Hand in hand on the edge of the sand

Quibble and Squeak are holding hands, dancing around in a circle, giggling. Suddenly, they break apart and begin to run from one end of the lounge to the other, one arm outstretched shouting, ‘Superman! Superman!’. Quibble announces that it is time for the Big Ending and they both fall to the ground, legs in the air, waiting for their applause.

I blame myself. My love of Strictly Come Dancing predates both of my children. When the first series aired in 2004 I considered myself somewhat of an expert, having been a member of the Latin American and Ballroom Society at university. I tried to judge the celebrities fairly, as someone who understood a (dangerously) small amount of the technical aspects, but I usually just let myself get carried away by the beauty of the outfits and the magic of the dancing.

This year, for the first time, Quibble is old enough to stay up on a Saturday night to watch the first few dances with me. I tell Stanchion that seeing the scores adding up improves Quibble’s numeracy skills, that the exposure to different styles of music and dancing aids his creativity and self-expression and that it is good for him to see people responding to feedback. And I do believe that, I do. All those things are important… but, well, really, I love seeing him love the same things I do. On Sunday morning, after breakfast, we sit with Squeak at the iPad to show her the best dances. There is commentary from Quibble (who has an excellent memory for the judge’s comments), while Squeak points out all the different bright colours, and, in between the dances, they demonstrate their own unique interpretations of what they have seen. I usually just let myself get carried away by the, ahem, beauty and magic of the moment.

In twelve years of watching Strictly, I’ve never found anyone else who loves watching the dancing in the same way I do – except now I have. I’ve found two little people who like it so much they are currently attempting a mash up of a Waltz, the Superman Paso and what I can only assume is some sort of jazz ending.

“And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.”
― Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussycat

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In which we try Art, Baking and Nature

It seems that Quibble is so advanced, he has managed to turn into a teenager nine years early. He is becoming whiny, argumentative and wants to watch television – CBeebies or DVDs – all the time. We had been using TV to give him ‘down time’ once he dropped his nap, but now he announces ‘I need a little sit down in the lounge’ (code for ‘I want to watch telly now’) several times a day. He is totally mesmerised by everything he watches, which makes it a temptingly easy way to keep him out of mischief while I get things done. So this month, we are having a new regime. We are going to find new ways to entertain him and get quality time together during Squeak’s lunchtime nap.

My first step was to stock up on ‘crafty’ things; I have done this the cheating way by buying a handy pre-filled box from Tesco. Last week I spread the contents out along with glue, scissors, pens and card and suggested we make something. I had, of course, forgotten that we are not a naturally arty family and without guidance we ended up with a few squiggles on a piece of card and one corner hidden beneath three or four layers of car stickers. Lesson learned: you get what you plan for.

Undeterred, I moved on to baking. I’ve made cakes a few times in the past it has never 20130512-061856.jpgseemed very difficult. Of course the discovery that I seemed to have very little flour and no eggs was a bit of a setback, but I already had my apron on, so I wasn’t about to back out now. I found a biscuits recipe for which, if I only made half, I had enough flour. We weighed out the ingredients, discussing the numbers on the scale, and I felt like a Real Mum having a proper conversation with my child. I mixed the ingredients, because Quibble thought it looked a bit messy, then he got distracted by some other toys while I finished cutting out the biscuits and put them in the oven. After snack time, they were cool enough to decorate, although Quibble got a little overexcited by the first one and tried to use all the smarties on it. And despite the difficulties, I felt we had finally achieved something that I could put a picture of in my blog.

Then I found Mama. Papa. Bubba. – a wonderful blog, although it does have two things I don’t; really good ideas for activities and a child who seems enthusiastic about them. This idea seemed pretty simple; go for a walk and collect leaves and grass and so on in a muffin tray, so I thought I’d give it a try. I should own up that I made the labels for the tray while Quibble watched a programme on CBeebies. It was hard work to get him to buy into the idea and even when he did agree to it, we had to take his batman figure too. 20130512-062140.jpgHowever, once we made it out of the door he loved it. We found all twelve things, stopped to watch some ducks playing in the brook, and even made friends with some older children who wanted to know why he was wondering around with a muffin tray. (Seems a reasonable question).

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We talked, we smiled, we enjoyed each others company. I wouldn’t ask him to chose between this and an episode of Octonauts, but he has asked to do it again another day – I’ll count that as a success.