blasé – as much because of the practical necessity of keeping two little ones occupied during the process, as a familiarity that makes us more comfortable in following our own instincts.

I have even been known to give Mini a quick bath in the sink, or douse her under the shower when I’ve had one of those nappies (you know the ones where it’s hard to work out where to start so you decide to hose everything (including the baby) down first). I think they have been interesting experiences for her, judging by the bemused look on her face.

This relaxing of the strict observance of the rules runs through pretty much everything with Mini. We aren’t as worried about half the things that used to keep us up at night with Motormouth. We don’t stress about the sniffles or the coughs. She doesn’t keep her socks on? Chuck a blanket over her. She falls over? Well, as long as she isn’t too noisy or too quiet, she’ll be fine, she needs to learn.

I know that experience makes us better parents – more confident, more able to deal with the little bumps that life sends us parents, but I have to admit I have wondered about whether different is as good for Mini.

Whilst we try and give them equal one-to-one time it can never measure up to the total attention that Motormouth had when he was her age. She will always have Motormouth there before her, whatever she does. First ride on the swings – he’s done it before. First time swimming – he’s splashed in the pool lots of times. First time seeing a sheep or a pig in real life – he’s petted them already.

So, is this just a different experience or is it a lesser one for Mini?

I hope it’s the former.


Dinosaurs and Pole Dancing

Motormouth, the Other Half and a Giant Ammonite

Motormouth, the Other Half and a Giant Ammonite

Well, we did it.

We braved the trip to London with a toddler and a tiny.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, since we managed to miss the worst of the commuter traffic.

Why did we go?

Motormouth had got to the end of his reward chart and was due a big treat. He decided he wanted to go to the dinosaur museum, so off we all trooped to the Natural History Museum.

I haven’t been there for years and I have to admit I remembered it a little bit differently (although it is quite possible my memory is faulty since years is, in fact, probably decades).

I had visions of Motormouth staring in awe at a giant blue whale that dominated a hall, or wanting to poke at scary hairy spiders pinned behind glass. What we actually got were loads of graphics and displays with some interactive toys for the kids – wooden flaps to lift, wheels to wind and so on. There were also lots, and lots, and lots of animals crowding the place. Motormouth enjoyed these, but I have to admit I felt a little cheated at missing the Wow moment. Still, perhaps my expectations were unrealistic.

What he liked most was a dinosaur head on a stick that had a mouth that opened and closed with a leaver. This was christened Mrs Dinosaur.

The train journey was something else. All the way up (80 minutes) Motormouth fired off questions. What was that building? What lives in the trees? Why do the tracks have stones on them? Why do cows drink water?

An older couple sitting near us found it amusing, probably because of Mini’s expression of resignation at the tirade.

The real fun came on the tube when Motormouth discovered that tube trains had upright poles. Needless to say, it didn’t take him long to persuade the Other Half to lift him up so he could slide down it like a fireman’s pole. Then he decided to dance round it. Literally.

If he was a little older, and in the right venue, he could probably make money at it.

I would like to state he doesn’t get the propensity for pole dancing from me – that all comes from the Other Half. There was a certain incident at a Christmas do when he was a lot younger, and a lot more limber, when he… well, perhaps I should leave it at that. It took place on a boat though.

There wasn’t any room for dancing on the train, despite that, he did his best. Fortunately, we soon managed to contain him in a window seat.  Less fortunately, he was too wired to sleep so again we had the questions. Oh, the questions.

It was time for the props to make their entrance, in the form of the inestimable Mrs Dinosaur.

She happily answered all of his questions, including the 97 relating to why he was a smelly boy and needed a shower when we got home. (The weather was very muggy, and he had been running around all day.) This lasted for 30 or so miles, by which time Mrs Dinosaur had a sore throat. (It’s a little better today, thanks for asking.)

I am sure Mrs Dinosaur will make future appearances, if only because she was so good at keeping Motormouth from climbing the walls, seats and any fireman-pole-like structures he happened to come across.

What I would like to know is, when do toddlers stop asking the same question sixteen times in a row? Is this something I get to look forward to for the foreseeable?

Oh, yeah, I was disappointed to find my pedometer was telling me porkies. There was no way that walking round London and the museum for 6 hours equated to a little over 5,000 steps. I can do that on a weekly shop!