The Squiddel

A creature of myth, and perhaps legend, concocted by the mouths of under 4s who struggle with wordage with their itty bitty teeth and their embouchures trained into muscle memory honed by years of sooking on boobs, teats or sooky cups.

The squiddel is a mysterious, limbic creature hovering somewhere between land and sea but mostly found in mid-air because the illustrator got halfway through illustrating it and realised the natural habitat hadn’t been thought through. It is a shy animal and quite vulnerable if it dozes off at groundlevel: shrews like to tie its tentacles around tree roots. It exists on a diet of pickles and biro ink and the occasional cola bottle. They have a reputation for cheating at rock,paper, scissors and some hypothesise this was the origin of the squiddel/shrew fallout. Hibernation is between November and the last Thursday in March.

The squiddel has found its way into everyday culture in such scenarios as moving up a nursery grouping e.g. “I’m in squiddels now, Dad. Oliver is in budderflies.”. Keen-eyed as they are some toddlers have claimed to have seen squiddels skedaddling up tree trucks but I have only ever caught glimpses of the tail end.

Wakey Waaaay-key!

The “I’m up so where is my milk/breakfast?” situation.

Why do they think that shouting at your eye will do it? Then you have exactly 20.3 milliseconds to hope your nervous and muscular systems have come to enough to deflect the chubby finger headed towards your cornea.

Effective, undoubtedly, uses far fewer batteries than an alarm clock or phone alarm and is pretty much bang-on time EVEN ON WEEKENDS until BST and GMT start playing their games but really? Is this some kind of technique they learn in nursery?

Poorly The Bobcat wakes. He shields his eyes from the autumn morning piercing the curtains.

“How are you feeling, wee man?”

“Not good.”

“Not good? Awww. ”

“Not good all over.”

“Is there any part of you that does feel good?”

The pinky toe feels good.

It’s a start.

Fah-ree Park

Moving house is supposed to be one of the most stressful things you can do, yes?

Which is where an annual pass to a safari park comes in. It’s moving house with PR for the under 10s.

It’s the gift that keeps going. (It’s not a gift. We paid for it.)

There are down-sides obviously (the rides could be stationed well away from the animals) but they are heavily outweighed by the magic of being in the hills, around animals, with small people in small Landrovers. That’s what this particular time and space in history needs. Small people in small Landrovers.

Exhibit A

Merely minutes before the defendant had asserted in the strongest tones that she had not, nor ever had been, tired and that to argue otherwise was a malicious attack from persons intent on slandering her good-to-average name and that she’d take on the WHOLE LOT of you, that she was NOT HAPPY and RARARARARRARARRARRRRRRAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

The prosecution rests. But not like Exhibit A.

Why no cardboard boxes?

For the curious there is a reason why there have been no posts for two weeks. The reason is Moving House. Another reason is Setting Up As Self-Employed.

Which is also why I’m now 35% gin.

We loved the forest we were in but we wanted to call Scotland ‘home’ again.

So, the obvious thing to draw would be an innumerable pile of cardboard boxes but ENOUGH WITH THE CARDBOARD BOXES so no cardboard boxes.

Instead this was a day spent getting to know the local area (Gartmorn Dam) while Sven was away at a job interview.

Rowdy and The Bobcat managed to personify Eddie Izzard’s description of shower dial effects: one second lobsterpot-hot and – with a slight degree of shift – freezy-FREEZY cold EVASIVE MANOUVRES!

So we had delightful gambolling through the pathways, one moment watching slugs and geese and the next “My legs are SO TIIIIIRRED. They have STOPPED WORKING” and “What about THE MIDGIES?!?! They will eat us ALIVE! There will only be BONES. Bones and a FAT FAT MIDGIE!!”

The situation below developed after I had issued VERY CLEAR instructions not to go into the water as I hadn’t brought any towels with me and then I naively turned round to get their waterproof trousers out of the kitbag.

P45 for Mr Stork

As you can tell from the cartoons I draw they are, in some ways, a love letter to my kids. A celebration of them via the exaggerated versions of themselves that are Rowdy and The Bobcat.

Now I’d have more little cherubs were it not for finances and the knowledge that if I have any more not only will I/spouse/both have a meltdown but we have enough trouble giving the two we have the attention and time that they want and need. Also me and pregnancy are not pals.

Before we met, Sven had not only decided to have 6 kids, he’d even picked out their names: Elspeth, Roisin, Grainne, Lachlan, Ruaridh and Seoras.

The kids know this. They are making repeated demands for the other 4. I had already negotiated Sven down to 3 when my pelvis gave out again and I realised trying to chase after a wilful, energetic toddler whilst using crutches was the stuff of which nightmares are made.

Rowdy wants – nay, DEMANDS – more minions for her army of ‘cuteness’ which she smugly assumes will bend to her will – even on the abundant evidence that the minion she already has is only 50% max. on board with that arrangement.

Also, neither of them actually know how babies are made. We’ve offered to explain, human body books have been glanced at but we think Rowdy still wants there to be some magic involved, so doesn’t want to know know yet. (The Bobcat likes the movie ‘Storks’.). I’m not claiming there isn’t magic involved (*massages Sven’s ego*) and it is slightly more romantic than “er…there’s a ….procedure…that mummies and daddies …go through” which I used to try to make an inclusive statement about breeding methods in 2019. It made it sounds like I was making a cameo in Star Trek. But it is more romantic than this:

Heaven & Earth

Another day of Rowdy and The Bobcat trying to make sense of the world and the people in the world and the actions of the people in the world. (Whatever their faiths their beliefs in free will and human dumbassery are strong.)

The Bobcat is interested in striking but (in all honesty) he’d support beanbags for crows if he thought it’d get him a day off school.

Maybe that’s what we could have in schools. Instead of a weekly pupil strike a weekly environment day, involving the local communities, putting heads together and acting on decisions to make meaningful local changes. Communities, including school, learning from each other. Being directly involved in the physical environments around them, around us.

Sometimes kids ask the really good ‘why’ questions. Sometimes they also have the nail-on-the-head answers.

#workingtowardsplasticfreeliving

#oneplanet

Seaside Standards

He’ll pee outdoors.

He’ll pee and “forget” to wash his hands.

He’ll pee, “forget” to wash his hands and then happily watch an animation on GERMS and HAND-WASHING. And then watch it again. And then start picking his nose. And eating his snot. He’ll go back for seconds. Thirds. There’s a five course dinner going on actually on his face and it’s the only meal we make a saving on ketchup.

But rinsing his hands in the sea…?

Clacks cake

Go to Clackmannanshire. (Alva, specifically.)

Eat cake. Cheesecake. Other cake. All of the cake. Homemade.

Plus scrummy savouries.

We’re moving to Clacks in summer. This just gave us another reason to. (It has hills for walking off cake.)

Mental health Awareness Week 2019

#mentalhealthawareness

Although there’s been more focus, especially in education, on mental health and wellbeing over recent years it sometimes feels like the progress made in changing our cultures has been beyond slow. Whatever age we are sometimes we don’t have the skills, time, self-knowledge, self-love, patience, kindness, relationships, environments or trust to keep well. Sometimes what we feel is bigger than us.

Especially if we’re wee.

For example, Rowdy generally needs to be shoved in a tree during a meltdown, but at some point later she’ll be more comfortable talking about what’s bothering her.* Other times she’ll regress and drive us demented with babytalk just to get attention and fulfil a need to reaffirm that she’s loved and valued. The Bobcat is an avoider and would much rather play than talk about what’s making him sad which is why he needs someone to play with him and tell them they’re ready to listen if he wants to talk. And make sure he’s hydrated. For me I need nature, adventure, exercise, cuddles, drawing, occasionally woodsmoke, books, laughter and quiet friend-time. And no caffeine. Sometimes a crowbar is necessary to prise laughter out of me. Dynamite if I’m properly down.

Next week whatever works for them might well change again. But it’s import to keep the door open for change.

*Rowdy has never been twanged into a tree but I’m sure The Bobcat would happily offer to build a catapult to do exactly that. (He’d also need to check if Eddie Izzard has the copyright on twanging folk into trees first.)

Badger Week.

Not that Rowdy realised that it actually is Badger Week but she has retaken to the toy badger given to her by a Wootie*. The Wootie is particularly fond of brocky things.

Badgers tend only to get feisty if under attack. So given that Meghan here is squished under several pounds of eight-year-old at night, rammed against the wall, regularly drooled on and deafened by snores that could power multiple wind turbines it’s a wonder Rowdy isn’t covered in scratches. Make-believe or otherwise.

*A Wootie is what happens when an 18-month-old tries, and fails, to say ‘auntie’. And it sticks.

World Book Day 2019

Amazingly, this year, NO last second changes of mind on costume, NO (parent) tantrums over facepaints…even made it to school on time.

The catch?

Costumes had to be animal characters AND homemade. And not two legged human animals, as argued by Rowdy.

To the cardboard recycle bin!

The Jesus Show

Conventional nativity? No, no, no. Did Orson Welles stage Voodoo MacBeth? Yes, he did. So why not shoogle The Bairn in the Barn story up a bit?

If we’re getting ourselves out on a freezy, cold night, dodging frenzied parents and teachers and dashing for the mince pie table before all the scran is gone then outlandish, offbeat entertainment is a complete necessity.