Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heigh Ho Twitter!

Hullo folks. Yes, this is Mum and Pa... and, sadly, no - we're not not quite restarting the blog yet.

Like we said, we wanted to relaunch when a pre-arranged tipping-point of sorts was reached, and that hasn't yet come. Details will be revealed at that time.

But, for now, we're sort of cheating on our own promise, by starting up on Twitter instead. That's right, we're now on Twitter at, so do Follow us. We'll try to supply updates on how the little fella is doing... he's not so little any more, but in fine fettle. We hope to reconnect with some of the great folks we came to know while the blog was humming along... and even if and when Mum's the Word (or Pa) does resume, the Twitter feed will remain a great means through which to chat, communicate and alert.

So, again, come follow us! And let us follow you, by telling us where to find you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why we've 'gone quiet'

Nuclear submarines disappear beneath the waves for months at a time to prowl undersea and play war games.

We're obviously not a nuclear submarine, but we have gone quiet for a while, so we thought we'd put up a quick post to say that we are - as alluded to already in some responses to comments - on sabbatical. The blog hasn't died, it's having a rest, but we have every intention of reactivating it once the circumstances are right.

Hopefully, the appropriate circumstances will come by soon and we can surface dramatically - splaash! - with turbines churning.

Meanwhile, thank you for your messages, notes, inquiries and comments. Sonny is very well and babbling away every day, fair scuttling around and even trying to climb up playground ladders (giving Mum little heart attacks each time). His favourite word at this time is 'Mummy carry', which is a bit of toddler blackmail which really means 'Mummy, pick me up now or I'll commence loud protestations of the teary variety'.

All the best and bear with us just a little longer, everyone!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Alphabet Kid emerges

It has been said that young children have a prodigious memory, learning at a rate that will never again be equalled in their lives. Everything from language, social rules and power structures to basic math and motor skills gets assimilated at warp speed.

Which may all be true, though as far as we can tell Sonny - who's punched through to almost 15 months with us - is devoting much of his memory power to the alphabet. To be exact, the alphabet chart that Mum drew up eons ago and then hung on the wall. The little fella's devotion to the letters is remarkable: At least once a day, he will demand to be lifted up to it and to chant through from A to K (beyond which point things still get hazy) as he chirrups his mangled responses to "[Fill in letter] is for...?]" Thus, he knows that 'A' is for 'air-pull' (apple), 'B' is for 'bole' (ball) and is for 'cap' (cap). Admittedly, it isn't really clear if he's just guessing ('D', which is supposed to elicit the response of 'Desk', perpetually draws forth 'Dett') and the pronunciation is often comical: 'I' is, apparently, for 'I-kim' (ice cream).

The strongest proof of Sonny's alphabet-mania is the way it can be exploited to disrupt one of his sobbing fits. If he's noisily protesting the snatching-away of some toy, recitation of the alphabet-object pairings will result in a remarkable suspension of bawling - at least long enough for him to wheeze out 'air-pull', before teary service is resumed. At times, the trick whisks away the crying jag altogether - and Sonny will toddle over to the chart and begin to agitate for a run-through.

It is obviously far too early for us to conclude that the little fella will be particularly attached to words and their meanings (even though both his parents are writers of a sort). It could be he simply enjoys the singsong nature of the alphabet 'game', as he may conceive of it: All the serious pedagogical activity that we attempt to interest young children in is probably seen in their eyes simply as 'fun'. Or, in some cases, 'not fun' - at which point the child will brutally end his engagement and scamper off in search of something else to do.

In the present case, we're hoping Sonny will retain his interest until he's gone from 'L' to 'Z'. Maybe after that, we could work a bit on his pronunciation...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Who's car-crazy, buddy?

Toddlers are supposed to get overwhelmingly curious fairly early on, but our experience with our particular edition is that he gets fixated about certain categories of objects.

Like cars. And cars. Oh, and cars. The little fella will ignore the garishly-dressed gorilla screaming his name in his ear (we could of course here be merely drawing a less-than-flattering verbal portrait of his father), yet be instantly transfixed by a whispered mention of 'car' at the other end of the room. He'll scamper in that direction, shoving aside anything or anyone that may be in the way, and gibber 'Car, car' as he approaches the approximate location.

In fact, these days, pretty much the only surefire way of distracting him, or grabbing his attention, is to claim that a vehicle is passing our windows or entering the compound. His grandmother is especially skilled at enthusiastically declaring "Hey, look at the big car" with total conviction. You can sometimes play the same trick by invoking "Airplane!", except Sonny is rather scared of aircraft and will sometimes be seized with terror when one is too boisterously reported.

Anyway, one is led to wonder why children - and, or so we are conventionally told, boys especially - develop an early fascination with cars. Mum and Pa can't remember any fixations from their toddlerhoods, but then again they can't remember much of that period of their lives. Maybe it's that motorised rumble, or the way cars zip along enticingly with the sun glinting off the hubcaps and illuminating all those curves. Someone who can only crawl along at 3 miles an hour, or at best totter precariously forward at double that speed (allowing for the odd tumble and slip) is perhaps especially mesmerised by how cars can glide smoothly on their way, accelerating as needed with utter ease.

This is something that many adult would understand, of course. Many of us are all but defined by the extent to which we are in thrall of things, structures or people that are more powerful, stronger or more impressive than we are - so that we are consumed by envy or hunger, and are always seeking an extra glimpse, a closer peek and a fuller view. Looked at from this perspective, a child's car-craziness takes on a more sinister aspect. It begins to sound like a symptom of a character flaw, a covetousness that seeks power or gain to the exclusion of virtue.

We ought to hope, therefore, that Sonny takes a greater interest in the humble ox-cart, for instance, or becomes entranced by the mere mention of a bicycle. Perhaps that would signal a humbler worldview, less grandiose dreams and a healthier mental state.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cot-free and ready to roam

Since Sonny's arrival just over 14 months ago, our little fella has spent his nights in a collapsible cot in our bedroom - initially in a shallow bassinet, then later making full use of the available space. But as longtime readers of this blog will know, he absolutely detests every waking moment spent in the cot (click here for some of our efforts to 'cure' him). He would howl down the house, toss out every toy and otherwise make it perfectly clear we were violating whatever childcare version there may be of the Geneva Conventions against cruel and inhuman punishment by keeping him thus confined.

Over the weekend, therefore, we folded up the cot and stowed it away. A futon took its place - and Sonny has now graduated to sleeping on the floor, free upon awakening to immediately embark on sundry adventures. In doing so, of course, we are taking a calculated risk. Despite every precaution, he might conceivable steal out of the room while we are slumbering and start parachute training using our settee, for instance. Or he might begin to carefully to chomp on the newspapers, or make a meal of sundry trash bags.

Still - and there's a broader moral here - you can't keep a child caged away from all danger forever. Soon enough, he'll have to take such vast risks as submerge briefly in water (if he is to learn to swim) and a little further on - gasp - cross the road on his own steam. There's no getting away from it, though we may throw up as many protective barriers as possible, from swim lessons to road-crossing coaching. With a bit of luck, nightmare scenarios will not come to pass: In the present case, when we are in the room the door will be securely shut and Sonny can't really reach the doorknob yet. Of course, there'll come a day the door is left ajar, and the little fella might revive at precisely the wrong moment and slip out to do a bit of wrecking.

Still, we have to weigh against this prospect the daily protestations by Sonny upon waking up in his cot, the increasing difficulty of conveying him there after he falls asleep elsewhere without his coming to and the like. And much the same calculus will have to be applied as he is progressively exposed to more and more 'dangers'. On the grandest scale of things, he'll have to be an independent operator in the big ole world sooner or later - and sometimes, it's the parents who need to do the most adjusting to come to terms with that terrifying prospect. Over-cocooning, if we might use that ugly but apposite phrase, only postpones the inevitable and ultimately results in a child unprepared for life.

What's a parent to do, but to begin the incremental letting-go earlier rather than later? The dilemma of 'but there's just the teeniest prospect of danger...' has to be confronted on a daily basis.