Tag Archives: January

What January has to say for itself

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Hello lovers. Let’s go rambling.

I make a point of not getting on with anything until T falls asleep. At the moment that means I slump over Twitter exhaustedly and with shoes on, for nearly an hour. He got used to Audible Fun Stuff going on after his bedtime over Christmas, so he likes to have a little cot-potter after lights-out. Just in case someone’s going to come and get him. He’s just given in, so I’ve taken off my boots, and am (Hades voice) ready to rumbllllllle. (H is sparko five minutes after I leave, of course. School.)

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We are back in a routine after a week of inevitable new-term sick bug. Last week we didn’t shift very far away from Netflix or pyjamas, and ran out of Calpol, and didn’t leave the house more than once for five days. That sort of week is rather nice for a day or so, then forms a very short runway to insanity thereafter. I know the theme song to our newest Thomas film now. KIDDING I KNEW IT ALREADY.

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Getting back to normal has made what was a pretty dreary January into something quite bracing and lovely. We walked back from school the long way yesterday afternoon. Watching them call for the Gruffalo in the middle of the woods and get comically stuck in mud-swamps made my head feel like it was opening up again at last. It’s very cold, bright and frost-glittered. Good skies. Indoors, I am making big lasagnes, shepherd’s pies, vats of enchiladas – and engaging in a running battle with Timothy where we turn the radiators on/off without the other one knowing.

We are keeping the kettle almost constantly boiling, and our favourite is mixing two spoons of hot chocolate with two spoons of Horlicks. If I tell you we call it a Choco-(W)Hor(e), will you think less of us?

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T feels very two this month. One blimming up and down after another. Stubborn. Delightful. Hideous. Hilarious. Beginning every other sentence with ‘I don’ WANT to’. Making his toys talk to each other. This afternoon he came to insist that he had a ‘twiceratops stuck down here’ (gestures at groin area). The only triceratops I know about is the size of Teddy’s head, but I brushed my hand down his front anyway. Nothing. I told him to go and play. About half an hour later I changed his nappy and, sure enough: a small plastic triceratops, embedded in his squishy toddler belly. Who knows how it got there. The triceratops is too shell-shocked to say. Never doubt the two-year-old, is the lesson from that.

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Oh, but you can give me a million years of four and I will take them off your hands. Four is the best. Four is your reward for getting through three without running away to sea to be a ship’s monkey. This evening H had to work through the letter B. He produced a whole row of them, pencil held carefully in his left hand, then wrote ‘Boo’. I told him about exclamation marks, and he drew one in precisely at the end, then put another one at the beginning too (!Boo!) ‘so it’s even more shouting!’ He laughed at the triceratops thing harder than I did, and ate all his lasagne. Four forever pls.

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I’ve just finished A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson, which is the companion piece to Life After Life, the book I love so much I keep it in my glove compartment for emergencies. The sequel made me feel so much some of my cells died from the strain. Life After Life is a gorgeous family-drama-with-reincarnation-twist, and is the most harrowing depiction of the Blitz I’ve ever come across. A God in Ruins does the same thing for the RAF bombing campaign over Germany, gives the beloved characters slightly disappointing lives thereafter, and ends with a twist like a gut punch. It’s gone back on my shelf, and I haven’t dared look at it since. Tomorrow I will be charging through January’s book club book, with ten hours till book club, because leaving books till the last minute and causing myself great stress is my ABSOLUTE speciality.

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We have just booked tickets to my brother’s wedding in the Spring. California, Oregon, Utah. I am utterly thrilled and also doing a full-body cringe at the expense of carting four humans across the Atlantic, as per. Please send your San Francisco recommendations if you have them! Even better if it’s food-related, but you knew that.

February is historically my least-favourite month (HOW CAN IT STILL BE COLD AND WITH NO GREEN ANYWHERE) but with enough skies like these, I think we’ll be alright. I think I could get on with January after all.

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Living Arrows in January: how we get lost

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(Living Arrows is a portrait project run by Hayley at the Shutterflies blog, capturing the little moments of childhood. The title comes from a Kahlil Gibran poem called ‘Children’, which I’ve reproduced at the end of this post. It’s supposed to be one a week, which I definitely don’t have the staying power for, alas; but I thought doing one a month would be a nice record and encourage me to get the big camera out more often. Hope you enjoy!)

I’ve read a couple of articles recently about letting children off the leash. Not straining to fill their every hour or worrying constantly about their development, just letting them entertain themselves and be children.

I think it’s a great idea in theory. Or maybe a great idea in a few years. Though I try my hardest to shoo the boys towards their toys and independent play, they want to include me constantly. They ping back towards me one after the other, wanting my opinion, my approval, my ability to put right an injustice. It’s like they’re a gang, and I’m the ringleader. Well, obviously, I can’t deny my street cred. It’s not that I want to be a helicopter parent; it’s just that, at the moment, they and I don’t know any other way to be.

The only activity they truly don’t need me for is screen time. So I save that for the witching hour, otherwise we’d never eat dinner, ever.

That’s why I like getting out to the woods (also because if I go too long without walking I start feeling claustrophobic, which I realised for the first time this Christmas. Blimey. Am I one of those people now?). They don’t need my approval for puddles, or stone-throwing, or poking things with giant sticks. It doesn’t matter if they get dirty, though my car and the washing machine weep bitter tears when we get home.

They still both like to keep me in sight. But it’s as though the very short pieces of elastic that connect me to both of them get to stretch out a little.

And T kept his bear hat on for a good half hour this time. Re-sult.

Living Arrows

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran

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