Top Tips From Toddlers

IMG-20140616-00230Yes, that’s right. From, not for. There are so many ‘here’s what you need to know about life, kiddo’ writings, aren’t there. Mine included. Always wear sunscreen. Get plenty of calcium. Dance.

The thing is, mine love wearing sunscreen (it’s an excuse for a massage). MULK is greeted with squeals. They can dance to anything. Even the hoover being switched on is worthy of a little shimmy. So who should be teaching whom? In fact, the girls are providing me with an excellent refresher course on how to be a contented member of the grown up race. For example…

Pants are an outfit.

Nothing exists apart from the big glorious now. The girls are a bit like very small mountains. Clouds drift pass. But just as the mountain isn’t sighing about that cloud that was there yesterday, nor fretting over the ones which may or may not loom later, so too for the girls yesterday and tomorrow are not obsessions. In fact, I’m not convinced they even understand the concept. They don’t endlessly ruminate over perceived past wrongs, done to them or by them. Nor do they get themselves in a tizz about tomorrow’s trials. All that exists is this, now. I cannot change the past. And the future is just an idea. Precious moments can be frittered planning a life away. It’s taken me to 40 to grasp what they know now. This butterfly, on that flower, the way they’re smiling at it, the sun in their hair, while one of them is dressed as a highland cow and the other a pirate bunny princess…this is everything, everything that is real in the world, everything that can be touched by my hand, and held in my heart. ‘Alive’ comes from the Old English ‘on life’, in the living. Life is now; now is life.

???????????????????????????????Everyone looks excellent in a hat.

Let it go and let it out. Their rages are truly astonishingly thunderous. But, just like a storm, BOOM, and then it’s cleared and we’re back to smiles. Resentment, bitterness, stewing, the endless picking over the scabs of life’s disappointments – it bubbles away and ferments and poisons. Whereas a shouted NO, THE PUSH (sic, this is what Charlotte calls a broom, appropriately enough) IS MINE results in it being handed over and not snatched again. In theory. And Charlotte doesn’t waste a day in a sulk in the corner perseverating on the rubbishness of life, and achieving nothing except missing out on the things which could make it un-rubbish.

Girls’ bottoms are dimply. That is just fact. I am going to take several close ups of their adorable posteriors for when and if they start whinging about cellulite.

IMG-20140616-00236Don’t stress over mess; it is a sign of a good time had. They are actually quite tidy little characters (occasionally worryingly so, Romilly is obsessed with putting things in the bin; sometimes this will actually be things that should be put in the bin) but any time the playroom has been post-apocalyptic it’s because we’ve had friends round or been opening presents or played a very complicated game which involves putting every single book we own on the floor. Same with us. Yesterday was a bit of a hand-on-hips, survey the scene, sigh and procrastinate with tea moment. BECAUSE WE HAD ALL THE NEIGHBOURS AROUND AND EVERYONE GOT A LOOM BAND AND ATE PAVLOVA AND WENT IN THE HOT TUB. Messy days are happy days.

Assume someone’s nice, and they will too. Like the Galapagos seal pups they swam with in my tummy…nothing bad has ever happened to the girls. No one’s been nasty. So everyone is approached with a smile and a chatty anecdote. And responds in kind, because we’re mirrors. Within reason, this seems to work with grown ups too. I don’t know whether it was the industry I worked in, the city I lived in, or insecurity masquerading as aloofness, but this is a new discovery for me. It transpires 99% of people on this planet are good eggs. And the 1% that aren’t, well, at least they’re of psychological interest! So I’m chatting away more, and it pays dividends.

No is a sentence.

Libraries are awesome. Here’s Mummy’s new happy place. Finding it was like slipping my feet into an old and much loved pair of University-shaped shoes. Why haven’t I been hanging out in libraries more? My trying to force myself into nightclubs was like a polar bear booking a mini shop ‘n’ sun break to Dubai.

Disregard beige. Rubbish for colouring in; boring to wear. COLOURS all the way. The brighter and clashier the better. Live a rainbow.

IMG-20140628-00243Take your lead from that modern day spiritual guru, Peppa Pig, and get muddy. It’s hard to think of a single occasion when coming home covered in mud wouldn’t be a sign of fun had. Whether it’s jumping in puddles or exploring a wood or camping or chasing chickens. ‘Dirt is good’ was the greatest advertising strategy never properly executed (you can take the girl out of marketing, but…)

Make more stuff. I was thinking what wonderful licence it was having kids to sit down quietly and indulge in the satisfaction of creation. Doh.

Acceptance. Of people, places, things, and the limits of your powers. You’re making us stay up till 1am flying back home? Que sera. Let’s just exploit the opportunity to run round an airport when we’re usually in bed.  There is very little the girls can do, much less change. So they have a wonderful ability just to get on with things.

Be a bit cheeky.

Wear your heart on your sleeve. One is never in any doubt which particular neurons are firing in the girls’ respective amygdalas. No muttering of ‘I’m fine’ and waiting for Mummy to guess. Laugh, and everyone joins in and it is perpetuated; cry, and you get a hug, and it’s stopped. It’s much easier to read a book if the pages are open.

Highland cows and pirate bunny princesses aside, why on earth would you want to dress like anyone else?

Be brave. Seeing Romilly at the top of a new slide, girding herself, the focussed gaze, the set lips, pushing herself off and then the grin as wide as the Mississippi when she succeeds…why would you deny yourself that?

You don’t need to be DOING anything. The girls don’t have that insane pressing sense that somewhere, someone is having more fun. You don’t need to travel. Their Dad and I are frequently trying to plot weekends, to cram in multiple activities before concluding that, frankly, they’d be perfectly happy pootling round the garden. A hose can provide at least an hour’s genuine amusement (on which note, we should all be in water more, it’s so lovely, we’re all only a few million years on from being fish, after all). So too with us. I love stretching my wings. I’ve visited some amazing lands. But the girls are opening my eyes to the adventures and contentment to be had in your own playroom. I don’t want to waste too many hours getting places in the car when actually the place we all should be is right here, right now.

Judging? What’s that? Does it get you more biscuits? No? Well, why the blazes would you then.

As we are innocent until proven guilty, so every thing, every one and every day is assumed to be FASCINATING and BRILLIANT. And therefore usually is. The girls are just excited about everything, because it all is likely to be a joyous adventure. The postman’s rung the bell! Yay! We run up to him and squeal so he lets us play with his signy electronic thing. Yay! Oo look it’s an ant. Let’s stay still and watch him. So we see a whole line of them carrying BBQ crumbs. Oo. Wow! A laundry basket! Let’s get in it. Now we’re pirates and baby ducks and Daddy looking for fish. I was feeling a bit twitchy in my new favourite library the other day (well, there’s only so long a girl can read about pseudodementia). Fine.  I went for a walk. I found myself in glorious countryside. There were different paths, so I tried the most adventurous looking one. A hundred nettle stings later, the ruins of Hawarden Castle. Brilliant! One magpie in the garden? Well, sooner or later you’re going to see another one. Maybe in the next 5 minutes. Maybe in 5 days. So that means two magpies. And it’s two for joy. One for sorrow? Pah. It’s just a sign that joy’s round the bend. It always, always comes.

IMG-20140723-00293There are exceptions to all of this, naturally. I have developed the ability, usually, to learn from mistakes. The girls have yet to grasp that if you throw your toys out of the pram, that means you no longer have your toys. Their idea of letting it out involves a bit too much hair pulling for my liking (and their sister’s). And I’m quite fond of my bladder control.

But on the whole I think ONE could do with being a bit more TWO.

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