Saturday, May 29, 2010


Days are gently slipping by and at this moment Max is sitting in the garden, a bag of trains tipped into a pile on the grass, while he works out the mechanics of a fire engine's twisted hose. The blossom has turned brown and is being blown from the trees in little flurries of confetti.  Only a minute ago, there was pink bursting out across the hawthorn and the flowers were bending the branches low with their weight.  So it is already summer and to prove it, we have harvested, and eaten, the best of the broccoli from the garden.
Another marker of summertime are the plethora of events in the city called 'Kindergarten Night', where more experienced mothers give the greener ones, like me, a snapshot into the next stage of our lives.  I am wide eyed with fear about the 'process' of tours and screenings and interviews and essays written about your child that are needed in order to scale the apparently impenetrable walls of private education. I'm left wondering if the public school system might not be better all round.  But somehow you feel you should give private a shot, with state funding in crisis and all.
The key to all these interviews and essays is, quite obviously, to know your child. This will not require a PhD but somehow seems harder than it should be. I think I've resisted labels, Max is this or that. Things change after all. The truth is he dawdles when we walk anywhere and falls - no, he lies - on the ball when we attempt to play soccer.  He's only really watched rugby matches with his father and in a sense he's right, there's generally a lot of lying on the ground.  What he's missed, obviously, is the physical exertion beforehand.  I'm not sure sport is his thing but it must be said, he is fiercely competitive. He wants to be first at breakfast, first out of the bath, first down the stairs, and he doesn't hide his frustration when he's not. He loves music and has done so ever since he could indicate he wanted 'zic on!' from his car seat. Does that make him musical? He does have a ukulele - but when I took him to a kinder music class recently he refused to come into the room and sat outside until I decided to abandon the idea and we all walked home.  I'm obviously going to have to get a firmer grasp on all this come September.  We will see how we fare.
In the meantime Oli is labeling everything, in a much simpler form: 'Os' for horse, 'Dar' for star and car and 'Dow' for cow.  'Dog' has a silent g. I'm pretty sure 'Bo' is milk but it's not always the case. But my favourite must be fish, he says it with a breathy sound that seems to summon up aquatic speed, 'whith' he says, repeating it three or four times as if to try and get a handle on this elusive, slippery creature. He becomes more adamantly independent every day but has just figured out if he stands right in front of me with arms in the air (the 'Arrest Me' position) he will generally get carried.  It rare enough that he wants my help. In his highchair earlier he said 'Bo.'
'Do you want some milk?'
'No, bo'.
'You can see a boat?'
'You want a kiss?' It was a long shot but I thought I'd give it a go. He said nothing and I lingered too long, my nose in his hair, my lips on his warm temple.
Funny to think that one day I will miss carrying 27 chunky pounds of boy weight around, perched there, legs straddling my expanding tummy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Last week we made a trip up north to a remote ranch near Ukiah.  It was beautiful; rolling grassy hills with clovers of red and purple and pink and white. There were bright California poppies and pale checkerblooms, blue and yellow irises and tall lush grasses.  In the lake nearby, tiny silvery fish gathered in the shallows and their graceful sludge-coloured neighbours glided around in the deeper water.  Max and Oli showed little enthusiasm for exercise. Is so much effort really needed for such a little walk? I admit it was hot. Even by ten in the morning the cicadas were chirping loudly from the trees, like so many flicked elastic bands.  Luckily the lake provided a stone-throwing entertainment that could pass for physical exertion and of course sticks were in plentiful supply for poking, proding and as pretend fishing rods. The other day Max told me with excitement that he knew the kind of job he'd have when he was bigger. His job would be collecting sticks.  It makes sense, he gets a lot of practice. By the sounds of it, it will be a global search and supply company, he told me he would have meetings in Penzance and Denver. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Daddy Love

For some time now, Oli, at twenty one months, has been consumed with Daddy Love.  This is a love that cries 'Nooo', like a character in slow motion trying to prevent someone falling off a cliff, as Daddy leaves for work every morning. It is a love that careers full tilt into Daddy's knees when he returns at the end of the day. It is a love that whispers his name at the slightest hint of his presence, a foot on the step, a key in the door; 'Da-dee?' it asks in hushed tones that I have only otherwise seen him reserve for diggers.
Quite remarkably my four year old still loves me and tells me so with urgent spontaneity. He tells me 'You're my best friend' and asks if I'm his best friend too. Sometimes he tells me he loves me and then asks if I can make the lego loader that's too complicated for a four year old's dexterity. Sometimes he tells me he loves me and asks for ice-cream.  But often he just sidles up to me and says 'I love you Mummy' and it seems to come from nowhere. I know it will not last. When I pitched up at his school last month during circle time, the friend next to him nudged him and said, 'Aren't you excited, your mom's here?' It was the time I brought cupcakes for his birthday.  He was grinning as he looked at me and while his friend spoke to him, but then he turned back to his friend, shrugged, and carried on listening to the circle time story.  No, it cannot last and it seems Oli's 'Mummy stage' too may already be over.