Family Album: Half boy, half sheepdog

Carr Manor Primary School: playing the long game

Carr Manor Primary School woodland project

Boy Wonder on the Carr Manor Primary School woodland project

I RECENTLY attended the new parents forum at Carr Manor Primary School, where Boy Wonder is in the nursery. I say nursery but by the time I headed home that night I realised why they prefer to call it the foundation unit.

Our four year-old son is only there by accident. We moved house three years ago, a little further away from the estate agents’ paradise of north Leeds because I was facing possible redundancy and we wanted a cheaper mortgage. I’m not sure we even checked the local school. Well, we got lucky.

Carr Manor Primary School sits in Meanwood, a diverse area with typical inner-city variances in income, education and ambition.

Hilary, who runs the unit, spent time in Italy a few years ago. It transformed her views on education and it’s transforming the prospects of the children who attend the unit at what is an ‘outstanding’ school.

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Kids (well, their parents) are bad for the environment

Banger door stopMEET BANGER, the Protective Dog. We bought him at the weekend to guard our lounge against wintry howls from the hallway. We need him because there’s a three-inch gap at the bottom of the door where there must have once been a carpet.

He might look good but Banger isn’t being allowed to do his job. The Kids keep running in and out of the lounge, flinging open the door every five minutes. Boy Wonder is also tall enough to turn on the wall lights and he doesn’t appear to want to waste such a superpower. The tightwad in me means I like to push eco creeds in our house but the kids are clearly too young to hear my appeals. Most of the time, I’m like a Greenpeace intern at an oil industry conference.

It makes me think, though. In the west, we’re happy to lecture developing nations about the dangers of over populating our fragile planet. We might be troubled about our lack of future tax payers to support our geriatric nation in the coming decades but we’ve got some cheek. A lot of British parents, ourselves included, are blithely wasteful.

There are obviously nappies. I know a few couples who tried towelling versions in the early days only to rush for the disposables when the washing piled up and their house developed the aromatics of a rugby club changing room. And what about wipes? In our house we must go through three packs a day, especially the morning after a family korma. Then there’s the cavalcades of people carriers littering our roads, the bounty of summer fruits all year round and the galaxy of plastic toys in all of our homes.

So, I’ve introduced a more pragmatic environmental policy in our household. I’ve told Boy Wonder that if he doesn’t use Banger properly our bills will go up and I’ll have fewer pennies. To buy him more plastic toys and his weekly supply of vacuum-packed strawberries.

Kids farting: The big cover-up

Daughter smells a rat!THE FUNNIEST thing in the history of the world has got to be kids farting. I should know because our 18-month daughter, Little Buddha, is a human Gatling gun some days. And no one finds it funnier than the little trumpeter herself. After each little bottom bellow, her eyes will widen, she’ll look up for our attention – or is it acclaim – and she’ll giggle and sometimes clap her hands.

It’s a good job she finds the whole practice highly comical because she also gets blamed for her older brother’s more constant expulsions. The sound of a church mouse riding a scrambler will emerge from the usual riot in our lounge and we’ll hear Boy Wonder cry with admirable theatre: ‘Little Sis, you big stinker!’. It doesn’t matter that the toxic effects of his bolognese obsession give him away each time. He sticks to his buns, chiding his innocent sister for supposedly serial crimes against the nasal passage.

I don’t know where he gets it from. Oh yes I do. Me.

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Home made for kids is best

Part of the fun of this blog is having a few pots at the good wife, the Duchess. This is even more important now we rarely relax together or even see each other some days. Banter is an important release, especially given the physical, emotional and financial stresses of having young kids. It’s always been our way and it’s probably what now keeps us from miscuing with the extended screwdriver or forgetting to clear up the water spill or not reporting the squeaky car brakes.

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Our family holiday in Cornwall

Rock beach

‘Look at daddy in his mankini’

We’ve just returned from a week in Cornwall. It was our first family holiday since Little Buddha appeared. When Boy Wonder was her age, we flew to Normandy to stay with family but unfortunately he got a severe case of bronchitis and although my aunty dealt with the doctor and organised the (impressively large) range of medicines we decided to stay on home soil for the next few years.

So, last year we went to Pembrokeshire in Wales and this summer we drove through the night to sample the marvellous beaches of the south west.

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