Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cutest thing ever

Ok, I'll come out and say it, I don't like dummies (the clue is in the name).  Fanf and I agreed that we wouldn't dig our heels in if it turned out that our two elder minibeasts needed a dummy but we were mighty glad when they didn't.  Neither of then sucked a thumb or finger either, and we were equally glad that we wouldn't have to face weaning from finger sucking.  I gave up sucking my finger when I was about seven after a friend was given a ring by her parents for abandoning her soggy digit.  Thinking she was on to a good thing I followed suit.  My parents gave me a pat on the back.  Sigh.

As for Nell, I feel like she's been searching out some fingers to suck ever since she was born and yesterday she found her thumb.  Now although thumb sucking brings its own set of difficulties, I just happen to think it's impossibly cute.

And on the up side, she slept through last night for the first time, so hooray hooray for thumb sucking.

Also, I will now have a child to terrorise with the wonderfully macarbre tales of Struwwelpeter, specifically The Story of the Thumbsucker. Ah ha ha ha.  

Thinks *I have maybe missed a trick here with my other minibeasts*

Note to self: read the story of Fidgety Philip to Matilda.  Every night for a month.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Déjà vu

Remember this.

Now this.

Being suffocated under the sibling toy mountain is clearly a rite of passage in this housebarelyholdingtogether.

Also, clearly, you should never leave your child in my care.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Bloke in a dress

The future of Owen?  Fine by me
... minus the cigarette.

Last Thursday, Owen cried because he wanted to wear a dress to school.  I'll be honest, I really wasn't sure what to do.  Part of me worried that one aspect of being in society is understanding social norms.  Owen is too young to understand, should I be there to understand and make decisions for him?  Part of of me wanted to let my boy fly and be free, after all, wearing a dress is hardly harmful or hurtful behaviour.  And why should it be a social norm that boys can't wear dresses?  One hundred years ago, the idea of women striding about in trousers was shocking.  In fact, it wasn't until this year that France revoked a 200-year-old law banning women from wearing trousers in Paris.  Maybe in one hundred years, men will be wearing dresses and that great bully, Social Norm, the undisputed champion of mindless conformity, will not bat an eyelid.  What is currently labelled transvestism will simply be known as equal rights.  Maybe Owen is ahead of his time.  Or maybe Owen is just a little boy with a big sister he adores and wants to emulate.  Maybe he wants to be told that he is pretty all the time, just like his sister.  We don't often praise boys for their looks and I don't think they are any less susceptible to anxiety about their appearance than girls.  Or maybe Owen just likes dresses.

But it's one thing encouraging your child to be independent or eccentric, it's quite another to support them in breaking certain social codes and taboos.  And in France, it is definitely taboo for males to wear dresses (unless you're Jean-Paul Gaulthier - then it's ok).

Anyway, I had a chat to O's teacher, Cati.  After all, if I was potentially going to open the proverbial can of worms at school then I preferred to discuss this with those who would be crawling in the worms afterwards.  Cati is pretty open and liberal, recognises that the French generally are not, and said she was quite happy for Owen to come to school in a dress if he wanted to.  She did raise the question of gender identity.  I had two issues with this. Firstly, Owen knows he is a boy, like daddy, that he has a penis, that he cannot have babies in his tummy, which is currently a source of sore disappointment, but he does not want to be a girl.  He just wants to wear a dress.  Secondly, why is society so fixated on identity being defined by gender?  Because it's easier?  Because that's how it's always been?  Because it has a vested interest in maintaining the male-female dichotomy?  Because in fact for gender we should read sexuality?  Somebody cleverer than I will have to answer these questions.

For the moment I don't believe Owen's sartorial preferences are the result of anything other than the healthy childhood impulse to indulge in dressing up and make believe, and most importantly to be admired.  I am amazed by the number of parents that have told me their little boys also like wearing dresses, jewellery and make up but that they would never allow them to do these things outside the home.  If O's penchant for frocks does turn out to be more than dressing up then banning him from putting on a dress will only damage him.  My beloved Eddie Izzard (pictured above) says he realised he was a transvestite when he was four.  What is really at stake when people get their knickers in a twist about such innocent experiments is society's attitude to gender and sexuality.

So, did I send Owen to school in a dress?  Yes I did.  And the world did not rock on its axis.  I can't say that I am certain I did the right thing, but it felt right.  I've not talked to him too much about what society expects of males, or how others might react.  I've tried to focus on how it is important to be happy and confident with who you are.  I hope that this will allow him to cope with whatever others might throw at him without making him fearful or self-conscious.

Would you send your little boy to school in a dress?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Nell 101

Three months.  Three months!  Where did that time go?

Still, three months and not a single proper post written in your honour.  So, for those of you who have been wondering, what's she like this Nell creature, this is what she's like.

Our titchybeast is a sweet and contented soul.


Except when she gets angry, which is not very often but is most impressive (read: scary and foreboding) when it occurs.  She screws up her tiny face into an angry red smush and screams with the almighty force of an operatic diva as if someone had just told her there was a world wide chocolate ban (well, that's what I'd do if someone told me that).  I don't much look forward to the development of this particular character trait....

That said, she is nonetheless by far the easiest of our three minibeasts so far.  I don't know how much of this is down to her own personality and how much is down to our drastically reduced stress levels with baby no. 3 but she always seems happy to go with the flow.  Or maybe it's that the other two are making so much noise that we can't hear her most of the time.  Though she is very chatty, coo-ing and squeaking away to anyone who will take the time to engage with her.  She is happy to sit and observe but she delights in some attentive one-to-one.  And she has the biggest, enormousenest smile I ever did saw.  Like her sister, she loves to be on her feet (give me another early walker, please!) and like her brother she loves to sleep on her tum, which is round and fat, frequently with sugar on the top (I do enjoy a good nibble of something sweet myself as I breastfeed).  And she does indeed sleep, pretty well.  No pacing the lounge in the wee hours with this one.  She wakes, she feeds, she zonks.

We'll definitely be keeping her.

Oh, and as you might have noticed from the photos, she likes to stick her tongue out.  The cheeky cheekster.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

La rentrée d'Owen

I was expecting everything to be smooth sailing.  Owen spent a lot of time at school last year, he knows his teacher, Cati, he knows half his class, he knows the school, he frequently asked if he could stay with Matilda.

And it was.  Smooth sailing.  When we arrived he went and gave Cati a kiss and when I left he was hand in hand with his little paramour from last year (also Matilda's best friend) Zia.  At hometime he was all smiles.  The first thing he said when he saw me was "Where's Matilda?", so I don't think he missed me that much.  Apparently after lunch he went to Matilda's classroom and had to be escorted back to his own.  He told me that Cati had said "Chut" to him in class, and that Hélène (the classroom assistant) had said "Chut" to him when it was nap time.  In fact I think Owen got "Chut-ed" at quite a bit.  This doesn't seem to have bothered him, and made me smile.  I was one of those kids that got "Chut-ed" at a lot too, and it never bothered me either.   All in all, a promising start. 

Me:  What was your favourite thing about school?
Owen:  Sleeping, playing with toys, having gâteau. 

I am going to miss being with my little man, I feel so close to him after our years at home together.  And I'm grateful and glad that I had that time.  But I am excited to see how he takes to school, I am excited to have a bit more time to spend on my own projects and I am especially excited to start building the same bond with Nell that I already enjoy with Owen and Matilda.

Two down, one (a long long way) to go.