Pancake Day

Mrs J was away in London, so it was just the two of us for Pancake Day this year. After she was so well-behaved during the lock-in drama of the previous night, I decided to treat G to a bit of sugar on hers. I put the last of the mincemeat left over from Christmas in mine, which I admit was very mum-like behaviour. Clearly after all this time at home I've gone completely native.

Locked Out/Locked In

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. Yesterday I went outside with the rubbish, heard the door close behind me, and realised I didn't have my keys in my pocket. This would be irritating enough, but while I was on the outside, G was firmly on the inside and stuck in the house on her own.

I pottered around the outside of the house and wondered what to do. I could hear G rattling about. But with all the curtains drawn, I didn't have much idea what she was doing, although it was a fair bet she's still too young for any Home Alone-style booby traps. I tried knocking on the glass door, and eventually she came toddling over. After some cajoling, I managed to convince her to bring her little chair towards the door. The conversation then went something like this:

Me: "Could you stand on your chair please?"

G: "No!"

Me: "If you stand on your chair and open the door, daddy would be very happy."

G: "No!"

I tried another tack.

Me: "Have you got a hungry tummy?"

G: "Yes!"

Me: "Would you like some cake?"

G: "Yes!"

Me: "If you stand on your chair and open the door, daddy will get you some cake."

G: "No!"

Clearly, this was hopeless. Finding one of G's hairclips in my pocket, I had a go at picking the lock. After all, the door was just on the Yale rather than the main lock (which was unlocked), and I'd seen it work in films. This seemed like a brilliant idea as I managed to make the lock move a little, but I got too greedy and a bit of the clip snapped off, instantly rendering it a terrible idea. When Mrs J got home from work her key wouldn't fit, so we were now both stuck outside.

Mrs J's arrival at least managed to distract G from yet another game of building a house with her big Lego blocks. Using all her powers of persuasion, Mrs J even managed to convince G to stand on her chair. Unfortunately, she wasn't quite tall enough to reach the handle. But she was very clever to at least make the effort.

G had now been inside on her own for more than an hour, and Mrs J decided to ring the fire brigade to see if this counted as an emergency. Apparently it did. And so a little later a fire engine turned up, and some helpful firemen with a large box of tools were soon pondering the best way of breaking into our house.

Obviously I won't tell you how they managed it, in case you come round next week and steal my TV. But the presence of the fire brigade was particularly good for two reasons. G got to see a real fire engine, and it meant we didn't have to get an emergency locksmith or glazier at vast expense. The main fireman took G's name though ("they will ask me back at the station"), presumably to prove that we weren't just a couple of timewasters. So I wouldn't try the fire brigade next time you lock yourself out. Unless you've genuinely got a two-year-old inside, obviously.

A Walk And A Cake

Now that I'm working more, I don't get as many days at home with G as I used to. In fact, she spent the first three days of this week at nursery, and yesterday in the creche at the university where I've been teaching, so it made a bit of a change this morning not to have to rush around getting her ready to go out.

We celebrated later on by going for a walk along the local canal. G has got a lot better at this recently. Last summer, she'd usually turn around every few steps and ask to be carried. But now she's able to toddle along on her own at a reasonable speed without getting too tired. As the picture above shows, she can get away surprisingly quickly if you turn your back for a moment. She seems to know not to go too close to anything dangerous though.

We walked a bit further to the local garden centre, which claims to have the widest selection of cakes in the north west. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but, given that she is Salford-born and partial to raisins, I decided to treat G to an Eccles cake.

She ate it all. Or at least, she ate what didn't end up on the floor, her top, or all around her face. Having come out without G's bag, I had to ask a nearby table of mums-with-babies for some wipes. Salfordian or not, I might get her something less flaky next time.

Valentine's Card

G was clutching this when I picked her up from nursery yesterday. She'd done it herself, although I suspect she may have had a bit of help with the writing.

Her nursery key worker said: "She's made this for you." Without thinking, I said to G, "Oh well, we're going to have to give this to mummy later aren't we?" The key worker looked at me blankly. It was only later that I realised little girls are supposed to give Valentine's cards to their dads.

I suppose I could have given it to Mrs J anyway, and just pretended it was from me. Probably much better than I could have managed.

Snow Gruffalo

G loves The Gruffalo. For the uninitiated, it's an illustrated story by Julia Donaldson, which seems to fill the space in the consciousness of the nation's children previously occupied by The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It's G's bedtime story most nights.

Since she got it for Christmas, The Gruffalo has been joined in our household by the sequel, The Gruffalo's Child. The animated version which was shown on Christmas Day has been replayed often since in our household, and both the cartoon and the book are now accompanied by a running commentary from G now that she has learned what's coming next.

At one point in The Gruffalo's Child, you can see a snowman Gruffalo made by the mouse (stick with me on this). G delights in pointing and shouting "Snow Gwowoh!" whenever she spots it. So we took advantage of Saturday's snowfall to make her one of her own in the front yard. I don't think she really knew quite what to make of it, especially as it was taller than her. Proper snow fun might have to wait until next winter.

Road Signs For Dolls

As befits the daughter of a stay-at-home dad, G has a wide range of boyish sorts of toys. It's not that I've deliberately set out to keep her away from dolls, it's just that an afternoon playing with her train set offers a better prospect of enjoyment for both of us. Which is of course the important thing.

This manifested itself once when, during a call by a health visitor, G completely failed to recognise a doll, and stared at it blankly intstead of brushing its hair as she was supposed to.

I got a sign the other day that G might be getting around this doll denial. When playing trains, she decided that all the signs were sleepy. So she laid them out on the floor and patted them, as shown in the picture.

She then decided that the signs had to kiss each other, so I was treated to the sight of Danger getting cosily intimate with Road Narrows Ahead. Poor G, I should probably give in and let her get a Barbie or something. But maybe not quite yet.