Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Vids

This about 5 minutes of Jack opening his first presents. I had more footage from throughout the day but it seems to have disappeared.

This is a little bit later on in the day. I took this on my phone, which is why it hasn't disappeared.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Cleaning with a Superhero

It's Christmas which means it's time to tidy. With the eminent arrival of visitors and new assets we always spend Christmas week tidying the house up. Mostly we go through and throw away everything that we can bare to lose.

Yesterday we got to the living room, which as the main room in the house it's usually the most untidy. Jack and I started by tidying up his toys. Within a few minutes we'd located a my ski goggles, which he'd adopted a few days before. I suddenly found myself cleaning along side Speedy-boy, a very fast running and talkative protector of all that is good and tidy. I got various demonstrations of his speed, mostly running back and forth to the kitchen, and I got a little singing as well.

After speeding off to show Mommy his new persona he flashed back into the living room to help me tidy. He'd grown tired of the name Speedy-boy and announced that he's changed it.

It's time to get serious, Faster-boy and Cleaning-Daddy are here!

I'd been side-kicked by a 3 year old.

Faster-boy was just as fast but less talkative than his alter-ego but he was more interested in the job at hand. He requested jobs to do and he more or less completed them all. Afterwards he settled on the chair and supervised until another metamorphosis got the better of him.

Daddy I'm not Faster-boy anymore I'm Zoomin-boy.

This hero is more of the hand-off type of hero. He sits back and watches TV while the side-kick does all the work.

Toward the end we had a combination of all three, he made his way up the stairs where he nearly me met his end due to a brain infecting monster.

I made some recordings. It's not hugely clear but I tried.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Barnacles Game.

Jack has made up a new game, he calls it the Barnacles game. He and Mommy were hiding on the bed when he offered to teach me how to play it, so naturally I grabbed a video camera.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Footprints in the snow.

Jack and I took Bruno out for a walk around the block, with his recent surgery we've been restricted to keeping him on the lead for a few days.

It snowed a little last night and while we were walking Jack admired the many footprints left on the sidewalks. He kicked and stepped in them as we walked until we turned around to head back home.

Daddy, where did those footprints come from?
People left them here when they went out walking, just like we're doing now.
Can we find people that left them?
No, they've gone home or wherever they were going by now.
Look at all these great footprints they left for me to step in. And I steppin in then. STEP STEP STEP.
They're pretty good.
Are we leaving footprints?
Yes we are, just look.

We stopped and I pointed out several of our footprints.

Can you make a footprint now so I can see?

I found a clear spot and pressed my shoe into the snow then carefully lifted it out again to make sure the footprint was nice and clear. Jack squatted down to get a closer look. After a quick examination he stood up and looked at me.

That's terrible. That's a terrible footprint Daddy.

As we walked home be carried on muttering to himself about the quality of my footprint.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming and Jack is getting excited. Every morning we do the advent calendars, we have three. Jack is most impressed by the chocolate calendar but he likes the others as well. Helen counts down the days and tries to get him excited but once he's got the chocolate or lego toy (thanks Mom) he's pretty much tuned out.

It's hard to say exactly how much of the holiday he understands, Jack seems to struggle with anything that's not here and now, the only thing that I know he understands for certain is that Christmas means presents.

Jack loves presents, his birthday was a bit of a wash-out because he was ill so we're all looking forward to him opening his Christmas presents. Packages are arriving almost every day now and Jack is dying to know what's in them. We try to explain to him that we can't open them because they're for Christmas or because the recipient is in the room but he simply won't have it. He loves secrets, present and surprises and having to wait for Christmas just seems ridiculous.

Jack helped his Nanny set up her Christmas tree today. When I arrived to pick him up he took me right to it and told me about the lights.
There are lights, look. First I didn't like that Christmas tree, but now I do. I changed my mind. Now it's GREAT!

On the way home Jack gawked at all the lights strung on various houses. Jack loves Christmas light, he's liked them since last year when we took him with us to Blackpool to see the illuminations. Rectangular lights are his favorite, so he told me on the way home. Not blue, or twinkly or glowing Santas nope, rectangular...

Santa is also big in his mind this year. I remember believing in Santa clause, I'm one of few people that doesn't remember the day or reason they stopped believing. I do remember being confused why Santa always seemed so different every time I saw him and thinking it was weird that he was doing such a heavy PR schedule so close to his big day. I remember hearing noises in the hallway one night and sneaking out of my room to see Mom and my brothers setting out the presents for morning and not being surprised by it in the least, for me Santa just seems to have dwindled away.

Jack is a firm believer, at least in one aspect of Santa's role. We've been to see two separate Santas and so far and he's reacted to them both in the same way. He's all talk until he gets up close, then it's all muttering and whispering so quietly that you can barely hear him. The first Santa he mumbled some of his list with a little prompting from Helen, then waved politely for the camera and made off with his sweets. With the second Santa he was a little bolder.

"Have you been a good boy this year Jack?"
Yes I'm a good boy, can I have a present?" Jack had noticed the huge piles of presents stacked up behind Santa.
"Is there anything in particular that you want Santa to bring you this year?"
I'd like one of those presents, and a biiiig bike with a ladder so I can climb on.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Take this toy.

The other night Jack and I had a problem with bed time. Helen was out at a concert so we were on our own, which is pretty typical for a Tuesday night.

7 o'clock rolled around so Jack and I prepared for his bed time with his usual routine, we always let him take 1 toy of his choice to bed with him as it helps distract him from the scary darkness. This time it was Star Wars. Star Wars is a McDonald's R2D2 toy that he's acquired with his Nanny that very afternoon, so it was no surprise that it was the bed time choice. The toy projects a red light on the wall showing a picture of some of the Star Wars characters. There's a little dial on the back that changes the picture.

Bed time went as usual, wash, story, wee and goodnight. About 7:30 Jack called me up.
What is it?
I can't find Star Wars
Jack you know I don't like coming up for toy related problems.
I know, don't take it away, just find it. I can't find it.

As I often do I gave him 1 freebee and located the toy in his tangle of blankets. On my way out of his room I reminded him that if I had to come up again for a toy problem I was taking the toy. Jack agreed and I went back downstairs.

Another 30 minutes passed, I could hear jack upstairs waging war on the other toys in his room, when he called me again.
Go to sleep please.
Daddy I can't find him again.
Jack if I come up there I'm just going to take him away
There was silence for a minute. Here he is.
Go to sleep Jack.

Another 30 minutes passed and the war raged on. It was 8:30ish by this point and usually when he's up for this long it means that the real fun is about to start. I'd decided by this point that projector toys to not make good bed fellows. As I readied myself to go upstairs and bring an end to the war he called me up again.
Daddy. his tone was different this time. There was an element of impatience in there somewhere. Already prepared to do so, I headed straight up to his room.
What is it?
I can't find him again. I thought this a bit odd as Star Wars was sat on the floor in front of his bed. I picked it up and prepared to explain to him that I was taking it with me this time and why. You can take it away now.
I want you to take it away now... please. A little flabbergasted, I had to ask.
What's wrong with it?
I don't like it anymore. Take it away.
Ok. Why don't you like it?
Because it makes this picture now and I don't like it. I pushed the button to make it project, a picture of an Ewok appeared on the wall and Jack hid under his blanket. It's too scary.

I kissed him good night and headed back downstairs, the offending toy in hand. I thought about what had taken place and was impressed by Jack's use of the system to get what he wanted, I must remember this for when he's about 13. Jack fell asleep within the next ten minutes. I set the toy on the table and Jack's not touched it since.

I guess it is a somewhat grim looking picture if I'm honest.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Sand Castle Cycle.

I stumbled across this video when I was trying to make space on my tapes. It's from our holiday to Cornwall I think. It made me laugh because Jack loves making sand castles, whenever we go near a beach he's demands that we go make them.

Build, smash, repeat.

The Dragon and Ghost in the Monster Village

I've decided to start recording some of the conversations that Jack and I have. It's a lot easier to do than filming him and I can do it without him knowing.

So today I started recording and pretty soon Jack asked for a story. The story remains unfinished because we were interrupted by the arrival of our lunch. But it was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Wrong Night for a Bad Dream.

Jack is usually a very good sleeper. We put him to be at 7 and more often than not he’s asleep within an hour and will stay that way until around 6:30. Now, what might surprise you to hear is that he doesn’t actually sleep during this time. He dies. Nothing and I mean nothing will wake him up. Jack has a rail on the side of his bed to prevent him from falling out. Not because it would wake him up, but because he’s be grouchy all day after sleeping on a cold floor.  If for any reason you attempt to wake Jack you’ll be at it for half an hour at least. The first 15 minutes or so you’ll spend just trying to get him to some state of consciousness, after than he’ll usually cry and tantrum for the next 15 minutes until he settles in a frowney grumble where he’ll stay until you show him is good reason you have for waking him up, and it had better be good.

Last night was a bit rough. Jack was restless and wouldn’t go to sleep. After several trips up the stairs to sort out what little problems he was having we resorted to the age old technique of ignoring him completely. We listen down stairs as he fumbled around him room trying doing whatever it is that he does up there. Finally around 9 o’clock with one last thump, there was silence. Helen and I sighed and resumed our evening. At 10:30 we headed for bed, true to our nightly ritual we check on Jack, usually it’s just to cover him up, he often falls asleep on top of his quilt or in other various positions. We right him, cover him, kiss him and leave. Last night we found out what that final thump had been when we saw him, the lower half of his body was on the bed, the upper half was dangling diagonally and his head was wedged against his wardrobe holding it all in place. I should have taken a picture. This is usually an indicator that we’re in for a rough morning as well.

This morning Jack woke up a little early, he’s scared to leave his room while it’s still dark so he just calls us from bed.

Jack it’s too early, wait until your sun comes up.
Mommy, I had a bad dream.

Having come across this tactic before Mommy stood her ground.

Go back to sleep honey, it was just a dream.

We didn’t hear anything else from him so we all went back to sleep. 7 o’clock passed, 7:30 passed and we heard nothing. His sun comes up at 7 and he never misses it. Conscious of time we decided we’d better rouse him. Helen went in his room to find him sat up in bed, looking like he’d just that second woke up and not looking very happy. She brought him into our room where he started sobbing about the bad dream.

I had a bad dream about nursery, and I was there, and then you showed up. And then you were gone and I was still there forever.
It was just a dream Jack, we’d never leave you anywhere.

After some cuddles and reassuring words Jack asked what day it was. At some point each morning Jack will ask what day it is, because he knows that certain days of the week means he’ll be doing certain things. We told him it was Thursday… He looked at me in hope and asked if that meant he went to Nanny’s. I shook my head and his little face fell. Thursday meant he was going to nursery.

It broke my heart to leave him there today. Jack was in tears, not his usually tantrum that we get until he sees the food and toys, but real tears, frightened tears. I told the staff about his dream and tried my best to calm him down but he was still sobbing when I left. Talk about your worst nightmares coming true. I know the girls at nursery will quickly have him calmed down, distracted and eating his second breakfast. I have no doubt that this all happened within five minutes of my departure but it’s been a long time since I left him in that kind of state. My only comfort is that not only are we both going to pick him up tonight and prove that dream wrong but we’re taking him to a Christmas evening to see Santa straight afterward.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Take that, Sun.

While at the park Jack told discovered something.

Daddy, the sun is brighting me.
The sun is very bright today.
I can put my hand up, and it goes away. Watch.

When I looked he quickly demonstrated.

His Favorite Show.

Jack is a little television addict. This doesn’t concern me very much though. If there isn’t a TV around Jack will happily find something else to do and his imagination doesn’t seems to be suffering. I was, and still, am unable to ignore a television if it’s on. When I was a kid I was into the Ninja Turtles and spent countless hours fighting my brother Jeff and wearing masks. I had all the toys and video games. I even went to the trouble of learning how to correctly use all of the turtles’ choice weapons in my karate class. Before that it was transformers, so I can hardly be concerned without being hypocritical.

Jack is into Ben 10. This show has only been around for a few years, but in the last 9 months or so has really started to take over. To sum up the show, Ben is a 10 year old boy who discovers a watch in a forest that turns him into 10 different aliens. Ben is an egotistical little show off, his cousin Gwen is a bossy, brainy little girl of the same age. With their grandpa they basically drive around all summer fighting the aliens that, more often that not, have come to earth looking for the watch. There’s another series (Alien Force) where they’re all older as well, it’s a little it more regimented but just as good. Of all the kid shows about now a days I’m happy to report that Ben 10 is among the best. The stories are intriguing the characters are dynamic and real. Helen and I have no trouble sitting and watching it with Jack over and over again, at least not yet.

Jack’s obsession with the show couldn’t have come at a worse time. Helen and had just purchased the last of his Christmas and birthday presents when Jack discovered the show and had not purchased anything Ben 10 related. I don’t think this will be much of a problem really because Jack doesn’t seem to have much trouble turning his toys and household objects into items from the show. We’ve since bought him a couple of DVD’s and have recorded hours and hours on our Sky+ box. Last week Helen even bought him Ben 10 shoes which Jack adores.

Jack now watches as least 2 episodes every day. He bounces around the room turning his toys into aliens and then fighting them in creative and often very loud ways. He runs around the house shouting lines from the show, things like ‘Time to get serious.’, ‘I need Stinkfly.’ 'Ready for action.' and ‘Why can’t I be Fourarms?’. While I was off to band practice one night I got a text from Helen saying that Jack was upstairs in his room shouting for Humongousaur be brought to save them. Apparently the battle was getting a little out of control and Jack needed the biggest of Ben’s aliens to help out. When Helen asked what she needed to do Jack said he needed Dylan, the biggest of Jack’s teddies, to come be Humongousaur. Helen took Dylan up to his room and the battle raged on. We assume that the good guys won.

It seems that the Ben 10 stuff now feeds into other programmes he watches. Today we were watching Dora the Explorer. Jack was getting really into it, answering their questions and running to the screen to help them point at various objects and locations. When the notorious fox Swiper appeared, instead of chanting the customary, Swiper no swiping, with Dora and Boots he produced a rather large firearm made out of the mast of his pirate ship and yelled OPEN FIRE!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Over a Slipper.

This morning Jack and were sitting in my chair. The time had come to start getting dressed and ready to go to play-group. Jack was complaining that his slipper has fallen off.  Instead of replacing the slipper I figured we'd get started with getting dressed. The conversation went something like this.

My slipper's gone.
That's fine, I'll go up and get your clothes and then we'll get dressed and go.
But my slipper daddy. It's off, look.
I know. Don't worry about it.
(sobbishly) My slipper.

At this point I headed up stairs. Now it took me probably 3 minutes to get myself dressed and gather his clothes, this is some of what I heard while I was up there.

My Slipper daddy. I need my slipper. Daddy? Hurry up daddy. Hurry. Daddy I lost my slipper, look. Why are you taking so long. I need my slipper daddy. Hurry up daddy. Daddy. Daddy hurry. Daddy I need you to hurry up. Hurry up daddy. I want one of those ice creams. Daddy hurry up. My slipper daddy hurry. Daddy your taking a long time. Daddy hurry up. Hurry Up! Daddy!

I finally came back down the stairs to see him sit in my chair hiding under a pillow and giggling, both slippers on his feet.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Happy birthday son, now say aah.

What a day to have a fever. It's Jack's birthday and he's not feeling well.

Last night Helen and I were up with him until after 2 nursing away a spout of bad dreams. Apparently the lady with the big monkey were terrorizing him.

This weekend has been very busy, so the nightmares weren't much of a surprise. He's eaten a lot of sweets and expelled a lot of energy.

In the baby group, three of the boys share November 15th as their birthday. So this weekend has been wrought with parties and junk food. Jack's party was the first, we filled out house with 13 toddlers and their  parents and partied until bedtime. Alfie's party was yesterday, his parents booked  it at a big play place out of town. There was dinner, ice cream, cake, dancing, a train ride and 90 minutes of play time. While the ice cream was being served is when a lady and a man in a giant monkey costume made rounds. Jack enjoyed it at the time but it would seem that it stuck with him.

As if the birthday parties weren't enough Meghan appeared on Friday night and was with us all day Saturday. Imagine Jack's delight when he got out of bed only to find her sat next to me waiting for him. They spent the whole day together talking, playing, fighting. She left Saturday night after helping put Jack into bed. Jack was sad to see her go but ultimately to tired to do anything about it.

So this morning Jack stumbled out of bed 40 minutes later than normal. He mustered up little enthusiasm for opening presents and refused his breakfast. Now he's wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa watching one of his new Ben 10 dvds and drinking a glass of cold milk.

We've given him some medicine which has started to kick in now because he's starting to brighten up. He's finished his milk, and has just placed his breakfast order.

We've got another party, Matthew's, and a lunch with Nanny to go to today so he could really do with getting better soon.

Monday, 9 November 2009

I used to have one of those...

One of the more common things we hear from Jack at the minute is little insights to his many previous lives.

I'm not saying I believe in re-incarnation, I mean from a quantum physics point of view it certainly makes sense, but beyond that I don't really give it much thought.

But Jack it seems, has been there before. He started telling us that he used to have things that he'd see in a shop or on TV. I used to have one of those. A BIIIG one, and it went PEWM PEWM
Then it started to change from just what he used to have to what he used to be at the time. When I was a big boy I used to have one of those, and it was BIIIG and it was a fire.

In previous lives it seems that Jack's been:
A Big boy.
A Bigger Boy.
A Bee.
A Doggy. (Possibly more than one.)
A Daddy.
A Girl.
A Monster.
A Guy.
An Airplane.
A Cement Mixer.
A Fireman.
A Ghost.
An Older Boy.

The list of thing he used to own is infinite, so I'll just sum up by saying most of these things were BIIIG and often made noises.


Jack has particular tastes. Some of which has developed through his wealth of experience, others just come with being two.

Kisses for instance, Jack has never liked. Occasionally he gets in a kissy mood but at those times he prefers to be giving out the kisses rather than receiving them. A typical goodbye for Jack follows a fairly specific format.

Goodbye Jack, are you going to give me a cuddle?
Yes, but NO KISSES.

Nanny seems to be the only person allowed to kiss Jack, the rest of us have to steal them at our own risk.

More recently Jack has developed an intolerance for babies. We have no idea where this has come from, but it's becoming more apparent every day.
Jack came back from his nannies last Wednesday. They'd spend their day together swimming and going to a play group. Jack has had a number of problems at this play-group in the past and haven't been there in quite a while. There was one child in particular that relentlessly roared in Jack's face that ruined the experience for him.

That evening when Jack came home and told me about his day he had this to say about the play-group.
There were babies.
It seems that most of the kids that used to attend have since moved on to school or other things and a whole bunch of under-one's have taken over.
I didn't like the babies, they kept touching me. I don't like being touched.
Jack reportedly stood up in the middle of the session and shouted at loud as he could. I DON'T LIKE BABIES!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Not Your's

-For Teri-

Thursday was my last day in an office for the foreseeable future. Starting this week I'm officially a home worker for the next 6 months. I'm of mixed feelings about the whole thing really. I've never worked from home before and don't tend to function well without supervision. I get distracted fairly easily and being at home just seems a little bit like playing with fire.

I suppose I should be thankful that I've still got a job, Out of some 60 people in my office I'm one of around 8 people that are still employed after the 30th, but I'm finding it hard to be thankful given the circumstances.

Over the last couple of weeks the office has been a strange environment. There's an aire of panic and contempt among my co-workers that's meant that not a great deal of work has been done throughout the entire month. While many have plans to move on to other jobs, or early retirement, some haven't managed to find anything yet.

The last week I brought in my Nintendo Wii complete with Guitar Hero and Mario Kart. It was amazing to see the same people that continually condemn my video games becoming almost violent when hit with a red shell moments before they would have taken 1st.

Last thing on Thursday I cleared out my desk. I packed everything I needed for home working in my bag and everything else went into the recycling or got donated somewhere. A co-worker was filling a box of supplies that were going to be donated to a school. Most of my desk contents ended up in there, including my stapler.
It was a momentous occasion, giving up my stapler, almost as momentous as that fateful day that I broke my mug. Like the mug my stapler has been with me since day one, I've defended it aggressively from those that might seek to borrow it without returning it. It's been my weapon of choice against my co-workers, especially the smaller ones, throughout my employment and also like my mug one of the few things in the office that I considered 'mine'.

There was a hush in the office as I carried the stapler over to the box, at least I was quiet. Comments were muttered as I dropped it in. As I somberly made my way back to my desk a colleague asked me if I should have scratched off the typex writing on it before hand to which I replied, 'No, that way they'll know it's not really theirs'.

I like to think that somewhere in a school somewhere hopefully a teacher of similar character will snatch the little black stapler out of a recently donated box, muse as the typex writing over the top reading 'Not yours' and the treasure it as I did. On second thought I'd rather they just gave it back.

Things You Never Though Possible.

Jack loves sweets. What child doesn't? Cakes are probably his favorite but he asks for chocolate most often. Considering he's my child it's not surprising that Jack has a sweet tooth really. Anyone who's known me for very long knows that I can consume an inhuman amount of sweets in any one sitting. Jack is certainly heading in that same direction. Snacks and treats are always at the forefront of his thoughts.

A while back we took Jack to Cadbury World. For those of you who don't know, it's basically a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. It's good fun to walk around the factory and see how it all came about and how it's all made. There tour is mostly video guided, they give visitors a bunch of free chocolate and there's a cocoa bean ride that bares a striking resemblance to the 'Small World' ride. At the end of the tour there's a gift shop selling discount chocolate etc.

We arrived at 10am and Jack wasn't impressed. Despite our telling him otherwise he was pretty convinced that we were going to Thomas Land so you can imagine his reaction when we pulled up in front of a fairly non-desrcript factory estate.

Jack was reasonably entertained by the gift shop while we waited for Helen to get the tickets but it was clear that he wasn't hugely happy. So in an attempt to lighten his mood I bought us all a piece of chocolate. Jack was pleased with this and pretty soon had chocolate all over his face and hands.

Helen then arrived with the tickets and after a quick clean up we headed out on the tour. Jack was quite receptive to the tour, he liked all the machinery and the dancing cocoa beans. There's a ride toward the end that very closely resembles the famous Small World ride, only it's dancing cocoa beans. But Jack seemed to enjoy it. There's a few virtual reality things that he played on too. All in all we got through the tour hassle free. At the end we headed to the part of the day that I knew Jack was really interested in, the playground. It was hot so I bought each of us a carton of chocolate milk and we set about playing.

The first thing I noticed was Jacks reluctance to drink his milk. Normally with a drink of any kind he's quite happy to just gulp it all down as quickly as possible, instead he just had a few sips and then headed out to play. Helen and I drank our milks and then noticed that the Essence show (a brief history video of Cadbury and make your own chocolate) was opening. So we called Jack back and got in line where we tried to encourage him to drink his milk. After a couple of minutes in line Jack started to grow impatient. Being that we were at a chocolate factory we tried to persuade him to come with us using our biggest motivator, 'Jack they give you more chocolate on this one' to which Jack said something that I honestly never thought I'd head him say, or any other two year old for that matter. 'I don't want chocolate, I've had enough chocolate today'.

From then on the rest of the day was turbulent, the sugar probably played a pretty big part in it. We went to the Essence show and got our chocolate cup, Jack actually spit his out, but he did pick chocolate and Jelly Babies as his flavor which I would have had a hard time with too. Jack renounced his chocolaty ways and ran off to play in the playground. Five minutes later he was eating chocolate off the ground.

Monday, 26 October 2009

People Watching.

Jack and I spend a lot of time at the park. Jack loves the park, it's certainly in the top three of preferred destinations on a Monday morning. Normally 2 hours at the park means 1 hour and 55 minutes on the swing and 5 minutes trying to go on everything else as quickly as possible before we leave.

Jack people watches while on the swing, I think that's the main reason he likes it so much. Jack is very inquisitive and I think that other people, especially children fascinate him. While the other kids run around and try to kill each other, Jack sits quietly on the swings and observes and makes little comments to me about what he thinks. Normally it's little things like, "That boy's got a scooter, I've got a scooter at home." etc.

One time the park was empty except for us and a mother a daughter of about the same age. The mother was struggling to control the little girl and Jack found it truly fascinating. The mother would stop her daughter from doing something a little dangerous but the girl would simply try it again.
After a few minutes Jack turned to me and said. "Daddy, that girl isn't doing as she's told."
"No she's not." I replied.
"I always do as I'm told."
"Not always."
"Yes I do I'm a big boy."
"I'll remember you said that."
The mother and daughter carried on in the same way. The struggle moved over to the slide where the girl kept trying to climb up it the wrong way. The mother scolded her over and over again for it to which Jack said, "Daddy, that girl doesn't listen."

Jack loves when another child takes up the swing next to us. Jack will insist on swinging the same direction and frequency of the other child so that he can maximize his time getting to know them. He cheerfully introduces himself and gives a brief overview of what he is and what he's doing. "Hi, I'm Jack. I'm a boy and I'm on the swing." the conversation varies depending on the child but it usually encompasses the subjects of 'being a boy', 'this is my daddy', 'this is my toy' and 'what have you got'.

Jack learned some jargon one of the last times we were on the swing. The little boy on the swing asked his dad for an 'Uppit', his dad obliged and caught the swing in mid swing. Jack immediately demanded an Uppit of his own and has since worked it in as a regular swinging maneuver.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Ode to the Snack Man

The highlight of most days comes at around 10:30 when the man in the little white van rolls into the parking lot. He beeps his musical horn and we all filter out from our respective buildings every morning. This is how it's been for a long time now, it's as much part of the work routine as morning coffee, mostly because he provides the coffee.

The story of the Snack-Man is a long one. He’s changed names, vans, products, prices and times throughout these 5 years.

When I started working for the company the Snack Van was new, and called the Snack Van. The company had only been in the building for three months or so and the Snack Van territory was yet un-defined. It was doomed to failure for several reasons, the Van itself was clearly not going to last much longer. It smoked and struggled to power the kitchen machinery on the back. It turned up around 1pm every day for a few months. I heard several people say to him that he’d do much better if he arrived around 10am but he didn’t seem to take any notice. We were clearly the 1pm stop on his route and that’s where we were staying.

Then one morning, another Snack Van arrived. This one, driven by a woman, appeared one morning at around 10am. We were amazed at the quality of service and selection of products that this mystery van offered, and the 10am arrival was much more convenient.

This went on for several weeks. The 10am Van arrived then the 1pm van arrived. There was a very obvious imbalance in the business, the 10am van got nearly everyone where the 1pm van got only those who were in meetings when the 10am van came. Until one day when the 1pm van became the 9:45am van. We were aghast, the 1pm van not only arrived before the 10am. Needless to say that day and the following week the 10am van saw a significant drop in business. Even her most loyal customers stopped going out when she beaconed her horn. Something had to be done.

I’ll never forget that Monday morning, the 9:45 van arrived right on schedule he beeped his horn and we readied our change but no one could believe their eyes when the 10am van rolled in right behind. Never before have I seen such confusion. What could we do? How could any of us go out there and pick a van with the other van right there watching. They were forcing us to choose sides. Several of my colleagues stayed indoors, one visited both, 9:45 for his sandwich and 10 for coffee, one actually hid in the back room until they were gone.

It carried on like this for about a week. Both vans turned up at the same time and everyone stayed inside. The following Monday, only the 10am van arrived, the 9:45 van had admitted defeat. The turf war was over and we could have our snacks again.

Other snack vans have tried to push in over the years, but none of them had stuck at it very long. We all remained loyal to her as she had won our custom fair and square.
But eventually the snack van’s reliability began to falter. Some morning’s she was completely out stock, the coffee machine regularly wasn’t working and sometimes she just wouldn’t show up at all. We began to lose faith, business slowed, we started brining our own snacks and lunches. Eventually she stopped coming around all together. We’d lost our snack van.

Then the Snack Man arrived. I remember seeing the new white van drive into the parking lot, the company name Benjy’s and ‘Like a picnic basket, only bigger’ printed in green on the side. It had Ferrari like doors that opened sideways and a huge coffee machine on the back. What sold me was the musical horn. As we cautiously approached the Snack Man smiled and said ‘Welcome to my shop, everything is half price today.’ Hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, cakes, cookies, candy bars, a section of coffee, he had everything and was 10p cheaper. For a short time Snack Man even catered our morning meetings. The Snack Man had revived our appetite for work-time snacking. So happy were we with him that we even gave him the official name of Snack Man.

Benjy’s was a catering franchise and had a legion of snack men. Every now and again the attending snack man would change in a Dr. Who like metamorphosis.
First we had Snack Man. Then we had Snack Ma’am, a blond Canadian woman who seemed to always be having trouble with something breaking on the van. Then there was Happy Snack, a particularly miserable looking snack man that only spoke in low tones but somehow always had your change ready in his hand. Then we had Scrappy Snack. He was a 16 year old boy who was obviously new to the snack van business. At first he turned up with Snack Man or Snack Ma’am but eventually earned his wings and starting coming on his own. Then we had El Snacko. He, as you can probably tell by the name was a snack man of Spanish decent. He traded with Scrappy Snack for almost a year. Then Benjy’s went out of business and Snack Man disappears for a couple of weeks, we were devastated.

After a couple of weeks or having to resort to the orange snack van at attended a neighbouring building for a short time, Snack Man knocked on our door and told us that he’d purchased the snack van and would resume service again the following Monday. He arrived as promised that Monday in the Benjy’s van, the green print on the side had mostly, but not completely, been scrubbed off.

Snack Man has been with us in this tense for probably 2 years now. During that time there have been many more changes. He’s had 4 different vans, several new horns and has had to raise his prices, but we’ve stuck with him. Every morning we hear his latest horn announce his arrival and evacuate the building to purchase our snacks, it’s become something of a ritual for many of us, myself especially.

Every morning around 10am I often regularly start pounding my desk and sternly asking, ‘Where’s the snack man?’ whether or not I intend to purchase anything from him. It’s a big part of my morning, it’s how I know it’s 10:30 and that my morning is half over. It’s my excuse to get out of a meeting for a few minutes, or the reason I have to call a customer back.

Now with the office closing in just 10 weeks we’ve all wondered about the snack man. Some of the neighbouring buildings give him patronage but we’re easily the majority of his business in this area. Is the Snack Man going to be able to cope without us? Are those of us that are staying on for a few more months going to be able to cope without him? He’s our source of conversation, argument and reflection. The Snack Man is the best part of our morning.

Friday, 31 July 2009


Every week we go shopping, Jack doesn’t like shopping, he puts up with it only because he knows he has to and sometimes he gets a toy.
In the early days we used to get full on tantrums the moment he caught wind that we were going to Tesco. He’d start screaming, ‘I DON’T WANT TO GO TO TESCO, NOOO!’ all the way there. Usually we were able to calm him down once we got in the store, but it was never easy.

What made it particularly difficult was that he developed an excellent sense of direction very early in his life. Even though he can’t see much out of his window he knew the moment we were heading to Tesco, or anywhere else he didn’t want to go. We tried all sorts of things to keep him calm with limited success. We tried not mentioning where we were going, but he’d just ask and ask until, presumably by the process of elimination the destination was discovered. One time we went out of our way to go a different route to Tesco, didn’t fool him for a second, as soon as we got within half a mile of Tesco the tantrum began.
One of our more clever tactics was to go to another store. Thinking that Tesco itself might be most of the problem we figured, we’ll go somewhere else and maybe it will be more fun for him, mix it up a little. As soon as we reached the A460 our plan back-fired. “I DON’T WANNA GO TO SAINSBURY’S, NOOOO!”

Once Jack was calmed down the shopping experience was usually a lot of fun. Jack and I would talk, sing and shout our way around the store, Helen never had any problems finding us. We’d poke and tickle and play whatever little games we could think of until Jack got hiccups.

Now a days shopping is pretty problem free, the only problems we have fall into two distinct categories;
1. Wanting things he can’t have. Jack is a shop-aholic apart from his general dislike of shopping. He’s forever asking us, or offering to, buy things. When asked what he wants to do he will say, ‘Let’s go buy something, let’s buy a toy’. When shopping he’s surrounded by things that he wants to buy. Tesco has even started hanging little strips of knick-knacks in the isle to temp the impulse shoppers. Much of our discussion revolves around why he can’t have something.
2. Special awareness. Jack just plain doesn’t watch where he’s going, I don’t think any child does really. He’ll walk out in front of people, into people, into displays, shelves, walls, if something exsists, he’ll walk into it. When it’s busy we try to encourage Jack to stay close to us, but this usually just means that I’m manoeuvring the cart around him all the time.

Now-a-days we let Jack walk around and help load the cart to keep him occupied. Usually this works pretty well sometimes we buy him a toy that he’ll proudly tote around the shop until he can, ‘Give it to the lady’ after which he’s allowed to open it. When he gets tired he rides in the cart and chats to me about whatever’s on his mind.
The conversation has developed somewhat over the last few months. Jack is becoming more inquisitive and I often find myself explaining very complex occurrences to him. Just recently Jack, I can’t remember how, got me explaining the physics of sound-waves to him. He listens very well during these little lectures and occasionally even asks questions, most the time he just repeats back to me whatever he deemed to be the longest or funniest words that I used.
The other customers give us looks as Jack and I debate Einstein’s theory or Relativity. Sometimes they comment, or just smile and carry on with their shopping but there’s always some sort of look. Sometimes the other children around the store try to get involved, they almost always at least notice us. Jack has more than once incited riots with passing by children, choruses of singing or shouting, one time it was blowing raspberries, break out among a young family and the parents spend fifteen minutes struggling to regain the volume control.

Shopping with Jack is an experience, I recommend that everyone try it.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Who do yo love?

Jack is a flirt. Put him in front of a pretty girl and he's suddenly little Mr. Charming. He does all his little dances, tells all of his stories, grinning and giggling his way into the girl's heart.

The most recent encounter was with the daughter of the man we purchased our folding camper from. She was probably around ten years old and came out with us to spend her last few moments in her treasured camper. While she was there Jack tried everything to catch her eye. He danced and joked and told her all about his toys and the things he's done. She laughed at him but I'm not sure if she was very impressed. He was talking so fast that I'm not sure she understood much of what he was saying.

Then there's the playgroup girls. Mia, Phoebe and Izzy. Jack doesn't generally spend much time trying to woo these three. Jack loves Mia, if you ask him he'll tell you, and Mia loves Jack one third of the time, the rest of the time she loves Scott or Alfie, but there isn't much beyond that. Occasionally he'll be a little extra nice to them, usually with sharing his toys, but in general they don't have much novelty.

This weekend Jack was desperately excited because he knew that we were off to meet Meghan. Meghan is Jack's favorite pretty girl and he'll do pretty much any for her, or anything she says.
We arrived in Bewdley, the designated meeting town, and instantly we set out Meghan hunting. I knew she and her mom were going to be a little while still so I tried my best to get him interested in the other things going on while we waited. It worked in short spurts, he liked the boats, there was a rowers race going on, I don't think he really understood the race, after each race he'd announce "They won!" and then look for Meghan. After he finished his snack he said, "Can we find Meghan now?" None of my distractions lasted for more than five minutes or so before Meghan was back in his thoughts.
The the moment arrived. We spotted Meghan walking up the road. Jack fell into a fit of giggles and then took cover behind me. As Meghan approached I pushed him in her direction. With a encouragement Jack gathered his courage and approached her, be it all without his neck. Much to his delight Meghan greeted him with a big hug and a kiss, all his doubts melted away and little Mr. Charming surfaced.

Jack spent the lunch hours dancing, gabbing, and reciting nursery rhymes, especially 'Round the Garden' which he took to be her favorite. He took every hug or kiss that Meghan offered and loyally held her hand as we walked up and down the canal.

Jack was sad when we said goodbye and asked several times over the trip home if Meghan was coming home too. He was disappointed that she wasn't coming home with us but took comfort in our promise that we would see her again really soon.

Jack loves all the pretty girls, but Meghan holds a special place in his heart.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Poorly Boy...

Jack is ill. For the first time in his life he's a poorly boy. He's come down with what Helen thinks is Croup. It's a viral infection that pretty much causes a really awful dry cough. It's nothing very serious but because it's viral so it's accompanied by fever, and it's contagious. This cough though is a hideous thing. I've always thought the dry cough to be the worst kind, it's like not being able to swallow but in reverse. Your throat hurts so you're compelled to cough but you can't get any grip in the cough, instead all you do is hack and make your throat hurt more.

Jack has been sick before, but not like this, he's a very miserable little soul. It's never been much more than a cold and never last more than a day or so. There was a brief chicken pox scare, and we've had a couple of fevers but nothing really worth noting. We're lucky in that respect I guess. All the other children we know have taken their turns being ill, some more than others, but Jack has always been the one that doesn't get sick.

Jack was up from 3:00 am this morning, coughing and complaining. We gave him cough medicine but it didn't really help much . He spent some of the night sitting or sleeping in bed with us and I even spent some the night sleeping in his bed with him. He needs his rest so anything we can do to get him back to sleep is done. He perked up a little around 7:00, long enough to eat breakfast and pick a movie. As the movie played he watched and laughed and repeatedly told us that he couldn't talk and had lost his voice. As the morning went on his mood and energy level gradually dropped. Soon he was sitting on our laps groaning for milk and just being generally miserable.

It's no fun being the parent of a sick child. Illness in general is unpleasant for all involved but as we grow we develop an understanding and acceptance of it. Jack is 2, there is nothing I can do or say that's going to make him understand what's happening to him. His intellect is at a torturous point, he's old enough to understand that he's sick, and that 'medcint' is supposed to, and sometimes does, make him feel better. But he doesn't know why he's sick, or why Mommy and Daddy won't just do whatever it is we usually do to make it go away like with most other things. It's heart-breaking. We're helpless except to try to keep him comfortable as possible.

So today Jack wins all the fights, if he wants snacks, drinks or ice cream he gets it. Anything to make this pass as smoothly and quickly as possible. We've spent the entire day so far sitting on the sofa watching Pixar movies. Let's hope he doesn't get too used to it.

He's starting to brighten up again, he's watching Toy Story 2.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Here There be Monsters

Lately Jack has taken to looking for monsters everywhere we go. Usually it’s just a casual mention and quick search, sometimes the search is more thorough and the conversation is more urgent. It’s a little strange because he doesn’t appear to be very scared of the monsters, just concerned that they’re about. Most the time he seems to like monsters, he’s a big fan of any movie with monsters in it, has quite a few monster toys, and has more than once been heard speaking to monsters when he’s alone.

There are things that’s Jack’s afraid of, a great many things. Loud noises, mean children, big slides, Ghosts.
Ghosts are regarded similarly to monsters, however Jack always seems to dislike ghosts. He’ll occasionally mention seeing or having seen a ghost, again, usually in his room at bedtime. While he doesn’t ever pay them much mind it’s clear that there’s an element of fear when it comes to ghosts. He doesn’t even like the idea of my calling myself a big purple ghost when I’m wearing my Alton Towers Mac.

Thunderstorms are the newest. If it starts to rain Jack suddenly becomes very concerned that there’s going to be thunder.

It’s hard to gauge the emotions of a 2 year old, especially fear. Most often they don’t understand what they’re feeling nor are they articulate enough to describe it to you. A psychologist will tell you that the child will only emote as you do, so if you’re happy and excited then they are too, it’s the same with stress and fear. Knowing this, I’ve always tried to play off being scared of monsters, usually by making little stories about them any things like that. I try not to do what a lot of parents to which is play like they scare me to. Sometimes he’s plays along with me and sometimes not. There don’t seem to be any consistency regarding his feelings toward monsters, just lately they’re always on his mind.

Last night I put Jack to bed. It was a typical Tuesday night, which meant that Helen was out before Jack’s bed time. We started the bedtime routine as normal, five minute warning, then upstairs for a quick wash, a story, and then bed. The whole routine can take any where between 15 minutes to an hour, depending on temperament and toilet needs. It always takes longer when I’m on my own but only by a few minutes.

During the wash Jack started with the monster talk.
“There are monsters downstairs.” and so on. I normally try to steer the subject away from monsters around bedtime for obvious reasons. So I assured him that there were only fish downstairs, and they were in a glass cage, so presented no real threat. “But there are monsters.” he persisted. “They’re really scary.” Scary is one of the words that Jack says with an American accent.
“There’s nothing to be scared of,” I said calmly. “besides, monsters are more scared of you than you are of them.” Thank you Pixar.

I read him his story, the one about big machines, tractors, loggers and such, it distracted him for a while but as soon as we finished he started talking about the monsters again.
“The monsters is under my bed.” They often get closer to him as the day wears on. Usually they start outside somewhere, one time they started in my car.
“There are no monsters in here Jack, don’t you worry.” He didn’t believe me, he never does. So I switched his clock to night time, gave him a cuddle and said good night, leaving his light dimmed to ward away these monsters.

About twenty minutes later I heard noises upstairs that told me he was out of his room. So I crept up the stairs and found him huddled on the landing with Dylan, a plush dog that’s as big as he is.
“Jack,” I whispered, “It’s bed time.”
“But I don’t want to.” he whispered back.
“Go back to bed please.”
“But I don’t want to.”
“Why not?”
“Because the monsters. The monsters in my room.”
I offered him a cuddle in exchange for letting me take him back to bed. He agreed but insisted that he hide from the monsters when we got there. So when I put him back in bed and pulled his quilt over his head so he could hide from the monsters. I said goodnight to a tiny face mostly hidden in a dim room and shut the door.

As I went back downstairs I found myself wondering what was on Jack’s mind. What was he thinking all alone in is room under his quilt? Was it just a plea for attention that he was no longer interested in pursuing, or was he genuinely afraid? Had I reminded him that it was bedtime and he needed to go to sleep or had I heartlessly forced him back into a room full of danger? As it happens I didn’t hear anything more from Jack last night. When I checked on him later he had moved but was still completely hidden under his quilt. The rationalist in me assumes that he went to sleep but part of me wonders if he was too scared to come out from under his quilt.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

2 Tales of 1 Jack

At Alton Towers they have a new attraction called Wobble World. It's basically a really big bouncy castle.
Adults are discouraged from entering so I stuck to the sidelines and watched.

The staff were playing a game of catch with one of of the little girls. Jack is a sucker for a ball game so once he noticed them he had to get involved. So with a little coy look he approached and asked if he can play, "Me now!"
The staff obliged and tossed him the little yellow ball. Jack laughed and swung the ball around. After a little gentle coaxing from the staff he tossed the ball back. This carried on for a few throws until the ball found it's way to another staff member who took it upon herself to change the game.

Staff 1: Give us our ball back.
Staff 2: No it's mine now.
Jack and Girl: Give us our ball.
Staff 2: How about this ball. (she held up a green ball.
Staff 1 Jack and Girl: Not that ball. Ours was yellow.
Staff 2: You can have this one.
Staff 1 Jack and Girl: We want the yellow one.
Staff 2: OK, here you go. (she throws the green ball to Jack)
Jack is thrilled and bounces around the castle, while Staff 1 and Girl continue the debate. Finally Staff 2 gives in a throws them the yellow ball.
The game resumes and Jack re appears asking to be included.
After one toss Jack's way it occurs to Staff 2 that Jack only has one ball in hand and it's not the green ball.

Staff 2: Where's the green ball?
Jack: I don't have it.
Staff 2: Where did it go.
Jack: I don't know.
Staff 2: Shall we look for it?
Together they go for a little tour around the bouncy castle looking for the green ball with no success. She asks and asks and does everything she can think of to get Jack to tell her where the green ball is but he doesn't budge, either he can't remember or he's just not telling. A few seconds later another little boy appears with the green ball in hand. There's a little cheer and the game resumes this time including the new player. After a few tosses the green ball is picked up by Jack and once again Staff 2 comes to a realization.
Staff 2: Where's the yellow ball?
Jack: I don't know.

Not 5 minutes later another little situation develops. With the addition of more children to the game, some as old as 5 or 6, Catch clearly wasn't going to work anymore. So Staff 1 changes the game to a game of fetch.

Staff 1: I'm going to throw the ball and whoever gets it first throws it again and so on and so on.
The ball is thrown. Kids scrambled in every direction, giggling and pushing and all that goes with it, except Jack who, much to my amusement, was still sat patiently waiting. Not so much as a flinch.

Staff 1: Go get it, get the ball.
Jack: No you throw it.
Staff 1: Go find it, hurry.
Jack: No you throw it first.

Jack was exactly right, Staff 1 had only pretended to throw the ball.
I blame myself for this one, Jack and I have played variations of fetch his whole life, and I never throw it on the first go. I can't tell if he's just stopped falling for it or what, but it made me smile.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What Ice Cream?

To set the scene.

We just finished our dinner and Jack and I are eating ice cream when Helen, not a big ice cream fan, comes in with a jam covered bun.
Jack of course takes immediate interest and conversation goes like this.

Jack: What you got?
Mommy: I've got a bun.
Jack: Can I have a bite?
Mommy: No you've got ice cream.
Jack: What ice cream?
Mommy: You and Daddy have ice cream, I have a bun.
Jack: There's no ice cream. (during this Jack is continuously eating his ice cream)
Mommy: It's right there.
Jack: I don't see any ice cream.
Mommy: You're eating it right now.
Jack: I can't see it anywhere.
Mommy: It's right there, it's on your spoon.
Jack: (holding up a spoonful) You mean this?
Mommy: Yes.
Jack: This not ice cream.

I can't quite recall how it ended, I was too busy laughing.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

I Want Daddy...

Most Friday mornings we spend at Playgroup. This is a charity function that takes place two or three times a week at one of the local community centers. The best way to describe a morning there would be: Chaos – Snack Time – Chaos, it’s truly incredible. It’s just a big room stocked full of toys of all types, for ages 1 – 6, on average around 30 kids turn up and they wreck the place. At snack time the kids all sit down at the little tables in the corner while the parents bring them food, mostly toast, cookies and squash. For twenty minutes there’s calm, order and quiet until gradually as the kids finish their plates we descend back into chaos.

Some Saturdays we go to Play Booth. It’s essentially the same thing but instead of toys the kids have two big constructs, each with a gigantic slide. There's a bouncy castle too, also with a slide. Snack Time is replaced by a kitchen that offers adult snacks as well as kid snacks. Since we’ve been going there Jack has had me for his playmate. Together we run, climb and crawl through the constructs until we get to the slides, at the slide we race or slide down backward or whatever we feel like at the time. Then we do it again, and again, and again. For Jack, it’s the best thing ever, he loves the slides and especially loves the bouncy castle. For me, the play booth means three hours of extreme workout, because Jack prefers the over 5s’ construct to the under 5s’, he’s not tall enough to climb through it by himself, I have to lift and carry him, as well as myself, around up and down the obstacles. Usually by lunch time I’m pretty beat.

Jack loves both, I don’t think he could choose between the two.

A few weeks ago we went to the Play Booth. As usual Jack had opened the child-proof gate and left his shoes and a coat on the floor next to me before I’d even finished paying. He's like a character in a cartoon show, he zips off screen leaving only a twirling pair of shoes behind. Helen and I off-loaded our coats and bags on the sofas then I removed my shoes ready for my three hours of pain. I walked round to the entrance of the over 5s’ construct where Jack is normally waiting for me, very loudly, but Jack wasn’t there. Instead I found him lying on the ground about 5 feet away giggling. Normally this wouldn’t have been anything except where he was lying was at the bottom of the slide. He’d managed to get all the way up to the slide, by himself. When he finished giggling he got up, pushed me out of the way and went up and ‘round again and again.

At that moment I was filled with a mixture of emotions. Pride that my son was both big enough and strong enough to climb all the way up to the slide alone. Relief that I wasn’t going to have to find the energy to keep up with him for the next three hours and sadness, my son didn’t need my help any more.

I took these emotions with me back to the sofa and my puzzled wife. I sat down, relaxed and… watched, just like most of the other parents. I didn’t care for it much. I sat with Helen sipping hot chocolate and joking about feeling unwanted in an attempt to hide my hurt feelings, I fear I may have given myself away by practically jumping out of my seat when I heard Jack calling me from the ball pit. The session passed slowly by, much slower than usual, occasionally Jack called me over to play with him, but eventually he’d lose interest and go off on his own. As he got tired the calls increased, but it was clear it was more out of necessity than anything else.

Recently we were at the Play Booth again, this time with all his little buddies from the Playgroup. Jack spent most of the time running around with them, almost all of which are also now tall enough to get all the way to the over 5s’ slide, just two weeks earlier none of them could do it on their own. I was still needed for some things, but mostly I just sat on the sofa, watching.

As Jack has grown older he’s stopped needing me for a great many things but this was something to which I hadn’t really given much thought. I’ve always been his favourite playmate, and he mine.

I’m getting past it all now. Jack still needs me to toss him around the ball pit and things, and some of the other kids like me to play with them as well, but it’s not going to last much longer. Over time our relationship will change. He’ll grow up and away and as he becomes more and more independent, I’ll find myself sitting on the sofa more and more. I guess I’m just going to have to accept it sooner or later but I don’t have to like it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Potty Training.

Jack has always been a little strange when it comes to behavioral development and learning new things.

For example: When jack was about 9 months we'd started to see the other children in his group become more mobile. Many were crawling, one was walking, but Jack was still a little lump of giggles and smiles. Then suddenly, whether due to peer pressure or his own antics, he started making attempts to crawl. We got one whole day of Jack dragging himself along the carpet before he resumed his life as speed bump. It wasn't due to lack of encouragement on our part, we cheered and laughed and hung a carrot an inch or so out of reach but got nothing, he was a lump again and that was that. The a week later he changed his mind. No longer was he a pile of pudge but a four legged race car. Not only could he crawl, but at incredible speeds. There was no practice, no trial and error, just the decision.

Another Example: 13 months old and he was perfectly content racing around on all fours. Aside from the occasional cruising along the furniture (mostly to try reach whatever was on the sofa that he's been told he couldn't have) there wasn't any real attempt and walking on his own. One Sunday afternoon, Helen and I were sat on the sofa watching TV while Jack quietly vandalized one of the chairs when suddenly, he stood up strolled slowly out into the middle of the room. He turned and smiled at his wide-eyed parents then sat down. Try as we might we couldn't get him back on his feet for three weeks. He'd done all the walking he was going to do for the rest of his life, in fact he even stopped cruising the furniture. Then one day I went into the kitchen to get Jack his morning snack only to find him right on my tail. He could walk, jump, skip (as nanny discovered) and run, none of this one step/two steps stuff. His balance was a little off and we had our share of bruises for a week or so, but he could walk.

Jack has taken this approach to most things in his little life. We've put it down mostly to laziness, he just can't be bothered, everything is the way he likes it. But eventually something must catch his eye about it, everyone else seems to enjoy it so there's got to be something to is. So he'll give it an attempt just to see what's it's all about, then spend an undetermined amount of time weighing out the benefits before giving it a place in his world.

Potty training has so far been the exception to the rule, or so it would appear. We're 4 weeks in and progress is slow. We've tried many different tactics in trying to encourage him but he's, resistant, to say the least.

A typical day in training goes like this.
Jack do you want to go on the potty for a wee-wee?
Are you sure? Use the potty like a big boy.
No, I not a big boy. (under any other circumstance Jack considers himself a big boy.)

His nanny had a rather ingenious idea right at the beginning which was right after lunch, take off his nappy and let him run around naked from the waist down. This worked beautifully, after just a couple of minutes she found him sitting on his potty doing his think. Helen and I immediately stole this idea but got a little bit different result. Tantrum. 15 minutes of a half naked boy laying on the ground demanding to have his nappy put back on. In the end we resorted to bribing and other things to get his to stop wanting his nappy on. Even now, he'll still put up a fight, but he will usually give in with a little coaxing. He just doesn't like not having a nappy on.
Something must be working because just last night he was calling to his mommy saying that he needed the toilet. When she went upstairs she found he'd stripped himself completely naked.

Next were pull-ups. We've had a package of pull-ups for a while now and after 3 weeks of relative success we thought we'd try him in the pull-ups. The moment we got them out Jack took offense and the kicking and screaming began. We tried everything,

But they're just like your swimming nappies.
But I don't wanna go swimming.
They've got Spider-man on them.
I don't like Spider-man. (a lie, he loves Spider-man)
They're big boy pants.
I not a big boy.

In the end we gave up. We made a couple more attempts over the next few days but got nowhere. The following Tuesday Helen picked him up from his Nanny's sporting a pair of teddy bear pull-ups. Nanny said that he was down-right enthusiastic about wearing them. So we took him home and after a 35 minutes session on the toilet brought out a pair of pull-ups, instant tantrum.

But they're just like the ones at nannies.
But I don't like them.
Is it because they've got Spider-man on them.
I don't like them.
They're big boy pants.
I not a big boy.

Nursery had a similar experience, he actually asked for pull-ups. But he wouldn't wear them for us. In the end we had to trick him but keeping the old pair of teddy pull-ups and fooling him into thinking we were putting them on. I'm not convinced that he was fooled, it seemed more like him just letting us have a win to me.

So today, we're trying him on pants, the final frontier. We're trying the theory that he's only weeing in his nappies because they're there. So far so good. He wore little red Mater pants all morning and hasn't had any accidents.

Several of Jack's friends are already potty trained, some more so than others. I have no doubt that Jack will get there and the mere fact that we're pushing it is probably what's making him so resistant. No doubt one day he'll just wake up potty trained.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Jack List

First: Doggy
Biggest: Diplidocus
Newest: Dangerous
Just can't get right: Mook (milk)
Doesn't say anymore: Appum, Boppom.
Most Common: Again
Strangest: Fop. He'll walk around the house saying Fop, Fop, Fop. If you ask him what he's doing he'll tell you, "Foppin'"

Funniest: When trying to place a curtain ring back on its rail. When he found he couldn't reach he said. "Can't quite reach, I need my step." he went and got his step "Ooh, not quite. I need a ladder."
Strangest: He said his soup was too dangerous.
Most Common: I don't want...
Most Intellectual: "Daddy are you OK? You look really tired, maybe you should take a nap."

An Argument:
Jack - Get me my Frog.
Mommy - It's not a frog it's a Dinosaur.
Jack - It's not a dinosaur.
Mommy - Yes it is it's a dinosaur.
Jack - It's not.
Mommy - Its a dinosaur.
Jack - It's not, it's a frog.
Mommy - Fine then it's a frog. Here's your frog then.
Jack - It's not, it's a dinosaur.

TV Show: Roary the Racing Car.
Game: The Fishes Game (plastic fish with magnetic poles)
Activity: Being swung around, or Chasing People.
Meal: Sausage and Beans
Breakfast: Lions (cocoa crispies)
Dessert: Ice Cream
Snack: Cereal bars. He calls them Big Snacks, always has.
Treat: Anything with Chocolate in it
Purple: Because it usually means chocolate.
Song: The Simon-James and Hill Introductory Jingle
Singer: Singing Henri
Place: Thomas Land
Person: Nanny.
Story: Monster at the end of this book. (thanks Mom)
Movie: Toy Story.
Toy: Sky and whatever is the newest.
Friend: Max
Girl: Meghan, but he really loves Mia just ask him.
Teddy: Pooh Bear
Time of Day: Snack Time

The Pirates ride at Drayton Manor, scared the life out of the poor kid. He told Nanny the next day that it was a real shock
Water in the face
Poo. He constantly stops and points at the poos on the ground when we walk the dog. It concerns him greatly
Dirty Hands
Jack before heading out to Drayton Manor. He insisted on the hat and glasses because 'The sun keeps brighting in my eyes.'

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Know Thy Son.

Any parent will tell you that, from the moment they're born children have a distinct personality. With some children that personality is very subtle, babies aren't able to express themselves very well or at all, but no mistaking it's there.

You see, it's right there.

Jack is a strong character. He's quite complicated for a 2 year old so I'm just going to cover some of the more prominent.

He's smart, holy moly is he smart. Anyone who spends any amount of time with him always comments on how bright he is. He's speaking better than a girl of his same age. He's not much of a thinker. He likes results, see it, do it and repeat as necessary. He thinks about things while, and often a good while after doing them.

He figures things out, and usually pretty quickly as well. He hasn't managed to work out how my rubbing the penny into my elbow transports it into my ear yet, but give him a break, the 2 year old intellect doesn't stand much of a chance against slight-of-hand. I'm a little ashamed to say that I was a good few years older before I ever worked it out, and even then I still had my doubts.

Apart from slight-of-hand he can't be tricked, at least not more than once. As with any child if Jack here's any utterance of the word snack, park, slide, play-group, or chocolate, we enter into the tantrum minefield. So like every parent does, Helen and I started using a code to talk about these subjects, spelling and whispering certain words etc... Now, the problem is not that Jack knows what we're referring to when we spell out S N A C K, its that he knows we're talking in code. He doesn't know what were talking about, only that because we're talking in code means it's something he's going to want. So despite the preventative measures we find ourselves in that same minefield.

He's stubborn, more so when tired or hungry. When his mind is set there's no changing it, ever, the only thing you can do is try to distract him until he forgets about it.

He likes to do things for himself, this is usually what he's stubborn over. He will not accept that someone else would need to do anything for him without having at least had a go. The only thing to do is let him attempt whatever it is until he gives up and then offer help.

He's goofy, he loves to be the comedian. He's always on the look out for something that he thinks will make everyone laugh. Alternatively just making himself laugh will usually suffice.
Lately he's taken to the phrase 'I'm very funny.' usually said after throwing or knocking something over.

He's also got a trait that I've only recently come to really notice. Here's the scene:
It's bed time, Jack doesn't want to go to bed. So, he yells, kicks, cries anything at all he can do to get out of going to bed. He will eventually calm down and just repeat over and over 'I don't wanna go to bed.' Normally I would respond with 'You've got to, it's bed time.' and this conversation would carry on for an hour or so with him going through varying levels of emotion and my going in an out of his room. But, if I take a different approach and just say something like, 'but it's bed time hun', it all plays out very differently. He's not happy, but he cooperates and will more often than not, stay in bed. I've since used this approach in other situations and got exactly the same result every time. To sum up, Jack doesn't like to be told what to do, he simply hates not having a choice.
This particular trait is actually a combination of what is arguably both his parents' strongest traits. Neither Helen or I like to be told what to do. But I'd go as far to say that I think Jack has taken this more from me than from his mother simply because, even if it's something that Jack likes or wants, the moment he's got to do it he'll resist you in every was possible.

When I was 16 I remember a conversation I had with my step-father Marc. I don't know if he remembers but this has stuck with me since that day.
This is turning in to a very long note so I'll just sum up what was said. 'Derek can't bemade to do anything.'
It's interesting for me to see this exact same trait in my 2 year old son. I'm not ashamed to say that while it didn't change my life at the time, it certainly didn't change a decision that I made only a couple of days later. It did change the way I looked at myself and now the way I'll look at my son. So thank you Marc.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Games He Plays

Jack has a variety of games that he likes to play. Some of which he's learned at nursery and seems to have adapted to his own taste, some he's learned from us or the play-group, and some he's just seems to have made up.

I just want to write some of them down because he's growing very quickly and these things are easy to forget. Jack's named each game himself and has made up all the rules.

His current favorite is Race, he's had me playing it with him all afternoon, and his poor Nanny all day long apparently. This game is an adaptation of a running game we play with the kids at the end of play group on Friday.
He yells, ARMS UP, then counts, or recites colors, then GO! And we run, and run, and run. We don't go any where in particular, usually just from the family room to the kitchen and back again. He used to giggle and laugh all the while and usually keeps in front of you but today he was a car, and we had to be cars as well. We got in trouble if we made the wrong car noises, stopped running or slowed too much. There's an adaptation to this game called Chase Me. It has a striking resemblance to Race only there's more monster noises involved. Chase Me is almost always followed up with Chase Daddy which he'll play all day.

Another favorite is Hide, this one is fairly new, he's been playing it for about a week now. Basically, we hide somewhere, anywhere, usually under the dining room table or under a blanket or towel. Mostly the game amounts to Jack and I crouching under the table for one to fifteen minutes while Jack plays with whatever toy he's taken or examines the underside of the chairs. Sometimes, he'll ask me or Helen to come find him, which is generally not very hard with all the giggling and 'I'm hiding' that comes from under the table or blanket. If you say something like 'Oh where's he gone?' he very obligingly will tell you or come out and show you where he's hiding.

Balloon, Jack loves balloons. We usually play this one in the hall. We hit the balloon into the air back and forth to each other. There's one balloon that he's had for over a month now, the yellow one, it's still just as... balloony as ever, it's usually the balloon that we use because it's soft and floats well.

Then there's Drivers, this is Mario Kart Wii. I give him the steering wheel and then play a few games while he pretends to drive. He usually gets bored of it quite quickly but he demands it pretty regularly.

There are lots of other games we play, most of which involve tickling or me swinging him around by his ankles for long periods of time. But none of these have names. It's exhausting but it keeps me in shape so I don't mind.