Unexpected gifts, winning smiles and a strapping lad

Things I’ve learned from my children

The magnitude of a gift is not always obvious.
At the end of cubs last week, Boy Two hurtled up the road yelling: “Mum, mum, I’ve got something for you.” And he pressed a rich tea biscuit into my hand. It was broken into three parts, the crumbly edges rubbed smooth and grey with… actually, I don’t really want to think what they were grey with. “Er, thanks,” I muttered as he charged back to the smouldering bonfire. The previous week they had collected brambles along the railway line and a keen cub-mother had volunteered to turn them into jam. They were sampling their produce on biscuits, only, in his excitement, Boy Two forgot about the jam bit.

A smile is stronger than a frown.
“Which is stronger your top lip or your bottom lip?” seemed a perfectly reasonable question from Boy One. So we tried. You’re doing it now, aren’t you? It’s irresistible. What we found was that the bottom lip will generally have the advantage unless you are smiling.

It’s possible to revise an opinion about physical restraint. If you’d asked me a year or so ago what I thought about strapping kids into high chairs or shopping trolleys I’d have said “Pah, no need. Just over-cautious.” Strapping in prams yes, cos there’s a bumpy-road, tippy-over possibility, but elsewhere no. And as for reins. Then I realised I liked to dress Boy Three in dungarees because it’s easier to recapture him by grabbing the straps. And he went on to evade trolley straps, high chairs and anywhere else you think him restrained. My view has changed.

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