Sunday, 22 December 2013

Skype Mom lands home

I can finally spend some quality time with Number One Son as we did yesterday when we took a bus to town from moment’s inspiration after seeing our former neighbour at the bus stop or today when participating in the local NCT coffee group’s excellent Christmas party in Markfield Community Hall. If yesterday we were just walking around and viewing the Christmas decorations and funfair in the pedestrian area in the city centre, today the children were running around, hopping down the inflatable slide, using the toys in the hall, popping the whatsits and grapes and enjoying the disco lights.

One of the Christmas party's attractions

I missed Number One Son’s turn as a camel in the navity play, but I managed to write at least a couple Christmas cards to his class mates. The first school morning after flying back from Sweden and the first morning after a conference trip to Bournemouth were tiresome, since both times the weather made all my plans to go pear-shaped and both times I was home much later than anticipated. Nevertheless, I had been partially lucky on both occasions. On the first occasion my flight was the only one that reached Heathrow from Stockholm. This was thanks to the minister Willetts who flew back from the Nobel festivities on this flight – in the economy class. The arrivals board at Heathrow showed how many other flights reached London; they were from places like New York and Cape Town. Our flight was an anomaly – and we knew why. On the latter occasion my connection from Birmingham was late as well, so I got onto the last train to Leicester. Thus, Number One Son’s teachers and teaching assistants did see a glimpse of me during this term.

Luckily, all the presents are bought and wait for the Christmas Eve to be given to Number One Son. We decided to celebrate two Christmases - Finnish and British. I give my presents first and Archaeologist Husband takes care of the Christmas Day - both the night and day shift. In that way Number One Son will get small presents across one night and two days. I would have died out of happiness as a child from such a practice. This means that he may have been a contender in the 'who got the most presents' competition we had among my childhood friends. I never won, but Number One Son's numbers are brought up by different Godless Parents and pass-me-down DVDs. Nevertheless, it means that the day will be memorable. He is already loving the Christmas tree and the lights.

On a positive note, his speech is also improving and we are having discussions, even if they are still short and consist mainly me confirming that I have understood his words correctly. In any case, this shows significant improvement and his numerical skills are outstripping easily his vocal and literacy skills. I learnt in the TAG that the numeracy and literacy exist separately in the brain, so they can develop separately; one can excel in one and be less impressive the other, but some tasks require both skills. I must thank this morsel of knowledge cognitive archaeologists who try to understand the beginning of counting in the early prehistory. I must say I did not expect archaeology being useful in parenting knowledge dissemination...

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Finally a name

Sharing your problems sometimes pays you huge dividends. On my visit to Finland my girlfriend, who I have known since we were in the play group together in the 1970s and who also has a son, listened my son’s difficulties. She said that his difficulty of pronouncing words and their random outcome together with lacking phonemes sound like ‘dysphasia’, a special difficulty related to the language development. It was earlier called dysphasia, but it is often described with the longer description including the words ‘difficulty’ and ‘development’. I am sure our speech therapist has included all these words in her discussions with us and she has tested Number One Son’s syllables and how his ‘k’ sound is still left wanting regardless his love of cars.

December 1 in Finland

Archaeologist Husband has passed me the information from Number One Son’s teacher that his speech is improving. My girlfriend explained that slowly her son found all the sounds and now he only mixes up difficult, similar-sounding words, such as ‘astronomy’, ‘astrology’ and ‘archaeology’.

What I learnt from googling was that this condition is apparently inheritary, but the term covers a range of conditions for which the ultimate reason and total outcome is unclear and can vary. Thus, the change in name from a precise word to a wider, more general description.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Parenting from Whiskey Bar

Keeping regular contact when travelling around for work brings its own challenges to distant parenting. This week I travelled to Finland for a seminar organised annually by the Archaeological Society of Finland. I had two extra reasons for travelling; firstly, to promote the Monographs of the Society (MASF) for which I am the Editor-in-Chief, and secondly, to promote the Nordic Archaeological Theoretical Group Conference at Stockholm, organised by my employing institution. Naturally, I have our session to flock, but to inform my colleagues about the relatively early deadlines for papers and registration (the cheaper registration fee will disappear already on January 11).

I was unsure where I will have an opportunity to skype and I was worried about this, considering how regular our routine had become. I heard that we were to have a wifi connection on the Finland ferry to Turku, so I headed to the direction of the bars and cafeteria that were flagged out for laptop connection. A friendly bartender explained how the connection is normally the best at the certain end of Whiskey Bar, so I ordered a pint and placed my laptop onto one of the bar tables. Getting the connection was easy and I could check the Guardian before logging in to Skype.

So good so far, but I should have known that it cannot be this perfect. I was on a moving boat after all and the picture quality was poor and pixellated and it froze at random intervals. Number One Son was initially happy to see Mummy, but his interest vanished, when Mummy did not move and the sound quality was poor. He disappeared into his room without coming back. Archaeologist Husband informed me that the sound was cutting randomly and he had great difficulties of making any sense of what I was saying. Thus, the skyping session was short and I could head to have my dinner before a comfortable session in my cabin with Miss Marple and salty liquorice.

The following evening I was unable to skype, since I had taken the Christmas presents instead of a laptop to my brothers. They did have a wifi network, but now Skype on their computers, so I ended up upsetting Number One Son who did want to see his Mummy. Luckily, the biological research centre of the University of Jyväskylä did have a well-functioning wifi system, so the peace was restored on the home front after Mummy could fulfil her parental duties. The same was true with my friend’s house, although I managed to lose the image with Skype after mistyping the password. But he could fall asleep to the sound of me reading his bedtime story. Tonight I am waiting to hear, if my return ferry has a wifi service and if I end up skyping in the pub or cafeteria.

The evening ended with a fail, when my laptop decided that a half of the battery life meant that it was totally flat. It shut itself automatically down and I had to text Archaeologist Husband that I had failed.