Wednesday, June 25, 2014

You know you're a parent of a toddler when ...

• A small person who looks like you stomps across your picnic blanket, and stamps his sweaty, sandalled foot straight into your pot of houmous before continuing on his way. You grimace for a moment, then shrug your shoulders and dip another mini pitta in the aforementioned houmous.

• Your kid is in bed and you celebrate having got through another hot summer's day by pouring yourselves a couple of glasses of super-strong Pimms (no fruit - you ran out of token strawberries days ago) while discussing who is the most annoying character in The Great Snortle Hunt.

• You are tired, the state of your flat disgusts you, you owe a million people emails, you are meant to be doing an ASDA order and you really should be in bed, and yet you find yourself watching a video on Facebook of an American in a baseball cap showing you how to cut a whole plate of grapes in half in one go and you hear yourself shout out loud, 'game changer!'

Monday, June 23, 2014


It was the week that everything turned on a six-pence. James decided to leave his job and plans to spend the summer with his little dinosaur adventurer (and napping a lot too, I think). We have absolutely no idea what the future holds and yet we are strangely relaxed about the whole thing. Odd.

Maybe my work picking up helps with it all. I'm still working all hours and am shattered but I'm loving it. And I'm loving the freedom of being a freelancer. No ties, no politics, no commute, just me and my laptop. 

And Samuel? Well it's all change for him too. There I was last week, wringing my hands, feeling guilty and worrying about leaving my precious baby with a childminder. And then, of course, after the first day he didn't want to come home. He plays nice, drinks Fruit Shoots and gets to hang out with Millie the dog. And then there's Kevin, his new pal. A year older than Samuel and cool as you like, you can already tell that this is a hero worship relationship just waiting to happen. 

If anyone found the childcare transition hard, it was me. By lunchtime on the first day I was sat at my desk just aching for him. But then I enjoyed yet another mug of hot and uninterrupted coffee, and I soon got over that one. But the thing that I'm not sure I'll ever get used to is knowing that for two days' a week my son has a secret life - one that I'll never be a part of. 

But, as I'm discovering, when you're a working parent, it's all the more important to make the most of the time you have together. So that's exactly what we'll be doing this summer. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Oh, we've been having fun together the past few days. When we're out and about Samuel often walks happily alongside me or sits proudly next to me on the train. He listens to everything I say and replies in toddler babble that becomes less and less unintelligible each day. He's great company. 

Yesterday afternoon, he interrupted his game of rolling cars down the ramp of his multi-story car park to run over to me, sprawled out on the floor. He leaped up on my back crawled up my person, laughing his head off, and then gave me a gentle cuddle.

It felt so, so good. But at the exact same time a fist of guilt smacked me right in the gut and almost took my breath away. Tomorrow Samuel starts with a childminder and our 24/7 partnership comes to an end. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Behind the scenes at the museum

After a long and tiring week it was great to wake up this morning and get told to go back to bed for a lie-in. Then, when I finally did emerge blinking into the living room I was greeted with a rousing version of 'Happy Birthday' while a bemused toddler following instructions dragged a bag full of chocolates in my general direction and handed me a card complete with his own 'handwriting'. (I later discovered that this endeavour had resulted in pen on his stomach, on the floor and on the kitchen cabinet. But still. Seriously lovely.)

My lie-in kind of put pay to any original day-trip plans, so we decided to stay close to home and run around at The Horniman Museum. And run around we did. Samuel hurtled through the creepy bird taxidermy section and past the eery cabinets packed with primate skeletons, stopping only briefly to open a fire exit and, later, grab a flea-bitten stuffed badger. It's terrifically Victorian and gothic in there.

Outside he was let loose around the sprawling gardens where he scrambled up and down gravel hills absolutely fearlessly. He clocked the huge outdoor xylophones and clonked them to his heart's content while I sat on a bench, taking in the fresh air, taking in the Dick Whittington-style views of London, taking in the moment.

We got to the cafe just before crazed lunchtime rush and nabbed a table in the sun. Samuel, distracted by pigeons below and aeroplanes above, happily scoffed his lunch without a single tantrum and let us do the same. Total birthday luxury.

Before we left we went to check out the mini farm they have there. Samuel laughed his head off at the goat (he always laughs at goats - toddlers are odd) and waved hello to every single animal. Then, when he accidentally operated the hand dryer in the hand-washing area and burst into terrified floods of tears, we knew that it was time to go. But what a top birthday with my boys.

Monday, June 9, 2014


I'm struggling to keep up the blogging these days. I've a lot of work on - and that's fantastic news - but with the permanent childcare situation still unresolved there's not a whole lot of time for much else (apart from Game of Thrones, of course. Somehow there always seems to be time for Game of Thrones). 

Anyway, when the weekends roll around I rejoice as it means James is around so I can lock myself away and put some serious hours in. And one-on-one Daddy time? Well, Samuel loves it. I left my office (the kitchen table) the other day only to discover the pair of them sitting at either end of the sofa snacking on Malted Milks and rice cakes, each with an iPad next to them. They were chucking around some proper ladz bantz. It was about Justin's House, I think, but bantz nonetheless. 

The thing is, Samuel doesn't just love his Dad, he idolises him. In the mornings he watches intently as James puts gunk in his hair as he's getting ready, then throughout the day all Samuel wants to get at is those pots of gunk. He wants to do his hair like his Dad. He wants to do everything like his dad, really. And why not? I can't think of a better role model for a little man. Apart from the Malted Milk thing, that is, but nobody's perfect I suppose. So, just in case I don't manage to post anything before then, Happy Father's Day, James.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


When Samuel's first ever party invitation dropped though our letter box, my first reaction was joy. What a milestone! He now officially has his own social life. 

My second reaction was envy. I mean his social life is - even in its infancy - already better than mine. On the bright side, my new status as an eternal plus one means that my diary is bound to be packed too from now on. I just live in hope that Garlic and Shots will one day branch out into the toddler party package market.

My third reaction was horror. His manners need a bit of work. He's a hair-puller extraordinaire, a slave to his tantrums and a sweet treat thief. Our session at Monkey Music the day before had ended with a monumental buggy-refusal meltdown which led to fellow parents looking on with that mixture of sympathy and relief. Relief that it wasn't their child kicking off. Were we in for that kind of behaviour again at the party?

Luckily, we were not. Samuel was a pretty excellent guest. He played nicely with the other children and he had a whale of a time on the bouncy castle. He was the youngest by far but that didn't stop him from bouncing the highest and grinning the widest. He tucked into a plate of cake with eyes wide as saucers because he just couldn't believe his luck. Also, he wore chinos and a printed floral shirt. On a fully grown man an outfit such as this may have had connotations of ageing City trader on the razz, but Samuel somehow made the look his own.

And so it begins. I'm keeping my eye on the letter box, ready for the deluge.