The Secret Garden

Major milestone unlocked: The Sleepover.

In this day and age, sleepovers can be a bit of a taboo subject. Especially with all the paedophilia horror stories running rampant in the media. However, having enjoyed sleepovers so immensely in my own childhood, I would feel a bit hypocritical to have a blanket rule of no sleepovers. As with everything, there needs to be a certain amount of caution on the parents’ part, of course, but I also trust Iris’s own instincts. Since she started toddling, I’ve noticed she has a pretty good sense of self-preservation. Whenever we went to a playground, my then 18-month-old would suss out the situation before launching herself in. She observed which rough-housers to avoid and which older kids would likely be helpful. If anything started to get a bit out of hand, she would extricate herself.

Before she turned seven, we had a few invites to sleepovers but she categorically said “no” and I believe it was because she knew she wouldn’t be able to handle it. This time it was a jumping up and down yes.

So she went and she didn’t sleep much and practically nodded off at dinner the next day, but she was happy and she had a good experience. This makes me happy because I feel I’ve accomplished something as well.

It took us three months to read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden because of the great childhood skill of dawdling. I’m fairly sure every single parent knows exactly what I’m talking about. Dinner, which used to take her as a toddler 10 minutes to eat, now takes 45 minutes because she’s too busy telling us how to make the shape of bat wings with her fingers and how those bat wings can be turned into cool spectacles. Then on the way to her bedroom, she finds a piece of fluff she has to use to play with one of our cats with. In the meantime, she has forgot what she is meant to do and meanders into her room and starts writing a novel. After asking relatively calming five times for her to come to the bathroom, I end up yelling a lecture and she huffs in saying she “was just doing something. Seriously Mama.” Cue internal brain implosion.

Anyhoo, we finally finished it at the beginning of April. I’ve read The Secret Garden at least three times in my life, but the last time was at least two decades ago. *ahem* So. With all my bedtime reading, I like to try out different accents. My best so far being, IMO, a country American cowboy-ish twang. Cue husband EBR (eyeball roll). Well. The Secret Garden is set in YORKSHIRE. Yep, ye gowt that riawt. Ok so I think my written Yorkshire is slightly worse than my spoken Yorkshire. I did extensive research (watched two YouTube videos) and tried to channel Jon Snow (played by a London-born actor). Therefore I am supremely glad my only audience has been my very accepting seven-year-old. Of course you can read this book without adopting any accents whatsoever, but where would be the fun in that?

For those who have never read it, it is not just a girl’s book, thank you very much. Although the main protagonist is a girl, I feel boys can and should get into it too. It’s about overcoming your inner brat through losing your parents who neglected you and left you to be spoiled by servants and being plonked on a dead relative’s spouse who is also a neglectful parent. One brat tells another brat off and they both find happiness, health and their life values in nursing a neglected garden back to health with the help of the lower class servants and people they once disdained. As you can see an overall heartwarming story, especially for parents as it also tells you tantrums will kill you or make you hunchbacked.

Dodgy morals aside, this has always been a story about children doing something amazing for themselves, whether it’s adapting to extreme change; discovering an old garden and bringing it back to life; overcoming their own prejudices about themselves and others; or just becoming better people. This is what makes it a classic worth rereading over and over.

Now, how to con husband into buying me that $400 special edition of The Secret Garden?


Not Just DDs or DSs but BFFs Too

Iris and Isaac_cover

Catherine Rayner’s Iris and Isaac was bought when Iris’s best friend at day care was a boy named Isaac. It’s turned into a perfect example of learning to accommodate and treasure the differences (in bottoms and other things) in the ones you love. Not to mention how in love I am with the water colour illustrations that are perfect for the story’s setting.

Sometime somewhere I heard this said of family, “I have to love you, but I don’t have to like you.” This is very true and acknowledging this, especially between siblings, can go a long way to eliminating familial discord. After all, just because you’re related it doesn’t mean your personalities aren’t going to clash. The most important thing is that you love, respect and support each other no matter what. It is not essential to absolutely love being in each other’s company 24/7.

That said, as Iris turns three, I’m finding I actually like Iris as her own person and not just as my daughter. Putting aside my natural maternal love and the custardy gooey feelings that overflow every time I look at her adorbs cheeks and squishy little toddlerness, I find myself enjoying the time we spend together because of who Iris is. She is very affectionate, free with her love and isn’t afraid of expressing her feelings (good and bad). While she can be a bit sassy, like her mum (heh), she is also hilarious and a consummate clown. She’s a fearless climber, like me when my joints still allow me to climb, and loves mucking about. She’s very observant, sensitive to others’ feelings, creative and very smart (sometimes a bit too smart).
“Mama, can you read this to me?”
“Not right now sweetie.”
“Mama, what does this word say?”
“I know what you’re trying to do.”
“But what does this word say?”

In Iris and Isaac, two polar bear BFFs have a falling out because Iris bear made a snow nest that was too small for both their big, furry bottoms.

Iris and Isaac_p4

They both huffed off in different directions and spent the rest of the day missing each other terribly.

Iris and Isaac_ice cave

Every time we reach the reunion page, my Iris gasps, grins and gives me a big hug. This alone makes the book totally worth it. The two bears then work together to make the perfect snow nest to fit both of them, bottoms and all. They then cuddle up and go to sleep, which makes it a great bedtime story too.

Sure, my Iris certainly has her moments (see last post “Perfection is Overrated”). She is a tad too active for my mellow nature, a bit of a teacher’s pet and is beyond talkative.
“Mama, Mama, Mamaaaa….!
“Why you not talking?”
“You don’t have to talk all the time.”
“I do!”
“Because I have a mouth so I need to make noise.”
“But I have a mouth too.”
“I need to talk!” Blah, blah, blah.

However, overall, I think, Iris and I are going to be great pals. And I’m not just saying that because she popped out of my abdomen. It’s all about seeing the child for who they are, not what you want them to be and not as your child even. If you really don’t enjoy each other’s company, there’s always cake and reality tv. Seeing other people’s exaggerated dysfunction with the addition of lots of sugar, will give you a false sense of normalcy.