Monday, 20 January 2014

Taking my 4 year old to London (also called "pass me the wine")

Boy vs London- a true story 

Arrive at Brent cross roughly around08:40. Get on tube. 

Boy: this train doesn't look underground. Where's Big Ben? Is it next to the Eiffel Tower? Can we see the Houses of Parliament? Guy Fawkes tried to blow them up and everyone loves him. We celebrate guy Fawkes day because he was a hero. 
(Swings round pole singing I love London)
Informed that Eiffel Tower is in another city. Asks to get train there after. 
Boy: will we see one direction? They are in London (sings one direction songs) 

Tube stops at golders green. Girl gets up "your son has made my day" Boy briefly interrogates her about why she's getting off the tube. He tries to get off as well. 
Pin him to seat and journey continues. 

Get off somewhere. Boy tries to run up the escalator when I'm holding onto him. We both nearly plummet to our death. He says he needs the toilet. I pay the 30p to get in the station toilets, go through the turnstile and Boy hasn't. He's standing there laughing saying he doesn't really need it. Hoik him over. Force him to wee then continue. 

Make our way towards Buckingham palace. Boy loudly shouts "why does the queen live here? I thought she was dead". Explain there were two queen Elizabeth's. Boy sees the queens guard horses. Tries to get close but
the police horses scare him. 

Runs through st James park. Tries to befriend the pigeons. Takes off at a sprint towards the road. Dad chases him, grabs his hood to catch him. Hood unpops from coat. Boy smacks his head on the ground. Between very loud sobs he shouts "daddy just threw me on the ground" repeat times 10. 

Get to Big Ben. See parliament. "Oh it's not still blown up" Boy looks disappointed. Get tube to south Kensington. Have tight grip on Boy as he tries to see the train tracks up close. 

Get to south Kensington. Look for somewhere for lunch. Boy sees homeless man in doorway. "Look he's camping. Silly man" repeated at volume. Go into Italian place for lunch. Boy orders meatballs. Without sauce. Meatballs arrive without sauce. Boy refuses to eat them as they have red pepper in and he thinks it's sauce. Man comes in wearing really bad wig. Boy screams "look at that mans stupid hair" across the restaurant. Man was sat at next table from us. Boy possibly only survived as man didn't speak English. 

Get to museum. Boy skips, sings and dances all around it. Occasionally saying "wow a real skull". Informs everyone within a 50 mile radius that dinosaurs all died because a meteor hit them 100 years ago. Asks me if I remember the ice age. Narrowly avoids being abandoned. 

Buys a dinosaur head on a stick that roars from gift shop. Spends all tube journey back roaring it at various passengers. 

This is just what I haven't blocked out

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The World Needs More Heroes

As I write this my twitter feed is awash with people lamenting the loss of Nelson Mandela. It has been a loss felt the world over, the man who went a long way towards changing the world and most definitely changed a country.

He leaves a mixed legacy. Yes he changed the world, yes he always stood up for his beliefs but to some he will always be a terrorist. For many who only knew of his fight against apartheid, the label of a terrorist will be a surprise. How could somebody fighting for the good of so many people be lumped in among those who commit atrocities in the name of their religion?

It all comes down to belief. Everyone has things that they believe in and that they would fight to the death to protect. However misguided these may be to some, they are what keep us breathing, give us the strength to continue on days we would rather give up and leave it to someone else to do. Unfortunately some people's beliefs mean that others will suffer. Terrible crimes committed in the name of religion and belief would almost have us believe that it is wrong to believe in anything that goes against the status quo.

Just think what would the world be like if the Pankhurst's, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela et al hadn't fought. If they had just lay down and accepted the discrimination, the threats against them and continued struggling on in a world in which they had no voice.

When we hear the word hero today it is likely that our minds may think of caped crusaders keeping the cities safe (thanks for that Marvel). Yet we often neglect to think of the true heroes. The ones who fight for the injustices we cannot fight ourselves. The people who have risked their lives in the fight for equality. The people who put themselves out there to ensure that our children grow up in a world where they really can be anything and anyone that they want.

Unfortunately, we still need more heroes. We need those who are not afraid to stand up for those who need it, who want to leave a legacy of more than being knocked out of the X Factor or being on some god awful reality show. We need to teach our children that there is more to life than being famous for the sake of being famous. We need to help them realise that anyone has the potential to change the world for the better, regardless of who they are. There is so much pressure to conform that we need to counteract it with how much better it is to go against the grain and make a real difference.

Despite how much we may moan about our lives, and despite the fact there are still many children in the UK going to bed hungry, scared or both, we have come such a long way in the past century and it is thanks to these heroes. It is our duty not to let their dreams die. The world needs more heroes such as these brave people who risked so much for what could have turned out to be nothing. Every day that we wake up and can choose where we sit, demand the same pay as our male counterparts (or even go out to work at all) and know that our children are free to play with whoever they choose regardless of race, class or gender, we should be thankful to those who have made all of this possible. The true heroes of the world.

They don't wear capes or fly but they sure as hell can put up a fight.

RIP Mandela. May your legacy never be forgotten.

"Mummy, be a mummy crocodile"

So there we are, a three (and a half, that bit is important apparently) year old and myself, freezing our fingers off waiting for the eldest boy child to finish school. I was happily trying to keep a hold of the pushchair in the gale force winds when I hear, "mummy, you can be the mummy crocodile ok?"
Errrr, alright then. What the flip does a mummy crocodile do? Whilst I stood racking my brains for my limited crocodile knowledge my daughter had transported us to an imaginary land where the following did not seem out of place.

Baby crocodile- "say, baby crocodile, are you hungry?"

Mummy croc- "are you hungry baby crocodile?"

Baby croc- "yes I am mummy crocodile"

Mummy croc- "what do baby crocodiles like to eat?"

Baby croc- "water" (Baby croc proceeds to get down on her hands and knees and lick a puddle. Yes, there were other parents at the school gate)

Mummy croc- "That looks tasty. Let's play another game. We can pretend to be at home in the warm with a cup of tea."

Baby croc- "No. You choose the animal now."

Mummy croc- (feeling slightly mean) "Ok, you can be a baby platypus"

Baby croc/platypus- "what does a plattapuff do?"

I'm not ashamed to say that I just wanted her to attempt the word platypus. Right now she struggles saying gloves and it comes out as 'glubs'. It feels like the last vestige of her toddlerhood. One day she will wake up and be able to pronounce platypus, gloves and yellow and I'll be sat there wondering where the heck the girl who licked a puddle went.

The little girl who loves batman, is desperate to do ballet (despite being a rather tall and solid little girl who falls in a heap attempting a basic spin) and has an obsession with Biff, Chip and Kipper (who, incidentally are first in my line of fire should I ever be handed a weapon). She is beautiful and funny but one day will give me a look of disdain when I ask her to hold my hand to cross the road or will only want to be around me if I am giving her a lift somewhere.

It hit home today that this time next year I will be picking her up from school. In 4 years time the baby will be there too and that will be that. They will be on their way to the years of homework, navigating their first 'relationships', exams and finally adulthood. I will admit that it has never occurred to me before that one day, in the not too distant future, they won't want to go everywhere with me and that even the lure of being allowed to sit in the front of the car or listen to what they want on the radio won't be enough.

It worries me that when they look back on this time, that should be carefree and fun, they might not remember the time we pretended to be animals out the front of the school, the time we went gruffalo hunting in the woods or when they woke up one morning to find that their dad had spent all night constructing them armour out of cardboard boxes (including Thor's hammer) and we battled for most of the morning. Instead my fear is that they might remember the stressing in the morning to get everyone out of the house, the times I said only one bedtime story because I just needed them to leave me alone for 5 flaming minutes or the times that they were in trouble.

It made me realise that I need to relax more. I can do it at work with 25 children so why is it so difficult with only 3? Could it be that these three are my sole responsibility. What I do now creates the adults that they will become. I understand that they need structure and discipline to a degree but somewhere along the way I haven't made enough time for fun.

I'm going to attempt one fun thing a day. Don't get me wrong I'm not sitting them in a dark room the rest of the time, but I am going to make time to spend 1:1 time with them doing something that they enjoy. Whether that is playing Doc McStuffin's, making and eating our weight in cornflake cakes or simply splashing in the biggest puddles on the way home, I will do something that makes us all smile every day.

And when the day comes that one of them learns to make a cup of tea and fancies rewarding me for the times I've let mine go cold to do something they might find fun then that will be my job well done!