Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Serious Business of Play

Two days before Christmas and a blanket of snow sees me grinning like a mentalist, building tiny snowmen in curious places and quick-step-quick-step-sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide-flail-flail-slip-stepping to the office.  I'm looking forward to Alex being old enough to enjoy the snow, as it will reduce the number of disparaging tuts I get for playing about in it.

Alex, meanwhile, is settling down to some serious play.  When you're teeny-tiny, play is pretty damn important.  How else do you learn about the world and how it works?  Can you eat your own hand?  Only one way to find out!  How about standing up?  Can that be done with one leg bent?  No, but it does result in Daddy pulling a funny face and catching me as I plummet Earthwards.  Interesting.  Will this duck ever sink?  Just what is that thing between my eyes, and why does it go "beep" when it gets poked?  Or is that Dad being silly again?

All of this is tremendously amusing for Nic and me, but not quite so funny for Alex.  Some things do amuse him; the nose beeping for one.  Others require absolute seriousness and concentration.  It's strange as an adult to watch someone jumping up and down (with assistance, obviously) with a look of absolute concentration on their face.  He's obviously contented (he'd be crying if he wasn't), but he doesn't look happy as such.  It's more the face of someone concentrating on a particularly difficult but satisfying structural engineering problem.  Enjoyable, but not amusing.

I can't help but wonder how much of these behaviours will evolve into "fun" play, and which will just drop by the wayside as Alex gets the hang of them.  Standing up seems to be far more interesting at the moment than sitting down, but will that last?  Will the jangling bumble-bee remain his preferred rattle, and will it ever be fun, rather than just totally absorbing.  ("Whoa!  That bee, man, it's like, totally jangling my mind!")  Will he ever get bored of being tickled?  (Not if he's like me he won't.)  Who knows?  It'll be fun to find out though.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Corners Like It's On Rails

You may recall my inane ramblings about prams a while back.  Over the last few months, our giant poo brown and Seventies orange pram has done sterling service.  In the last couple of weeks, though, Alex has been promoted to his shiny new push-chair.  Unlike the pram, it's tastefully coloured and brand new.  (Thanks Hazel and Alan!)  Alex loves it, as it allows him to see the world as it goes past.  Nic and I love it because it's about a ton and half lighter than the pram and folds up much, much smaller.

It's not all good though.  It doesn't go totally flat, so it's not as good for snoozing in.  It's also got much smaller wheels, making it only really good on smooth surfaces.  (Pavement, fine.  Gravel, not so much.)  It has a shopping basket bit, but when you've got a reclining child in the seat you can't actually put anything into it.  The handles don't adjust height wise and aren't quite high enough for me.

It's biggest flaw is also its biggest boon though.  It corners with barely a thought.  That's great for going around corners, but it's also kind of alarming.  Imagine having a really twitchy shopping trolley full of the most expensive wine in Tescos.  Then take it out into traffic.  And make the wine cry.  Sometimes, you just want to go in a straight line, and quickly with it.  the pushchair, however, sometimes wants to go at right angles.  It can be a bit alarming.  The old pram was a pain to corner (you had to press down on the handle to lift the front wheel off the ground), but went in a straight line without thought.  Swings and roundabouts I guess.  Still, for sheer ease of use, the pushchair wins hands down.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Duck you!

Alex has discovered the delights of bath toys.  Specifically, the rubber duck.  Even more specifically, MY rubber duck!

For the last few baths, I've been putting the rubber duck in to float about with Alex.  This has really been for my amusement.  Alex was more interested in splashing about than playing with the duck.  In all honesty, I don't think he even noticed it.

On Sunday, however, he suddenly got the idea.  I think the duck bumped up against his knee, alerting him to its presence.  Since then, the duck has become a firm bath time favourite.  The preferred method of play is to have the duck floating around Alex's legs and for him then to kick the hell out of the duck until it flips over.  Sometimes, for added difficulty, he'll pincer the duck between both feet and drag it up the bath. then kick the hell out of it.  Either way, the duck comes off worst.

When he first did this, I was alone in the bathroom with him.  (Nic was taking the opportunity to do a quick tidy, crazy woman that she is.)  This being the most exciting thing since his last poo, I obviously shouted for her to come through.  Naturally, Alex stopped playing once Mum was present.  In encouraging him to play, I let Nic see the bottom of the duck.

The duck was quickly banned from bath time.

It seems that Mr Duck had not been keeping himself as clean as one might expect from a bath toy.  His (normally) yellow bottom was coated with a thick, black mouldy sludge.  No matter how exciting Alex playing with the duck was, there was no way he was being allowed back into the bath.  Alex and I mourned the passing of Mr Duck.  Nicola just gave him a wipe with some disinfectant.  The disinfectant was significantly more effective.

Thanks to the power of Tesco's Bathroom Spray, Mr Duck has been allowed to make a triumphant return to the bath.  He was back last night, in full glory.  Alex celebrated by kicking the hell out of him.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Blue Eyed Boy, Green Eyed Monster

I've found that I'm getting jealous of other people spending time with Alex.  Not Nicola looking after him during the day (I'm still in awe of the fact that she's not gone stark, staring mental over the last three months), but other folks getting cuddles when they come to visit.  It's a strange experience.  In some ways, it's a massive relief to have someone else there to entertain him.  It gets tiring holding him upright all the time.  And no matter how fun it is, thee is a limit to the amount of times you can blow raspberries at him before your tongue goes numb.  And yet... And yet...

When other people are holding Alex, I can't help but want to take him back off them screaming, "He's mine, damn you!  If you want one so much, get your own damn son!"  It doesn't matter how long they've been holding him, ten seconds or two hours, it's all the same.

I suppose it's related to the impulse to protect and care for our offspring.  Cuddles are a bonding experience, and I want Alex to bond with me.  It makes parties and social gatherings a bit of a pain.  Hoarding one's baby is not exactly polite.  Plus, I want him to socialise and be used to other people.  I just want him to be able to do it from the comfort of my arms.

*          *         *

On a cuddles note, Alex has just begun to hug back.  Pick him up, clamp him tight to your chest and shoulder and his little arms will fling out wide and he'll grip onto your jumper.  It's obviously a "I'll cling onto you so you don't drop me" response, not a "I love you" response, but it still brings a smile to my face each time he does it.

P.S.  The photo in illustrating this post is of my cousin Christine and Alex.  I don't mean to imply that Chris is a baby hog!  It's just a nice photo of Alex with someone that isn't me or Nic.  Sorry Chris!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Three months old... And it goes a little something like this...

(With apologies to ljck @ superhero. from whom I have blatantly stolen the style and idea for this post.)

In the best traditions of You've Been Framed, this montage should have a tune.  For the full over-ripe, smuggled in from France, escaping off the side of the plate Camembert cheese factor, I'd suggest Sweestest Thing by everyone's favourite Irish stadium rockers, U2.  Just try and not actually listen to the lyrics...

Three Months Old...
Let me count you in Holmes

1...2...  1, 2, 3, 4!
Little Man

Homeward Bound

Trout and About

It's All Relative

Getting Bigger


Making Friends

And Influencing People

And In The End...

(Ah-ahhh-ah, the sweetest thing...)

I can haz guest appearance?