20 December 2009


We went to an impromptu end of term party at the neighbours on Friday evening. There were only boys there apart from Ella, until some other neighbours arrived with their 6yo girl. Within 10 minutes it had turned into a war of the sexes! Which is always heaps of fun.

This is what Ella had to say about it the day after:

Ella - And we chased the boys away. And we said they were stinky! And they really were, mum! Especially one of the boys. He smelled like pie. Do you know why he smelled like pie? Because he dropped a pie on his head! And his clothes smelled like shower. Because he had a shower with his clothes on!

13 December 2009


Yesterday afternoon I was treated to a concert that lasted probably about 2 hours with Ella being the main (read: only) performer on the loungeroom stage. She was on the microphone (one of those $2 plastic mics that slightly reverberates) and wearing a hula skirt and a glittery head dress.

I was treated to hits that flirted with genres from country to punk-rock and were announced with titles such as:

"Everything is very fun and happy"
"Everything is going wrong"
"Everything is going good"
"Everyone is happy and laughing"
"The tree rabbit"
"I love you"

That was only a small selection! The enthusiastic announcer reassured her audience regularly that the concert would go on after a one minute lunch break and then it would go on until midnight, but there'd be a short break for dinner, and it wouldn't even stop at midnight, it would go on until morning.

I cheered and yelled "We love you Ella!" after each song for the first hour or maybe more but my enthusiasm slowly started to wane when she followed me into the kitchen when I started on dinner. By the time the steak started burning and the chips got too brown, I had to tell her I could no longer pay attention to her performance and cruelly foiled her singing marathon plans.

I wish I had filmed this because some of the lyrics were absolutely hilarious but I cannot remember them now.

18 November 2009

Venus and Mars

They say a picture says more than a thousand words. But sometimes no camera can capture the magic of a moment and it can only be framed in one's mind. This was one of those moments.

Since yesterday Ella had been asking me what "I love you" is in French. I told her about 50 times, she repeated "Je 't aime" about 100 times. She told me excitedly that she was going to tell Max, her best friend at daycare. He goes to French classes. She'd forgotten by the time he arrived yesterday morning, so this morning we practiced again. She finally found him in "the forest" this morning when I walked her in. I had to whisper "Je 't aime" in her ear a few more times. And then she ran off to where Max was playing.

Now the idea of her wanting to say "je 't aime" to Max was cute enough. But the picture that followed - which was not the romantic moment that we had expected - moved me even more for some reason.

As she ran towards Max, Ella was met by a group of 4 or 5 little boys doing what little boys do well. They greeted her with "stinky poo", they were banging the garage door with a stick horse and their fists, they were yelling, they were running wild and they acted like boisterous German Sheppard puppies.

And there she stood, as elegant as any being could be. Tall and slender, in her flowery dress to halfway down her calves, her delicate little feet in her pink sandals, her feminine purple hat that wouldn't completely look out of place at the Melbourne cup, her golden hair framing her pretty face. Whenever the boys came too close to her or reared one of their toys above her head, she'd raise a dainty hand in a graceful stop motion and turned her head away from the potential threat. But she did not back away. She held her ground with confidence. In this picture she seemed the embodiement of all that's different about boys and girls. My little Venus.

I don't think she ever did get a chance to say her "je 't aime" though.

07 November 2009


Ella got an information pack from the primary school. On a few pages it introduced all the key people like the principal, deputy principal etc. The introductions were all written in the same format and for each person it had the line "Ms X is your friend, she will help you at the school".

When I read that line for the second person, Ella interrupted and asked:

Ella - Why does it say that they will be my friend? Why can't I decide for myself if they're going to be my friend or not?

Ella - 1. School - 0

05 October 2009

One for the Dutch speakers only

In de supermarkt:

Ik - Die wortels zien er niet goed uit. Kom, we zullen jonge worteltjes kopen.
Ella - Nee, meisjes!

30 September 2009


Ella and I rode our bikes to the local shops yesterday. I had to park my bike to give her a push to start each time she had come to a stop but then she was going so fast that I had trouble catching up with her! She did a great job at pushing her bike across the grass and to cross the street too.

Then we got to the downhill path leading to the shops and I tried to convince her to
a) go down it, as she had never dared on her big bike and
b) do it without me pushing her into motion.

It was a long process and we ended up standing at the top of the path for quite a while - Ella straddling her bike and nervously looking down, me standing next to her trying to reassure her:

Me - The audience holds their breath as the daredevil prepares for her blood curdling stunt!
Ella - What's a daredevil?
Me - Someone who does stunts, like jumping over cars on a motorbike. The suspense is almost unbearable as the daredevil starts moving down the incredibly steep hill!
Ella - Oooooh. I won't be able to do it.
Me - Of course you will sweetie, just imagine it's your balance bike. You always used to go down here on your balance bike, remember? Just do the same. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, there she goes at the speed of light, down that hu-mon-gous-ly steeeep hill!

It actually took quite a bit more than those few lines to get her to finally coast down. I had to give up on trying to get her to start with one foot already on the pedal. She ended up just lifting her feet off the ground but did manage to get them both on the pedals (and pedal!) before she got to the bottom. Where she slowed herself down by dragging her feet on the pavement. (And I wonder how she gets all those scuff marks on the front of her shoes!)

Of course the crowd went absolutely wild! There were hugs, there were cheers, a standing ovation and passionate requests for a repeat performance. The daredevil gladly obliged. And this time even managed to use the brakes at the bottom!

We'll go there again today to perform the same stunt. Not just to give the audience - or the daredevil - an adrenaline hit. I am crossing my fingers it will actually help her to gain confidence and get the hang of starting herself on the bike on the flat too so I won't have to get off my bike to give her a push all the time!

20 September 2009

Duh moment #243

Ella and I were discussing the progress of our veggie patch project (in English as we had an English speaking guest):

Me - It will be so exciting to see the veggies appear on the plants, won't it?
Ella - Disappear.
Me - No, appear.
Ella - No, disappear.
Me - Appear. Disappear means to go away. Appear means we can start seeing them.
Ella - Appear is not a real word!
Me - Yes it is, miss dictionary. Do you want me to go get the dictionary?
Ella - What's a dictionary?
Me - "Woordenboek" (Dutch translation)
Ella - I can't read.


15 September 2009

Wanting to be little miss popular

When I took Ella to school on Monday morning, we were 20 minutes late. Her two best friends were having their morning tea at the outside table and started calling her name as we walked through the gate.

I had asked Ella to hold my car keys, as I had my hands full. When we reached her friends and I had off-loaded all her stuff, I went to get the car key out of her hand and she pulled it away from me. Her friends laughed and immediately started egging her on: "Run Ella, run!". So she ran... Away from me and up the play equipment, where she started dodging me when I came near.

Needless to say that I was not particularly in the mood to play games, being 20 minutes late already, and I am not known for my patience. So after she dodged me a few times - her friends still yelling "Run! Run!" - I threatened with taking some of her morning tea snacks away if she would not listen to me and give me the key. It was enough for me to start heading in the direction of her schoolbag to make her give in to me.

Very reluctantly though. I told her:

Me - You don't have to do everything your friends tell you to do, you know.
Ella [teary] - But mu-um, I want to be funny to my friends!
Me - Everbody wants to be funny to their friends, sweetie. But not if it is going to annoy other people.

From a very early age, Ella showed great loyalty towards her friends. I have always found it very cute, but I know there are going to be downsides to this trait. And this little snapshot was a perfect demonstration of what I might expect in that area. I can only hope that her common sense will override this strong urge to entertain and appease her friends at some point!

10 September 2009


I have been trying to explain to Ella what sarcasm means. Not sure why. Probably because I thoroughly enjoy using it on her sometimes. It calms me down when my blood pressure starts shooting up. Anyway, so I suppose I thought it was only fair to explain to her what sarcasm meant. And I enjoy explaining difficult concepts to her. It's challenging and often very funny too.

For the sake of simplicity, I'd told her that sarcasm is when you say the opposite of what you mean. That resulted in this conversation in our hostel room in Sydney last week (of which I can only remember a small part):

Ella - There's NO pictures on the wall. Sarcasm!
Me - No, that's not sarcasm.
Ella - I'm NOT wearing a t-shirt. Sarcasm!
Me - Err, no.
Ella - There's NO bed. Sarcasm!
Me - No, I think sarcasm is usually a bit mean actually.
Ella - You're going to die soon. Sarcasm!
Me - No, that's just mean, but not funny.
Ella - A dinosaur is going to eat you. Sarcasm!
Me - No.
Ella - Oh, but I want to do sarcasm! What is it then, mum?
Me - Err, I really don't know how to explain it. I'll have to look it up in the dictionary when we get home.

I had a friend text me the dictionary definition later that day, and explained to Ella that sarcasm involved mocking someone, but by then she was a bit over it. And I had also started wondering if it was at all appropriate for four year olds to be using sarcasm anyway.


Eating pork for dinner:

Ella - I'm going to eat some fat.
Me - That's ok, you can use some more fat.
Ella - Is fat good for you?
Me - I heard that kids need some fat to make their brains grow. But if you eat too much fat, you'll just get fat.
Ella - Fat like in The Biggest Loser?
Me - Yes, and then you'll have to go on The Biggest Loser to become slim again!

Did I ever mention she loved that show when it was on? I still don't know why...

I also have a video somewhere, filmed last summer I think, of her explaining that her fairy barbie has magic that makes fat come off people so they can eat what they want. We're going to be rich, rich! Though I think that might have been the fairy barbie that accidentally lost it's wings at a friend's place the other day. Just my luck!

01 September 2009

The long answer

Tonight as I said goodnight to Ella, she was looking at me with a sort of blank expression.

Me - Why are you looking so serious?
Ella - Mum, this is actually how my face is. Because if I smile that's not how it is. If I smile, see [flashes a quick smile]... and then it goes like this [looking serious again]. And this is actually my normal face.
Me - That's fair enough, sweetie. Goodnight.

31 August 2009

The perfect pet

Ella - Oh look mum, I found a slater! (See: http://www.ento.csiro.au/education/allies/isopoda.html)
Me - Hm, I've never been fond of slaters.
Ella - Oh mum, can I keep him as a pet?
Me - Sure, if you promise you'll look after him.

So we put him in a take-away container and she added some grass and twigs. She'll check him now and then - gives the container a bit of a shake to seperate him from the grass.

And today she asked me to look on the internet to find out what they eat: decaying vegetable matter. Sweeeet! She's now adding some of the veggies from our fridge that are past their use by date to his habitat.

29 August 2009


Things I never thought I'd hear my 4yo say:

Ella [holding the adorable 12 week old pup we are minding] - Looking after a pup is not easy!

Ella - Can I clean the oven please, mum?

A joking reply that actually made laugh:

Godmother - We had a lovely time.
Ella - Why did you have a lovely time?
Godmother - Because Fred is rather lovely, don't you think?
Ella - Yeah... in a skirt!

And just classic 4yo Ella:

Ella - I'm trying to lock the door.
Me - Why do you want to lock the door.
Ella - So thieves can't come in... without knocking.

24 August 2009


The parents of one of Ella's preschool friends own the local fish and chips shop. She sometimes gets to pay her a quick visit if she's in the area after school.

Me - Ella, whenever you mention Elle, you only ever talk about the lollies you get when you go visit her. You wouldn't want her to think that you only like her because of the lollies, do you? Because that would be rather rude.
Ella - Mu-um! I don't just go visit her because of the lollies. Yesterday her mum gave us an ice cream!

I give up.

18 August 2009

The grumpy old woman and the normal teens

This morning I was driving driving Ella to daycare when we came to the corner of a street that is a popular shortcut for commuters. It is also the route from the bus stop to the nearby high school. And this morning was not the first time that I saw some of these teenagers - hands in pockets, headphones in, eyes fixed somewhere on their feet - step onto the road to cross at the corner without checking for cars turning into the street.

Me - Ah, the arrogance of youth.
Ella - Why did you say that?
Me [laughing] - Because I'm a grumpy old woman.
Ella - No, you're not.
Me - Yes I am. I am a grumpy old woman.
Ella - Na-ah. You're not.
Me - I said that because those teenagers crossed the road without looking for cars. What a silly thing to do, isn't it? Don't they know that they could easily die if they don't look when they cross the road? Teenagers can be a bit strange like that. It's as if they just never think about danger.
Ella - I will always look before I cross the road.
Me - That pleases me so much to hear you say that!
Ella - And I will not be a normal teenager, you know.
Me - That pleases me too!

If only. I'm sure when I was younger, I used to say I would never turn into a grumpy old woman too.

04 August 2009

Casual remarks

Sometimes I love listening to Ella talking to herself or her toys in play. I have to say sometimes, because other times I find it downright annoying when she's sitting right next to me and her 'characters' are going a bit wild and I cannot hear myself think.

Today I wasn't really paying much attention when she was playing with the fridge magnets and making them talk while I was cooking. Until I heard her say:

Ella - I promise I'm going to kill my mum.
Me [laughing but trying to sound indignant] - Pardon me?!
Ella - Mu-um! That means she's not going to kill her mum.
(She gets quite annoyed when I laugh at her play voices.)

You really do wonder what goes on in their head. Should I be scared?


I keep lots of Ella's artworks, but as she does more and more of it at school and daycare, I must say that some of them don't even get a proper look but end up straight in the recycling. I'm talking about tissue boxes with paddle pop sticks glued to them or pages with a couple of lines of paint in a non-descript colour.

But I love Ella's drawings. And especially her drawings of animals. The detail in them is quite striking. Without anyone showing her how to draw these, she has a talent for depicting the one or two characteristics that make them immediately recognisable. Which to be honest, is already more than I manage to achieve usually.

Like the jelly fish in this one. (And the cat is probably better than the ones I draw!)

The duck is also a classic example. I adore it's simplicity and those big feet.

Note the "fairy mermaids" in the above pictures. They used to resemble her barbie mermaid when she started copying that onto paper which I thought was rather clever. But I'll leave it up to your imagination to decide what these more stylised versions she tends to draw these days resemble.

The bat (the finished one) would be amongst my faves too. I doubt she's ever seen a picture of a bat, but this has such a cartoon quality about it. This is the bookmark she made for when we read her chapter books every night. There are no bats in the book...

But this is my absolute favourite! I found it in her pigeon hole at daycare and my reaction was (quite genuine too): "Oh, what beautiful cats!" To which she responded immediately: "Mu-um! They're not cats! They're flying foxes!" after which she pointed out the tiny wings on their necks or backs. Hahaha! I love their fluffy feet too. They're delightfully surreal.

As she has always loved drawing, I have bought books on teaching kids how to draw. It explains step by step how to draw a cat, a horse, a boat... But I am very reluctant to use them as I am enjoying this phase of her drawing way too much and don't want it to ever change!

02 August 2009

Caught out

I was 3 minutes late dropping Ella off at school this morning, so all the kids were already sitting down on the floor listening to the teacher reading them a book. Ella quickly went to sit down at the back of the group while I re-tied her pony tail.

As I was doing that the teacher - who was reading a book about a pigeon - said: "He was the kind of pigeon who would sulk and pout if he didn't get what he wanted. Do you ever do that, sulk and pout when you don't get what you want?"

And one lonely voice said - without any hesitation or doubt: "No."

It was Ella's and of course I couldn't control the laugh that escaped my throat. The teacher and assistant laughed too and Ella got all embarassed saying "mu-um!" so I had to apologise for laughing.

It was just so funny that she would be the only one in the group to deny ever sulking, being the only one with her mother there right behind her!

28 July 2009

A new level of mean

I'm sure I'm not the only parent who despairs at their kids - at least those who have learnt to adequately express themselves and who show some ability to think rationally - apparently considering crying as an adequate response to any problem they encounter. It drives me nuts sometimes! And I have less and less patience for it as Ella grows older.

When I found Ella in tears last night when I returned from doing something outside, I first thought something "serious" had happened. Something that I should have been there for, right near her. You can hear the guilt process starting, can't you. So when I finally managed to decipher her sob-soaked explanation and realised that she was only crying because the computer she was playing a game on "did something wrong", I was NOT happy. I quickly decided that for once I did not want to resort to speaking angrily, or yet again trying to explain to her that crying never fixes anything, that every problem has a solution and that crying prevents us from thinking straight and therefor coming up with an effective course of action; only for her to then defend herself with the standard "but I forgot". No, it was time again for a dose of sarcasm. Not in the least because it makes ME feel better.

So my response to Ella's crying over her computer game disappearing was to say - in a sugar-sweet voice: "Oh! Did the naughty computer make you cry? I can fix that right away". I walked over to the computer, sat down and... switched it off. "There, the naughty computer has gone to sleep and can not make you cry anymore."

I must say that the reaction I got from her was not as strong as I'd expected. I think she was too stunned. I also believe that - after initially thinking that I really totally misunderstood her (oh how ignorant grown-ups can be!) - she recognised my twisted version of the natural consequences tactic.

The end does justify the means sometimes. With the stress on mean mum.

12 July 2009


Me - Did you check the freezer door to find an icy pole?
Ella - No icy poles here, mum. Mum, I'm thirsty. And there's a bottle of frozen water here. I'm going to drink some nice cold water.
Me - NO! That's vodka!

11 July 2009

Random conversations

Me - I can't do that that fast, Ella. I'm not a machine!
Ella - Oh, but I wish you could turn into a machine!


Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes, Ella.
Ella - I can't decide who I'm gonna marry.
Me - That's ok. You're way too young to marry anyway.
Ella - But you'll have to write it up. (she means 'write down', it's a Dutch-ism)
Me - Write down what?
Ella - Who I'm gonna marry. So you can read it, no I can read it when I'm growed up so I know who I'm gonna marry.
Me - You don't have to decide now, you know. Why don't you just decide when you're old enough to marry? Is that a good idea?
Ella - Ok.

02 July 2009

Princess emancipation

This morning when I dropped Ella off at daycare, we spotted the new puppets that had just arrived. There were the usual suspects: princess, prince, dragon, knight...

Ella picked up the princess, so I picked up the dragon and made it say: "I'm going to eat you, princess!". Next I picked up the prince and said: "I'll save you princess."

To which Ella casually replied: "You don't need to." and carried the princess a safe distance away from both dragon and prince.

Go girl! I am pretty sure this was somehow related to Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree books that we're reading at the moment. I felt obliged to have a talk to her about the constant mention of the girls needing to be looked after by the boys. Even if the boys are younger than them. I tried to explain to Ella that the book was old-fashioned and that we of course know that girls can look after themselves just as well as boys can. I'm glad she embraced that thought and doesn't get influenced by the stereotypical view of girls/women being the weaker sex!

17 June 2009

Random conversations

Driving off from daycare yesterday:
Me - I'm really not all that happy about you lending two of your new bakugan to your friends. Now you only have one left to play with until next week.
Ella - It's alright, mum. My blue bakugan says that I should play with him more anyway.

On the bike this morning:
Ella - Bonjo means hello.
Me - Do you mean bongiorno?
Ella - No, bonjo.
Me - In what language?
Ella - In French. Max told me that.
Me - Ah, bonjour!
Ella - Max goes to French lesson.
Me - I didn't know Max's parents were French?
Ella - Mu-um! His dad has black hair! That's why he's French.

This morning after getting ready for daycare/work:
Me - Look at you, all in purple. Look in the mirror Ella, do you like it?
Ella - I do. And you know mum, I changed my mind when I just looked at you. I now like brown too.

Knowing how much she dislikes/d brown, that definitely is the nicest compliment on my outfit I ever got!

15 June 2009


We were playing Cranium last night with some friends. Part of the game is when one team member has to act out, sculpt or draw the word that's on one of the game cards and the other has to guess what it is. Ella was on Greer's team and was sitting on her lap when Greer picked a card and brought it closer to her face to read it.

Ella [turning her face away from the card] - Oh, I am not allowed to see the card.
Ella [repostioning herself] - Oh, I can't read, I forgot.

31 May 2009


At a dinner party on Saturday night, someone told me they thought I was a fantastic mother.

I'm not very good at accepting compliments.

And just to demonstrate that, I spent most of my Sunday being the absolute worst mother I could be.

When I tried to make up for some of the damage done when I put Ella to bed, I suggested that my behaviour really deserved having stickers taken away. I asked her how many stickers she thought should be taken from me. She said - still with a serious face: "One". I really do think she inherited the too-nice gene! When I offered that I thought my behaviour justified having 3 stickers taken away, I finally got a smile when she said: "Ok, 3 then."

I'm not sure why I seem to have lost ALL my patience suddenly. I do know that the only way to deal with this until it passes is to avoid stress. So we are eating food prepared earlier for the rest of the week and if we do happen run out of clean undies, I'll just go and buy some more! My focus will be on making our time together quality time and stuff all the rest. If I can compete with the Mamma Mia DVD, that is.

29 May 2009

Jumping to conclusions

We walked to the local shops today to buy some necessities and Ella was wearing her new purple fairy wings over her coat.

This was the conversation as we walked back:

Ella - Noone said my fairy wings were beautiful!
Me - Maybe they didn't say anything because they don't know you.
Ella - Maybe they were shy?
Me - Yeah. Some people probably thought that they were beatfiul but they didn't dare to say anything.
Ella - Because they thinked that I'm a bad kid who left her gun at home?
Me - [laughter - couldn't think of anything to reply to that]

27 May 2009

That'll teach those baddies!

Ella fell over the other day when we were racing to see who could get inside first at daycare. It resulted in a nice bruise right next to her eye. The following day we had this conversation in the car.

Ella - Mum, my eye hurts when I close both my eyes. When I close both my eyes my eye hurts where I falled.
Me - Oh, that's no good. I hope it feels better very soon.
Ella - And it's not funny.
Me - No, it's not funny having pain.
Ella - Baddies think it's funny.
Me - Yeah, baddies think it's funny when people hurt.
Ella - And that's not nice, is it?
Me - No, not nice at all.
Ella - We don't do that.
Me - No, we try to be nice to other people. And when you're nice to other people there's a bigger chance that other people will be nice to you.
Ella - Yeah.
Me - Because we don't really want to be nice to baddies, do we?
Ella - No. We can say we love them. But then we don't love them.
Me - Err, yeah?
Ella - And not be scared when they say boo. They hate that, when you're not scared when they say boo. And that's ok, isn't it. Because they're baddies.

Not a very effective strategy from a criminal justice system perspective maybe. But I'm so happy that that is the worst version of 'not being nice to someone' that she can come up with at this stage.

Just an update

I've been slack with updating the blog...

Things are going well for Ella at daycare and even better at school. She will still tell everyone who asks that the thing she likes best at school is that (all together now) "they letted us choose if we want to play inside or outside". I tell you, the teacher is more cunning than I could ever be. The inside/outside play is pretty much the ONLY choice she will let them make and they are forever grateful for it and she is the nicest teacher in the whole wide world. The thought that she can choose if she plays inside or outside at home every single day never occurred to her. Hehe.

But the most cunning plot is the "Dead Donkeys game". Ella told me last week that she wanted to finish her wrap at lunchtime, but she couldn't because she wanted to play Dead Donkeys.

The game goes as follows (Ella's description):

You have to lie down on the floor.
You must not wiggle or move.
If you move you have to sit up.
Who doesn't move gets a clap.

I've always called it rest time, which is a really, really silly name for the Dead Donkeys game I realise now!

Anyway, I'm sure this is not the first time I will be amazed at what Ella will do in school which she would never do for me at home and it's how it should be. She has more important things to do at school than to engage in endless negotiations and battles about the nitty gritty. That's what home is for, not?

But today I dropped her off at daycare. And she was feeling very sorry for herself because she has a cold. I told her about 5 times this morning that if she was really sick she could go to bed and stay there, if she didn't then I did not want to hear anymore whingeing about feeling sick. I got told 5 times that I should really, really try to be nicer to her. I replied 5 times that it's not my job to be nice. The socially unattractive quality of self-pity got mentioned a few times too. I hope tomorrow morning will be a more harmonious one. And it may be time for me to revisit the chapter on teaching empathy by example in my book on teaching kids values?

And today or tomorrow we will hopefully finally meet Ella's godmother's Canadian love, Fred, for the first time. I jokingly suggested to Ella that we'd heard so much about him, but we'd never seen him, so what if he wasn't actually real? Ella replied: "I believe in Fred. [pause] But I don't believe in god."


12 May 2009

Little rewards

It so pleases me to hear Ella say 'thankyou' spontaneously to other people now.

It's quite ridiculous that I should feel so pleased by it. Objectively, the success rate of my strategy is appalling by all standards. I must have repeated the "say thankyou" phrase to her about 2000 times since she started talking 3 years ago. The first 2 years I probably would not have observed any result at all. If an abominable success rate like that were to happen in a different situation, I'd be declared insane for sticking to this. It definitely makes me seem obsessive. After about 2 years I started seeing a result probably after every 20 times of prompting and that success rate has since been hardly noticeably increasing.

In contrast, the "say please" success rate was significantly higher, faster because it enabled me to use a more effective strategy. For the 'thankyou'-sayer there is no direct reward of note. A smile in return at most. At least 'please' you say before you get something. And if the giver is a parent, they may very well decide not to give you this something at all until you say that magic word. If they are mean, they won't even prompt you. They will at most mumble something like "hm, interesting" when you ask for something and ignore you until you've managed to figure out that they won't react until you add the word 'please' to your request.

More effective indeed. I hardly ever have to prompt Ella to say 'please' anymore. Which pleases me too - pardon the pun. But then again the 'thankyou' is more of a victory just because of the absence of a direct reward and it only making sense in the context of cultural rules and traditions. A very abstract and complex principle for a 4yo to grasp. Yet therein lies the basis of understanding one's culture and the need to show consideration to others and one's heritage by following social conventions and traditions that have a history and a meaning that originated generations ago.

Fascinating topic! Definitely more interesting writing about it than repeating "say thankyou" 2000 times.

11 May 2009

Precious moments

Last night I woke up to the sound of Ella crying in her sleep. I went to check and saw she'd kicked her doonah off. So I covered her again and watched her snuggle into the doonah and relax.

It reminded me very strongly of those moments when she used to cry in her sleep as a baby. That baby stage when we'd had our routines down pat and crying after dark didn't make my body tense up in anticipation of more sleep deprivation any longer.

I remember those moments when she cried and I went over to the cot and just put my hand on her head or chest and shhhh-d and whispered to her and she'd immediately relax and fall back into a deep sleep. I remember them as very happy moments. Moments when there was no past or future, just the now and it felt like the whole universe had worked together to put me there and then, next to that cot with the sleeping baby for my touch and my voice to reassure her back to sleep. Those moments left no room for existential questions. I just was, there and then and wished for nothing more.

I think most parents would know what I'm talking about. And they will also understand the disclaimer I will now add for those who are not parents.

Those are rare moments in the life of a parent and a stark contrast to the majority of the time when you wonder what the bloody hell you are doing and why the universe has sent you this child who won't do as you want her to! Endless cycles of trial and error (lots of error) and doubting your abilities and despairing about whether you can keep coping with the thanklessness of it all.

But - corny as it may sound - those rare serene moments are ample repayment for the rest of the time.

05 May 2009

Empowerment and resilience: the bully

I am Lin and I am not a perfect parent.

I could write a book about my shortcomings as a parent. There'd be chapters about having a short fuse and expecting too much from a 4yo and quite a few chapters on being a lousy role model on so many levels.

But I also know that there are some very important things that I am doing right. I could probably classify them as boundaries, consistency and values.

I teach my child responsibility for her actions and their consequences. Good and bad.
One of the things that she hears me say very often is: "It is not my job to be nice. It is my job to be fair and to make sure you become a good person."
And I am confident that by now she is starting to have a good idea of what "being a good person" actually means and which behaviours go with it.

So when I found out about the behaviour of her so called best friend at daycare, I was quite upset.

The story evolved somewhat like this.

Ella started going to this daycare (TH) about 2 years ago. After a while, she seemed to have really bonded with 2 girls: Chloe and Pamela (not their real names). They were the 3 musketeers and very cute together. They both came to her 3rd birthday party. Which was the last time Ella saw Chloe as she changed daycare centres after those holidays. Up until this day Ella will still mention her when she talks about who to invite to her next birthday party. She is naturally very loyal to her friends, which I think is a good trait in principle.


Ella and Pamela became best friends after Chloe left. Pamela only stopped throwing tantrums about having to go to daycare when she was reassured that Ella would be there. Again, I thought their friendship was cute and encouraged it by talking about Pamela as Ella's best friend.

Ella started to very regularly come home with stories of Pamela physically hurting her. "She hit me, she kicked me, she snatched something from me, she pinched me." I was there the first time Pamela bit her. They were arguing over who got to pick up a lady beetle they found. I actually closed the door on them as I went inside to gather Ella's stuff because I really do believe in trying to let kids solve their own problems. Then I heard a shriek and Ella crying loudly. I opened the door and there was Ella with a beauty of a bite mark on her upper arm. Pamela was made to apologise. She bit her again a few weeks later.

I didn't really think much of this. My child happens to be unable to hurt someone deliberately even if her life depended on it. That's partially because 'hurting others' is one of the unacceptable behaviours that always get followed by immediate consequences at our home. But I do realise that it is partially in her genes to. She is generally a gentle natured child. However, I told myself that it was not because my child did not exhibit behaviour like that, that it could not be common behaviour for a 4yo and a stage lots of kids go through at that age. Pamela's mother also convinced me that it had something to do with Pamela having a sibling at home, and I cannot judge how sibling rivalry affects kids at that age.

I also know that Ella is a bit of a cry-baby when it comes to physical pain. More so than other kids I've observed. I think maybe secretly I thought that her being subjected to Pamela physically expressing her frustrations would toughen her up a bit?

Ella is also a bit of a drama queen and loves dwelling on hurt feelings and such. She loves to exaggerate also - like probably most kids her age - and has a vivid imagination. It is often hard to know what part of her stories is reality and what part is - maybe not necessarily fiction, but "embellished reality."

So I was rather dismissive of the stories Ella told me so regularly about Pamela hurting her. At most, I would tell her that she should just walk away when another child hurt her, but I never made a big deal out of it.

I also knew that Pamela was a very bossy child. I had observed this on several occasions and Ella had regularly made casual remarks about Pamela always wanting to be the leader and make the rules.

I did not see this as a problem as such either. There always have to be leaders and followers and I do not have a problem with my child being one of the latter. I have also observed Ella bossing other kids around and as long as the other kids seem to be ok with their role, I do not see any need to interfere.

I remember a carer once telling me that Ella was learning to "stand up to Pamela". That she would say no to her more and walk away.

And when I expressed concern about Pamela going overseas for a few months and how Ella would cope without her best friend a carer told me that she thought it was probably a good thing for Ella. I remember she was very hesitant to explain herself and I didn't push her for more info.

So far the lead-up to recent events. The following is my explanation of how I came to the conclusion that Pamela is a bully. A classic bully.

A few weeks ago I picked Ella up from daycare and I watched her find a christmas beetle and pick it up to let it crawl on her hand. Pamela was in hot pursuit demanding to hold the beetle too. Ella ignored her, focused on her little creepy crawly friend instead. Then I heard Pamela say: "Ella, you can't come to my party at [indoor playground]". I knew that Pamela's birthday was still months away and I was pretty sure that her parents would not organise it at [indoor playground]. So I asked Pamela why she had said that and she replied: "Because Ella won't let me hold the beetle." I gave her a right lecture about that being no way to speak to your friends and that you should not say mean things just because you cannot have what you want.

I decided that that was classic bully behaviour. I casually mentioned it to her mother a little while later and got a vague response about it being their (the parents') fault because they negotiated with the kids at home - in a "if you don't do this, I'll do that" way - and they were just transposing this method to daycare. That reply puzzles me now. All parents 'negotiate' with their kids in that way. Very one-sided negotiations in our household, but how on earth would you ever be able to get your kids to comply with the house rules and stamp out unacceptable behaviour without doing this? I do it all the time, yet I have never heard my child use threats to other children - or adults for that matter - if she doesn't get her way because of this.

Similar stories trickled in. "I gave my mermaid to Pamela. I didn't want to because I made it for you, but she said that I couldn't come to her birthday party if I didn't give it to her."

And last night, the conversation that made me see the light, started with Ella's reaction to me saying that she didn't have to always play with Pamela if she didn't want to. I cannot remember how we got onto that topic at all, but I remember how it progressed. Ella said: "Pamela said that if I didn't play with her then, then I could never, ever play with her again." By now I was not as defensive of Pamela as I had been before, having seen her coercion techniques for myself and Ella's recent examples of similar events. I told Ella that it sounded like Pamela was trying to hurt her with words to make her do what she wanted. That it was quite clear to me that Pamela had learnt that if she physically hurt her, she would get punished by the carers. She'd have to go sit on the step - the standard punishment for such offenses. And that therefor she was trying to hurt Ella with words because she knew that she wouldn't get punished for that.

And then came the truth that gave me a big shock and finally made all the pieces of the puzzle come together. It requires me taking you back in time to a few weeks ago when I parked the car at daycare one morning and Ella sighed: "I wish I would not get punished at daycare today." I was taken aback. She'd never mentioned punishment before. And the way she said it, it sounded like she wasn't sure about how to avoid it. I had a chat to her about rules and concluded that maybe Ella didn't know the rules very well. Made more likely because she had had 2 new room leaders in the few months leading up to this. I told myself I'd go and have a chat to her room leader about spelling the rules out to Ella so she wouldn't get punished for breaking rules she may not have been aware of or didn't understand.

The next morning I broached the subject with Ella again, trying to gather as much information as possible in preparation of my chat to the carer. Ella ended up completely retracting the claim that she'd ever been punished! I was baffled. I had to tell myself that getting the truth out of this child was like getting blood out of a stone and that I did not have any facts to confront the teacher with and should therefor let it be.

Ever since that day Ella has expressed resentment at going to daycare quite regularly. She will even say "I hate going to daycare". I had never even heard her use the word hate before! And she has always loved going to daycare.

Fast forward again to last night. Because we were talking so openly about Pamela and her treatment of Ella and I was making it very clear that I thought Pamela's behaviour was unacceptable and encouraging Ella to tell me all without having to fear me being dismissive or worse, defensive about it, I finally found out the truth about that day when she got punished.

It turns out that Pamela went to "jokingly" (Ella's words) tell a carer that Ella had hit her and Ella had to go sit on the step. Again it was because Ella had not wanted to do what Pamela wanted. I was shocked because a) a child that age could be so sneaky and display such premeditated tactics to exert power over another child and b) because the carer involved has known both children for nearly 2 years now and should damn well know that my child has never hit another child and that Pamela is prone to lying.

This morning I found out that this actually happened twice in one day with 2 different carers who have known Ella and Pamela since they were 2.

Suddenly I could see the whole picture. My child is not just a bit over-sensitive. This is not normal (and most definitely not acceptable) behaviour for 4 year olds. This goes way beyond just being bossy. My child is being bullied. She has been bullied for over a year. I have refused to see it, I have been dismissive when she voiced her concerns, I have failed my duty to protect her.

So I had a long talk to Ella about what bullying is, possible reasons why kids become bullies (in this case: Pamela is worried that she will not have any friends to play with if she doesn't make them play with her by hurting them if they don't) and that none of this is Ella's fault in any way. But the hardest thing to have to tell her was that noone can solve this problem for her. That it is incredibly unfair that it has become her problem, as it is not her fault. But that the only person who can change the situation is her. By standing up to Pamela and not giving into her when she is mean to her. By telling Pamela when she tries to hurt her with words: "I do not care. I will not do what you say when you are mean to me" and walk away. By telling Pamela that you do not make friends by making them play with you; that you can only make friend by being nice and by being the kind of child that you would want to play with yourself. It is infuriating that I have to tell my child to "educate" another child in basic values in order to defend herself. But I realise that there is no other way. The bully has become more sneaky and has found ways to coerce Ella into doing what she wants whilst avoiding detection and punishment. Ella must have felt so alone in this. And then I have to tell her that she really is alone when it comes to fixing it! But at least now she is not alone in recognising the problem and how serious this is. I will support her all the way. I will listen to her, take her concerns seriously, discuss possible solutions and help her gain confidence in techniques that will help her stand up to her bully.

I am quite upset about this, as you can tell from my long and detailed rant. I blame myself for not acknowledging the problem before. I worry about my sweet natured child leaving herself open to attacks from bullies.

But I have to focus on the positives.

It has prompted me to arm her with the knowledge and skills she needs to defend herself in such a situation. It's a harsh lesson in life for a 4yo, but one better learnt young than old.

And I felt so incredibly proud of my child when I told her yesterday that if ever something like the being falsely accused happens again, she can always tell me because even if noone else believes her, I always, always will. I felt proud because I could say that with the confidence that I can trust her to tell me the truth. Not that she never lies, all kids that age do, I'm pretty sure, but I trust her to tell me the truth about things that really matter (also about the little things if I insist long enough). And of course I feel proud that my child has never deliberately hurt another child (to my knowledge). She may be bossy, but she is not and will very unlikely ever be a bully. She shows all the proof of having some pretty strong values already and she lives by them (most of the time). I am so proud to be her mum.

28 April 2009


We watched a few minutes of the ANZAC Day parade on TV last Saturday. I explained to Ella that they were marching to remember all the soldiers who died while they were fighting in the war to protect our country.

She watched for a minute and then asked: "When are they going to start fighting?"


We watched the last episode of The Biggest Loser (Ella loves it for some reason). I told her that one of the contestants lost 1/3 of his body weight.

Ella - What is 1/3?
Me - Err... if you would cut him in 3 pieces, then 1/3 is one of those pieces. That's how much weight he has lost.
Ella - Are they going to cut him into pieces now?

TV would be a lot more interesting if 4 year olds wrote the shows.

23 April 2009

D'uh moment: 234-235

Ella loves talking on the phone, but sometimes doesn't quite get the courtesy questions people ask her, which resulted in a few "d'uh moments" recently.

When she and her godmother were discussing the details of her 5th birthday party - which after all is only about 8 months away - and they'd covered the dress code and decorations:

Godmother - And what are you going to do for the cake, Ella?
Ella - Eat it.


When she came on the phone when I called her grandmother who was minding her for the day:

Me - Hi Ella. What are you doing?
Ella - Talking to you.



This morning when I said goodbye to Ella at daycare at the gate.

Ella - Mum, I wish we didn't have to work to get money.
Me - That's just how it is, sweetie.
Ella - Actually, I wish we didn't need money to pay for anything. I wish everything was free.

She and I and only most of the population! Or is she a communist in the making?

14 April 2009

Happy days

We spent the Easter weekend at a friend's folks' place near Wyong on the Central Coast. We all had a good time, enjoyed the warmer weather (especially the mornings) and the humidity made a nice change too.

We did make "a bit" of a detour getting there when Googlemaps let me down for the first time ever by calling the road from Sydney to Newcastle by another name than what was on the sign at the turn-off. So before I knew it, we were driving over Sydney Harbour Bridge. I'd never driven in Sydney before so I was very excited about it - albeit a tad worried that we'd never get out of Sydney again and to our destination. Ella was well impressed too. She called it Bindi's bridge (as in Steve Irwin's daughter). Claimed that Bindi lived there. Couldnt' see the connection, but what do I know. She told everyone at our destination that we'd driven over Sydney Harbour Bridge, but the embarassment was cancelled out by my pride at not panicking driving through the big smoke.

Ella definitely had a ball. My friend's three year old nephew spent lots of time with us and Ella and him got on like a house on fire. Which surprised me at first, because she has shown signs of being ageist and sexist before. But something clicked and they laughed a lot, invented games and role-played. I especially enjoyed watching the game which involved one of them sitting in a plastic car and the other pulling it back a meter or so and then crashing it into the wall. I hope the wall didn't suffer any damage. They thought it was hilarious and it kept them getting fits of laughter for ages.

They also played superheroes ("We are going to save the day! We will save the world! Is anyone in trouble? We'll save you!) and dragons, got pulled sitting together on the billy cart when we went for a walk with the dog and did lots of climbing too. We were all moved by seeing her teach her little friend to climb down from the roof of the playgym. She guided his leg to the ledge she had used as support. Which prompted me to immediately warn her not to pull him off. It's hard not to see the worst case scenarios in situations like that sometimes.

Of course it did result in episodes of being overexcited. During one of those Ella came over to me with her little friend in tow while I was in the middle of a conversation and stood next to my chair yelling at the top of her voice: "MUM! Listen to me! Listen to me NOW! I NEED TO TALK TO YOOOOUUUUU!" So I turned to her and said in a no-nonsense voice: "Ella, you WILL not talk to me like that. You can go away and come back when you can be polite and talk to me in a nice voice".

After which Ella left promptly with friend and as she walked off I heard her say to him very casually: "She's not nice. C'mon." I shouldn't really find that funny but it totally cracked me up.

Easter Sunday was fun. Because I would not risk the local wildlife eating all the easter eggs overnight and Ella and I woke up at the same time, I had to be sneaky about the whole thing and could not mention the Easter bunny to Ella when we got up. She forgot luckily. I finally managed to get her to agree to go play in the front of the house, while I quickly hid the easter eggs in the backyard. I then placed one little easter egg on the top step of the stairs that led down to the yard and another one on the bottom post. I insisted on playing our game of Monopoly downstairs and urged her to watch very carefull where she stepped (Ella - Why?, Me- Why do you think?, Ella - So I don't trip and fall?, Me - Exactly.) after which she discovered the Easter egg and realised the Easter bunny had been. She told everyone that "we" forgot about Easter and that "we saw a little Easter egg at the top of the stairs, which was a very silly place for the Easter Bunny to put it, because you can see it straight away when you walk down the stairs". Very cute.

We also went to The Entrance which is a tourist paradise with rides for the kids, a paddle pool with fountains and multi-coloured sculptures and show bag stalls. Ella told me a couple of times that it was "the best day ever". Her face when she got in the pool - in her undies as I forgot her swimmers - and was watching the way too many kids climbing on the sculptures and playing with/in the fountains was just priceless. It seemed to say "I cannot believe my eyes!" so clearly.

We went back - just the 2 of us - before we drove home and I endulged her by letting her go on 2 rides, 2 jumping castles and buying her a show bag and an ice cream. Then we drove home - a 4.5 hour drive. When we got home she told me she was so happy because it had been such a happy day and she actually got teary while she said it! Aww. Made me all teary too.

06 April 2009

Lovey dovey stuff

This morning as I was doing Ella's hair before school:

Ella - Mum, I just love the way you love me.

Awww. I think that's probably the nicest compliment she's ever given me. It makes me think I must be doing something right on the affection-giving part of the parenting job. Which - believe me or not - is not always the thing at the fore of my consciousness when I'm faced with the task of moulding my child into something that resembles a good human being.

I wish...

Ella got a bit upset today because she had decided that she wanted someone to come pick her up from school tomorrow and got voicemail on both the person's landline and mobile when she tried to call them. I don't think she'd ever heard a voicemail before, so she got very upset when the voice stopped responding.

So after a lot of "I wish they would talk to me, I wish they would come pick me up" (and my favourite: "I wish they would buy a new phone") she started to expand her wishlist, seemingly with the main purpose of making herself more sad. By now it was about 30 mins past her bedtime (ignoring the end of daylight saving, that is) so she got more and more melodramatic.

We got:

I wish I was six, so I could stay up later.
I wish I was 7 or 8 or 9.
I wish I was a grown-up so I could stay up as late as I wanted.
I wish kids wouldn't have to sleep as long.
I wish grown-ups were only as big as kids.

I tried my best to be sympathetic as she really seemed very sad and I tried to make her see the positives of the way things are but eventually had to decide to treat it as a ploy to delay the inevitable bedtime and told her that some things just are the way they are, that she should stop trying to make herself sad, think of happier things and go to sleep and left with a teary "Ok, mum" from her.

I think she was asleep soon after her head touched the pillow...

30 March 2009


We had some pretty interesting conversations over the past 24 hours. These are the ones I (kind of) remember:

Ella had started yet another game with obscure rules that only she knew.

Ella - In this game, the one who is the craziest wins.
Me - Then I'm sure you'll win.
Ella - Who do you think wins the game, mum?
Me - I don't want to win this game!
Ella - Don't laugh then, mum. If you laugh a lot, you'll win the game.


Ella - Was that funny?
Me - Yeah, it was kind of funny.
Ella - Everyting's funny! Do you think everything's funny, mum?
Me - No, I can't say I do. Some things are very serious indeed.
Ella - I think everything's funny.


Watching an ad for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala last night.

Me - Oh good, that's on tonight.
Ella - What is?
Me - The Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala. It's people who tell funny jokes on stage.
Ella - And kill people?
Me - Huh? What? That wouldn't be funny at all!
Ella - Or pretend to kill people?
Me - Still not very funny.


Ella - I wish I was a grown-up.
Me - Why?
Ella - Because.
Me - But being a kid is so much fun and you can only be a kid once. Once you are a grown-up, you can never become a child again.
Ella - Yes you can.
Me - No, you can't. Once a grown-up, always a grown-up.
Ella - No, I'm going to be a grown up and then you are going to be a kid and then I'll be a grown-up and then you'll grow up again.
Me - I don't think so.
Ella - [suddenly starts crying] I will miss you when I live in another house.
Me - You don't have to go live in another house if you don't want to, sweetie. You can stay at my house for as long as you want. (I've made this promise before. I might regret it, but what else can I say?)
Ella - I wish we lived at the school.
Me - Why's that?
Ella - Because school is funner than here.
Me - Maybe we can try to make home funner then? How could we do that?
Ella - We need wood! They have wood at school. And we make high buildings of it. It's not rough wood. It is soft. Not like firewood.
Me - I could get some wooden blocks for you to play with at home.
Ella - And there's other wood to hammer nails in. And the soft hammers are in a bag. The hard hammers are not in a bag, they're just on the floor. And...
Me - How about you think about it when you fall asleep. It really is time for sleep now or you'll be way too tired for school tomorrow.


Ella - Mum look, I did no accidents in my pull-up at night. Now can I have a sticker?
Me - I'm afraid that pull-up is not really dry, sweetie, but that's ok. You were asleep and didn't feel you had to go to the toilet.
Ella - Im no good at this. I can't do it.
Me - Don't worry about it, you'll get the hang of it.
Ella - When I'm 5?
Me - I'm sure when you'll be 5 you'll be able to do it.
Ella - And when I'm 6?
Me - Definitely when you are 6.
Ella - And when I'm 18?
Me - Most certainly when you're 18!
Ella - But then I won't need a sticker anymore!


28 March 2009


Last night:

Ella - You are the best mum I ever had!

As I was writing this, Ella asked me what I was writing so I told her. She asked me why and I said because it was funny.

Ella - No mum. I just love you too much and you are the best mum in the whole world... that I ever had.

23 March 2009

The importance of being kind to yourself

On our way to the local shops - Ella on her balance bike, me on my bike behind her:

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

1 minute later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

1 minute later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

2 minutes later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

3 minutes later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.
Ella - We say that much times, don't we?
Me - That's ok.
Ella - We say that all the times!
Me - That's ok, nothing wrong with that.


2 hours later at home:

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

1 minute later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

2 minutes later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

3 minutes later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.

1 minute later.

Ella - Mum?
Me - Yes Ella.
Ella - I love you.
Me - I love you too, sweetie.
Ella - I just want to say that all the time! We say that so much times!
Me - That's ok. That's because we love eachother.
Ella - I'm happy that we are so nice to eachother. And I'm happy I'm so nice to myself.

22 March 2009


Of course Ella reaches milestones of different proportions all the time. I don't get as excited about each milestone as I did when she was a tiny baby and even her finding her own hands seemed like a small miracle.

In the past 6 months she's learnt how to:

  • dress herself (finally!)
  • open the fridge door
  • open and close her seatbelt
  • open the car door from the outside and the inside
  • open the car window by herself
  • draw recognisable figures,
  • recognise most letters of the alphabet
  • copy most letters of the alphabet
  • rhyme
  • (pretty much) use our very user-unfriendly dvd player in the lounge room,
  • handle DVDs without scratching them
  • safely cross the road (is not yet allowed to do it on her own though
  • do 100 piece puzzels by herself
  • help me do 500 piece puzzles (she can do pieces I give up on!)
and so many more things I forgot.

But the milestones she reached in the past fortnight were a class apart and brought a huge grin to my face.

Last weekend I suddenly noticed that she can push herself on the swing! Hallelujah, praise the godess! Not only am I exctatic that I will never have to do the tedious, tiring, cramp invoking swing pushing for her ever again, I also do remember what a great activity it is to swing. In fact, I still enjoy doing it now and I still get that dreamy feeling when I do.

I'll be even happier when she can do it without yelling "Look mum! Look how high I am!" every few seconds.

The other milestone is even more significant to me. And everyone who knows me (and her dad) will understand my excitement.

She can ride a bike! SHE CAN RIDE A BIKE!

Ok, it was only 3 times for about 5 metres each time. And ok, I did have to help her get started. And ok, she did fall over twice, once after she stopped - without consequences, once while she stopped and she hurt her leg. But I managed to get her back on the bike straight away for the third round.

It'll take lots of gentle coaching and practice before she will feel confident in her ability to ride the bike without assistance and without thinking about crashing all the time. But we made a start and I feel so proud!

17 March 2009


Ella - I wish I was a grown-up.
Me - Why?
Ella - Because then I can stay up later.
Me - You can stay up late sometimes.
Ella - But I want to stay up late all the time!
Me - Grown-ups need less sleep than kids, that's why they can stay up later.
Ella - Are grown-ups tireder?

I managed to stop myself from saying that most of them probably are - and I definitely am - and instead explained that kids need more sleep because they are still growing and growing takes lots of energy.

13 March 2009

Wedding party

Conversation we had last night:

Ella - I wish I could marry you. Can kids marry their mum?
Me - No, it's not allowed.
Ella - Why isn't it allowed?
Me - It's just the rule.
Ella - Mum, I want to come to your marry site.
Me - You mean wedding?
Ella - Yeah. I want to come to your wedding.
Me - Sure, if I ever get married, you can come to my wedding. But who would I marry?
Ella - I know! [Eyes glistenig at this fantastic idea] You can marry my daddy!
Me - [Chuckle] I don't think so, sweetie.
Ella - Why not?
Me - We did already get married once.
Ella - When?
Me - Before you were born. And we didn't think living together was all that much fun, so we would not get married again. You'll have to think of someone else.
Ella - I know, you could marry Dan!
Me - No, I can't.
Ella - Oh yeah.
Me - Because he's already married to Neet.
Ella - [Obviously straining her brain to think of other male friends] You can marry a lady! Because that's ok. I'm going to marry Camilla.
Me - But I don't want to marry a woman.
Ella - You'll just have to, mum.
Me - But I won't. How about I just don't get married then. That's ok.
Ella - [Buries her head in the doonah and starts sobbing]
Me - [Laughing uncontrollably]
Ella - Don't laugh!
Me - [Unable to stop laughing] But Ella, why are you so sad, sweetie?
Ella - [Looking past me with tears streaming down her face] Because you are not going to get married.
Me - [Another bout of belly laughter] Sorry Ella, but me not getting married is no big deal?
Ella - [Sobbing even harder] But I want to come to the party for your wedding!

It took me a while to stop laughing and I had to promise her to have a big party - like a wedding party - for my 40th next year before she calmed down. Sigh.

10 March 2009


After Ella telling me a couple of times that she could not remember what she did at school, the phrase "time for bed" suddenly jogged her memory and she launched into a long and convoluted story about her running around with "some people" (she meant some kids - admittedly they are people too) chasing her.

Ella - And the teacher had already given them 2 warnings. She said: "Put your willies back!"
Me - She said what?!
Ella - She said: "Put your willies back".
Me - Willies?
Ella - Whee-eelies. The toys with the wheels. Did you see them this morning?
Me - [laughing out loud] I did. I do remember seeing the wheelies this morning. And what happened then?

02 March 2009

The music and the love

We just spent Friday to Monday at the Corinbank festival. It was a great experience again.

At night Ella got pulled around in her new wagon by me or some of our friends. The first night she'd found a tacky gold tiara in the car and was sitting in the wagon with it on her head, under her little doonah, holding up her fairy Dora wand light. The first person who talked to her said: "Hail queen!" We got lots of smiles and lots of comments walking around with our mobile bed/trolley. And eventually Ella would curl up in it and fall asleep and would not stir as I transferred her to our tent when I was ready to go to bed.

During the day we tried to participate in some of the great creative camp activities, though missed most of them because of getting up late, being disorganised, getting distracted and not having a watch. We did make two bead dragonflies, which was a great activity and the results looked very nice. Though we ended up losing the first one we made.

For the rest of the time, I enjoyed the music and the company, while Ella wandered around, feeling safe surrounded by so many aunties and uncles. Sometimes it seemed like half of the people there knew her! She went to buy her own cups of chai plus cookie. She also managed to talk me into giving her money to buy crystals (which we lost) and some devil sticks (well, she managed to talk her dad into buyinig her those because I'd run out of money by then).

She enjoyed the circus too and she was very fond of the whale helicopter (this really needs a photo, but I didn't take any!).

She was quite scared of the people dressed up as animals in the heavy petting zoo. One night - when I was trying to convince her that the 'animals' wandering around were not trying to scare kids - she asked:

Ella - Are they trying to give kids cigarettes?
( think she might have seen one of them give a cigarette to a friend?)
Me - No, kids are not allowed to smoke cigarettes.
Then the animal in question moved towards us a bit and Ella dissapeared behind me.
Ella - [semi-crying voice] I don't want him to give me cigarettes!

She got to go on stage with her dad for the closing ceremony. I will post that video soonish. I still cannot believe that I now have footage of her picking her nose on a stage in front of hundreds of people! Ha! (And this was the day after I'd tried a different method of getting her to kick this habit by saying: "You can only pick your nose when noone can see you." I don't think that worked...)

I had to let her skip school on Monday, partially because 'someone' had thought it a bright idea to give her a cup of melted chocolate at 9pm on Saturday (thanks Katherine!), partially because it was always going to be a tiring weekend for both of us and I didn't feel like going to bed at 8pm on Sunday night myself.

Ella was sad to leave. I'm sure she'll have happy memories of this year's festival and we're looking forward to the next one.

When her godmother asked her on Sunday night what she had liked best about the festival, her immediate - and in no way prompted - reply was: "The music and the love". They should use that as their slogan next year!

23 February 2009

Sub-standard medical service

There are two things in life that I am extremely allergic to: being patronised and - somewhat related - being treated like an overprotective or paranoid or hysterical parent.

I got an unhealthy dose of both insults over the weekend.

It all started with the immunisations. All seemed well, Ella was fine that afternoon and night.

Then the next morning she woke up complaining about pain in her right thigh. It looked a bit red and felt a bit hard around the injection point, but I didn't think too much of it. So we went out to the library and the mall, but Ella's complaints got louder and it was obvious by then that her leg caused her considerable discomfort when she moved around.

I gave her some paracetamol and said goodbye to her when her dad picked her up.

That night, I had another good look at the leg and now noticed - by comparing it to the other leg - that is was quite significantly swollen from the crotch right down to the top of the knee and was quite red too. I still wasn't overly worried, so put Ella to bed, without offering pain relief as my judgement was that she'd be fine without it.

The next morning the thigh was a tad worse rather than better. So I called the Health Advice line. A nurse took me through some questions, listened to my description of the symptoms and then advised me to see a doctor within 4 hours.

I got an appointment with the after hours doctor soon after. When it was our turn, I walked in with Ella, got her to hike up her skirt as I explained the course of events and the doctor took one look at her leg - from about a metre away - and said: "allergic reaction" and proceeded to prescribe anti-histamines and a cream. He advised me to see our GP within 2 days and send us on our way. My estimate is that the consultation had lasted no longer than 3 minutes.

I gave the anti-histamine to Ella that day and the next. I failed to read the label and the doctor had not warned me about it causing drowsiness. The teachers at school noticed though, but apart from not being her usual bubbly self, she'd been ok.

(Some of this next bit is a slightly altered version of the letter I ended up sending to the Medical Board, so excuse the dry style)

After school I visited our GP (the same one who gave the immunisation). The GP noticed me in the waiting room and enquired why we were there. I explained that Ella had had an allergic reaction to the vaccine. The doctor asked me to go have a chat to the medical student at his practice while he tended to his next patient.

A bit later he entered the room where the medical student, Ella and me were, walked over to Ella who was playing on the floor and said: "Does this look like a sick child to you?" He then turned to the medical student and said: "That's what I advise parents to do. To step away from their child and ask themselves 'Does this look like a sick child to me?'"

I managed to hide my annoyance at this most patronising comment and briefly gave him my version of events since we saw him last. He said he doubted that it was an allergic reaction, and that it could be a bleeding in the muscle. He did not explain this any further. Nor did he examine Ella. He then proceeded to look up info about the specific vaccine on the computer, explaining how to do this to the medical student. He was preoccupied doing this for a while and only very briefly answered when I asked relevant questions. I found out he had not made a note of which thigh he administered which vaccine in. When I asked him if it was likely or possible that this reaction could be repeated, he said he was sure it was a one off. He did not explain this comment. When I expressed a concern about not knowing the real reason for the reaction, he assured me he made a note of it and that that was enough. He then instructed me to go get Ella's health record which I had left in the car.

When I returned and was waiting in the waiting room I realised that I did not get any advice on whether or not to continue the anti-histamine treatment.

So, when the doctor returned for the health record book, I asked him if I should continue administering the anti-histamines. He only shook his head as if I had asked a silly question. I asked if he thought she needed any further treatment and I got a similar response.

I left the practice feeling extremely patronised and as if I'd been treated like an ignorant, over-protective hypochondriac parent. On top of that, I did not obtain any useful advice nor an explanation of the diagnosis or the treatment. Treatment advice wasn't even offered voluntarily.

I was fuming! I muttered about it (might have used a few profanities in front of Ella too) the whole way from the doctor to the take-away place and home. Poor Ella had to listen to a few tirades about the unfair treatment that night.

And what made things worse was that I was faced with the treatment dilemma. I'd seen two doctors in 28 hours. Neither of them had explained how they came to their diagnosis, in one case a final diagnosis was not given, neither did explain the rationale behind their treatment advice. Neither of them had examined Ella, other than looking at the swollen leg from a one meter distance. Neither of them had asked me any questions about the patient and all they knew was what I managed to tell them in the 30 second introduction when I walked into their consultation room. And both had given me completely contradictory advice.

I ended up calling the Health advice line again to explain what happened and to ask advice on how to solve my dilemma: should I or should I not continue the anti-histamines treatment? I do not have any knowledge about medical issues and do not feel fit to make such decisions about my daughter's physical health without medical advice. The very nice nurse's advice was to follow our GP's advice but to monitor her condition closely and see a doctor if it got worse. I also managed to mention that I'd been treated like an over-protective hysterical mother and the nurse said something about it becoming a trend but that I should never let any doctor make me feel like that. That I, as a parent, knew my child best and knew when a trip to the doctor was justified. It was nice to get that reassurance.

Today I called the Immunisation Section of the Health Department. They confirmed that localised swelling and inflammation is a known side effect of both vaccines in question. They also told me that the symptoms usually resolve without treatment within a few days of the injections. I found out that the doctor should've given me information about possible side effects at the time of the immunisation. If he would've, it would've saved me all the trouble and lost time this caused me, not to mention the $145 for 2 unnecessary doctor's visits. The nurse said she would call the practice to check if they had the info sheets that they were supposed to hand out to parents.

I wrote a detailed and well-considered letter of complaint to the Medical Board, which made me feel better. My next step will be to find a new GP. How could I trust someone, who seems to base his medical strategy on my perceived level of paranoia or hysteria, to look after my child's health?

22 February 2009

Daily bread

Last week I was on a quest: to find the perfect recipe for home made bread. I had tried baking bread before and they never turned out right. I baked plenty a loaf in the breadmaker too, but I never really liked them very much. Definitely not as good as the bread from the bakery, which is probably cheaper anyway!

But last week I decided that I was not going to give up until I managed to bake the perfect loaf. I decided on letting the breadmaker doing the kneading, but give the baking job to the oven. I also made some no-knead breads. I made 6 loaves in 1 week. I was determined, I was not going to lose confidence. I baked the breads in the evenings and I have never felt so keen to have breakfast in the morning!

In fact, my excitement at every step of the process grew with each loaf. I checked every 10 minutes to see how much it had risen, I stood at the oven to watch it rise while it baked, I tapped it, examined and smelled it when it came out of the oven. And I was almost jumping up and down with excitement when I cut off the first slice.

I suppose it was hard to hide that kind of enthusiasm from Ella. She was so supportive. I asked her every morning if she wanted "mama's bread or bread from the baker" and she never hesitated when she chose mine. Even when the loaves were coarse and dense or too moist or too salty.

And when I finally found the ultimate recipe (and said so about 10 times that morning), she declared it was the best bread in the whole world.

To be honest, I don't think she cares much about what her bread tastes or looks like. She noticed how important it seemed to me to get it right and so her extraordinary empathy kicked in and she encouraged me.

Bless her cotton socks. (But now I'll have to find a less biased taster to rate my bread!)

20 February 2009

Of needles and icecreams

I took Ella for her 4yo immunisation round today. I had warned her a week ago about what was going to happen and again this morning. And I had promised her "an ice cream if she didn't cry, a mere lollipop if she did." I don't feel bad about bribing her with food on this occasion. Sometimes the end really does justify the reward. And I don't feel guilty about putting pressure on her to hide her feelings. As a huge generalisation, the modern Western culture is not one that particularly values consideration for others - unlike for example the Japanese - EXCEPT when it comes to reaction to pain. "Boys don't cry" is still a much valued mantra, even if we have gender-neutralised it and extended it to girls.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this before, but my Ella does not do the "being stoic when in pain" bit well at all. She doesn't actually care for it, even though I am becoming increasingly "mean" in my methods to try enforce the idea that it is NOT ok to cry and whimper over every little scratch or bruise. It goes against her drama queen aspirations, I think, and I fear that my rather insensitive reactions are having the opposite effect. I ignore her when she cries over falling over or bumping herself (unless it's a "biggie", but that's different), I tell her to be brave - it'll only last a minute, to toughen up and even that "nobody likes a crybaby". All to no avail.

Back to the needles. The doctor was fabulous. Anyone who can engage in a conversation with my daughter about the differences between ponies and unicorns whilst keeping a straight face, immediately and unreservedly earns my sympathy. He was also very no-fuss with the needles. As soon as they were ready, he plunged them into her thighs. It was all over in about 2 seconds.

AND SHE DID NOT EVEN BLINK! Even though there was B-L-O-O-D, usually a reason to scream for a bandaid NOW. As he gave her her green jelly bean, the doctor said: "She is obviously a terrific kid". I ignored the "you should see her at home" thoughts and just proudly smiled.

Afterwards she told me that it did hurt but she didn't cry because she wanted an icecream. I think I even managed to not look smug when she told me. And I thought I had definitely deserved my icecream too.

16 February 2009

First day of school

Yesterday was Ella's first day of preschool.

She dressed herself without me even having to ask in the morning. Chose a skirt to wear herself, and it wasn't pink! The only thing that she seemed a bit worried about was that we were going to be late and while we were walking the dog, she told me she wish she could just go to school NOW.

We arrived a couple of minutes early. I suggested Ella put her name tag on the 'helpers board', which she did. She explored the obstacle course/play equipment until the teacher opened the door of the class.

When we got inside, she walked straight up to the teacher - whom she'd never met before - and gave her the drawings she made for her last night and explained what was on them. "This is a person and he is scared of the monster. And this is a fairy." Then she sat down at one of the tables and played with the playdough, reminded me to show her where the toilet was and then moved to another table to engage in a game that was set up there. That's when I asked if it was ok for me to go and she just nodded, gave me a hug and a kiss and went back to her game.

In summary, she looked like she'd always been there. Not a surprise really. And it did make me feel proud.

When I arrived to pick her up at three, the kids were still inside sitting in a circle on little mats. After the assistant had opened the door, the teacher started sending them out one by one as she spotted their parents. When she called Ella's name, Ella crawled towards me on hands and knees, then came to a stop at the other end of the circle and rested her head on the ground in front of me. When I asked her what was the matter she said something like: "I'm sad because we have to leave."

Yes, school is a hit. As expected.


This morning in the bathroom:

Ella - Mum, I want you to brush my teeth.
Me - Ok.
Ella - You have to do it, because you have hands too. Not just arms.


15 February 2009


The reason why I haven't posted about the tragic Victoria bushfires up until now, is that I really try to keep this blog about Ella only and the reality is that she seems to be immune to the drama and horror of it all.

I have watched the news with her or sat next to her reading the paper on several occasions during the past week and she must have seen my distress at listening to/watching some of those stories. The only reaction I heard from her was her casually remarking "bushfires" on seeing the images of fires and scorched landscapes on tv, before diverting her focus to whatever she was doing.

I should be glad about her not being affected, but I kind of wish she would show more empathy...

Of course I try not to give too much detail, but I have told her the facts: there were massive fires, lots of houses were destroyed, and people died. I am glad she does not know the horrible details about how some of these people died nor understands the trauma that the ones that barely escaped suffered.

I did recently (it was around Australia Day) tell her about the 2003 Canberra bushfires and when we saw and smelt the smoke from the coastal fires soon after, she got quite scared until I explained the fire was far away and that it was ok because we could not see flames. Let's just hope that the fires do stay far away (not just from us of course - also from others' properties) and that she won't panic next time we see/smell smoke as that is a regular phenomenon in any place in South-Eastern Australia.

12 February 2009

The preschool saga

I'll start at the beginning for those of you who don't know the story at all. The first week of September, less than two weeks after our return from Belgium, I went to the local primary school to enrol Ella in the local preschool, which starts here in February. I was told I missed the first round of offers and that there was already a waiting list. They would contact me for the second round of offers. I asked if I could give a second and third preference and they made note of that. Finally, some time in December, I got a call to say that Ella was accepted for the preschool that I gave as my 3rd preference. It was only when I went over there to get all the info, that I discovered that this school had their 2 long preschool days on Thursdays and Fridays and not on Mondays and Tuesdays like all other preschools I know here.

I made a few more phone calls to the other schools, negotiated a few more administrative booby traps, ended up at the top of the waiting list for my second preference preschool - they did not actually have me on their waiting list yet! - and waited anxiously for the first week of preschool, crossing my fingers that one of the kids would not show up and cancel and free up a spot for my eager preschooler.

In the meantime I had to bring Ella to a daycare centre without 4 year olds on Monday and Tuesday. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do. Much worse than taking her to daycare for the first time! The first thing she said to me when I picked her up that first day and found her playing by herself in the sandpit with only 2 "babies" to keep her company was: "Noone wanted to be my friend today. Noone wanted to play with me." Ouch! I felt like the worst parent ever...

So you can imagine my determination about making sure I secured a spot in a preschool that she could go to when all her daycare friends were at school grew stronger by the hour.

And this week my impatient waiting and persistent phone calls finally paid off. Ella will start preschool next Monday in the preschool one suburb away from our place! I went over there and met the teacher who seems exactly like a preschool teacher should be: gentle face, soft voice, friendly manners and the looks to match. The school itself is lovely too. The garden/courtyard is leafy and green and it has attractive modern play equipment. In the classroom I also saw details that pleased me, like a birthday calendar with name tags and a cork "teacher's helpers" board.

I stopped at the school on the way home the other day to let Ella have a look from the outside and as we walked back to the car she said: "I wish the school was open all the days and all the nights."

I'm sure she will do very well at school. And I am also rather happy about saving the cost of 2 days of daycare each week from now on. The money I will save would allow us to get take-away 4 times a week! Not that I'd want to eat take-away that often, but just to give you an idea...

Now bring on next year and kindergarten 5 days a week! And I will make sure I won't miss the enrolment deadline then!

01 February 2009

Lateral language

We were watching a David Attenborough documentary together:

David Attenborough - Even more so for the female monkey when she is carrying a baby.
Ella - Female is a girl.
Me - That's right.
Ella - And the letter is the boy.
Me - Letter?
Ella - Yes, the letter is the boy.
Me - What letter are you talking about?
Ella - No, the letter. Like the one the postman brings.
Me - [Straining my brain] Aaaaah! Mail! The boy is called 'male', sweetie.

She did a similar thing the next day when we were at a swimming spot at the lake marked with buoys. Ella had already told me that she knew that they were called buoys. Then she asked:

Ella - Can I go and swim near the boys and girls?
Me - Sure, you can go swim near those kids. Just don't get too close to their body boards.
Ella - [pointing at the row of buoys) No, at the boys and girls over there!

Then I remembered her saying - in reaction to me referring to the buoys as "those round floating things": "and the square ones are the girls."

Isn't language fun?!

28 January 2009


I've only just started to let Ella watch 'older' movies, as she seemed ready for it.

The first one - Willow - was a mistake because it featured trolls. She could't sleep that night and ended up in my bed.

So last night we tried Narnia (the lion, the witch and wardrobe). As expected, she crawled under the doonah whenever she heard the "suspense music" (it was about 35 degrees in the bedroom!). But this time there was another aspect of the film that affected her too. When the sad music played as the kids are on the train after being sent away from London to avoid the dangers of war, she commented: "They are very sad, aren't they? It's a bit of a sad movie, isn't it?" Then - when the little girl starts crying because her siblings won't believe her when she tells them about Narnia:

Ella - [crying] This film makes me cry!
Me - Oh sweetie, it's ok to feel sad because of a movie. It's not a bad thing. Look, she stopped crying now and everything is fine.

She definitely doesn't lack empathy.

22 January 2009

No fun

This morning Ella was watching ABC Kids in the bedroom and a show called Go Yabba Yabba was on. She didn't react when I commented that this show was weird. Too weird. So weird that it was almost creepy. Then - as I was searching for clothes for work:

Go Yabba Yabba: What do you think is fun?
Me - Not going to work is fun. And sleeping in is lots of fun too. And someone else cleaning your house, now that's fun!
Ella - Mum, it's on the tv. They can't hear you.

Always ruining my fun with her common sense!

Flying monsters

Ella came out of bed to tell me she couldn't sleep because of the thunder. But it turned out it wasn't really the rumbling that kept her awake.

Ella - I'm scared the monsters are gonna come.
Me - If they come, I'll scare them away. But I don’t think they'll come.
Ella - The monsters live far away from our house, don't they.
Me - Yeah, I think they do.
Ella - They only live in Belgium. And that's really far away. And they don't let monsters on the plane, do they?
Me - No, they definitely wouldn't let monsters on a plane.
Ella - And not bad people either.
Me - No, they can't go on the plane.
Ella - But they let old people on the plane. Because they can't do nothing, can they?

I'm sure there is some logic in there somewhere.

21 January 2009

Favourite things

I was trying to tell Ella that she is getting a bit too heavy for me to carry. She enquired if her dad would still be able to carry her and I confirmed that he probably could because he is a man and men are usually stronger than women.

Ella - Is papa a man?
Me - Yes, papa is a man. And I am a woman.
Ella - I want to call him a boy.
Me - If he's ok with that, that's fine.
Ella - Because it's not my favourite thing.
Me - What's not your favourite thing?
Ella - Men are not my favourite thing. That's why I want to call him boy.

11 January 2009

The birthday party

Last Saturday was Ella's 4th birthday party.

These are the things I learnt from that experience:

- I am not superwoman. I don't even look anything like her.
- Organising a kids birthday party at home is a sure sign of insanity.
- I do not want to miss seeing my child enjoy her birthday party ever again. And not just because I deserve some immediate gratification after so much hard work.
- My child needs constant reminders to not to behave like a brat in public. I used to mainly remind her because of how it reflected on me. Now it dawned on me that it is my duty as a parent to tell her for her own benefit. A bit like when you make a fool of yourself when you're drunk and you ask your friends the next day: "Why did you not stop me?!"
- All it takes to stop her yelling orders is a gentle but unambiguous reminder. She'll immediately switch to her nice voice then.
- Making sausage rolls from scratch is so not worth the effort and one of the most thankless tasks I can think of.
- Home cooked food in general is overrated. Store bought food and snacks are adequate food for a kids' party.
- Eating however is hard to overrate. Not doing it while running around from early morning till late at night may result in having to take pain killers and feeling sick.
- Forgetting to put out the plastic plates and cutlery is rather silly.
- I am so incredibly lucky to know a very talented and patient face painter and other friends who were willing to help in various ways. (Next year, I won't have to rely on you as much, I promise!)

So, a very educational experience in the end.

I asked Ella if there was anything at all she would've changed about her party and she gave me a convincing "no". So mission (impossible) accomplished.

And the cutest story which I did get to witness was when I found the only boy (Quin) at the party standing at the toilet, with the last 2 remaining girls (Ella and Lucy) watching on.

Ella - Quin! You have to come outside to do [so and so]!
Quin [glancing from the toilet to Ella's face and back] - I'm doing a wee.
Ella - Quin! When you have finished... doing a wee, come outside and do what I do! You have to do what I do!
[No response from Quin]
Me (whispering at Ella) - If you want to?
Ella - If you want to Quin, come outside and do what I'm doing!
Quin - OK.

Drawing drama

Today in the car on the way to daycare, drawing a picture for her grandmother:

Ella - I'm drawing a sad fairy.
Me - Hm.
Ella - Do you know why she is sad?
Me - Why is she sad?
Ella - Because the police put her in jail.
Me - Oh. Why did the police put her in jail?
Ella - Because they think she killed the sheep.
Me - The fairy killed a sheep?
Ella - But she didn't do it. But the police put her in jail. That's naughty isn't it?
Me - Oh, but when they find out she didn't do it, they'll let her go.
Ella - No they won't.
Ella - And now I'm drawing the fire. The fairy is in the jail fire.
Me - They don't put anyone in the fire in jail, Ella. Jail is just little rooms people have to stay in.
Ella - Yes they do! This jail has a fire. It's a bit of a dangerous jail.
Me - There are no dangerous jails, Ella. And could you not draw something more cheerful? I don't know if S will like getting such a sad picture.
Ella - I'll draw something nicer on the other side, ok?
Me - Ok.
Ella - And they cut off the fairy's wings.
Me - I don't want to know. I'd just rather not know, because it makes me all sad.
Ella - But they'll grow back!
Me - Oh ok then. As long as there's a happy ending, I suppose I can cope with sad stories.
Ella - And there's a baby one, and she's happy. She's happy because she's yelling at the police: "Let me out of the fire!" And fairies don't burn or go brown or anything in the fire.
Me - That's good then.
Ella - I won't tell S what it is.
Me - Why not?
Ella - Because then maybe she'll get sad. I won't tell her the story and then she won't know.
Me - Maybe that's best.