Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Her name is Grace and her cousin is Genghis Khan...

For the past few years Grace has played various make believe games that involve me calling her Alice, Wendy, Ariel, Elsa, Anna, Cinderella, Belle, Isobelle, Sophia, Dora... you get the drift. But today she had a different request for me.
'Mummy, stop calling me Gracie. That name is for babies. I'm a big girl so you can call me Grace & the reason my name is Grace is because I am just very graceful, beautiful and my singing is so lovely'.
Now I agree on two points but if I do hear her sing 'Let it go' just one more time this week, I may just have to take an extended parental vacation. Or maybe buy some ear plugs.

Like many people in the world Gracie has a birthmark. Her birthmark is small, circular shaped, no bigger than a finger print and it is also a bright teal-blue colour (not unlike a fresh bruise). Before I met Grace, I’d never seen anything like it and so I think I can be forgiven for the attitude I may have given the neonatal staff and for the suspicious eyed looks I probably shot their way when they said ‘Oh don’t mind that, it’s just a Chinese Birthmark…’.
‘Chinese?! But that just seems so unlikely’…
I don’t remember what the nurse said after that but I do remember discounting her explanation and  turning to Google, only to see that we got off fairly lightly considering how small and discreet the birth mark was in comparison to other children who had large bruise-like marks covering most of their legs and torso. But still… Chinese? (Or Even Mongolian, depending on who you ask). Picture me trying to explain that one to any babysitters, child-care staff etc who  cared for Grace before her toilet-trained days - hilarious?  I think not!
 Grace loves her birthmark. She calls it her blue-spot and I’ve always told her that it is proof she is special (it’s never too early to  prepare for those awkward teen years right?) But given Grace’s recent obsession with watching Disney’s Mulan tied in with the added bonus of her class learning about China and the Chinese New Year for the past few weeks, Grace has been asking a lot of questions -
‘Mummy, you know, today  I learned  about the Chinese New Year?  Well all the people wear red and they set off fireworks and Mum, will you show me pictures of China on your laptop?'.
After turning to good old Google, the most sensible search result seemed to be a youtube clip that gave a really brief overview of China whilst it showed some photographs of the Great Wall and other culturally unique Chinese images. After seeing the Wall, Grace got talking.
'Mum they built that wall to keep the baddies out if China Who were the baddies?'
Obviously the simple answer is Mongolia. But previously I had told Grace about the old Genghis Khan wives tale (Any babies born with a blue birth mark are descendants of Genghis Khan - highly possible that we're all somewhat descended from him considering how much of the world he conquered back in the day). But to make the answer easier for Grace, I explained that the bad guys in Mulan were the Mongolians like Genghis Khan. Quite rationally Grace has since been stating that 'She is related to the bad guy in Mulan and she knows he related to her because he has the same blue birthmark on his bum but she wishes that he wasn't really her cousin because she didn't like how mean he was in Mulan...'
Did I mention that for the past few weeks Grace has been learning about China in school? Well one homework assignment included sharing a Chinese fact with her class. I gave her plenty - Tea comes from China, The capital city of China etc.. but I bet you can guess which 'fact' Grace told her teacher?
For anyone that has never seen a blue birthmark -  Obviously I'm not going to post a picture of Grace's bum but here's lots of google pictures. You'll get the idea :)

The Lost Daughter - Diane Chamberlain

Much like Picoult, Chamberlain has a way of weaving complex morally controversial situations with the kind of fiction that will make you question humankind. Without giving away too much, my heart broke in the twelfth chapter and it took reading the rest of the novel to somehow put all of the shattered pieces back together. In my opinion, childbirth and motherhood are two of the most extremely emotional and physical experiences that a woman can have and when something as personal and meaningful as this is stolen, the world loses something magical. At times ,this book is a heavy read but one that is worth persevering with just for the karmic resolution in the end.

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

If you found an envelope that contained a secret your husband intended to share only in the event of his death, would you open it? I for one, would let the curious beast within me tear that envelope open faster than light itself but not Moriarty's main character Cecelia. No, this character agonises over the decision for what seems like an incredibly long time and when she does finally open the envelope, she agonizes some more. I found the book to be an incredibly slow read up until the point that the John-Paul (Cecelia's husband) secret is out. But I battled on with the read on the advice of Neil's sister and mum, who assured me the book was brilliant. Unfortunately for me, the book then hit a point where I struggled to put it down. It was just THAT good. Be prepared :)

And then she started school...

Last September Grace started reception and so far she is flourishing – learning new things, meeting new people and enjoying all the new experiences that primary school has to offer. She’s in her fourth week now and I think it’s safe to say that she loves being a school girl. And while she is growing up so much faster than I ever thought possible, she is still Grace and she still has plenty to say. Here are some of my favourite things that she has said lately.

On her first day - ‘Can we go yet? Is it time yet? I want to go now! I can’t wait to meet all my new friends…It doesn’t matter if it is six a.m. At least I will be early and then my teacher will know that I am a good girl. Come on mummy, get up and get out of bed’.

In her first week - ‘My uniform is Green because I go to Greenacres and that girl over there with the blue dress goes to Blueacres. And girls in red go to Redacres and Mummy, is there a Pinkacres? I think you should have sent me there because I look so much nicer in Pink…Well… sometimes you do get things wrong. Don’t you Mummy?’

On homework during her second week - ‘I love that I have homework. Let’s do my homework now…Yes, know today is Sunday but I want to do it now. I love homework. Will I get homework all the time?’ (Home-work completed) ‘Is that all I have to do? Learn one nursery rhyme? Mummy! I was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when I was a baby! Does my teacher know that I am four years old?...Oh now you tell me that I have to think about what rhymes…Ummmm Star, Are, High, Sky! There – done! But I think you had better tell her that I am too old for baby songs… Yes Mummy. I know we have looked at the same nursery rhyme every day this week so of course I know the answers already. It’s called practise. I’m just practising okay?’

Friday, 23 January 2015

You can call me Joseph!

Before Christmas, Grace learnt about Diwali in school. As we walked home, she began telling me all about it:- 'To celebrate Diwali, you have to be either a Hindu or a Sikh. And you get to wear beautiful dresses that have lots of colours and lots of glitter. You know Mummy, I'd probably wear orange and pink because they are my favourite's. And at the party, you get to see all of your friends and family and you all eat yummy food together. And it's delicious! Mr Patel's mummy came into my class room and she showed us a DVD of the ladies dancing and she gave us sweets. Did you know Mr Patel and his mummy are going to Diwali tonight? I really want to go to Diwali... Can I go Mummy? What if I told you that I want to be a Sikh when I grow up? Would you let me go then?...'

And ever since Diwali, Grace has been curious about religion.
'So If I'm not a Hindu or a Sikh, does that mean that I am Christian? Today my teachers told me all about Mary and Jesus'...
Grace basically covered her version of the Nativity story before asking if she, Owen and I could pretend to be Mary, Joseph and Jesus during the walk home. Naturally Owen was Jesus and Grace was Mary so I bet you can guess which one of us got lumped with being Joseph! I'm not saying he is the most boring of the lot but he really doesn't seem to have much to do in the story, or at least nothing as exciting as being Gods Son or the Virgin Mother. But anyway, there we were. Grace, Owen and I walking up the road and all the while there was Grace commanding Jesus to follow her. 
It really wasn't a problem until Grace chose the exact moment that a group of mums passed us by to announce 'Jesus! You need to listen to your mum and just look at that donkey'...All while pointing in my direction (I was holding the pram which I think was the make believe donkey?).

Before Christmas, Grace was keen to get permission to walk herself to school. Just like she sees some of the bigger kids at school do. Naturally my answer was No. No ifs, No buts. Just No!
'But Mummy, I'm four. And soon I'll be five and that is pretty grown up you know... I don't wear nappies, I know to look for cars and if I fall over then I will be very brave!'.

One morning, after Grace had listed off about a million things that she wanted me to buy her for Christmas, I asked Grace whether she was going to get me anything for the occasion.
'Oh yes, Mum. I know you like word things so I'm going to ask Nana to buy you a book that has lots of words. But not a boring book. Probably a book about princesses and fairies. Actually Mum, I'm going to make a book for you. I'll tell you what to say and you just need to write it down...'

While eating dinner at a local carvery, Grace announced she was full but now ready for dessert. She was told that as she wasn't going to finish her meal because she was full then she would have to forgo any pudding. To this Grace replied 'Actually I have two tummys - one for dinner and one for pudding. The dinner one is full but the pudding one hasn't even started yet!'.

One day while we were out it began to rain. The kids and I managed to find cover while Neil got drenched sorting out the car. While watching him, Grace exclaimed 'Look at Daddy, the frog!' Seeing as Neil is not at all amphibian-like, I queried this with her. Sighing exasperatedly, she snapped 'Daddy is as wet as a frog! You do know that frogs live in water don't you? And it's raining...' 

One thing Grace is never short of is an unintentional back-handed compliment. She has plenty of them and in the past five years, I have copped more than my fair share. This doozy began quite pleasantly,
'I'm going to be five soon Mum. That means I need a birthday party so can you buy me a cake and invite all my friends? But I need to tell you something... Well... I don't want you to come to my birthday party because I'm going to be very grown up and too busy to play with you. Don't worry it's not because your old and boring. It's because I'm going to be a big girl and I just don't really need you there. Besides you're not famous or a pop-star so my friends probably won't want to play with you either...'