radegund: (blue-pansy)
It's [livejournal.com profile] niallm's and my thirteenth and seventh anniversary! (We got married on our anniversary.) And we are both on for another thirteen years! Woo!

The Feaster and I went to collect the Oyster from his music class, and on the way home the Oyster snapped at the Feaster and called him stupid for no reason, and I threw a totally adolescent strop and said I wasn't talking to the Oyster until we got home.

And far from being squished by this, as traditionally he might have been, he shrugged it off and began telling me to raise one finger for no and two fingers for yes ... and three fingers if he could talk to me even if I wasn't talking to him ... and four and five fingers for I forget what.

So I stopped being cross and started to laugh, and asked how many fingers I should raise for "I love [the Oyster]"?

"Six!" he said. So (the car being paused) I raised six fingers.

And then when I turned my head to park, I saw the Feaster enthusiastically waving six fingers at the Oyster, because he loves him too.

Ah, my menfolk. Sometimes, you know, they are very, very lovely.
radegund: (swans)
The boys were having a game on the way home from the food co-op just now:

The Oyster: This is a ghost train, and I'm a vampire, and I'm going to chop off your head at midnight!

The Feaster: I'm pretenting to be a toy toothbrush with a gun!

I do heartily wish they'd put a sock in the whole violence schtick.

"Play is a processing mechanism. Play is a processing mechanism," I say to myself. (Sometimes it helps.)
radegund: (swans)
Now I know why I'm so hungry.

The Feaster has had so little solid food this week (see under: winter vomiting bug - better now) that he has reverted to producing breastmilk poo.

Ah, smell-memory!

(Please send calories.)
radegund: (swans)
Oh, look, here I am again, being BORING about SLEEP. I'm so sorry. Perhaps one day I'll have something new to whine about. Won't that be nice?

In the meantime, boring boring boring boring boring.

In fact, I might almost go so far as to say, YAWN. (See what I did there?)

But it kind of helps to write it out. So here we all are.

Look, universe, am I not allowed to have a good day without paying for it, or something? It really felt, yesterday, as if I'd come through a hard patch and things were going to improve. I got stuff done! The children went to bed at a reasonable hour! For the first time in I don't know how long, I had normality, or some semblance thereof, in my sweaty paws.

I went to bed just after 11, and I read for a while, then settled down to sleep and found it hard on account of the whirlybrain (but that's common enough), and then [livejournal.com profile] niallm came to bed and we chatted for a bit, and some time after 1:00 I went to sleep.

1:50, the Feaster arrives in our bed wanting milk. I notice that he smells a bit, but decide that it's not something I'm prepared to investigate further. Probably just gas, I tell myself. He feeds for a while, and we doze off.

Some time before 4:00, the Feaster wakes up again and commences his infernally irritating switching-sides drill. To ensure that Niall, at least, gets some sleep, I bring the Feaster back to his bed.

That smell's pretty bad, actually. By the light of my iPhone I confirm that he has pooed. (This is extremely unusual - normally he only poos in the daytime now. I think it's the tail end of his upset tummy, working its way through.)

Grossly, I actually wait to see if he'll go back to sleep first, before submitting to my fate and bringing him downstairs for a change.

I'm drawing a veil of decorum over the ensuing scene. Let's just say that this was one of the truly GREAT nappies. When the mighty excretory epics come to be written, this nappy will take its rightful place in the firmament of nappies. Its olfactory nuances alone will require cantos and cantos to explore. Its exquisite textural intricacy and subtle gradations of colour will inspire flights of literary virtuosity that are nothing short of breathtaking. Aging warriors with rheumy eyes and crooked backs, sitting by sunny walls with their preprandial snifters, will gaze into the distance and remind each other past glories - "Ah," they will say, "this was a nappy!"

So I deal with that. And then we go back to bed.

Of course, the Feaster is thoroughly awake by now. Argumentative, wriggly, rapacious. Also, for various reasons, I have a major desire not to fall asleep next to him. I want to put him back to sleep and spend the rest of the night in my own effing bed, kthxbai.

5:00 comes and goes. I read blogs on my iPhone ("feed reader", ahahaha). The Feaster switches sides, kicks me, sits up and converses. I think I probably couldn't have slept anyway, even if that were what I was trying to do. I watch in numb disbelief as 6:00 comes and goes.

The Oyster gets up at 6:08 and goes downstairs to play.

Eventually, at about 6:25, the Feaster falls asleep. I go back to my bed, a broken woman.

Next thing I know it's 9:00, and the Feaster wants me again. Niall brings him downstairs and distracts him with, I don't know, rum or crack or something. (Do I care? I do not.)

But Niall is on call today, and he gets paged at 9:25, so I have to get up.

Which was ... challenging.

So universe, cut it out, OK? Stop it! Cease and desist! You've made your point, whatever it is. Now, GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK.

Message ends.
radegund: (swans)
I am repeating the drastic experiment of April '09 (or was it in fact '08? I can't actually remember), and going to bed at 11pm every night this month. January had got ridiculous, and I was officially Not Coping.

NOT THAT THIS HELPED last night, when I both (a) signally failed to make my deadline, and (b) ... well. Read on.

After a lovely phone call with [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe, I was all ready to bed at 23:15, but just then, [livejournal.com profile] niallm came home (Thursday being his Evening Off). And he'd had an exceptionally interesting and varied day, all about which he proceeded to tell me.

And then it was 23:55.

So I went up to bed and read for a while, then settled down to sleep.

Then at 0:35, the Feaster went bump. (I found him sitting on the floor beside his bed, still mostly asleep.)

So I fed him all the way back to sleep, came back to my bed at around 0:55, read Niall's new poem (that's what he does of a Thursday evening), and slept until 2:30something, when the Feaster arrived in for more milk.

So then Niall went to the Feaster's bed, and we all slept until 3:30, when the Oyster woke up and got enormously distressed because I'd forgotten to bring his alarm clock upstairs last night. He screeched at Niall for a bit, then came in and began to screech at me, but I persuaded him not to because the Feaster was asleep (with his head on my shoulder, as it happened, so I couldn't get up to deal with the Oyster). So the Oyster went back to Niall, who went down and got the alarm clock, and then they had an incredibly loud conversation about why I had forgotten to bring it up. Whyyyyyy???

Meanwhile, I edged out from under the Feaster without waking him (woohoo!) and went in to comfort the Oyster, because Niall was losing his cool. And the Oyster was in total shuddering meltdown for a bit, and then began to calm down. We had some logic, then some illogic, and then just soothing noises. But he couldn't settle because of a pain in his ankle - which I suspect is what had woken him in the first place. (Growing pain? Do they actually exist? I couldn't see any damage.) So I went and got him some Calpol, and after a bit he consented to let me go back to bed.

So I got into bed without waking the Feaster again (I am NINJA-MAMA) and settled down to sleep at about 4:00.

And at 4:12 the Oyster came in to tell me that the pain in his ankle had gone. Which was lovely of him. But really.

So THEN I slept until the Feaster woke up at 6:20 for more milk, and then again until the Oyster and Niall started moving around some time before 8:00. Then endured the Feaster climbing around on my head (this is not comic exaggeration) until about 8:50, when Niall took him downstairs and I slept until 9:35 and dreamed I was on the run from the police over some vague involvement in a drug deal, and had to take care of an elderly man who was in it with me and wasn't so quick at climbing through windows and similar.

Then I had to get up because Niall was going to work.

It was a hard day. But both boys were absolutely lovely, and I barely lost my temper at all, which was kind of miraculous.

At one point, the Oyster was leading me through an improvised "choose your own adventure" game, and I realised that I simply wasn't following, and his voice was driving spikes through my brain, and so I appealed to him - said I knew he wanted me to play, and on a normal day I'd love to, but I was just too tired.

So he went away and drew me this, which is me sitting on my high-backed desk chair beside my computer monitor:

Made me feel considerably better.

As did the Feaster's contribution at lunchtime, when I put my head down on the table for a few seconds.

Feaster: You go a-seep, Mama!
Mama: *goes a-seep*
Feaster: Cock-a-gooooo!

Which about sums it up, really.


Dec. 11th, 2009 02:05 pm
radegund: (swans)
The Feaster is TWO (and six days, because I'm disorganised like that).

We had a lovely party, with balloons and cake and popcorn. None of the other children we'd invited were able to come, until the 12-year-old and 9-year-old turned up in the early evening. But that was fine - he had plenty to take in, what with all the adults and the rain of presents, so it might have been a bit overwhelming if there had been half a dozen toddlers there as well.

He is so not a baby any more. His language has exploded recently: he's doing lovely syntax like "my hat came off" and "wh'are you, bear? a' can't see-um! oh! there you are!", and he's started to ask "what's that?" and "why did you say [x]?" (just like his brother).

To start a race, he says "sadie, sadie, go!" He counts up to ten (fairly accurately), then says "ready or not, here I come!" (not quite as clearly as that, but he hasn't said it today so I'm not sure of the precise pronunciation). When the Oyster and I were discussing infinity the other day, the Feaster piped up with "to i'windy ... a' beyond!"

He's also in the process of dropping his daily nap. This is excruciating. But it will be over soon. Won't it?
radegund: (swans)
I just love these stories so much, you're getting more of them.

More from the Oyster )

What I find interesting about these is that we don't actually read fairy tales to the Oyster that often. I'm not sure where he's picked up the detail in these ones. Of course, some crucial details have escaped him in the case of Jack and the Beanstalk (he added the ropes at the end of the story, because he was worried about what would happen when the giant woke up - he doesn't really do death). But he clearly has some understanding of fairy tale structure and narrative conventions.

I'm thinking CBeebies has a lot to do with it, actually, which is kind of fascinating from the point of view of cultural transmission.
radegund: (swans)
Couldn't resist recording this before recycling it - it's one of the pieces of scrap paper on which [livejournal.com profile] niallm and I write to the Oyster's dictation, for him to transcribe (this is infinitely less irritating than spelling out while he writes in real time). It's from October, back when the stories were rather less sophisticated than they are now.

The numbering was his idea; it helps him keep track. One of these pages can last for hours, as he goes away to write down the latest entry and then comes back for more.

1. The adventures of small animals.
2. The squirrel hunter is back - we're safe!
3. Miaow! Run for your lives!
4. Don't eat me!
5. Goldilocks and the 3 Bears
6. Bears got honey for their porridge. A mean girl called Goldilocks stole all their things. They were very cross at the end, though they made friends.
7. Little Red Riding Hood
8. Little Red Riding Hood was bringing some buns to her grandma's house. A wolf stole them. But then she made some more at her grandma's house, and they had a delicious meal.

See, it's not just CBeebies that likes a nice happy ending. I'm not sure what the Oyster makes of Humpty Dumpty, actually, but at the moment he's finding it very hard to take stories with nasty or scary elements. Either he insists that I stop reading, or he asks me to scan ahead and make sure everyone's OK. No Brothers Grimm for him.

This evening was a bit extreme: he got worried when Mrs Tabitha Twitchit sent Mittens, Moppet and Tom Kitten out to the garden in their clean clothes. I assured him that nothing terrible was going to happen, so we made it through to the end and agreed that the only bad bit was the smacking ("Why did people think it was a good idea to hit children?").

And yet he swallows the fantasy-testosterone-soaked swashbuckling of the Howard Pyle/John Burrows Robin Hood.

Complex child. What a surprise.
radegund: (swans)
I'm kind of fascinated by how the Oyster's storytelling skills are developing. His current method is to dictate the story for me to write on scrap paper. He tells it fluently, while pacing up and down like a lecturer, then copies what I've written into his book, adding illustrations as he goes.

Robin Hood continues to be a hot theme: specifically, summaries of the achingly patriarchal version by Howard Pyle (retold by John Burrows). Today's implementation was particularly coherent, so I'm noting it here.

This is more a record for me, really, but you might find it amusing )
radegund: (swans)
From the Pen of the Oyster

The Oyster is mostly writing books these days. He's still really into the logistics of book production: to the existing panoply of detail (page numbers, contents pages, barcodes, blurbs, etc.), he has added a full-scale copyright page, with the publisher's name and address, copyright statement, rights statement, and printing details. He also sometimes adds a dedication.

He asked me (ages ago) what he should call his publishing company. I suggested Oisín Books. he thought for a moment and said, "No - Oisín Lots of Books", which is obviously much more accurate.

He rarely finishes books, but today he did one for his aunt, who was coming for dinner. It's called Adventures, and comprises six somewhat gnomic stories, as follows:

1. The Princess and the Dragons
A porcupine set out, and he found a palace where he brought back a princess to Dragonland.

2. The Chocolate Tower
Once there was a carpenter who built a chocolate tower. He didn't want a monster to get it, so he sellotaped the monster's feet to the floor.

3. The Antelope
There was an antelope who invited a girl to her home. They had a lovely time there.

4. The Bad Dragon
There was a dragon behind the door. A knight slayed him.

5. Monster Oisín
A monster ate Oisín! But his Mama saved him.

6. A Bucket and Soap
There were two brothers. They made a mess. They cleaned it up.1

The blurb on the back: Read these stories.

His writing is getting quite precise, although he does like to work quickly, and practises dashing off the letters with a careless flourish. He also likes playing with typefaces, though: sometimes he'll go a day or two putting serifs or curls on everything. He likes initial drop-capitals too (the more lines they span, the better).

He is - and this is pretty exciting - beginning to concede that he can read. A little bit, anyway. Tonight we took turns, page by page, with Meg and Mog, and he did really well. He gets enormously frustrated when he feels he can't do it. He wants to be the best reader in the werreld.

1 Entirely fictional, alas!

From the Mouth of the Feaster

The Feaster's language continues to explode: he's now doing big beautiful sentences. "We a-going on a train!" he said, over and over again, on Sunday as we travelled home from Sligo.

He tells us where he wants to go ("diffway", or perhaps "sofa"), how he wants to get there ("a carry-oo" or "hand"), and what he wants to do when he's there ("muk" [milk], or perhaps "a-watch a-Woddy a-Buzz a-ta'vishin" [O got Toy Story for his birthday]). He commonly greets [livejournal.com profile] niallm when he gets home from work with "It's a Niall!" In the past few days he's learnt "I want" and "I like".

The fluency deserts him when he's upset, mind you, and he's reduced to "Not!" or "Not-a-ahhh!". When greatly moved, he falls back to the ultimate negative, "No, go 'way!"

He likes being cuddled and told he's so lovely - "so yoffy!" he exclaims back. At bedtime he likes "suguss a-cudduss a-muk" [snuggles and cuddles and milk].

Comparisons are, of course, odious, but I'm pretty sure his enunciation is much clearer than the Oyster's at the same stage. He goes for full words (rather than just the start) and seems to self-correct fairly quickly, where the Oyster held onto his original versions for longer (still does, in some cases). I wonder if this has to do with the fact that the Feaster appears to be more musical than the Oyster.

Because of the quick correction thing (oh, and the chaotic-squalor thing), we haven't kept a diary of the Feaster's language the way we did for the Oyster. Typical parents-of-second-child behaviour, I suppose. I kind of regret it - but it's also true that his words change more quickly, and people can understand him better, so it'd be less immediately useful.


Nov. 4th, 2009 03:24 pm
radegund: (Default)
Yup. What I was downplaying as a heavy, chesty cold (with fever) at the weekend was this morning diagnosed as ... dun-dun-duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun - swine 'flu.


(I say "diagnosed" - the doctor didn't order a test, but she says it's the obvious conclusion.)

More to the point, it's also what the Feaster has had in parallel with me over the past few days, AND it's what the Oyster suddenly came down with yesterday evening. He's currently in the oh-god-wretched phase, while the Feaster and I are definitely over the worst (thank any relevant deities). [livejournal.com profile] niallm may or may not have had it the week before last. If he didn't, I suppose he'll get it next...

I've had muscle aches and cold symptoms since last week, with an unshakeable headache since about Saturday. My fever spiked on Sunday night, and had more or less abated by Tuesday morning. I spent Monday completely out of it, and Tuesday maybe half there. Today I am up because I have to be, but if I didn't I wouldn't. Niall and K have been running around looking after everybody, because they are made of solid gold.

The Feaster has been physically attached to an adult damn near constantly since Sunday, including seven- or eight-hour feeding sessions each night.

The Oyster is on Tamiflu, but since the Feaster and I are on the mend we're not.

I thought it was quite amusing the way the doctor danced around the actual moment of diagnosis. She first asked if the Oyster had any ongoing health issues, and then she chatted some more about the symptoms, and then put her head on one side and said something really coy, like "had you any feeling yourself about it, or...?" And it was only when I said I assumed I had 'flu of some sort, whether swine or otherwise, that she nodded and said the likelihood was that it was the OMG HORROR OF TEH TERRIFYING OINK ITSELF. Whereupon a dark cloud covered the face of the sun, and a rain of frogs fell from the ceiling of her consulting room, which I thought was pretty tacky, but there you are.

Anyway. We'll be back up and running in due course. Meanwhile, this headache had better go away, or there'll be trouble.
radegund: (swans)
[cross-posted to Who Teaches Whom?]

The Oyster has been immersed in two things lately: (1) maths, and (2) writing books. I want to note down some of this stuff before I forget it, because it's cool.


Following on from this post, the 1 2 3 5 4 thing sorted itself out pretty quickly (without intervention, incidentally). The synaesthesia receded in importance, and the Numberjacks mania played itself out. So, thankfully, did the bit with me writing out pages full of numbers for the Oyster to colour in. He occasionally does that himself these days. Sometimes he just does the multiples of 11, because he likes them. He went through a brief phase of writing out the times table (or as he put it, a row of "counting in ones", a row of "counting in twos", a row of "counting in threes", and so on), but that petered out fairly quickly. He knows most of the products up to around 100, I think.

He spent a week or two as an infinity denier. At first he decided that the highest number was called Niall (love that!), and that Niall plus 1 was 0. I think he now gets that you can never stop counting. He's interested in very large numbers. He likes billions and trillions and quadrillions and bazillions. I like the way that even though a bazillion doesn't exist, we can still make statements about it (e.g. it's even, it's a multiple of 10, it's a positive integer greater than a trillion, it's 1 followed by a multiple of 3 zeroes, and so on).

He knows that there are numbers between the integers, but we haven't really got into how that works yet.

He's reasonably solid on place value, as far as I can tell. Sometimes he writes out columns of numbers where column 1 is the numbers from 1 to 9, column 2 is 10 20 30 ... 90, column 3 is 100 200 300 ... 900, and so on. Sometimes we multiply numbers by 2 until we exhaust first his capacity, then mine (to do it without stopping to concentrate or write it down, I mean), then my calculator's (to display the result without resorting to scientific notation). He really likes asking me sums, or having a repeated joke such as "What's 55 plus 55 - is it tenty-ten? *giggle*"

Did you know that if x squared is y, then (x + 1) squared is y + 2x + 1? (For example, 6 squared is 36, and 7 squared is 36 + 12 + 1.) I didn't, until the Oyster got me doing squares in my head (while driving - not recommended!) up to 30 or so.

He has the hang of the number line, and can add and subtract small positive and negative numbers fairly easily, particularly if he has a number line in front of him. His mental arithmetic above 0 is pretty good. "What's 54 plus 35 ... is it 89?" he'll say, or "Is 88 plus 88 176?" Béar Eile (his special bear) turned 107 at the weekend, and he accurately added up the ages of all the humans in the house, then had a reasonable stab at calculating the difference between that number (75, for those following along at home) and 107.

Today's little nugget was when he was counting a page full of pictures, and he counted across the first row of twelve, began to count the second row, then checked himself and counted the number of rows instead. "Four twelves, what's that? Is it 48?"

He has some grasp of bases other than 10. When he was talking to Niall about them, he observed that for base 5, you only need the numbers 0 to 4 to write any number. When the Erisian was visiting, he taught the Oyster about binary - and showed him how to count to 31 on the fingers of one hand. I'm not sure how much of that stayed in, but he appeared to grasp it - and at least when he encounters it again it'll be familiar.

It was also while the Erisian was here that the Oyster asked, "Do all the twelve numbers do that thing where ... like, 1 plus 1 is 2, and 1 2 is 12; 2 plus 2 is 4, and 2 4 is 24?" Turns out they do, as long as you put the original number in the tens column and add it to whatever's there (e.g. 5 plus 5 is 10, and (5+1) 0 is 60; 6 plus 6 is 12, and (6 + 1) 2 is 72). Not sure how far up that goes. But we were very tickled that he'd noticed.

My parents got him a 1st class maths book as a present. He takes it out a couple of times a week and does a few pages of exercises. He's done them easily, so far, once I've read the instructions to him. Mostly, what confuses him is the part about being required to demonstrate how he's getting his answers. The first module dealt exclusively with addition of two numbers with an answer of 10 or less. A few pages later, there were sums with an answer of 11 or 12. Later still, the sums had answers of 13 or 14. He's now even done some where you add more than two numbers. He flipped to the middle of the book and found sums demonstrating place value with columns of dots, and sums to calculate how much change you'd have from 10 cents if you bought an item with a given price.

If he were in school, this would be the book for his third year. To me, this seems generally supportive of our hypothesis that being home-educated is unlikely to lead to academic disadvantage for our children. Actually, what I love about the Oyster's engagement with maths is that from my perspective, it seems that he's Doing Numbers in exactly the same way that he Did Trains a while ago, or Did Robin Hood earlier this year. He's following what fascinates him, in other words, which is the key idea. It's kind of thrilling to see it in action.


There is rather less to say about books, other than that the Oyster is an enviably prolific author. He has written books about Robin Hood, books about dragons, books about trains, monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, knights, numbers. He has written books in A4 and A5 size (stapled by patient relatives, often with several stapled booklets taped together); he has written tiny little books in A7 size (painstakingly assembled by me - so far, a 100-pager and a 256-pager, with cardboard covers).

By "written", I mean that generally he draws the pictures first, then asks for the spellings to write the words (which often go in speech bubbles). Recently, he has been asking only for the words he doesn't know - he can do "the", "and", "of", "book", among others, without assistance. Also, I've adopted the strategy of writing out the phrase he wants on a scrap piece of paper for him to copy, which is less hair-tearingly tedious than calling out the letters in batches of three or four.

Before beginning to write, however, the srs bsns of putting the book together must be completed. Page numbers are very important. So are front and back covers, end-papers, and the contents page. Recently he started adding barcodes (complete with little numbers written along the top), prices, blurbs, and endorsement quotes. Some of his books have had an index.

Today's titles, as a snapshot: Elementary Trains (a present for K), Spaceman George (not sure that one went very far before being abandoned), a recipe book called Oisín's Food, and a two-part series: The Story of the Skull and Further Adventures of the Skull. These latter two were for the Boy Down the Road, who is ... ah ... very traditionally socialised, and likes weapons and fighting and horror-type stuff (but is nonetheless more or less a sweetheart). The Oyster fits his material to his readership, in other words, which I find very interesting.
radegund: (swans)
We played Snakes and Ladders this afternoon, on a board that I drew and the Oyster coloured (he is all about making games at the moment).

We couldn't find any dice. So we played without one. We mimed rolling and throwing, and then declared what number had come up.

Nobody went down any snakes - though we had a few lucky escapes :-) The odd thing was, we only went up one ladder each. Both of us, apparently deliberately (well, definitely in my case!), passed up the opportunity to land on a ladder at least once.

The Oyster won. But only just. He got to 98, then kept rolling more than he needed to get to 100 (we were playing the rule that you have to turn and come back if you have jumps left over), until I was up in the 90s. He won eventually, and then we played on until I reached 100.

I'm fascinated by how the Oyster acted given that we both knew, from the outset, that he was going to win. Our agreement was unspoken, admittedly, but nonetheless inviolable. I expected him to roll a series of sixes, or at least to roll numbers that would take him up ladders whenever he could. But not a bit of it. I think he was more concerned with realism than with victory. And he didn't want to trounce me, either.

I'm reading Alfie Kohn's No Contest: The Case Against Competition at the moment. Provoking of much thought. Perhaps when I've finished it I'll be able to make better sense of our Snakes and Ladders game.
radegund: (swans)
Oyster: Would you like to be a musketeer?
Mama: Not particularly.
Oyster: Why not?
Mama: I'm lots of things - I don't really feel I need to add any more at the moment.
Oyster: What are you?
Mama: Well, I'm a writer, and a mother, and someone who makes things, and a friend, and ...
Oyster: And a singer, and an educator, and a children-keep-safer, and ...
Mama: And Niall's partner, and an editor, and ... I'm lots of things.
Oyster: You're everything!
Mama: Not everything.
Oyster: Why not everything?
Mama: Well, I'm not a musketeer, for instance.

I feel all loved and appreciated, now :-)
radegund: (Default)
Saturday: Varied )

Sunday: Simpler )

And now it's Monday, and our new windows and doors have arrived! Yay!

ETA: Ohhhhh, you wanted doors and windows that FIT? Well, you should've said.


Jun. 13th, 2009 10:05 am
radegund: (swan-head)
Game yesterday afternoon was running around our local green space being a dizzying series of superheroes (e.g. one called Peter Zoopy, which I think is a fabulous name for a superhero), villains, henchpersons, guards, etc.

Oyster: Now I do an evil laugh, like this - henh henh henh.
Mama: You dastardly villain! *runs away*
Oyster: *gives chase* Seize her!
Mama: You'll never get away with this!
Oyster: Oh yes I will, you big hairy fluff!
Mama: *is reduced to helpless giggling, which allows the villain to catch up - good strategy, that*

The Feaster is talking a blue streak these days. He can say "tractor" (dada) and "car" (gaah) and "dragon" (dghii) and "donkey" (dahgii), and I'm pretty sure he said "other" (adah) this morning, meaning "other side [i.e. breast], please". When we emerge from the present chaos, we'll put up a list on the kitchen wall, like we had for the Oyster at the same stage.

They're awfully nice, you know. Here, look, I'll show you:

Photos of their respective gloriousnesses )

And finally, just because I think this deserves a wider audience (ooh, get me), here's a sticky-tape picture that the Oyster made in our holiday house at Easter. He came up with the technique himself, as far as I know. Giraffe, see?


Jun. 5th, 2009 03:37 pm
radegund: (swans)
This afternoon, on our way back from the polling station.

Oyster: Hi, I'm a superhero. Do you have a problem I could help you with?
Mama: Well ... I'd like my younger son to go to sleep, please, because he really needs his nap and he's not getting there.
Oyster: I can't do that - I only have superpowers!

radegund: (swans)
As many of you know, the big news in Ireland today is the publication of a long-awaited report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Thousands of children were tortured, raped, and otherwise abused in Irish institutions (reformatories, orphanages, industrial schools, institutions for children with disabilities, ordinary schools) during much of the twentieth century, mostly by members of the Catholic clergy. If you can stomach more detail, this Irish Times article gives a summary of the report's findings, together with links to two opinion pieces.

The whole thing is sickening, of course, but the message that really stands out for me is that the abuse was absolutely endemic in the system - not aberrational, but an artifact of the scornful contempt in which the Irish Catholic Church and the officials of the Irish State apparently held the public (in general) and their children (in particular) during that period. These unimaginative, self-congratulatory patriarchs cared nothing for children, whose fate was of no consequence as long as the desired social hierarchy could be maintained.

Meanwhile, another report appeared this week, published by the Irish College of Psychiatry, which illuminates the shameful state of mental health services in this country. It's called A Gloomy View, and I can find very little coverage of it online. (It gets a mention three paragraphs from the end of this Irish Examiner article.) I bring it up because I heard an interview about it on Newstalk the other day, which highlighted (among other issues) the fact that we have, it seems, nowhere to accommodate children with severe mental health problems. They are STILL, in the twenty-first century, routinely placed in adult psychiatric wards. This fact has been haunting me since I heard it - it's such a jaw-droppingly inappropriate thing to do, and there's so little excuse for a society that has enjoyed the prosperity we have in the past decade not to have FIXED IT, already.

I never suspected Ireland of having a huge amount of genuine respect for children as people, but it's sobering to encounter two such stark illustrations of the problem in the space of a few days.

All of this has made me go back and reread Ursula K. Le Guin's disturbing short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (PDF here; be warned, it's not an easy read). I've always understood it as a fable about social privilege on a global scale, but in modern Ireland, this week in particular, a literal reading is horrifyingly close to the bone.