Saturday, February 27, 2010

Going potty

I had been dreading this period of bringing up baby (although J no longer seems like a baby, or even a toddler. More a premature stroppy teenager).
You hear such horror stories about potty training. People say they are chained to the house, their children initiate dirty protests*, or they simply scream in horror at the sight of a potty and refuse to entertain the idea of sitting on this alien throne.
We've either been extremely lucky or we're just 'king brilliant parents because (touch wood) it has been a relatively untroublesome affair. We've had a potty kicking about the house since J was just over one. The thinking was that if he got used to it then come the dreaded time, he wouldn't be afraid of it's awesome power. And so it proved to be. He has variously used it as a hat, a store for his toys, and a comfy seat for his teddy. I don't think he has eaten out of it, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
The only problem with the potty was that, even at a relatively young age, it seemed too small for his baby bum. I bristle at the idea that he's a lard bucket - he really isn't and seems perfectly formed to biased old me - but I don't understand how his dimensions are so out of whack with the design of this particular poe (John Lewis one with a car on it, thanks for asking).
When we got serious about training, my wife invested in a Mothercare one with removable bowl, for easy washing, which initially looked a much better option. But even this seems to have been designed for a different shaped child. Perhaps he has rugby player's thighs and it makes it difficult for him to sit down and point percy at the porcelain (or injection moulded plastic in this case - maybe really posh kids have Armitage Shanks poes). We have had liquids squirting in all directions. There's definitely a gap in the market for a potty that works - Dragons Den here I come.
The good news is that all this fiddliness hasn't put him off - pee in the pot - Yes; poo in the pot - Yes; stand in the pot after first two - er... There have been few accidents so far, certainly fewer than I was anticipating (the floaters in the bath the other night were comical rather than anything, and there has been no repeat yet). He has even woken up in the night asking for a wee wee, rather than wet the nappy that we still put him in for sleeping.
Proud? You betcha. I only hope that the arrival of Alfie (as imminent newbie has been christened by big brother) doesn't cause a backward step.

* This phrase always reminds me of my uncle's description of my dad's journey into modern art/modish interior decor. When we first moved to England from Scotland, he decided to mark the break from the auld country with a rediscovered artistic streak. Quite literally in this case as he decorated the master bedroom with a poo brown surrealistic swirl that went round all four walls and was visible to bemused passers by on our estate. Oh dad, how I miss you and how you'd love our little man.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Number twos

It's six weeks to go before our second child is born. The difference between this pregnancy and the last one has been quite marked. The first time round it seemed as if we lived every day of experience in detail marking off the various milestones - scans, midwife visits, antenatal and NCT classes - one at a time and revelling in the newness of it all. This time, it only seems like yesterday that we found out we were expecting again, and suddenly we are here. I keep feeling as if I haven't been paying attention or that there are huge gaps in our preparation. Shouldn't we be doing more stuff?
If truth be told, this time round we are fairly relaxed about everything, whereas last time the whole experience was couched in slightly negative terms. What if something went wrong? How would we cope? It was almost as if we didn't want to get too complacent about having a child in case we jinxed the process. I'm sure it's superstition that is common to a lot of first time parents. There's a slight nagging in the back of your mind - "What if something bad happens?"
Of course, as with the majority of pregnancies nothing bad did happen and we had a beautiful and healthy baby boy.
I don't know if our relaxed nature this time is because we have supreme faith in the medical community and our own procreational abilities, or because we don't have the energy for the emotional rollercoaster ride of the first time round. It's not that we don't care as much, but it's certainly hard to live at such at heightened pitch when you have a two year old toddler at your side.
Especially one you are trying to potty train before his sibling arrives.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Party bags

One thing I won't miss from nursery are the bags of goodies (or should I say baddies) that the children get when it's somebody's birthday. It's a very sweet gesture (in more ways that one) but it is a real headache trying to hide this dietary WMD from J as he pesters me for it on the way home.
All the usual offenders are there - sweets, crisps, soft drinks. It's not that I'm a snob (oh, okay. Guilty), but most of this stuff I wouldn't eat myself and I've got a taste for trash. So why should I let him eat it?
This evening's offering was something called Calypso Spring Water Drink, which sounded relatively healthy, so I popped the straw through the foil lid and took a sip before giving it to him. Big mistake! It tasted like liquid saccharin - disgusting. Unfortunately by this point I was committed to handing it over to an expectant toddler, which I did, feeling a bit like Dr Crippin. As it was, the drink was so horrible that even J couldn't manage more than a few sips.
At least it makes me feel less bad about his preference for OJ over good old fashioned water. Of course, he only gets watered down OJ...

The end of the road

This is my last week as Mr Mum.
My wife is seven and a half months pregnant with our second child (I can't remember if I've mentioned this!) and finishes work on Friday. J will also stop going to nursery at this time. Two reasons: financial constraints of surviving on one salary, and a chance for mum to assuage her guilt about him being cared for by someone else in the first place.
As for me, I'll have to get cracking and hope that I can now fill my five days with paid activity, which certainly hasn't been the case of late. I've had the slight excuse of looking after our son for two days and being tied to the nursery drop and collect schedule for the other three - now that's gone. With the missus in the house, I'll also have to look active rather than avoiding work.
I shall miss our time together though. When we started doing it, he wasn't walking, had a handful of words and was very clingy to mummy. Now he's running and jumping, can have a fairly sophisticated conversation, and is a lot more independent. It really has happened very quickly, and I've been privileged to have a front seat on events.

Monday, February 01, 2010

How much?

I suppose we all eventually become our parents, and one area where I am definitely my mother's son is in my attitude to money. Becoming a parent has led to me imagining her old refrain "Do you think I'm made of money?"on many occasions, not least when you are having to cough up an exorbitant sum for children's food.
A case in point was a trip on Saturday to the Natural History Museum. As is often the case, we actually had a packed lunch prepared for J so didn't have to buy him anything. However we were going to get lunch for ourselves. Nothing fancy, just a sandwich, or a bagel... HOW MUCH????!!!
This time, I don't think I was just showing my age, not at £7.95 for a bleedin' oversized Cheerio with a bit of chicken and salad. The upshot was that we just bought a hot beverage each and sat there smuggling bites of his ham sandwich under the watchful eye of the food police. Actually, my wife was quite brazen about eating hers. She had a sort of mad look in her eye that almost dared the waiter to confront her - unleash hell!
What was really galling was that the cafe in question was run by the same company that has the franchise for the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, where prices are very reasonable, the food is excellent, and consequently many parents spend their hard-earned there.
So in future, it will be smuggled sandwiches for all of us, and we'll save the money for a sticky bun from Greggs on the way home. You're never far away from one.