Friday, 25 January 2013

Snowed in and out

This week has seen the winter weather taking a grip of England. Archaeologist Husband has continued to work at home whereas I have driven through the white dusted landscape in the countryside from one village to another. I had to postpone my library and admin day at Cambridge due to the heavy snow fall, but the Finnish School was on on Saturday as normal – although most of the non-Leicester members stayed away. Now I am reading the weather forecasts with an interpretative eye and assessing, if I manage to drive around properly in the coming days. It is getting warmer, but more snow has been forecast.

Number One Son has been delighted of snow. At weekends when he sees snow falling, he wants to go out and make snow balls. He has not quite grasped the principles behind the right climate conditions for making snow balls, but he is slowly realising that snow gets everywhere and zero temperature results with damp mittens. And he is slowly gathering that the damp mittens become cold mittens and cold hands. His insistence of going down the helter-skelter in the park, although I told him it was wet, stopped when he realised that it WAS wet. He is grasping the ideas of observation and causality. In the same way he stopped refusing to put the new slippers on in the nursery, when he observed that the old indoor shoes were too small and he could not put them on himself. The lights are starting to come properly on upstairs and he is making his own observations and practical conclusions of the wider world.

One Finnish mother living in England was wondering why the other English mothers are not taking their children in the park any more. She has only seen some Polish and Baltic mothers. I have also noticed that when Number One Son happily runs around making snowballs, there are practically no other children around - just some teenagers playing with their snowboards and adult dog walkers. Some parents pass by with their children with sledges – either they are going to the shop or one of the nearby slopes to sledge. Naturally, it is easy for Number One Son to go out, since he has a Finnish outdoors winter outfit and winter boots. I keep fingers crossed that the slightly tight boots will fit until the end of the cold spell. After the mild winters of the noughties, the current decade seems to have seen the return of the proper winters and one has to plan for next winter’s proper clothing.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

All family visits the University

Archaeologist Husband and I went to see the family event at the University of Leicester that coincided with the international Society for Historical Archaeology conference. I had tried to arrange to meet a Finnish colleague in the conference, but not having her mobile phone number was working against me when the attendants of the conference were kept busy with a full programme and important occasions for networking.

While Archaeologist Husband ran around The Square of the Peggy Gee building (Student Union) after Number One Son, I managed to exchange pleasantries with my other Finnish colleagues who were attending the conference and discuss the ongoing professorship filling process at the University of Oulu. A discussion had arisen in the social media about the lack of female applicants; if only the female postgraduates did have the same nerve to apply different posts as their male colleagues do. It seems that this lack of applications is partly due to personal circumstances of some more experienced candidates and the lack of awareness among the junior ones that these occasions give an opportunity to log in an interest. It is apparent that some potential candidates did not realize that the process may involve them and did not consider applying. It is possible that the recent emphasis put on the narrower definition of the specialisms of the department by the University had an impact. However, the remark of one male that 'it is not men's fault if women don't apply', is blatantly wrong. Naturally, it is ultimately down to the potential candidates to decide, but the male-dominated tenured archaeologists also have to promote women and keep building their self-confidence.

After the chitchat, the vision of Archaeologist Husband shooting up and down The Square after Number One Son made me to look for them and we all headed to the event downstairs. The place was heaving and it became apparent that the space was not particularly suitable for a family event, although it is true that it was advertised more as a public event. The main exhibition space was down the stairs with very little space for parking any strollers. Happily, there were some hands-on tables upstairs along a corridor, but moving around downstairs to approach potential materials for children was made more difficult by the popularity of the event. The number of stalls was delightful, but even with a modest number of people the atmosphere was very ‘cosy’ and the possibility to lose an excited toddler relatively high. Running after Number One Son meant that an adult could not concentrate on the stalls but had to try to keep Number One Son from misplacing the items brought about by different re-enactment societies. Our son was particularly taken by the Viking coins and I had to warn the lady showing the use of the scales that they may risk losing the coins to our ‘Uncle Scrooge’. He considers all coins HIS and has no sense of other possibilities in ownership, yet. I also managed to keep him from displacing any items from the Great War presentation.

Nevertheless, if one had visited the event as a singleton or as a couple without children, it would have been very good indeed. The stalls gave a lot of information and introduced different organisations and initiatives, including the famous Richard III excavations. The layout meant that even with a minimum audience the event felt well-attended. All main local actors were there, but I only managed to wave to the chairman of the Fieldworkers. This time the emphasis was on allowing Number One Son to see new things and spaces. The downside with the location is that public parking is relatively far away from the venue and we had to return to our car quicker than would have been hoped for in order to avoid the risk of penalty fee. Free parking was possible for only two hours...

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Toys and baby equipment as class markers

To my great surprise, I ended up unknowingly being a ‘hip mother’ when Number One Son was a baby. He happened to get a teething toy called ‘Sophie The Giraffe’ from his aunt who had been in France and brought with her a random baby toy bought from a local shop as a present. To her and my surprise, this turned out to be the hippest toy on the market among those yummy mummies living in the fashionable London postcode areas. Only this week Mail Online mentioned that Peaches Geldolf’s baby Astala has a Sophie and they presented this fact as a news item.

Sophie The Giraffe

Number One Son’s Sophie has been packed away a long time ago after it lost its squeak due to its stay in the bath with him. However, my status as a ‘trend setter’ in this respect was totally incidental and Number One Son could have had any teething toy. And he did have others, filled with gel and kept in the fridge – where they were forgotten and taken out long after the whole set of teeth had been erupted.

Number One Son did not however use pacifier after he reached six months. Unlike Kai Rooney who is three and has been seen with his pacifier in public. The late use of pacifiers is derided, and at the same time as Mail Online admired Sophie the giraffe, it shook its virtual finger at Coleen Rooney and pointed out how the late use of a pacifier can result in possible damage to the teeth and speech. The late use of nappies, dummies and bottle are seen as symbols of certain type of parenting, seen in the council estates and frown upon by the middle classes. The Rooneys personifying the normal bloke and the girl from next door made rich just underlines how Mail uses class stereotypes when writing about different baby and toddler accessories.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Starting to ‘do the parrot’

It is fascinating, although slightly nerve-wracking, to follow the individual development pace of a toddler. Or more precisely of a toddler who is a late developer. After dragging our son to a number of playgroup where he has completely ignored all sing-alongs, he has now suddenly during the Christmas holidays started to sing along with Something Special and repeat words from Dora the Explorer. The repetition of three alternatives from one episode to another that makes an adult run for the hills and to consider all episodes the; however, this seems to delight Number One Son. He does not hit the correct pronunciation, but ‘River – muddy mountain – gooey geysir’ are repeated while watching Dora or walking back from the park. This is a developmental stage most toddlers I know have passed when they were about two. This just shows how individual the children are.

Archaeologist Husband and I try to repeat things and correct his pronunciation as much as we can now when he has started to pay attention. Now one just wonders if all the repetition done during the last 12 months and before was just useless. And when Number One Son will become interested in picking up the pen and writing his name. Many children in the nursery are doing the wobbly capitals, while our Number One Son apparently stubbornly keeps drawing circles...