Local Heart, Global Soul

March 15, 2013

Growing Up a Tiny, Infinitesimal Fraction…. Right Before My Eyes.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kiwi daughter recently attended the funeral of a the mother of a little friend her age that she’s known for some 4-5 years … it’s an especially sad situation because  the mother was a solo parent who loved her daughter to bits, the father never gave her the time of day or even acknowledged her existence so some remarked that the poor kid lost the wrong parent.

The mother had a brain tumour and Kiwi daughter took time off school to support her little friend on what was a very difficult day.

The last time Kiwi Daughter was at a funeral she was very young and now she doesn’t remember the experience. With Oma  at 90 years of age sooner or later she will have to attend a funeral  so this was a chance to give her the opportunity of getting to know what to expect at a funeral without it being too close to home.

After the service we talked about how funeral had gone and how she was handling it .  She remarked: it’s so nice that the casket was very pretty … the wood looked pretty. I told her that most people had a wooden casket and she was genuinely surprised…. I said “Did you expect it to be made of stone? ” and to my surprise, with a totally straight face she said “Yes!”

It appears that she’s confusing caskets with grave stones and burial plots and thought you got carried to the grave with the stone surround, headstone and the works…  Tying not to make fun of her I told her that if it was like this this then it would all be so heavy you couldn’t lift it off the ground and it wouldn’t be  very nice to have to be bought into your burial service and final resting place on  a forklift truck.

Kiwi Daughter burst out laughing at the thought of the pallbearers trying in vain to hoist up a marble casket to their shoulders and it gave some welcome relief to the end of a very sad day. Seeing the moment that the “penny drops” is like stepping out of the tunnel into the light and seeing a whole new view that you didn’t expect.

On rare occasions with you child you actually see this moment happen….

It reminds me that often things that might seem basic and logical information to an adult, are actually a slow progress of  join-the-dots for kids, as they piece together the information that equips them for dealing with life. On this day Kiwi Daughter grew up a tiny, infinitesimal fraction….  right before my eyes.

February 25, 2013

Weird Constructions, Windmills and Planes, Make for a Really Boring Car Ride (NOT!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The upside of not being allowed to drive is that I am free to sit in the front passenger seat and take photographs of our journeys.

I lament the fact that our kids these cry “sooo bored” on long car journeys and from a young age mastered the art of frighting (to what at least sounds like near death) in the back seat.

I endeavoured for years to teach them car games like “I Spy” or singing in the car, I tried paper games and bribery of ice cream upon arrivals, but to no avail:  paper games resulted in pencil wars, singing, in disputes about tone, song words, which song to sing and volume, “I Spy”, arguments after 68  “no’s” as to whether the object had really been seen 15 minutes earlier or just made up as we went past something new two seconds ago and the ice creams never delivered because they were never earned.

Himself and I got sick of trying to control the meltdown of two terrible monsters in the back seat without having meltdown ourselves and found it hard to believe that when they were out with other people that they were cherubic examples of  sweetness and light, so much so that friends and relatives raved about their saintly behaviour (so it IS apparently possible, it’s just that Himself and I have never actually witnessed it).

After several (actually all) disastrous long car journeys for the first 6 years of their existence together, were Himself and I (barely) resisted stopping by a canal and throwing said little monsters into the water to sink or swim as they may, we bought Nintendo game machines to provide some distraction.

I tempered the purchase with the strict rule: Only  for use on long car and plane journeys and they have to wait half an hour into the journey before the “on” button  is activated.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Suddenly peace reigned in the back seat and car journeys became about 500%  less stressful.

I on the other hand have to look out of the window, the window has to be as clean as possible and I have to be facing forwards, otherwise the result is that I turn green and emergency stops are required whilst I make swift exits of vehicles to return breakfast / lunch / dinner to whatever nature is by the side of the road.

For me, looking out of the window is never boring, you see funny things,  strange vehicles,  architectural edifices ranging from the good to the bad to the ugly and  you learn about the countryside you are travelling though.

Little Mr. does have an uncanny knack for looking up from his game just in time to scream: Train! Police car!, Ambulance!, Fire engine!, or  Tractor! as appropriate,  but for the rest is more interested in the adventures of Mario and Luigi. Today’s interesting stuff as seen from the road include some mystery constructions: energy pylons maybe? something to do with a new high speed rail link (that was maybe due in this area if I remembered correctly, or completely somewhere else if I didn’t), maybe something to do with a new over bridge?

Who knows?… Your best guesses are most welcome.

We see windmills in all sorts of places, giant fibreglass fruit in the middle of a roundabout and (as you do) a not so small aeroplane fuselage sans wings standing next to a barn (the guest quarters? or a build-it-yourself and he’s still saving for the wings? ). Certainly discussion points and they give us a giggle too…  all you have to do is keep your eyes peeled, how on earth can a car journey be boring?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We park the cars in a parking area (i.e. paddock)  at the end of a tiny road, and climb the steps of the dyke to follow a little path that is next to the canal on top of the dyke … the next stage of the adventure unfolds…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 29, 2012

Relaxing the Rules to Survive Long-Haul Travel with Kids…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We arranged to check in as early as possible so that we could organise a seat with the necessary leg room for me for the trip to New Zealand.

Consequently we have quite a lot of time to kill before the flight boards and the kids are not wanting to be cooped up in the special waiting lounge for the next amost 3 three hours.

They are also starting to moan about being hungry so we head out in search of somewhere to eat. The signs direct us to a food court and after a small hunt to find a lift so that I can get up there in the wheelchair, we find a convienient spot.

The kids have request chicken nuggets, which are normally not an option I’d be wanting them to have, but I’ve long since learned that when travelling long-haul with kids it’s wise to relax the normal rules and be as flexible as possible so that you can make time-zone transitions and long flights as bearable as possible.

The Kiwidutch kids are well aware that as soon as the holiday is over it I will be doing my best to catch up their missed vegetable intake, and compensate for the sweets and less than healthy food they have been enjoying too much as we travel, or that they stuff themselves with when visiting friends and relatives who have tins full of freshly home-made baking.

It all tastes amazingly wonderful I know, but excess has a due date and in the meantime our children have been quick to learn to milk the travel leniency for all that it is worth, so chicken nuggets are ordered with a grin on their part and with resignation on mine.

Himself goes for fried rice and I get a schnitzel and some spring rolls to share. It’s not healthy but tastes good and fills a gap…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 29, 2011

Giving Kids a Better Reception…

The Reception area of the Rasa Sentosa has also been upgraded, but the layout is essentially  the same in that it is still open plan. At first I thought this might be a disadvantage because it’s so hot and humid but the huge area is easier to navigate with bags and kids and everything is easily accessible both in fine weather and when it rains so I’ve grown to like the open plan idea.

Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Completely new is a the addition of a Kids Club, parents can register their kids here  as a complimentary service during your stay, and the children can stay for a whole day or for  part of the day and a small team of staff have a whole host of activities to entertain the children.

Our kids used it for only a few hours whilst we were busy organising things with our Singaporean friend on the phone and it was certainly easier than trying to keep a boisterous Little Mr. quiet so that we could concentrate on getting phone numbers etc.

It appears that some of the Kid’s Club days are themed, Circus and Pirate days appeared on offer complete with pirate dress-up clothes.

Our kids went on a scavenger hunt where in teams they had to solve clues in order to hunt for hidden markers around the grounds. They grumbled when we dropped them off saying it sounded boring but excitedly repeated every detail once they were back so apparently it wasn’t nearly as boring as they made out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 1, 2011

Yes, I am Truly the Meanest Mama on the Planet…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The few weeks ago we had  ‘one of those days”.   Parents  of multiple offspring will be all too familiar with what ‘one of those days”  looks like in action.

Little Mr had helpfully bought home a head cold that involved a lot of sneezing and even more “didn’t  get hand to cover mouth in time” moments, coupled with me nagging calling him,  after every  sneezing fit to demand that he squirt some antibacterial hand gel on his hands.

Little Mr. has this year taken a deep aversion to washing his hands with soap and water, but is very willing to use the travel antibacterial gel that I bought to use for when we fly… so I decided to choose my battles and let the kid smear on the gel so that he can avoid the water.

Yes, he gets a total scrub down in an almost daily bath, and that water is fun and the real battle has been getting him to wash his hands after visiting the lavatory, before dealing with food, or after coughing or sneezing.

So… Little Mr, in spite of my best efforts has successfully shared his germs with Kiwi Daughter, Himself and me and I’m still hounding him to wash his hands as his sneezing fits continue …

He’s sick of my nagging, Himself, Kiwi Daughter and I are just sick. We are all ratty, the kids are having constant cross words with each other since they got up this morning and now, after school, are sniping over minuscule details of  stupid nothiningnesses.

Himself is in the kitchen trying to cook, but being interrupted literally every minute by one kid of the other telling tales and seeking revenge/punishment on the other, things start to go wrong in the kitchen because the cook is already tired and  is being distracted way too many times to  any attempt at  multi-tasking.

Himself’s responses to the kids start to get a little ragged around the edges,  the volume rises and when the kids continue to fight, Himself starts yelling.

Little Mr’s response to this is not to sensibly  and logically see that his usually calm father is not in the mood for any back chat, discussion or rebuttal,  but to just raise his own voice and start shouting that  ‘now both Himself and his sister are against him, it isn’t fair,  they aren’t listening, he didn’t hit his sister first, it was his toy, she sat where he wanted to sit, she pinched him,  he didn’t want rice for dinner,  he only would eat pasta, doesn’t himself know that Lttle Mr hates carrots?, it was sisters turn to set the table, she shifted his book, she touched his glass of drink, he told her not to, she did it again...’

Himself isn’t coping with this well, this is clearly a time when Kiwidutch needs to slip in her Meanest Mama costume and come to the rescue.

Both children are summoned,  they stand before me in the hallway, trying to covertly elbow and kick each other…  I have come prepared with pens and paper and order them both into the bathroom (that’s a real bathroom for my North American readers, our toilet facility is a separate entity).

The floor is linoleum, it’s smooth, hard, cold.  Both kids are ordered to park their behinds on the lino. They each receive writing materials each and a task. They may leave the bathroom once they have each completed a list of  “Ten Things I Love about My Sister/Brother“.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The howls of rage, indignation, and mal humour show me that they think that coming up with  World Peace is probably easier than they thought this list would be, but I shut the  bathroom door on them and ignored the nasty noises they made to each other on the other side.

After some ten minutes of bikkering they realised I was serious and echos of “we are sorry, can we come out now?“came though the door.

Finished your lists?” I said… no, they hadn’t started yet.

Two finished lists please and you may come out“.  The loud protests resumed and once they realised I wasn’t listening (OK, I was listening, I just wasn’t responding) , they turned on each other and bitched that there was nothing  good they could think of  to write about each other.

After a long forty minutes they finally realised that they had seen more of the lino floor than they really wanted to and started to work together. Kiwi Daughter at ten years of age realised that even if her list was ready, if Little Mr’s wasn’t then she was going nowhere. Little Mr hadn’t even started his list and rather rudely declines her help but after several minutes  the penny drops and he starts to write down what she dictates to him.

I evesdrop  in the hallway as she spells out the letters of the words he needs to write. After the first sentence or so Little Mr is loosing the inclination to write so she writes a bit for him, then they take a short-cut with the rest of the list and  he write again ….it’s full of  ‘I love you”, “I like you” repeats. No matter, mission accomplished…

The punishment has taken some fifty minutes (not actually what I intended) but the upside is that Himself has finished dinner quietly in the kitchen and had a chance for a fifteen minute power nap  so is feeling a bit better.

The kids are released to the dinner table and the real result is seen a bit later on in the evening when after they go to bed, himself  goes to check on them and finds Little Mr cuddled up to his sister in her bed.  He transfers the sleeping Little Mr back to his own bed and comes out grinning to tell me.

The added bonus of this Meanest Mama episode is that when the fighting and drama has been getting out of hand on subsequent days,  hints about pen, paper and lists has a certain sudden calming effect on my kids. Strange that.

September 25, 2011

Credit Where it’s Due…

Our ” Travelling Two” friends owned a spare bicycle…  friends of theirs (Alisha and Evan from our beer tasting group)  wanted a bicycle.  It was meant to be a freebie and no cash was required but Alisha and Evan wanted to pay for the bike. They got together and found a compromise: “Could they please donate the Euro 50,–  bicycle buying cash, to the hot lunch fund for the School for Disabled  kids in Kiribati?”

Yes, they can, and Yes they did.

None of them did it for the publicity, but I thought they deserved some anyway.

I Thank you… and more importantly, these  are some of the 101 kids from the school who also Thank you!

(photograph used with permission)

(photograph used with permission)

(photograph used with permission)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 4, 2011

Hey! ….A Real Kid Baby Show!

Filed under: FRANCE,Kids and Family,Places and Sights — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Kids… Yes, those kinds of kids, the four legged goat variety. The kids are separated out from their mothers after weaning so that the little ones and adolescents don’t get pushed aside by the adults whenever the food is dished out.

These little cuties had our children goggle eyed as we were treated to an excited torrent of “Ooooh’s, Ahhhhs and ” Awwwww’s“. The kids were delighted with the attention (both the human and animal varieties) and Noooo. we can’t take one home.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 6, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes: Fright and Delight of Minson’s…

Filed under: LIFE,Out Of the Mouths Of Babes — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my post yesterday, I talked about the things that children come out with, and a Comment made to that post has once again inspired another post here…

My mother recounted this funny story years ago after she had gone into an expensive fine china and porcelain shop  (Minson and Company, Christchurch, New Zealand) to choose a very special  present. She had asked staff some advice and was browsing the selection when there entered an exceptionally well dressed woman with her small son (approx 4 years of age).

A staff member politely asked if  they might be of assistance and was haughtily rebuffed as the lady rather sharply declared that she hadn’t decided which kind of item she wished to buy yet.

My mother was the only other customer in the shop, so the tone of this exchange immediately caught her attention. (apparently it was well-known that staff in this shop were very helpful with their excellent  knowledge of porcelain).

The child started picking up various pieces, turning them over to view the bottoms and then setting them back.  The child’s mother said nothing and let the boy do as he wished.
Considering the delicate merchandise and the steep price tags attached,  this certainly not what might be termed a “family friendly” environment,  and it could potentially be  financially hazardous if said ‘family’ is a child under five years of age.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Thus my Mother said she found herself  curiously spying out of the corner of her eye at the pair,  as did, she noticed, the shop staff. (I assume they were getting rather nervous at child’s actions).

However this was an establishment with no small “reputation”  and the staff politely held back from admonishing the child.

The little boy’s mother browsed the contents of the shop,  standing a short distance away from her son, who blissfully carried on picking up item after another.

Some  five minutes later,  as tension mounted, the child picked up yet another piece of porcelain, and looked at the bottom,  then looked over to his mother and very loudly exclaimed:

What a BLOODY rip-off!

His mother’s reaction was instant… she immediatly put down the item she had been looking at, blushed deepest red, rushed to the child, prised the item out of his hands and raced them both off the premises with almost indecent and almost comical haste.

My mother looked over the to staff who were trying to remain polite and not laugh, but she couldn’t manage to keep her own giggles at bay and once she had started, there was no hope of  keeping the straight face of decorum any longer and soon they were all wiping away tears of mirth.

Obviously the little boy had no clue as to what was really expensive or not,  but at that moment had just chosen to repeat something that he had heard his mother say often in shops.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Clearly his mother was not necessarily quite the hoity-toity lady with manners that she made herself out to be.

With those five words he successfully knocked her off her high and mighty pedestal and Parents everywhere given a sharp reminder that their offspring may not only spout fourth your wisest words in public, but also in their innocence,  air evidence of your least-best parenting skills too.

Sadly, Minsons was not a shop that I could ever afford to frequent as a young adult and now that I have tried to do some research  to see what the business is like today, I discover to my dismay that apparently it ceased trading some time ago.

I did however find the link (below) to  a Canterbury Heritage Site, with a photo of the original shop (top left photo) which I know to be  from the Christchurch City Public Library Archives. The shop that I knew however, was the later one depicted in the bottom right hand corner.

http://canterburyheritage.blogspot.com/2008/02/minsons-of-christchurch.html

I did go into Minson’s twice once I started work, and even then I was so afraid of breaking anything that I was a nervous wreck upon exiting.  I remember a wondrously beautiful shop, but it did have the power to strike the Fear of God into me too.   I’m very sad to learn that it has now closed and gone, but delighted to have a funny memory to remember it with.

.. btw the part of the Comment that inspired this post came from Denimhttp://whatzthatallabout.wordpress.com/ who wrote:

THEN…there are the times when you think they are not listening to your grand wisdom and words and somewhere like three years, 2 months and 19 days later they repeat it out loud as their own.“…

So true, so true.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 5, 2011

Tricky Questions Provoke dealing with Thorny Issues…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A few days ago, Matt, a fellow blogger who blog I enjoy following, wrote a very thought provoking post that has in part, inspired this one.

It was (partly)about how kids can sometimes take what appears to be a very everyday conversation and then drop a very adult deep-and-meaningful  question into it, and how as parents we deal with answering  these questions.

Matt’s experience  is a  familiar one  in our household and I’d like to expand on it because I find that even weirder, that fact that  kids  flit away from the subject like a butterfly (A) just as parent is getting into the full swing of the explanation  or (B) exit the subject  happily even before receiving any answer.

In the (A)  situation, as a parent you assume you are experiencing one of those very special ” light-bulb” moments, that your child is talking a step up the ladder of maturity right before your very eyes… and sometimes if you are lucky, they actually are.

But more often  it’s like they are just dipping a finger into the depths of the adult world, and finding that it might possibly be deep water, they just take a lick and then spring back to the safety of  the child world.

It usually goes like this: They are all kid babble as usual, stretching  and blowing the trivial into mega elastic mind boggling proportions as kids are apt to do,  then all of a sudden they throw a seriously deep question or statement into the conversation.

The question lands like a cup of water into a hot oil fire… i.e. the back-draft  engulfs the parent as they reel, trying to access how to best respond.

We as parents sometimes have a good answers,  sometimes even excellent ones, sometimes we make a right hash of it all….and if you are a parent reading this and nodding your head thinking “ Oh Yes, guilty as charged” …. ,  then you will also know that often you have probably been so overtaken by the depth of the question that you explained it to a level that went so much further than we realised that the kid wanted or required.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst we wax lyrical enthusiastically about the answer, the  kid has meanwhile skipped off to another ride on the mental playground and switched off completely. Then, all of a sudden they re-engage their thoughts, and plug back into the conversation having metaphorically not just changed clothes but apparently moved house as well.

The adult in this situation is still well and truly focused on a single stream of consciousness, blissfully unaware that in the kids mind we are no longer playing on the swings but have done the slide, skipped rope, played hopscotch and are now heading for the climbing frame. The kid plugs back into the conversation with a very clear vision of where things are at.. the climbing frame of course… and the  adult suddenly becomes strangely aware that somewhere the conversation is running in one direction but that the kid lost the plot/ moved on/took a detour ages ago.

Usually this revelation comes because the kid announces something else totally unrelated and it generally comes as a bombshell to the patent, who assumed that kid was on-board with the original question/answer until the illusion was shattered.

I’m relieved to report that this parent-child process is normal… but it’s not always without stress.

One of the earliest of these situations took place when Kiwi Daughter was about four years old.

The awkward question popped up whilst driving in the car to an appointment. I think Little Mr. was about six months old at the time. The conversation was revolving around us having passed a playground/park and her pleas to please now stop so that she could  play. We were explaining why we can’t and she was quiet… ergo we assume she is listening to the reason we can’t stop.

So, explanation to her question given, there was silence.. then her little voice in the back seat said: “Papa, How are babies made?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now, Himself was driving, and the question was specifically directed to him… I see him startle and I’m doing my best to not burst out into a fit of giggles at the thought of how he’s going to handle this one. He struggles a second and chooses his words carefully… ” Well sweetheart, first you have a lady (the Mama) and a Man ( the Papa) and they get together…”

Annoyingly for my evil sense of humour and delight at how he is squirming over this, Himself is saved by Kiwi Daughters small voice in the backseat as she interrupts… ” and can we take bread for the ducks too if we go to the Park?”

… and Himself…. off the hook , gives an audible sigh of relief that he didn’t have to explain the Facts of Life just yet.

It’s happened many a time since then. Often the kids want to hear all of the explanation… we as parents are learning to keep the explanations, short, to the point and as simple as possible. But it’s often not easy.

Just a few weeks ago, with Christmas Day fast approaching that we were in this situation again…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Hubby was telling the kids to not fight and to behave themselves because remember Santa comes for all children who have been Good and  later in the day I was answering kid questions as video flashed onto the TV screen  (The News) about child poverty in developing countries.
All of a sudden the question was sprung by Little Mr:  “ Mama, Have all those kids  been really really naughty, that Santa isn’t bringing them toys or nice things to play with?”
Ouch… I was still reeling, frantically trying to find a good truthful but diplomatic, five-year-old- friendly answer when all of a sudden in the pause, his voice  interrupts: “ Mama can I go in the bath FIRST tonight?”
Huh? where did THAT thought come from?

For once  I’m delighted to be off the hook, but I’m still mulling over the question,  not knowing how to answer it if it comes back.

How DO you explain world poverty and the plight of starving, helpless children, those who have been abandoned or neglected or who live in war zones to a five year old? and how do you do it when said kid passionately believes in a Santa who travels the world dishing out gifts to all children who have been good?

We have children that we sponsor each month, one in Brazil and one in Colombia and  our children know that we do that because these little girls are poor so we help them buy clothes, school books and because it helps their families.

This is when telling  them either about the Christian story of Jesus or about Santa gets tricky… does Jesus love some children more and others less? Why are we so lucky to be born where we are?..  with food on the table, clothes on our backs and hopefully not afraid to venture out because there might be violence or a hail on bullets on the streets.

Little Mr. Had a very deep thought… for him it didn’t settle but for me it has been deeply thought provoking. I’m also amazed that he had the insight for this question to appear in the first place.

I don’t know how to answer Little Mr’s. question (The first one not the bath one, naturally)… so if anyone has some thoughts that could help me if he brings the subject up again then I’d be delighted to hear them.

(note: The artwork has been kindly supplied for this post by Little Mr. (aged 5) and depict Santa, his reindeer, sleigh and he assures me LOTS of snow both in the sky and under foot, which are  represented in black pen, because otherwise “we wouldn’t be able to see white snow on white paper, silly” … and yes, the Santa in the first drawing does appear to be sporting earings LOL)

I would also be remiss if I did not include a link to the post that inspired this one .. Thanks Matt!

http://bythedarkofthemoon.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/the-arc-of-the-moral-universe-is-longer-than-the-attention-span-of-a-five-year-old/

December 25, 2010

For a Kid the word “Love” is spelled “T.I.M.E.”

Filed under: LIFE,The vaguarities of Parenting — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christmas Day is upon us and people everywhere are busy doing things for the occasion, stressing about timing the cooking of a turkey right, frantically sieving lumps out of gravy, wondering why you bothered when your toddler is playing more with the packaging than the so-called must-have gift that you had to go to six different shopping centers to hunt down and then queue ages to get.

Ok, my youngest is now five and is actually very  interested in the gift, especially if the word “playmobile” is stamped onto the outside of the box but actually there are many lessons to be learned from kids and Christmas if you stop a little and listen.

Having spent the last three weeks in plaster and having pain if my foot is lowered towards the ground, this results in being what might in the politically correct folks call “mobility impaired”. I call it frustrating, annoying, painful and boring. Yeah for sleeping and painkillers.

On the plus side, you get to have the kids run inside from playing in the snow for a cuddle (actually it’s their intent to steal my body heat as I’m currently the warmest person in the house and wow their little hands are cooooold when shoved onto your bare stomach or leg.)

And I have been reminded that some of the biggest gifts that kids REALLY want are either free or cost very little indeed.  I always knew this, but sometimes that reality of it gets pushed to the back of your mind a bit more than it should in the rush of everyday life.

Little Mr. does indeed worship little plastic figures with “C” shaped “hands” and he worships them even more if they come with fire hoses or ambulance or police accessories that fit into those little plastic hands, but in the end what he really wants for Christmas is exactly the same thing that he loves best all year round.

TIME.

He wants us to sit on the floor with him, showing him how Lego blocks can be shaped into funnily shaped buildings (Note to self, we appear to have ten times more Lego doors than windows and this makes for some construction quandaries). he wants a Big Person to put the mega fiddly steering wheel bits back together after he has pulled them apart for the fourth time , no wait, fifth time , no wait, sixth time…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

He wants us to build complex castles with the wooden blocks and even better, to play the bad dragon who’s coming to breath fire on the surrounding forest and burn it down, whilst he, the courageous knight comes out and gives the dragon a good telling off so that it becomes good again.

It’s the same with Kiwi Daughter, she wants to get her fingers sticky in the kitchen, deep in the remnants of the bowl that a short time earlier housed the chocolate cake batter, or taking a sneaky bite of a mini muffin fresh out of the oven, or grated cheese from the side of the grater.

She wants to choose colours from my plastic container of food colourings, to mix icing for biscuits (cookies) or gingerbread or … heck, lets be honest here:  icing on anything edible would pretty much suit that kid.

She wants to get her fingers dirty in glue and glitter and felt and thread and the sequins and mini pompoms that are crowded with the pipe-cleaners and various other low quality  items that were jam packed into a cheap box that she bought  herself for Euro 3.99 the other day with “holiday money” of Euro 5,- that I gave each of them the other day to spend.

She spent the rest on a pack of coloured pencils that cost 99c and Little Mr managed to spend Euro 4.97 of his share and they triumphantly handed me the change of a full 5 cents as they showed off their choices.

Himself said that he was pleased and proud to see that they both chose very wisely for the cash they had, and it made the lonnnnng and painful deliberation process that took place in the shop easier to withstand in the pre-Christmas rush.

Kiwi Daughter is delighting in drawing, wants to learn how and delights in colouring in… she and I have been making joint first attempts at folding origami boxes, playing board games on the bed and reading.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr has been watching kid movies on the dvd player and wanting reassurance that when it looks like the baddies are coming that it doesn’t all get too scary. I assure him that in most cases I have ever heard of the Good guys usually win/ find their way home etc and that helps… until next movie when he needs reassuring again. (And no, these are not ‘scary’ movies,  we are talking movies like Shrek and Toy Story).

I am reminded that my kids value TIME so much more than they value “stuff” and that they love to cuddle up next to me with a book,  even if they say they are “too old for that stuff now”.

Of course my kids are normal kids, Yes they have been fighting tooth and nail most of the day with each other, Yes there was a row about who was going to tidy up what when we were preparing the house for guests Christmas Day (not exactly a Spring Clean, but at least not let the place resemble the bomb-site i.e. a “toy grenade went off here”  it usually does).

We did manage to corral most of the kid-junk into the kid bedroom, and yes I know it never stays there, but I live in hope that at least whilst we eat Christmas Lunch that no one finds Playmobile figure body parts under their feet at the dining room table.

Yes, Little Mr. did manage a Force Ten Gale of a tantrum because I asked him pick up a single solitary woolen mitten… why? because it belonged to his sister and not him… so Yes they are normal kids and not saints.

That’s why I’m delighted to report that this Christmas Eve, Kiwi Daughter has been “secretly” drawing cards to give as presents to guests tomorrow, she’d been trying to make gifts from the sparkly, tacky, beautiful bits in her Euro 3.99 treasure trove of stick and paste…. she’s been delighting in it and making it personal.

To a lesser extent so has Little Mr ( and his fingers, face and clothes are completely covered in felt tip pen marks to prove it)

They been spending TIME, they have been delighting in doing it, they are very proud of their creative achievements and they’ve given great thought ( and ok, a few squabbles too) into what would be best for each of the people concerned.

So… tomorrow, Saturday 25th December 2010, they each find under the Christmas tree, a single large gift and two tiny ones, but I’m delighted to say that they have each discovered  the joy of giving and the Spirit of Christmas, and maybe, with the gift of TIME, that is the present that I am proudest that they appreciate.

So, Yes, Today for many around the world is about the food and festivities, and giving gifts, but I hope it’s also about spending time.

I wish each of you a brilliant Christmas, full of joy, laughter, happiness and TIME, with people you love.

Merry Christmas!

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