Archive for the tag 'children'

Two or three? Finalising a family

NS February 15th, 2011

Over dinner the other night, Noble Husband and I somehow fell into discussing whether we are done having children or if we would like another at some point.

I’d always vaguely surmised that I would decide by the time Noble Boy turned 3 as I wanted to leave a bigger gap this time if I did decide to have another, but not too big to where it would feel like starting over again. He’s now 2 and a half so if I was to begin pondering it, the time would be soon(ish).

But the fact that I’m getting really into my new career and am putting a lot of my energy into it as of late has prevented me from even considering it. Another baby at this point would put the brakes on all of the wonderful momentum I have going right now and, honestly, I’m not ready to let it (and me) take a back seat again.

Plus, the sleep! Oh, the lovely, sweet, nearly-uninterrupted sleep. The ease with which both children now go to bed and how long it took to get to that point. I can’t give that up!

The leaps and bounds by which our marriage and our finances have improved and the ability to leave them with grandparents or friends while we go out on a date or paint the town red…it’s done wonders for our souls.

I finally got my office back just last month after successfully moving the children into one room together. That would all have to be dismantled and put away to make room for a cot if another baby were to grace us with its presence.

I’d be a fool to give all that up, right?  And 90 percent of me knows, deep down, that I am happier right now than I’ve been in a long time. To possibly screw that up for the 10 percent of me that daydreams of how lovely it would be to experience pregnancy again, to give birth and breastfeed a newborn again, to love another human being so fiercely and completely again…Well, when put like that it does make me pause. So what do I think about having a third?

I shrugged at NH from across the table and said I’d decide for sure in a couple/few years, by which time NB would be starting school. But then he had to go and make the valid point that he’s getting close to 40 and that if we were going to have another he’d want to do it sooner rather than later. He doesn’t want to still be parenting teenagers in his late 50s/early 60s, which is fair enough. He’s perfectly happy with the two we have and that’s what feels right to him, coming from a family of four himself. So if I want another, he’d want to do it in the next year or two, not in 3 or 4.

We talked over some of the pros and cons and he asked, What do you want, what feels right?

I’ve always imagined myself with three, I found myself saying.

Huh, that’s interesting. Any particular reason why?

I don’t know why, frankly. I’d always put it down to being one of three myself, though since my younger sister died when I was 9, it was only me and my older sister for the latter part of my childhood. I’d been happy enough as part of a sibling twosome so why, even though I’ve had no particular yearnings for another baby, does two not feel complete, somehow?

And then words came out of my mouth that I’d not stopped to piece together, let alone internalise. Until I said it, I hadn’t even realised it was there.

Because if something were to happen to one of our children, god forbid, I wouldn’t want the other to grow up alone.

I was as surprised as NH was. We sat in silence for a moment. He looked at me sympathetically.

I had no idea you felt that way, he said.

Neither did I. But maybe now I’ve said it the very idea automatically vanishes,  like an exorcised demon abruptly leaving a disturbed home, relieving its occupants and leaving behind a tangible peace and calm, the kind that flows through you in such a rush that it seeps into your bones.

Still, not exactly a good reason to have another baby, is it? It’s all a bit morbid and irrational. But now, having said it out loud, I can have an honest look at myself, at my life, and whether another baby would fit in or whether it feels more like an expectation I’ve placed on myself.

I’m leaning towards the latter but have put off making any rash decisions either way. Perhaps in another six months to a year I’ll be in a place to bring some resolution to the matter.

And if we decide that our family is complete as it is, I’ll be buying a large bag of frozen peas for NH with the words ‘FREEDOM!’ and ‘Your turn, SUCKA!’ written across it in marker pen.

She gets it, even when we don’t

NS January 9th, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, after a spot of shopping, we took the kids to Pizza Hut. Though there were moments where we had to corral them back to the table, for the most part they behaved in the socially prescribed way by sitting in their chairs, eating their food and not making too much noise. It was a nice outing.

As NH and I were paying and getting coats on, our server, a young woman who looked to be in her early 20s, smiled as she watched our children tickle each other and laugh. After she handed over the receipt and my debit card, she said to them, “You two make me so happy. Watching you play together has made my day.”

She then turned to me and said, “This must be the best part of being a parent, huh? Watching them smile and laugh. I bet it makes up for all the times you’re fed up with them.”

Caught off guard by her lovely and insightful comment, I just smiled and nodded. As I watched the two blonde heads of my progeny skip out the door holding hands, the poignancy of her comment caused my eyes to briefly fill with tears.

Yes, I am lucky and yes, they are a joy to behold.

Thank you, Pizza Hut girl, for reminding me of that.

Hair issues, I’ve got a few

NS August 16th, 2010

I’ve been meaning to do a review of The Idle Parent because I liked it so much.

Alas, as  I was ignoring the children this morning while attempting to finish something I was doing on the computer, Noble Boy scribbled all over its pages with a brown pencil.

If ever there was a good reason not to be able to review a book (at least if it requires re-quoting passages), that one should suffice for this book’s author.

Anyway, that’s not the reason I’m writing. In a subsequent not-really-ignoring-but-not-really-paying-that-much-attention-either episode later in the day, just after lunch, my strongly-held opposition to culturally-ingrained gender stereotypes was tested.

As I worked at the dining room table and the children played outside, drawing (on paper this time) and cutting out pictures from an old magazine, I became absorbed in my news-gathering (part and parcel of the ol’ editing job) and didn’t notice when Noble Girl disappeared from the table and strolled over to the shed, scissors clutched in her hand. It wasn’t until Noble Boy came to me crying, pulling at my hand to get up and see what had happened, that I realised with a growing sense of dread that something was very amiss.

My 4-year-old daughter — the one with long, beautiful, blond hair — stared at me with a mixture of confusion, fear and sadness in her eyes.  My jaw dropped when I saw the choppy mane hanging in ragged layers around her face and the piles of hair around her feet. I looked down at Noble Boy, who was still crying, and saw that she’d worked her scissor magic on his (already sparse) hair too. Where there had previously been fine wisps of white-blond hair, there were buzz-cut patches of intermittent baldness. I looked from daughter to son, son to daughter.

Readers, I am ashamed to say: my first reaction, in my head, was, “She looks like a boy! All that beautiful hair is gone! And my son, he looks like a regular thug. Whatever will we do?!”

I pulled myself together, gave myself a few internal slaps and worked rapidly to calm and reassure both children. A few hours later a pixie haircut at the barber shop and a stop by the drugstore for hair wax to make it stand up a bit and instead of a Poor Little Girl Who Looks Like a Boy With a Bad Haircut, we had a Super-Cool Rock Chick! All is fine, she loves her new do (mostly) and the crisis has been solved. We have to decide whether to leave Noble Boy’s hair alone and hope it grows out somewhat evenly or just complete the buzz cut Noble Girl started.

I’m still struggling with my initial reaction though. Obviously I haven’t managed to completely escape the GIRL = LONG HAIR trope. Oy vey.

The voices

NS March 19th, 2010

You may remember that, around a year ago, I told you about my robot persona and how this robot got Noble Girl to do pretty much anything. Of course, it caused some embarrassment in public, but well worth it in my opinion.

Since then, I’ve been voice to numerous objects and imaginary friends, with characters including: Washa Washa, the flannel that talks in a funny voice while it scrubs NG’s body at bathtime; Mrs. Mouse, the meek and mild rodent that implores noisy children to eat their dinner quietly and without too much mess; Crazy Dancer, the madwoman who starts falling down and dancing uncontrollably to make the children laugh when they’re being especially grumpy; Queen, the regal lady who graciously accepts bows and curtsies and speaks softly and kindly to her loyal subjects; Pirate, the gruff-and-tough sailor who talks to the kids when we’re stuck in traffic; and Tree, a high-pitched, cheerful lass who explains topics relating to animals or nature — all affable, harmless creatures of mine and NG’s imaginings.

Yesterday, however, a new personality came to life. One that was entirely my creation and invoked, spur of the moment, in a desperate attempt to drink a cup of tea before it went cold. “Behold!” I said in an enthusiastic voice (though Noble Girl and Noble Boy had no idea what that meant) “The Queen’s cousin, the Duchess, is here — look!” Then I did two spins in quick succession and suddenly, I was an uglier, meaner version of Mary Poppins, with a terrible British accent. The Duchess drew herself up to her full height and looked down what I imagined to be her wart-covered nose at the children. She sniffed and sighed.

“What is this?” she bellowed. “I didn’t ask to see these children, what are they doing here? How did you get into my house, young lady?”

NG, wide-eyed and with a smile on her lips, replied: “I live here! Who are you, please?”

“Who am I? Who am I?!! I am your majesty the Queen’s sister, the Duchess. But I’m not as nice as her and I don’t suffer fools gladly. Are you a fool, young lady?”

“No,  I’m a little girl.”

“Well I don’t like little girls either. OR little boys. Unless…”

“What, Duchess, what?” NG was practically wetting herself with glee at this new arrival.

“Well, I can tolerate children but only if they do as they are told and let the Duchess drink her cup of tea before it goes wretchedly cold. And no whining. The Duchess canNOT tolerate whining. Do you think you can do that?”

“Oh yes, Duchess, yes! We’ll be good while you drink your tea! Can we go sit in the living room with you?”

“Certainly. But we will march there. Royalty do not ‘walk’. We saunter and march or glide. Got it?”

“Yes! Oh, I love you Duchess,” she said as she threw her arms around my hips and hugged me tightly.

“Hmm. Well, I love you too. Now come tidy up your toys and then read a book on the sofa with your brother, very nicely, while I have the royal tea. Okay?”

“Okay!”

I know it’s wrong, I know. It’s manipulative, lazy parenting. But damn if it isn’t also fun and efficient. The Duchess means business! She not only got NG to eat all her dinner, including all the spinach, but got her through the bath and to bed without so much as a wobble. As far as I’m concerned she can stay as long as she’s getting things done. Soon, not even the Duchess will be able to prevent a meltdown on the high street or a plate of food pushed away without being touched. And at that point she will likely have to fly away on her jewel-encrusted dragon. But for now, she’s gold dust. I’m keeping her.

Photo credit

Hush little baby, don’t you cry

NS February 21st, 2010

…mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby.

Or is she?

A recent survey found that although 40% of parents thought lullabies were great tools for teaching children words and music, only 12% knew the words. More and more, parents are singing pop and rock songs to their children, or TV theme tunes. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. When I sing The Noble Baby to sleep, I’m known to throw in some Carol King (‘Child of Mine’), Joni Mitchell (‘The Circle Game’ and ‘River’), Aerosmith (‘Dream On’) and even some Rolling Stones (‘Wild Horses’), among others.

But I have to say, I am a huge fan of traditional lullabies. I think they’re not only beautiful and comforting but an important part of our oral storytelling history. My mother sang or played them for me and my sisters all throughout our childhoods, as did her mother before her. I know the words to at least a dozen still popular in the US and have learned many more while here in England. I have been singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ to my daughter every night since she was a baby and as soon as I turn out the light and begin, she automatically settles down onto her pillow and nods sleepily while I half-whisper the words. My 17-month-old son, always on my hip at bedtime, imitates her and rests his head on my shoulder. He’s learning quickly that lullaby time means sleep time.

What I didn’t know, however, is that there are three more verses to ‘Twinkle Twinkle’! And did you know that Little Bo Peep has five? Already we have lost big parts of these songs and what little remains is fading fast, which makes me quite sad. That’s why when I heard about this fantastic campaign to Save The Lullaby, I was immediately interested. And when I discovered that Sophie Barker (who has sung for Zero 7, one of my favourite bands and whose song ‘In The Waiting Line’ I listened to constantly when pregnant with TNC) was behind the campaign and has released a new CD with producer KK (who has worked with Brian Eno and Bjork), I went from interested to excited.

I listened to a couple clips from their new CD, entitled ‘Lullaby’, and was mesmerized, as were my children. TNC curled up in my lap and sat in silence for a good ten minutes, which is unheard of. The CD* has been in my player all morning, on repeat, and I’ve not grown tired of it at all. It also comes with a beautifully illustrated hardcover booklet with lyrics to all the songs so you can sing along.

You can also see Sophie and KK on BBC News talking about the project and playing another piece live.

“The album, ‘Lullaby’, makes a stand for our forgotten bedtime tunes,” says Sophie, “ it reminds parents of the magic and soothing quality of our traditional lullabies – we’ve even included a sing-a-long lyric book for those who are more likely to know the Friends theme tune than Frere Jacques.”

The full song list includes:

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

2. Somewhere Over The Rainbow

3. Ride a Cock Horse

4. Lavender’s Blue

5. Frere Jacques

6. There was a Crooked Man

7. Sing a Song of Sixpence

8. Little Bo Peep

9. Baa Baa Black Sheep

10. Little Miss Muffet

11. Brahms Lullaby

12. Oranges And Lemons

13. Hush Little Baby

14. Rock a Bye Baby

15. Dream a Little Dream

16. The Owl and the Pussycat

17. Row Your Boat

18. Silent Night

If any of you are interested and depending on the response shown here, there may be an opportunity for me to interview Sophie (squeeee!) so if you have any questions you’d like me to ask her about the CD, put them in comments or you can email them to me at noblesavage @ noblesavage(dot)me(dot)uk.

‘Lullaby’ can be bought from Sophie’s site or the usual suspects like Amazon and Play.

*Full disclosure — it was sent to me by the album’s PR company, though I fell in love with it immediately so would have bought it regardless!

Photo credit

Next »