Monday, 4 August 2008

Lightbulb moments

I should not be blogging. I should be working frantically on what is one of my last days with childcare before September. But I'm in a weird place. Sort of a waiting-to-go-on-holiday-so-can't-be-arsed-to-start-anything-new-and-wrapping-up-lose-ends-is-all-too-dull type of place.

So instead I will tell you about a few lightbulb moments I had this weekend:

Lightbulb moment 1: The power of cardboard boxes
This isn't really a lightbulb moment because I've known this for some time. But this weekend I was reminded once again that children really DO NOT NEED TOYS. All they need is the empty box that contained nine bottles of wine from the Sunday Times Wine Club (a little present for mummy and daddy). Take the outer and inner boxes and stick them together with sticky tape in the shape of a robot. Get 'the drawing box' (you know the one with a million pens / crayons / pencils where none of the pens have lids so they're dried out and the crayons are all broken in half and the pencils don't have a point and need to be sharpened but only half the sharpener is there?). Every home with children has one of these. It's the law.

If possible, find some glue that hasn't hardened completely and pull out any other miscellaneous bits of craft stuff you may have on hand. Let the children decorate the robot to their hearts content. Do not feel that you have to correct their art in any way. If they want the robot to have its mouth above its eyes, that's fine. If they think it should wear a pink feather boa, that's fine too. Do not worry that they are using up all the craft stuff. At least it won't be sitting in your toy cupboard anymore. Do join in. It is very cathartic rubbing crayons over corrugated card making patterns. And there you go, one rainy morning filled.

Lightbulb moment 2: It is possible to reason with a 4 year old
I know that in previous posts I might have made the odd comment about my 4 year old being a little difficult. But thanks to the book I'm reading telling me how to be a good parent, I've tried a new approach. I've given my son the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. I reason with him and I try to say yes as much as I can. This might sound easy. It's not. However, I had the perfect opportunity to put these principles into practice on Saturday afternoon. I wanted an afternoon of 'me time' involving some retail therapy. My son wanted to join me. Shopping with a 4 year old boy. Yes, I can see the relaxing enjoyment that would afford. Not.

I tried to dissuade him. He was having none of it. So I explained exactly what would be happening on the shopping trip, how there wouldn't be nagging or whining or shopping for toys. And that if he was prepared to come along on those terms, he could come. He agreed to the terms of my deal. So off we went. And although it wasn't quite the same as browsing on my own, it was a remarkably pleasant afternoon. He was as good as his word. He didn't nag - much (although he did seem to think there might be something for him in every store we went to). He was a savvy shopping assistant, helping me select clothes ('definitely not the purple mummy, I like the green'). We used the time to learn about how to pay for things. And we even celebrated our shopping success with a coffee in a cafe (well I had coffee, he had a smoothie). So it just goes to show that little boys can be reasoned with. And if you train them young enough, they will become dutiful husbands who help their wives shop at some point in the future.

Lightbulb moment number 3: Children can pick winning horses
A long Sunday, working husband, two small boys, what to do? Well we went off to the Newbury Racecourse to watch horse racing. Not a typical thing to do with children under the age of five, but I thought they'd enjoy seeing the horses and we'd get to have a picnic and I promised them a bounce on the bouncy castle that had been advertised. Turns out that they weren't bothered about the picnic or bouncy castle, and weren't even that concerned about seeing the horses per se. But sitting at the parade ring while studying the race guide was a hit. They chose their favourites by what the jockeys were wearing. Stars were tops faves. As was the number 10 for son number 2. They also occasionally looked up at the horses and would choose a horse if it had a star shaved onto it's backside. Using this winning formula, we would go watch the races. Son number 2 was hilarious standing there with the punters, yelling 'C'mon number 10, c'mon'. Son number one covered his ears and cried when it got too loud. But it was uncanny how often they picked winners. Damn shame I didn't place any bets. Next time I'm in need of cash, I'll be heading off down to the races with my kids to pick my winners for me. Nothing like giving them a head start in the art of gambling.

Lightbulb moment 4: A new business idea...
During the aforementioned shopping trip, I bought my son a foam cricket bat and ball. We were actually after tennis raquets but there you go. We returned home and I immediately had the rest of my day lined up in the form of throwing a ball to older son who would miss it and sulk while younger son would pick up the ball and run away and hide it, resulting in older brother hitting him with the foam bat. But we finally got into our stride. Son 1 hit the ball. Son 2 fielded the ball. I bowled the ball. We all had so much fun I suggested to son 1 that we find him some mini cricket lessons. So I looked on the interweb. And, in this great country of England, home of cricket, losers of many, many Ashes series, there is no such thing as cricket training for tots. I am going to investigate this. And might even do something about it. Although given I know absolutely diddly about cricket, it might not be a massive success, but there's the germ of an idea there. Watch this space....

I'm sure I had other lightbulb moments but they seem to have burnt themselves out. But that's a good start. I really must now do some work.

Toodle pip


katyboo1 said...

Sounds like a lot of light there! Great idea btw. Plus, my parents used to regularly take us to the races when my brother and I were small, and motor racing and to the bookies and to the pub. In fact the only unsuitable places we didn't visit as small children were strip clubs and crack dens, and it hasn't done me any harm :)

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be dismissive of your other lightbulb moments but please, oh, please give us the name of the book you are reading! Thank You!

Home Office Mum said...

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. First 7 chapters pissed me off because they just told me what not to do. But it's finally sinking in. I have a new child and I am a lot less shouty. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Licketysplit said...

Getting a new child DOES seem like the perfect solution! Well done Alfie!

Home Office Mum said...

licketysplit, you can buy a new child from Sainsburys. Special offer on at the moment. They come with free ear plugs