Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Practical Parenting magazine - Toddler Diarist #3

image: Jenny Susanto-Lee

Playdate sans Mum
We had a major first the other week. Jordy & I went to a friends’ place for a playdate, then I nicked off and didn’t come back for over half an hour. Okay, stop laughing. Seriously, it was a really big step for us. Rob’s folks live in Indonesia and mine live in Melbourne, so we’d never really had the chance to leave Jordy with anyone before (at least while he’s been awake). Plus, I’m a wuss. Anyhow, he went great guns. By the time he’d waded through the toys and made it out the back to the dog, the trampoline, the swing set and the multi-level cubby house with his buddy Eli I was back (slightly out of breath) from my hasty shopping expedition. And his only comment when I was away was “Where’s Mummy? I’m a bit scared” before hoovering up the proffered plate of chocolate Tiny Teddies & promptly forgetting I was gone.

The Drool Factor

You can’t blame us poor Mums. After being on the oestrogen circuit of playgroup, kinder gym and swimming lessons for a few years we’ve all become a bit, well, male-deprived. So it’s little surprise when we start to get a bit swooney over the male eye candy in our lives (other than our long-suffering partners, of course). The blue and new yellow Wiggle get more than their fair share of female ogling. So does Sportacus from Lazytown (well, he is awfully buff). Not to mention the token Dad at playgroup or the cute new teacher at the local school. It’s like being a teen again, right down to the revering of all-male pop groups (goodbye Duran Duran, hello Hooley Dooleys). And at the end of the day, it’s great for a laugh and a bit of good girly bonding. Just back off Sportacus, okay? He’s mine, even if he does live in Iceland.

In-Law Heaven

I’ve heard all the stories about scary monster-in-laws but truth be told, I adore my husband’s folks. Okay, so they don’t live here, which undoubtedly makes a world of difference, but having them here for two months out of every four is just a dream set-up. They are semi-retired now, and fly out from Indonesia to hang out with us several times a year. Mum S puts me to shame with her high energy levels as she whips us all into a familial frenzy of catch-ups, big meals, celebrations and mini-breaks together. It’s great.
After the success of the motherless playdate, my in-laws agreed to start babysitting Jordy for one morning a week, and I can happily report the test run today was a stomping success. I got to do my errands in record time while Jordy discovered the joys of washing the toilet bowl with Mum S’s hairbrush. Although I do admit to shedding a couple of tears as I drove away from their house (he didn’t even say goodbye!) and then counting the minutes to picking him up again. My heart cracked a little that day, yet I was so proud of my independent little boy. A very bittersweet feeling.

On the Move

Apparently it’s supposed to be one of the most stressful times in your life. Apparently. Explain to me, then, why I so unaccountably excited about moving house in a few weeks’ time? We are so ready to move out of our little shoebox and into a slightly larger shoebox with a garden that it doesn’t bear thinking about. Jordan has become quite the packing box boffin, telling me exactly where to stick the sticky tape and folding the sides just so for maximum intake. He is mega excited about “the newwww house”: his bigger room with air conditioning, the large tract of grass that wraps around the house and the playground over the road. It’ll be interesting to see if that excitement persists once the house of his birth gets its last goodbye, and we’re irreversibly transported to a strange new land. And I’m not just speaking for Jordy either.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Practical Parenting magazine - Toddler Diarist #2

Jordy and fellow junior physicist Grace performing experiments at playgroup

"Watch me throw this ball at that fountain!"

Thanks to Jordy I've been having fun reliving my childhood, seeing things through his toddler eyes. And, particularly in the last couple of weeks, we've been having fun with "Yes" and "No"

“Have you finished dinner, honey?”


“Would you like to get down, then?”


“So you’re still hungry?”


“Would you like some more dinner, then?”

Big smile. “No”.

Arrgghh! What does it all mean? Is there a technical glitch in the mainframe? Is this his first, fledgling attempt at humour? Does he mean he’s hungry for chocolate ice-cream and not peas? I don’t know. Like so many other kid conundrums, it will probably pass and we will never be the wiser.

Jordan added a new twist to the game the other day, where the answer to “Would you like to wear your brown shoes, sweetheart?” was “Yes-No”. Maybe he is trying to say he doesn’t know what he wants. Or that he doesn’t care and I should stop bothering him with silly questions. Mental note to self: must start devising questions where the answer does not require an affirmative or negative response. You've got to love the inconsistent toddler.

Screen Grabs

For somebody who was raised without the background thrum of a computer monitor, the combination of kids and computers all seems a bit, well, amiss. Jordy just seems so unhealthily transfixed by it. I guess this is our fault because so are we. He will be happily playing follow-the-leader with his Matchbox cars in the living room, so I’ll quietly takes myself off (okay, sneak) to the study to check my inbox/latest eBay bid/Facebook notifications.

But, oh no, there’ll be none of that, Mummy. Jordy’s by my side in a flash, mewling and grabbing the mouse, climbing onto the desk, wanting a turn and generally being a nuisance. I’ve tried explaining Mummy time and Jordy time. I’ve tried bringing his toys into the study with me. I’ve tried kicking him out of the room (guaranteed meltdown). To no avail, of course.

TV Turnaround

Then there’s that other hypnotic screen, the television. BC (Before Child), I vowed my offspring would barely know what a television looked like as they would be too busy out in the sunshine, communing with nature. Gosh, how my Mummy friends laughed. Of course they were right.

Jordan can now recognise the lovely lilting tune of ‘In the Night Garden’ from twenty paces and be able to spot ‘Thomas the Tank’ merchandise from the other side of Target.

At least the chances are reduced of him being a social pariah when he gets to school. Well that’s my pathetic excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Whose Playgroup?

Jordy and I love our Montessori playgroup. We’ve been going for a year now and it just gets better and better. The Mums (& Dads) are funny, supportive & kind, and I look forward to catching up with them every week. Over the months I've made that lovely transition to a closer friendship with some of them, and my life is all the more rich for it.

Oh, and Jordy loves it too. Which is, of course, important. If he could have playgroup every day of the week, he would.

Man, I wish this stuff had been around when I was little. The other week the kids got to hold silkworms and watch them munch through leaves a la 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'. This week it was all glitter collages, playdough, water activities, trikes and more fun than you'd think any small child could manage.

But playgroup wasn't always like this for us. The first one we went to was more like a members-only clique. The mums parked themselves on the sofas for a couple of hours while the kids wandered around looking bored. After months of mounting bemusement, Jordy and I took ourselves off to our new one and we've never looked back.