All About Bean

Five More Sleeps

I’ve been taking a trip down memory lane this evening while procrastinating researching articles for work. In the last 24 hours I’ve learned that

Neither of these things shock me quite so much as the idea that Eve is about to be five. FIVE. I was running this morning and the air tasted the same as it did the morning we left the house with my Mom, clutching the go-bag, tracking contractions, and chasing Quinn and Zeno back inside.

Seems like five minutes ago that we were celebrating her first birthday with cupcakes:


It is delicious cake.

The party is a go: we’ve opted for an after school thing at a play place, sort of a happy hour for the under-sevens. We’re hoping a ton of her friends can make it. 


Ain’t No Party Like a Bean Party

The Bean is about to turn five, and we think it’s high time she had a proper birthday party. Lord knows she gets three invitations a week to other kids’. Over the years we have been to:

  • Tons of “Wacky Warehouse” parties, where the kids run around and go down slides and into ball pits while the parents sip coffee and fail to hide their hangovers;
  • A Formula 1 racing party, where the three-year-olds got to drive little cars around a track– or to try, anyway;
  • An enormous disco at which there were more than 50 kids AND their parents;
  • A “Wild West” party at a church recreation hall where the kids panned for gold in a sandbox and threw hula hoops around horses’ necks (adorable):
  • Classic “parlor-games-and-crisps” parties held at actual homes;
  • A country park party where the kids dipped nets into a pond and looked at the critters they caught under magnifying glasses.
Uncle Dave remembers the Wild West party!

We have left it a bit late, which means we will probably wind up going with option 1, which is (relatively) cheap and easy. I would love to do a party along the lines of the last one, but the weather in March– even a good March– wouldn’t be ideal.

This will probably not be a good March. So far this year, the Island seems to be stuck at the end of some sort of atmospheric conveyor belt of the Apocalypse that drops an immense storm on us every five days. As I write this, I can see that the Met Office has sixteen severe flood warnings (“danger to life and property”) in effect along the Thames, and, closer to home, over fifty flood warnings in the Midlands along the Severn, the Avon, and the Wye Rivers. Significant portions of Somerset are under water and have been since Christmas, while Cornwall had all of its rail links cut earlier this morning.

We’re not going outside much, is what I’m getting at.

I looked in to taking her to her usual birthday spot at the Sea Life Centre, but I could buy a decent used car for what they charge for parties there. Ideally we would throw a fairly unique party, one that tells you all about Bean. However, in that case, the only foods would be sausages and soft-serve ice cream, and there would be lots of tiny people dressed as Spider-Man ballerinas running around.


Which might be kind of cute.




The A-Word

The Bean completed her observation group on October 25th. We had a meeting with the pediatrician, the child psychologist, the speech therapist, the nursery nurse (who played with Eve during the observation period) and a young lady from Bean’s nursery school. We perched on child-sized chairs and drank instant coffee while they explained their observational findings and the results of various assessments they’d undertaken.

“You do go and singing a song, and I dance the ballet, Mommy.”

What we have with Bean is a very friendly, happy, energetic child who is good with puzzles and numbers. She has excellent eyesight– fighter pilot eyesight, practically– and a terrific memory. But she speaks and socializes like a child of two, not one who’s nearly four.

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The Escape Artist

On Wednesday night I was sitting at the computer around 6:30, typing, when I heard a loud THUMP from upstairs. This happens a lot, and is usually the result of a cat making impact with the floor after hopping down from a perch on a wardrobe or bookshelf.

This time, there were footsteps. I went to investigate.

Eve’s crib was empty. So was her room. She wasn’t in the bathroom, either– recent unsupervised upstairs time has led Eve to explore the functions of the toilet, or to turning the taps on and off in the sink. I found her cheerfully tucked in bed– my bed, that is, with the reading lamp switched on. She was perusing Where The Wild Things Are and humming to herself.

“What are you doing?”

“I goin’ sleepies!” She patted the pillow beside her. “Lie down?”

I scooped her up and stuck her back in her crib. She moaned about this, shouting “Come out? Want come out?” as I went back down the stairs. I waited, ear cocked to the ceiling, for an hour. I expected to have to make many repeat trips, tried to remember where we’d put the stair gate we took down while repainting, imagined having to negotiate with the Bean until 2:00 AM every night.

But, no. She fell asleep with the book tented over her face. And she hasn’t repeated the experiment– yet. But she will be three in eight weeks, so we’re considering taking the sides of the crib down then anyway.

Doctor Lau-Lau or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Tolerate Waybuloo

[Ed. note: OK, so it’s been a month. I fail at blogging, what can I say?]

Eve has become enamored of a television program. I didn’t want this to happen quite so soon; I’ve read the research about young kids and too much screen time. But sometimes a kid just falls in love.

I guess we were at Simon and Stephanie’s when it happened. CBeebies— that’s BBC for kids under six– would have been put on, and I would already have been cringing in anticipation of seeing In The Night Garden.

In The Night Garden is a gently hallucinatory fantasia set in a forest populated by creatures who can only speak their own names. They ride around in a blimp (the Pinky-Ponk) or a train (the Ninky-Nonk) made of tea pots that have a colorful, if sub-Seussian, quality, and… I just… words fail, okay?

Look, here’s a character called Makka Pakka:

Recognize the voice of the narrator? That is Derek Jacobi– pardon me, Sir Derek Jacobi, CBE, one of the titans of British theatre.

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These Americanisms Just Won’t Do

She calls me “Mommy”. I know this because she spent ten minutes wailing it outside the bathroom door while I was showering yesterday. “MOOOOOOMMYYYY! OH NO, OH DEAR MOMMMMMYYYYY!”


I was ill and went to bed early. Bean joined me.

This wouldn’t be strange if not for the fact that everyone here, myself included, refers to me as “Mummy”, which is right and proper and British. She lives here, she was born here; she ought to speak like a native.

But a woman I fell into conversation with on the playground one afternoon swears that Bean has an American accent. I don’t know how one picks that up from toddler-speak, which sounds like an untuned radio station, but this lady was insistent. And she’s not the first to make the observation.

I don’t think it will last, though. A childhood friend of mine has a lovely Kiwi mum, whose accent never rubbed off on her children one bit– both R. and her brother always sounded like perfectly standard Northeastern Americans. I guess it will be the same with Bean, eventually– wherever she goes to school, that’s how she’ll sound.

Which means she absolutely canNOT go to school in Birmingham.