It has been a long time between posts! And so much has changed with our small guy, all for the good. He is a loving, kind and funny four year old now. He loves to play with Lego and his toy figures as well as arts and crafts. His pretend play skills have noticeably increased over the summer and he comes up with some really funny scenarios now. Somewhat late to the game he has developed a fondness for Peppa Pig so we build the “piggies” huge mansions to live in out of Lego on a daily basis. They also go about their everyday life in all sorts of vehicles from dump trucks, to fire engines and motorcycles. It’s quite the cross-mix of toys involved!
Last week I bought a really great Playmobil vet clinic toy and it is one of the funniest toys I have bought as it comes with a cat that has a cone of shame to wear. I honestly think I may have bought it just for that! Anyway, he loves it and plays vets with the animals that came with the set and also the piggies. And I love that the vet character is a black woman – he doesn’t get much access to toys with people of colour and so I am happy to add a few in here and normalise seeing people of all colours and shapes represented in his play.
He is also quite fond of playing with Hot Wheels cars and the various playsets of those that we have; any kind of toy that is based on making ice-creams; colouring, painting and crafting (hellooooo glitter!); shops/kitchens/restaurants (he makes a mean cup of pretend tea); and reading Peppa Pig books.
We are one year in our new house now and that has been life changing in many ways. Just having the space both indoors and outdoors makes staying home a preference rather than a forced chore – albeit I think all the lockdowns also taught him how to stay at home happily. We also have a pool and over the summer N has become a competent swimmer. He now happily does running jumps into the pool and can swim a full length of the 10 metre pool with no problem. I mean, he’s not doing a proper Olympic stroke or anything, but I no longer feel stressed about what might happen if he accidentally falls in the pool. He absolutely loves swimming too which makes me so very happy! He has had some lessons and I think with more time and more lessons he will be a strong swimmer.
He has absolutely no interest in riding a bike yet though, which is quite funny. He is extremely capable on his scooter and sees no reason to change as yet so we are not pushing him. He has also demonstrated some good competencies on a skateboard but as he refuses to wear a helmet I won’t let him go about with that yet. We have learned that you cannot force him to do anything as he just needs to decide he’s ready in his own time, which is very similar to his dad!
He is also quite the sensitive soul who seems to need extra love and time when facing anything new or potentially intimidating. As he is a bit of a cheeky monkey who enjoys climbing bars and doing front rolls on the grass, I signed him up for a kiddies gymnastics class with his friend. I took him along and he absolutely refused to participate despite it looking super fun. He was happy to watch his friends for a while but then repeatedly asked to go home and complained that the gym was “smelly” (quite the insult from a 4 year old). So that was the end of gymnastics for now!
We did enjoy a nice holiday in the summer though to a Greek island with a beautiful hotel on a private beach. We ended up going with another family who have a 2 year old boy and the boys enjoyed each other’s company despite the age difference. As it had been so long since anyone had flown anywhere, N had no memory of travelling by plane so it was like the first time for him. He LOVED the plane and the whole holidays experience! Now all his piggies regularly go on holiday in their plane too. He was a super partner-in-crime on the holiday and I think loved the experience as he keeps asking to go on holidays again. Haha!
I am also doing better these days and I think a number of factors are at play for this. Finishing the house made a huuuuuuuuuge difference to our relationship as it took out a major source of stress. But also in recent months and post-lockdown I feel like I’ve had some kind of personal rebirth. Like I feel better for all of the restricted social occasions that previously caused me so much stress (aka family situations where things got very intense and awful). Now that we all live “smaller” lives due to covid it seems to really suit me.
I’ve also started advocating for my own needs. I take the time to do things during the week that make me happy. That is often just regular things that seem obvious such as making sure I can get to the gym 2-3 times a week, or buying a bunch of flowers from the supermarket to brighten up the kitchen, or having an afternoon nap on a Sunday afternoon. By taking back some of the “me time” it makes me a better mum and a better wife – which means everyone else is happier too. But at the same time I try and give my husband his own time without any punishment or directly “owing” me anything for the time he took away. I have been very guilty of that in the past, mainly out of resentment for the perceived freedom that he seemed to have.
N’s language skills have improved exponentially too and he is very strong in English and almost average level in Greek. Given that he is the only truly bilingual child in his year at school, this is a real achievement and is huge progress. I think he is still a little more shy and sensitive because of the lower competency in Greek language than his native-speaking peers, which means he is not the most bold of his peers, but he is very well-loved by them. And I think the fact that his language skills have come on so rapidly now is also why he seems to really enjoy Peppa Pig because he now understands it properly finally! I do think he’s moving on to Paw Patrol soon though so I might end up with some surplus piggies at home soon!