Household favourites

A dustpan and brush, a plastic golf club and a ball. These are the objects that could keep the Little Mister happy for an entire day. Life is good being him. It’s full of his favourite things. This is them:

1. A toy dustpan and brush set with a miniature broom. We bought this little set when we realised how much Milin loved watching the big people around the house sweep the floor. The broom is undoubtedly his favourite toy, or household object. He spends much of the day sweeping, and it is the first thing he looks for after getting out of his high chair after a meal. Let’s hope this behaviour continues.

2. The golf set. Again, this was bought by the Little Mister’s grandma when it became apparent that his favourite bit of sporting equipment was his grandfather’s golf clubs. The much lighter toy versions keep him occupied for hours. He is happy using a tennis ball, toy golf ball, lightweight plastic ball, leather football or foam ball with the clubs. It doesn’t matter – any ball will do. A close second favourite bit of sporting kit is a pair of mini tennis rackets he has just been given. I have a feeling he is going to like sport.

3. Pots, pans, wooden spoons and plastic containers. The Little Mister has one cupboard, the plastics cupboard, and he can open it up and sit in front of it for ages. His favourite object is usually a sieve. Wooden spoons come a close second. These implements are used for playing tennis and teething respectively. The cupboard’s contents are also useful for ‘cooking’ and ‘drumming’.

4. Books. There’s a few favourites, and some fall in and out of favour. But a book about animals, The Noisy Book, a book about a London Bus, and a couple of musical books which tinkle the tunes to ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ and ‘the wheels on the bus’ are long-term favourites. Thanks to the latter, he is also now able to point out his head, knees, toes, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Shoulders are a bit trick, but at the end of the day, the Little Mister loves reading.

5. The box in the corner. It’s not on all the time, but CBeebies is my mealtime saviour. Postman Pat, Mike the Knight, and Wooly and Tig are the best at getting Milin to eat. At all other times of day he wants to watch tennis. He’s going to love Wimbledon.

The Little Mister loves some other stuff too. He loves putting his shoes on because it means it is time to go outside. He loves singing and dancing – which consists of bending his knees, bopping, and swaying. He loves saying his favourite word ‘bubble’, he loves it when his daddy comes home. He loves his daddy’s bike. He loves ants (which he calls ‘na’) and he loves bath time – but he hates having his hair washed.

Life, for the Little Mister, is about all of these things. In the corner of the kitchen, meanwhile, are boxes of all-singing, all-dancing fancy plastic toys. They stay in their boxes most days.

Playing golf

Playing golf

Accidents do happen

INCHES from the Little Mister’s head, my not-quite-empty wine glass smashed into tiny pieces of shrapnel. It was the morning after, I wasn’t drinking at the time, I was carrying it to the dishwasher, I was balancing it on a plate so I wouldn’t have to make two trips, I was trying to save him from catching his fingers in the draw. There are so many excuses. He didn’t get hurt.

But I’ve not stopped thinking about it for three days. I nearly broke a glass over my Little Mister’s head. He could have got glass in his eyes, his mouth, his precious skin, he could have dug his hand, knees and feet into the floor where all around him tiny pieces had scattered. He didn’t, I know, but how did it so nearly happen?

I was carrying a pile of dishes gathered from the last evening into the kitchen. I should have done them the night before. There he was at my feet, while I balanced them – carefully – on the last metre of my journey. He looked at me and grinned. Two little bottom teeth on show. And I realised he was playing with his new favourite toy. The kitchen drawers.

His mini-sized chubby fingers were gripping the top of the bottom draw he had just pulled open. With his other hand, he had clasped the handle of the drawer above. He was teetering on his feet, balancing only on one closed drawer and on the handle of one open drawer. Which was about to slam shut.

I went to grab him with one hand. In my other hand, the plate shook, and the glass fell. Slowly. I watched it.

His fingers were safe. I’d got him. But the noise of a glass smashing all around him terrified his sensitive soul. He was safe.

It was a reminder that could have ended quite differently. We thought we had baby-proofed, but that was before the Little Mister started cruising round the furniture. Now, more than ever, I can’t take my eyes off him. And as for letting down my guard and balancing a glass on a plate over his head – I won’t be doing that again.


WHAT gave me the right to judge the man in the park who stood around with his mates while his baby slept in the swing? Was it that his little one, younger than the Little Mister, was so slumped forwards that he looked extra forlorn? Or was it that the baby was so completely fast asleep, cap on a slant, that he looked extra pitiable? Or was it that the little guy looked so especially tiny while he was surrounded by the group of men gathered around the swings?

Parent-judging. It’s ugly. But I still do it. I detest being on the receiving end. But I still do it.

The Little Mister and I, after a pretty amazing morning walk around the zoo (where we crawled on the grass and hung out with a wallaby, a giraffe, a pelican and a duck), tried to go to the swings. It’s one of our go-to activities with the park just around the corner and a bit of fresh air is never a bad way to tire the little boy out.

As we got close, I decided we’d keep on walking and give the swings a miss. At 3.30 in the afternoon, a group of young men were gathered around the bench and swings, smoking, drinking, and looking generally harmless but not particularly inviting.

But as we walked past, I saw the baby. He was small. Smaller than Milin. The swing was completely still, because he was asleep in it. His arms were hanging over the top. His chin on his chest at an angle, his head was slumped forward. He was so little, and so asleep.

Around him, they smoked, drank, laughed. He slept. I judged.

What do I know? Perhaps those parents hadn’t had sleep in four days? Perhaps the swing was the only way they could get a break, and he could get some sleep. What do I know? Nothing about them. But my heart ached for that little boy, sleeping in that swing, while the grown up boys around him got on with their day in the sun.

Swings, the beach, and peek-a-boo

A RIDE on the swings, a walk along the beach and a first-time-ever go on a see-saw. Yesterday was a pretty awesome day in terms of fun for the Little Mister. While I was at work, his nani and nana ji were in charge. And he loved it.

He’d already had a good morning – I’d taken him to Baby Rock and Rhyme at Kilbirnie library and he’d had a great time singing songs and watching his mama mess up the hand movements. But it seems that it was once I’d left for the office that the fun really started.

The Little Mister loves getting out and about. It seems to be a common theme among his baby friends. It doesn’t matter what the weather is, being at home is boring. This works well for all concerned really, because being out also usually means being more tired and having a better sleep as a result. Except for the times that it means being over-tired and having a meltdown because we were somewhere the Little Mister was too distracted to get some shut-eye.

So yesterday, Little Mister was taken to Lyall Bay by his grandparents. It sounds like he played on the baby swing for about 15 minutes. I wish I’d been there, but I’m told he was kicking his legs in glee. And jabbering away at the same time, telling the older kiddies at the park all about it. Next up was the see saw – another hit – and of course he had a walk on the beach watching the waves and a little time factored in to stare at the sea gulls.

He really is a joy. He brought so much happiness to everyone who looked after him yesterday. And as he learnt more about the world about him, he too was one happy little pixie.

The Little Mister loves the swing. But more than that, he loves his nana ji.

After a day at the beach, the Little Mister played with his grandparents at home. Here he is, laughing out loud when nana ji – his favourite person – plays peek a boo from behind the door. So much joy.


Party Planning

WE ARE off to a first birthday next Sunday. It’s the first one, the first party for one of Milin’s baby friends. And it’s got me thinking about when our own Little Mister reaches his first birthday. What shall we do?

It’s more than four months away and he won’t remember it, but I feel like it’s terribly important that we get it right. I want to celebrate. I want to make him laugh, and smile, and spend a day being incredibly happy as everything is going his way. Granted, he spends most days laughing, smiling, and being incredibly happy – but surely on his birthday I can manage to edge things up a bit? Whether it’s because he gets to play with wrapping paper (which I’m guessing he’ll love because he loves chewing newspaper), or because he gets sung silly songs to (which he already loves), or because he picks up on the atmosphere that something special is happening around him – it’s terribly important. (To me.)

I want to make the Little Mister happy every day, but on that day at the end of this year I want to try even harder. And, going back to that other thing, I want to celebrate. We will have made it to one year. Phew.

New Year’s Eve. How lovely it is to look forward to it now.

So, the Little Mister’s first birthday is already occupying my thoughts. What shall we do? Where? Who shall come? What about the invites? It wasn’t so long ago planning like this took on a life of its own and became all consuming. That was for our wedding. So is it too much? For a little boy who is just going to be one and will never know the lengths we went to? Of course not.


Come to think of it, we could just get the Little Mister a new stainless steel bowl for his birthday. This one from the kitchen is his current favourite toy. It’s a teething aide, musical drum and mirror all in one.

On the other end of the toy scale – we scored this with our Fly Buys points – before deciding to move back to London. Of course we can’t take it with us. In the meantime, we’ve just started putting the Little Mister in it this week. He loves being wheeled around. I can’t believe he’s already big enough for it.


Thank You Mummies

WHILE the Little Mister was almost beside himself, and I was closer than him to the precipice of holding it all together, I sought advice from baby club. The poor wee babe has had a trying week being sick, and come the weekend, I was feeling helpless.

So I asked for tips from my wonderful mummy friends. Not by phone, because phone calls can always be interrupted; not in person, because I didn’t want Milin to pass his bugs on; but via the wonder that is the interweb.

Come Saturday morning, at a loss, all I wanted was some new ideas – or even just a few mummies to say they’d been through this too. I emailed, I asked my various mummy groups on facebook, and I generally put the cyber feelers out there – help me, I asked.

And what a response. I was told that tui bee balm, pawpaw ointment and sudocreme are the wonder cures for nappy rash, combined with lots of air and sunshine. I tried it – it was true. I was given advice on water, soap, teething, tummy aches, baby being clingy, baby not feeding … the list went on. I tried almost everything, because if another mummy found it worked for their baby, it was worth trying for the Little Mister. And of course, lots of the tips worked.

So, thank you mummies. Not only for your advice and for sharing your secrets, but for sharing your stories. When the Little Mister was wailing, and I felt I’d done everything wrong, it was so good to know that I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. I wasn’t the first mummy to feel despair at not knowing how to help, and I know I won’t be the last. Your suggestions made the Little Mister better, which was the only thing I wanted this weekend.

There might not be a handbook that comes with motherhood, but the community that grows around you means you don’t need one.


A Day for Firsts

Lying on his rug in front of the fire, Milin rolled from his back onto his tummy tonight. Well, it was really more like he launched himself onto his belly and then wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

He’s been trying to roll off his back for weeks. Which is interesting, because he hates being on his tummy. So tonight, after his bath and nightly massage in front of the fire (I know, lucky boy), the Little Mister surprised himself. The move usually starts with a serious back arch, then he looks all the way over his right shoulder, chin angled up, and tries to push himself round. Tonight he managed it, and landed rather unceremoniously with his face planted on his mat. He was shocked. I picked him up quickly, gave him a cuddle, and we continued with some good night songs.

And then he did it again. And again. Except when I didn’t pick him up these two times he got rather upset. He realised he was on his tummy, and with one arm stretched out underneath him, he couldn’t roll back. Ah the joys we will have if he rolls onto his tummy at night…

Of course, I am suitably proud of my Little Mister. I’m also filled with awe at how much he is learning. He has so much to figure out, and every day, he figures out a little bit more. Sometimes he gets frustrated at what he can’t do, but mostly, he just tries again and he gets it eventually. Amazing.

He showed me today how much he is growing up. We went down to Island Bay for a walk along the south coast and a hot drink at a cafe stop with Tony. What a beautiful winter’s day it was out there. Milin had enough after a while in the buggy and I got him out and held him as we walked.

He’s seen the ocean before. But today, he really saw it. He was transfixed. He didn’t even want to look at Tony, his favourite person. He couldn’t take his eyes off the huge moving blue mass which stretched into the distance. I wonder what it is like to see the world for the first time. And to like it. It was a day of firsts.

Watching the ocean


Today I had to go to work. Before I did though, the Little Mister spent the morning being generally awesome, super cute, and very cheery. In short, he made me very happy.


Baby Karma

When I was three weeks old, my mum apparently offered me to the dustbin men. They refused to take me, and she was left to carry on walking me up and down the street through the early hours while I wailed in my pram. I never did become a good sleeper.
Later, it was trying to feed me that became the next battle. I didn’t want to eat, apparently.
So now, more than three decades later, i’m wondering if I should really be surprised that feeding and sleeping aren’t the Little Mister’s favourite activities. Maybe it’s some kind of cosmic payback for my own trying behaviour as a little one. Maybe its baby karma.
After six weeks of waking every two hours through the night for feeds, I’m hoping Milin has turned a corner. We’ve just had a few nights of four hour stretches, and while I’m trying not to set myself up for disappointment, I can’t help feeling a tiny bit optimistic. Which is good, because trying to get food into him is exhausting.
Given that I (pre-baby) wore heels out of necessity, Milin was never going to be a big baby. Tony was a nine pounder, but the Little Mister weighed in at six, just like me.
And now, with his weight sitting at the bottom percentile of the chart, I have to try not to obsess about what the scales say. (Story of my life?) He’s such a happy one, who finds so much joy in the world he sees with his big awe-struck eyes. But I would  like him to have a few more baby chub dimples on his arms and legs, and for his ribs just to poke out a little less.
We’ve been trying food for about a month and Milin has probably ingested a tablespoon of pear and half a teaspoon of baby cereal in that time. He’s become quite expert at pursing his lips, turning his head away from me, and pulling off his bib with a screech when he sees the spoon. He is also terrified of the noise made by the whizz as it purées his steamed fruit. It is, it would seem, even more frightening an object than the noisy hand dryers found in cafe toilets.
My freezer is full of tiny pots of liquidised pear and puréed kumera. Will they ever be eaten? Of course we’ve tried making meal times fun, I’ve sang songs, created puppet shows, distracted him, let him hold the spoon – yes, we’ve tried it.
I’m not worried – he is growing and will eat when he is ready, I know. In the mean time though, it’s hard not to turn our daily attempt at solids into a battle of wills. I have to keep reminding myself that such a battle would be pointless anyway, given that Milin is far too clever for me! And even at our failed meal times, he continues to amaze me. I would never have believed that someone so small could be so strong-willed. He might not like food yet, but at least he knows what he wants.