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
Advertisements

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.

20151007_152052[1]
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