Monday, 31 March 2014

Nothing is better than a good party!

Not unexpectedly I had to skip one blog entry, since instead of writing about it, I was spending time with Number One Son and Archaeologist Husband. I arrived on Saturday evening and headed to buy food to Number One Son’s birthday party that was going to be on the same day in the afternoon. It is not advisable to panic buy birthday food, since we ended up with more crisps than anybody can consume. In addition, many of those Aldi ones are really salty! Even if I like crisps, the red packs may stay uneaten for the future.

I am not the only one overestimating and getting carried away. Archaeologist Husband did not bake one, not two, but THREE birthday cakes. And two boxes full of fairy cakes. This meant that the cake was enough until the Mother’s Day morning. At least I got my treat even if Archaeologist Husband was in Reading in a conference.

The fact that Number One Son is behind in speech development means that he has not got too many birthday invitations lately. This is totally understandable, since most people invite about 10 or 15 best friends – or go for bowling, horse riding or other special activities. Most children has made – or at least the parents have made – the leap to the next birthday party level from the toddler parties.

The main thing was that Number One Son’s party was great and he got extra playtime with a bouncy castle during the preparation and cleaning time. One must admit that it was slightly terrifying, since the four- or five-year-old boys are quite big and strong when wrestling in a bouncy castle. However, many of them left with a glow on their face, so it was just what the doctor ordered for the boys. And the next time it is time for a ‘more mature’ party for Number One Son as well. Since his speech is improving, we will have a full account for the sixth birthday next spring.

Birthday boy with all the presents - except those from Sweden

It is a great pity that the other children and the parents did not see when Number One Son opened the presents. And how much he has been playing with them. He loves dinosaurs, so we have now more dinosaurs and dinosaur books than a small boy needs. This time around Archaeologist Husband made a list of the donors and we could actually send out thank you letters.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

One child – not only one present

I have noticed alarming phenomenon. The number of presents we are buying to Number One Son is seriously escalating. I have already bought three and, although they were not hugely expensive, that will be joined by a larger amount bought by Archaeologist Husband. We know what Number One Son likes, so he will be showered with dinosaurs and cartoons. He will also get a bigger present he has specifically asked for. Nevertheless, more than anything he wants his party.

It is quite clear the exponentially growing number of small presents have to do with the fact that he is our own child. We want him to enjoy the kind of things we enjoyed when we where children and give him things he enjoys. If we had more children, we probably would not target one with all the different things. One child would get a Dalek and the other a dinosaur. Now one will get both. But now worry - we are archaeologists, so the favourable finances may be history next winter and the Christmas presents will diminish almost as exponentially as the birthday presents were increasing!

Number One Son attended today a friend’s party. He was happily waving the monkey in the banana tree balloon sculpture on Skype at bed time. Not only are balloon animals getting more complex and seriously good, but Number One Son sat down with other children following the magician for half an hour or so - and laughed at the right points. My mother was asking today over the phone how Number One Son is doing speechwise and I explained the latest developments. However, I had not heard this. I definitely has to say that there has been progress – but the progress seems to come when Number One Son is interested and wants it.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Little Andy and his imaginary gizmos

A new hero has entered in the life of Number One Son. In fact, he has been known to him for some time, but only lately when Andy, the former zookeeper, now a museum assistant cum custodian in the National History Museum in London started to go back to the time of the dinosaurs has Number Son been hooked on the CBeebies. Not only has he found new words, like Triceratops, he is also running around with Archaeologist Husband’s Indiana Jones hat and his rucksack on, playing with his invisible gizmo and utility belt. He is climbing up the climbing frame and even taking his visible and imaginary gear to the Finnish School.

The venerable Andy

The excitement reached the fever pitch when his class visited the zoo and he saw real giraffes and parrots and other animals. Please, do not let me started about the ‘voluntary’ cost payments the parents have to give in order to their child to get to the zoo, though. Anyway, the day was a success and the weather was sunny, so our little Indiana Jones could explore the animals, the topic of this half-term after the earlier ‘stars and planets’. All things Number One Son loves.

For a child with speech difficulties, Number One Son shows remarkable memory and relatively high level of imagination. He cannot always express what he imagines, but boy he gets enjoyment out of it!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

School meetings

One aspect of being the away-parent is that you miss all the important meetings. The parents of the Number One Son’s class had meetings with Mrs Teacher last week. Naturally, I got the report from Archaeologist Husband the same day, but felt my current unpowerment in the situation. Number One Son’s meeting was extra long due to the assessment of his current development. He is firmly behind all the others across the field, but since he seems otherwise happy and balanced – at least at home – this may pass. In Finland the rule of thumb is that the differences in development can be wide until about seven or eight, but naturally, Number One Son has his speech difficulties to overcome, too.

At the same time the slight uneasiness resulting from my employment situation is starting to creep in. I am half-way through my contract and I am just one in the vast mass of postdoctoral researchers, employed or ‘free’, who are chasing the diminishing resources. I can do some applications, but I also have to keep my eye on the ball: there are certain things I definitely have to do this year – job next winter or not. Publish and perish in the academic world basically makes the difference for people like me between my family having food on the table for one more year - or not. The whole point of being a Skype Mom is to provide for the family – something that men have done for a long time. Naturally, there is the academic side of it, but the only way to explain being away to myself, to my family and to others is that there is a greater good in this.