Thursday, 18 December 2014

New blog

I have a new blog where I talk about language and translation.

You can find it here.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The tiniest of the bigger ones

Once upon a morning in the kingdom of Fiddlediddy everyone was going about their business.

The little ones were going to the-place-where-you-learn-things. It was in the centre of the town, in a place with a garden, a slide and a swing, and on the doors there was a big sign reading :
The Little Ones

The bigger ones were going to the-place-where-you-learn-even-more-things. It was on the outskirts of town and they had to go on a bus to go there. There was no garden but they had a big sports hall and a racing track. On the doors the sign read :
The Big Ones

Then the ones who think they know everything but don't know very much at all were going to the-place-where-you-start-learning-a-tiny-little-bit-of-what's-really-important (only a tiny little bit mind). It was in another town of the kingdom and they had to go on the train to go there. There was no garden nor racing track but there were buidlings with small bedrooms in them as they had to sleep there (the train journey was too long and costed too much to do it every day, two times a day). On the doors it didn't read 'the ones who think they know everything but don't know very much at all' but :
THE Ones
They liked that.

Then there was the place where people really start to learn a bit of the universe and everything. There were lots of buildings all over town, in every town in the knigdom. There was no garden, no racing track, no bedrooms, but there often were coffee machines. On the doors of all the places it read :

Then there was the place where people learnt even more of the universe and everything. It was everywhere. Sometimes there was a garden, sometime not, sometimes there were lots of bedrooms, sometimes not enough, sometimes none at all. There were rarely racing tracks, but there were often stuff, more often too much stuff, and lovers, partners, friends, children, aged relatives, lost loved ones and sometimes no one at all. There were no particular doors to go there, you were in it or you were notl but if there had been doors it would have read :

When someone moved from one place to the other it was almost always a big thing in Fiddlediddy. Everyone, except the interested party, wore a funny hat, danced and sang. Some people said they could have done without all this but it was Fiddlediddy after all.

On that particular morning a boy called Anatole was going for the first time to The Big Ones. He was feeling proud and excited but quite nervous too. As it was his first day a lot of his friends and family were going with him on the big bus driving to the-place-where-you-learn-evern-more-things, all wearing their funny hats, dancing - some holding a large white handkerchief or a stick - and singing. Everyone passed the doors of The Little Ones on their way to the bus station. In front of these doors children were either being very quiet or very loud, crying or laughing, hugging or swatting away their parents. They all looked very small and Anatole felt very big indeed.

At last everyone got on the first bus they could catch. That first morning there were lots of buses going out of town at regular intervals as there were so many people going with the new Big Ones.
When they had finally arrived and everyone had danced and sung and hugged and kissed, Anatole was waved off and found himself on the other side of the doors. He was quite small for his age and when he looked around he thought that all the other children seemed to be much, much bigger than him. Anatole felt very small indeed...

A familiar face suddenly appeared before him. Mr Bladibuss was a teacher at The Big Ones and an old friend of Anatole's family. Mr Bladibuss came from the knigdom of Tiniweeny where everyone was rather small. Babies were the size of your thumb and little children no larger than your hand. Mr Bladibuss was very tall compared to most grown-ups from Tiniweeny and he was about Anatole's height. For Anatole, who had known him since he was very litlle, Mr Bladibuss was a giant radiating authority and knowledge.

'Anatole, my boy !' said the teacher. 'You look a bit lost ?'

'Everyone is so big !' answered Anatole. 'I must be the smallest here !'

There was silence.

Then Mr Bladibuss said, 'I am smaller than you...'

Anatole looked at him with big, round eyes. His brain registered what his friend had just said but he still quite could not believe it. He felt so, so much smaller than Mr Bladibuss, who was now frowning at him and not looking too amicable. People from Tiniweeny are not too sensitive about their size but still...

At last Anatole said, 'I mean, I have so much to learn...'

Mr Bladibuss put an arm around the boy's shoulder, leading him through the crowd of children.
'And that's only the beginning, Anatole. that's only the beginning...'

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Everyday superheroes : Super 'Pappy'

Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
For my 4 year old a superhero is very much someone who saves others. So when he told me that 'Pappy' (his grand dad, my dad) had saved him I could just picture my 83 years old dad posing as Super Pappy, in cape and... well, tights. I'm sure DH won't thank me for putting that image in his head but never mind! The point is that it was really sweet.

The story was that we were on holidays in France while DH was still in the UK, working. We'd been to the beach in our London taxi.

Kids, granny, body boards, buckets, spades, all jumbled up at the back of the car, the children requiring of their grand mother to play games with them while she was trying her hardest to do so without being sick (she's a bit sensitive to travel sickness). Then I heard the tale telling flap flap flap flap of a flat tyre and stopped on the kerb of the road (thank goodness there was a kerb to stop on!).
Now, our taxi is a heavy car (more than 1 and a half tonne) with big, heavy wheels. I have had my share of shabby cars and I know how to change a tyre or check the oil. But on the Fairway Driver, with 4 children and a granny, on the side of a very busy, quite fast going road? I was pretty sure I wouldn't manage to do it. And I didn't have much faith either in my dad being able to do it to be honest.

I know you must be thinking, but if the grand dad was the hero of the story surely he did change the flat tyre in the end... Well, no. We called a recovery van (DH did, from England!) and started to wait after having spent already a little time faffing about, finding a recovery company, etc. The children were getting hungry and tired, worried too, so my dad offered to come in his car and take most of the children (except for my then 22 month old who would not have been happy to leave me) and my mum, back home.

So he came, the knight in slippers and Volkswagen Polo. The children, still in their swimming costumes, piled up happily in the smaller car with the promise of dinner when they arrived at my parents' house. And that's what prompted DS, later that night when I was putting him to bed and telling a story of his day, to add to the story 'And Pappy saved me!'.

That elevation of my dad to hero status took afterwards a different significance for me as he suffered a stroke in November. He lost the ability to use language (in speech or writing) and the mobility in his right hand. Knowing that his two passions in life are drawing (he's an artist by profession) and talking, it's been quite hard on him. He is very strong willed though and determined to recover what he's lost. He has become independent again in everyday life as soon as could be expected and he's now working hard at learning again how to communicate and use the fine motor skills of a right handed person (he has regained some movement in his right hand but he can't always feel if what he wants to grab and hold is actually in his hand).

That's hero's stuff, isn't it ?!

To finish the story of the flat tyre... DS had been saved by Super Pappy but the taxi was still in the ditch with its, as DS called it, 'black tyre'. The recovery van arrived and it appeared that I had been right : neither me nor my dad could have changed the tyre. As it is even the recovery guy couldn't do it at first! He'd been coming straight from wherever he was, with his standard tyre changing kit, but for the taxi he needed to go back to his workshop and get the lorry kit... Yes. So a bit of going to and fro followed. He dropped me (and DB) at my parents'. I put everyone to bed and was even lucky that DB went to sleep on the breast and allowed me to deposit her on the bed, just before the mechanic came back. We went back to where the taxi was (by then it was dark), he changed the tyre and I could finally drive back to my parents' (it turned out we had stopped only a few hundred yards from the town, where we could have parked the car on a proper parking space and walked home...) at the rather ungainly hour of 11.20 pm.

But... it was almost worth it for the story of Pappy the superhero in the end :)

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)
  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

I don't think that I had any particular fear linked to parenthood before I became myself a parent. Rather, I was in the blessed ignorance of the first learning stage : you don't know what you don't know.

Now ? Well, let me tell you a story...

This is actually a post I wrote a while ago and that was called 'The Pink Rabbit that Was'

When DDs 1 and 2 were small I regularly went through their stuff and gave to charity any toy that they had outgrown, didn't play with anymore or had never played with. That was the only way I could more or less keep on top of the mess.
These days I unfortunately don't do it often enough and I definitely can't keep on top of the mess. It would actually be more necessary than ever to declutter, the family having grown to 6 members and still living in a terraced, small victorian 3 beds cottage.

Anyway I used to do it and I was generally lucky in my choices, nothing got missed... until the fateful day when DD1 was about 5 and I gave away a very big, very pink soft toy rabbit that belonged to her and that she never played with anymore, only to discover that she actually LOVED it. It hit me during a parent-teacher evening at her school. She had written in her literacy exercise book that she was sad because she had lost her pink rabbit...

I felt wretched, drowned in guilt. I had caused her to be so sad that, at only 5, she had written about it!
I began a frantic search for the rabbit on ebay. I had given it via a collection bag so no hope to retrieve it from the charity shop. For weeks, months, I looked at hundred of posts for soft toys rabbits but not one looked close enough to the 'real' one for me. DH kept telling me that she would forget but she kept talking about it from time to time. Eventually I stopped looking and hoped she would indeed forget. By the way, I hadn't told her it was definitively gone, officially it was only 'lost'.

The time flew by as it does. DD1 still mentionned the pink rabbit occasionally and I would go onto ebay again. Suddenly my little girl was 9 and... still thinking about her rabbit (oh, the guilt for me!). I started looking again, not finding but thinking "I can barely remember what it exactely looked like. Will she?" Finally I found one that looked fairly like it and bought it. I put it on her bed and waited with bated breath.

She loved it. She did think it was the one from when she was small and she's really happy. At least she's happy although I'm still ridden with guilt.

And this is my biggest fear. That time it was a frenzy of decluttering and an unfortunate choice, and I could never have foreseen it would stay with her for so long. All that we do or say can carry such a weight with our children... It could be a harsh word, an unfair blame, anything. The pink rabbit has become a symbol of my biggest parenting fear: what if, one day, I made disappear and could never replace another 'pink rabbit' ?!?

*** Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):
  • When Parents' Fears Escalate — If we didn't self-doubt, we probably wouldn't care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama's family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I'm a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son's future?
  • I Don't Homeschool to Manage My Kids' Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama's fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household - that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent - that most parents share - looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit...Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear...
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren't anywhere near as scary as she'd thought.
  • Don't fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me... — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.