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Tiny Tyger, Baby Bear and Me: June 2015

Saturday, 27 June 2015

I'm Me (Why I Write)

Firstly, turning this blog and accompanying photos all nice and rainbowy (that's a word, right?) is a bit beyond my very limited tech skills so I'll just mention here how awesome it is for everyone across the pond (yes, everyone and not just gay people because equality is always ultimately good for everyone) that love and committed can now be formalised and legally recognised throughout the States regardless of arbitrary crap like sexual orientation.

Secondly, I'm going to tell you why I write these blogs.  I'll warn you now: this will probably include phrases like 'losing your identity' and other cringe-worthy content but I'll try to intersperse it with some jokes and stuff to make up for the airy-fairy, semi-existential waffle.

Why did I start this blog?  There were elements of wanting to connect with other people and parents, of wanting to raise awareness of certain issues (specifically ASD but I've covered breastfeeding in public and boys wearing dresses etc., too, and will continue to write about whatever seems relevant to me and my cubs at the time), of wanting to make people laugh and make other parents feel less alone...

My main reason for starting a blog was more selfish, though.  There's a lot out there about 'losing your identity' (sorry - I did warn you) when you become a mum and for the most part I thought it was nonsense.  That tends to be my starting point on anything I hear or read, to be fair (unless it comes from Stephen Fry because...well, he's Goram Stephen Fry!).  But, come on, everyone knows when you have kids your priorities change and you have less time for yourself and your hobbies and all that - it doesn't mean you become an actual different person.

The first time I experienced the whole loss of identity thing was when I got a phone call from a local health visitor and was asked if I was 'Tyger's mum'.  I wasn't Lady Nym - a person in my own right - but merely an extension of another being (and one who regularly pooped himself and was unable to even sit up unaided, at that).  I just thought it was funny, though, and mock-complained at being renamed 'Tyger's Mum' for the next 18 years.

After the initial settling into routine (or as close as I've ever gotten to a routine) I really thought nothing much had changed.  I mean, I was a bit of a recluse before and we weren't well off so it wasn't like I was giving up wild nights out and daily meet-ups with friends in coffee shops and restaurants.  I didn't go to work but since work at that point consisted of entering data into a computer whilst engaged in a silent and passive aggressive air conditioning war, it didn't bother me and I didn't feel like my job was an integral part of who I was.  I still managed to read books with a sleeping baby on me and watch various TV shows.  I still interacted with friends and family online, which is how I kept in contact before due to a combination of us moving, other people moving, me not driving, and - as has been stated - me being a recluse.  I no longer saw my best friend - who I worked with - but we'd managed to stay friends whilst living in different cities in past years so I was confident I wouldn't lose contact.

Granted, the weight thing was an issue.  As a lefty feminist type, I don't like to admit how much my figure means to me.  It doesn't matter, right?  A person's worth should be based on far more than whether they live up to the impossible and arbitrary standards imposed upon them by society and Hollywood and all that very much spot on but kind of cliched stuff (sorry, the last time I tried to add an accent to a word on here I had a nightmare of text background rebelling and genuinely had to get my mum to sort it for me so 'cliche', 'cafe', 'naive' and all those suave foreign words can just suck it up and be written without any fancy accents over their letters!).  It shouldn't have bothered me.  But it did.  I was slim pre-cubs.  We're talking UK size 6 on top (I believe that's around a size 2 in the US) and more like an 8 on bottom (a large 8 - my top and bottom half have never really been able to agree on what sort of size/shape I am) but - due to largely existing on ice lollies and cake throughout my pregnancy because if you're going to throw up anyway, what the hell - I was two stone heavier after I had Tyger.  This meant I was severely limited in my choice of clothes (especially with the breastfeeding, too).  So, I stayed in maternity jeans for what seemed like an eternity.  Since said maternity jeans were bought with a 'smeg it, they're not really my usual style but there's frack all choice with maternity clothes and I won't have to wear them that long' attitude, having to wear them past the point where the small creature I'd been carrying around in my uterus came out into the real world didn't help me to feel...me.

And even out of the clothes that did fit (and as I began to lose a little weight), it felt really wrong to wear a lot of my old clothes because they were too...revealing.  I KNOW.  I'm a feminist.  I believe people should be able to wear whatever they like without it in any way being connected to their worth or competence (as a parent or employee or anything else).  Everyone should have autonomy over their bodies and the concept of 'sluts' is enforced by the...blah blah blah.  I know and I absolutely believe it all but...but...when it came to it I took a look at my short skirts and vest tops that show off a little bit of midriff and I couldn't bring myself to wear them whilst pushing Tyger around in his buggy.

And I guess it was this attitude added to a lack of time that meant my identity wasn't lost as such but perhaps stretched.  I don't just mean because I'd put on weight but because it was like my identity had to include Tyger as well as me

Then I had Baby Bear and my 'identity' was stretched out over three people instead of two and there was even less of it left for poor little - or not so little - me.  I spent the days trying to juggle a baby who wouldn't sleep anywhere other than on me or the Wolf and a difficult toddler (before I even realised Tyger had ASD) and then spent the nights breastfeeding Baby Bear and pacing around with him.  There wasn't time for me to even consider what I wanted or liked outside of wanting the boys to sleep at the same time and liking to gulp down a hot cup of tea if given the chance.

Even after the Wolf got his new job and we moved in with my parents I was only ever Mummy Nym with maybe a smattering of Daughter Nym and Mrs Wolf thrown in.  Lady Nym had been buried beneath the demands and responsibilities that parenthood brought.  So, I started writing this blog.  Before the cubs, I actually wrote a novel and sent submissions to a few literary agents but that all fell by the wayside when I started my relationship with the toilet and bathroom floor during the awful morning sickness of my pregnancy with Tyger.  I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with writing.  I'm not a very disciplined person so I have to battle with myself constantly to actually write anything at all (well, you can't really type whilst drinking tea so I might as well just peruse Facebook until I finish the cup...you can put the bloody cup down in between mouthfuls, you know!...I need a minute to think through how I'm going to word this paragraph so I'll just check my emails whilst my subconscious mulls it over...your subconscious can't write the blog for you - you need to think about it yourself...I just need a little break...you had a break 30 seconds ago when you bought that stuff on Amazon) but once it's there on the page I feel great.  And very me.

Yes, the blog's all about my kids and me as a mother but it is my life and Mother Nym has become part of my 'identity' (I swear this is the last time I'm using that word) and I wouldn't change that.  But the actual process of writing is mine and mine alone.  It's my little island of me in a sea of wiping noses, making meals, washing up, kissing elbows better and all the other day to day mum stuff.

I'm trying to incorporate more me in other areas of my life (whilst still being as good a mum as a can).  In terms of appearance, unfortunately the last half a stone...or so...of so called 'baby weight' I managed to finally lose wasn't as lost as I thought.  I'd hoped it was lost like the attachment for Tyger's Henry Hoover is lost: well and truly, we're never going to see that again, lost.  But it turns out it was more lost like his monster plate was lost: we thought it was gone for good but it turned up weeks and weeks later in a little-used cupboard behind a chair lost.  I guess those 10 lbs had just fallen behind the sofa and have turned up again.  I'm trying to be okay with that.  I've even worn some shorts and the other day I wore a crop top t-shirt!  Only around the house but still.  And I show off my tattoo.  It was a pre-cubs purchase and I still very 'me'.

When I originally started writing this blog I didn't actually let anyone read it.  If one or two people came across it that was fine and well but I didn't tell anyone the name of it or link to it.  It was just for me.  I changed my mind a few months back and gradually started to tell people about it and even 'promoted' it on Facebook.  It gave me motivation to write every week instead of very sporadically.  So, now I'm actually trying to get a readership - you know, have people I don't know view the blog as well as my friends and family.  Maybe I'll move on to something else in another few months and maybe nobody will be all that fussed by yet another 'Mummy Blog' but for now the challenge and is keeping me interested, keeping me motivated, and keeping me me.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Cubs Are Ill

Not seriously ill: Tyger has a cough plus a stuffy nose and Bear's a nose is like a tap and he's teething (he may have also started with the occasional cough just before bed).  To give you an idea of what it's been like for me, I need to do that imagery thing I suck at so bear with me.

Imagine two people standing next to you; one either side.  The one on your left is singing the song I Know a Song That Will Get on Your Nerves really loudly.  (If you don't know the song then search it on YouTube; it's bound to be there.)  The one on your right is playing that song on the kazoo...twice as loud.

Oh, and you're carrying around a sack of potatoes...which moves...at the same time.

That's what it's like when my little cherubs are ill.  I told you I suck at similes.

So, how do I cope with it?  Well, today I stuck Frozen on, gave them a biscuit each, let Baby Bear empty his entire cup of water on his highchair tray and smack it with his hands repeatedly, and drank amaretto as I was putting them to bed.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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Saturday, 20 June 2015

Am I Being Paranoid?

I write a lot about Tyger and less about Baby Bear.  I have written in a previous blog post here about the fact I'm not a baby person.  Generally toddlers/preschoolers are better sources of amusing anecdotes than babies, too.  I may like to talk at length about how my baby has learned to clap or about explosive nappy incidents but I am aware of the fact these conversations are boring and/or disgusting for other people.  An account of a conversation with Tyger about how outraged he is his hot cross bun isn't hot will always be funnier than an account of how Baby Bear can give high fives.  Plus, although I didn't plan it as such, this blog is largely about ASD and Baby Bear isn't autistic...is he?

Prepare to hear - or read, I guess - more about Baby Bear over the coming months/years/however long I carry on this whole blog thing.  'Baby' Bear is technically not a baby anymore and he can walk and climb and did I tell you he can clap and give high fives?  And with his growing abilities is coming a growing suspicion of mine.  Is my little bear cub actually more of a tiger cub?  Does Baby Bear, in fact, have ASD?

With Tyger, it really wasn't something I'd ever considered until after he'd turned two and I was actually talking to my mum about someone else's suspicion their child had Asperger's.  My mum's advice was to make a note of all traits he displayed because if they tried to get a diagnosis later on it would be incredibly useful to have this stuff written down (instead of trying to remember whether their child walked on tip-toes as a toddler or pointed to things to draw attention to them at a year old).  I - half jokingly - said I should make a note of any traits Tyger had since ASD runs in the family just in case.  I started writing them down - assuming I'd manage three or four bullet points - and several pages later I was still going.

This time is very different.  I've been on the look out since around the time I suddenly realised Tyger has ASD.  Baby Bear was probably about six months old.  To start with I was pointing out all their differences and how he couldn't be autistic.  'Tyger used to look out the window when he was getting his nappy changed but Bear loves giving lots of eye contact.'  'Bear is always on the look-out for faces like a normal baby.'  'Bear is a much jollier baby than Tyger ever was - is this what it's like to have a neurotypical child?'

Was it some sort of vain hope that he wouldn't be autistic?  Or was it simply that humans are good at noticing differences so the differences between the two boys stood out and overshadowed any similarities?  Not that them being different even precludes them both having ASD.  It is, after all, a spectrum and no two autistic people have the exact same traits or personalities.

It was Bear's reaction to food that first kindled my suspicion.  We started off doing 'Baby Led Weaning' with him, which basically means we shoved normal food on his highchair tray and let him get on with it rather than the purees and spoon feeding we did with Tyger.  And that was fine.  Messy but he seemed to do quite well with it.  Sort of.  The problem was Bear was really funny about certain textures.  Every item of food placed on his tray had to pass the prod test.  He bunched his fingers up together - kind of like if you pretend to hold a pencil so all the tips are together - and then he'd prod at the food.  If the texture was wrong it was unceremoniously flung to the floor without ever going near his mouth.  Anything even slightly slimy was discarded (banana, mushrooms, pasta).  If it was in anyway rubbery (boiled egg, certain cheeses etc.) that was also entirely unacceptable.  Foods with sauce were - literally - off the table.  But, hey, part of weaning a baby onto food is getting them used to new textures, right?  Except, it meant he didn't even try a large percentage of the food we offered him because he couldn't bear to touch it.  So...after persevering for a while I gave up on the whole 'Bably Led Weaning' thing and started spoon feeding him any foods he wouldn't touch.  Ah well, parenting is all about figuring out what works for your child so that's okay...isn't it?

He also did the prodding thing with toys and anything he came across.  Texture has always been very important to him.  These days he prods things with one finger instead of his strange pencil grip.

Then there's the sleep and stomach business.  Sleep is often a huge issue for people with ASD and children all the more so.  There are kids with ASD who only sleep for two hours a night (which is one of the many reasons you should be extra nice to parents of ASD kids - there's a good chance they've had less sleep in the last month than you've had in the last week).  I'm relatively lucky with Tyger.  He has sleep issues.  He especially hates the transition between sleep and being awake so will start kicking his legs and fidgeting around when he feels his eyes getting heavy to fend off the inevitable.  Every time.  As if, after hundreds of times of it not working, if he just tries hard enough this time he'll manage never to fall asleep again.  Then, at the other end, he also struggles because waking up is another transition.  Tyger napping is a rare and mixed blessing because he cries and cries and cries upon waking.

Hang on, this post was supposed to be about Bear, not Tyger.  Okay.  So, I have written about Bear's sleep issues before.  It is finally getting better.  I was assured by many people his sleep would likely settle down after those first few growth spurts as a baby...it didn't.  Then, I was told he'd almost certainly start sleeping through when he started on solids...he didn't.  So, everyone consoled me with the fact he'd be tired out once he was crawling...he wasn't.  But, those people who said he just might start actually sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time once he was walking...were thankfully right!  He now tends to sleep 8pm-6am.  And it's fracking wonderful.  But all those sleep issues...well, like I said, sleep is often a problem for those with ASD.  And a lot of the sleep problems he had seemed to be linked to stomach problems and...yeah, you guessed it, stomach problems are also very common in people with ASD.

But lots of babies have sleep issues.  Just go onto any parenting forum and look at how active the sub-forum for sleep is (and there will be one) to confirm that.  Or check Facebook to see how many parents write updates along the lines of, 'Whoever came up with the phrase 'sleeps like a baby' obviously didn't have a baby!'  (Or some 'real world' example.  Perhaps I spend too much time on the internet.)  So, poor sleeping habits doesn't necessarily point to autism...

Then, there's the shoes.  I went to get Baby Bear his first pair of shoes at the beginning of the week.  He's walking confidently now so it seemed the time.  I also needed to get Tyger some canvas shoes because he has taken against his sandals and thick leather shoes seem a little inappropriate for the hot weather we've had (though, since he likes to put on his wellies in any weather and run outside in them - and only them because he doesn't do clothes when we're at home - clothes and leather shoes are an improvement, I suppose).  I must say, we were very lucky to be served by a lovely sales assistant who managed to find me shoes on sale for Bear (£10 instead of the usual £30-something) and was very patient and nice with Tyger even when he was running riot taking shoes several sizes too big for him off the pegs and trying them on.  The fact Shoe Shop Guy was approving of Tyger having long hair, wearing nail varnish and showing an interest in shoes with hearts on despite the shocking fact he's a boy and that the guy enthusiastically told me how nice it was to spend time with such a bright little boy made him my favourite person of the day.  If we hadn't been in such a rush to wolf down some lunch before a hospital appointment I would have found the store manager and praised Shoe Shop Guy to them.  (Maybe I should phone the store and do it anyway.  Except it's been like a week now and I'm crap at remembering what people look like and didn't take a note of the guy's name so the call would consist of me saying, 'So, there was this young man working in the children's department of your shop on Monday and I just wanted to let you know how helpful and nice he was.  I don't really remember much about him except he was very friendly and complimented my children so if there's someone in the store who fits that description...it's probably him.'  Hmm...it might be a little weird and awkward and I hate speaking to people on the phone anyway...)

Anyway, Baby Bear did not like having his feet measured at all.  I don't know if it was the stranger touching him thing or the sensation on his feet or both but he was unimpressed.  That was nothing compared to actually trying to get shoes on his feet, though.  Unfortunately for Bear, he takes after me in that he has very wide feet with a very high instep.  Couple this with the fact he's a pretty chubby little guy and his feet are practically the same width, height and length.  This makes finding shoes to fit difficult and once poor Shoe Shop Guy found shoes in the right size Bear was not about to make things easy for him.  He scrunched his toes up so his feet were like two balls and pulled his leg away every time it looked like Shoe Shop Guy might actually have managed to squish Bear's feet into the shoes.  Once the shoes were finally on, Bear refused to stand in them, let alone walk.  In fact, it took a couple of days before he started walking in them and he still often sits down and pulls at them in a disgruntled way.

But it's pretty common for babies and toddlers to dislike shoes.  All of these things are normal in toddlers and - as I pointed out at length in this blog - everyone has some autistic traits.  Then again, it's the very fact everyone has some traits that can make figuring out whether a kid has autism so hard.

And there's more.  Bear likes banging the back of his head off doors/walls/his highchair, shaking his head vigorously, pouring water all over the place.  He gets really angry and throws huge tantrums when he doesn't get his way (like little-rage-monster angry not a-bit-of-screaming-and-crying angry).  He echoes things - the general tone and sound of things people say - even though he can barely say any words.  He is sensitive to noise.  The list goes on.

He also has a cuddly toy dog we call Fergus, which he has to have when he goes to sleep, grabs when you take him out of the cot, clings to in the car and generally seems pretty taken with.  They've stopped selling the dogs in the shop it's from but I bought one off eBay this week so we have a replacement just in case.  I know, I know, loads of kids have a favourite toy.  But the only one I've actually known who's had one to this extent this young is my sister.  Yeah, the sister with Asperger's.  So, it's just another little tiny possible trait...plus it gives me the chance to post this photo:
Can you tell which is the manky old one well-loved one?

There's nothing definitive and nothing I'd have picked up on at all if it wasn't for Tyger so maybe I'm being paranoid.  Or maybe not.  I don't know.  My gut says I have two little aspies but I'm by no means sure.  I know Tyger has ASD.  Regardless of how long it might take to get an official diagnosis I'm as sure of it as I am sure he's my son.  I am not so sure with Bear.  I accept I may be seeing autism where there isn't any, like people who see Jesus' face in food, but I'll keep an eye on it.  Maybe my list of a few bullet points will grow to six or seven pages like Tyger's...or maybe not.  Watch this space.

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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

Tyger has a cyst under his eye that's been there for weeks now.  This has involved quite a number of trips to both the GP and the eye clinic at the hospital.  Lots of waiting.  Lots and lots of waiting.  Preschoolers are not known for their ability to wait quietly and patiently at the best of times and preschoolers with ASD in noisy, unfamiliar surroundings...even less so.

I try.  The first time we went to the eye clinic was after yet another trip to the GP resulted in a referral for later the same day.  Between allowing extra time in case of car sickness, the GP ballsing up the time and telling me the appointment was an hour earlier than it actually was, some confusion between the receptionist and nurse, and a 40 minute wait for a prescription at the hospital pharmacy we ended up waiting around for over two and a half hours.  That's a long smegging time for an adult to be hanging around with nothing to do, let alone a small child!!

I had not planned for such a long wait.  I had a few toys and snacks for both the boys in the changing bag and my mum was with us but even so it was hard.  Tyger was distracted by a little notepad and pen set I had in the bag for a while and did cicuits of the waiting room but by the end I had to carry him round restraining him.  My neck, shoulders and arms ached the next day.  Want an unusual workout?  Try carrying and restraining a tired, bored, frustrated autistic kid for a while.  Except, you know, don't.  The child's parents will probably call the police.

Okay, so that was an unexpected one-off type of trip.  Next time the Wolf worked from home so Baby Bear could stay with him whilst my mum took Tyger and I to the hospital.  I prepared.  I looked for inspiration online and got creative.  I used an old DVD case as a carrier for paper and stickers and pens.  I made a 'hide and seek bottle' where you fill a plastic bottle with rice and then a load of random stuff (buttons, tiny toys, small bits of cheap jewelry, beads, whatever interesting stuff fits in) and then the child has to shake and/or turn the bottle to make all the stuff appear out of the rice.  I also stuffed a balloon with homemade playdough for a sort of squidgy stress ball type thing.  Some proper Pinterest parent type of shit!  Plus, I packed his backpack with a packed lunch and some of his toys (a few of them brand new since this appointment directly followed his birthday) and I took some books.  I felt pretty good about it all.

(Maybe I need more wood and glitter before I could put this on Pinterest but it's functional.)

The DVD case and bottle kept Tyger entertained for all of about five minutes combined.  He refused to so much as acknowledge the books.  He wanted to eat the chocolate biscuits from his lunch first and refused to eat his sandwich when I told him that needed to be eaten (lesson learnt there - don't let him see the treat elements of a packed lunch until after the boring stuff has been consumed) but still kept declaring he was 'soooo hungry' at every available opportunity (of which there were many).  He barely looked at most of his toys.  The only things that kept him remotely entertained were his Thomas trains and the balloon filled with playdough.  Oh, and a couple of nice ladies who were in seats opposite us and didn't mind him talking at them.

But that's okay because we were there at the right time on this occasion and there were two adults to just the one Tiny Tyger.  No problem, right?  Ha.  We still had to wait an hour for our appointment because of the triage system at the eye clinic and neither my mum or I could keep him interested in anything for very long.  So, he spent a large amount of time lying on the floor in the pretty large and reasonably busy waiting room, rolling around.  It was pointless trying to stop him.  It would only have resulted in lots of screaming and probably some hitting and scratching (directed at me or himself) and he'd almost certainly try to run away.  Every time someone needed to walk past I dragged him across the floor out of the way (which was a source of much amusement for Tyger - less so for me).  I got some looks.  I ignored the looks.

Then, an elderly lady took pity.  She came and sat down near us and started asking Tyger about his trains.  She explained her grandson liked Thomas and asked Tyger which was his favourite.  (Interestingly, Tyger normally makes quite a nuisance of himself with strangers.  He likes to talk to them, order them around, tell them off, climb up next to them etc.  But this woman instigating a conversation with him elicited silence and sideways glances for quite a while before he seemed to build up the confidence to answer.  Evidently, interactions have to be on Tyger's terms.)  I wanted to hug that lady.  Well, I don't really like physical contact with strangers so I didn't actually want to hug her but you know what I mean.

The last time we went to the hospital I didn't try to be Pinterest Parent; I resorted to videos on a tablet.  Yeah, that's right, I was that mum but I thought better that than the mum of the kid rolling around on the floor.  The Wolf ordered him kid's headphones so we wouldn't disturb the entire waiting room with the sound of cartoons and everything.  Tyger didn't like the feel of the headphones.  He watched on and off for about half an hour whilst continuously taking the headphones off and then asking me to put them back on him again...but still ended up doing some rolling around on the floor.  Nobody spoke to Tyger except one man who commented on his Thomas t-shirt and bag on our way out and gave Tyger a high five.  Tyger was pretty chuffed with that.

We have yet another hospital appointment this coming week (because the 'wait and see' approach is not just reserved for ASD diagnoses but for anything regarding children, it would seem).  I'm running out of ideas to keep Tyger occupied.

So, what am I saying?  Am I ordering you to entertain every child you see in waiting rooms, on public transport, in shop queues etc.?  Maybe even to carry around juggling balls - and put in effort at home to learn how to juggle - at all times, just in case?  No, of course not.  Although...no, that's probably unreasonable.  All I'm saying is it can be very daunting for me taking Tyger out.  I know he might try to bolt out of the blue, he might suddenly decide he needs to take his shoes and socks off in the middle of this corridor, he might refuse to get up off the floor because he has some sensory need to roll around, he might find the noise when we're out overwhelming and start screaming to drown it out.  Trying to anticipate and respond to these behaviors is exhausting.  But the worst part is - whilst I'm trying to talk him up off the floor like some cop in a film talking a jumper off a roof - I'm hyper-aware of everyone around me looking and judging.  It makes it all much more stressful.

All I'm asking is you be a little understanding.  If I let Tyger climb up on a chair next to you and start talking to you about your glasses it's not because I can't be bothered to parent my child, it's because I can tell if I move him away he'll start screaming and kicking and I judge that to be more unpleasant for you (and the whole waiting room) than having a small child chat to you for a few minutes.  If he runs round a shop with me trailing after him, desperately making sure he doesn't break anything or get in anyone's way it's not because I don't discipline him.  It's because, again, keeping him in one place would mean a much higher likelihood of something being broken.  His brain does not work in the same way as neurotypical people's and that's not his fault.  It's also not my fault, though it often feels like it is.

I have become much less judgmental, myself, in the last three years.  Maybe that mum letting her child drink half a bottle of Coke is a bad parent who feeds the poor kid a diet of nothing but sugar and fat because she doesn't care about her child's health.  Or maybe her child is diabetic and she's merely trying to correct hypoglycaemia so the child doesn't lose consciousness.  Maybe that dad didn't put shoes and socks on his toddler's feet even though it's snowing because he couldn't be bothered.  Or maybe he did diligently put cosy pairs of both on and the toddler - as toddlers are want to do - pulled them off and threw them out of the buggy and nicely drawing the dad's attention to said toddler's feet rather than sighing loudly as you walk past is more helpful.

What do people think their looks and tuts and comments are going to do?  If these seemingly awful parents truly do not care, disapproval from a stranger is unlikely to change that.  It might make the tutter feel a little superior for a while but that's about it.

You know what also makes you feel good about yourself?  Showing a little kindness to someone.  A smile, instead of an eye roll.  Saying 'hi' back to a little boy when he says 'hi' to you instead of blanking him.  Answering his questions.  Giving a little reassuring nod instead of a glare.

Any of those small kindnesses make my day (and Tyger's) a little bit easier.

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Saturday, 6 June 2015

Why Do Baby Clothes Have Pockets?

I like ranting about silly things.  No, it doesn't mean I am genuinely enraged by them and it doesn't mean I 'don't have anything more important to worry about' (both stances I've seen on the weird and wonderful internet).  I merely find it soothing to have a good rant about small annoyances sometimes.  That being the case, here are some of my bugbears when it comes to baby and children's products:

Pockets in Baby Clothes

Why do baby clothes have pockets?  What, exactly, do these clothes manufacturers think babies - or even toddlers - need to put in their pockets?  Little tubes of nappy cream??  Teething toys??  Of course not.  But do you know what actually does end up in those pockets?  Food.  Vests/t-shirts with a front pocket on the chest are particularly bad for this.  One of Baby Bear's pockets got sort of glued shut by cheese that had been melted and frazzled in the washing machine and tumble drier.  Pockets on trousers means they're less comfortable and they take longer to dry.  If pockets really are essential to the design of the item of clothing in terms of aesthetics, why not make it one of those fake/sewn up pockets as opposed to a functioning one?  Plenty of adults' clothes - which really could do with having actual pockets - have those fake pockets.  It would save on fabric and it would mean there was no chance of finding raisins, half chewed toast, or any number of disgusting things in the bloody pockets before - or more likely - after washing the item of clothing.

No 'Menu' Option on DVDs

Why does Dreamworks try to force their customers to watch all the trailers on their DVDs?  Most DVDs (whether for kids or adults) let you hit the 'menu' button after language selection and a couple of mandatory screens about terms of use or piracy or unicorns or...something - I don't really pay attention.  Some make you watch the trailers the first time round but on subsequent viewings you can get to the menu straightaway.  Dreamworks DVDs don't allow any 'menu' pressing and make you at least skip each trailer.  On one (I'm looking at you Shrek 2) you can't even skip and have to fast forward (it's like time travelling back to the days of VHS, which is not something I'm particularly nostalgic about) through trailers and some interview.  With a whinging toddler and crying baby waiting for the film to come, I don't appreciate the added hassle and time.  Give me the choice between a Pixar film and a Dreamworks one and I'm always going to pick Pixar for this very reason.

Inaccurate Scale on Toys

Another bugbear of mine is children's toys that have dogs three times the size of elephants or beds the same size as a plate.  If you're going to make a play mat with trees and mountains alongside various insects, fish, snakes etc. then make some sort of effort on scale.  It may be impractical to be completely accurate, I get that, but making a ladybird 10 times the size of an ant and a quarter of the size of a tree is just lazy.  Train sets are bad for this, too.  The people you get with wooden train sets are invariably far too big for the trains and absolute giants compared to any buildings.  I understand tiny people would be a choking hazard but slightly smaller people and slightly larger buildings surely isn't too much to ask?

There are others, I'm sure.  Maybe I'll do a ranty blog post every few months as more things come to my attention.  If you have some sort of reasoned, rational explanation for any of the above...I don't really care.  If you have other examples of idiotic or irritating baby or kid's product designs, on the other hand, by all means let me know about them!

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