24 December 2007

The prodigal teddy

Last August we went to QLD and stayed at the Sunshine Coast for a few day. That's when we lost Ella's favourite teddy. One that snored when you pressed his hand. When I discovered that we left him near the beach, I was far more upset than Ella. When I enquired at the newsagent near the beach where we last saw snoring teddy, a customer informed us that she'd seen him sitting on a picnic table near the beach. I searched everywhere but could not find him. The image of poor abandoned teddy sitting all by his lonely self on a table staring at the ocean haunted me for weeks!

I tried to find a replacement when we got back from our trip, but they stopped stocking these teddies in the shop where I originally got him.

So for months - whenever the topic comes up - I have been telling Ella that teddy now lives at the beach and goes for swims in the ocean every day and plays in the sand and is very happy there.

Imagine my joy when I suddenly saw the snoring teddies in the same shop when I did my last minute christmas shopping yesterday.

When Ella unwrapped teddy this morning, I told her that Santa found it for her and brought it back. Then I couldn't get it to snore and presumed that the batteries were flat, Ella said: "It won't work under water, you know."

Smarty pants.

18 December 2007

Toilet wisdom

We had some bizarre conversations last night of which I only remember this one, when Ella went to the toilet after she'd gone to bed:

Ella - I'm doing a poo!
Me - That's good that you went to the toilet to do a poo.
Ella - Because poo makes you strong, doesn't it?
Me - Errr.

I have used the makes-you-strong motivator for all sorts of things from eating meat and veges to walking and riding the trike, but I swear I have never made a link between physical strength and poo! Not even during those early stages of toilet training when a significant proportion of our conversations seemed to revolve around toilet-related topics.

It reminded me of a story I believed my mother told me as a kid to explain how my sister got to have red hear. She said - as I remember it - that she went to see a scary movie when she was pregnant and she got such a fright that my sister's hair turned red in the womb. I proudly relayed this explanation for red haired people - scientifically proven beyond any doubt - to my peers in primary school, who of course accepted this without questioning. And even when I got to the age where I accepted that it was just one of those stories parents tell their kids to stop the why questions, I still regularly told the story at dinner parties when the topic of the gullibility of children came up.

Until - when I was in my 30s - I reminded my mother of her telling me this and she flatly denied that she had ever told me such a thing. I'm still not a 100% convinced that she didn't, because surely I wouldn't have made a thing like that up myself?

So now I'm wondering if in 30 years time I'll find myself in the awkward position of having to convince Ella that I never, ever told her that poo makes you strong.

12 December 2007

Fairy muffins

Ella - Mum, can I have a muffin?
Me - You know that you don't get it if you ask for it.
Ella - But I won't!
Me - But you did already ask for it.
Ella - But I didn't!
Me - So what did you just say to me then?
Ella - "I'm a fairy".

Momentarily forgetting my strong views on the importance of honesty, I rewarded her quick thinking with a fairy muffin.

11 December 2007

Trade

I cannot clearly remember what our dinner conversation yesterday was about, but it must've been about Ella asking me why I wouldn’t buy her a certain thing and me giving my standard reply that when she has her own money, she can buy it herself.

Ella - I'll buy some money.
Me - Where are you going to buy it from? The bank? The shop? The supermarket?
Ella - From the shop.
Me - What will you use to pay for the money?
Ella - This food [pointing at the half chewed chicken drumsticks on her plate].
Me - Do you think anyone will give you money for some chicken bones?
Ella - Yea-eah.

I opened and closed my mouth a few times and then gave up on this converstation. There's plenty of time still for her to learn about the restrictions of 1st world economics.

09 December 2007

The Irwin story

Me: You can dress up like Bindi for the party and wrestle with the crocodile. Do you know who Bindi is?
Ella: No
Me: Bindi lives at the zoo.
Ella: Wow!
Me: And she plays with all the animals.
Ella: Are there tigers?
Me: Yep, tigers and elephants and crocodiles
Me: And Bindi's dad used to catch crocodiles. But he's dead now.
Ella: Why?
Me: Well he was swimming very close to a stingray... Do you know what a stingray is?
Ella: No.
Me: It's a big fish, like Mr Ray in Finding Nemo. Remember him?
Ella: Yes.
Me: Well, Bindi's dad was swimming very close to the ray and…
Ella: Did he dead him?
Me: Yes, he stung him right in the heart with his tail.
Ella: Oh.
Me: And if your heart is broken, you die.
Ella: Oh.

So that was the story of Bindi Irwin in a nutshell. I love the way Ella acts so matter of fact about issue that would shock most older kids. I'm not entirely sure if it is just her age or if it is also because I do not believe in sugar-coating facts when talking to kids. It may be a combination of both.


(Taken by Zseike)

05 December 2007

Cheeky monkey

Isn't it hilarious when kids try to use your advice/warnings/rules - repeated to them ad nauseum in a desperate attempt to teach them some manners - to suit them?

Today we walked into a newsagent and Ella was fondling the packets of M&Ms at the counter when she said: "We eat what we touch, mummy."

[One of those things I say often at social events to prevent her putting snack food back on the plate after she's held it, or even taken a bite of.]

Thankfully I could say that it only counted for things that are not wrapped.

03 December 2007

Christmas cheer

The christmas tree is a hit this year. Partly because Ella personally decorated the part of it that she could reach. Which now looks like this:

And Ella has been singing christmas songs she learnt at daycare. I thought this one was especially cute because of the location. It won't be her last christmas wish to you (and me and anyone who wants to listen)! [Pretty bad quality, will tinker with it some more later.]

Monsters on the bed

Monsters have been out to get Ella's (toy) cat and her (plastic) tigers lately. They try to bite them, I was told. But I learnt that the monsters cannot come onto the bed. Still it's not all that practical to be stuck on a bed indefinitely only because you happen to be responsible for protecting your friends and babies from scary monsters.

So I told Ella that monsters are scared of songs. She sang a song and lo and behold, the monsters ran away! Unfortunately they came back as soon as she stopped singing. As much as I enjoy her singing, the thought of having her sing 'Baa baa black sheep' non-stop just to keep the monsters at a safe distance, didn't appeal to me all that much.

So I decided to try a different approach. I told Ella that some monsters are actually quite nice. And that they often get sad because everyone is scared of them and they have no one to play with.

She accepted this immediately without questioning, and now the monsters are part of Ella's ever expanding family. She likes the baby monsters especially. She puts them to bed and talks to them in her mummy voice, and warns me not to step on them or wake them up.

Not sure what the lesson is here, but Ella and I are happy, the cat and tigers are happy and now the monsters are happy too. Win-win.

Love talk

Ella: Mum? I so love you today.
Me: And I love you every day.
Ella: No, you have to say that you love me today!
Me: I do love you today. And you know what? I will love you tomorrow too. And the day after. I love you always. All the time.
Ella: All the time?
Me: Yep, I love you all the time.
Ella: That's nice.

Sugar, anyone?

29 November 2007

Ella logic #32

We paid a quick visit to Ella's papa today. I told Ella we had to go home so she could go to bed.

Ella: But I want to sleep here!
Me: You can't sleep here, papa's going to go out soon.
Ella: But I want to sleep here, I want to sleep in papa's bed.
Me: You can't sweetie, he's going out soon.
......[pensive pauze]
Ella: Is he going to take his bed with then?

More and more she forces me to analyse how I phrase things. There's no such thing as implied meaning when you are 3!

Similarly, when I showed her a visiting Belgian gipsy family's converted 4WD campervan and told her "Look, you can even sleep in this car", she took the 'you' in this sentence personally and wouldn't go close to the car because she presumably thought that we'd push her in and she'd have to sleep there.

26 November 2007

Surprises

I had a little mirconap afer we got home from work/daycare. And was being encouraged by Ella to do so, which was a bit suss.

When I woke up I found she'd put all the shopping away. What a nice surprise.

And she also left me this artwork on the kitchen wall:


So after a short stint in the naughty corner:


(I am glad I took a photo though, because I really did quite like it.)

Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone

When I picked Ella up from daycare yesterday she was tired to the point were she got unmanagably clumsy and her coping skills were reaching zero point. I had to send her to bed for a nap immediately when we got home at 4pm. She was asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow and ended up sleeping for 2 solid hours.

It was a no win situation. By the time she woke up it was way past her dinner time so whatever energy she had gained from resting her body and mind was cancelled out by the low blood sugar levels. She went from waking up to major meltdown in 5 seconds flat. So I went into damage control mode and made a 5 mins dinner and allowed her to eat it sitting on my bed in front of the tele (a privilege normally reserved for Sunday nights only).

Before she'd even taken her first mouthful, I noticed a wet patch on the bedsheet. My supernatural calmness temporarily vanished as I chased child and dog off the bed, threw doonah and pillows on the floor and pulled the sheet off the bed.

A bit later, when Ella finally started to become human again as the blood sugar levels gradually rose, I told her:

"When you get very tired or hungry you cannot be good or brave. And then you get grumpy and you cry easily. And then mummy gets a bit grumpy. And when you do weewee on my bed, mummy gets a bit grumpy too, doesn't she?"

There wasn't any intended lesson in it really, I just needed to get it off my chest.

Ella nodded and then said:

Ella: You know what?
Me: No, what?
Ella: If you were a tiny little girl… Then you were a baby. And then you were grumpy. And then you did weewee on the bed too.
Me: [Uncontrollable laughter]

Point taken.

[Language note: 'if' and 'when' are interchangeable in Ella's dictionary.]

22 November 2007

Traffic solutions

This morning in the car I was muttering about the traffic congestion. This conversation followed.

Ella: Mum, what were you saying?
Me: I was just saying that we should have gone another way because it's so busy here. There's too many cars.
Ella: A bulldozer could push the cars away.

Her other suggestion to make us move through traffic faster was that someone should cut the traffic ligths off with a knife so we wouldn't have to stop.

All very helpful suggestions! I should get her to write to the traffic authority with this advice.

Also, between that first and second suggestion came a long monologue which I mostly missed because I was trying to cross 2 lanes in bumper to bumper traffic. I only caught the last sentence which was: "And I don't like fairy cars because I'm a fairy." Huh?

20 November 2007

Hide and seek

Ella: Mum, let's play hide and seek.
Me (somewhat reluctant to move from my comfortable seat): Er... ok.
Ella: You hide here, where I can find you.
Me: No problem!

She went out and then peered around the door post until I yelled "You found me!".

My kind of game...

I did try a real game after that, but she started sounding a bit distressed when she couldn't immediately find me so I had to give vocal cues. When it was her turn, she hid in exactly the same spot where I hid (while I was watching her) and when it was my turn again she tried to tell me where to hide. I remember this well from my babysitting years but it's still funny.

18 November 2007

But mama?

Ella: But mama?
Me: Yes Ella?
Ella: I am so your friend.

Ella: But mama?
Me: Yes Ella?
Ella: I so, so love you.

We had this conversation about 20 times on Saturday morning and she keeps repeating it regularly out of the blue. Very cute.

Also somewhat theatrical and I've noticed that she is turning into a real little actress. She thoroughly enjoys the dramatical effect of her sulking sessions for example. Even if her walking around with her head tilted and eyes cast down to pouting lips causes her to walk into things quite regularly.

12 November 2007

True colours

A book that has been one of Ella's favourites for a long time is Dr. Seuss' 'Go dog go'. The text has lots of references to different coloured dogs in it.

For some reason they used this old style colour scheme throughout the book. About a year ago I had to go through the book and on every page colour the dogs that appeared in pastel pink, but were referred to in the text as red with a red texter because Ella refused to identify them as red dogs and got visibly confused.

Yesterday we read the book again after a bit of a break from it and I discovered that I will now have to edit the book with a black texter because the so called black dogs are more a charcoal grey and my nitpicking child will not accept them being called black!

It is utterly useless to talk to a 3 year old about the downsides of being a perfectionist as they clearly all suffer of a form of obsessive compulsive disorder anyway at that age.

11 November 2007

Goanna man

I took Ella to an Indigenous heritage party in the park yesterday afternoon. We loved it. They had a free jumping castle, patting paddock, games, she did two dot paintings and painted a boomerang and they had performances.

One of the performances that I really enjoyed was an Aboriginal dance group. The 3rd dance they did was about a goanna. So this man with his whole body and face decorated with white paint crawled around like a lizard, very slowly but then he would suddenly run towards the kids on the first row on all fours and monster them threateningly. Presumably like a goanna would.

We were at the other end of the half circle on the lawn from where he started. I was getting my camera ready to take a shot of the dancer when he came closer, but Ella got increasingly worried about him coming towards us. She jumped up and went to stand behind me, but when he was staring at the group of kids next to us, she truly started panicking and started to try to climb onto my back! So there's me with my fragile camera in one hand, trying to steady Ella with my other. When the goanna man finally turned to us, Ella was pretty much sitting on my shoulders and started screaming!

It was an awkward moment. I had some tears in my eyes from laughing at her overreaction at first, but then I suddenly felt so sorry for her when she panicked like that and didn't quite know what to do to make her feel safe. The goanna man looked into my eyes and I felt quite ridiculous!

I never got the shot...

When I asked Ella afterwards why she'd been so scared of him, she insisted that she saw the man hurting the people. Poor thing! She now knows that he was just playing, but it wasn't what I had expected from her first exposure to Aboriginal dancing.

07 November 2007

More on friends

Today, as I walked across the courtyard at daycare to get Ella's bag, I overheard some of the toddlers having a conversation about friends.

A (to L) - Are you my friend?
L - No, because I'm B's friend.
A - I'm B's friend too!
B - No you're not!
A - Nobody is my friend! I have to have friends too!

So a bit later when I spotted A in the sandpit where I was waiting for Ella to finish making her birthday sandcake so we could go, I asked Ella if A was her friend. When she responded postively I asked her if she could go tell A she was her friend, because A was a bit sad.

So my little elf walks up to A, patiently waits till A has stopped talking loudly about someting else before she says softly but clearly, leaning towards A and tenderly touching her arm - "I am your friend, A".

A - You are not my friend! D is my friend.
Ella - Mum! She says I'm not her friend!
Me - That's ok sweetie, you have lots of other friends.

That is the first and the last time that I will get involved in preschool politics!

04 November 2007

Reproduction

We had this conversation after Ella had persuaded me to go and put the Dora the Explorer DVD on for her.

Ella - Dora has a baby.
Me - Does she?
Ella - Yeah, she has a baby in her tummy.
Me - No she hasn't.
Ella - Yes she has. I have a baby in my tummy too.
Me - How did the baby get in your tummy. [Holding my breath for the reply.]
Ella - I don't know. [Phew!] The baby's in my tummy and then he's going to come out. And he can't walk now. When he can walk he's going to come out.
Me - So when is he going to come out?
Ella - The baby's going to come out in TWO minutes! [Looks slightly puzzled at me cracking up laughing]
No, no, in THREE minutes. The baby's going to come out of my tummy in three more minutes. [Still puzzled at me laughing even harder]
He's so cute. I'm going to give him a kiss.
And then he can watch tv. I will put him on my lap and then he can watch tv.
He can sit on the couch and watch tv. He's going to stand up, but I will put him down and then he can sit and watch Dora.

Three minutes passed, but the baby wasn't mentioned again.

01 November 2007

Who's in and who's out.

Dinner table conversation:
Ella - Ewie said that I eat baby yoghurt and that I am a baby!
Me - What did you say?
Ella - I said I am a big girl!
Me - Of course you are.
Ella - But Ewie said no.
Me - That's not very nice of him, is it?
Ella - No. I'm not going to play with him anymore.
Me - So who are you going to play with then?
Ella - Maxie! Because he doesn’t say no.

I have no clue who Ewie is. I only know the names of a couple of the daycare kids. Another name of a kid I don't know that crops up very regularly these days is Ben. He seems to be Ella's benchmark at the moment. "Ben eats this yoghurt", "Ben wears these shoes". And if it's ok for Ben, it's ok for her. I am starting to feel like asking "If Ben jumped off a cliff, would you?!", but I am usually (still) able to surpress these urges to recite platitudes. At least Ben seems to have good taste.

30 October 2007

Nature girl

We went camping in Mimosa Rocks National Park near Tathra on the South Coast for 4 days. It was a magical place in the bush (it was Banksia forest actually) with private access to the beach, which we had all to ourselves for most of our stay.

Ella coped very well with living in the bush. I didn't let her use the toilet because it was a bit too far for just-toilet-trained toddlers and it was a compost toilet and I didn't want to scare her! So she dug holes and crouched down over them to do her business. Though she got so comfortable with the whole nature thing that on a couple of occasions she didn't even bother with the hole. She got sent to bed without books one night for that.

She slept extraordinary well there. Must have been the sound of the surf and the fresh sea air.

She befriended the cheeky wallaby who stole a whole loaf of bread on the first night and forced us to eat half slices of bread the rest of the weekend. I so regret not taking any video of her walking up to him and bringing her face to about an inch from his and saying "hi!". She even managed to give him a quick pat on the shoulder on a couple of occasions.


Something I would never encourage her to do as I myself don't trust wild animals when they get that close. But he didn't seem to mind. She desperately wanted to pat one of the bush rats because she thought they were "sooo cute", but they were slightly less comfortable with having their personal space invaded.


She also coped well with a less pleasant kind of visitor: the clouds of flies that appeared out of nowhere on our 3rd day there.


This is the child that used to scream when one fly came even near her. On Sunday afternoon we were followed by a cloud of flies for a couple of hours and had at least 50 of the buggers sitting on us most of that time and she didn't even complain or twitch once.

She didn't complain about anything really. She sat on the ground to eat our camping food, helped wash the dishes in the ocean (though panicked when the waves came in), carefully avoided the bluebottles on the beach and went to sleep in the tent without any protest. And usually remembered to close the fly screen door even.

In brief, she is great to go camping with! She walked around in a t-shirt only for most of the weekend (her choice) and wouldn't let me touch her hair so she looked like a feral child. I didn't care because there was no one there apart from us.


And the girl has real sea legs! We went on a 3 hour whale watching trip on a smallish boat. We were too late (of course) so didn't have time to take any seasickness tablets before we boarded. I had also been told by another operator that they did not recommend taking children that young on a whale watching trip because they might get scared on the boat and because of the length of the trip. Did my girl prove them wrong! As soon as we started going over the fairly big waves Ella laughed hysterically every time the boat went down again. Another missed video moment. It was hilarious! After a while she also got very confident walking around on the rolling boat. I think she thought the whales in the distance were pretty boring and she wasn't even that impressed by they dolphins playing around the boat most of the trip, but she enjoyed the boat ride nevertheless. And no seasickness. We both have strong stomachs fortunately.

It was a fabulous trip and I decided that we will make it an annual tradition.

The conversation between mummy and baby toy zebra through their medium Ella on our last morning there summed it up I think:

Baby zebra: But I don't want to go home, I want to stay here.
Mummy zebra: Alright.

Dangerous toys

What life would be like if we lived with dinosaurs.

"Mummy, the dinosaur ate the man!"

22 October 2007

Reason

Today Ella was singing a song she learnt at daycare. I don't know the song, but she sang it like this:

"Three cheeky monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. Mummy go to the doctor. Doctor goes no more jumping on the bed!"

Then she turned around to me and:
Ella - Mum, the monkey cannot jump on the bed anymore.
Me - Why not?
Ella - Because the doctor say no jumping on the bed.
Me - But why is he not allowed to jump on the bed?
Ella - Because the doctor say no.
Me - Why did he say no?
Ella - Because he did not want to say yes.

Perfectly logical, can't argue with that!

Sometimes these conversations actually do go my way. Like today at the shops.

Ella - Mum, can I have an icecream?
Me - No, not today.
Ella - But I want one!
Me - And I want lots and lots of money and black hair. (Thanks jeanie!)
Ella - But you don't have black hair!
Me - That's right! But I want it.
Ella - But you can't have it!
Me - Exactly! You can't always have what you want.

Touchee.

(I ended up buying her an icecream after all. Not because she kept asking, she didn't. It was just such a beautiful summer day that an icecream seemed to complement it perfectly. Sucker!)

18 October 2007

Colourful

We have this conversation on average twice a day lately.

Ella - Mum, do you like green?
Me - Yep, I like green.
Ella - I like green too.
Do you like blue?
Me - Oh yeah, blue is my favourite colour.
Ella - Blue is my favourite colour too! And orange. Do you like orange, mum?
Me - Yep, orange is ok.
Ella - My favourite colour is blue and orange and green and red and yellow and purple and black and white and pink…
Do you like pink, mum?
Me - No, I don't like pink.
Ella - I do. I like pink.
Me - We all like different things.
Ella - Do you like green?
Etc.

17 October 2007

Easy to please

Today as we walked out of the gate at daycare:

"Thankyou mummy! Thankyou that you come get me from daycare."

You're very welcome. Up until today I did not know that the picking up bit appears to be optional. But somehow I don't think this new intelligence will have an impact on our usual routine.

15 October 2007

Charity

I showed Ella the stickers that we got from the charity organisation to send to our sponsor child in Ethiopia. Her name is Tizibt but we call her Tizzie, she's a few months older than Ella, and when we "adopted" her last year I told Ella that she has no mummy or daddy. She's being cared for by an aunt and uncle.

Today we had this conversation.

Ella - Where are the stickers for Tizzie?
Me - They’re in the envelope together with our letter and your drawings.
Ella - Can I get the stickers?
Me - No, they’re for Tizzie, you cannot play with them. We’re going to send these to Tizzie because she has no stickers. So she’s going to be really happy to get these stickers, don’t you think?
Ella - Yeah! And then she’s gonna have a mummy.

I was totally unprepared for that suden turn in the conversation so all I could think of doing was to change the topic. It makes you appreciate kids' fascination with everything magic though.

14 October 2007

Mum's the word

Conversation at bath time the other day:

Ella - I got a bandaid because I fell over in the bathroom (at daycare).
Me - Who put on your bandaid?
Ella - C did.
Me - Did she also give you a big cuddle when you fell?
Ella - No! Mummy has to give me a cuddle.
When I fall mummy has to give me a cuddle first!

-------------------

Phone conversation with G, Ella's godmother yesterday:

G - I love you, Ella.
Ella - I love mummy!
And I love Luna (our dog)!

11 October 2007

Monologue

I was run off my feet today. After a hectic day at work I did the dog-walking, shopping, cooking and dealt with countless tantrums and a few accidents in between.

By the time I plonked down on my chair to have dinner I felt exhausted and realised I couldn't immediately face up to our usual 'how was your day' conversation.

So I told Ella: I am very tired and when I'm very tired I don't feel like talking to you.
I quickly added (realising how she might take it personally): And I also don't want to talk to anyone else.
Ella: You'll have to talk to yourself then. Do you want to talk to yourself, mummy?

And I try so hard to conceal my insanity!

08 October 2007

Peaches and cream

Ella is finally getting over her Ben Harper addiction. No matter how cute it was to hear her sing "I believe in a better way", I got a bit tired of the song after hearing it for the thousandth time.

So now we're well on the way to getting hooked to John Butler's "Sunrise over Sea" CD. And my personal favourite is the "Peaches and Cream" song. I tell Ella that it reminds me of her because it is about mummies and daddies loving their kids, like I love her.

She seems to like that idea and prompts me to repeat the above when the song starts, if ever I forget.

These are the chorus lyrics of the song:

For so long I sang this sad old song
And it feels like my time is up
For she came and landed in my arms
And she filled my half empty cup
Yes she filled my half empty cup

There you are right in front of me
A brand new day, sunrise over sea
No Longer is my cup half empty
Cause there you are
You and your mum in front of me
You're peaches & cream to me

And the last verse:
And Now I look up above me and
I thank that great old God in the sky
For telling me my cup ain’t half empty
It took my little girl to show me why

I love singing along with this song and this morning Ella started singing along loudly in the car too - no use singing along in the car if it's not at the top of your voice! - for the first time. Aw!

Dancing with dogs

My little girl did her first dog training exercise today! No, it wasn't me trying to implement dog training techniques on her, though I admit that is a tempting idea sometimes and I probably do use some dog training tricks on her sub-consciously.

I took my dog to a session with a professional trainer to try solve a particular problem and the trainer suggested I would also involve Ella just to reinforce her place in the pecking order in relation to the dog.

So today, when Ella fed the dog as usual, I instructed her to watch the dog closely and wait until the dog sat down before she slowly walked past the dog to put the bowl on the floor, and as soon as the dog broke her sit to hold the bowl above her head until the dog sat down again and so on.

She performed this trick marvelously! No word was said or gesture made to the dog who looked slightly bemused, but ended up playing her role perfectly too. Getting up often enough to enable Ella to put the instructions into practice, but not often enough for all of us to get fed up with the game.

I was very proud of my little dog trainer. And of the dog too of course.

07 October 2007

Children's logic

D turned 75 last week.

Me: What should we buy D for her birthday?
Ella: What about... a baby?

Every 75yo's dream of course.

-----------------

Lady at the shop: How old is she?
Me: Ella, how old are you?
Ella: 3
Me: Not yet. When will you be three?
Ella: On my birthday.

Duh!

-----------------

Ella: No, I want to wear the green pants today.
Me: If you insist, but they're a bit big for you.
I think they're for fat girls. And you are not fat, are you?
Ella: No!
But you are fat, mummy.
Me: I'm not fat!
Ella: Yes you are fat! (Trying to wrap her arms around me) Because I cannot carry you.

(For those who don't know me, I'm not exactly what you'd call overweight.)

02 October 2007

Big girl things

A few days ago Ella requested to wear undies instead of a nappy. Halleluja!

This morning on the bike we had the following conversation:

Ella: I'm not very big yet.
Me: But you are a very big girl, because you are wearing big girl undies today!
Ella: I'm very big!
I'm a lady, mum.

Ella: G (godmother) wears undies sometimes (thank god!)
Me: Does she really?
Ella: Yes she does. And she can put them on by herself.
Me: Wow, she's a really big girl too, isn't she.
Ella: Yes. She's a lady too.
….
Ella: I am very big. I can swim under water now. With the Bruces (See Finding Nemo). And they gonna bite me.

The things you have to look forward to when you are growing up.

29 September 2007

The big issues

Last night we watched Happy Feet on a movies on demand channel. Or I should say, Ella watched the first 15 minutes (asking me millions of questions: Mum, where is his mummy? Mum, when is the naughty seal going to come back?), then got distracted and annoyed me for another 15 minutes and ended up having such a massive tantrum triggered by being overtired (she hadn't had a nap) that I sent her to bed without books or songs and watched the rest of the movie by myself.

I must be the only adult who CRIED with Happy Feet! I felt like such an idiot trying to hold back the tears.

[For those of you who have not seen Happy Feet, it's about humans stealing the penguins' fish, one of the penguins - an outcast because he cannot sing, but he's a hell of a dancer - ends up in a zoo and attracts worldwide attention through his dancing, gets send back home with a tracking device and gets his whole clan to dance for the global media to see, which causes a high-level debate on conservation issues and eventually results in the declaration of a no-fishing zone around their habitat.]

Update: We watched most of the movie together again today and I heard her explain the message to her dad afterwards. About the people taking the penguins' fish and that they had to stop taking the fish so the penguins could eat fish and would not be hungry. Aw!

The same day I explained to Ella in the car what John Butler's 'Treat Yo Mama With Respect' song was really about. I told her that it's about being nice to the 'world' and not hurting trees and not making the ocean and the rivers dirty. And that we shouldn't hurt or break trees because they clean the air and if all the trees would die then the air would be really dirty. I choked up when I heard her explain it back to me.

Explaining "big issues" like this to Ella or even just watching/listening/reading kids' movies/songs/books about idealistic topics like these (looking after the environment and sharing our wealth mainly) make me so incredibly emotional. It's just the thought that if everyone would teach their kids these things and really try to explain the logic behind it, the world could become a much better place. Naive, I know, but it really gives me goose bumps!

26 September 2007

Bearded lady

This morning I had a run in with a dog owner who yelled at me to put my dog on the lead. I ignored her at first as I always do with rude people, but she demanded to know why my dog was not on a leash. I just told her "because it's an off leash area".

She kept going on and on in a very loud voice about me having to keep my dog away from her little dog, that she had picked up as soon as she spotted us. It was all quite funny as my dog hadn't thought her dog worthy of even a glance and had stayed at about 20m distance of them the whole time. I whistled the dog and rode on, feeling rather annoyed at her rudeness towards me, her inability to see that my dog was trained and under control and her being so overprotective of her own poor dog.

Then, when we were just out of earshot, Ella asked me (in Dutch): "Mum, does that lady have a moustache?"*. I folded over my handlebars laughing.

Turned out she meant to say 'stick' instead of 'moustache', the words being vaguely similar in Dutch and she denied ever using the word moustache at all. But from now on that woman will always be referred to as the lady with the moustache. Serves her right!

*It is a question I used to often get asked by her when playing the Guess Who game: "Mum, does your lady have a moustache?"

24 September 2007

Treat yo mama with respect

I happened to have a John Butler CD on in the car driving back from the river this afternoon. It didn't need much prompting (though some, fair's fair) from me to get Ella to sing the Treat Yo Mama With Respect song. I got her to sing it at least 5 times while we were walking through the supermarket and cackled victoriously for about half an hour after.

Such fun when you know they don't know what they are singing too. Though eventually I did explain to her that it means you have to be nice to your mama and to her credit, she liked the song even more then.


video

22 September 2007

As you do

Ella wanted socks on to go to bed tonight. I obliged, but reminded her a couple of times that if her feet got too hot, she had to take the socks off.

An hour later I went into my bedroom and discovered her in my bed like this:



I'm sure it made perfect sense to her...

21 September 2007

We all scream for ice cream

We went out to a restaurant in the city with some friends last night.
I'd been bribing Ella into being good from before we even left home by promising her an ice cream in the restaurant.

So while we were waiting for everyone to arrive, I ordered her not one but two scoops of gelati. A massive portion which made me feel somewhat guilty for the effect it would have on her dental health, but made me also selfishly hopeful that it would keep her busy for a long time so I could actually participate in the dinner conversation. She was indeed happy eating tiny spoonfuls for quite some time until she lost interest and the ice cream turned into a milkshake minus the shake.

Then tragedy struck. When we came back from a visit to the toilet the staff had cleared the entree plates off the table and the ice-cream too had gone. Drama! It didn't help me telling Ella that it was all melted anyway. She was inconsolable. I had to take her outside to give the other diners a break from the high pitched wailing.

When we came back to the table after some fresh air with Ella somewhat calmer but still grumpy, waiting for her on the table was a brand new two-scoop ice cream! One of my friends had told the waitress of the tragic impact removing the ice-cream had had on Ella and she kindly replaced it.

It doesn't matter that it turned into gooey sludge again before she could finish it. Justice had been done!

I get so affected by seeing children - especially my own - cry over such things which seem totally trivial to an adult but about which I have childhood memories that vaguely remind me of how utterly heart-breaking such experiences are at that age.

I will never forget the time last year that we got to the ice cream stand at the markets when they were selling out on the last day they were there before the winter break. I had been promising Ella an ice cream and you can imagine my relief when I noticed they had about 2 small scoops left. I triumphantly ordered the girl to put these last 2 scoops of the season on a cone for my excited little girl. Only to then discover I did not have any money on me at all. I had to drag Ella away from the ice cream, with her screaming as if someone had just told her she was about to lose both her legs. And me feeling so bad for her, so empathising with her grief that I was nearly in tears too. I eventually bought her a very expensive and very posh adults ice cream from the deli that allowed me to pay by card.

Ella only had her first ice cream when she was nearly two. I didn't see any reason to give her that much sugar when she had no idea what she was missing out on anyway. But now - like most parents I can imagine - I fully enjoy the expression of pure joy this cold, unhealthy, brightly coloured snack can put on my daughter's face. They have an expression in Dutch: "A child's hand is easily filled" (E: Little things please little minds). And boy, do I enjoy filling it!

20 September 2007

Best friends


Photo by zseike.

Max is Ella's best friend at daycare.

Ella: Max always wants cuddles. He wants cuddles all day.

It's extremely cute. They have so much in common and yet are so different in some ways. Even if they don't even play together all that often apparantly, he is still the only child she absolutely has to say goodbye to (a goodbye cuddle) and daycare isn't the same if he's not there.

Warning: I won't take kindly to anyone who dares to call him her boyfriend let alone ask her herself if he is her boyfriend/if she has a boyfriend. He's her friend. He happens to be a boy. They're 2.

Though I am secretly happy that her best friend is a boy because I wouldn't like her to turn into a girly girl. He keeps her interested in boy's stuff, she encourages him to develop his more feminine side. Perfect!

19 September 2007

Love me all the time

We were walking home from the shop. We were at the stage where my patience was rapidly evaporating as it started to feel like our trip would take longer than Frodo's journey to Mordor, with Ella who kept changing her mind on whether to ride her bike or walk, kept stopping to pick up rocks or climb dirt mountains and completely ignored my attempts to spur her on.

Then suddenly as we we'd been walking along in silence for a couple of minutes I heard her ask: "Mum, do you love me all the time?"

I asked her to repeat it as I was convinced I'd misheard, but there it was again, clear as a bell:


"Mum, do you love me all the time?"

I knelt down to look her in the eyes and told her that of course I love her all the time, that I love her even when I am nagging, that I love her even when she is crying, that I love her also when she is asleep and when she isn't there. That I love her always and always and always.

Then I gave her a big hug, on the footpath with cars and people going past.

I still cannot believe that my 2 3/4 yo asked me this question! What made her think of this? What was going on in her head?

It was an easy question to answer though. And for once I did not mind stating the obvious at all.

18 September 2007

Power foods

At the dinner table tonight:

Ella: Mum, can I have some more fish?
Me: Wow, you're eating lots of fish. That's great. Fish is good for you. It makes you smart.

5 minutes later...

Ella: I have enough now.
Me: Ok.
Ella: I am smart.
Me: Oh, from eating the fish. Yes you are very smart.
Ella. Yes. And from eating the potatoes?
Me: Potatoes make you strong.
Ella: I am strong.
Like a man.
Or a lady. (The feminist in me breathed a sigh of relief at this point.)
Me: Yes you are strong.
Ella: I am not strong enough.
Not like a man.
Or a lady.

These foods are maybe not as powerful as I wanted to make her believe after all...

Show me the money

I bought Ella a toy sheep from a basket near the door of the post office today. She picked it from a range of different animals.

When we got home I let our dog Luna out of the backyard to greet us while Ella was getting out of the car and we had following conversation:

Ella: Look Luna, do you like my new sheep? I bought it.
Me: I bought it. I paid for it and then I gave it to you.
Ella: I got it out of the basket. Look Luna, it's my new sheep. I bought it.

Hm, a shoplifter in the making?

15 September 2007

Lectures

Ella: Mum, don't take so much tomato sauce.
Me: I can have as much tomato sauce as I like!
Ella: Ok, if you promise not to wipe your hands on your clothes.

She just repeated back to me what I had told her 5 minutes earlier. She does this all the time. I get lectures on why I am not allowed to go too near to the water (because then I'm gonna fall in and she won't be able to get me out, 'Ok, mum?'), lectures on why I should not tease the dog, or she generously advises me to claim my sticker when I do poos on the toilet because then I can get a Fredo when I have 5.

I truly am very glad that she remembers my advice, but I do feel slightly uncomfortable being lectured by someone who cannot even count to 20 yet.

14 September 2007

Stating the bleeding obvious

One of the effective parenting skills I am still training in is spelling everything out to my toddler. I keep forgetting to cover all the angles and possibilities.

Eg. I hear myself say things like:
- Ella, please don't touch the window with your dirty hands because then the lady from the restaurant will have to clean them.
- And also not with your feet.
- (Sigh) Also not with your tongue.

Fortunately there are only so many bodyparts you can touch a window with, though still more than you would expect. Toddlers are also incredibly inventive.
In other situations the options seem endless and I have to be really creative in how I phrase my instructions.

But in the end to me these detailed instructions can all be classified as "stating the bleeding obvious". Because very few things are obvious when you've only been an observer/participant on this planet for 2 3/4 years.

People stating the obvious is one of my pet hates. It comes across as extremely patronising and if there is one thing that makes me see red it is my intelligence being underestimated. Likewise I often skip steps when I present a rational argument to other adults, because I assume they can fill in the blanks themselves.

So now my biggest fear is that I will not be able to stop stating the obvious. I know many - too many - parents with adult children who never got out of the habit again. They are the kind of people that make me want to curl up under the table for a nap 3 sentences into the conversation. If I am not able to act on that urge - I am a polite person, I usually suppress such compulsions - my thoughts start to wander towards the self-harm or suicide option after approximately 30 minutes of listening to statements/observations that seem a total and utter waste of breath.

I pray that - now I have had to resort to becoming one of them when I talk to my daughter - I will manage to grow out of this habit again as she starts to get the hang of the obvious and learns to fill in the blanks for herself.

13 September 2007

Sad

Following conversation ensued after I got Ella to agree that I was the best mummy (not suggestive at all!) when we were having a drink with Ella's godmother G:

G: Am I the best G?
Ella: Noooo!
G: Why not?
Ella: You are sad G!
G: Why am I sad?
Ella: Because you are older than me.

It's probably good advice not to try fishing for compliments from my daughter when you feel a midlife crisis coming on.

11 September 2007

Indicator

Ella (from the back of the car): Mum, can you stop that little noise.
Me: That's the indicator, Ella, I have to use it.
Ella: Why?
Me: So other cars can see that our car is going to turn so they don't bump into us.
Ella: Can you stop that yellow thing, mum. It's making a noise.
Me: It's the indicator, Ella. I have to use it.
Ella: Why?
Me: So other cars can see that we are going to turn.
Ella: Thank you mum. Thank you for stopping the noise.
No, there is the noise again. Mum, stop that noise, it's annoying!

10 September 2007

Galloping grass

Ella: I'm going to tell a story, mum. It's gonna be a good story. Do you want to hear my story?
Me: I would love to hear your story.
Ella: It's a story about animals.
There's a cow [holds up one finger].
The cow runs away from the grass [holds up a second finger]. The grass is chasing the cow.
Me: Err... I did not know that grass could run? It doesn't have legs?
Ella: Ye-eah. The grass can hop and run and the grass is chasing the cow.

I love the way my daughter's limited grasp on language (any language - she's bilingual English-Dutch) can stimulate my own imagination. How cool is it to be confronted at the dinner table with this image of a panicky cow (most likely under the influence of some hallucinogenic drug or - as as colleague suggested - with a severe grass allergy) galloping away with a patch of prime turf on tiny little feet in close pursuit. Who needs mind expanding drugs when you have a 2yo to fill your mind with psychedelic images at no expense?

It took me quite a bit of associative thinking to figure out that she meant a 'grasshopper'.

Hold on tired

"Hold on tired" is one of those phrases my 2yo daughter Ella stubbornly resists correcting, despite hearing me repeat the proper phrase every time she says it. Every article on toddler taming will include the advice to "chose your battles", so I let this one go. And chose it as the title of my blog for reasons as yet unknown to my conscious mind.

My conscious mind (or should that read 'in rare times of consciousness'?) is also not quite sure yet why I started this blog. My friend G may have to answer that one. She is now obliged to read whatever I post here, because ultimately it was her idea!

For those who are not my friend and/or have no friggin idea who the hell I am and are still reading, a short introduction may be in order.

Name is Lin. That's not even my real name, as in not what's on my passport and similar official documents, but that's how everyone I associate with in my current country of residence knows me as.

Age is 37. Can't even think of anything to say about that. I don't really care about age. Do care somewhat about the effects of ageing, but I don't lie awake about it.

Have been in Australia for nearly 10 years. Expect a massive Australiana party on the 9th of December for the 10th anniversary of my arrival in Australia. The reasons why I came here are not important to this blog, which will mainly focus on my current role as a parent, which brings me to:

Ella. Born on 5 January 2005. Beautiful, cute, clever, communicative and intentionally and unintentionally very, very funny. Of course I realise that I am totally biased and that if she were the most ugly child in the Southern hemisphere, I would still think of her as an angel sent from heaven. And were it not for other people - often total strangers, passersby-s (sp?) - confirming at regular intervals my suspicion that my child has not only the gift of the gab, but is also cursed by good looks (I have to say cursed, I'm a feminist for god's sake, I'm not suppose to care about my daughter's appearance!), there'd be no way this (secretly) very proud mother would ever know how Ella rates on the universal beauty and cuteness scale.

The very open and impulsive admiration of outsiders directed towards Ella often makes me feel somewhat awkward. On the one hand it makes me feel like I am merely a shadowy blob at the edge of my daughter's blindingly bright aura. On the other, I never liked the limelight and don't know what to do with all this attention this little blond midget at my side attracts. There is no way I can compete with her when it comes to physical charm so I am constantly trying to guess if the admirers are secretly thinking: "How did this plane jane manage to produce such a beautiful child?" which makes me feel like a cheat. Admittedly it is a question I myself have been trying to answer for the past 2.5 years, but when I think it, it does not dent my self-esteem. On the contrary. It makes me feel like a powerful goddess capable of creating extraordinary beauty at will.

(Oh and not that the attention she attracts is purely because of physical features. She appears genuinely charming in every meaning of the word.)



I suspect this blog will end up consisting primarily of "Ella-stories". From the ones that crack me up through to the ones that involve me wanting to strangle her in Homeresque fashion.

If you are still reading, I hope you didn't find it a waste of your time. I hate wasting people's time! Which must be my cue to press that publish post button now.