Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Playdoh Chronicles

Dear Sister-in-Law,
Thank you for the lovely gift. Little Robert loved it. No, we haven't had Playdoh before - I guess I always thought they were too young to appreciate it. But I must admit: I was wrong. They've been having such fun with it, all the wonderful colours and those cute little cutting and shaping tools! I especially love the little pizza-making set! What fun!
Thanks again and hope to see you soon,
Ginger xxx

Dear Sister-in-Law,
Yes, they're still having fun with the Playdoh. You're right: it really does foster imaginative play. Like pretending we're at a restaurant - which is what we have been doing since we got it. Every time my husband or I sit down, we get a plastic plate of Playdoh pizza shoved under our nose and we have to pretend to eat it. Such a laugh. Especially when Robert tries to actually eat it, or stealthily gets us to eat it by smuggling green pea-sized balls of the stuff onto our plates. I've tasted worse, mind you, but I'd rather my pizza dough hadn't been squished in the grubby hands of a three-year-old beforehand! :-D
Love to all,

Dear Sister-in-Law,
Yes, they still have a bunch of different colours. Why? Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? When they're finished with it, they just put it back in the appropriate pot. Or am I missing something here?

Dear Sister-in-Law,
Now I understand.
Yes, today was the day they discovered you can lump all of the colours together and make one big gigantic ball of Playdoh ! What excitement! And guess what - when you mash a bunch of beautiful, vivid Playdoh colours all together, do you know what you get? Something that resembles a giant turd, that's what! Apparently, this is the primal scream of colour theory: squished together, all colours just band together to become the ugliest colour there is. Fascinating, but educational at the same time.
This is a gift that just keeps giving.
Thanks again,

Dear Sister-in-Law,
Did you know that Playdoh hardens when it's not returned into its cute little colour-coded pots? Now that we only have one colour (Turd), it can't go back into the appropriate pot - according to the logic of my three-year-old - so it has to STAY OUTSIDE. Interestingly, it has not only hardened, but separated into a large number of smaller little balls. I think the colours are trying to regroup. In any case, the little balls have also taken flight and they're everywhere - under the bed, on the carpet, I even found one in my bra. It's like living with a herd of grazing sheep that are leaving their droppings everywhere. Goodness, it's hard to clean up, that stuff. But, anyway, this is the price we pay when we encourage our children to play creatively, isn't it?
Mustn't grumble, chin up! (Well, not too far up or I won't see what I'm treading into the carpet.)

Dear Sister-in-Law,
The flipping Playdoh is everywhere. Does it multiply or expand or join forces with other crap to make baby Playdohs? Does it just look bigger because it's sucked up every bit of fluff and dust on its travels across the floor and under the sofa? Seriously, this stuff should come with a warning.
I'm off to pick it out of the bed linen.

Dear Sister-in-Law,
Why do you hate me? Why? What did I ever do to you?
You know what your children are getting for Christmas, don't you?

Evil wench.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Surtee the Lonely Robot

I never set out to write a parenting blog. In fact, it's the last thing I want to do - writing this blog is all about NOT being a parent, it's about doing things without a child on my knee, under my feet or in my hair (and, no, I don't mean that metaphorically.) Sometimes, though, my attempts to be something other than Mama - which is who I am 99.99% of the day, as it's the first word I hear when I wake, the last word I hear when I go to sleep and a word I hear far too often when I actually should be asleep - just don't succeed because being Mama has given me some very interesting perspectives on life. How do you explain dreams to someone who has never realised that everyone dreams, for example? My three-year-old confided in me one day that he "sees ideas with his eyes closed" - and he was astounded that I also see ideas when my eyes are closed and, in fact everyone does. Imagine: I got to see the moment when a little person realised what a dream was. Isn't that great? I don't know if it's blogworthy, but it made my day.

And this is what happens with children. In the midst of the madness, the lunacy, the incessant talking about all kinds of stuff that seems entirely random and disconnected and sometimes very head-wrecking, there are some moments of startling lucidity and astonishing beauty. Like, for example, the day my four-year-old son came home from kindergarten and told me about the robot. His name was Surtee and he was always at the window looking at the children.

(Now, this is the edited version. What he actually said was something like this: "...And then Anna said I could share her apple and I said I only like red apples and her Mama gives her only green apples and then I said I don't like green apples and then she took her green apple and she wanted to have my red apple and then I saw a robot in the window and his name is Surtee and Anna doesn't want any more green apples because she wants red apples and he watches the children going to the playground sometimes..."
See? You get really good at filtering information.)

"Surtee?" I asked, incredulously.
"Surtee," he confirmed.
I shook my head, to dislodge any Lego bricks the little perishers might have stuck in my ears and repeated, "Surtee?"
"Yes," he said, already bored of the topic. I saw he was ready to launch into another analysis of the contents of Anna's snack box so I said quickly, "And he looks at the children going to the playground?"
"Yes," he said with martyred patience. "He stands like this."
And he pressed his arms by his sides, sticking his hands out like little flaps.
"In the window?" I asked:
He nodded firmly. "He's lonely," he said sadly.
"Surtee is a lonely robot?" I said. "But where does he live? Is he a real robot or a pretend robot? When did you see him?" - but he just wriggled out of my arms and went off to find his little brother to concoct new ways to flood the bathroom.

Concerned, naturally, that children at the playground were being spied upon by some creep in a window, I spoke to my husband about it and we tried to figure out what the child was talking about. Our son repeated what he'd told me: his name was Surtee. He looked out the window at the children going to the playground and he stood like this - cue little flappy arms and our son's best impression of a lonely robot's face.
"Will you point him out the next time you see him?" I asked and he nodded. I put him down off my knee and he went back to play, probably regretting he ever mentioned Surtee to his weird parents (does not bode well for his teenage years).

So for days afterwards, on the way to kindergarten, I asked about Surtee. Was that Surtee? Where does Surtee live? Had he seen him again? And I got nothing but 'No' or shrugs. Weeks passed, the weather turned colder, and one day the blinds on office block overlooking the road to the playground were pulled up, to let in the weak autumn sunshine.
"There he is!" my son shouted, pointing up at the window. "There's Surtee!"
And he waved frantically.
I looked up -
and sure enough -
there, at the window,
was Surtee.


Now we wave at Surtee every day. He hasn't waved back yet, mind you, but I like to think he feels a little bit less lonely.
- - - - - - - -

Special thanks to Katie K and Tammy for their comments - so nice to hear from you, it's like meeting old friends once again. [[Robot hugs]] to you both.