Some how, in the new routine that our family life is falling into this January, I have had more moments of making things with my little K. I realise with a new sense of clarity, just how much she loves creating, drawing, sticking, cutting and making. Without a doubt its when I see her at her happiest: she laughs, smiles, chats and glows with pleasure. She applies herself to these activities with a remarkable level of concentration, patience and care.
This is in total contrast to D: for him art (drawing, colouring, sticking, painting) has never been something he would choose to do. I can count on the fingers of one hand the pieces of art he brought home from playgroup at the same stage. In the past, I have been tempted to blame this difference on gender (girls like colouring, boys don’t) but I think it goes further than that with these two children of mine: this is about recognising who they are individually, how they are function and what energises and excites them.
In the last couple of weeks, K and I have made stained glass windows with book film; used fabric paint to stamp designs onto white t-shirts; and painted pottery at Ferry Potty. I am so grateful for this point of connection with my daughter and I am relishing the prospect of some lovely times with K where we can make, create and draw together.
I like to think that I will make my children a present for birthdays and Christmas. Last year, I made K two little mice from Martha Stewart. This year, I decided on felt lollipops, sweets and ice-cream. I drew round some ice-lolly moulds, cut out two pieces, sewed them together, stuck the ice-lolly sticks in and stuffed them. Ta da! Ice-cream cones were made from a semi-circle of felt sewed onto a piece of card-board to stiffen them then simply stuck together into a cone shape. Large pompoms make ice-cream. Sweets I simply made from two strips of felt glued and rolled up. (I could have sewn where I used glue but I was making this late at night before K’s birthday.)
We also bought Kirsten a cash register. So we were all set for a play shop. Beads wrapped in tissue paper, plasticine lollipops, bars of chocolate (wooden bricks wrapped in foil and paper wrappers) and some cupcakes we already had completed the stock. Buttons seem to make the best money. A bag for shopping and “What would you like from my shop today, Mrs Bey?” (That’s what my kids say when we’re playing shops.)
So little K’s birthday party happened last Saturday. I imagine that it involved everything that a little girl could want: wings, a treasure hunt, cake, pink heart biscuits (thank you, Sarah!), bubbles, friends and family and lots of butterflies. We even had a Tinkerbell cake, complete with glitter (thank you, Great!). The guests were sweet: lovely and enthusiastic about all the activities. The sun shone and our tent in the garden was pretty and warm (thank you for putting it up, the two Mr M’s – it was the canvas from our gazebo, draped over our washing line). I think the tent was an inspiration: it looked pretty and gave the girls a place to play. We did face-painting there (thank you, Hannah!) and butterfly tattoos (thank you, Han-Marie!). We even read a story there at the end of the morning.
The party started with decorating their wings with sparkly stickers and ribbons. Next, looking suitably pretty, it was out to the garden to hunt for butterflies (thank you granny) and marbles (they sparkled beautifully in the wet grass). We only played a three games: musical statues, sleeping butterflies and pass the parcel. As they opened the parcel, each girl got a packet of beads and some elastic to make a bracelet. We blew bubbles and played on the climbing frame. We ate the cake half way through. The party finished with sausages and sausage rolls and jelly. There were plenty of adults around to help (granny, grandpa, two uncles, two aunties, one great-granny and a couple of mums). I couldn’t help but notice that, unlike at my boys party last month, there were moments of complete quiet. The girls were busy sticking or making or eating or sleeping (yes, in our equivalent of sleeping lions). Ahhhhhhh… lovely.
Its a week since my little, little girl turned two. I remember wondering what makes the best present for a two year old – I came to the conclusion that play dough made my little boy pretty happy. Well, this little lady was delighted with a little bag and a set of beads – the bag made by my friend Kate.
It was so much fun to see her open the present with her bag in it. She immediately picked up a pink hairbrush she had been given and put it in. Next she unwrapped two mice I made her and put them in as well. All set.
Oh this little lady is having fun: running after her big brother as fast as she can, trying to get her tongue round difficult new words, roaring and squealing when that’s what the situation requires, laughing at us all many times a day. She approaches life with enthusiasm and very little fear. On the one hand she is willing to try to do almost anything herself but she has learned very early the great skill of asking for help. And this morning when something made her cry, her solution was simple: Nani kiss better me. So he did. Oh, that makes me happy, very happy indeed.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: the sun’s been shining like it was the middle of July. Outside temperatures have been over 20C in our garden every afternoon. The earth is getting dry and dusty. The children have been splashing around in the paddling pool wearing nothing at all. Everyone has that relaxed look that warm weather brings – no more bundling ourselves up against the cold, we’ve been wearing tee-shirts and flip-flops without even the hint of a shiver. Lunch in the garden and ice-cream cones all round.
All this, I reminded myself today, is before the buds are even out on the trees. Its not quite right, this freakishly warm weather. I take comfort from the fact that we’ll be back in our winter clothes before April is out and there will surely be rain soon in this part of the world. Its been lovely though: just the shot of warmth and sunshine we all needed. And I’ll pray we have some more summer days between now and September.