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Thursday, 27 March 2014

When the class toy comes home. . .

 Parents of preschool and above aged children will be aware of the practice of sending a class mascot home with each child in turn, so that they can take pictures of him (Her? It?) and themselves with a little write up about what they did together. A lovely idea to bring together the worlds of home and school and something a lot of children love to do. 


 When the boy was at preschool, I was pathetically eager to have the school bear home on a visit. A lot more eager than my ambivalent son, who could barely remember the bear's name. (Edward, in case you're interested.) 


 Unfortunately, my plans for exciting and artistic shots of Edward having the time of his life were scuppered when the bear came home on a Wednesday. Wednesday being the day that daddy collected the boy from preschool.


 Thursday evening, around 6:30pm, as we get the children into their pyjamas, husband says in passing, "Oh, I think we're supposed to take that bear back tomorrow."
Dramatic pause before I turn my head 180 degrees and ask, "WHAT bear?"
Husband, still unaware of his impending doom, continues, "You know, the bear they all take home. Edward, is it?"
Cue 45 minutes of me redressing the boy, dragging him outside with Edward bear (henceforth known as 'that bloody bear') to take photos of them bug hunting in the garden. Then, leaving husband to do bedtime (only the beginning of his penance), I quickly print the photos (lack of ink in the printer giving them a nice green tinge) and cut them out ready to stick in Edward's diary. 


Thinking we may have got away with it, I open the book to be greeted with the previous entry. Four pages of meticulously written text which described how Edward has been to the fire station, ate out at a restaurant, had a ride on a motorbike . . . probably found time to scale Ben frickin Nevis. No wonder the poor sod looked bored out of his brains at our house. 

Now the boy is in reception at big school and apparently there’s a new toy in town: Leo the bear has now commenced his home visits.


 This time I am planning to tell the truth. Our entry into Leo's diary is likely to read something like this:


 Leo watched TV for three hours with his friends W and S. He had chicken nuggets and chips for dinner. (No, make that homemade chicken goujons and potato wedges) He then ran around the house for an hour brandishing light sabers and making unfunny jokes about poo before mummy had a mini-breakdown and sent them all to bed. Leo was then stuffed unceremoniously back into William's bag after mummy had taken a picture of him which she could later superimpose onto pictures of really exciting places. 


 Because that's the kind of mother I am now. I don't need to impress anyone by pretending my weekends are full of exciting child-friendly activities that any bear would be lucky to be a part of.  I am confident that I can show the world what our leisure time is really like. I will not be intimidated into competing with the adrenaline-fueled excitement which accompanies the visits of a small stuffed toy! 


 Yeah, who am I kidding? We're taking him to Hawaii. 


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Craftily Creative


A recent study from the University of Illinois suggests that drinking alcohol does in fact make you more creative. This may explain why doing craft activities with my children makes me want to lay down on the kitchen floor and drink gin from the bottle.

I do not have a creative bone in my body. I have friends who are able to take toilet rolls, cereal boxes and tissue paper and construct scale models of the Tower of London. I am able to take the same materials and turn them into life size models of . . . toilet rolls stuck onto cereal boxes. 

I do try. I have a big plastic box full of sparkly pipe cleaners, tissue paper and stickers. Unfortunately, it appears that just buying the stuff is not enough; you then need to work out what to do with it. 

Mr Maker is my freakin' nemesis. I try my best to turn my children away from the TV before he makes an appearance. Both my children worship him, watching his creations with hushed reverence. Unfortunately, as soon as he is finished they look at me with eyes full of eternal hope and (misplaced) parental belief: "Can you help us make that, mummy?"

If, by chance, we happen to have all the resources needed, I reluctantly agree to try. (Any attempts to get out of it by telling them that I'm not very good at making things only prompts the boy to hoist me with my own petard, "You won't get any better if you don't practice, mummy.")

Despite following the instructions meticulously, it never ends up looking as it should. Anyone who saw our dinosaur with legs made of rolled up newspaper would no longer question why they became extinct: the poor creature could only stay upright for about 3 seconds. 

At least my children have obligingly low expectations. Although sometimes there is something more than a little patronising when a four year old tells you that you are "getting very good at cutting out." 

 My other sticking point, if you'll pardon the pun, is Mister Maker's obsession with 'googly eyes'. I'm pretty sure you'll find his brother is the UK distributor for the damn things. How the hell do you get them to stick to anything? Pritt stick (my non-spillable glue of choice) just doesn't cut it. If you use PVA they slide slowly downwards until the imaginary creature is looking out of its imaginary stomach. There is double-sided sticky tape, but if anyone out there has found a way to cut that small enough to fit a googly eye and still be able to peel the back off of the bugger, I will shake that person by the paint-covered hand. (Actually, they do stick to something. I was in the middle of admonishing a Year 8 for their lack of effort in class when the confused looking child said 'Miss, why have you got eyes stuck to your buttons?' It's quite difficult to maintain your authority after that.) 

 Also, what the heck do you do with all these projects after you have made them? I used to get away with filing them in the recycling bin pretty soon after they were made (don't gasp in horror, supermothers, this blog is not for you) but lately they have taken to want to display them for indefinite periods of time. Sometimes I can get away with persuading them that that particular collection of painted pebble monsters would look lovely at Nana's house, but most of the time they are adamant that they want to litter my lounge with them. My latest plan is to implement a genius idea shared by a friend who takes a photo of the current masterpiece and then 'loses'' the original. Now, that's the kind of creativity I can run with. 

 Back to that study from the University of Illinois: the researchers believe that 'intoxication may lower one’s ability to control one’s thoughts, thus freeing the mind for more creativity.' On reading further, however, they note that 'higher doses of alcohol were not tested, nor was the study done with female volunteers.'

 Never let it be said that I would stand in the way of scientific progress. Or that I am unwilling to offer my services to further the advancement of the human race. Anyone else fancy joining me in a bit of research?