A Laptop Naptime Mama

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Where's the Little F**ker Gone?

If you’ve read some of my other blogs, you’ll know about my aversion to kids movies and my desire to have Benny side-step the Nemo/Cars/Ratatouille phase and move straight onto enjoying the kind of movies which I enjoy – from chick flicks to indies to, one day when he can deal with the loud noises, the Terminator movies.

My plan has been partially successful. Benny does sit through a myriad of films from Volver to The Devil Wears Prada, both at home and at the movie theater (just last night we took him with us to see Sicko). He even seems to enjoy them.

However, he has seen Cars and, I’m sad to say, is rather obsessed with the movie (we now can not leave the house unless we have Benny’s Lightening McQueen, Sally, Mater, and Flo toys in tow). Some might argue it’s like the candy thing. The kids who’re denied it, crave it even more. Which I can see up to a point, but at least Benny does enjoy his green beans (read Volver) too.

But I digress…

Another potential problem with Benny’s more mature movie watching is the language. Some people might not consider the movies we watch appropriate for three year old Benny. We don’t watch anything violent or scary, but so far we haven’t censored films in terms of there “adult” language. I once wrote a blog about Benny seeing a poster for “A Squid and A Whale” and calling out “Fuck, fuck, fuck” as he remembered the scene in the movie where Jeff Bridges plays ping-pong – rather badly.

The language “problem” has not gone away since then. Although, these days I’m seeing it less as a problem and more as noteworthy stage in Benny’s language development. And a pretty funny one at that.

The other night, while staying with my in-laws, we all watched the movie, “Venus.” In one scene, Peter O’Toole is cutting the toenails of his old friend, only to have one rogue toenail ping off and disappear into the abyss of the living room carpet. O’Toole then scrabbles on the ground saying, “Where’s the little f**ker gone?”

We all laughed at the scene. Benny too. But that, it seemed, was that.

But, lo and behold, the next day, we realized that wasn’t that. Brad, Benny and I were traveling back to New York and stopped off at our favorite little café/pub in small town Harrisonburg. During lunch, Benny managed to drop a tater-tot on the floor and before even blinking he shouted out, “Where’s the little f**ker gone?”

Now, perhaps I should be ashamed. Or at least a little worried. After all, does is this a bad sign of things to come? Will Benny become the notorious potty-mouth child that every kid and parent in the park talks about in hushed, shaking-head whispers?

Maybe. But you know what? I’m not ashamed or worried. I’m proud. Proud that my little minx has learnt to swear in the correct context. Not only that he did it in an endearing and rather amusing British accent.

It was a precious parenting moment.

To find out more about our fabulous first time novelist Joanne Rendell, visit her blog at http://www.joannerendell.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Soap Gets in Your Eyes by Joanne Rendell

There are times, as a parent, when something happens which you knew was going to, but you acted that fraction of a second too late to prevent it. Like the times, when you see your little darling using a toy truck as a footstool and you open your mouth to shout “Be careful” just that millisecond too late and watch in horror as the toy truck skids away and darling one thuds, knees-first, to the ground.

Or the times, when you see a bowl of cheerios teetering on the side of the table and think to yourself, “Now, if junior runs past that now, it’s going to fall.” Only to have junior run past, knock the cheerios flying, just as the thought finishes forming in your mind.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all said, “I knew that was going to happen” as we nurse a grazed knee, pick up the pieces of a once-prized toy truck, or mop up spilt milky-cheerio mush.

There are also times, as a parent, where something happens which you just never saw coming. But as soon as it happens, you slap your head, mortified by your own stupidity, and say, “Sh*t. Of course!”

This happened to me yesterday. One of those “Sh*t. Of course” moments.

We have a small cabin in the Catskills. Sounds idyllic and rather frou-frou, no? The reality is rather different. Although we love our “shack” – our own term of endearment for our summer vacation spot – the place is rather primitive. So primitive, in fact, that we have to buy day passes at a nearby campsite so we can access hot showers and thus stay clean while we’re staying at the cabin.

Last summer, we used a kiddie pool to bathe Benny, figuring he was too young for taking a shower. This year, however, we decided he was old enough to give the showers a whirl. So yesterday, armed with towels, shampoo, and big bar of soap, Benny and I took our first campsite shower.

At first, everything went swimmingly. The water was warm, the showers were clean, and Benny was in a good, open-to-something-new, mood. I showered first and then when it was Benny’s turn, he let me soap him and even let me, very briefly, dunk his hair under the hot water.

The trouble started when I was busy shampooing his hair and, for a distraction, I handed over the bar of soap and gaily instructed Benny to “Go ahead…wash your belly.” Manhandling the slippery soap was a lot of fun, until Benny reached up to rub his dripping face.

I just didn’t see it coming. The soapy eye rub followed by heart-stopping, lung-emptying wail, I mean.

But as soon as it happened, and in the minutes which followed as poor little red-eyed Benny howled his way through the searing sting in his eyes, I thought “Sh*t. Of course.”

When you hand a three year old a bar of soap, you should warn them about the possibility of soap burn. If you want them to ever to take a shower again, that is. And if you’d like to leave a serene campsite without everyone thinking you were strangling your child in the shower stall.

I suppose it’s just another lesson at the University of Parenting. One, incidentally, I won't be forgetting too soon.

To find out more about our fabulous first time novelist Joanne Rendell, visit her blog at http://www.joannerendell.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Say Cheese

If you give a three year old a digital camera…you come up with art.

It’s true. I’m telling you, just try it. Of course, that’s if you don’t mind your prized Canon SD400 being manhandled by peanut-butter stickied fingers and possibly dropped into a toilet, river, ocean, or steaming bowl of soup.

We took the plunge out in California and handed over the camera to eager-eyed Benny. The results were pretty amazing. The kiwis (above) is my favorite, but check out some of Benny’s other masterpieces at
his flickr page.

Okay, I admit I didn’t upload all his shots on flickr….like the one of my left nostril and one of Benny’s palm or the three blurry shots taken while Benny tried to photograph a basketball bouncing.

But there weren’t too many deleted ones. Most of them were interesting little gems. And after pondering Benny’s shots, it occurred to me that people go to photography school to relearn what they lost in the process of growing up. They (re)learn to have the child’s eye again. To see things as photographable, when a million others wouldn’t.

So I say, go on, give it a try. Hand your kid the camera. They might break it, but they might also win an prestigious photography prize while their at it.

Joanne Rendell is in the middle of writing her debut novel - to keep up with her progress as a writer, wife and mum, visit her at her blog, http://www.joannerendell.blogspot.com.