The Best Thinks Come In Small Packages.

Children are exhausting; I don’t think anyone, whether they confess to loving or loathing children, would profess that spending an hour with a child, from birth to toddler to walking-talking hormone, is the most relaxing and serene encounter they have ever had. In fact I can guarantee that they would go into a blow by blow of every event that they did that day with a subtle sigh of exhaustion. The difference, however, is the knowing glint in the eye of someone whom adores children and the hiss of the sigh coming from between the teeth of someone who, by and large, couldn’t think of anything more horrifying than spending more than 5 minutes in the company of a child. 

I, thankfully, am the former. And I mean no disrespect to those who either popped out their sprog and now can’t deal with another scream about a skipping frozen DvD. I similarly do not scoff at those who hold a baby like it is on fire. But I am pretty thankful that I enjoy the company of children, sometimes more than the company of adults. And this is probably why I spent most of my weekend in the company of/behaving like a child. 

This began on Thursday afternoon with the arrival of my nephew and niece who were very excited to meet the new cat. 

I still haven’t introduced you to the cat but she isn’t really an exhibitionist so I doubt she is hurt by my lack of attention to her in the blog. In fact, she shuns the limelight and is quite particular about whom strokes her and when…she I’ll leave her where she is at the moment.

As I was saying; the nephew and niece came round and had dinner…never had chocolate got onto so many surfaces in this house (and I had a pretty wild Birthday/Christmas party last year). And not just chocolate either. Cheese sauce, spaghetti and even a little splash of urine. There were dressing up clothes all over The Den (my dressing up clothes I might add) and balls of fimo trod into the carpet along with suspicious stains which might, also, have been chocolate…but I didn’t dare lick to check.

  

How does this sound so far? Like a OCD’s worst nightmare? Probably…but for myself it is a little slice of heaven. The cherry on top being a very lengthy and exuberant conversation with my nephew about bow’s and arrow’s and Panter Pee! I mean- sorry- Peter Pan! We talked about being friends and being brave and thinking of happy thoughts! The kid was pretending to fly all around my kitchen with such height to his jumps I swear he had inbuilt trampolines in his bare feet. And then, with the widest eyes he pointed enthusiastically outside the window:

Look, Pip-pip, Look! I can see him, you know! 

In the clouds?

Yeah, I can see him there!

I wish I could see him!

You can see him, Pip-Pip! Look!

Oh! Oh! I can! He’s there! 

Panter-Pee is there! 

Proceding this, I turned him into a number of animals and I, myself, was turned into a number of animals also… and we ran the length of the house several times too, I think!
  
Yes, by the time they left Mr Panda and I were on tip toe around the house scared that we would stand in something sticky but I wouldn’t change it!

I spent Friday with Sister Spoon (who technically isn’t a Spoon anymore) and Lil’ Aardvark who is now a bubbly 7 months old plus more! Boy, does he have cheeks for days. If you’re really not into babies or children (and have decided to, for whatever reason, consider this an exercise of your personal endurance) prepare yourself or give in now because I’m about to spend a short paragraph dispensing every English derivative for the word cute…no? Fair enough. You have been warned. 

Lil’ Aardvark is cute. And I don’t mean adorable in the bambi eyed hamster sort of way. I mean ‘kitten in the pocket of a doe eyed kangaroo sleeping on a cloud while a smiling cartoon moon watches’ delightful. From his darling cheeks to his lovable little smile to his charming excitableness and sweet hand held toddling- honestly couldn’t get enough!

Okay, kid-haters, you still with us? Well, if the sick bucket is full please pour it down the toilet and not the sink.
  
I’ll segue into what we did but please bare in mind that the afternoon was punctuated with lots of baby talk and cooing and much in the way of singing as Lil’ Aardvark has discovered clapping which provided many opportunities for renditions of “If you’re happy and you know it” which never got past the first verse!
  

We partook in tea, apple juice and booby (for baby, not myself or Sister Spoon) in a specialist tea shop which also did cake but today wasn’t a cake day. And once Lil’ Aardvark had done several laps of the shop, discovered a spaniel and raised his voice to the ceiling in boredom, we took a little wander to Victoria Park. There, we fed the guinea-pigs and saw the peacocks and ducks. Lil’ Aardvark, although partaking a little in guinea-piggery, seemed far more interested in being social and spend the first part of the walk simply beaming at the other children, particularly ladies! Who flirted back with lots of smiling and giggles! But eventually smiles turned to the guinea-pigs…and the floor-carrot which would have become Aardvark-Carrot had Sister Spoon not done her true blue mummy duty and confiscated the floor-carrot! Did you know these things were right in the centre of Portsmouth? You should! It’s a nice we wander! Not to mention it was a beautiful day! 

   
 

We had a bite to eat and a conversation about smacking that was considerably mutual…great minds, after all, we do have ‘em. This isn’t a political forum, however, and if anyone decides to begin a fully-fledged debate on the rights, wrongs or wherefores of spanking a sproglette in the comment section…good god I will slap you silly with a wet trout and you see if I don’t! 
   
 

That night I received an email from Genie who was worried about the connection between her partner and her partner’s niece. I learnt 2 things; 1. Ask questions first lest you wander too far down a path already trodden and 2. People ask me things when they’ve reached a bit of a dead end. It felt nice to be consulted about people and their experiences with children.
  
Sunday was a day I truly surprised myself. I decided to do a bit of weeding in the front garden. No, the fact that I engaged in some form of manual labour is NOT the surprise. The surprise came WHILE I was weeding. I was coming up to the half hour mark and beginning to get tired as I had spent most of the early afternoon doing make up (…more on that tomorrow) and was pretty low on spoons already. And, as if to put a natural stopper into my activities, I happened upon a critter. A frog- in fact. It was about the size of a medium hamster but, you know, a frog! It was chilling in the dandelions as cool as you like.
   

   
Now, I’m not one for liking critters; I’m as opposed to them as you are to children, person who has come thus far through the waves of cute and grime! Moths, cockroaches, rats and I have a completely irrational fear of woodlice. So I spent the first 2 minutes of happening upon said frog deliberating my next movement. I could either: A) Scream loudly in a cloud of predictability and female stereotyped hysteria, B) Ignore it while warily eyeing it up over there positive it was planning its angle of attack , or C) Pick the little bugger up like my grubby, tomboyish inner child wanted to do so damn badly!

Guess which one I did?
    
And I called him Archimedes; not after the philosopher as some smelly adult would, no. I names him after the owl in The Sword In The Stone. I then proceeded to knock on the front window and ring the doorbell with my elbow to get the attention of Mr Panda and show him how clever I had been to catch such a wonderful little gift!

Mr Panda…acting his age on this particular Sunday…was an unimpressed 26 year old. As though we see frog’s everyday willy-nilly! 

The point of this monologue is that I have spent the first few weeks of university attempting to remain inspired in Early Childhood Studies when my CFS/ ME is forcing me to consider how on earth I am going to use this degree. My approach to practice with children has changed so much, I can’t move like I used to, I can’t lift children or concentrate on them like I used to! And it makes for such limited interaction that I am afraid that I won’t be able to form the bonds with children like I used to so as to help their development.

But this weekend has reminded me of something; That I know a thing or two about children and that, even on my worst days, I love to spend time with them and talk to them and listen to them. But most of all I love to just watch them discover and play and learn and just be in their presence and then tell others all about it until they want to sew my mouth shut!

If there is a way to make a living out of that then please point me in that direction!

To be continued,
P.

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