Thursday, 27 September 2012

Toys in space

Archaeologist Husband noticed something in the web that made me think how some parents are somewhat more ambitious than we are. In addition, while we are trying to make our late developer to repeat and use simple words and progress with fuller sentences, at the preschool Number One Mates are already practising alphabet. Needless to say that Number One Son’s photo or copied letters have not made the wall, yet.

I have written about Alex’s love of certain toys, especially, his continuous affection for Lightning McQueen, the toy car. He is not the only little boy – or girl – with a close attachment to a piece of plastic. Thomas the Tank Engines and Peppa Pigs fill the rooms of Number One Mates. However, not every father decides to send their son’s favourite toy into space.

Stanley goes into space

Ron Fugelseth, a video producer from California, attached Stanley, one of the friends of the above mentioned Thomas the Tank Engine, to a weather balloon and sent it into space. Well, at least into the stratosphere. The balloon had a video camera and a GPS-enabled cellphone attached to it throughout the journey. Thus, Ron had video evidence for the whole trip. The entire flight took the engine about 18 miles high. The attachment of the cellphone allowed Ron and his son to relocate Stanley in a cornfield 27 miles away from the point of departure. Ron videoed duly the encounter between his son and Stanley and could capture the love this little boy has towards his favourite toy.

Naturally, Ron put all the footage together and edited it into a funny short film he uploaded onto YouTube. Since Ron can also make animations, he also created lively facial expressions on toy Stanley’s face. It is pure joy to watch, hits the spot, but makes you feel just that little bit of inadequate... Maybe Archaeologist Husband wants to have a ‘Man Project’ with Number One Son!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Water beast

Number One Son has been ‘swimming’ since he was three. He is really in his element in the water and a visit to the seaside in Jersey proved it. We visited Number One greatgrandmother and stayed on St Brelade Beach. With our happy water beast we did not make any longer trips on the island but explored daily the waves and the shifting water line on the beach.

Number One could spent hours just running into the water, facing the waves against his legs and then running back to the firm sand smoothened by the tide away from the water. He could continue running excitedly back and forth until his legs turned all purple and he had to be dragged away from the waves. He only realised he was shivering when he felt the body warmth of his father.

The beach not only has marvellous soft white sand but also a few granite outcrops. Around one of these tide left a few shallow water pools where it was easy to play. Seaweed and the small stones they were attached to offered additional entertainment, since they could be hurdled into the water and fetched again. The outcrops also provided some suitable low climbs for our future Hillary.

The hotel we were put into had a swimming pool and a spa section, which meant and we could enjoy a couple swims there – to the mild annoyance of the older gentlemen trying to swim distance on the other side of the pool. Number One Son could also revisit his Finnish heritage and stay in a warm sauna with his parents. I tried to keep him away from the Jacuzzi but at one point an older lady enjoyed her relaxing time there and Archaeologist Husband could not hide the existence of the bubble bath any longer. The warm water and the bubbles gave Number One Son further joy on top of his splashes in the normal pool as a true waterboy.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Table manners

Toddlers can be very fussy eaters. Trying to make them eat a varied, healthy diet can lead to unintended consequences. Whereas Number One Aunt insisted from the start that Number One Cousin always eats at the table, I took a more liberal stand after it became clear that Number One Son deserted the dining room table and fidgeted with the offered food. Thus, I took the plates to the living room and created one more ‘couch potato’ eater. He also took into running between the table and his favourite cartoons. Even when the television was switched off!

The need to improve the table manners and eat more often at the same table as a family was made even clearer during the summer holidays and family visits. Since we were eating unusually often out, we had to face the difficulties resulting from our lax ways. Definitely our son was not behaving like those French children who are expected to behave like adults from a young age. No, it is more like a face red with tomato sauce and spaghetti shreds layered both on the table and beside it.

With a fuzzy eater the choice of grub at a restaurant is even more important than at home. Number One Son is known to refuse to eat same food on consecutive days. He wants to have variety. Thus, it could not be spag bol every time. However, for some reason the child-friendly foods they seem to want to eat are suspiciously like general comfort foods. One day Number One Son was scoffing French fries, the other he was making a true mess with :rag├╣.

Back home the sausages are a favourite when choosing from a children’s menu. Tube pasta is easier to eat than spaghetti but getting our using consistently his fork seems to be stretching it. He knows we insist but he keeps ignoring us. With a visit to his greatgrandmother’s just around the corner, we should probably up our game.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Love of objects

A mother is traditionally made feel guilty about leaving her child for a long day in the nursery. Number One’s normal day there is about 10 hours. I duly take him in exactly after 7.30 am and collect him about quarter to six. A few times I have had to run in order to be in the nursery before that magical boundary of 6 pm.

Nothing prepared us for the disappointment Number One Son had when he was not taken to the nursery on a Saturday. He threw a mini-tantrum but by Sunday he had luckily forgotten the matter. However, we immediately realised what had caused this sudden response. Number One Son recently moved upstairs to the pre-school premises and encountered new play environment. There are also new toys, among which it turned out a ten-year old McQueen from the original Pixar’s Cars movie.

Nevertheless, this McQueen is a blue Dynaco one (you know if you have seen the movie – if you have not you probably are not a parent...). Thus, he can separate his time with a red McQueen at home and a blue one in the nursery. He has a strong emotional attachment for both car toys and he keeps looking them. One day I left him looking for the car with a nursery assistant.

As an archaeologist one rarely gets a more direct reminder of all those theoretical treatise about the importance of material objects in human cultural encounters. Objects are given value and they may even act as living creatures in some relationships. Number One Son’s cars have discussions with each other, and even if we did not allow him to take the red McQueen in the nursery in the fear he may lose it he clearly would like to present the red and the blue car to each other. In his mind they are real and any misplacement is sorely felt.