Are you grown up?
READ ON TO WIN A FREE COPY OF HOMEMADE KIDS.
On the morning of my daughter Nell’s fourth birthday she woke up, checked the size of her hands (same as last night) and started crying. “I thought I’d be big. Why aren’t I big?” she howled. It was an understandable mistake, which cuddles and presents helped her recover from. This post is by Nicola Baird.
Today my oldest daughter Lola is 12 years old – which seems big, although I’ve been treating her like a mini adult (in conversation at least) since she said her first word “hat”, some time before her first birthday. As was obvious when I had Nell two years nine months later, Lola was a precociously early speaker.
This was lovely for me, even if it has meant I expected a lot of her – albeit with generous rope bearing in mind her actual age. Even 12 is pretty young after all. There again, being encouraged to think for yourself is a key part of green parenting, or at least something many of the parents I spoke to while researching my new book Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children mentioned as a skill they wanted their children to develop.
Am I grown up?
This made me think about when do you know you are grown up? Is it when you’ve found a best friend or gone to big school, or got a boyfriend (or whatever love match you’re looking for)? Or is it when you’ve got a baby? Or another baby? Is it when you bury a parent? Or buy a home? Or divorce? Or is it spending your last few pounds on bread, milk and bananas rather than Haribo sweeties?
With Lola hitting the big one two today (and following an important discussion about when it’s OK to accept a secondhand mobile) I really thought I’d finally done it: I was a grown up. After all I have an almost teenager plus a need to parent like a philosopher.
Smell the flowers
But this confidence in my status changed after the walk to school with Nell, 9, (we ran down a hill full of flowers screaming like the swifts overhead – which I guess is a bit juvenile but was a lot of fun. At the school gates I was mortified when a dad friend (whose 50th birthday I went to some time ago) spoke to me for about 5 minutes before mentioning I had pollen on my nose. I don’t think grown ups usually have pollen on their noses. On the other hand, let’s hope it was pollen not code for something far worse.
The more fun we can share with our children (eg, running down hills, through leaves etc), and the less we act like nannies or best friendies, the better our general day of childcare is likely to be. Obviously there will be plenty of tasks to do, in particular dealing with babies and little children’s sudden insatiable hunger/tiredness. But it makes sense to enjoy a child’s company without going out of your way to pay much, over-organise them or insist that whatever is done together is “Fun with a capital F”.
Put up the tent
Which is why Lola’s 12th birthday party is going to be cake in the park eaten with her friends around a tent, rather than a disco where everyone dresses more grown up than they are. We may stump up some ice creams too as apparently it’s going to be 24C today, but there certainly won’t be party bags…
Actually I reckon the tent in the park plus a picnic would work whatever age you or your baby are. It might even just cheer up a dull day. And when the party’s over and the tent packed away perhaps I’d be better wondering how I can ensure my childlike joy remains (eg, smelling those pollen-laced June morning flowers), rather than fretting about what it’s like to feel properly grown up.
Win a free copy of Homemade Kids
Q: So how do you retain childish pleasures while looking after a little child (especially if you are dog tired)?
The best suggestion (or maybe the most heartfelt answer) tapped into the comment box below (or via my email) gets a FREE copy of Homemade Kids (rrp £10.99).
I’ll email and let you know who’s the winner on publication date, 1 July, so you don’t need to send in your address just yet. Have a good week and hope to see lots of mums and babes at the book launch on 30 June. Nicola x