16 December 2010

Humility

I just put a Tetris game on my Nintendo. When I played it for the first time I told Ella:

Me - Wow, this takes me back. This game was around when I was a child. That's really old, isn't it?
Ella - I don't know, mum. Because I'm just a child. I know nothing!

Thankyou

I got this note after:
- I got a shock when I saw Ella had left the mice cage wide open and spilled mice food all over her bedroom floor
- I told her that I was too dissapointed in her to even talk to her and ignored her until she cleaned up the mess without prompting
- I acknowledged that she'd made up for her mistake
- I helped her with the spelling of most of the words

-

After she gave me her "card", she told me that I should keep it just in case we would ever leave eachother after all.


09 December 2010

Kindergarten Semester 2 report

I am so very pleased with Ella's report. Not the "academic" stuff, though I am very glad to hear she is above the expected range in all areas of literacy. She's only average for maths apparently, so maybe I did just imagine that she is good with numbers.

But the things that please me most are her being described as a "courteous listener", that she follows instructions carefully, shows empathy and helps others and - probably my favourite - participates enthusiastically and confidently in a variety of activities.

There were some less positive things in there which were all about how she deals/dealt with conflict with friends ("she often requires teacher assistance to resolve social issues in the playground") and being bossy ("she is reminded to allow others to assist in the decision making process"). The first one will hopefully not be an issue anymore next year when she is in a class with different kids (and a different teacher).
The bossiness... only child, what else can I say. Hopefully she'll grow out of it one day.

But apart from those little issues, I felt very proud indeed when I read the report. And some of the things that were mentioned are so "Ella". Like "She has demonstrated an extensive general knowledge and regularly shares information with the class, especially concerning animals".


Grumpy toys

It was way past Ella's bedtime and she was still getting ready.

Ella [sad]: Mum, I put Whitie* in the bush outside, and now he's not there. (*Whitie is a stuffed white tiger toy)
Me - You must have taken him out and put him somewhere else. Think! Noone would've stolen him from the bush.
Ella - Because he looks so grumpy?
Me - No, because there are no people bad enough here to steal a child's toy from their front yard.

She looked so terribly sad at the prospect of going to bed without Whitie, that I decided to forget about the whole learning through consequences thing and offer my help. But not for free.

Me - I'll tell you what, I bet you that I can find him in 5 minutes or less. How much?
Ella - How much do you want?
Me - Well, I always prefer if you do something for me instead of give me something. So what will you do for me if I find Whitie in less than 5 minutes?
Ella - Help you make dinner for a whole week.
Me - I think that's a bit much. Make it one day.
Ella - No, a whole week.
Me - One day.
Ella - A week.
Me - If you're going to help me make dinner for a whole week, I'll have to find him in 1 minute! If it takes me 5 minutes, you'll help me with dinner tomorrow. Deal?
Ella - Deal!

By then she was laughing through her tears and I send her off to bed while I got up to start the search. I think it took me 30 seconds to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen where the first thing I saw on the messy kitchen table was Whitie. Looking grumpy.

 

03 December 2010

Weirdo

We had Tai, the neighbour's girl, over for a play today. They were busy blowing bubbles outside while I was cutting the hedge and commenting loudly on my handiwork.

Tai - Ella, is your mum weird?
Ella [very hesitantly] - Er... no.
Me - But of course I'm weird! I've always been weird. Mots of my friends are weird. In fact, I think that if you're not weird, you're probably boring. Don't you agree?
Tai and Ella - Um... yeah.

25 November 2010

Silliness

I was saying goodbye to Ella in front of a friend at school and as usual, she requested a 'lift-up cuddle'.

Then she said to the friend:

Ella - Mum can't lift me up properly because her back...
Me - Because you're so fat!
Ella - No, mum can't lift me up because her back...
Me - Because you're as fat as an elephant!
Ella - No, because her back...
Me - You're as fat as an elephant and way too heavy for anyone to lift up!
Ella - ... because her back is sore.

Oh how I love childish humour!

05 November 2010

Fluffy

We had the usual argument about how many soft toys Ella could take when we were packing for her weekend at the coast. I told her to just take her 4 smallish favourites. But then she came back in with a larger teddy and asked:

Ella - Can I take this one too?
Me - No, he won't fit. He can stay here to keep me company.

Ella hugged the teddy tightly, her lip started quivering and she just managed to say in a very dramatic voice:

Ella - But, but, he's so flu-uffy!" [starts to cry loudly on the last word]

You probably had to be there but it had me in stitches. And the more I laughed, the more she cried, the more it made me laugh, the more it made her cry. I can't even explain why I found it so funny, but now hours later every time I even think the word 'fluffy' I still chuckle.

At least she didn't get angry with me this time. But she wouldn't show a sad face when I took a picture of her and the teddy for the blog because "she didn't want anyone else to laugh at her".



PS: "Fluffy" went to the coast.

01 November 2010

Scratchie*

Not sure if I've mentioned it here before, but Ella has had a bit of a rough time at school finding the balance between being loyal towards her friends and letting them walk all over her. I tried my best to give her the skills to stand up for herself and make better choices when it comes to whom she hangs out with, but after she came home almost every day in term 3 telling me her best friends had been mean to her all day, I'd pretty much given up on this year.

But something changed in term 4. And it turns out it was a new game called 'Scratchie'. I'm still not very clear on the rules or the aim of Scratchie. But there are a few things I most definitely like about it.

I know it's girls against boys. But for a change it's the girls chasing the boys who apparently are happy to run away. Which may not be that surprising when you know that the girls try to scratch the boys. I probably should cut Ella's nails more often. Or not...

Apparently Ella's team has been approached by boys who want to be promoted from scratchees to scratchers. But I'm not sure if the girls have agreed to sharing their role of power in the game with the other sex as yet.

A very welcome and unexpected result of the game is that the friend Ella clashed most with - but has been unable to tear herself away from for 3 terms - does not like the game. And so the friendship triangle that has somewhat spoiled the school experience for so long has finally been broken. And everyone seems to be ok about it.

I also like that it's an active game, as Ella has appeared to be a bit reluctant to play running games for reasons that are not always clear to me.

And it is a team-game, which is always good. They have code names, have secret meetings and work out strategies together.

But the best thing is what Ella told me today about playing the game:

Ella - When you get hurt your mind goes "Quick, quick! I don't want to be sad today!" and then it sends it to your body. Because we can do that.

Meaning that it's regarded as very uncool to get upset over getting hurt and she's finally realising the power of mind over body. Which I happen to think is very cool.

So I am a Scratchie supporter all the way.

* I couldn't decide whether to call this post 'Girl power' instead. But now I've said it: Girl power!

27 October 2010

Lessons in life and gymnastics

We had just had a conversation about learning from making mistakes. Ella commented that that was how she learnt to do cartwheels.

Next thing, I see her raise her arms and her right leg, whilst standing in the middle of the bed and I only just got the "That" of my intended "That looks like a really bad idea" out before she attempted her cartwheel and crash landed on the tv cabinet at the end of the bed.

Tears ensued and I managed to not say anything while I held her and put pressure on the sore spot on her back.

When the crying subsided I said:

Me - So, what did you learn from this?
Ella (still teary) - That I will never, ever do this again?
Me - That's good. Do you know why you should never do that again?
Ella - Because I'll hurt myself?
Me - You'll hurt yourself because there wasn't enough space to do a cartwheel. What you could learn from this is that you should always check if there is enough space to land before you do a cartwheel.

I wish she would sometimes manage to learn these things without scary falls on her back! I consider it a fact though, that there is no painless way to learn about irony...

15 October 2010

Rebel with a cause

Ella asked me today out of the blue:

Ella - Mum, why are there so many rules at school?
Me - That is a very good question Ella. I was thinking about this only yesterday. I think there are too many silly little rules at school.
Ella - But why?
Me - I think it is because there is only one teacher for every 20 kids. So they invent all these silly little rules to make it easier for them.
Ella - Make it easier for who?
Me - For the teachers. And you are allowed to break some rules sometimes if you need to.
Ella - [Looks puzzled}
Me - You don't always have to follow the rules without thinking about them. For example, I give you permission to break the 'no running in the corridor' rule if you have to go to the toilet urgently*. And if anyone tells you that you are in trouble over that, you can send them to me.
Ella - How do I send them to you? I can't walk home with them?
Me - Very funny. You know what I mean. I will tell them that I gave you permission to run in the corridor because you had a good reason to do so. And not having an accident is more important than following the rules no matter what.
Ella - And not do whole body listening when I have to go to the toilet too!
('Whole body listening' requires the kids to always sit with their legs crossed. So if Ella has to go to the toilet urgently, she cannot sit in a position that allows her to hold on longer while she waits for her raised hand to be noticed by the teacher.)
Me - Exactly! You can sit however you want if you have to go to the toilet. And if anyone says anything, you just say that you had a good reason to do so. I know you are a good girl and in general it is good to follow the rules. But you can break the rules if you have a good reason, but not just for the sake of it.

It felt really, really good to say this! It's only the first year of school and I already feel like rebelling against the overkill of rules and regulations that they submit these kids too. I assume that lots of them are there to allow the teachers to more easily control the group. Which is understandable up to a point, but it's not the bleeding army! And don't even get me started on all the liability-related rules that they/we are subjected to!

I trust that my child can make decisions for herself and I want her to learn to assess which rules are important and which are not by applying her values and principles and common sense. I don't want her to be turned into a robot. Rules are there to be broken. Amen.

* Ella's had issues with not getting to the toilet on time in school all year.

14 October 2010

Career prospects

I was a bit dissapointed when Ella abandoned her plans to become a children's books illustrator. We had it all planned out. I was going to write the books - in the style of the Faraway Tree was the brief - and Ella was going to do the drawings. We were going to live on a property together and have 2 dogs, 2 cats, a few chickens, some rabbits and a goat.

Then she told me she wanted to go work at the Manly Aquarium. And now she wants to go work at Bondi Vet. She assumed that I would move to Sydney with her because she is convinced that we will always live together.

So tonight I broke the news to her that I don't really want to live in Sydney.

Ella - Why?
Me - Because Sydney is too big and too busy.
Ella - Oh mum, don't worry. Remember, you liked the rooftop at the youth hostel.
Me - I love Sydney. To visit. But I don't want to live there.
Ella - Mu-um! Think of Luna Park!
Me - As I said, great to visit, but too busy to live there all the time.
Ella - Then we'll have to go to another Bondi vet.
Me - There's vets all around the country.
Ella - Ok, which country do you want to live in?
Me - I meant 'all across Australia'.
Ella - Ok, which part of Australia do you want to live in.
Me - Northern NSW! Not far from Byron Bay. A bit further North than One Mile Beach where you went camping last summer holidays. It's warm there all year round, there are nice hills and nice beaches.
Ella - Is there a vet there?
Me - I'm sure there'll be a few vets in that area.
Ella - What about theme parks?
Me - Oh, we'd be much closer to the Gold Coast where all the big theme parks are.
Ella - Woohoo! Theme parks!
Me - I'd move there now if I could. But I wouldnt' be able to find a job there.
Ella - But couldn't I go to school there.
Me - Of course you can go to school there, but if I can't find a job there, I can't pay our rent or our food.

That's when she lost interest. But it sounds like we have a convert. One can always dream...

07 October 2010

Voicemail

It's not the best quality and I lost the original voicemail now. But I listened to this about 5 times at work and went 'awww' every time.


video

Transcript:

Um... I woke up 13 hours... I slept for 13 hours. And yesterday I was making this little sled for Whitey*. And that was fun. Aaand Whitey's sled, I'm  doing a little seatbelt to it. So it's all safe. And... I love you mummy. Bye.

* Whitey is the newest addition to her ever-growing collection of toy animals.

22 September 2010

Log-in

I caught this gem yesterday during an uneventful car ride when Ella was having a conversation with some imaginary friends in Alaska and Greenland:

Ella - I'm going to go on Facebook. Oh no, a thief has been. And he has stolen my log off button!


18 September 2010

You can't always get what you want

Me - I forgot to bring the gnome you painted.
Ella [joking] - Bad mum! Bad mum!
Me - Oh, I'm not such a bad mum, am I?
Ella - You're a great mum! Because you gave me pancakes and icecream and you give me everything I want!
Me [laughing] - I don't give you everything you want! That would make me a bad mum.

.

15 September 2010

Underwater world

We were watching a documentary about life in the ocean.

David Attenborough - For a billion years the ocean was the only place on earth where life existed.
Ella - The ocean was the only planet where life existed for a billion years?!

... Watching the images of typical ocean life. ...

Ella - Were there shops there?
Me - Where?
Ella - There, in the ocean.
Me - No, there's no shops there. Why?
Ella - Oh no! That means they can't buy anything to wear. Or to protect theirselves against sharks!
Me - Who?
Ella - The people who lived in the ocean back then.


.

10 September 2010

04 September 2010

Just a kid

Me - This is a big lunch. I don't think I'll need dinner tonight.
Ella - You do. Because if you don't eat dinner, you might die!
Me [laughing] - No, I don't think I'll die from skipping dinner once.
Ella - Don't laugh at me. I'm only a kid! If a grown-up would say that, it's ok to laugh. But I'm only a kid and I don't know everything.

30 August 2010

Note to Ella

When your mum has just discovered that the paint stains - that you carelessly made on the 5-day old lino in the new rental kitchen, because you did "not hear" her advice about putting some paper under your painting - won't come off with water and soap, "Whose fault is it?" is most definitely the wrong question to ask. "Will I ever get pocket money again?" or even "Will I live to see my 6th birthday?" are probably more apt questions in this situation. Though the wisest option would probably be to stay well clear of your frantically panicking next of kin until her blood pressure has come down considerably.

I wonder if the smell of tea-tree oil - which turned out to be the miracle cleaning aid that saved mum's sanity - will forever make this memory surface for her now?

27 August 2010

Training boys

Ella just tells me about this game she plays with "the boys" at school. She sits somewhere up high and pretends she's having a picnic. And all the boys are dogs. And she is their owner. And they're really bad dogs. And they end up knocking over the whole picnic. And then she has to train them. Then she went on to demonstrate how she says "Sit!" and then sits to show them. And then she says "Come!" and runs away and they all run after her.

What a great image!

And better than the stories she tells me about her so-called best female friends who seem to spend most of their time fighting with and excluding eachother.

Sharing poverty

We were talking about helping others (triggered by some pretty selfish behaviour displayed by Ella, but anyway).

Ella - And it's good to share money too. People should share money.
Me - That's right. And we do that too. We give money to our sponsor child in Africa because we have more money than they do and without help they might not be able to eat or go to school.
Ella - And the people in India, they are poor. And people should give them money too.
Me - Remember, when you're 11 or 12, I'm going to take you to India?
Ella - Oh no! I don't want to have no money! Will they take our money from us when we go there?
Me [laughing] - No, but everyone will want us to give them money and buy stuff from them.

I'm now going to make an effort to remember to give her pocket money, just so she can give some of it to charities.

22 August 2010

The living dead

I felt a bit emotional when I listened to the song about kids leaving home in the Mamma Mia movie that Ella was watching.

Me - This song makes me sad because it's about kids leaving home and one day you'll be all grown up and leave me too.
Ella [getting all teary] - Mum! Don't say that! Remember, I will always live with you? And we were going to work together?
-----
Ella - Do you know what makes me sad? When I think about how you are older than me so you are going to die first. [Chokes up again.]
Me - We should stop getting sad about things that won't happen for a long, long time.
Ella - Is that when you will never see me again, when you die?
Me - I suppose so.
Ella - Yes, because if you would come back alive, you'd be a zombie!

That cracked us both up and then we practised our zombie imitation.

20 August 2010

Favourite things

I'm selling a benchtop dishwasher and was checking my Ebay listing today. (And then typed as Ella talked: this is a very literal transcript.)

Me - Seven people watching, but no bids yet.
Ella - Why don't you make it look a bit better?
Me - It's a dishwasher, how would I make it look better?
Ella - You could draw fairies on it and... Every one would want one of those!
Me - Not everyone likes things with fairies on it.
Ella - Everyone does!
Me - What about boys?
Ella - Boys like butterflies. I'm only joking!
Ella - Boys like Spiderman and Superman and ... Girls like fairies and Batgirl and Supergirl and Wonder Woman and Spidergirl. Those are all the people that girls like. Coz I like those things. And also girls like nature. And animals. And boys like animals, but nothing else, for boys. And girls like dresses and tights and socks and leggings and dresses and t-shirts and skirts. Look, girls like much more things than boys do. And girls also like ponies and unicorns. And horses. And girls like heaps of animals. Which you probably already know coz I love animals. I don't just like them, I love them. That's why I care for Luna.

19 August 2010

The advantages of literacy

I'm starting to notice the benefits of Ella being able to read. For example, I suddenly realised she is now reading the whole title of recorded tv shows on our PVR hard-drive instead of just looking at the first letter and guessing. Or asking me to read it for her.

And it's quite handy that I can now write notes to her, as I discovered this morning.

We got to school early today only for me to discover that there was no food of any description in Ella's schoolbag. I put the blame fair and square on her as it is her responsibility to pack her bag. And I was not impressed about having to now lose time by dropping off her lunch order and recess on the way to work and the potential nightmare of having to find a carpark at the school around 9am. So when Ella asked me if I could also get 20c from her money stash so she could buy the jelly that I had agreed she could get, I refused. My argument to her was that I did not want to waste yet more time by having to get the money from her room though my real reason was that I thought she should feel the consequences of forgetting to check her bag before we left.

But as I grabbed her food from the dining table, I mellowed and went to get 20c of her bedside drawers. I didn't want to distract her by giving it to her directly in class, so I decided to sticky-tape it to a bit of cardboard and stick it it in her bag of popcorn. And as an afterthought I wrote on the card - in my neatest printed writing: "Best mum?".

  

New technology

They started on our kitchen renos yesterday. As we had no power for a while, I was having a rest under my warm doonah while Ella entertained one of the tradies who was having a break. She walked back and forth to show him an array of balloons and toys. Then I heard following monologue from the kitchen:

Ella - And you probably wouldn't have done this at your school when you went to school, but we have a special song. It's 'Count us in' and the song is on the internet. And an internet is err... an internet is err...
Me - Ella, I'm sure he knows what the internet is, sweetie.

I should've not said anything to find out how she was going to explain 'an internet' to an 'old person'.

  

13 August 2010

Culinary holiday

They're starting on the replacement of my kitchen next week so it has to be completely emptied.

Ella - Can we eat in the tower restaurant this weekend?
Me - No we can't because I have to pack up the kitchen.
Ella - Is it going on a holiday?
Me - No, I think it'll be going to the tip.
Ella - Oh no! Don't say that. Imagine that the tip is actually a holiday place for kitchens?
Me - A kitchen resort, that's great!
Ella - And it's called the Kitchen Holiday Tip House.
Me - Lucky kitchen!

10 August 2010

Dramatic

Ella seemed a bit unwell today but wanted to go to school. So I tried to spur her on to get all her stuff together. She walked back into the bedroom after a fruitless expedition to find her shoes:

Ella - [quivering lip, close to tears] Mum! Why didn't you answer my question?
Me - Because I didn't hear you at all.
Ella - [starts crying quite dramatically] And now [sob] I can't [sob] remember what [sob] the question was [sob, sob, sob].

She cried even harder when I burst out laughing.

I decided to keep her home from school until she's feeling less fragile.

Duh moment #423

I left the dog with her coat on this morning but when I came home from work the coat was nowhere to be seen.

Me - Luna, what happened to your coat?
Ella - Maybe a thief took it.
Me - What kind of person goes around stealing coats of dogs?
Ella - A thief who has a dog.

Duh.

25 July 2010

Aww moment 345

I was reading an email from my niece in Belgium.

Me - Kaatje asks how you're going?
Ella - Good.
Me - Is that all you want to say to her?
Ella - "Ik hou van jou."
Me - Do you want to write it yourself? You can write it in English.
Ella - Why can I write it in English?
Me - Because Kaatje understands English now. She's learning it at school.
Ella - Does she know 'I love you'?
Me - I think she does.
Ella - Because school told her that the first day she went there, because it's so important to know that word.

 

07 July 2010

Predictable

Watching Masterchef together:

Gary - "And the winner of the mystery box challenge this week is..."
Ella and me - Ads.
[I skip through the ad break]
Gary - "And the winner of the mystery box challenge this week is..."
Ella and me - Alvin.
Gary - "Alvin!"
Me - This show is getting a bit predictable, isn't it?
Ella - Yeah.


24 June 2010

Pretending

Me - Ella, the landlords are visiting on Saturday morning. You know what that means, don't you?
Ella - Yes. It means we have to pretend that we keep the house tidy.

14 June 2010

Reading

A couple of weeks ago Ella started bringing readers home. It was a great moment when she read a book to me for the first time. And I loved listening to that hackled, stuttering reading without any intonation whatsoever. I could tell she was truly reading as opposed to having memorised it because she struggled with the word "here" on every single page.

She's been bringing books home regularly since and her reading is coming along in leaps and bounds. What a fantastic milestone! Even more fantastic because they don't really understand what a magical gift being able to read and write is. But she still enjoys it and feels very proud. So she should be being one of the first in her class to "get it".

But the proudest moment for me was when we were at the RSPCA the other day and she pointed out a sign with a cute puppy dog on it. I asked her to read the sign and after concentrating and sounding out the first word, she read: "Woof, woof, woof, woof".

Not exactly Dostojevski, but a huge step towards greater independence. If only all signs were in dog language, she'd be there already.

 

10 June 2010

Honest

Ella - Mum, you know I love you for so many reasons. And one of those reasons is because you give me money and battegongs [= bakugans].

09 June 2010

Things I would've never expected to hear my child say

Opening the front door for a friend last night:

Ella - Hi Mikki. [Casually] We're just killing some baby mice. Do you want to come see our other mice?

07 June 2010

Child abuse

Ella had to take some medicine this morning. A powder consisting mainly of salt dissolved in a bit of water. She errggh-ed and yuk-ed for ages until I got fed up and walked out to get ready. When I came back the cup was empty and she was rummaging through the fridge to find her recess snacks.

Me - Ella, did you drink your ALL your medicine?
Ella - [silence]
Me - You didn't did you? Did you pour it in the sink?
Ella - No, I did not pour it in the sink.
Me - Did you drink it all.
Ella - ... Yes.
Me - I don't think I believe you. Tell me the truth Ella. Did you drink it or pour it out?
Ella - I did drink it.
Me - I still don't think I believe you.

And I had to leave it there because I could not prove that she was lying.

Fast forward to tonight.

Me - Ella, tell me honestly now, did you drink all your medicine this morning? I won't get angry if you tell me the truth.
Ella - No, I poured it out outside.

After that followed a few conversations about me not being able to believe her anymore now and that it would take a while before I could again.

Me - If you always tell me the truth every time now, I'll believe you again. But you must never lie. If I get cross over whatever it is you've done, so be it, you'll just have to deal with that.
Ella - But never hit me for no reason!
Me - [laughing out loud] Have I ever hit you? And for no reason? Imagine. 'Whack! What did you do that for? No particular reason.'

We'll see how we go with the lying. It's a tricky one. I always thought that lying should be regarded as worse than whatever they're trying to hide. But that implies that if they choose to tell the truth it cancels out the bad thing they're supposed to have done. It confuses me. So I think all I can do is appeal to her sense of morality... And develop a better bullshit radar!

05 June 2010

Cancellation

I don't know where she gets these from...

Me - We have to go visit Kala (friend's dog) because she's very sick and she won't live for much longer.
Ella - Is her life going to be cancelled forever?

Staying alive

Ella - And mum, something important in life is...
Me - What?
Ella - ... that you still breath. You have to breath.

If it weren't for Ella's survival tips, I would've probably dropped dead by now.

26 May 2010

Vivid imagination

Ella has this friend who has a really vivid imagination. And Ella is oh so gullible!

The other day she told me that Em does not live with her mum and dad. She lives with the queen. The story went for about 20 minutes and greatly confused me. When I finally convinced her that there was no queen in Australia, she decided that she must live with the Governor General then. Sigh.

Yesterday she informed me that Em now does not have a mother anymore. Apparently her mother was sitting on the toilet one day when this metal claw came out of nowhere and grabbed her by the chin. She died. She acted out the horrible accident for me whilst sitting on the toilet. I did manage to make her see on this occasion that that story could definitely NOT be true.

Em also convinced Ella that x-rays hurt and Ella once did not visit the school library for 3 weeks because Em had made her believe that everyone who entered the library had to wear 3D glasses!

It does make me laugh often and I tell Ella that Em is a damn good story teller. But I also get annoyed because Ella believes everything Em says and prefers to stick to her version of events when I try to expose her lies through logical arguments!

And I have now absolutely no idea what to believe when it comes from Em. Like, did she really have an older sister Beth who died in hospital? Not the kind of thing that you could casually ask a her parents!

17 May 2010

Like love

Ella - I think I know why you love me so much.
Me - Why?
Ella - Because I'm so nice to you and to other people. And because I say sorry when I hurt you. And...
Me - That's why I like you. But you know what?
Ella - What?
Me - If you were absolutely horrible to me and everyone else, I'd still love you. But I wouldn't like you very much.
Ella - Oh. But I think I know when you started loving me so much.
Me - When?
Ella - When you knew how much you liked me!

10 May 2010

Forever and a day

I found myself having a conversation about mortality with Ella in the car. As usual, I was being brutally honest and then started to regret my bluntness halfway through the conversation.

Ella - Mum, it's going to be a sad day when we die.
Me -  I suppose, but we won't know.
Ella - You mean we won't know that we'll die that day?
Me - We might. If we're really sick and the doctor tells us that he cannot make us better.
Ella - Oh, that would be bad.
Me - But that happens mostly to old people.
Ella - That's good then. But it will be a sad day when we die.
Me - But we won't know because we'll be dead.
Ella - But if we're in heaven we'll miss all our friends and be really sad.
Me - IF there's a heaven we'll be happy there because everybody's happy in heaven. IF there's no heaven then we won't know anything because we won't be able to feel or think when we're dead.
Ella [suddenly getting teary] - But our friends and family, they will be sad the day that we die and they will miss us.
Me - Yes, that's true. But it's no use getting all sad about it now because we won't die for years and years and years and years...
Ella - ... and a month!

Maybe that's what my bluntness does. It teaches her to lighten the mood when it gets too dark.

09 May 2010

Mothers Day

So I had a sulk on Mothers Day because a) my child did not even remember it was Mothers Day (thank you school for being so overly politically correct that you won't even mention Mothers of Fathers Day at school anymore!) b) even after I explained that the idea of Mothers Day should probably be that you make your mother feel special and appreciated my child did not make me feel any more special or any less of a servant than any other day of the week and continued to watch tv all day c) said child did not keep promises.


So I scrubbed the whole house on my own. Mind you, it was necessary and I felt a lot better after it was done!

In the afternoon I finally got out of my sulk-powered cleaning fit and decided to join the fruit of my labour in her laziness. So we watched a DVD together and I confirmed that she was the best Mothers Day present I could wish for.

Next year we will make it a mother-daughter day and plan more relaxing things to do that we both enjoy.

29 April 2010

The mouse saga

So we got 2 pet mice last January. Apparently they make perfect first pets. They're very portable too. Ella took Polly and Katie with when we went to visit a friend mid-January. She only told me a couple of weeks ago that she dropped one of the mice when she got it out of the cage and the dog got to it before she could. I had no idea, but I did notice that the poor mouse suddenly had paralysed hind legs. A shoe box, some scissors and a running car engine later, we buried the mice in Fiona's garden.

And the a few days later we went to get a new Polly. She was very cute and Katie was over the moon with her new friend.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I suddenly noticed that Katie was getting rather fat. And fatter every day until I was convinced that she was indeed pregnant. I was proven right when one morning I discovered a wriggling heap of peanut sized pink baby mice in the top of the cage. I Googled "mice AND pregnant" and learnt that mice are only pregnant for 25 days. Much shorter than the time since the first Polly died. I called the pet shop and left an angry message for the manager regarding being told they sold me a male mouse when I was now stuck with too many baby mice to count. Then I called a vet and asked if they could desex a male mouse. The receptionist laughed at me. The RSPCA was friendlier but could also not help. The 3rd vet practice told me one of their vets was "willing to give it a go". The fee would be 10 times more than what I paid for the mice.

So one Monday morning I took Polly to the vet to have him castrated and prevent more baby mice. Two hours later I got a call from the vet practice. "You brought in Polly the mouse to be castrated? That will be impossible, because she is actually a girl." Everyone at the vet's practice had a good laugh at my expense.

Seriously confused, I booked another appointment and took the whole cage with all the mice in and asked them to tell me how on earth we managed to end up with all these unwanted babies.
The vet checked both adult mice and told me that they were definitely both girls. Apparently both of them were mothers too because there were babies in 2 different sizes.

So the only possible explanation is that a wild mouse got into the cage and wooed our Polly and Katie. And then I remembered that for about a week there was indeed a hole in the top of the cage. Which I hadn't worried about because our mice don't seem very agile and I never believed that they could get out of the cage that way. I blocked the hole when one morning Ella reported finding Katie on her bed. And wild mice are obviously far more agile than our lazy pets.

I put an ad in the classifieds offering the baby mice free to a good home. I had already managed to get reservations for 6 of them. Until they started growing hair and getting more active and I realised that they seemed to have inherited all their dad's genes and few of their mothers. Our pet mice are quite calm and tame. These babies are WILD. They are skittish and they scurry away in all directions at the slightest sound or movement. They jump up and bite when trapped. And they all totally look like the wild mice that poo in our pantry when the cold weather sets in.

We still had to deal with the wild mouse or mice that - I discovered in the meantime - had been helping themselves to our food uninvited: a capital sin at my house! So we got out our mice traps - that got quite a bit of usage the first winter we lived in this house - and set them in the kitchen and Ella's room.

And a couple of nights ago I heard a snap sound in the middle of the night. In the morning I discovered a very dead mouse in the kitchen trap. I left it to deal with later after my first coffee. When I told Ella she went to have a look. Moments later she appeared in my doorway dangling the dead mouse by the tail. She held it up and had a good look at it and said thoughtfully: "So this is the daddy."

I asked the zoo last week if we can bring the - 14 according to Ella - baby mice in. The guy at the reception told me in a low voice: "They will probably end up as food." I wasn't quick enough to reply: "I didn't expect you to give them their own exhibit!".

Ella is a bit sad about it of course. She knows they will get eaten. She's seen the mice in the freezer at Taronga zoo. And I don't believe in telling lies to spare her feelings either.

I think she also understands that there is nothing else we can do with these feral mice. We've had a few escape: mainly because they jumped out of the cage when we opened it or ran over our arms and dropped to the floor. We've managed to find them all back, but it takes an hour of moving everything in Ella's room and tilting shelves. I will be glad when we go back to just Polly and Katie. Who I appreciate more than before now I've witnessed their journey through motherhood. And who appreciate me more too now I've been feeding them all sorts of delicious and nutritious snacks every day, like meal worms and bok choy.

Ella asked me the other day - at bedtime - if she could name the babies. Because of the time of day I told her that that would take way too long because there were too many and anyway, we can't tell them apart. But Ella said: "Oh mum. I'll call this half Lilly and this half Nick."

So next Friday we say goodbye to Lilly and Nick and wish them well on their short adventure at the zoo.

23 April 2010

Phantom ingredients

We were watching Masterchef.

Ella - Mum, do ghosts really give milk? Because milk is what they make cheese from. And they said "ghost's cheese".
[It took me a while before I could stop laughing.]
Me - Goat's cheese.
Ella - Yeah, ghost's cheese.
Me - No, goat. Meeeh, meeeh.

Not sure if she actually believed me. I do wonder what ghost's cheese would taste like.

13 April 2010

Memories

Those who know Ella will already be well aware of her aversion of babies. She is quite vocal about it. But the fact that it includes herself as a baby really says something about the extent of her dislike.

I showed her this video I discovered on my old harddrive and asked her what she thought when she was watching it. Her reply was: "That it's boring."

She even told me to delete it because she would never want to watch it again!

Wasn't she a beautiful baby though?


06 April 2010

Flat feet

The doctor told me yesterday that Ella has flat feet, which may explain the hip pain complaints.

My first reaction was to say to her: Sorry Ella, you wont' be able to join the army now.

Ella thought this was so funny that she got me to repeat it 3 times.

02 April 2010

Random conversations #4

Riding our bikes to walk Luna the dog.

Me - I so look forward to going to the movies!
Ella - Do you know what I look forward to, mum?
Me - No.
Ella - I look forward to being in year 6!
Me - Why?
Ella - Because then I can be someone's big buddy.
Me - But you don't even like younger kids!
Ella - I will then.
Me - I hope so because otherwise I'll feel very sorry for your little buddy.
        You're funny, Ella!
Ella - No, you're funny!
Me - Well, we're a funny family.
Ella - No. Only you and Luna are funny.

A bit later I said "Go on girl" to Luna as a sign for both her and Ella that it was safe to cross the road.

Ella - We're a whole girl family, aren't we?

Girl power rocks!

28 March 2010

Night vision

I was on the phone with my mum tonight. I talked a bit long when I was actually supposed to be reading Ella bedtime stories. Suddenly she switched off the light and continued jumping on the bed while I sat there in the dark talking into the phone. I finally interrupted my phone conversation and asked:

Me - Ella, why did you switch of the light?
Ella - Because I ate carrots and I want to see if they help me see in the dark.

That made total sense to me too.

20 March 2010

Schoolground politics

This is a drawing that one of Ella's best friends at school made a couple of days ago.



The blond girl in the picture is Ella, the other one is the friend. The drawing worries me on a number of levels. Combined with the stories about the way the girl treats Ella. The girl's tactics to control Ella usually involve crying and threatening to tell the teacher. The latter is what really gets to Ella, which I think has a lot do with a bad experience at daycare last year.

I try my best to convince Ella to stand up to this girl, but I think it may be time to get the teacher on board. All I would want her to do is to assure Ella that she will not jump to conclusions when the friend 'dobs on her' but will give Ella a fair go. Because I am confident that there isn't anything to "tell".

I am very proud that my girl has a solid set of morals and values at the age of 5. And I can't just stand by while some other child is trying to take advantage of that and Ella feels powerless to defend herself. My aim is always to give her the skills to deal with issue like these without needing any help from grown-ups. But she needs to be reassured that the significant grown-ups in her life will always stand by her if she does the right thing.

Schoolground politics? It's a minefield.

18 March 2010

Reading

Ella - Today at school, I read 'sat' all by myself!
Me - Wow!
Ella - I read s a t. Sat!
Me - I'm so proud! You can read!
Ella - I can only read 'sat'.
Me - I'm sure you can read other words too. See if you can read this.
Ella - p a t. p a t. p a t. Sat? No. p a t. p a t. Mat? No. p a t. p a t. Pat!
Me - Well done! See, you can read.
Ella - I can only read some words.
Me - But that's a great start. Let's try a harder one. What does this say?
Ella - t a p. t a p. t a p. Pat? No. t a p. t a p. t a p. Mat? No. t ap. t a p. t a p. Cucumber!

I expect this is going to turn into a running joke from now on, where she's going to yell 'cucumber' whenever she can't work something out..
.

14 March 2010

Responsibility

Thursday afternoon:

Ella - Do you know what we talked about in school today, mum?
Me - No, what did you talk about?
Ella - We talked about "My stuff my responsibility." And your stuff, your responsibility.

Friday evening, sitting on the bed watching tele:

Me - Ella, would you please fetch my mobile for me?
Ella - Mu-um! Don't ask me to do stuff just because you're lazy!
Me - Fair enough, but I just feel really tired because I've had a busy day. Could you please do this for me, that would be really helpful of you.
Ella - Mum, remember what I told you: "Your stuff, your responsibility"!
Me - Ok. If it's like that, from now on you can do your own shopping, make your own sandwiches, cook your own dinner, wash your own clothes, mow the lawn,...

I'm not really sure where the lawn mowing fitted in, but it cracked her up. And she did get my mobile for me!

03 March 2010

Anti-nagging mission

I got so over the nagging in the morning to get Ella ready for school that this morning I made a firm decision not to ask anything more than once. But I did need a back-up plan because it would've ended in drama if I would've left her to her own devices.

So I used post-it notes!

After I reminded her just once of what she needed to do, I allowed enough time for her to do it and instead of repeating the request I drew and wrote the instruction on a post-it and stuck it on her dress (or her body before she got dressed which took her close to an hour I think). After that, if she wouldn't have completed the previous task, I wouldn't even verbally remind her of the next task, but I just kept adding post-its to her. I think the maximum she had stuck to her at one time was 4.

(She wasted valuable time colouring in and improving 2 of the post-its before she got dressed.)

We were still 20 minutes late, but oh boy, I felt a lot calmer after not hearing myself repeat every instruction 10 times until I started sounding desperate and angry! The 20 minutes were added as a penalty to her wake-up time and bedtime, ie she had to go to bed 20 mins earlier tonight in order to get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning. If she can prove that she can get ready in less time tomorrow, we'll move the bedtime and wake-up time back again.

Say NO to nagging!

Random conversations #3

Me - Ok, pack-up time!
Ella - They [school (Lin)] don't say pack-up time anymore. They just put music on.

So I played Pink full blast and only once had to point at something she'd missed and everything was packed up before the last notes of Rockstar had faded. You gotta love school!

*****

Me - I wrote on Facebook that I'm half superwoman, half supergrump.
Ella - [laughs out loud] - You're right, mum!
Me - Which part is right, superwoman or supergrump?
Ella - Err.. superwoman.
Me - You're so nice, Ella.
Ella - I didn't want to say supergrump because I didn't want to be mean.

*****

Ella - You are the best mum I ever had!

18 February 2010

School

Ella started school (kindie) on 1 February. She loves it of course, I hadn't expected anything less. I had an interview with the teacher last Monday and there really wasn't much to say, no concerns and no complaints from either party.



The highlights for her so far:
- Riding her bike to school, and parking and locking it herself. With her OWN lock!
- Hanging out with her best friend Katarina, whom she knows from preschool. The teacher did tell me she has to separate them when they have to sit and listen to the teacher because they chat to eachother non-stop.
- Her school dress. I wasted money on a skirt, a skort and a polo shirt but when I try to get her to wear them because her only dress is dirty I get a "oh, but Katarina gets to wear her dress every day!" Probably a good thing as I made her white polo shirts go a very pale blue the first time I washed them.
- "Fighting" with Aden and Fletcher from the class next to hers. She knows them from preschool also and plays with them during recess and lunch. I'm very happy that she's befriended some boys again. Her apparent sexism was starting to worry me a bit.
- Playing with 6yo Jack and Taisha from across the street. Jack is in year 1 and wears size 10 clothes. He's a good friend to have in the playground. He showed her his best hiding spot, which came in handy when a grade 3 girl started bossing her around at the playground.
- Being star of the week, which apparently means she can be first in the line and have the teacher's little teddy on her desk. Everyone gets a turn of this so I don't think it's meant as an award.

Unfortunately she does not seem very excited yet about the class activities. She cannot wait to start writing and I can't wait for her to start maths as she can do all sums under 20 and regularly beats me at Rummikub.




30 January 2010

Aquarium casualties

We spent the last afternoon of our stay at Mystery Bay at a little inlet in the National Park.



Ella - Mum, let me show you my path.
Me - Ok.
[I start following Ella climbing up the rocks, passing rock pools and listening to her commentary in her shopkeeper voice]
Ella - And this is our aquarium.
Me - Ooh, little fish.
Ella - Yes fish and there's other animals in there too, snails, maybe crabs. They are all for sale.
Me - No thanks, I'm not all that interested in fish at the moment.
Ella [continues to the next rock pool] - And now I'll show you our crab. His name is Nibbles.
Me - What a great name for a crab!
Ella - Do want to know how he died?
Me - How?
Ella - I had an elephant in the aquarium as well. Someone selled it to me. And the elephant crushed the crab.
Me - And now you're trying to sell me a dead crab!
Ella - Pretend it is alive, mum.

She ended up selling me an imaginary hermit crab and a shell to put him in. I passed on the sea snails - even though she convinced me that they were the ideal pet as they didn't need any care at all; you just stick them on a rock.

26 January 2010

Favourite words

My favourite Ella-words are:

Sunscream
Bully ants*


* 'bull ants' are large ants that are usually quite aggressive and have a very painful bite.

17 January 2010

Just in case

I told Ella that I entered the lotto with work and that we'd have to share the 30 million, but there'd be more than enough left to buy a house.

That afternoon in the car:

Ella - Mum, if we win the lotto, I've been looking at houses with a pool.
Me - On the internet?
Ella - No, in the newspaper.

That evening before bed:

Ella - Mum, if we win the lotto, we'll go to the shop that sells houses.
Me - We will.
Ella - But we'll need lots and lots of people to help us carry the house. To the truck.

10 January 2010

It's cool to be uncool

When I was a child we rode our bicycles around everywhere without a helmet. Noone wore a helmet. And it is still not a legal requirement in Belgium now.

Then I came here where bike helmets are mandatory. I do not like wearing them. And so I don't for short trips. I only wear one when I ride a longer distance and/or on a main road.

But I do enforce Ella always wearing hers. I got tempted a few times to let her off wearing one because kids' helmets never seem to fit very comfortably. And they're unpleasant for anyone in 38 degree heat. And... she doesn't fall very often!

But this morning she had the mother of all stacks. She was riding on the foot path, I was following a bit behind her on the road. I used to ride right next to her those first times we made this trip, just in case she came off the footpath. But she always went pretty straight. Until this morning...

She said "I'll race you to the second pole, mum!", sped up, the bike did a massive wobble and was suddenly lying on the side of the road with Ella flying after it. I see the fall in slow motion now because I instantly started replaying the scene in my head. And what I remember most is seeing her head hit the bitumen. Her helmetted head. The beautiful head with the rather uncomfortable chunky helmet that I bought only a couple of weeks ago. I saw it hit the bitumen hard.

I love helmets. I love my child without serious head injuries. I'd still love her if she had serious head injuries! But life would not be quite as rosy as it is today. The grazes were easily fixed with a couple of band-aids. The tough stretchy brown ones. And some Detol cream. The crying stopped after a couple of minutes and a cuddle and she got straight back on the bike and rode home.

I hate hopsitals.

I love helmets.

07 January 2010

Solutions

Ella had a bit of a meltdown because her water bottle didn't come back from her holiday and she needed water to drink next to her bed. I gave her some clear messages about crying not being a suitable way to deal with problems and finally she started calming down and came up with:

Ella - I think there's a water bottle in the bike basket.
Me - That's right! If you go and hop into bed, I'll go get it for you. I'm very proud that you managed to think of a solution all by yourself. See, there's a solution to every problem!
Ella - Not if a balloon is cutted!

I absolutely love it when kids challenge cliche generalisations! It shows they can think for themselves. Little smarty pants.

06 January 2010