Wednesday, 14 March 2018

How to Write a Good...Blarb

The writing theme continues in one of my favourite moments from Mothers' Day. In a clear step up from text messages, Eddie made a card for me. It was a card with a difference, though: It had its own, erm, 'blarb'.

In case your deciphering-a 6-year-old's-handwriting-spectacles are not to hand, it says:

Small boy cald Freddie rites mothers day card to his mum.

And there's not really much to argue with about that. Killer blurb-writing, I say.

In place of the usual flowers or chocolates, my gift was a brown moleskin notebook. They know me well, this family of mine. But another treat of the day was watching Eddie and Gertie perform in an Irish dancing version of Grease. Yes, you did read that right.

Mini-Danny definitely enjoyed having his Pink Ladies in tow.

And, finally, Hearth-Father got to celebrate too, with the keenly anticipated arrival of a hot-off-the-press memoir detailing his mother's childhood in India - courtesy of Great-Hearth-Aunt! Stories of his mother and her sisters dodging cobra-bites, collecting pods from the Tamarind tree, playing with pet goats and riding in a gharry provided welcome insight into his roots. Hearth-Father, it seems, is descended from three generations who served the Raj.

Currently reading: Front Verandah - Back Verandah by Anne Grieger. (When I can wrestle it from Hearth-Father.)

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Modern Hieroglyphics

I received my first ever text message from Eddie whilst I was away with work in Uganda. Before I left we watched The Emoji Movie, which might explain some of the influences, but it took a little deciphering:

And whilst the English teacher in me has a few issues with spelling here, I loved the progress that had been made by the second! Just need to work on Geography now.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Future Careers

Gertie has announced, from the lofty position of Year 6, that she would like to be a 'human rights' lawyer.

I think she might be actually be headed into discrimination and gender equality law. This term's topic at school is 'Explorers', and asked to choose from the list of famous explorer names on the board one to research independently, she immediately raised her hand and asked why they were all male.

Then, this afternoon I went to pick her up from 'Girls' Football' club after school. I wondered why she looked completely dry given the drizzle. 'Oh no, we played in the hall because it was wet. We can't play outside when it is wet because we only do football on the playground, not on the field.' I enquired as to whether this was the same for the boys.

'No. But don't worry, Mum, I'm already planning to raise it at school council next week...' 🙂

Still we've come a long way since the Intelligent Parents' Manual of 1944, where I have reached this little gem: 

Currently reading: All That Man Is by David Szalay

Friday, 5 January 2018

Vicious Viscosity

So, what sadist designed this little package?

John Adams, whoevever he be, has a sense of humour.

Gilby and Eddie were, of course, desperate to get involved in this little box of goodies. And, in a titanically bad bit of planning where I had a double play date for Gertie on the last day of the holidays (and I badly needed to mark books and plan lessons), I agreed. Seven plus. Should be fine for a reasonably intelligent eight-year-old and his six-year-old brother, I thought. How bad can it be? 

Now, I should know by now, that whenever I cheerfully have the 'how bad can it be?' thought, the answer is always, 'Very bad indeed'. I had, of course, neglected to notice that the large '7+' on the box actually had an 'under adult supervision' tag line in the instructions themselves.

Thus far we have fart-powder, snot and tears (though I don't think tears were actually one of the chemical compounds). Not to mention one ruined carpet, towel and washing up sponge. That snot is viscous. Not to mention vicious. And there are still far too many pots and potions and unused things left over for my liking.

Eddie's cuteness whilst wearing the safety goggles, and Gilby's earnestness in correctly following the instructions, are the only reasons they remain alive today.

Currently reading: Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

Friday, 29 December 2017

On Durex and Mashed Potato

In her dotage Hearth-Great-Grandma collected Andrex puppies. She saved up hundreds of coupons from toilet tissue wrappers and added to her soft-toy assemblage over several years. She was obsessed with them. When she died we took a couple away in her memory, and now the kids play with them. Yesterday they began a process of renaming different toys. 

'But you can't,' said Gilby, pointing to the stuffed Labradors, and exclaiming very loudly and publically, 'These ones are all called DUREX!'

In other news, we have taken the plunge and planned a New Year's Eve party at home for the first time in a decade. For the first time post-children, in fact. They are going to be safely shipped off to grandparents for the night, ensuring that things are able to get well and truly out of hand.

We had great fun thinking about invitations and who would come, and in the end decided that we would make it for the villagers, allowing us to use the 'hilarious' slogan: A Local Party for Local People. We got Gertie to take a kind of campaign photograph on the doorstep, arms outstretched for a handshake; placards and rossettes on display.

Hearth-Father went off delivering, gleefully, and returned, still in role, announcing that, 'The invitations have been despatched!'

'What do you mean, the potatoes have been mashed?' Eddie asked.

'And that, I announced triumphantly, is why you can come back on New Year's Day.'

Happy new year everyone! 

Intelligent Parenting: In My Dreams

When I began writing these blogposts eight years ago, I think I envisaged a light-hearted look at the humorous escapades of my growing family. I don't think I realised that they would, in fact, be much more revealing of my own flaws and parental inadequacy. 

Take yesterday, for instance. After a week of living in close proximity to both the nuclear and the extended family over the festive period, my ability to cope with the constant mess resulting from incessant meal-making and food-production reached its limit.

'Right,' I snarled, staring in horror at all the crumbs on the floor at the end of lunch and after I'd already vacuumed once that morning, 'Things are going to change around here!' 

I paused, realising that I hadn't quite thought through precisely how they were going to change. 

Thankfully, inspiration struck. I stood Gertie, Gilby and Eddie in a line. 

'You are each going to take it in turns to clear up after every meal, including getting the Hoover out,' I yelled in the manner of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. (Actually, it's a Dyson, but we're quite partial to a propriety eponym in this house.) 

I circled, menacingly, to deliver the final learning outcome. 'Perhaps that will make you more careful about dropping crumbs!' I finished firmly, and with a self-congratulatory nod to myself at the end.

There was a short pause, then some shrugs of acquiescence.

'But Mummy, I don't know how to use the Hoover,' remembered Eddie, suddenly.

Um, OK, well. I didn't realise that- how remiss of me - but it was easily solved. I was very patient and parenty as I helped him to do it for the first time.

When it came to Gilby's turn after dinner, I reminded him to wipe down the table before doing the floor. 

'No problem,' he agreed. 'Where's the cloth?' 

Now, I can just about cope with the fact that the youngest hasn't used a Hoover, but if Gilby doesn't know where the kitchen cloth is kept that must mean that he has never, ever wiped anything down in his eight years on this earth. 

And whose fault is that? It can only be mine. 

Luckily, Maternal Hearth-Grandpa sent me this:

I am confident that this 1944 edition is going to sort me right out.

Hearth-Father also saw fit to present me with this for Christmas:

So, between the two of them we are about to work out a few things in this house. 2018 is going to be a whole different place.

Currently reading: The Faithful by Juliet West (as well as the above!)

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Characterisation through Rubik's Cubes

I owned one in the eighties (who didn't?) but was never interested enough to solve a Rubik's cube.

According to an official-sounding website : 'In 1974, a young Professor of architecture in Budapest named Erno Rubik created an object that was not supposed to be possible. His solid cube twisted and turned - and still it did not break or fall apart. With colourful stickers on its sides, the Cube got scrambled and thus emerged the first “Rubik’s Cube”. It took well over a month for Erno to work out the solution to his puzzle. Little did he expect that Rubik’s Cube would become the world’s best-selling toy ever. As a teacher, Erno was always looking for new, more exciting ways to present information, so he used the Cube’s first model to help him explain to his students about spatial relationships. Erno has always thought of the Cube primarily as an object of art, a mobile sculpture symbolizing stark contrasts of the human condition: bewildering problems and triumphant intelligence; simplicity and complexity; stability and dynamism; order and chaos.

Well, in our household it seems to illustrate not just stark contrasts in the human condition, but start contrasts in character.

Presented with a cube each, they have responded in very different ways.

Gilby has spent hours meticulously researching solutions. (I suspect that Father Christmas might even bring him a book on it.) He takes it in logical stages and is making good, if somewhat slow, progress. His eight-year-old mind wants to understand this thing.

Eddie has...ripped the stickers off and made the whole thing black so that it is perpetually 'solved'.