Turning It Up To Eleven

Here's G enjoying herself on the climbing frame in Uppermill this morning. Whenever clambering up onto it, or up the nearby slide, she's got into the habit of counting her steps as she goes, just like she does at home.

As a result, G's counting is coming along very well, although she sometimes goes 1-2-3-4-5-8, completely missing out 6 and 7. And because there are eleven steps on the way upstairs in our house, she usually finishes by saying 9-10-11 rather than stopping at the more traditional 10.

She often emphasises the last number with quite a flourish: "ELEVEN!" (or rather more accurately, "LEH-VEH!"). That's also the moment when, if we're at home and she sees there are still two to go, she looks confused and tries starting again at some random earlier number for the last couple of steps. But then, as we all know, you can't go any higher than 11.

Cut Finger

I was putting away the shopping in the kitchen earlier when I notice G walking over with her hands in front her. There was red all over her fingers, and she'd got a bit on her jumper too. I was about to castigate her for drawing on herself, when I realised that the felt pens were still well out of reach on the shelf. No, G had managed to cut herself and was bleeding.

I would probably have sprung into some kind of urgent action had G been at all bothered about this. Instead, she held out her arms and said "hands" in a confused sort of way, as I dug out the antiseptic wipes and a plaster from the medical box. Actually getting the plaster on caused a lot more upset than the injury to her finger, and she picked at it for a few minutes before settling down in front of some CBeebies, my daytime treat to her for being such a brave little soldier.

It turned out that she'd managed to break a small glass which had been hidden inside something else in the living room. As I picked up the broken bits, I found a couple dramatically stained with blood, rather in the manner of a crime scene off TV. Any guilt on my part was tempered by the fact it was hardly a major emergency, though. Given that Mrs J has managed to break each of her four limbs during her life, I'll save that for when G does something similar.

In The Night Garden

We need to talk about television. When G was a bit younger I used to try to keep her away from the box in the corner of the room as much as possible. Partly this was because she didn't seem that interested in it, other than when she was a small baby and could be diverted by the flickering lights and sounds for a few minutes at a time. But it was mostly because I knew she'd end up watching plenty of telly when was older, so did my best to delay her interest in it for as long as I could.

A few months ago though, a bit of TV in the early evenings became necessary. I'm usually cooking tea between 6ish and 7ish, and G would habitually lean on the kitchen stairgate during this time, watching me potter around by the stove. After a few months of doing that every day, she started to get bored, and I found myself having to constantly bob in and out of the living room trying to find things to keep her occupied. By far the best way of doing this turned out to be, yes, the TV. Or to be precise, the CBeebies Bedtime Hour.

I'm now guaranteed an hour of quiet every evening while I get the food ready. The main reason is G's new found love of the programme which takes up half of the Bedtime Hour each evening, In The Night Garden. Made by the people who brought you Teletubbies (and the frankly frightening Rosie and Jim, spongey faces and all), it's a baffling array of colours and characters of varying sizes, accompanied by bits of music and the tones of Shakesperean favourite Derek Jacobi, slumming it a bit in his role as narrator.

It would take more than a simple blogpost to begin to explain all that goes on in an episode of In The Night Garden. Indeed, there have been entire PhDs awarded for much less. It may be utterly confusing to grown ups, but G loves it, and that's the important thing.

One of G's favourite characters is Upsy Daisy. Here she is demonstrating the dance that Upsy Daisy does in every episode.

I'm sure she'll go off it one day soon. But as long as it keeps her amused for the time being, I'm happy to let her keep watching. Two-year-olds can't all watch Question Time, you know.

Cheese Sandwich

G has always had a healthy appetite. But if there's something she likes more than anything else, it's bread-related products. Breadsticks and crumpets were an early favourite when she was still just a few months old, and sandwiches and (whisper it) cake rarely last long in her presence these days.

Unfortunately, as her talking improves, G has developed the ability to ask for what she wants at mealtimes. And what she wants is a cheese sandwich. Always.

After I spent the afternoon making roast pork for tea on Sunday, she took a look at the plate in front of her and picked around the food doubtfully. The conversation went something like this:

G: "Cheese sandwich?"

Me: "No, eat the food you've got."

G: "Cheese sandwich?"

Me: "No darling, look at all that yummy food daddy's made for you. Mmm, yummy."

G: "Cheese sandwich?"

And so on. Eventually, after she realised she really wasn't going to get a cheese sandwich, G started eating. She did eat most of her roast pork in the end, which just proves how devious even two-year-olds can be. Me and Mrs J had finished ours by this point, and went to hide in the kitchen to eat pudding, so G wouldn't want that instead. Which perhaps proves how devious parents can be.

As the picture shows, I gave G a cheese sandwich for lunch today though. As G herself has learned to say: "Mmm... nice!"

Lost Sheep

G has started going to nursery. It's two days a week so far, so I can do some work lecturing at various universities across the north. If I can get some more work in the new year we might extend it a bit, but it's Tuesdays and Fridays only for now.

After a full two years at home with me, the transition has been difficult at first for G. During the first settling-in session, we left her in one of the nursery rooms for an hour while me and Mrs J sorted out some paperwork next door. We were vaguely aware of a kind of distant sobbing throughout, and when we went to get G we realised it had been her all the time.

The next day, I left her for two hours. Although I didn't have to sit and listen to her crying, I had a pretty good idea that's what had been going on when I turned up to collect her. She immediately burst into tears, shouted "Daddy!" and grabbed my leg. It was all so dramatic, I thought the only thing for it was to treat her to some ice cream:

Her first full day didn't go much better. The crying and leg-grabbing began as soon as we arrived, and continued until I left, which kind of put me off all the work I had scheduled in for myself during the rest of the morning. Not that I felt or feel guilty about leaving G at nursery, I think she needs to start spending more time away from me and with other children, but the trauma of it all was a bit off-putting.

When I picked G up that afternoon, the nursery staff suggested she join a group of younger toddlers, instead of the older ones that she had been with. Things improved straight away. Although I got more weeping at the next morning drop-off, she was a lot calmer when I went and got her that afternoon.

The nursery staff, of course, didn't miss a trick. "She's been playing beautifully all day... She ate all her lunch... We'll send you some photos!" they said, clearly concerned that I didn't look entirely thrilled every time I turned up with a sobbing two-year-old.

It's obviously in their interest to give me the impression that my daughter actually loves nursery and is full of smiles as soon as I've gone, and I know this is probably true. But it's still mildly amusing to see them battle to reassure me. I can only imagine that some parents decide to switch nurseries or give up on the whole idea if their child doesn't settle in straight away.

Sadly for G, she's stuck with it. Not least because the nursery we're using is one of the few around which offers flexible enough hours so both me and Mrs J can do drop-offs or pick-ups if we need to, depending on our work commitments. Besides, G is already looking a bit less like a lost sheep with every nursery visit, and the morning crying is now down to token levels. Soon she'll be crying because she has to leave, I'm sure.

Green Lipstick

This is what happens when you turn your back for five minutes. G had one of her colouring books out on the living room coffee table, and I gave her some felt pens to use instead of the usual crayons while I went into the kitchen to do something.

When I returned, I found that G had taken her first steps in make-up. I was quite impressed at how accurate she was, there wasn't a trace of green anywhere else on her. Not sure it's really her colour though.

Cheeky Face

We had some family up at the weekend to extend G's birthday celebrations a bit. On Saturday we went to Shibden Hall near Halifax to enjoy a picnic in the unseasonal sunshine.

In the playground, G had a go on the roundabout, and Mrs J caught her doing this face. She looks suspiciously guilty, but I can't think what for. There's a limit to the amount of trouble you can get into on a roundabout, after all. Even for G.