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Posts Tagged ‘children’

I have to admit that most of my adult life I have hated Christmas. It always felt like the world was rubbing my nose in the fact that I was single. I didn’t get married until I was I was 35, so I spent many years watching everyone else have “family fun” or telling me that I should be the one to work on Christmas eve  because they have family events and I don’t. So Christmas was never fun. It always felt to expensive. A bit depressing. In my entire adult life I only ever put up one tree, until I move to England.

Now my son is close to 3 and he has discovered Mimiss, that’s Christmas to the rest of us. He loves the Mimiss lights. He loves the Mimiss cards on the wall. He loves the Mimiss tree. The tree that I put whilst he was in nursery as fast as I could so he wouldn’t be into the ornaments. The tree that I threatened to take down if he so much touched, and he hasn’t touched it. He loves the tree. Wait until Christmas morning when he discovers presents. 🙂  Last year he just looked at us like we where crazy to destroy unwrap presents. He didn’t like it at all.

Okay, I get it now. I understand why everyone goes crazy over Christmas. To see it through your child’s eyes makes it fun.

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Preface: My son has had balloons before. He has had helium balloons as well but he was to young and to uninterested so its been a while, say 6 months since he had one. I don’t think he remembers them in person but knows of them because of seeing them on TV shows.

My husband asked me if I wanted to go to B & Q and check out prices on cheap tiles. We may re-tile the bathroom before we sell and just need to get to grips with the prices. So I jump at it. Anything to get out of the house. Plus, I need to stop by the store for bread and milk. Then he adds that we can do a dry run for his eye op on Saturday so we know where it is. I check on line to make sure that there is a store in the town we are headed to. Bingo, a superstore the site says. So off we go.

We find the place that we will be going for the op and then head to B&Q, only to find that its not a superstore, but a dinky store and only a few tiles. Hmmm, not good. So we decide to head to the actual superstore.

What I am not realizing until we are really into this journey how bleeding far this town is that he will have his operation. Really its about 20 miles, but on English roads it always feels so much longer. Then heading back we have another 12 miles to add on to get to the superstore.  Pretty soon my poor little son is getting grumpy, hungry, and his mild cold seems to be really acting up. So we decide to just head to the store and get a precooked chicken and a few things and head home. That just wasn’t going to do as it was getting later and later and we still had to get across town, so we ended up just going to McDonald’s. Not my favorite place by far, but as time is ticking, everyone is getting hungry, and store in England do not stay open late we just bit the bullet.

So here is 1st number one. My lovely little boy who never eats crappy food has his first Happy Meal. I wouldn’t say he all that impressed. He only ate a few bites of the hamburger but enjoyed his fries. He was more impressed with the little girls who where at the next table. I know what he was thinking… if I could get to them I could hug the stuffing out of them.

This leads us to 1st number 2. The manager came out with helium filled balloons. She was asking the little ones what color they want and his eyes where getting huge. He kept saying “loon” and “Geen” and he was thrilled to get a green balloon. Happy boy.

After we got home he was happily playing. Playing meaning he would let the balloon go and it would float to the ceiling and he would climb on his little chair to reach it. This went on for a while until… 1st number 3. Bam or should I say Phfffft. He pulled the plastic stopper out and the balloon soared around the room in a noisy flight. Me bursting into laughter, him bursting into tears. The look of horror. Poor guy didn’t know what happened or why or anything. Lucky enough it hadn’t popped so it could be blown up but not to float away.

So my little man had 3 new things happen today. My husband and I where once again reminded that most things we set off to do end in a huge kerfuffle. I think next time we will just stay home.

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Out of shear boredom I took my son to the farm again. The one with the big play area for the kids. He loves it. He has really come along in the last 6 months. 6 months ago he would of clung to me screaming. Now he runs and jumps and only screams if I put him on a playground toy. He is a typical boy, into everything dirty. He is a typical 2 yr old. He never wants to leave. Thank goodness for reverse psychology. I just start to go and he follows. What is the point of trying to reason with a 2 yr old. It just doesn’t happen.

Speaking of reasoning with a 2 yr old, how can a mother explain to her loving child that not every child he comes across want to be grabbed and hugged to the ground. He will make a B line across the field to grab any small child he sees and hugs the stuffing out of them. As sweet as it sounds, imagine some strange guy grabbing you and doing that. Not the most comfortable place for the one being hugged by the stranger. He grabs hold and holds on tight. It takes a lot to get him to unlock. We had to leave it was happening that much.

So he was hugging this little girl, and I was pulling him off, apologizing to the mother of this unsuspecting child when I notice her face. She hadn’t heard me, only my accent. I hate it when that happens. The glazed look a person gets when I speak to them. They don’t hear me or what I am saying. All they hear is American accent. Then that is it. I am the unheard American. If I had a pound coin for each time it happens I could buy us a new car when we move home. Maybe I should start charging. 🙂 It is a surprising downside to being a foreigner. I mean, I understand it. I stop too when I hear an accent. I used to stop over British accents but now I stop over American ones.  After so many years it does become tiresome being different. I will probably find it boring to be the same after awhile when we move back. Its the worse when its important like a doctor

So the farm was the same again. It rained. The sun came out. It was freezing. Then it was hot. Typical of British Summer. It is nice to have a place to go that isn’t torn up or be covered in broken bottles like most of the playgrounds around me. The teenagers use them to party and they are no go areas. So we drive to the farm and play in the playground and go see the animals. We usually even shop for the best veg at the farm store. Not a bad way to kill an hour. Its just a shame that it will stop in a week or so. When all the schools let out and the older kids come and take over the play area, my son will be to small to keep up. So for 6 weeks I will have to figure out some other things to do until schools start again in Sept. It’s a bummer that.

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One of the things I think is fantastic here in the UK is parent/child parking spots in car parks. Its something I had only seen once in the states in a brand newly built mall. These spots do not have to be in front of the store as parents are not handicapped, but they are wider spots so we can get the door of the car open and safely get the baby out. It also gives a parent enough room to put the push chair along side of the car, out of the way of moving traffic, and get the baby strapped in.  The fact that you can get the car door open all the way and maneuver into the car enough to get to the baby seat helps beyond belief. The spots are all about safety.

Before I became a parent I had no idea how hard it was to get a child in and out of a car. I had no idea how vulnerable it feels to have your head stuffed into the car and your ass hanging out with no idea who is walking up behind you, all the while fighting a toddler who is not letting you strap him in without a struggle. I remember one time when I had no parent spot to park in, they where all taken, mostly by people without a child, and hand to climb into the backseat of the car with my newborn infant. This was a squeeze between my car and a car that was so close that I could barely fit in. I hurt myself to get in by making sure that I didn’t hurt my child. There was 10 parent spots in this car park, only 2 had child seats in them.

I know how tempting it is to see a spot that looks so convenient, one that is wide enough to get the door open. Please, I am really asking you to stop and think. Do you really need to put yourself so far in front of others who need these spots to keep their children safe?  Just like disabled spots, they are clearly marked. So next time you see one and are tempted, please stop and think about the parents who really need them to keep their children safe.   Thank you.

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Who would of thought that I would have a child who doesn’t like having his photo taken. I love photography. I always thought I would have massive portraits of any child I ever had. I did portraits, children portraits, and glamour portraits for a living when I was younger. Sadly, no. I have more pictures of my son looking down, the back of his head, running away. Just trying to get him to sit still is nearly impossible. In a way, its a bit disappointing. I would of loved a little model. Its just not meant to be.

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Today I took my son to the local farm. At this farm they have a playground, cafe, shop and a bunch of farm animals. My son loves the playground. Because he is still young we can only go when the kids are in school so that he isn’t run down. He just is still to small to fight his way amongst the bigger kids.

We made our way onto the playground and he was all smiles. That is, until the heavens opened and it started to pour. Huge drops that quickly drenched everything. Typical British Summer. So we ran to the cafe. Today was the first time that my son and I went into a cafe and sat and had a little chat. I was so proud of him. He was so good. He sat on his chair (he could use a booster seat) and drank some Apple juice whilst I had a coffee. As silly as it sounds, this meant the world to me. I am a cafe kind of person and to be able to have my son sit happily, people watching, and munching on a muffin was perfect. I foresee many trips to Starbucks when we move back to the states.

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I was looking at the Mystarbucks site and I was struck, once again, how so many people have such a low view of children. A lot of comments along the lines of ” There is a place for mothers to get coffee with their children, its called McDonald’s” leave me frustrated, pissed off, and confused. Like Starbucks is a place for adults only. Yes, they sell coffee, but they don’t sell beer. I have sat many a time in a Starbucks with teens and twenties who are acting like loud mouthed idiots causing people to scurry out the door fast. But, as they are no longer ” children” then I guess that its fine. After all, I have a feeling that its these same people who make this type of comment. I do remember my twenties. The world belonged to us. We knew it all. Get out of our way. But I soon grew up.

The other comments that I saw quite often was “make Starbucks feel more like the European cafe culture”. Probably written by someone who has never been to a cafe in Europe no doubt. How you can make a Starbucks in Chicago with people coming and going in the fast paced busy lifestyle of America feel anything like the laid back cafe in Spain drinking a Cafe Con leche watching the world pass by is beyond me. The two worlds can not mix. Especially with the children not welcome attitude.

It did make me stop to think. Europe and its cafe culture. I have spent quite a fair bit of time in Spain. Home of the best coffee on the planet. The one thing you will see at any cafe bar in Spain is families. From grandma to the baby. Family is everything in this culture. You see children having their evening meal at 10pm with the family. Kids are everywhere. They don’t hide them away. Its one of the main things I love about Spain. Children are very welcome. They dote on them. They include them. When my step daughter was four she walked up to a Spanish family she didn’t know in Spain at a cafe bar and they pulled out a plate and fed her. They didn’t get upset and look around angrily for the parents who let their “brat” disturb them. What a difference. The one time it really really hit home the difference between Spain and the US/UK anti child attitude was when we went into a “Family” restaurant in Spain. This was when my son was 7 months old. We where seated and then noticed that everyone was British. Mostly elderly. We where the only “Family” there. From the moment we walked in we got icy glares. Dirty looks. Whispers. This was the first time on the whole trip that I felt uncomfortable because I had a child with me.

So I go back to the comments on the Starbucks site. How on earth does a child learn to be an adult without seeing how adults behave? If all we ever do is expose our children to the likes of McDonalds then that is all they will know. How will they know how to behave? As a small child my parents took my sister and my self to many very nice restaurants. We where expected to behave. You just didn’t become loud or run around. It just was not done. I clearly remember sitting in places eating things such as lobster or steaks and my parents having fancy cocktails. I had my Shirley Temple feeling very grown up. If a child is taught from very young how to behave, and it is expected then they will. Don’t get me wrong. Not all children are built for fine dining. But they are all built for better then McDonald’s as their only choice.

So if you think about it, Starbucks is the perfect place to take your child for a hot chocolate and sit for a while. The time is fairly short so the attention span lasts. They can learn how to behave in public by watching the adults around them. And, best of all, you can stop for a bit and have a chat with your child. What is more important then that?

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