The big issues

Last night we watched Happy Feet on a movies on demand channel. Or I should say, Ella watched the first 15 minutes (asking me millions of questions: Mum, where is his mummy? Mum, when is the naughty seal going to come back?), then got distracted and annoyed me for another 15 minutes and ended up having such a massive tantrum triggered by being overtired (she hadn’t had a nap) that I sent her to bed without books or songs and watched the rest of the movie by myself.

I must be the only adult who CRIED with Happy Feet! I felt like such an idiot trying to hold back the tears.

[For those of you who have not seen Happy Feet, it’s about humans stealing the penguins’ fish, one of the penguins – an outcast because he cannot sing, but he’s a hell of a dancer – ends up in a zoo and attracts worldwide attention through his dancing, gets send back home with a tracking device and gets his whole clan to dance for the global media to see, which causes a high-level debate on conservation issues and eventually results in the declaration of a no-fishing zone around their habitat.]

Update: We watched most of the movie together again today and I heard her explain the message to her dad afterwards. About the people taking the penguins’ fish and that they had to stop taking the fish so the penguins could eat fish and would not be hungry. Aw!

The same day I explained to Ella in the car what John Butler’s ‘Treat Yo Mama With Respect’ song was really about. I told her that it’s about being nice to the ‘world’ and not hurting trees and not making the ocean and the rivers dirty. And that we shouldn’t hurt or break trees because they clean the air and if all the trees would die then the air would be really dirty. I choked up when I heard her explain it back to me.

Explaining “big issues” like this to Ella or even just watching/listening/reading kids’ movies/songs/books about idealistic topics like these (looking after the environment and sharing our wealth mainly) make me so incredibly emotional. It’s just the thought that if everyone would teach their kids these things and really try to explain the logic behind it, the world could become a much better place. Naive, I know, but it really gives me goose bumps!

Bearded lady

This morning I had a run in with a dog owner who yelled at me to put my dog on the lead. I ignored her at first as I always do with rude people, but she demanded to know why my dog was not on a leash. I just told her “because it’s an off leash area”.

She kept going on and on in a very loud voice about me having to keep my dog away from her little dog, that she had picked up as soon as she spotted us. It was all quite funny as my dog hadn’t thought her dog worthy of even a glance and had stayed at about 20m distance of them the whole time. I whistled the dog and rode on, feeling rather annoyed at her rudeness towards me, her inability to see that my dog was trained and under control and her being so overprotective of her own poor dog.

Then, when we were just out of earshot, Ella asked me (in Dutch): “Mum, does that lady have a moustache?”*. I folded over my handlebars laughing.

Turned out she meant to say ‘stick’ instead of ‘moustache’, the words being vaguely similar in Dutch and she denied ever using the word moustache at all. But from now on that woman will always be referred to as the lady with the moustache. Serves her right!

*It is a question I used to often get asked by her when playing the Guess Who game: “Mum, does your lady have a moustache?”

Treat yo mama with respect

I happened to have a John Butler CD on in the car driving back from the river this afternoon. It didn’t need much prompting (though some, fair’s fair) from me to get Ella to sing the Treat Yo Mama With Respect song. I got her to sing it at least 5 times while we were walking through the supermarket and cackled victoriously for about half an hour after.

Such fun when you know they don’t know what they are singing too. Though eventually I did explain to her that it means you have to be nice to your mama and to her credit, she liked the song even more then.

As you do

Ella wanted socks on to go to bed tonight. I obliged, but reminded her a couple of times that if her feet got too hot, she had to take the socks off.

An hour later I went into my bedroom and discovered her in my bed like this:

I’m sure it made perfect sense to her…

We all scream for ice cream

We went out to a restaurant in the city with some friends last night.
I’d been bribing Ella into being good from before we even left home by promising her an ice cream in the restaurant.

So while we were waiting for everyone to arrive, I ordered her not one but two scoops of gelati. A massive portion which made me feel somewhat guilty for the effect it would have on her dental health, but made me also selfishly hopeful that it would keep her busy for a long time so I could actually participate in the dinner conversation. She was indeed happy eating tiny spoonfuls for quite some time until she lost interest and the ice cream turned into a milkshake minus the shake.

Then tragedy struck. When we came back from a visit to the toilet the staff had cleared the entree plates off the table and the ice-cream too had gone. Drama! It didn’t help me telling Ella that it was all melted anyway. She was inconsolable. I had to take her outside to give the other diners a break from the high pitched wailing.

When we came back to the table after some fresh air with Ella somewhat calmer but still grumpy, waiting for her on the table was a brand new two-scoop ice cream! One of my friends had told the waitress of the tragic impact removing the ice-cream had had on Ella and she kindly replaced it.

It doesn’t matter that it turned into gooey sludge again before she could finish it. Justice had been done!

I get so affected by seeing children – especially my own – cry over such things which seem totally trivial to an adult but about which I have childhood memories that vaguely remind me of how utterly heart-breaking such experiences are at that age.

I will never forget the time last year that we got to the ice cream stand at the markets when they were selling out on the last day they were there before the winter break. I had been promising Ella an ice cream and you can imagine my relief when I noticed they had about 2 small scoops left. I triumphantly ordered the girl to put these last 2 scoops of the season on a cone for my excited little girl. Only to then discover I did not have any money on me at all. I had to drag Ella away from the ice cream, with her screaming as if someone had just told her she was about to lose both her legs. And me feeling so bad for her, so empathising with her grief that I was nearly in tears too. I eventually bought her a very expensive and very posh adults ice cream from the deli that allowed me to pay by card.

Ella only had her first ice cream when she was nearly two. I didn’t see any reason to give her that much sugar when she had no idea what she was missing out on anyway. But now – like most parents I can imagine – I fully enjoy the expression of pure joy this cold, unhealthy, brightly coloured snack can put on my daughter’s face. They have an expression in Dutch: “A child’s hand is easily filled” (E: Little things please little minds). And boy, do I enjoy filling it!

Best friends


Photo by zseike.

Max is Ella’s best friend at daycare.

Ella: Max always wants cuddles. He wants cuddles all day.

It’s extremely cute. They have so much in common and yet are so different in some ways. Even if they don’t even play together all that often apparantly, he is still the only child she absolutely has to say goodbye to (a goodbye cuddle) and daycare isn’t the same if he’s not there.

Warning: I won’t take kindly to anyone who dares to call him her boyfriend let alone ask her herself if he is her boyfriend/if she has a boyfriend. He’s her friend. He happens to be a boy. They’re 2.

Though I am secretly happy that her best friend is a boy because I wouldn’t like her to turn into a girly girl. He keeps her interested in boy’s stuff, she encourages him to develop his more feminine side. Perfect!

Love me all the time

We were walking home from the shop. We were at the stage where my patience was rapidly evaporating as it started to feel like our trip would take longer than Frodo’s journey to Mordor, with Ella who kept changing her mind on whether to ride her bike or walk, kept stopping to pick up rocks or climb dirt mountains and completely ignored my attempts to spur her on.

Then suddenly as we we’d been walking along in silence for a couple of minutes I heard her ask: “Mum, do you love me all the time?”

I asked her to repeat it as I was convinced I’d misheard, but there it was again, clear as a bell:

“Mum, do you love me all the time?”

I knelt down to look her in the eyes and told her that of course I love her all the time, that I love her even when I am nagging, that I love her even when she is crying, that I love her also when she is asleep and when she isn’t there. That I love her always and always and always.

Then I gave her a big hug, on the footpath with cars and people going past.

I still cannot believe that my 2 3/4 yo asked me this question! What made her think of this? What was going on in her head?

It was an easy question to answer though. And for once I did not mind stating the obvious at all.