The Adventure of Superheroes and Dreams

All my Noah wants in life is to be a superhero. Judging by the number of superheroes that exist in the world of television these days, I am quite sure that a lot of four-year-olds share the same dream. Of course, with Noah, the superhero fixation is intense. And although I find it charming, although I am proud of the boy’s imagination, I do find it all a teeny tiny bit exhausting.

Example:

Last night, my husband was working late, therefore not in the proximity at bedtime. Noah knows what’s what. He knows what he can get away with. He knows I am the weaker one, the one with the more wobbly and changeable rules. My husband is the first to attest that Noah never plays him up at bedtime. Oh no. He saves that particular superpower for me. Two minutes after I said goodnight and left him in his bedroom, he was calling me. I trudged back upstairs.

“I need to be blue, Mummy,” he said. “Blue like the Blue Beetle. How can I get a blue face?”

“You can get face paints. Goodnight, Noah.”

“Will face paints make my face blue?”

“Yes.”

“All over my face and my eyes?”

“Yes. Now, goodnight.”

“But not inside my eyes, Mummy.”

“No, not inside your eyes.”

“Because if paint gets inside my eyes, I won’t be able to see. And it will hurt.”

“Okay. Goodnight now, Noah.”

“Wait, Mummy! What about my feet? How can I get blue feet?”

“You can put face paint on those too. You should have been asleep ages ago so I’m going now.”

“Face paints on the face of my feet?”

“Er…yes…”

“And my legs?”

“Yes.”

“Both sides of my legs?”

“Yes.”

“And I need blue arms.”

“You can use face paints. We’ll get lots of face paints and you can be painted completely blue. But right now, you need to go to sleep.”

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A lot to answer for

Every day, Noah wants to dress up as a superhero. He can go through several different personas in the space of fifteen minutes. I have to watch his superhero moves on my bed. “Watch this, Mummy!” And he launches up in the air at a contorted angle. “And Mummy! Watch this!” And he attempts some sort of gymnastics, landing in a heap. Putting the washing away takes about half an hour because I have to enthuse over so many of Noah’s moves. The bedsheets, pillows and mattress protector have to be reattached to my bed several times a day. There is no escape from the superhero downstairs, either. He launches off my chair (which I am not allowed to sit in) and throws himself across the room crying “Super cat speed!” Every time he needs to pick something up, he declares “Super Gekko muscles!”

I am also required to be a superhero myself in role plays where Noah is director, creator and controller of the game. He tells me everything I have to say and every move I have to make. I often get things wrong which enrages him. There is no room for improv on my part and no opportunity for my own creative exploration. Noah is a creative dictator.

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I’ll be Batman and you be…the green one…and you stand over there and don’t say anything

Noah’s passions have always been relentless from the moment he was born. His first passion, of course, was breastfeeding. As a baby, this was all he was interested in doing all day and (especially) all night. Until he discovered the delights of food and breastfeeding was just at night. All night.

Noah is a spirited and an intense child and I often question whether I am cut out to be the mother of a spirited and intense child. I wonder whether I’m getting it wrong somehow. When we are in a restaurant and Noah is hanging upside down from his seat, refusing to talk in anything but baby speak, refusing to eat anything, I look around the restaurant and every other child of his age is sitting there eating dinner calmly. I have no idea how other parents manage this. Okay, so a lot of these quiet children are on ipads so maybe I do know how a lot of parents manage this…But I have to wonder – did I eat too much Haribo when I was pregnant? Did I make Noah like this? Because I did eat a lot of Haribo.

And yet, as my Dad is fond of saying, it’s the Noahs who change the world. Passion is a gift. Spirit is a gift. Dreams are a gift. So I play along with these superhero games with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. I often find myself gritting my teeth and waiting for Noah’s phases to pass. But do I actually want this phase to pass? Do I want Noah to give up on wanting to be a superhero and get the bad guys? Do I want him to stop believing he can do the impossible?

Hell no.

Today I turn 35. Every time I think of this, I feel like a bucket of ice has been tipped over my head. I am closer to 40 than I am to 30. I am virtually middle-aged. I have grey in my hair and frown lines between my eyebrows and little pouches under my eyes when I smile. I have a little lump that comes and goes on my leg, about the size of the fingernail on my little finger, and I am terrified it will turn into a varicose vein. My metabolism gets a bit slower every hour (although that could have something to do with the amount of jaffa cakes I consume to get me through each day). Today I turn 35 – that magical age when a woman’s fertility suddenly takes a nose dive because my eggs are all old and my ovaries are weary. Yesterday, when I was 34, I was so much more fertile than I am today. But today I turn 35 and I am still chasing after my dream.

Since I was twelve, I have wanted to write novels. In fact, I have written several novels. I wrote a series of novels when I was a teenager. Think Sweet Valley High. Think Sweet Dreams. Think Point Romance. I created my own version called The Kool Kids. I wanted to have a novel published before I was 30. When I was 28, I decided I had better get cracking so I religiously wrote for 20 minutes every single day. After ten months voila I had my first novel. Alas, it wasn’t good enough. So when I went to Vienna and faced two years of unemployment, I decided to neglect my Hausfrau duties (such as doing the washing or tidying up) and spend my free time writing another novel. But an average literary agent receives fifty unsolicited manuscripts a week from people like me. That’s 2600 a year. An average literary agent takes on about three of these writers. This is the kind of thing they teach you at the writing events I have been to: how unlikely it is that you will ever get published. The book I have just written is better than the book I wrote six years ago. But is it good enough? Look at the odds.

If this novel gets rejected 50 times, if this novel doesn’t make it, it will be disappointing. No, it will be soul destroying. Every rejection hurts. Of course it does. I am not particularly resilient by nature. I am not particularly confident or driven. But eventually, I know for a fact, my soul will heal, I will get over it and I will start writing another novel and maybe that will be the one. Who knows?

My spirit and determination is altogether a quieter thing than Noah’s. But I am 35 and I still have a dream. I still have a dream because my Mum and Dad believe in me and they are as close to real life superheroes as you can get. By the time Noah is 35, I hope he is everything he wants to be. And if he isn’t, I hope he still has a dream.

So when Noah is at nursery today, I will go to the shops and find him some face paint. A lot of face paint. And I will come home and paint him blue if that is what he wants. And I will let him paint me green. Or red. Or stripy. I will do whatever I need to do to keep him believing he is a superhero for as long as I possibly can.

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Present Boy…Superpowers include unwrapping other people’s presents and camouflaging himself in the wrapping paper.

P.S. Can anyone tell me where to buy face paints??


 

The Adventure of More Than Tantrums

My Noah is going through one of those phases again. The naughty phase. The angry phase. The phase where he flat out refuses to get dressed in the morning. Where he holds off going to the toilet for hours on end and sometimes does poo in his pants because he waits so long, he doesn’t get to the toilet in time. The phase where I have absolutely no idea what to do or how to help him.

But why? Why does he go through these phases? Yes, young children are notorious for having tantrums. But at times like this, I can’t believe that Noah’s anger, frustration, temper and aggression are within the realms of normal four-year-old tantrums. Yesterday, he pulled me across the room by my hair because I pressed the pause button on the iPad when he wanted to do it.

He has everything. What’s missing in his life that makes him so angry? What can I do to make him better? Telling him off makes everything worse. What is going on in his head? Should I go and speak to the doctor about him? Or is this just how some children develop?

I have returned to work two days a week. My Mum and Dad take him to nursery and look after him for half a day each. He is particularly difficult getting dressed for my Mum. I usually send her a message just before I go into my first lesson at nine o’clock to see how the morning has gone so far. Last week her response was “don’t ask”. When I got home there was toothpaste all over the armchair. My Mum had brought the toothbrush and flannel to him after failing to get him to wash in the bathroom. He had taken the toothpastey toothbrush and rubbed it over the chair. Yesterday he was hiding in the corner refusing to get washed and dressed when he was due at nursery any minute. I found myself standing in the middle of the staffroom shouting down the phone, “Noah, get dressed immediately or you won’t be able to watch and television for the rest of the day!” To which he replied, “NEVER! GO AWAY!”

The slightest thing can set him off. He is engulfed and powerless in the clutches of his own temper.

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Mid rage

Last week, he picked two daisies on his way out of nursery. In the back of the car on the way home, he dropped one of them. Because I didn’t immediately pull the car over and retrieve it, he started doing his nut, kicking the seat in front, trying to get out of his car seat. When we got home, he refused to get out of the car, lashing out at me as I tried to unstrap him. “GO AWAY!” he screamed at me. So I did. I locked the car door and went inside and watched him out of the window. He stopped crying, managed to wriggle out of his seat belt, climbed into the front so he was sitting behind the steering wheel and pretended to drive the car, merrily switching the hazard lights on and off whilst he was at it. Then he suddenly started screaming his head off, even worse than before. I bolted back outside and dragged his thrashing body from the car. He stood on the pavement, frantically swiping at his eyes, his screams so high pitched I am surprised I could even hear them. He was genuinely distressed and panicked. The problem seemed to be that his eyes hurt. I didn’t know what to do. Did he have something in his eye? Was he reacting to the light? Did he have some sort of migraine? Had he developed meningitis because I left him in the car? I got him to the bathroom and bathed his eyes with a damp flannel. If this didn’t work, I was absolutely going to put him back in the car, drive him to the doctor and insist on being seen. But it did work. He calmed down. I noticed his hands were filthy. He must have rubbed his eye and got something in it. Afterwards, we sat on the bathroom floor, him gripping on to me for dear life. “I will never really go away when you tell me to,” I said. “I will never, ever leave you.”

I decided to devise a reward system for him. I went to Wilko and brought five toys costing £1 each – finger dinosaurs, glitter, a craft kit, two boxes of their own brand lego and a book. I wrapped them all up individually and put them in a bag. Then I drew lots of houses on a sheet of A3 paper. Each house has five windows and when he is a good boy, he gets a smiley face sticker to put in a window. When all the windows of a house have a smiley face in them, he gets to choose one of the presents. I thought this was a genius idea…

As I was explaining the workings of the chart to Noah, he wanted to draw on it. He picked up a pen. I stopped him: I am Controller of the Chart, not him. And that was it. All of his pens were flung across the room. He bit my hand. Everything on the table was swept on to the floor. His tower of DVDs was knocked over. He was screaming. He bit me. I felt the very blood bubbling in my veins. I was about to lose it. “Why are you so naughty?!” I asked him, not at all calmly. “GO AWAY!” he screamed. So I put him in the garden for time out. If I put him anywhere in the house, he wouldn’t stay there and his rage would continue to make his behaviour destructive. And I needed to calm down. So he sat on the back step glowering at me through the glass door whilst I picked up all the things he had thrown on the floor. He didn’t attempt to come inside. He needed a wee so he pootled over to the bush and pulled his swimming trunks down and relieved himself right there. Then he picked up his tennis racket and starting pushing stones into the holes.

We needed to leave and go to his swimming lesson (hence the swimming trunks). I didn’t tell him off. I didn’t tell him that he wouldn’t be able to watch any more television that day as a punishment (although that was his actual punishment). It was his first swimming lesson in a new class and we couldn’t miss it. I was completely drained.

When we got to the changing room and he took his clothes off, I suddenly smelt poo. Noah’s poo to be precise (I can detect it from a mile off).

“Do you need to go to the toilet?” I asked him.

“No,” he replied.

I sniffed the air. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure not.”

“Turn around,” I said.

And there was poo all over the back of his trunks.

I closed my eyes and tried to breathe, tried to think. Was this my fault? Was he so traumatised by me putting him in the garden for time out that he pooed himself? He definitely didn’t have poo on his swimming trunks when we left home because I put his jogging bottoms on over them and I would have noticed. And what the hell was I going to do? Miss the swimming lesson? Could I put his clean pants on and hope the swimming teacher wouldn’t notice?

I took him to the toilet and got the trunks off him. I wiped his bum and then wondered if I could rinse the trunks under the tap. But that was unhygienic. I might give some innocent person gastro enteritis or something from rinsing pooey trunks in a communal sink. So I drenched a wad of toilet paper in water and attempted to wipe the poo off the trunks in this manner.

We went to the poolside for the swimming lesson, Noah in soaking wet but not terribly pooey trunks. My husband (who took Noah for his swimming assessment the week before) had already informed me that they taught with floats rather than armbands which I wasn’t wild about. Then the teacher directed me to the viewing area to watch the lesson. So I couldn’t sit by the poolside and be ready to jump in and save my child if necessary. The viewing area was behind glass windows in a whole other room. I sat on the edge of my seat, craning my neck so I could watch what was going on. There was only one other little boy in the lesson. I watched Noah swim from one side of the pool to the other with a variety of floats. I was impressed. My husband has been taking Noah swimming and took part in his lessons while we were in Vienna. I hadn’t seen him swim for ages. He was leagues better than the other little boy. And then the teacher took his floats away. He started to swim across the pool with no armbands, no floats, only his two little arms and two little legs propelling him through the water. My heart was in my mouth. I stood up and squashed my nose and cheek against the glass.

He did it. He swam across the pool on his own. He can swim!

And just like that, all of his previous antics of the afternoon paled to insignificance. It didn’t matter that he had been naughty. It didn’t matter that he had taken a chunk out of my hand. He wasn’t enraged and screaming and distressed. He was a confident and brilliant little boy swimming without armbands for the very first time. And there were tears of joy and tears of pride hidden very deep in my eyes (because I’m not one to cry).

He is so very challenging and so very wonderful. And I am so very glad he is mine. I just wish I knew how to teach him to react to life a little more calmly. After all, life will test him far more than not being able press the pause button on an iPad.

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Noah’s first present from the chart – finger dinosaurs. They went in the bath with him and then to bed with him. I haven’t seen them since. 

 

The Adventure of Living with Mini Maker

Six weeks ago, I glanced at Noah and did a double take. Not only was he sitting down with a colouring book in front of him, miraculously, he was actually colouring in. Up until this point, Noah’s interaction with colouring books involved him picking up a crayon (usually black) and scribbling all over the picture on the page, then turning to the next page and doing the same until the whole colouring book was one mass of scribbled out pictures. To my dismay, I found Noah could actually colour in amazingly well for a three year old. And thus, Mini Maker was born.

Noah is a child who develops obsessional phases with things. As quickly as these phases come, they are gone again. Once he had an obsession with clementines and would eat at least five every day. When he was eighteen months old, he had an obsession with sticker books. “Stick-stick” was one of his first words. I was spending about £30 a month on the things and that was me limiting myself. His latest obsession is arts and crafts and, like most of Noah’s obsessions, this one is relentless and exhausting.

Every day when I pick him up from kindergarten, he presents me with a pile of drawings which he claims are for me. When my husband gets home from work, he is then presented with the same drawings which are now for him. Sometimes, the kindergarten make things with the children to adorn the walls. Noah has issues with this. He doesn’t want to leave things he has made at kindergarten, he wants to bring them home the very same day. A couple of weeks ago, I arrived to find cardboard owls hanging from the ceiling. Noah pointed out his one and wanted to take it home. “You can take it home next week,” the practitioner told him. A meltdown ensued. The owl was removed from the ceiling and has since been sitting on our bookshelf. We spent most of that week making owls at home. We must have made ten owls, one of which was taken back into kindergarten and presented to the pedagog.

Whenever we go back to England, my Aunt buys Noah a present. When we returned in October, she had bought him a whole bag of arts and crafts goodies – colouring pencils, stickers, a sharpener, pencil case, coloured paper, scissors and, Noah’s favourite, “MY VERY OWN SELLOTAPE!!!” I left him with my Dad while I went to look at a primary school we are thinking of sending him to. When I left at 9 a.m., Noah and Dad were at the kitchen table making things with pompoms and pipe cleaners. When I returned at 11 a.m., Noah and Dad were still at the kitchen table making things with pompoms and pipe cleaners.

I stalk Pinterest for ideas. It’s like being a teacher all over again, planning my lessons with Noah. He knows his own mind when it comes to his artistic creations. He knows his own mind full stop. He won’t be guided and our creations are never Pinterest worthy. The week of Halloween, we did potato stamping in the shape of a pumpkin. But Noah didn’t like the pumpkins having eyes and mouth so he painted over them. We also did finger-painting around a bat shape on black paper. This was a particular favourite and he asked to do it again a few days later. When he said, “I want to make a bat,” I thought he said, “I want to make a rat,” so I cut him out a giant rat shape. This caused a meltdown until I finally understood what he meant. Then he painted the rat too.

If I hear the Mr. Maker theme tune, I have to shoot across the room and pay full attention because, at some point that day, I will be asked to replicate whatever it was Mr. Maker made.
Noah: Can you draw me what Mr. Maker drew this morning?
Me: What was it?
Noah: That thing that Mr. Maker drew this morning!
Me: What did Mr. Maker draw this morning?
Noah: I don’t know. Do you know?
Me: No, I don’t know. What did it look like?
Noah: A fridge with feet.
Me: A fridge? A fridge that we put food inside? With feet?
Noah: I SAID I WANT THAT THING THAT MR MAKER DID DRAW THIS MORNING!!!!

Obviously, I am delighted Noah is exploring his creative side. I am delighted that he has proved himself capable of sitting down and doing an activity calmly for a prolonged period of time. But as well as the fact that his constant desire to make things is intense, it is also problematic in other ways. Firstly, it’s expensive. I bought him a big pack of paper and set of felt tip pens (never again) in IKEA and they were used up within a week. I’ve also bought him countless craft kits – wooden elephants, paper boxes, foam dinosaurs, Christmas cards. Second problem: it’s messy. Last week, I was on the phone to the council about reinstating our parking permit and Noah was painting at the kitchen table. He spilt an entire pot of blue paint on my Mum’s upholstered chair. I had to phone her in hospital to break the news. Today, Noah started to paint the outside of the paint pots. I told him to stop so he roared in outrage and threw the purple paint pot at the white kitchen wall. He has several tops I cannot get the paint out of to save my life. But my biggest problem is that I am running out of ideas. We have already made Christmas cards for everyone we know. Maybe we should make Happy New Year cards too…

Maybe my Noah will be a world famous artist one day. Maybe he will win the Turner Prize and I will be interviewed about what he was like as a child and I will be able to regale journalists with these tales. Most likely, Noah will have grown out of this phase by Christmas and all the craft kits I have stuffed his sack with will remain unopened, left on the shelf to grow dusty because that is the way things go with a three year old. Or is that just my Noah?

Mini Master Maker
Mini Master Maker


The Twinkle Diaries

The Adventure of Toys, Toys, Toys and Treehouses

Christmas.
I know. It’s 14th October. It’s far too early to be thinking about Christmas. And yet, it’s difficult to avoid it. Vienna does Christmas in style: renowned for its Christmas Markets, it has a reputation to uphold. Advent calendars and decorations are in the shops already. Noah’s eyes boggle in excitement at the shiny red and green splendour of it all. And it’s still 10 weeks away.
Noah’s Chirstmas list is all written, decorated and ready to be posted to Father Christmas next week when we are in England (because Royal Mail will send a reply). This year will be the first time he has asked for things himself. To be honest, I am a bit dismayed – I had so many good ideas for what he’d like! But my baby is growing up and God knows he’s got his own mind, so this year, it’s over to him.

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About a month ago, we had the following conversation on the way to nursery (thanks to a certain episode of Peppa Pig):
Noah: Mummy, please can I have a treehouse?
Me: You can’t have a treehouse. We haven’t got a garden so we haven’t got any trees.
Noah: In Nana and Papa’s garden, I mean.
At three and a half years old, the boy sees exactly how the land lies. Noah went straight to the heart of the situation: if anyone was going to get him a tree house, it would be my Mum and Dad. So my Mum commissioned me to make Noah a star chart. She had a long list of things Noah had to do to get stars. At first, she told him he would need 300 stars, but she later changed it to 100. To add to the confusion, she was calling the stars “brownie points”. This Skype conversation mostly went over Noah’s head. My Dad would get Noah a treehouse tomorrow as a just because present (just because you are my Grandson).
Anyway, Noah now has a star chart with a skewered picture of a treehouse and Father Christmas (drawn by my own fair hand) at the top. He gets a star every time he does something good, but a red dot goes over one of the stars when he does something naughty. When he is threatened with a red dot, he says, “I don’t really want a treehouse. I was only pretending.” He is mostly being good at the moment, which is just as well because the treehouse has already been sourced, payed for and delivered. I just hope it doesn’t snow this Christmas, otherwise we’ll be spending a lot of time outside freezing ourselves to death whilst Noah delights in his new treehouse.
My husband and I have already bought Noah a Playmobil farm house, tractor and some animals to go with it. Playmobil is quite big over here. I bought it on Amazon.de because it worked out £30 cheaper than buying the same products in England. However, as I paid for it, I realised I had somehow signed up to the German Amazon Prime. I went to cancel it but realised I’d actually been a member for 6 months and the €49 had come out of our account in May. Damn and blast bloody Google Translate! How had I missed that?! Now I am desperately racking my brains to think of things I can buy to make use of the free delivery before we move back to England.
Thankfully, Noah doesn’t watch children’s television channels because we live in Austria, so Noah hasn’t seen any toy adverts. He has, however, been watching the Toy Genie on YouTube, and for the past two months has been saying, “Oh! I wish I had all these Paw Patrol toys!” in a small, hard done by voice, as if he doesn’t have a palatial bedroom crammed with toys as it is. So another thing on his list is Paw Patrol toys and I am having a bit of an issue with these. Firstly, he wants all of the pups with their vehicles. When he was dictating his letter to Father Christmas, he expressly reminded me to write down the names of each pup, just in case Father Christmas didn’t know what they were called. Each pup with their vehicle should cost about £13. Oh, if only life were that simple. It appears these fairly reasonably priced toys are being discontinued. What is replacing them? Super-duper lights and sound Paw Patrol trucks which cost £25 each. There are six pups and Ryder, the boy who looks after them. If Noah’s wish is to be fulfilled, that’s £175 on Paw Patrol toys! Some shops still have the old ones, although on Amazon they’ve put the prices up to £20+. So I am doing what any concerned mother would do: trying to buy up the old ones whilst they are still around. What does this mean? It means we have already blown our budget for Noah’s Christmas presents. Oh, yes, and he also wants the Paw Patrol “house” as he calls it.
My husband and I have conflicting philosophies surrounding Christmas presents. My husband’s stance is thus: Noah has a room full of toys, many of which he never plays with. Noah does not need a lot of toys for Christmas. If people want to give him something for Christmas, they should buy him something small and then give him money for his savings account if they so wish. My husband is a sensible man. He is a practical man. He is not a material man. He thinks of the people in this world who have nothing. And he’s not wrong. I am sure many readers would agree with him. Last year, Noah got so many presents, he got fed up of opening them. My head tells me husband is not wrong…

But my heart says otherwise. I can’t agree with him: it’s just not me. It’s not what I come from. When my husband declared that Noah doesn’t need “sacks and sacks” of presents this year, my family were aghast. What? No sacks? He usually gets a sack from us, a sack (treehouse sized) from my Mum and Dad, a small sack from my sister and a sack from my Aunt and Nan. It was my Nan who actually started the sack tradition. My Nan was a single parent at 20 years old with twins. She had no family around her. It was the 1950s and she was a housekeeper. In other words, she was skint. But she saved hard to make sure my Dad and my Aunt had a sack of presents every Christmas. Despite my husband’s moral barometer, my family will not be deterred from buying lots of presents (sorry dearest). My husband’s family get Noah lots of presents too so I really don’t know where he gets it from.
How much should children get at Christmas? It’s a controversial matter. Out of curiosity, I googled how much do you spend on your children at Christmas and was taken to a handful of parenting forums. I discovered that it really varies. Some parents were saying £50, some £500. There is no right or wrong answer. Partly, I suppose it depends on how much you have. I think we have spent enough now, but I keep seeing things and thinking Noah would like that.
Also, should Chirstmas be about getting lots of presents? What is Christmas really about? I’m a Christian: I know what Christmas is about. I’ve also heard sermons on what it shouldn’t be about.
But this is my stance: treehouses are built for children. There are websites full of different treehouse designs for children. So if some children in this world are lucky enough to be born into a family who can afford to buy them treehouses, why shouldn’t Noah be one of them? Part of the magic of Christmas for children, is wishing for something and then getting it. Dreams coming true for three year olds is all about toys and treehouses.
My husband worries Noah will be spoilt. His theories are noble and perhaps mine aren’t. But as we were growing up, my sister and I had everything we could possibly wish for. We are nicknamed “The Princesses” by the rest of my Mum’s family. Although I have been privileged, I don’t come from a wealthy background; I come from a very hard-working one. My Mum is 64 and frequently works 12 hour days. My Dad is always crusading around the country for the greater good of mankind. My sister and I may well be Princesses, but we are good people and we work hard and we value everything we have ever been given. Being spoilt is not always about how much you are given in your life, it is about what you think you are entitled to. We are living in a material world and I am a material girl. And I want to give Noah what I can.

Noah and his sacks last year
Noah and his sacks last year

The Twinkle Diaries
Mami 2 Five

The Adventure of Playing Vets

This is the new Vet, Junior Doctor Noah:

20150627_120546It’s very busy in the waiting room today. Dr. Noah welcomes his patients. He has a lovely bedside manner and makes them feel at ease:

20150627_115239He also has a gentle touch:

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Senior Vet (Me): Hello, Mr. Fish. What seems to be the problem today?

Fish (Noah): I have hurt my fin.20150627_115539

Senior Vet: Oh, dear. How did you do that?

Fish: I cut it on a bit of glass.

Senior Vet: Dr. Noah, please could you take the patient’s blood pressure?

Junior Vet: It’s a bit high.

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*

Senior Vet: Hello, Mr. Meercat. What seems to be the problem today?

Meercat: I have hurt my tail.

Senior Vet: Oh, dear! How did you do that?

Meercat: I cut it on a bit of glass.

Senior Vet: Dr. Noah, please could you bandage Mr. Meercat’s tail, please?

*

Dr. Noah is very thorough. He listened to Pirate Pooh’s heartbeat (cut his paw on a bit of glass), gave Peppa an injection (cut her snout on a bit of glass) and put Giraffe on the operating table (cut his hoof on a bit of glass).

20150627_124903Some animals needed to go to hospital. The hospital got quite busy:

20150627_120606What a good little vet you are, my Noah!

This Week I've Loved


How to Make Butterfly Cakes with a Threenager

Noah and I are working our way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. We can only make about 40% of the cakes in there because many of the ingredients are difficult to get in Vienna. There is no such thing as self-raising flour in the supermarkets and Mary is very partial to this over plain flour.

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Here are the steps you need to take if you are planning on baking with your three year old:

  1. If your child is anything like mine, they will interpret the term “naked chef” literally. If you are lucky, you might be able to get a child’s apron over his/her naked body, but probably not.
  2. You and your child need to wash your hands. You will have to have a comeback ready for comments like, “I don’t need to wash my hands because I haven’t got any wee-wee on them.” What about the fact you trailed your hand along the wall when we went outside earlier? What about the sticks and leaves you picked up when we walked through the park?
  3. You (parent/guardian) be in charge of the measuring of butter, sugar and flour and let your child be in charge of tipping it all into the bowl. If you want the flour to be sieved as Mary suggests, you will have to be super quick to whip the sieve out of the cupboard and over the bowl in time. Actually, don’t expect the flour to be sieved.
  4. After your child has enthusiastically cracked the eggs into the bowl, pick as much egg shell out as you can. Expect the cakes to be a bit crunchy.
  5. Allow your child to get his/her mini mixing spoon out and have a good go at the mixture. Once they declare the lumpy, sticky, eggy mess is ready, divert their attention in any way you can whilst beating the mixture yourself. Beware! If your child catches you at this, he/she will be mightily offended.
  6. After you have spooned the mixture into 11 cases whilst your child is working on the final one (which is flat and dripping), you might want to let him/her lick the spoon. This is a bit controversial nowadays and I am always worried about Noah licking cake batter because it has raw eggs in it. But what is a childhood if you can’t lick the spoon? Also, he wants to eat the cake before it goes into the oven and surely a few licks is better than a whole uncooked fairy cake?
  7. Make sure you have spare ingredients because there are bound to be spillages or droppages. You may find yourselves in an icing sugar storm. Quite a big storm. There may not really be enough icing sugar to make your buttercream anything other than pale piped butter.
  8. The kitchen will be one almighty state. You will not have help tidying up. Also, you will probably be blamed: “Mummy, why have you made such a mess?”
  9. Allow your child to stand beside you (at a safe distance) while you remove the cakes from the oven, then distract them in a different room so they are out of the way and not determined to eat the cake whilst boiling hot. Creep back into the kitchen and add the finishing touches to the butterfly cakes (i.e. attempt to cut the top of, cut it in half and stick it back on with buttercream). This, of course, is virtually impossible. The cakes will look a state and nothing like butterflies. But that’s ok: you can blame the threenager. Forget dusting them with icing sugar afterwards (see point 7).
  10. Don’t make cakes when you are on a diet. Or when you have recently been on a diet and lost a total of 6 inches off your body and half a stone. Avoid the left over buttercream. If you don’t, you probably feel a bit sick by the time the cakes are ready, but will have one anyway to keep your child company. Or is this just me?
Beautiful Butterflies
Beautiful Butterflies
Delicious!
Delicious!

Mums' Days

10 things you should know before embarking on a board game with your 3 year old

  1. There are not many board games that a 3 year old will fully understand. 3+ actually means 5.
  2. Most games involve counting. Although your 3 year old can confidently count to 11 (in English and in German), it seems he cannot count at all whilst playing a board game. Four on the dice is two and two, but two and two does not make four. Confused?
  3. He will constantly put the dice in the mouth. This will result in a conversation about choking to death, without actually mentioning death because you don’t want him to understand about death yet, but at the same time, you don’t want him to put the dice in his mouth.
  4. He will not throw the dice sensibly (i.e. so it lands within arm’s reach). He will throw it across the room every single time it is his turn, despite you saying “Keep it on the rug!” every single time it is his turn.  He will then excitedly chase the dice. He will get more and more animated every time he chases after the dice, just like a dog and its stick. You do not want him to get excited, you want him to focus on the board game because you want him to pass whatever tests the government are putting in place for four year olds when they start primary school next year.
  5. You will lose the dice. This will keep you awake at night. Did it somehow land in the bed? Could he choke on it in the middle of the night?
  6. The box won’t stay box shaped.
  7. You will later find bits of the board game under the rug, in between the sofa cushions and in the washing machine.
  8. He won’t take turns.
  9. The game will randomly be packed up by your 3 year old, inexplicably, 50-75% of the way through.
  10. On the odd occasion he does see the game through to the end, he will win.

You win, my Noah.

P.S. Orchard games are really good for 3 year olds!

Noah enjoying a game of Ladybirds. (He is actually wearing pants!)
Noah enjoying a game of Ladybirds. (He is actually wearing pants!)

An Hour in the Life of My Noah and Me

A rainy afternoon…

2.30pm

“That’s enough television for one day, Noah,” I say, switching off Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as it finishes. “Let’s play with your toys.”

Noah decides to play stickers. He has a Melissa and Doug sticker book where you can make a meal on a big plate, including drinks and desserts. He sticks some scrambled egg on top of a fried egg and tops it off with two spears of asparagus. Dessert? Ice cream. Drink? He isn’t thirsty.

And that’s the end of stickers.

2.35pm

“Shall we play Duplo?” I ask.

He agrees. I spend ten minutes building the new Duplo castle he got for his birthday while he pelts me with the Duplo cannon. It stings. He starts to play happily, engrossed with the knights and the horse and the drawbridge. He refers to the knights as “sisters” which I find a bit strange but don’t want to interrupt the rare flow of his independent play in order to question him about it. I stretch out next to him (because if I left the room it would be game over) and prepare myself to enjoy a few moments of peace while I scroll through Facebook. I manage to upload a photo of him in the park before the knights are having a rowdy sword fight. The fight moves from one knight attacking another knight, to one knight attacking the whole castle. Before I know it, there are Duplo bricks flying around the room.

That is the end of the castle and that is the end of Duplo.

2.50pm

“Shall we get all of your cars out and play with your garage?” I ask.

I get the box of cars and he arranges them into a very precise line along the edge of his rug. Then he picks each one up and lobs it in a different direction. One of them just misses my head. Instead of telling him off (which I have been doing constantly since 6am today) I pretend the car has really hurt me and fall to the ground with a moan. I close my eyes and go still. He comes over and pries one of my eyes open with a grubby finger. He peers into my face. “Do you want to build a snowman?” he asks.

And that is the end of cars.

3.00pm

While I am collecting the cars, he lines his dinosaurs up in a similar military fashion. I expect they will go the same way as the cars but at least flying dinosaurs cannot break the window. I am wrong: Noah gets his new birthday digger and drives it over the dinosaurs.

That is the end of the dinosaurs.

3.05pm

He wants his CD player on. Unfortunately for the people in the surrounding flats, the CD player seems to be stuck at the highest volume. I sing along with the nursery rhymes at the top of my voice. Who could resist? But Noah shushes me and tells me to go and sit quietly on his bed. He dances around his rug for at least three songs, kicking whatever toys get in his way. Then he gives up on dancing and just wants to spin. Unfortunately, he is spinning holding the tail end of his slinky dog meaning the top end of slinky becomes a weapon of mass destruction: all of the toys that were neatly arranged on his shelves are now on the floor.

Wind the Bobbin Up comes on the CD and I will not be silenced. I stand up and do the actions. Noah gives up on telling me to be quiet and goes and gets his guitar to add to the mix.

Then he starts swinging the guitar over his head and that is the end of nursery rhymes.

3.15pm

I write an N for Noah on his Megasketcher. He attempts to copy it and doesn’t do a bad job. Then he starts stabbing the Megasketcher with the pen and that is the end of Megasketcher.

3.17pm

“Shall we colour in a picture from your Peppa Pig colouring book?”

“No.”

“Shall we dress up as Pirates?”

“No.”

“Shall we fix something with your tools?”

“No.”

“Shall we read a book?”

“No.”

“Shall we play with your train set?”

He picks up as many pieces of his train set as he can possibly carry and dumps them in his fire engine tent.

And that is the end of trains.

3.25pm

“Let’s watch Frozen,” I say.

Thank goodness it’s nearly the weekend, My Noah.

Being naked on the bottom half as often as possible is a toddler thing. Right?
Being naked on the bottom half as often as possible is a typical toddler thing. Right?

*PLEASE NOTE: No sugar was consumed prior to the events in this blog.*