Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Trials of Two and the Swinging Sixes

Well the last month, as I've let you all know, has been pretty busy. It's not so much the organising parties, making presents and cooking, but also the keeping up with our online lives, that makes for jam-packed evenings. Plus, with the children going to bed later and later, I find I'm having to fit in all of this studious activity into fewer and fewer hours. Luckily we're working hard at keeping Ted awake during the day and allowing him maybe a half hour sleep at most. This transition from one day sleep to none at all is certainly arduous and I remember feeling exhausted from it with Harry as well. The worst thing of course, is that the last half of the day you're left with little more than a limp, whinging, crying, mass of flesh that once used to be your child. Of course you haven't usually seen them since about 3pm, so by the time 7pm rolls around the idea of bed is just so appealing that you usually try to push it before they're ready...and of course that leads to more tears of exhaustion...

But Ted never disappoints in making me laugh, smile and see the joy in life for the first six hours or so that he's awake. We've been constantly blown away here by how mature his emotional awareness and language is. My latest story of Ted (anyone I have seen in person in the last week can skip the next paragraph, I think I've told everyone alive this little tale) is how he took the Gromit doll that was Harriet's from when she was a baby, and started playing with it out in the playroom. Harriet never takes an interest in this doll until Ted wants to play with it, so cue cries and anguish over it "not being fair" etc. James kneels down and has a little discussion with Harry about it all and then turns to Ted and says "So Ted was there anything you wanted to say to Harriet?", not actually thinking that he *would* say anything but wanting to invovle him in the discussion.

To our amazement Ted goes up to Harriet, touches her gently on the arm and says with real meaning, "Harriet I know it's your Gromit, but I'm playing with it now and he was down the side of the bed". I mean - c'mon! How empathetic is that?! I audibly gasped, ran into the study and wrote it down word for word so I could relate it all here on the blog. He also loves to say things like tonight, when Harriet threw some cushions around and got very angry "Harriet threw those around because she is angry". In fact his favourite type of sentences are 'because' statements.

One of the things he does which is hilarious, is whisper. He whispers when he KNOWS that what he is saying is a lie. It's seriously funny. He whispers things usually whilst also nodding in an affirming manner - "I am allowed to get your phone Mama. I'm going to find it and give it to you because it's yours". Uh huh. And when I say to him "Ted do you want to find my phone just because you want to play with it?" he says, with a sheepish aside, "Yes". Oh dear. He is completely obsessed with my phone. Seriously. OBSESSED. I can't answer it when he's around and have to surreptitiously send SMS to prevent the clinging and asking. I find it surprising, because I don't actually have any apps on my phone. So...why the love? He is so happy to sit there and change my ringtone (he says to me, with the same little eager nod, "Mama I can change your ringtone if you like?") and if he has it for even a minute or two to play with it's screaming all 'round when I take it back. I honestly do not know how people who let their children self regulate with computers/screen time/iPads/iPhones can handle it, it's like a drug. And my god, if anyone says to me again "Oh but they need to be exposed to the technology to keep up with it", I mean, seriously, get a grip. If an 18mth old baby can successfully navigate their way around an iPad, I don't think there's too much to worry about in terms of what there is to learn, sheesh. How about learning how to speak to someone in a conversation, or how to pour water, or cut with scissors, or make shadows?

Anyway, my ranting about children and technology aside, two is a rather trying age just generally. I recently read this fantastic blog post about parenting a two year old here, thanks to Lou who introduced me to the blog. So instead of me trying to paraphrase what she's written, I highly recommend a read of the yoghurt experience she outlines, expand that to about thirty different experiences during the day, and then imagine your head exploding by about 7pm. You might be just about where I am.

Enter, stage left, my surprise helping hand - Harriet! Harriet has been so sweet lately. I mean sure, she's still driven crazy by the stuff Ted (inadvertently) does to annoy her, but I have had her come up to me often and softly touch my elbow and ask "Are you ok, Mama" when I've let out a sigh or clipped out a request a bit brusquely. I've been the recipient of many lovingly offered hugs, and seen a burgeoning independence in her that I must admit to often despairing of ever seeing. Little things that no doubt others would be amazed are still an issue, but Harriet has never helped herself to food, never poured herself a drink - I think she has been worried about doing something incorrectly or making a mess. But just of late she has been seen to munch on an apple she got for herself from the fridge. Honestly, this is worthy of blogging, so fundamental has her aversion to independence been. I even seem to remember a few times where she has dressed herself. I know, I know, I can hear what you're thinking - SHE'S SIX! For the love of god, she SHOULD be doing those things! But she just...hasn't. Ted, well, he's already determined to do everything "by myself" and eschews the helping hand as if it were coated in poison. But Harry, bless her quirky little self, is only starting to realise how liberating these actions are.

I've even been able to procure the odd smiling portrait here and there. I try not to push my luck too much, so reserve it for moments like preserving her love of the fairy outfit she received from Nana and Grandpa for her birthday. The birthday was very fairycentric this year, which Harriet just loved! James and I are trying to slowly move her reading into something a little more challenging (she's now reading the fairy books in about 20mins each, and considering they follow a tight formula each time means they're hardly taxing material). So we bought her The Spiderwick Chronicles in the hope of moving her reading along, whilst still engaging hr love of fairies. I'm also reading The Borrowers to her some evenings, and she loves sitting there, curled up on the lounge, discussing how high Arrietty must be, and how scary it is to be 'seen'. I can't wait for her to be ready for the next stage of books I know is right around the corner - Narnia, Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil Frankweiler, Harriet the Spy (of course!!!), A Wrinkle in Time and just so many others it hurts to hang on to it all and not want to push her into the literary fray and throw my arms above my head all the while screaming "Look! Look! This stuff is AWESOME! Read THIS! And THIS! And THIS!". *deep calm breath*

So, while we're still in the fairy fray, we had the fairy party on the weekend. The fairy came, and she only offended twice which was quite impressive given the number of topics upon which I (and my friends) can be offended by. What was offensive, I hear you ask? Well apparently the boys in the pass the parcel game couldn't be happy with their little toys, and would have preferred guns, which she was searching for and couldn't find any more for them. GUNS? Huh? I mean, is what you're telling me that because someone has a penis they can't like a flower, or a hair clip? My goodness, Ted wants to dress up with the necklaces and bracelets more than Harriet ever does. And who wants their child to be encouraged to shoot others rather than smell a flower anyway, regardless of their sex? Anyway, unnecessarily gendered items aside, the fairy was actually really great. She captured all of the children's attention, played a wide range of games with them, and most importantly, Harriet loved it. From my point of view though I have to say I thought she was a little less enraptured than I would have otherwise thought, so I wonder if the fairy focus may be on its way out of its own (very slow) accord. Maybe it was seeing the fairy arrive and realising that she really was just a person in an outfit? I'm not sure but either way, I think we'll discard any fairy Christmas present ideas.

She really enjoyed being the centre of attention which was lovely to see, since she is going through this new 'shy' phase. I was also really touched by how all the families who attended took the present request to heart and either made something (she received some truly gorgeous presents) or kept the plastic away. My personal fave was this totally left of centre cat ceramic jar. Oh man is it *funky*, I seriously love it! Of course it is Harriet's, but I'm not averse to having it on general display too.

And as happens every year, I am always taken aback by how quickly Father's Day looms up after Harriet's birthday. And, as always, I feel bad that James is not going to receive something handmade from me. But my plan for cider out at our local club over the long, languid course of the afternoon should surely soothe any frayed nerves at being 'forgotten'. And after a week or so of relaxation, I turn again to the thought of what to make for Christmas.

Got to go, Ted is waking but have to leave you with this delicious shot of him emerging from the beach last week. James had the day off, Harriet was ill and all four of us were down at the completely deserted beach enjoying our favourite food - tofu burgers!


jay said...

oh Cass, what a wonderful post, so much, so much. The party was great and the fairy far less offensive that i had anticipated (water guns aside), but yes i do think there was a degree of hmmm wait a second this isn't quite what i had in mind as a fairy, Poe definitely had a few questions and then decided that he liked his fairies better but she was still a good party fairy (not a real fairy just a person in dress up).
Re Harry and Ted and their emotional development, how exciting, I love seeing things like compassion, empathy and cheekiness evolve in a way that just confirms how we have chosen to parent. Yes there are trying times but the delightful times just give a nod to the path we have chosen. Oh my, does that sound just a bit too full on, eek, oh well, luckily i know that you know what i mean. Congratulations you on being such an awesome parent, i have said it at lease fifty billion times and will continue to do so but you are an amazing and inspiring parent. Enjoy those fruits. love to you

Lou said...

now how does one come in here and comment after jay's said it all?!!
I love that balloon photo, wow-wee.
I want to taste some of this lemon curd one day. Hint hint...