This week I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather. Maybe because of all the sleepless nights. Every task has felt somehow bigger than usual.
This afternoon, after giving the kids their lunch and then putting Pords down for a nap, I returned to the kitchen to tidy up. I looked around at the mess and couldn’t face it. I sat down and put my head on the kitchen table.
Pickles came and tapped me on the leg: “What’s wrong mummy?” I didn’t quite know how to answer so I went for the trifecta. “Mummy feels sick. And tired. And hungry.” There was thoughtful silence. Then, the always delightful and terrifying, “Me have idea!”
I heard some busy noises. Then another tap on the leg. “Mummy. Me made you green sandwich. Feel better now.”
I was intrigued. I looked up. His face was beaming with pride. In his hands was the green sandwich. He held it out to me and I took it. Baby spinach between two pieces of bread. It tasted like love. It made me feel much better.
You can take your sleep. You can take your doctors. You can take your fancy lunches and caffeine hits. Toddler-made green sandwiches are my new remedy of choice.
You call for me at midnight,
You call for me at four.
Sometimes with a gurgle,
More often with a roar.
The night is big and lonely,
And you are oh so small.
You’d like to see your mummy.
And so, my love, you call.
It’s late and I am sleepy,
And so, my love, I grumble.
And as I pick you up again
You hear my tired mumble.
But nonetheless I hold you,
Rock you back to sleep.
I promised I’d be there for you;
A promise that I’ll keep.
Then maybe later down the track,
(In eighteen years or more!)
You’ll call me once again, my love,
At two, or three, or four.
And once again I’ll grumble,
I’ll moan that it is late.
But I’ll always come and find you,
I’ll never make you wait.
And there might come a day,
When you’re a parent too.
And in the middle of the night
Your child will call for you.
And then you’ll understand
That precious love so deep.
You wouldn’t trade it in
For a thousand nights of sleep.
Yet sometimes you’ll be tired,
You’ll think you’ve had enough.
Then you can call on me, my love;
Sleepless nights are tough.
Whether you’re a baby,
Or when you’re fully grown.
You can always call on me, my love,
You’ll never be alone.
And though there’ll come a day
When we will be apart.
You still can always call on me;
I’ll live on in your heart.
This is a post for posterity. I know there will be times in their lives when they will fight and drive each other mad. But right now Pickles and Pords are the very greatest of friends.
From the moment Pords wakes up in the morning she waits for him. As soon as she hears movement from his room, her whole being lights up. Now that she is mobile, she follows him around constantly.
In turn, Pickles is as doting a big brother as you will ever find. He comforts her when she is crying, brings her toys, tells her stories, and sings her songs.
They also find one another hilarious. Already they share a secret sibling sense of humour. They constantly have each other in fits of laughter and no one else can quite understand why.
For me, unconditional love looks like Pords’ face when she hears Pickles coming. I wrote a poem to try and capture that moment so if they ever go through sibling rough patches, I can read to them of a time when they were very best of friends.
It could be anything but
You recognise it.
You turn your head
And there he is.
He is everything that
You want to be.
Kind and funny,
You love him so.
Happiness is sunshine.
Happiness is rain.
Happiness is morningtime;
I see your face again.
Happiness is yellow.
Happiness is blue.
Happiness is any book
I get to share with you.
Happiness is running.
Happiness is still.
Happiness is at the park;
I roll right down the hill.
Happiness is quiet.
Happiness is sound.
Happiness is music;
I love dancing all around.
Happiness is chocolate.
Happiness is cheese.
Happiness is fresh, ripe fruit
I pick it out of trees.
Happiness is Peppa Pig.
Happiness is puddles.
Happiness is bedtime;
I get special goodnight cuddles.
Happiness is family.
Happiness is friends.
Happiness is mummy’s love;
A love that never ends.
When I was a kid, I was a pretty good chess player. Between about the ages of ten and twelve I travelled a fair bit to play in tournaments. I got to go to some fairly spectacular parts of the world.
These are perhaps tales for another day. Right now the chess and the travel aren’t the point.
Often when I was travelling, I would be without my mum. To ensure I knew she was with me in spirit, she would give me little notes printed on cards with inspirational quotes, pictures, and messages like “I’m on your side.”
My pockets were always stuffed full of them.
Somehow if I looked at them, or held them, or even gave them a little kiss, it was like she was there with me.
I think Christmas cards can have a similar power. Lots of people have stopped sending Christmas cards for all sorts of reasons. But I think it’s nice to have that little gesture just to say that I’m thinking of you enough to have actually put your name on this and sent it; even if there is not much in the way of an actual letter inside.
Thank you cards are another disappearing pleasure. Again, it’s just knowing that someone was touched enough by what you did for them that they wanted to actually send you something to say thank you.
Perhaps I’m being old-fashioned and ridiculous, but what I want is to recapture that feeling of having something physical to hold onto that says that someone is with you even when they’re far away.
So I’ve been designing little postcards to do just that. I’ve saved them as pdfs so they are downloadable cards that you can print for yourself if you want to use them. I’m going to keep adding more and I’ll put them on a separate page – maybe a Christmas Corner or a Gift Corner where I’ll also put recommendations for gifts.
I’d love to hear what you think. Do you think that there’s something special about receiving a bit of love in the letterbox, or are just as happy to see something new in your inbox?
For the final week of Booktober, I thought I’d incorporate the theme with a little project we’ve been doing with Pickles since his language has started developing. The aim is to help him express exactly how he is feeling.
A lot of it has been about naming feelings as they arise. So, if he isn’t allowed to have another marshmallow, we’ve been trying to say things like: “You’re really disappointed that you can’t have another one.” Or if he is getting upset that his baby sister can’t do something that he wants her to, we say “You’re frustrated that Pords is still too little to do that yet.” We also try to think of ways to deal with our emotions.
We’ve done some craft activities with moveable face parts so that, for example, he can turn a smile into a frown. We’ve been looking at pictures of different faces and talking about how the people might be feeling. It’s starting to work I think. He is naming his emotions, and is able to identify them in others. When Pords cries, for instance, instead of just noticing the crying, he will say: “Pords is sad mummy. She needs a cuddle.” He’s only two so it’s an ongoing process. Actually, I think learning to express and manage one’s emotions is a lifelong process.
So, as part of the ongoing learning, when we were at the library this week we chose books about feelings.
How Do You Feel by Anthony Browne
This is the perfect first book about feelings. It shows Anthony Browne’s monkey, who we already knew from Things I Like, experiencing a range of emotions; from happy to curious, from angry to lonely.
The text is very simple. It just sets out which emotion the monkey is feeling in each picture. The pictures very cleverly and clearly show what the emotion means. It is a great visual demonstration for little people who are busy picking up new words.
They are also great prompts for opening up a discussion about particular feelings. You can start talking about a time when you or your little person felt a particular way. This helps the learning become even more meaningful.
The fact that the pictures are cute and funny is also a big help. Pickles laughed when the monkey ate his banana. He has also requested the book be read to him again a number of times in the few days we’ve had it, which is a great sign.
Overall, for my current purposes of teaching a toddler about words to describe feelings, this book is fantastic.
Too Much for Turtle by Cat Rabbit and Isobel Knowles
Pickles and I were both immediately drawn to this book at the library. It such an interesting and beautiful book to look at and to hold. The gorgeous characters in this book are made of felt and photographed, making it so different from many of the other books on offer and somehow just a little bit more special.
Turtle is very shy and lives on his own. He is happy to watch from afar. One day, a whole lot of new friends literally blow in with a storm and his compassion overcomes his shyness. He realises that he actually likes interacting with others.
I was quite a shy child so I think this book would probably have resonated a bit more with me than it did with Pickles at this stage in terms of identifying with the emotions because he’s a bit of a run headlong into the world type of fellow so far.
Having said that, he loved this story. We got to do different voices for lots of different characters, which is always fun, and their dialogue is quite funny in parts which is always fun. Plus, he was just captivated by the pictures. Even baby Pords found this book fascinating. It was a great find and I will definitely be checking out the other work from the creative duo behind this book.
My Grumpy Day by Felicity Gardner
This book has already added a new favourite term to Pickles’ vocabulary. He now likes to say that he has “the grumps”.
While having the grumps isn’t exactly a good thing, this outcome is one of the main reasons I have been interested in teaching him this stuff at all. It’s much better for him (and me!) if he can just articulate that he has “the grumps” rather than feeling cranky and not understanding it and just getting grumpier.
It’s also good for him to know that everyone gets grumpy sometimes and it’s ok. From there, we can talk about things that you can do if you’re feeling grumpy.
The grumpy little gorilla in this book is just so adorable and expressive and the pictures are very entertaining. Pickles particularly likes the page where the little gorilla is sitting in a grump with a bunch of meerkats sitting on and around him.
The little gorilla realises that being in a grump means that you might miss out on some fun times. He apologises to his mother for his behaviour, and she in turn is able to kiss his grumps away. So there’s a happy ending too.
This was another excellent one for my feelings project.
Everybody Gets the Blues by Leslie Staub and R.G. Roth
Saying “The Blues” hasn’t caught on with Pickles in quite the way as “The Grumps” has, but I think it’s always useful to have as much vocab to draw on as possible. It might be that one day he just feels a bit down, and he’ll remember this expression.
This is another great book for normalising particular feelings.
Everybody gets the blues sometimes:
Moms and dads, dogs and cats,
rodeo clowns in silly hats,
scary bullies, beauty queens,
little old ladies from New Orleans,
tiny babies, big kids too.
Everybody gets the blues.
It’s great to be told that sometimes it’s ok to feel sad and to cry. I think it’s such an important lesson for kids; sadness is not a moral wrong. It’s a perfectly natural emotion, and it’s ok.
Hopefully developing the language tools to speak about emotions can help when we feel something that makes us feel “all bad and mad and sad inside”.
The pictures in this book really capture the feeling of the blues and the writing is lyrical. It reads like a blues song, which makes for wonderful reading aloud!
Don’t Want to Go! by Shirley Hughes
Shirley Hughes is one of the all time great creators of picture books. In this book, her readily recognisable style of illustration is as gorgeous as ever. Each picture is truly its own work of art.
The book has more words than the books we usually choose. It is probably targeted at a slightly older age group. Despite this, Pickles happily sit and listened to the whole book.
The story tells the tale of a little girl named Lily. Her mum wakes up sick one morning and her dad needs to go to work, so Lily has to spend the day at someone else’s house. She doesn’t want to go. Slowly she starts to enjoy the day and in the end she doesn’t want to leave.
This is a great one to read if your little people is feeling anxious about going somewhere. You can talk about the reasons why you might not to go somewhere or do something. You might be nervous about being in a new place. Being able to talk through these feelings, and seeing other people dealing with feelings of them, are great lessons from this book.
The book is stunning.
Too Shy for Show and Tell by Beth Bracken and Jennifer Bell
Sam’s classmates don’t know much about him because he doesn’t talk much. He is very shy. He dreads having to speak in front of the class for show and tell. However, when the time comes, he finds that sharing some of himself with others is not as bad as he imagined. Actually, it’s really quite great.
The pictures of the animals in this are delightful. I love that the shy kid is a giraffe. He may be bigger than everyone else but shyness doesn’t discriminate.
This is another great one for using as a springboard to talk about things that might make your child nervous. What are the things that might happen? Sam is able to watch others do show and tell first and notices that everyone is quite supportive.
If you have a little person who is shy in social situations, this is a great one for them.
Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini
This one isn’t directly about feelings. Except that it’s all about joy. Plus it’s the last book for the Booktober series so it had to be all about books.
This book is a pure celebration of books. It shows children with all different types of books, doing different things with books, absolutely loving books.
The text is a simple, wonderful rhyme about books, so of course I’m sold on just the words.
The pictures, though. Oh the pictures! Kids with enjoying books. Simple happiness. In terms of discussion of emotions, we have been looking at the happy smiles and talking about what makes us happy. It’s been a pleasure.
We borrowed this book this week, but I’m definitely investing in it for the home library.
So that’s it for Booktober! Thanks for reading with me. Happy November!
How do you talk to your kids about their feelings? Have you found any good books on this topic?