Saturday, 30 October 2010

Catching the Moment.

Clean girls, clean clothes, and a clear half hour before leaving the house. Mog awake. Little Fish happy, you'd think a nice photo would be child's play.
And then you'd remember how complex child's play really is.
And how much cooperation it requires.
And then you'd shoot whole series of these, and then you'd get increasingly cross, and the little one would stop smiling and start worrying, and the smile would get more fake. And the larger one would giggle but this would annoy the littlest one. And then you'd put the camera away and stomp off in a huff, running late.

But I will get a photograph of them both together. One day. Both smart, both smiling, neither suspiciously stained.

I just wish I knew how or when.
Tia

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Move That Fish!

Today was one of the bestest kinds of days. The midpoint of the half term break; by lunch time we knew we'd broken the back of the holiday and could slide gently towards school starting again. And a day spent with the best kind of friends; ones who turn up and slide food into the 'fridge, whose children disappear off into the playroom dragging mine with them, and who will happily sit and drink tea and laugh with us when the beautiful fresh bread turns out not to have risen, and the jam tarts have stuck irretrievably to the bottom of the pan.

Just as the joys of CBeebies and Lego were beginning to pall, there was a knock at the door, and a postman delivering a parcel. We'd been warned to expect it; a cryptic email from my sister in law letting me know that "there's something coming, we tried it out with bicycles so it should be fine with wheelchairs" a few days ago. Perfect timing; the children unwrapped it together and and it proved to be an excellent bribing tool a useful motivator to get them to eat lunch before a trip to the park to try it out.
video
And look! You can use it with a wheelchair! The littler ones decided a long run up was necessary; we adults decided just jumping was enough. This may have had something to do with the different bodyweights involved; I couldn't possibly comment. It seemed to be popular; we had children from all over the park begging to have a go, small boys queuing up to stomp, and I'm sure we didn't really cause that woman to go into early labour. It wouldn't have been that early anyway.

More "fun" in the park. Fun for the children, backbreaking for those of us holding paraplegic five year olds up to the climbing bars for practice. And then back home for tea and cakes and cuddles.
Fun in the front garden with great enormous bouncy balls. Fun in the back garden with a fountain and pebbles. Fun inside with the toy kitchen and the bricks and the Lego and the puzzles and the paper.

The doorbell rang again at the height of the chaos, with small children everywhere and general debris strewn across the floor. Little Fish opened the door to Grannie "Oh no, we've got Visitors" she said, winningly. Despite the welcome, Grannie and Great Grannie tiptoed across the acres of clutter and joined us for another drink and more cakes.

And then they went, and the children decided it was teatime, and we decided if we fed them now we wouldn't need to later, and they ate more cocktail sausages and strawberries (for we are gourmet parents), and we drank more tea, and they started getting a little tireder and quieter
and happy to play sitting still games.

And then friends went, and bedtime happened, and my own two fell into bed and were both asleep before I'd finished hooking up their various night time bits and pieces. A good day had by all.

And the title? Inexplicable. The two youngest celebrating Ty Pennington with their own surreal twist at lunchtime.

Good times.
Tia



Sunday, 24 October 2010

Little Fish Chat.

"Mummy, Mummy, I have got a little tiny elephant. I bought it from the little elephant shop. I have lots and lots of little tiny elephants and they are very nice....oh dear these little elephants are very hard work, I know, I know - I will eat them and then they won't need me to look after them any more."

"Mummy, Mummy, we need that Move That Bus man to come here and knock our house down. But we must not tell [our upstairs neighbour] and then her house will fall down and it would be really funny."

"Mummy, Mummy, excuse me, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Mummy. Mummy? Mummy, Mummy, um, Mummy, are you listening? Mummy, Mummy? Oh I've forgotten now."

"Mummy, you are the best Mummy in the whole wide world and I love you very much acos you have made yummy dinner and you have a very pretty coat. Can I have some tape please and some more paper?"

"Hey Mummy, quick, I gonna poo. I know, you take me and go round and round very fast, and my poo will fly out all over the room, is that a good idea? It would be very funny. Hey, Mummy, why you put me on the potty?"

Yes dear.
Tia

Friday, 22 October 2010

Mog's Moan

I am a mean, mean mother.

Mid fit for Mog's new wheelchair today. Since she appears to have shrunk several inches since it was cast, this took a little while, as cushions were first lowered then chopped shorter, mysterious wings which had appeared over her shoulders were clipped back, and a headrest was er liberated from another chair in store to make it fit.

It's good this communication thing. Mog's still got the Brownie Promise on her switch, still frowning at anyone who dares to suggest changing it for anything more useful like "Hello" or even"Oi YOU! Pay attention to me!" which is generally one of her favourites. So, clearly, we were checking that the mount would fit onto the new frame. And that the frame would fit through the doors, it being a good few inches wider than her old wheelchair. Happily it's both shorter and narrower than the buggy she's in at the moment, so pushing her around the house ought to be a dream again.

We shifted the headrest, discussed extra padding. Mog told us she wants it soft and snug, not loose. I pointed out that if she had it a bit loose, she might have space for a headswitch again, since she does seem to be turning her head a bit more these days. Big frown and legs kicking mightily, happily not quite concussing the hapless wheelchair technician who was attempting to shorten the footplates. Mog likes her foot switch. Point taken. Big grin, and her right foot pounding the footplate - "You'd like a switch for your other leg too?" Yes.

We'll look into it.

And then time for the most important bit of all - as far as Mog is concerned anyway. Choosing the colours of the cushion covers. I go through all the colours with Mog. She rejects school uniform blue, but declines to comment on the rest. I go through them again. She rejects red, after I point out it'll look evil with her purple tops. We go through the rest again, and the other blues are rejected. Another cycle, and she weeds out the pink. Eventually we are left with purple and black. not the subtle, tasteful, charcoaly grey/navy black she's had for the past six years, a solid, uncompromising, show every speck of tissue from accidents in the washing machine midnight down a mineshaft black.

Mog has, up til now, been fairly silent. Yes, there was the welly the wally who knelt at her feet wheelchair technician incident, but apart from that she's been silently smiling or frowning, and closing her eyes quite a bit to avoid the flourescent lights. But we're down to just purple or black. Two simple choices. The purple is a bit lairy, but if that's what she wants, fine. I double check. Black? "AAAAAAR". Definitely black? "AAAARRRRRR". Head back, arms straight, legs wellying away in double quick time; it's the black covers she wants. Wheelchair tech laughs and asks if she wants skulls and crossbones with it? YES YES YES YES YES YES YES would be the verbal equivalent of Mog's response. Closely matched with the NO NO NO NO NO NO NO he gets from me.

Mog sulks, and hits her switch. I tell her she has to be older. She says no. The tech says he can't actually embroider them onto the cushions anyway and he wasn't serious. Mog hits her switch repeatedly to ask for her talking book. She has a question. "Why not?"

Sensible girl.
She's still not having a skull and crossbones motif on her new wheelchair though. Why not? Because I'm the meanest Mummy in the whole world ever.
Tia

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Autumn Days



Having a back to primary school moment. The freezer's full, and so's the pantry, there's a snap in the air and a thin crackle of frost underfoot. The girls went to school with thick snuggly blankets around their legs. Breathing out brings a cloud of mist, and breathing in brings clean cold wakefulness. The house smells of Gingernuts and lemon curd and sweet apples mulling gently. The craft fair is on, the pile of necessary knitting is growing faster than the blanket I need to finish before I can start on the rest of it, my winter coat has found its way out of the wardrobe, and the girls have gloves again.

And I hear the piano chords, and I'm jog-trotting to school behind Mum pushing the pram, pausing to shatter the thin lace of ice gathered at the edge of puddles, kicking small mountains of leaves up through the air and gathering the best to make leaf prints. A glorious burst of colour, new life and energy after the heat of the summer. Tingly ears and wind in my hair, the promise of excitements to come with Christmas close enough to be thought about but far enough away to just be the sniff of a hint of something possibly exciting.

In the playground, French elastic and giant skipping ropes and hopscotch and endless games of tig. In the classroom, walls a riot of colour and complicated sums about how many leaves it will take to fill a sack if each sack needs three loads from the wheelbarrow, and each wheelbarrow holds 45 leaves. At home, baked potatoes and the promise of bonfires and fireworks, gingerbread and parkin.

And now, thirty years later, it's my daughter enjoying that same Autumn snappiness, and celebrating it with her own picture, beautifully signed without any help from others.
Tia

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

20.10 20/10 2010

One hundred years ago (give or take a few months), a group of girls had the audacity to turn up to Baden-Powell's Boy Scout Rally. They told him they were Girl Scouts; he was adamant they weren't and they couldn't be.

And then people persuaded him that really he might be able to do something for the girls too. And so he persuaded his sister Agnes to do something, and she wrote a tediously worthy little book called "How Girls Can Help to Build up The Empire". And that might have been it, but it wasn't, and Girl Guiding grew anyway, and eventually his wife became involved.

And now, a hundred years later, we celebrated by renewing our promises as Guides, Brownies (not Rosebuds), and Rainbows at 20.10 on the 20th day of the 10th month, in the year 2010.

That first rally was outdoors, muddy, mostly boys, and the girls came in long skirts with packs on their backs. This ceremony was managed via internet link, and our girls were in their uniform of pink and navy, with jeans and trousers and hot pants and miniskirts. We had a Glowsticks campfire, and the only men a handful of parents come to see their daughters receive Baden-Powell Awards. Although, as we were using the theatre belonging to a local independent boys' boarding school, I suppose the ratio of boys to girls in the wider vicinity was possibly not dissimilar.

I wonder what Lord B-P would've thought about it? About GirlGuiding as it is today, and about the celebrations we had. Such an outdoorsy man; I'm not convinced a warm centrally heated theatre would have been an acceptable option to him. But I hope the continuance of the movement he started, however reluctantly, would have brought him pleasure. And I hope he'd recognise some of his ideals in what we have today.

But for now, Day is done, gone the sun, from the sea, from the hills, from the sky. As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Tia

Monday, 18 October 2010

Another year, another letterbox

Out into the void I send this year's newsletter. A few short pages to summarise a year in the life of one small child. A letter to people who created this my youngest child, people I catch a glimpse of in her features and expressions, yet people I have never met.

I write this blog, and the majority of you who read it are people who have never met me. So why does this feel different? I suppose because I have come to know some of you through comments here, others through your own blogs; those of you who read and yet don't comment are equally welcome. This is however my story, my blog, a glimpse into my life. You see my girls through my eyes, and I edit life to avoid telling other people's stories.

In theory, I write a letter to strangers every time I hit "publish". But it is so very different to writing a letter to these most intimate of strangers. Are they reading this as well as my annual "here we all are again" note? Should I just send a note telling them this exists, and inviting them to follow our adventure here, where they'd have far more frequent updates?

Do they want these letters? Am I getting them right, are they long enough, informative enough, photographic enough, honest enough? Do they include the full picture, or do I withhold information which might concern them? Do they wish to know this, do they collect them from the letterbox drop or are they sitting in a file somewhere? Do these letters open fresh heartbreak each year or ease the loss?

And I wonder at what point I ought to include this little person in the writing of them. She can write her own name now, ought I to have included her signature or a picture she has drawn? She's still fairly convinced I'm talking nonsense when I tell her she didn't grow inside me, would including her in this project help her to make sense of it, or would she expect a reply and would it unsettle her?

Should I have asked the questions I have for them? Ought I to share my hopes and dreams or stick to describing past events?

I don't know. But, it's done, for this year at least. And can be shelved for another twelve months.
I"m tired.
Tia

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A Guest Post

Hi, Mog here. If I could have your attention please
Some people think I don't have a lot to say.
I'd like to point out that isn't the case,
It just takes me a long time to say it.
Oh YES!

Please just give me the time. I have an Auditory Scanning Book now too. It's based on this idea but geared more to me. Mine looks a bit like slides 25 on, but has my own lists and uses UK English. I really like it, and I'm using it to create a bit of anarchy in the classroom now, trying to insist on praise music instead of boring chill-out tapes.

I like to cause chaos at Brownies too, asking for music over and over again until they give in and sing to me. Now I'm very happy because on Tuesday, the Brownies recorded a song for me on my switch. So every time I kick my switch, I hear them all singing, and I won't let Mum change the message.

Bye for now!
Mog.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Recipe for a quiet blog

Take one Grandad, and post him up a tree
Spend the next three weeks converting the apples into a whole lot of this
and a freezer full of puree, and friends avoiding me in the street in case I try to shuffle another box of beetly apples into their car; apple lemon cakes, an intriguing apple curd recipe cooling on the counter as I type, gingersnaps (as a break from the apples), pumpkin pureeing and pumpkin seeds roasting (ditto); short pauses only when absolutely essential and mainly governed by when the food waste bin is full and can't take any more parings.

Combine with the need to swap thisfor this
and the hunt for a settee to fit opposite it;

Add in the most sociable month we've had in the past seven years, with friends for weekends and friends for sudden overnights, and friends on the phone and friends on Skype, and escaping for a few days,

Combine with two children slightly under par, one of whom has managed to set my phone to look like this
Leave in a cosy but somewhat cluttered house and bake at room temperature for several weeks.

Normal service may be resumed shortly. And is more likely to be resumed if I ever manage to work out how to get the new wireless router working. In the meantime, excuse me please.
Tia

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Adventures with Pat.

Pat the Sat, that is.

I'm thinking of a friend this evening, off on a long drive and tired before she started, and hoping she might enjoy the following when she reaches her destination.

We were entertaining friends a few weeks ago, friends who had travelled the length of the country to spend just the weekend with us (I realise that's a fairly short journey for my American readers, but I'm still used to forty minutes being a long trip) and friends who had travelled the breadth of the country to see the friends who had come so far south. And on the Saturday we took sideways trip to Hemel Hempstead.

Now Hemel Hempstead holds memories for me. I once managed to arrive there, entirely by accident, when attempting to drive from Royston to Stevenage (which is not dissimilar to attempting to drive from San Francisco to San Jose and ending up in Los Angeles. Except a lot shorter and without the ocean views. Disregard this attempt to make this relevant to overseas readers. ). It has a magic roundabout, the magic of which appears to be its ability to enable traffic to move in twelve different directions all at once, and to combine traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and roadside hotels, all bound together with a smattering of signs, none of which actually point in quite the right direction.

This being the case, and me being the driver, I was delighted to accept my friend's loan of Pat the Sat for the journey. Pat was duly programmed, the bus was loaded, and we set off. We pootled along, following Pat's somewhat peremptory commands; "Turn Left. Turn Left. Continue; at the roundabout take the second exit. SECOND EXIT" until, somewhat to our surprise, we found ourselves heading for the M25.

With hindsight, seating Pat's owner in the far rear of the bus, behind several noisy children, may have been a mistake. It was as we passed the last sensible escape road before the M25 that she woke up to our location and decided to redirect us. What followed was an epic battle of wills between Pat and Friend, with myself and other friend mere tools. I drove, she attempted to mute Pat. Pat became increasingly hysterical, repeatedly begging me to turn around, before opting for subterfuge, and instructing me to take the fourth exit at every roundabout we met.

From far behind, Friend attempted to shout out directions. This was hampered by her inability to see the road ahead past the crowds of wheelchairs between her and the windscreen, and the inability of the child sitting beside her to hold his head up without her assistance. Pat decided to play dirty, repeatedly sounding an alarm for fuel stations at times calculated to drown out Friend's instructions, ringing a "shopping centre nearby" bell at crucial moments, and continuing to beg us to turn around before eventually submitting to the inevitable and deciding to recalculate, just a couple of miles from Hemel itself. A final attempt to deliver us to a school rather than the mobility shop we'd been aiming for, and she subsided into sulky silence as we switched the engine off.

We shopped, we attempted to find lunch and settled for a picnic, we watched children drive (and fail to drive) wheelchairs, we fended off tantrums, and we settled on a ploy to persuade Pat to steer us home more sensibly.

So, we reloaded the bus, Friend programmed Pat to take us to Aylesbury (halfway home on the route we actually wanted to take), and we set off. Round the magic roundabout with no casualties, onto the road we wanted, and heading into Aylesbury we reprogrammed Pat to find the road home. She was not happy. Pat directed us through many busy towards the town centre. At one point, I passed a side road which would have taken us on a beautifully scenic country trek slowly towards our house. As I began to change lanes to follow it, Pat woke up. "STRAIGHT AHEAD" she said firmly, brooking no opposition. Doubting my ability to pootle through the lanes without her assistance, I obeyed.

Pat smirked, and instructed us to turn left. Bouncing our way down a speed-bumped housing estate road, we realised she was out for revenge. And, over the next hour, she took us past country manors, through busy villages, along single track roads mostly populated by tractors, before eventually dumping us onto the busiest stretch of the A34 at the busiest time of day. Grinning evilly to herself, she ran out of battery and we limped our miserable way back home again.

I was back in Aylesbury last week and drove myself home without Pat or any of Pat's relatives' assistance. It was a lovely journey, Autumn turning the trees shades of glorious gold. And no sniffy voice instructing me to turn left down impossible sideroads nor insisting I took the motorway. I think I'll stick to maps and memory for now.

Tia

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Babysitting

Too many years ago, I was in a chatroom with a woman who shared my interest in the world of adoption and children with disabilities. We had our copies of the latest adoption magazines open on our laps as we chatted online. And I pointed out a child who fit this family's "We'd only consider adopting again if" criteria.

That child did not end up joining their family. Instead the most beautiful precious little girl became their youngest daughter, and they very graciously asked me to be her Godmother. We didn't live so very far apart at the time; it was a relatively simple train and ferry trip to meet up, and we managed the occasional lunch together over the years, as well as far too many hours spent chatting online.

And then the family moved, and two hours became four, and meeting up was limited to Baptisms and Dedications and special Birthdays. And my Godmotherly duties have of necessity been pretty much limited to whatever I can do from a distance.

I have been spoilt, living here. The vast majority of the girls' medical needs are met through just two hospitals, and both of those hospitals are less than ten miles from my door (and only a mile apart). The girls' schools are both less than a mile from my door. And so I very rarely need to travel. We travel as a family, or the girls go to school and I either stay home or potter about fairly locally.

Last month I had to break out of my comfort zone to visit a friend who was stuck in a London hospital for a few weeks. And I drove my van to the long stay carpark, and I caught a train, and I debated a tube but opted for a taxi, and I gained a fresh sense of awe for anyone who manages to commute on a regular basis. And we had a good visit, and I did the journey in reverse, and got home sweaty and smelly and exhausted and determined never to do that again.

But - I got home, and the girls had survived my absence, and the world didn't fall apart because I was more than thirty minutes away. So, when my friend told me she was coming into London for a hospital appointment, how could I miss the opportunity to meet up?

The trains were running very late. Which actually worked in my favour; instead of the train I'd planned to catch (which was cancelled) I caught a train three minutes earlier which was running ninety minutes late (confused yet? So were many of the passengers. Those who weren't irate). And so instead of meeting my friends at the hospital, we met an hour earlier at the train station.
And I got to babysit whilst the rest of them had their appointment. And I think Evie enjoyed it too!
And then of course I had to do the journey in reverse, and of course the appointments were running a little late meaning I had to abandon my Goddaughter with her mother who was in the middle of an appointment which involved, amongst other things, sitting in a pitch black room for half an hour. But I only got mildly lost in Islington, and only did one loop the loop in the tube station, and once again managed to walk into the station and onto a train, getting back a few minutes before my own sitter ran out.

And I'm stuck again with wondering how on Earth people manage this commute every day? I'm sure there are some jobs which can only be done in London, and I'm pretty sure if I had to do one of those jobs I probably wouldn't want to be living there at the same time. But then again so many of my friends do - how? And why? Thankful once again for my two girls and the ability to stay home with them. In a home which is currently constantly scented with apples and cinnamon, as I attempt to puree my own bodyweight in the apples from our little tree in the garden. And which will smell so much sweeter when I finally empty the last huge box and get rid of the last overly rotten ones. And sweeter yet once I scrub London off my skin and out of my clothes. Something I shall do just as soon as I've had one last look at that beautiful smile; a small girl determined not to share her doll with anyone.
Tia

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I promise

I promise that I will do my best to love my GodAnd to be kind and helpful.

And I promise
to laugh at my sister making her promise and to use my talking book to demand music, repeatedly. And to enjoy Brownies even when I am horizontal.

Tia

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Playtime

Walking your child to school, you get to meet other parents. You observe your child interacting with their classmates, you watch them smarten up when the whistle blows for the start of the school day, you get to feel smug when your child has a pair of matching shoes and lines up after a quick hug, unlike the child beside you with a snotty nose who weeps noisily and shuffles off reluctantly, or the child at the back of the queue with one trainer and one flip-flop. And you get to feel less smug when you look at your daughter's birds nest and compare it to the immaculate French plaits she's lining up behind.

Your heart sings when your child is mobbed by her classmates, and breaks when they run off for a quick and forbidden clamber up the grass mound; inaccessible to your child in her wheelchair. It's a great leveller.

You get to pair up parents to children, spot who belongs to who, have a brief chat or just exchange sympathetic glances; the instant understanding you can only gain when you too have been the parent of the child screaming loudly in the buggy or smearing secondhand peanut butter all down your jeans. And, you get to just ask, casually, "would little Jimmy like to come to play one day?" and just like that, it's all sorted out.

When your child rides the bus to school, you lose all that. You lose reading the notes the PTA post on the noticeboard in the playground. You lose reading the poster declaring what colour, what letter, what shape this week is going to take in your child's class. And you lose the connection to other parents. And when your child is the only child in the school to be riding the school bus, the school is not set up to provide other ways of picking up on this information.

So, when your child comes home saying "Can Fifi come to play?" you can't just collar Fifi's mother the following morning. You have to write a formal note to Fifi's Mum, not knowing if Fifi's Mum usually brings her to school or if she comes with a childminder. And you can't just offer to pick both girls up from school, because of course your child rides the bus, and the bus has no space for friends. So you have to suggest a weekend or day off. And, because you don't know Fifi's Mum, you don't know if she has picked up on your own child's special needs or not - and, because you don't watch your child on her way into school you don't know if Fifi is really her friend or just someone your daughter really wants to have as a friend but who is actually quite horrible. And you have to rely on school passing on the note, and then you have to hope Fifi's Mum is nice enough that she will reply to it and not think it odd that you've written to her rather than just collaring her at the school gates.

Happily, Fifi's Mum was in fact a very nice and understanding Mum, and Fifi was in fact a very nice and happy girl, and even more happily, both girls saw each other on Sunday and grinned and giggled and fizzed at each other. And both girls had been counting down the minutes until they would meet from the moment they had woken up, which didn't drive either mother insane at all. Not a teeny tiny little bit.
And so, in ninety minutes, two girls played with the toy kitchen, explored the bedroom, explored the garden, played the piano and the guitar, bounced into the ball pool and back out again, found the dolls and the dolls' house and the buggies, iced some raspberry buns, ate some raspberry buns and rather more icing, raided the fruit bowl for apples, rejected the drinks, settled to some colouring, found some dressing up, bossed each other around, cooked another menu at their pretend cafe, and found some more dolls to dress and style their hair.

And even more thankfully, Fifi's Mum turned up and took Fifi away again, and both girls parted company reluctantly but happily, and with the faint hint of a suggestion that Little Fish should go and play with them one day.

And then it was bedtime, and I think I've been recovering ever since!
Tia

Saturday, 2 October 2010

For L

If you liked the previous photo, I thought you might really appreciate this one, little man! Tia

Dear Little Fish,



Dear Little Fish,

I love the way your biggest concern when we meet after two days apart is whether or not you can keep the broken toy lorry you have lifted from Grannie and Grandad's house. And I love the way your first thought when we meet after a shorter separation is "how is my sister getting along?"

I love the way you are old enough to get yourself dressed, and young enough to want to wear clothes with Peppa Pig appliqued all over them. I love the fact you are big enough to have long, protracted conversations about how to make porridge and stew apples, and little enough to spend hours practicing putting lids on boxes and taking them off again.

I love the fact you sleep for thirteen hours or more at night, and then throw yourself into life, bouncing around for the day until that early bedtime rolls around once again. I love that you ask me if I am allowed to give you a shower, and that you always want one more kiss, and one more extra big sqidgy cuddle.

I love how seriously you play, how tired caring for all your baby dolls makes you, and how you have clung fast to the same wish for a Christmas present for three months now. I love how you fizz with excitement over the tiniest of pleasures, and how wildly pleased you are about the prospect of a friend coming to play.

I love the way you can tell me, repeatedly, that you do not want any breakfast at all, and how you won't eat your porridge, and how you don't like it or me or anyone else - but then polish off the whole bowl in double quick time once you accept the inevitability of the mealtime.

I love the way your biggest idea of a real treat is to take your baby for a likkle walk in your buggy. And I love how you don't care how wobbly your baby's buggy is, now that you have repeatedly squashed it with your power chair. And I love the fact that, if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, you will choose to spend it on a bottle of water or squash, rather than crisps or chocolate or little trashy toys.

I love the way you talk about "All my children" meaning the girls and boys in your class, and how pleased you are about the possibility of seeing Grannie and Grandad for five minutes in town, and seeing how much you love and care for Mog. I love the way you try so hard to like dogs, right up to the point where you might actually have to touch one, and that, despite your inability to stroke or pet them, as soon as any dog has moved out of reach you immediately start talking about how you might have one of your own one day.

I love the fact you can stay excited about the possibility of learning to drive when you are older, even when we tell you how long you'll have to wait for that to happen. I don't think I love the idea that you might be able to drive one day, and a whole year younger than your peers though. I love the way you have chosen your car, size and colour, and space for Mog, already.

Love,
Mummy.

Dear Helen House,
I love the way you took care of Little Fish for me for the past few days, so that I could get enough space between her and myself to remember all the ways in which she is so precious.
Thank you,
Tia

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