Archive for October, 2013


October 28, 2013


It was a bit of a funny week last week, what with pox scares, flu vaccines and ailments of one kind and another, but we did make it out to the zoo, which gave cause to reflect again on the close relationship between human and animal. My ex-brother-in-law, Thomas, once remarked of Ben, when he was very small, that babies are really more animal than human. At the time I was offended, but, as I feed the ravenous Rowan-beast bowl after bowl of multi-grain hoops, or listen to her high-pitched whooping, or continuous cries of ‘Na na nng nng ngg’, I’m forced to concede that he had a point. Although I guess I’d put the current ratio at about 50-50.

At the same time there’s a lot of language advances: “Can I have pudding?” or “I want to put ball on sofa?” (Although “I want Rowan do it!” does suggest some confusion over subject.) That last is also a phrase that currently strikes fear, since it currently signals an epic attempt on her part not to put both legs into the same trouser.

Favourite current phrase has to be her bed-time sign-off: “Have a great play!”

Most mysterious utterance of the week:  “I want green tune!” This was repeated many times, but neither of us had a clue, and any attempt to improvise something ‘green’ was met with distaste.



October 21, 2013


Group activities did not go so well this week – we gave up on Play and Sway on Tuesday when she screamed continuously at the sight of everyone pretending to be a sea creature, and I had to take her out. Big shame – I was looking forward to being an octopus. I guess we’ll try again after half term.

A trip to the toyshop, on the other hand, went down a storm –she ignored HM Armed Services models in favour of a good, old-fashioned toy castle – armed forces of an earlier age. By no means a done deal that she wouldn’t go for a modern military approach, bearing in mind her love of The Hurt Locker when she was in the cradle.

And we had a good, rainy, muddy trip to Highwoods on Wednesday, and another good time at Firstsite / Squidge on Thursday, doing Halloween-related activities – she loves the overhead projector. At the end of the session the lights were turned down and all the children were given glowsticks which was sweet. Not so sweet was the potential fighting over the light-up bouncing balls – then I had a major brainwave and suggested Rowan and the other little boy actually throw the ball to each other, and, amazingly, they did it. Then about five other kids wanted to join in and it all fell apart, but there was a moment when I actually thought I could be a primary school teacher.

Nearly didn’t go to Town Tots / Colchester NCT coffee morning on Friday but very glad Rowan persuaded me into it. Great to meet more people, and once again, she was brilliant, happy playing and not fighting with the other children. Whatever happens next, that’s two respectable sessions under the belt.

Toilet training has been going well – she knows when she wants to pee, and we’re even risking nappy-free trips out now, every day from Tuesday, in fact. However, there has been a side-effect: constipation. This is a pretty well-known side effect of potty training, I think. By Wednesday morning, she’d taken to stuffing toys down her trousers (dinosaurs and the like) – I think this may have been some kind of sublimation. She did poo on Wednesday afternoon – or was it Thursday? All I can remember now is the aftermath.

Then – wonder of wonders – she pooed on the potty for Jo this Sunday! The big breakthrough. Special stickers!

And she’s been really great, generally, happy and cheery (enforced group activities aside), and really good – for instance, when we were houseviewing on Monday. I wonder how much that had to do with having our offer accepted the next day? Good work, Rowan!

There’ve been no more naps for a week or more, although she’s still going upstairs to her room for ‘quiet time’ – I wonder how much longer this will go on for either, though. Surely it won’t outlive the next  (and hopefully final) housemove….

Rowan reads ‘Too Many Daves’

October 17, 2013

Rowan reads ‘Too Many Daves’


October 14, 2013



Rowan seems ravenous these days, and her constant demands for food (from the touching ‘Are you hungry?’ to the even more touching ‘Hungry in the bag?’ or ‘Hungry in the cupboard?’) can send me into a bit of a panic. Here’s the checklist of what she currently likes, or gets to eat – not much different from the previous, I think!

Cheerios, shreddies, rice krispies

Baguette – with jam

Apples, pears, oranges – sometimes bananas, sometimes berries (black, rasp and straw)

Houmus, celery, carrots and breadsticks, flatbread or pitta bread (‘pitta patta’, as she calls it)

Egg and soldiers (can be fussy about the yolk)

Will sometimes have toast with marmite


Pasta – with cheese. Might eat some cucumber

Spaghetti bolognese – but not too much sauce

Chicken fingers, and potatoes of some kind – might eat sweetcorn, might eat peas – might not

Might eat a fishfinger

Will eat chunks of cheese

Will eat chocolate biscuits, ice cream (if in a cone). Will eat a chocolate pot if it’s Petit Filous, but not, apparently, if it has a picture of a monkey on the side

She did lick a mushroom the other day

Milk and OJ

There must be other things, but this is what springs to mind.


She has started prefacing demands with ‘I said’. So, she might say: “I want playpark! I said I want playpark!”

“Are you going to eat that banana or not?” “Or not.”

“Do you want a kidney bean?”  “I don’t want thank-you bean.”

Still confused over ‘You’ and ‘I’. So admiring her own bike, she might say ‘I love your bike’.

Suddently pretending to be a baby, like she really gets the idea of pretending. Will say ‘I’m your baby’ and ask for a cuddle. 

Or alarmingly, might say ‘I want hug’ and leap off the stairs – better be there to catch her…


She continued to be a bit up and down with group activities. Play and Sway was all about hide and seek last week – she liked it for a bit, then she had had enough.  Refused to stay hidden! Got a bit weepy. I think she was hungry.

Squidge was easier, because the kids do their own thing. The theme was light. The pic at the top was made there, but in response to the oft-voiced complaint that parents are overly obsessed with their offspring’s crappy pictures, I have to say: I made this picture. She was only interested in laminating it. She did love the overhead projector though – lots of ‘sharing’ lessons there.

In between those two events came Creepy-Crawlies club at Abberton. The theme this time was oaks and squirrels. We planted an acorn, and put a little name tag in the pot. On the back she wrote her name herself! It’s a bit blurry, but you can see below what I would describe as her first real attempt at writing. I am so proud…



October 7, 2013


After much careful study, I have to report that Rowan doesn’t seem like one of life’s natural ‘joiner-ins’ – or is she just a typical toddler?

Nevertheless, over time she does display a greater willingness to conform, I mean, join in, as evidenced by her behaviour at Play and Sway this week. For the first she joined the circle without fuss (and by fuss I mean an ear-splitting shriek) and joined in this week’s activities, exploring trees, from trunk to leaf.  Swaying like a tree proved to be surprisingly pleasing – is this activity the platonic ideal of music and movement? However, in a reverse of previous process, she decided that after about fifteen minutes, she had enough of going along with things and reverted to sitting down when everyone else stood up, and vice-versa. That’s our girl.

On Wednesday, we tried something new – toddler gym at the Colchester School of Gymnastics. Although the children were mostly free to explore the equipment, there was some directed activity – a parachute game. Her reaction to this belied all the sense of progress on group activities the day before – I mean, she screamed and wept outside the circle while all the other children joined in. I think she was trying to say: “Group activities here too?” Being the only dad there was one thing. Being the only parent with a child screaming and crying at a game the other children were laughing and wooping at, quite another. I mean, it was mortifying. But she calmed down before we had to leave – and then she loved it, especially jumping in the scary ball pit from on high. And I really loved the aroma of old socks.  No, actually, it was really good. I thought it might be just like going to soft play, but it was quite different.

On Thursday  we were back at Firstsite – this week’s theme was housekeeping –  it seemed like a bit of a busman’s holiday to me, but she loved it – hovering, salad spinning, cleaning windows. I think there might be a message in this for me.  This is where the picture of the duster at the top comes from. Amazing how the dirt formed such a definite shape.

On Friday, it was my turn to have an adverse reaction to group activities, as we went to the Colchester NCT playgroup– the Town Tots Toddler and Baby Group –  for the first time. As I looked through the window, it was clear that there was nowhere to hide, and I might have turned around if she hadn’t been so excited that she virtually dragged me in. Anyway, I’m glad she did, because it turned out to be really friendly, and good fun for her – it wasn’t the sweat of fear , it was just a hot room.

Oh – and the stairgate has gone, as of this week.

On our way back on several days we went to the local park. Here follow some videos of her at the park. They seem utterly normal to me at the moment, but I suspect that in no more than a few months they will start to seem utterly priceless. Well, her running style already is…



October 1, 2013



A long time ago when Ben was small, I met a woman in Victoria Park with two older kids. Regarding Ben’s ongoing tirade, she told me that she thought the rages came at fortnightly intervals, that small children  have two weeks of being fairly satisfied, when they have mastered something, and then they start to get upset and frustrated again as they attempt something else they cannot yet do.  I think the intervals might lengthen over time, but I wonder: does it ever really end?

Rowan had a fairly fussy week last week. She was coldy at the start, which can’t have helped. It was one of those periods when she’d ask for something to eat (humus, egg, sausage roll), then, when she was presented with it, would cry about it in a total rage. Then, mostly, ten minutes or so later, she’d eat it. Or she’d cry when she was refused television, or when we were going out, or when we weren’t, or when the toys didn’t balance or the cats ran away.

Or, as in the incident pictured below, when the milk wasn’t quite as full up as she wanted it to be.


And this is how full the milk was.


And I remember another incident from a few weeks back that I forgot to write about before, from the beginning of the month. She wanted juice, but settled for a banana. The first one was a bit black, so I ended up having it instead. The second had a spotty skin, but if I peeled it off, she was okay with the flesh. But a couple of bites later, she hands it back to me. I save it, and put it on a plate, at which point she loses it. “No plate!” she says. “No plate!” In the end I have to make a pantomime of not putting it on a plate while actually putting it on a plate, but she watches me like a hawk the whole time.

Sometimes, childraising is all about prestidigitation .

Anyway, in such a week, it seemed more necessary than ever to go out and do things. Sadly, there are no pictures of us chuffing like a train at Play and Sway or hunting for mice at Creepy-Crawlies, but here’s a picture we made at Firstsite.


What else happened this week:

The love of celery continues: when I buy it, when it’s shown on the plate, when she bites into it.

She’s suddenly aware of girls and boys. “I’m a boy” “No, you’re a girl.” “Mummy?” “Girl.” “Daddy?” “Boy.” “Lily’s a girl.” “Yes – what about Ben?” “Ben’s a boy” “Very good!” “What about animals.”

Sudden obsession with following teenage girls about the playpark, and saying things like “Hey come!” Great for me, as you can imagine.

Although she’s still happy to go up to her room for ‘nap’ time, she hasn’t actually slept for two weeks now… I’m calling time on the nap!