Sunday, 29 January 2012
So when I found out my firstborn was going to be a girl, I took a bit of mild ribbing from some quarters about what I'd do if she was a girlie-girl, given that I'm, well... put it this way, I never played with Barbie or Sindy as neither held much interest for me, but I can hold my own in any conversation about Transformers, He-man or Thundercats (not the new versions, mind!) The joys of having a brother! Although I'm pretty sure that the He-man figures were mine first...
I do remember some princesses featuring in my childhood though... how I longed for the more exotic name of "Melisande" - the princess from "Flight of Dragons"- which after "Samantha" (worryingly, after Sam Fox) I thought was the most beautiful name in the world, ever. And wishing I had long blonde hair, something they both had in common. I was definitely mid-primary school when the name-changing blonde-hair yearnings began.
I'm not sure why Ms Fox passed across my childhood consciousness, but I think just from hearing her talked about in the media, in the way that Jordan is now (only with Ms Price it's even more so). Possibly also Top of The Pops, which tallies with the timescale. So in the context of page 3 girls, are Disney Princesses comparatively harmless?
I have to say I'm really not keen on some of the messages that 'Disney Princesses' in particular put out there - the point of life is to be pretty above all, to be passively rescued from your fate, meet your Prince, get married, keep being pretty, yawn - but my position's been challenged lately, as the Girl's friends are big on all that franchise... So the dilemma then becomes how my principles mesh with the reality of child-raising. I'm not raising my child in isolation from other influences. How can you? But do I exclude her from 'princess parties', grudgingly go along with it, or try and keep some perspective...
I'm aiming for the latter, and taking the line that princesses are probably like a box of chocolate: not that you never know what you're going to get, more that if you have the odd one now and again, in context of an otherwise varied diet it's fine.
And while I'm not a fan of princesses, I will make an exception for Princess Pearl. She of the 'zog' book, from the 'Gruffalo' stable of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. I'd forgotten about her, til we had that story for bedtime tonight. She gives up being a princess to become a doctor - sensible choice in these stormy times - and with a small suggestion from me, the Girl was pretty keen for me to make a 'white coat' for her Ariel toy. Although she's still a bit confused as to why Ariel wears 'silly shoes' that she can't stand up in (that'll be because her hair makes up about half of her bodyweight, dear).
"You don't wear silly shoes, do you Mummy?"
Um. Well, sometimes. Maybe. *cough*
If you want to make a white coat, take:
Some white paper or plastic.
Cut a rectangle of appropriate size.
Cut holes for arms, and put on doll.
Secure with appropriate fastening (yes, I know the rubber band makes it look more like a kimono)
Bodge together optional stethoscope with pipe-cleaner. Ta-dah!
Princesses. Huh. These days, I'm more likely to be carried off by a man in a white coat than a knight on horseback, but hey...
Sunday, 22 January 2012
I do have the odd moment of nostalgia, before sanity kicks in. I can remember when her foot was the same length as my little finger, yet now I am the proud mother of a 3-year-old. I really can't get away with calling her ToddlerGirl anymore. The Girl's not really been a toddler for ages, but just lately I look at her and I see how much she's changed. My desktop wallpaper is a picture of her with BabyBoy (who I should probably call ToddlerBoy now, really) from six months back, and even there I can still see something of the baby about her.
But I look at this assortment of shoes, each one a milestone in it's own little way, and I realise two things. Firstly, they're right: they do grow fast. And secondly, I need to sort out the shoe cupboard more often...
Saturday, 7 January 2012
The difference between being 33 and 3 is that the response to someone who says "I'm going running," aged 33 is "Good for you!". When you're 3 it's "Can I come too? Please!"
I'm not sporty. PE lessons at school pretty much put me off sport for life. Nothing to do with the teachers/teaching, and everything to do with communal changing rooms, teenage girls, and self-consciousness.
Since pregnancy #2, the ligaments in my lower back are permanently weakened. That's the bad news. The good news is that since my osteopath did his thing, I am pretty much pain-free, and although my ligaments are no longer to be trusted, as long as I keep my core muscles strong then they compensate accordingly. So, the silver lining to the cloud of having to pay much more attention to my body than I used to is that as a result I am substantially fitter. I have to make exercise a part of my life in a way it never was before. This can only be a good thing, as hopefully my kids will see that as 'the norm' and perhaps be more likely to continue to enjoy exercise. I don't come from a sporty background at all, and I do wonder whether it is nature or nurture that made me a 'not sporty' type...
But then I look at my kids and think, surely nature doesn't make 'not sporty' types? Because they, like pretty much every preschooler I know, love physical activity - my 14 month old spends his life in search of things to climb, and my 2 year old loves running (okay, often away from me) and jumping (yes, often in puddles). At what point do we lose that? Is it just about developing a sense of self and the self-consciousness that goes along with that? Or is that some days, getting two small kids ready, dressed and down the park seems such a huge effort that it's easier to stick on Cbeebies and pray they sit engrossed while you try and drink just one cup of tea before it's tepid? Because looking after two small kids is sometimes so knackering that you don't have enough energy of your own to help them use up theirs? Is that the start of a slippery sedentary lifestyle slope?
Fear not though, for the healthy living/active lifestyle is already promoted to 2 year olds via your TV! In fact the Government teamed up with kids' programme LazyTown last autumn to launch its own Change4Life programme aimed at 2-5 year olds. For those unfamiliar with LazyTown, it promotes healthy lifestyle choices via its hero Sportacus and the characters who live in the eponymous town. (There's a kid called Pixel who needs to be prised from his computer to exercise, fruit is 'Sports Candy', you get the gist - though I'm not sure anyone's fooled by that 'Sport Candy' idea. It's actually quite fun to watch, and less preachy than it sounds.) But then as adults, most of us know about healthy living and sensible choices, and the trend is still towards a state of increasing obesity.
Perhaps it makes sense then that the Government thinks we can't be trusted to make the right choices. Yet I have very mixed feelings about the school weigh-ins for kids, or "The National Child Measurement Programme" to give it its full title. My eldest will fall due for it at some point next year. I have the right to withdraw my child from it, and I am yet to decide if I will exercise that right. I view it as my responsibility to keep my kids healthy, and a long line of children being weighed, measured and recorded in schools strikes me as an image belonging more to a totalitarian state than the country I thought I lived in. But perhaps that is my naivety...
Regardless, I am trying hard to incorporate exercise into my life, and hopefully as well as keeping me pain-free it does set a good example. And so I've started the 'Couch to 5K', or 'C25K', 9 week running programme. Hence the pleading requests at bedtime from my daughter who would love to come with me... even in the drizzle. Meanwhile I try and remember the words of Phoebe from friends: "I run like I did when I was a kid because that's the only way it's fun".
1 week down, 8 to go and then we'll see if I actually am running 3 miles in 30 mins...