Sunday, 24 November 2013

Guilt of a Skype mom

Now I am slogging through the long stretch from the visit to home in November to leaving for some work and Christmas in England just before mid-December. The weekend that would comfortably be spent at home in England will be spent in Finland instead – partly to go to the Finnish Archaeologist Days, but also to visit my brother and mother. Not to mention my old friends. This time the time I will spend with my mother – first time in more than 18 months – will be away from Number One Son. It is harsh when one has to prioritise.

This visit coincides with the first time Number One Son is truly missing me. He is jumping out of joy when my face appears on the tablet and he is kissing the screen. He is also asking ‘where Mummy is’. It is sweet, but it is also breaking my heart. Things are not helped by the fact that Archaeologist Husband looks tired. Luckily, he has now contracts and work coming in, so at least him staying back in England has paid dividend. In addition, one can detect a slight improvement in Number One Son’s speech. He is asking questions and conversing.

However, this time around I am not so stupid that I will try to subdue my guilt by buying stuff. No, I will buy some Christmas presents from Finland in order to complement the very Swedish ones I have purchased already. Then there will be a lot of peaceful family time over Christmas. Even if I will be just sitting in the background when he is tapping the tablet, I will still be at home and be a presence. Until the mid-January.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The power of ‘surf board’

A tablet computer is called ‘surfplatta’ in Swedish. This term makes me smile a little bit every single time; well, we all use it most to surf, don't we? Number One Son’s godless father has uploaded a photo of him losing the fight against the tablet that shows Number One Son playing intensively with his tablet. Somehow I doubt it was the monkey counting game, even if he does like it as well.

We have now a new favourite at home: the Angry Birds. Number One Son's red mini-Daleks have now taken the role of the red birds, so the cars or whatever is playing the part of the green pigs in his imaginary games are definitely on the losing side. One just wonders, if this smash-up play will wane when the Doctor turns 50 in a week's time and Archaeologist Husband and Number One Son will share quality time together watching the anniversary episode. I just have to hope it will be repeated ad nauseam on BBC3 during the Christmas time, so I will get to see this source of joint joy.

The grasp of the Cars figures had waned already during this rise of the Daleks, but with the emergence of the Angry Birds Lightning McQueen could have lost altogether. However, all his cars and air planes are now involved in elaborate plays where the Dalek stand for good and other characters have been dedicated their own bit parts. This shows that our son is not turning into a 24-hour-playing monster, but learning important skills at the same time. He has finally started to ask me proper questions. Some children have run their parents crazy with their questions - we still have to reach that level.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

It is my turn! Just one more game...

It is surprising how much the daily routines changed when Number One Son got the tablet. Naturally, when I am in Sweden things are not normal anyway – and the mutual skyping was the reason he got the tablet in the first place. However, when at home, Number One Son can be bribed to do things with a promise of getting to play Angry Birds – or by the threat of taking the tablet and the Angly Birds in Space away. More effective than sweets but not necessarily as effective as the promise of jelly.

The scary part is that I quite like Angry Birds and Archaeologist Husband has suggested that downloading the game onto my mobile phone may be the end of my productivity for – like forever! Sometimes Number One Son comes to you offering the tablet and the possibility of playing one round only to take the tablet away before you can begin, since he is lured by the grinning green pigs. Sometimes we end up having a tug of war of the tablet when Number One Son wants to play and I just don’t want to let him to get the tablet just yet. Just one more round!

Some of the levels are more addictive than the others and often you have no idea what the particular birds do, if you poke them or tap the screen. Sometimes the bird just speeds to the opposite direction or disintegrates on the spot. Sometimes you have to know the special capacities in order to get through the level in the first place. If you do not know, you start to play the same level again – and again – and again – and again – and....

The way Number One Son has fathomed how to move the scene and zoom in and out is amazing. He is much better with the tablet than I am. He even often manages to find his favourite programmes on iPlayer. That is the other change. He does not have to wait for his favourite programmes anymore but can normally choose between a series of episodes of Sarah and Duck, Timmy Time, Shaun the Sheep, Octonauts and Abney and Teal. And watch a series of episodes of Swashbucklers.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Partial daily routine fail

After working away for a month I did parachute myself as a mother back home for a week. It was a time to let Archaeologist Husband to attend his friends wedding and take care of some practical work issues, such as the MOT. Thus, I thought that it made sense to spend some time at home before another month away before the conference season and Christmas. It takes a couple of days to acclimatise again and the first school morning was going to be tuff. I was not sure what time I had to be in – I thought at 9 am, but was ascertained it was already earlier. And the pick-up was not going to be at 3 pm, but 3.15 pm.

I did not know Number One Son’s current preferences and I definitely was not certain what steps I had to take and where Number One Son had to put different school-related items. My downfall was going to be the choice of the wrong coat – and not picking up the right sounds from my son’s slightly mispronounced words. He feels deeply for his light blue winter coat we bought him from Finland two years ago. Just how deeply I was going to learn when trying to drag him towards the school in his raincoat. He was crying and screaming and by the first junction – while getting unnerving looks from other mothers heading to their primary schools – I had to admit my defeat and return home. After the change of the coat Number One Son headed happily to the school, even if he had to be prompted and we just made it before the tambourine.

Archaeologist Husband has happily created a new routine around the school times and I took the new mealtime routine little bit shakily. Breakfast is quite straight forward, since Number One Son is an early bird and simply becomes hungry by 7 o’clock. However, it is unclear to me how much he has to eat right after school, when we are going to eat as a family a shared family tea after 5 pm. I cannot starve him, but it is not nice to see him push his plate away at mealtime when he has been munching and snacking on and off after school. Luckily, I had to go to Cambridge on my second day back home, so I face the evening routines more relaxed and briefed next week.