Saturday, 19 July 2008

Cold turkey

For the first two years of her life, Berry watched almost no television. When she turned two, I patted myself on the back for devotedly following those American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines – and then I dropped the ball.

I didn't drop it in a huge way – more a series of fumbles, really – but over time she acquired a taste for Dora The Explorer, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Blue's Clues, The Mickey Mouse Club House (she actually thinks Mickey's real name is Mickeymouseclubhouse), JoJo's Circus, Elmo (not Sesame Street, just Elmo), Little Einsteins and Curious George. She even liked My Friends Tigger and Pooh, much to my chagrin; I despise Disney's inane, dumbed-down version of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Almost all Berry's television fare was on PBS Kids (educating and enlightening, right?) except for What Not To Wear, which was entirely my fault. "I like her pretty dress, mum-mum," she'd say after the makeover, and I'd change the channel guiltily. Can I help it if I want Clinton Kelly to be my best friend?

Ok, probably.

She was also completely excited by the merchandising. Everywhere we went: "Oh! Dora!", "Ohhhh, Kigger-Pooh!", "Oh mum-mum, see that Mickeymouseclubhouse!" She wanted every item emblazoned with their images – beach towels, play-doh, shoes, placemats, colouring books. She'd even try for the banned Disney Princesses. I dodged indulgence by letting her "say hello" and then put them back on the shelf... a winner on the avoiding tantrums front, but it sure slowed down our shopping trips.

Two weeks ago she saw Dora, Nemo, Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse in a single supermarket display. It stopped her in her tracks. "Oh!" she shouted, "My shows!"

In that moment, I realised exactly how far we'd slid down television's slippery slope.

I've always wanted my kids to have their childhoods filled with wild imaginings, inventive play, exciting books, hare-brained schemes and little adventures, the way mine was. My brothers, my sister and I had very few toys and even less TV – no tricks, nothing on a silver platter, my Dad would say. But we had a lot of wide-open spaces, unscheduled afternoons, and parents who were pretty sure we'd survive if we fell out of trees ... the perfect environment for imagination to take root. I knew it would be harder for Berry to need her imagination, surrounded as she is by toys and activities, and doting grandparents ready to make her playroom overflow at each visit. So why was I making it even harder for her, by giving in on the TV front?

Over the past ten days, I've gradually deleted almost every show from our DVR. I've offered more book-reading, more tea parties, more paints, more tricycle rides, more playing with her wooden tools. When there's TV, we only watch Jon & Kate Plus Eight (because it's about kids her own age, and it never gives her that glazed look) or Charlie & Lola (because it's clever, and they have British accents... seriously, that's why).

Berry's let go of "her shows" much more easily than I expected. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that my Mum, who is the most meant-to-be-a-brilliant-grandma person I've ever known, is here entertaining and adoring her... but whatever, I'm grateful for an easy start to the transition.

I know this not-much-TV policy is going to take real long-term effort, and probably more tea parties than I'll care to have – but I'm pretty determined. Because in the end, I think allowing her imagination room to grow is one of the best gifts I can give her.


Friday, 18 July 2008

Please, no pictures

Continuing the long and proud Lewis-baby tradition of being curiously large, Kickbaby weighed in at his two-month appointment: a jaw-dropping 15 pounds.

The nurse said, "I can't remember the last time I saw one this big!"

At 15 pounds, he's in the 95th percentile (meaning, since someone asked last time, that he's heavier than 95 percent of babies his age).

Berry, on the other hand, was a scrawny little third-percentile baby. Her weighings were absolutely pathetic, and people always underestimated her age by several months. At six months old, she weighed a teensy 14 pounds, 8 ounces – that's right, less than Kickbaby weighs at two months.

As I write, he's having a lovely snooze in his baby swing. He suggests that if you devote every minute to eating, sleeping and more eating, you too could double your weight in two months.


Wednesday, 16 July 2008

We deserve cake

I'm no Martha Stewart (thank goodness) but I know a fabulous cake when I see one. Or two.

Mark and Sarah got the one-with-strawberries from the French bakery, and Melissa made and decorated the one-with-daisies with her own two hands. Clever.

And they all brought these cakes to our place. Even cleverer.

Anyway, just wanted to share. The pictures, not the cakes.


Monday, 14 July 2008

Panic at the fabric shop

We've been potty training.

I say "we've been potty training" instead of "Berry's been potty training" because as any parent will attest, there's nothing like toilet training a toddler to get the whole family involved.

Once you've mopped enough floors and changed enough outfits, you're pretty keen to wash your hands of the whole deal.

"I go potty!" becomes your fire drill – not your workday fire drill where you wander around asking, "Is this a real one? What's going on? Did they tell us about this? Do we really have to go outside?" No way – at the words "I go potty" you swing into three-alarm action, running with your toddler to the bathroom and morphing into the most super-efficient right-hand-man ever.

The worst times are when we're out shopping. After the sprint to the nearest bathroom, my spiel goes something like this: "Ok ok, this one's open. Oops, no, it's yucky. Ok this one. Don't touch the door! Dirty. Don't touch the wall! Dirty, dirty. Ok, up we go. No hands on the seat, honey! Germs. Yucky. No no, no hands on the seat!"

Et cetera...

Sometimes we can avoid the public bathroom circus by using the "emergency potty" that I keep in the way-back of our Pilot (a la Jon & Kate Plus Eight). To the uninitiated, keeping a toddler-toilet in the car might seem bizarre – but yesterday it absolutely saved us.

Mum (who's visiting from Australia – more on that gloriousness later) and I took the kids with us to Hancock Fabrics to buy buttons and a zip for the dresses Mum's making for Berry. Short distance, short trip, should've been no problem.


Mum was standing at the checkout and Berry had followed me to the fabric counter near the back of the store, where I was replacing a bolt of material. I wedged it in place on the rack and turned around to see my toddler pushing her whole outfit down around her knees – tunic, shorts, the whole shebang. "What are you doing!" I gasped.

"I go potty!" she said.

Behind the fabric counter?!

I did the fastest toddler-carrying sprint ever – around startled shoppers, past the checkout, through the front doors (yeah, I pushed when it said "Pull") and out across the car park. We made it to the back of the Pilot in the nick of time. Crisis averted.

Say what you will about the potty-in-the-SUV concept... after yesterday, I think it's genius.


Thursday, 3 July 2008

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Big big boy

Kickbaby would like to announce that, thanks to six weeks of diligent and continuous eating, he weighs 13lbs 9oz.

That's 95th percentile, folks. That's big.

It's not quite as impressive as his Uncle Jules, who weighed an astonishing 16lbs at six weeks old (I am not making this up) but it's still a pretty inspiring effort.