Saturday, 25 September 2010

A tube with a view

Today the Hackney family made the trip down to the Olympics site, to the View Tube, a viewing platform giving a view of the ever-more-completed-looking stadium, swimming thing, cycling thing, and so on. HackneyChild always enjoys a good look at a digger, so he was happy. HackneyBaby screamed the whole way there, but stopped when we arrived, so perhaps we can infer he too was happy.

There is a nice cafe there made out of a container. I always like there to be a nice cafe wherever I am.

The UK Youth Parliament was having a meeting in the room above the cafe, and a lady called Gemma came down and asked a woman sitting on our table to pick a name from one of her two hands - they were having a ballot, she said. I don't know what the ballot was for,but it might have been simpler and involved less maths if the Labour Party had followed suit and just written EM on one bit of paper and DM on another, popped into the nearest cafe and asked someone random to pick.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

A step too far?

Until I had two boys I was very much of the nurture camp in the nurture versus nature gender argument - I had the opinion that boys and girls were genderised by society rather than innate differences. My train, car and digger loving, non sleeping, rock climbing first son has slightly changed my mind, but I still believe that while there are some differences between the average boy and the average girl, gender is on a spectrum and is pretty much influenced by society. (To that end I will be intrigued to follow the experiences of Pop, the non-gendered Swedish child.)

I haven't gone that far but I have tried to ensure that despite the number of trains and cars he owns HackneyChild also has a doll, a tea set, and so on. I have painted his nails and let him rummage through my jewellery, I read him Milly Molly Mandy as well as Thomas the Tank Engine. But my principles were faced with a big test this week in the confines of Clarks on Mare Street, and I am sorry to say they crumbled.

Charged with choosing new shoes, HackneyChild headed straight for the sparkly pink ones. "Look!" he said excitedly. "This one has a birthday cake on it!" I am ashamed to say I went: "Uh...oh look! This one has dinosaurs on it!" I just couldn't buy him the pink shoes. They were so very pink. I really wish I could.

But I don't think its just my social cowardice. I am saddened by the pinkification of girls and ASBO-ification of boys, as evidenced in the inescapable "sparkly princess"/"here comes trouble"-type slogans on clothing. It was so obvious which shoes were girly and which were for boys in that shop. I may be dreaming but I am sure when I was a little girl things were not so gendered - I remember having the same dungarees as my friend's little brother.

They didn't have the dinosaur ones in HackneyChild's size. He now has shoes with diggers on them.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Baby puree or dip?

With HackneyChild we did everything by the book. Not a sliver of solid food passed his lips before six months and one week, as per guidelines. (We were on holiday the week before). I slavishly followed Annabel Karmel's timetable in the Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner, with baby rice giving way to the proscribed vegetable of the day.

With HackneyBaby we have been much more lackadaisical. He has already had a suck on a green bean, bits of cucumber, apple and banana, although he hasn't really ingested any, and at five and a half months today he had his first spoonful of baby rice. (HackneyChild said "It smells disgusting".) Any worries I had about starting too early were banished as he grabbed the spoon and started to enthusiastically shovel it into his mouth himself. Baby rice again tomorrow, then onto the wide world of fruit and veg!

On the subject of baby purees, I was at a barbecue yesterday with my lovely NCT friends, three families who have children the same age as HackneyChild and now all have another one as well. As I was filling my plate with meat and salad I saw two bowls of dip, a green dip and what looked like a kind of salsa. "What's that?" enquired my friend. "I don't know, but I'm having some," I said, spooning it onto my plate. It was the one-year-old's baby food.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Tube tracks and pirate ships.

HackneyChild currently loves maps and is never happier than when pointing out all the hospitals on the A to Z. He also likes the tube map and can match most lines with their colours. When we got onto Bethnal Green platform last week he pulled away from me and ran over to the track, saying "What colour is it?" He was most disappointed to find it was not red in real life.

We were on our way to the Princess Diana Playground.It is superb - massive pirate ship, sand, water, little houses. It's enclosed, and you have to buzz to get through the gate, which is excellent, since it was only a few days since HackneyChild disappeared on me at Highbury Fields, and I had to enlist the help of the local children to track him down. I only have a few quibbles - firstly the cafe is remarkably un-child friendly for a cafe in a playground - the only child option seems to be a small pizza, with even the sandwiches being massive baguettes. Secondly if you have a buggy and sleeping baby it's hard to get near enough to the pirate ship and other things to be near your other child, as they are surrounded by sand - but that is part of the charm so it is hard to think what could be done about that really.

Can't wait for the influx of New Yorkers

This is just getting silly. Our street's trendiness, previously chronicled here, has just gone stratospheric with a mention in the New York Times.

"The quiet streets north of London Fields are lined with tidy, modest Edwardian row houses, and at first glance one of those streets, Wilton Way, looked like a quiet business district. But then I noticed that the storefront post office was actually an art gallery called Posted, and that the Wilton Way Cafe had flea-market furniture and a booth in the window from which a Web broadcast emanated."

Let's see if we can work the same magic on the street we are shortly moving to. Currently a quiet Victorian residential road, by the time we leave it'll be crammed with boutiques, cafes, markets, art exhibitions, and a canal will have appeared out of nowhere.