Capturing the randomness of a child’s mind

I like to think that my thought processes can be pretty random.  I remember very clearly at the age of 13 my english teacher asking the class to write a ‘stream of consciousness’ right there and then. I can only assume that we were studying Catcher in the Rye at the time.  That particular english teacher was one of those 1980’s cool teachers who wore dangly earrings, had mad mad mad almost mad hatter hair that she was constantly trying to control with her whole hand and a weird, contortion of long leg folding to sit on top of the desk rather than a chair.  You see, streams of consciousness; I like the randomness of them and if you’ve read this or any other paragraph of my writing, you can see I’ve run with it…

But however random I get, it is nothing to the near lunacy of little ones. The nano-second it can take them from ‘I want  a balloon’ to ‘ooh, that’s a corner of a table I’m not actually thinking about whilst searching for a twinkly thing I saw 2 seconds ago, but why does that woman have a… no she’s gone’.  You get what I mean.  And during these weird 10 second trains of thought, we, as parents can only look at them as their faces change; from excited, scared, perplexed and then through all of the expressions possible that will usually lead to a gormless stillness that will leave you, as the parent, wondering if they’ll ever be able to read, or write, or even remember their own name.

Creating the ‘This is my…’ range of books was really an answer to my need to capture that randomness.  To keep hold of memories that come directly from them, those gormless, chubby faces with personalities forming and vehement opinions that can change and be just as forcefully argued in the opposite only minutes later.

And so the “This is my” books were created. Originally accompanied by a 35mm camera, the resultant photos were priceless.  They were simple cameras, a little square window for a child to look through and a button to press to take the photo, followed by a pass to mum to wind on.  My children would often not bother with the looking into the little square and the resultant images were perfect.  A photo of his twin brother’s cheek and a bit of an eye; an image of a foot in a padder, now long gone; an unidentifiable mass of matter on a plastic plate.  And that doesn’t even touch on the number of photos of my bum – what an eye opener that was! (I mean, because that’s all they got to see most of the day!).

The book would guide them through which photos to take – and would have questions for them to answer.  And this is where the randomness would come to the fore.  In their first books, I would have to do the writing, so I would ask them the questions.  And they would answer with that honesty, integrity, seriousness and thoughtfulness that only a three year old can muster when asked ‘what did you like the most about your bed on holiday’.

And there I would sit, keeping a straight face to match theirs as they answered questions in their books.  “What did you like about the bed” – answers would include “It was colourful” (and the photograph to accompany that answer shows the most migraine inducing swirl of psychedelia that I’m surprised I didn’t remember it). The proximity of the bed to a television would also be another excellent reason.

Their ‘favourite bit about the journey’ were invariably the ‘snack’ and the photograph of something that they really “like to eat on holiday” was often the breakfast pastry.  And I love that.

Other questions in other books would induce brutally honest answers – no sensibilities when it came to naming favourite gifts at Christmas or on their birthdays.  It was often the piece of plastic tat bought for them by a childless friend (the piece of plastic tat that I had already earmarked to be sent to the charity shop as soon as their backs were turned).

I love every photo and every answer and I have them all because I got to record it all in the books that I had created for just that purpose.  Their photos were brilliant, their answers completely and utterly random and slightly insane, their funny spelling of words and their awkward less than perfect handwriting when they took over the filling out for themselves.  Because keeping childhood memories alive and doing so effortlessly and with laughter is what they always meant to be.  And I’m rather proud of how well they worked out.

I still look back on them, and those books are here with me, just waiting to be handed around on wedding days….

which will teach them for not consistently name checking my gift as their favourite each year.

 

All of the ‘This is my….’ memory books (including Day as a Bridesmaid, Day as Pageboy and other wedding titles as well as ‘This is my Baby Brother and This is my Baby Sister’ versions for siblings) will soon be available here on memorybooks.co.uk, but until then, they are readily available on our MotherShip site: 2littleboys.co.uk.

This is my Holiday Memory Book for kids

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Small businesses and reviews

So, you order something online, you get it in perfect condition in a reasonable space of time and you unwrap, wrap it back up if it’s a gift or you use as you see fit – if it’s something from 2littleboys.co.uk, you’ll probably be writing in it, using it to write with or drinking from it. But who am I to guess or even judge for that matter.

And the world continues to turn (it’s frightening how quickly it turns; one of my kids told me the rate in which it was actually going, and I felt a sudden need to cling onto the pavement with the thought of it).

And then, if you’ve bought from a larger sales platform or company, you’ll probably get a really irritating email at some point asking you to ‘review your recent purchase from….’.  And every so often, when you’re waiting for the washing cycle to finish, or when Peppa Pig is giving you some respite, or you’re stuck on the train with nothing better to do (but with excellent signal and you’re not smelling the man’s armpit to your right), you’ll click through and leave a review.  And it’ll be an excellent review or a shitty review and there will rarely be an in-between, because if you had just thought ‘meh’ when you’d opened the parcel, you’re probably not going to spend some of your precious time trying to think up real words to describe the ‘meh’ you felt.

I get it.  I really do.  At 2littleboys HQ, we order our padded envelopes through a large marketplace and they turn up in a timely manner and they’re always in good condition. (but then I’m not sure how much damage could be sustained to a box of padded envelopes).  So when the marketplace sends me an email to ask me to leave feedback, I do wonder who would respond and what they would respond with. ‘They’re envelopes, they arrived, I use’.

And that attitude can proliferate throughout our shopping experiences. But here’s the thing.  More often than not, the seller on that large platform or the people behind the online boutique are there, often grappling comically with tissue paper, trying to get everything done by the day’s postal deadline and wondering how the fuck they got through so many padded envelopes so quickly.  At this point, can I also point out the idiosyncrasies of wrapping with tissue paper.  I defy anyone to wrap anything in the stuff and not have it look like a three year old and his pet gerbil has had a go first.

And I haven’t even got to the hair pulling decisions, design skill, writing and production of the actual product!  Another posting sometime maybe :0.

We, at the MotherShip store 2littleboys.co.uk don’t have an automated request system for reviews or feedback. And when we see the reviews that have been left for our products on other platforms through whom we sell, or when we receive emails, Facebook responses and reviews on our site, our hearts really do sing.  I mean REALLY.  NB: Not literally – that sounds medically dangerous.  I mean: A little flutter of pride and a big smile of ‘wow! Someone likes our stuff’.

Because we do need to know if one of our notebooks made a friend smile when they really needed to, or if an activity book turned horrified faces surrounding your 4 year old on a plane into smiles of a peaceful flight.  We want to hear that the paper was a joy to write upon (yeah, that’s right, we’ve had that said actually, because it’s really important to some people and I can’t help but agree with them…).  We want to hear that you didn’t expect to receive the purchase so quickly and aren’t we amazing for turning the order around so quickly.  We want to hear that the really silly question you asked was answered quickly.  And I am pretty sure that every independent shop would agree with me when I say, we’d just like some feedback on our good jobs done.

So don’t wait for the larger companies to remind you, next time you get something from an independent shop, take five minutes to write ‘great service’ or some such niceness.  Because we don’t have complicated algorithms to connect with you nor do we have banks of people ‘dealing’ with you.  We are just simple folk doing some interesting stuff.

Right. I’m off to write a review about padded envelopes.

Happy Easter all.

 

 

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AB2

Hot doughnuts & screaming at the sea

I awoke one Monday morning a few weeks ago with a need to do something entirely different.  Something out of my comfort zone that didn’t involve a passport, a large dose of tranquillisers, an absence from the home/office longer than 6 hours and that didn’t cost a small fortune (so two weeks in the Caribbean was out).

I still wanted an adventure. I looked at the weather forecast, wished I hadn’t, grabbed a waterproof bag, my friend and business manager (who hadn’t received the text telling him to wrap up warm), and headed out on a hot doughnut quest.

Because that was, indeed, the very quintessence of adventure that I sought on that very cold and miserable Monday morning.  Figuring that Brighton was the closest purveyor of said fresh doughnuts and being quite used to the Victoria to Brighton train line. It really wasn’t very long at all before we were walking through the lanes to find some lunch. I’m good at deferring gratification like that. The pier with its sugary fatty delights wasn’t going anywhere and I knew if I didn’t eat something wholesome, I’d be gorging like a half starved hog at a truffle convention (yeah, I don’t know if that’s a real thing either).  Oh, and Sam needed a hat to keep his head warm.

Nice tapas, nice hat (waterproof too!).  Short walk downhill to the shore. Stormy sea.

Oh man! Do I like a stormy sea.  People tend to wax lyrical about mountains making them question their very existence, something about that peace engendered by feeling so small amongst the majesty of snowy peaks.  I get that, I really do.  But the relentless of the sea, the roaring waves dragging pebbles across the shore, the salty spray crystallising on rosy cheeks. And I just need to reiterate the frickin’ relentlessness.  The sea just doesn’t stop. EVER. It’s lapped those shores like, since forever and on windy days, it’s noisy, it’s so noisy that you can’t concentrate on anything other than keeping your ears out of the wind and hunching your hands into a warm pocket or two.

And then you can scream. You can scream and shout at it.  You can shout every profanity known to man, in every combination that could even make a sailor blush (and that takes into account the real expression of ‘swear like a sailor’).  So I shouted, I shouted until the veins in my neck bulged like rope and my mouth was so dry I almost went off the idea of eating a doughnut.

I said almost.

Purged of internal noise and feeling a little light headed, we made our way to the pier and there, in the lee of the pier, we ate hot donuts watching the seas and listening to the wind.  Sam then put in a request to play on the slots and so we spent a good half an hour losing five pounds in the 10p cascade dropping thingy.

I didn’t want to worry about the London rush hour, so we left Brighton and its stormy sea and the rain that had, as forecast started to pound the pavements.  My kids had hardly noticed my absence, reaching home only half an hour after their return from school.

We finished the doughnuts off after supper.  But there was no roar of wind, no cold face, no warmth from the greasy paper bag.  It just wasn’t the same.

But it was nice day.

Monday Random Mission had been accomplished.

Mission Accomplished

Please note that although ALL of the photographs on my blog are my own (unless clearly stated), they are not necessarily from my day out – it was not a trip for photography.  Except the snap of me – that was taken on the day 🙂

 

Brighton DoughnutsBrighton

 

If, like  me, you’d like to get down there for a hot doughnut or a sea scream – here’s Southern Railway’s train timetable

Visit Brighton Website is full of key information as well as pointers to finding accommodation if you feel the need to scream at the sea some more 🙂