Thursday, 23 December 2010

17. Pesto & Pain Killers

Answers on a postcard please: What's the connection between a pet passport, a pot of pesto, playing cards and a packet of Cuprofen plus?  And isn't it Christmas?  

If the girls could have at least organised the cards into a royal flush, I would have been impressed

The only drug that works with a toddler-inflamed brain

I have been very remiss this month.  This is my first post of December.  And it isn't even a festive one.  Terrible.  Amazing what happens when you focus on earning money and little else.  Well that has been one of those months.  And my brainpowers being supposedly directed elsewhere, I've had little 'head time' for blogging.  It feels like I've been standing up a good friend.

I am dipping my toe back into the waters of feature film development, working freelance as a script reader and editor.  It's nice to be using the brain again (what's left of it), despite being paid a fraction of what I actually need to earn.   I will give myself two years of being in the chilly freelance backwaters before I get  a proper job.  Hmm.  But what if the figures don't add up?  Not forgetting The Childcare Dilemma and all that.  Anyway, I've always preferred being freelance.  That's probably why we are in a home that's too small, and consequently why we have the problem that I am about to describe.

Big Daddy and I have a way of describing things to our children as either 'legal' or 'illegal.'  Of course, this has nothing to do with the obvious things like drinking alcohol (legal over a certain age) or smoking crack (illegal at any age).  It has to do with things that we class as legal or illegal in relation to our children touching them / playing with them / eating them / drinking them etc.

The problem with the legality or illegality of objects, is that as our girls get taller, many illegal things suddenly come into close reach and are thus deemed legal by little people even though they are entirely illegal.

Illegal items that our children have destroyed / played with / eaten / or made a god-awful mess with:
  • A pot of pesto was somehow taken out of the fridge or off the sideboard - exact location of pesto pot unknown.  (Said pot was spread liberally over floor by girls while their grandmother was doing I know not what).
  •  A pack of playing cards was taken on tiptoe from a kitchen shelf and shuffled with pesto fingers on the floor
  • A fondue toasting-fork was taken from the back (yes the back) of a kitchen cupboard and brandished dangerously
  • A packet of Cuprofen Plus was secreted from a bedroom draw formerly too hard to open (but swiped away just in time)
  • Pet passports, worming tablets and a barely-used 'golden egg' sex-aid were taken from a drawer formerly too high to reach, and were brought to me after breakfast (at least the tablets reminded me to worm the dogs). 
  •  A sewing kit was reached by climbing on a chair and grabbing the potentially offensive weapon from a sitting room sideboard
  • A telephone answer machine was pulled down off a table and de-programmed at Ga's house (Ga is Grandmother).

In fact, the list of of devilish deeds is endless.  I'm guessing we need better storage of our belongings.  Our sitting room / dining room is also the girl's playroom which makes that slightly tricky.

I feel a Zen de-cluttering (and disposal of the golden-egg sex aid) is about to take place.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

16. Slummy not Yummy

The Tank (centre) entertains her mini-hosts
Good, bad or ugly.  A playdate can be any of these.  I went to one this week that really worked, despite an inauspicious beginning when

1.  It was pouring with rain

2.  Magpie was screaming her head off (I thought she was cold, but later discovered she hates the top button of her coat being done up)

2.  I couldn't remember my host's house number

3.  My host wasn't answering her mobile

4.  I didn't have her landline number

So a miracle, really.  Oh and both the host and I have twins.  I have come to the conclusion that there is a recipe for a stress-free playdate, which has nothing to do with the quantity of toddlers present.

You and your host share the same attitude towards order (or lack thereof)

You and your host share the same standards of hygeine (or lack thereof)

You and your host share the same attidude towards water beaker/spoon-sharing (see above) 

You and your host share the same sense of humour when your child bashes one of hers, or vice versa

Let me explain. 

When you have a puppy, for those of you who haven't brought up both man and beast, you give them a rubber Kong (like a rugby ball with a small hole at either end), stuff an unretrievable treat inside and get hours of peace while they lick the thing to death.

At the playdate, My host and I worked out the toddler equivalent (see fig 1. below).  And it's important that I say 'we' worked it out.  As sometimes a host and guest might not be in sync on the game itself or the manner in which it's played (by that I mean the social acceptability of a game which involves scattering snacks on the kitchen floor).  The game is very simple.  All you need is:

A railed room divider (ideal) or a stairgate will do.

High-saliency snacks - saliency is used in dog training, in simple terms it means a delicious treat for which the subject salivates and thereby works hard to retrieve.

Toddlers.  The more, the merrier, creating a competitive edge.

Fig 1.Hours (ok, minutes) of toddler fun.  Magpie and The Tank are bookended by their little hosts; the snacks are just discernable, looking like faded yellow maggots

And that's it.  Now the rules of the game are simply put toddlers on one side of the room divider, and put the snacks on the other side, scattered liberally, but just out of reach.

Fig 2. the snacks are slighter more discernable at the bottom of the photo
Haven't finished preparing lunch?  Now you've bought yourself another ten minutes before feeding time at the zoo really begins.  See what I mean about host and guest having to be in sync, hygeine-wise?  No Howard Hughes types allowed!

Having bonded over the snack retreival game, the two sets of twins behaved impeccably (except for the Tank bashing one of her mini-hosts with a vintage handbag) and the rest of the playdate was a breeze.  Even lunch itself around the table was civilised, when the most adventurous thing the children did was to check out how water tasted in somebody else's beaker......