Friday, September 23, 2011

"Dear C" published at The Dirty Napkin

A fictional letter I wrote, "Dear C" is now up at The Dirty Napkin.  You can also listen to a recording of me reading it! 

You'll only be able to read or listen to it while the current issue is current.  Once it gets archived, you have to be a subscriber to read the full piece, so read / listen while you can :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shopping for clouds, 'tache removal for dolls & Moomin anatomy

After over a week of rain, we finally had some sunshine.  Glorious, hot September sunshine.  So Jake and I headed out to the marshes again.  Today we ended up in Springfield Park via the Caff on the river, where Jake lost the top half of his Cornetto, bawled (even though I told him I'd get him another one, he picked the fallen half up of the floor and wanted to eat it) and then proceeded to have a nosebleed. 

In the midst of all this, three Dads and their toddlers were at the Caff and the little ones decided to rearrange all the chairs.  They were obviously not familiar with the angry woman who runs the place, whose special method of anger mis-management is to take it out on children who decide to play with the chairs.  I'm not joking either.  Last time I took Jake there, he was playing with a chair and even though we were the ONLY people in the place, she kept glaring at him, then roughly pushed the chair back to its place even though he was still on it and said to him rather than to me, "You can't move the chairs, it's a health and safety hazard."

Today, the little ones had lined the chairs up for a show.  Chair-rage woman saw it and stomped into their midst without actually looking at them and then proceeded to noisily drag all the metal chairs back into place.  One of the Dads noticed and said, "Oh dear kids, this lady is not happy!" and she muttered, "I've got enough work to do as it is without messing about with chairs," then stomped off inside.

I was sure she was going to have a go at Jake for daring to have a nosebleed outside the door of her establishment (health & safety hazard obviously) but she didn't.

Later, we went to the park and were entertained by watching the Dads who'd been at the Caff.  One Dad in particular kept getting into intense conversations (from holistic health practices to the cut-throat world of publishing to teenage rebellion) and not quite keeping an eye on his wandering son.  Three times the young man got away.  The first two times he didn't quite manage to get out of the gates of the park.  But the third time, he managed not only to get out of the park but also up the nearby bridge crossing over the river.  That one took us all by surprise, me included.  The other two Dads with him were in hysterics when chatty-Dad brought his kid back.  "That wouldn't be good would it," one of them said, "not on your watch."  And the other said, "Oh yes darling, he just went for a little swim."

Watching all this, Jake said to me, "Did he go for a little swim?  That's bad isn't it Mummy?" and shook his head.

Later, when they had to go, Jake said, "Oh, they have to go now.  That means there won't be any more funny things to see here."

So we went to play in the playground, where I learned that Moomins don't have bellybuttons (a pronouncement Jake made completely out of the blue), and that Spongebob (or Sponboj as Jake still calls him) likes popcorn and watermelon icecream.  I also had a moment of wondering if he was in fact my child when he suddenly asked me, "Would you like to come jogging?"

Then we threw dried grass at each other and into the pretend swamp and ran up and down a hill.  We also played shops.  We took it in turns to be shopkeeper and pretend customers. 

When I was being shopkeeper, Jake came in as "Dolly" and asked for clouds.  I said, "Oh, I don't think I can get clouds today."  Jake paused, left the shop, pretended to go to the shop next door and completed his transaction without any problems.  Then he came back to me and said, "You just have to pretend Mummy."  That told me!  He also came in as a slide (with eyes) asking for a spanner and a tree asking for bricks.

Then, when he was being shopkeeper, I came in as "Dolly" and asked for hair removal cream for my mustache.  (Since we acquired her, Dolly has mysteriously gained a scribbled on comb over and a 'tache).  Jake perused his shelves and said he didn't have any cream but handed me something else.  "Here's a tissue," he said.  "Are you sure this will work on a mustache?" I asked.  "Yes," he said very firmly.  Then asked me for £40.

Finally, I came in as a ladybird. 
"What would you like?" Jake asked.
"I'm very lonely and I'd like a friend," I said.
"Hmmm, what kind would you like?" he asked.
"A funny one, and someone who understands me," I said.
"Stands you?"
He thought about it and then said, "Sorry, I only have one that can sit."

Perhaps it's because these little friends are so nicely designed for sitting:

South Tottenham with his new friend Gospel Oak (or Ospel Goak)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Napping Ninja

This afternoon, Jake lay on the sofa watching Iconicles.  When it finished, we were due to go to the official opening of The Mill, the reclaimed and refurbished old St James St library where I will be volunteering.  But this is how I found him. 

I believe that in Yogic Toddler this is known as Napping Ninja.  If it isn't, it should be.

Perhaps this will be the beginning of a series of Jake Sleeps photos.  I have one somewhere of him asleep standing up.  Must dig that out. 

Monday, September 05, 2011

Life with Jake

One evening last week, while lying on the floor playing with his toy truck, Jake went very still.

“Jake, are you falling asleep?” I asked.  It was .  Not the ideal time for him to be having a nap.

The back of his head nodded twice, then I heard snoring.  He was still holding his truck.  He stayed in that position for an hour.


On Friday last week we had a glorious September day – sunny, warm, HOT even.  So we went to the Marshes.  I couldn't believe how long it'd been since we were last there.  It's been such a crappy summer weather-wise.

While walking past some bramble thickets, Jake flung his sunglasses into the thorny mass, stopped and said, "Uh oh!"

I stopped and asked him why he would do such a thing.  He shrugged, looking as surprised as I was that he'd done it.  I looked but I couldn’t see a sign of them anywhere.  I then launched into a mini lecture about why that was a naughty thing to do and how it isn't easy to find sunglasses like that (they were bendy and indestructible and he liked them and actually wore them AND they were fairly cheap and from Decathlon in South London - South London for goodness sake!!). 

We walked on and a few moments later I found a pair of children's sunglasses on the path, hot pink and heart shaped, but still. 

"Well how about that!  They're pink and heart shaped but they'll probably fit you.  What do you think Jake?"   I put them on him.

"I don't like them."  He said, but didn't try to remove them. 

I took them off him but kept them anyway, tickled by the whimsical notion of a magical bramble thicket that taketh and then giveth away. 

Later, I apologised to Jake for ranting at him about throwing his sunglasses.  I'm sure he didn't mean to lose them on purpose.  I said, "And don't worry, we can get you some new ones."

"We got some new ones already," he replied. 

He hasn't worn them yet, but he's allowed me to keep them as if he might.  We shall see.


On the same sunny day, sitting by the river outside the greasy spoon caff with Jake, watching people drink tea and ride by on their bikes, he says,

“I’ve got things in my mouth.”

“Really, what have you got?”

“I have a cuppa tea!”

“Wow, a whole cup of tea!”

“Yes, and bicycles!!”

“Wow, that’s a big mouth you’ve got there.”

“Yes.  But not as big as Daddy’s.”


While reading Mog the Forgetful Cat the other night, a story we’ve been reading at bedtime for a number of months now, Jake suddenly interjected, “He needs to be shot.”

Being the morally corrupt parent that I am, I guffawed.  So naturally he kept doing it.  I could kind of understand.  The dog was chasing Mog, so yeah, maybe he needed to be shot.  And Mr & Mrs Thomas for sure, with their irritating middle-class-English pronouncements of “Bother that cat!” when Mog crushed their precious geraniums or slept on a hat that THEY'D left on a chair or her tail blocked the boxing on TV.  Honestly!  She's a CAT.  Get OVER it.  So yeah, they needed to be shot.

But when Jake said Mog should be shot I had to disagree.  He thought about it for a moment then said, “OK, just his tail needs to be shot then.” Naturally I guffawed some more.

I was convinced this had something to do with Daddy’s version of Mog, but Daddy swears it wasn’t him.  Hmmm.  I didn’t realize Jake was quite so imaginative.

Inspired by his inventiveness, I decided to rename the Thomases "Shingenshengen".  Jake found this infinitely amusing.  And it makes Mr & Mrs Thomas a teeny bit more bearable.


In the playground the other day, Jake asked for a wipe for his face.  When finished with the wipe, he held it under his chin and said, "Look I've got a beard!"

Then he pointed at various people in the playground and pronounced whether they had a beard or not.  Some of those that did were women.

Must be all those trips to Stoke Newington.


Jake: I can hear the recycling truck very far away.
Me (not hearing it): Wow, you have really good ears.
Jake: Yes I do. (Pause) WHAT? (giggles hysterically)

And apparently he’s a comedian too.


Of course it isn't all laughs and free sunglasses.  Most days he feels the need to disagree with me about everything, from where I'm allowed to touch in and out with my Oyster card or whether the sink is in fact full of washing up to telling me I am not hungry and am therefore not allowed to cook or eat. 

And I can't even begin to talk about the hell challenge of feeding him at the moment.  Some things just can't be spoken of in company.  But, since I read the other day that children generally become assholes when they turn 3, I think we're doing alright.  :-)

And finally...following the creation of South Tottenham, Jake has suggested two more characters for me to get busy with: Hackney Downs and Gospel Oak (and yes, they are train stations).

Watch this space!

(Apologies for the weird spacing in this post.  I don't know why it's happening and I don't know how to fix it.)