26 Jan 2013


People are digging up the road near us to lay some new pipes. They all wear luminous yellow vests and hard hats and drive their big yellow digger things with precision so I presume they are meant to be doing this, but they have been taking a really long time.

As a motorist this is intensely frustrating. The area they are working on stretches the length of several streets, and the network of replacement pipes is quite extensive, so taking a detour to avoid it doesn't always help because every now and then they trick you by moving their temporary traffic lights somewhere else then hold you up further down the street instead.

However, today I passed by the roadworks on foot and my irritation vanished. I was walking past a long queue of stationary traffic (which is always satisfying) and it wasn't raining for once.

The bloke nearest me was driving a diggery thing with an overgrown drill bit on the end that made a thundering DUKDUKDUKDUK noise. It made the pavement shake under my feet as the top 6" of road just a few feet away from me crumbled into slithers of jagged tarmac.

I had a sudden yearning to stop and watch them. My inner nosey child longed for there to be a real life child next to me- because then we could have stopped and watched the men together for a bit and maybe even have asked the nearest one what they are doing (and why is it taking so long??) But I am clearly an adult who should have outgrown the phase of wanting to stop and watch men digging up the road, so I didn't. 

I walked by extra slowly, watching in fascination as the road crumbled into chunks as the DUKDUKDUKDUK carved its way down the spray painted channel on the road surface.

If I'd have had a toddler with me we could have stopped and stared and pointed at the goings on without anyone caring. A lone adult doing the same thing immediately conjures up connotations of mental impairment of some kind (even without the pointing) or suspicion that the lone female in question may have a thing for sweaty men in luminous work wear (which I really don't). 

Who makes up these rules do you think? These social norms that we all conform to.

Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series is an extremely quirky character with many eccentric beliefs and qualities. She is nonconformist, lacks self-consciousness and often skips instead of walking. Luna would have stopped and watched the diggers.

When Eldest was about a year old, our route to the city centre took us by a building site which is now luxury apartments. For months and months during any walk into town, part of our routine would be to stop for 5 or 10 minutes (on both the outward and return journeys) and watch the diggers and cranes. On one occasion we walked past a little boy and his mum. He was being pulled by the arm as mum was walking fast. As E was in his buggy we steamed past them both then settled down for our digger break when we reached our wall overlooking the building site. A short while later the little boy and his mum reached us. The child immediately joined us in our digger vigil while his mum hung back looking agitated. After 30 seconds or so he was told to Hurry up and mum began to walk off without him. The little boy looked longingly at me and Eldest on our digger perch then as he was leaving, looked over his shoulder and asked me dolefully 'Are you going to be here for a very long time?' Children always have time to stop and watch diggers.

When do we stop looking at diggers? And why? They don't get less intriguing. We become indifferent.

What about naturally occurring things like worms and apples and hamsters and daisies? There is a ton of stuff that we take for granted because they are always there. Universal (natural) laws and familiarity explain away the mystery of the world and we become deadened to that childhood excitement and awe of the ordinary.

In GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy, the point is made that to search for scientific reasonings for everything is rather dull. Because we witness things happening over and over and over again, we assume that there are laws behind that event’s continuous recurrence. Throw a stone into the air and it falls down- every time (Aha-Gravity!). Boil water to 100 degrees and it converts to steam - every time (Aha- Thermodynamics!) But Chesterton asks why should this be? His philosophy, arrived at through intuition and logic is that natural laws may not be so natural. He argues that just because something happens repeatedly, this does not necessarily legitimise the existence of a law. Rather, he suggests there is a will behind events of constant recurrence… a will of magnificent innocence, creativity and power.  

The thing I mean can be seen... in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that 
God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity (natural law) that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. (Othodoxy)

God exults in monotony. He's made zillions of daisies and will carry on making them tomorrow and the next day and the next. And I bet he LOVES diggers.

14 Jan 2013

The Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but a bit too much of the Truth

We teach our kids to always tell the truth but when it comes to questions from them which require an a truthful answer from us then the rules can become rather fuzzy. This is awkward. Cause children ask lots of questions on an almost daily basis and there's no pause button to buy you some time while you think of how to respond.

In the past it seems the common adult response was often a simple conversation embargo. Stop the line of questioning as quickly as it starts and employ distraction until curiosity is abandoned and da-dah! Problem solved. No uncomfortable conversations happen, no admissions of ignorance are necessary and life goes on as before. 

As a kid I distinctly remember raising certain topics which were immediately closed for discussion. It was infuriating. So, before even embarking on puberty I determined that any child I may one day have could ask any question they wanted of me and I would answer it, as best I could and with as much information as was needed. 

This was a noble goal. But as with lots of things, the pendulum can swing too far the other way. 

As it turns out I am not always the best judge of what constitutes an age-appropriate response. Nor am I always alert to the non-verbal signs which should prompt a change in conversation. My approach has backfired on several occasions and I offer you, my non judgemental friends the examples below.

Exhibit A: Late night shopping with Eldest, aged 12. A prime bonding opportunity. Both of us are night people and no siblings are present. We are getting a mid-week food top up and some clothes for him. I employ my usual snake-up-and-down-every-aisle approach, even though we have no reason to be in half of them. This tried and trusted method ensures I don't risk missing anything I forgot to put on the list. If in fact I have made a list and remembered to bring it. We are in the £1 aisle. (ONE POUND! I love this section. Does every Tesco have one or is it just Newport?)

Me: Wow- a pound for that! (Gesturing towards a pregnancy test kit). The last time I used one of them it was 6 quid! I feel proper cheated now!
E: Why- what is it?
Me: A pregnancy test. They used to be well expensive. Maybe they still are and this one's just crap.
E: (Still unsure what we're talking about) So... What is it exactly?
Me: It's a do-it-yourself kit that a woman can do at home, you know, to see if she's pregnant or not.
E: Oh right- what do you do with it exactly?...
Me: Well, it's like this plastic stick thing and the woman wees on the end bit and if she is pregnant then a little line appears on the window. And if she isn't then it doesn't. Then she knows.
E: Oh. That's ... gross.
Me: Yeah but quite handy. You know I did a test like that when I was pregnant with all of you, well I did more than one actually- you know just to be sure and I just chucked yours in the bin when it was used but a few months later Lesley (remember Lesley? Thomas' mum?) well she told me that she'd heard that the used sticks keep for ages and the little line on the window doesn't ever disappear completely, it only fades so she kept her stick from when she was having Thomas and it didn't smell or anything and I thought 'Ooh that's cool' but it was too late for your stick obviously cause it was in the bin but I kept Jackson's and Madi's- they're in their memory boxes- but I don't have yours cause I never thought to keep it. Does that bother you?
E: (Clearly most uncomfortable with the conversation but I am too steeped in nostalgia to notice) Em- no... 
Me: Oh, that's good.
E: Cause it's disgusting.
Me: Oh sorry. It's just I want to treat you all the same and have the same little momentos for you all. I've even kept the belly button clip for you all cause babies have this plastic clip thing on their stomachs for first few days  after they're born then the stump all shrivels up and drops off and-
E: (interrupting) AND YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING NOW!...
Me: Oh sorry. Shall we go to the check out?
E: YES PLEASE!... *(Sigh)*

This was clearly awkward. 

But it's not the most inappropriate conversation I've ever had with E. That conversation happened when he was 5 years old. It's all the tooth fairy's fault. I was so busy planning my Father Christmas strategy that she swooped right in under my radar while I was focussed on him. Sneaky pixie.

Exhibit B: After many long days of wobbliness E lost his first tooth one afternoon while in school. I was duly met at the door with a shy toothless grin and his tooth carefully wrapped in some blue paper towel, sellotaped for additional security. His teacher smiled as she watched him hand it to me for safe keeping and reminded him to put it under his pillow that night for the tooth fairy. E smiled politely then as soon as we were out of earshot whispered loudly 'What was she talking about?'

In all the tooth wobbling days that had preceded this day I had never mentioned the Tooth Fairy's existence. I'd told eldest he'd get a coin in exchange for the lost tooth but never mentioned her (my decision to answer all questions truthfully also included not implanting lies in the first place). Unfortunately I neglected to factor in the influences outside the home and what to say about the Fairy when someone else did.

I brushed it off by explaining that lots of people like to play the Tooth Fairy Game which involves putting a tooth under a pillow and waking up to a coin instead- doesn't that sound fun and do you want to play it? Yes OK, he agreed- if it means getting a coin. 

But that wasn't the end of it. He became obsessed with the tooth and it's significance to me. Ordinary life continued as usual for most of the day but in the 10/15 minutes in between story and prayer time and drifting off to sleep it dominated his thoughts and he kept calling me back into his room again and again as he thought of yet more questions about the tooth, or questions about the answers I had given him the night before to questions about the tooth. It was exhausting. (The truth often is).

Post tooth loss, night 4, Bedtime
E: So... You'll keep my tooth. In my special box. With all my baby things.
Me: Yeah that's right.
E: Forever. Just to keep and look at.
Me: Yep that's right. Night night...
E: Why is that again?
Me: Well, one day you'll be all big and grown up and we'll look back at your tiny baby teeth and think how much you've grown. Night babe...
E: I still don't get why mummies and daddies want to keep the teeth that fall out.
Me: Well it just helps them remember how small their boys and girls used to be and it's good to think about that when they're all grown up and big and strong.
E: And where is the box where you're keeping my tooth?
Me: In my cupboard for now, but I guess one day you'll want to keep it yourself. (Stop it)
E: Really I can have it?
Me: Yes- It's your box after all. (STOP it)
E: Where will I keep it?
Me: Well I don't know. Some where in your own house I suppose.
(I said STOP it!)
Because one day you'll take all your things and leave this house
(No! Quick- use the lie! What's that one about teeth... and children... and pillows??) 
...and move into a house of your own so you can take your box with you then. (Lie dammit- LIE! Tell him about the pillows!)
E: (Puzzlement giving way to anxiety) But I want to stay here with you and Daddy! For always!
Me: Cool- no problem babe. You can do that if you want to.
E: But mummies and daddies WANT their little boys and girls to get big and move away?
Me: Well, yes. Eventually. 
(Oh crap. Where's the Comm+Z for this conversation?)
E: But why?
Me: Because... that's... just... what happens babe.
(Comm+Z! Comm+Z! Comm+Z!)
E: (Begins to cry) But... I don't want to be big... I just like being... your little boy... (And there you go! Well done The Truth! Now why don't you sob alongside him and screw him up even more!)

It takes everything in me not to cry. I've already given him too much of my grown up baggage. I hug and comfort him. We say another prayer about monkey and his best friend Izzy. He's soon all dozy and calm. He falls asleep quickly after that and the next night he doesn't mention the tooth at all, or call me back into his room after I've put him to bed. 

But I think about it for a long time. What on Earth was I thinking? Why attempt an explanation like that? At bedtime no less!? Aaaarghhhh!

A 5 year old trying to get his head around what it will be like to leave home one day when he doesn't have the emotional reserves to cope with it is probably akin to you or me contemplating what Heaven will be like. Of course most people can cope with the abstract Yes-I'd-like-to-go-there-one-day approach, but think about it properly and pretty soon we are out of our depth because the only language we've used up until now is quite inadequate.

And this isn't about the process of getting there. That we can imagine- the practical arrangements, the balance of pain killers vs the desire for lucidity, the turning and feeding and personal care- it's unpleasant and painful alright but at least we can visualise it.

But the bit afterwards? That's just beyond what I know and can imagine. What if I don't like it and want to come back? What will my body look like? How will others recognise me and I them? How will we communicate- the Vulcan Mind meld? Where will I live? Who will I live with? What about the people I love who aren't there? Will I be upset about that or so consumed with a new reality and the face-to-faceness of Jesus that I don't care? If I don't care about the absence of certain people then what does that say about the depth of love I had for them in the first place? What about eating and sleeping and peeing? Life used to be structured around stuff like that. If we have new super improved bodies does gender as I understand it even exist anymore?? Will red still be red? I have no frame of reference for any of this stuff and it's freaking me out and I WANT TO STAY HERE INSTEAD!!

That reaction is perfectly understandable. But if I don't mature beyond it I'm the spiritual equivalent of a 40 year old recluse who lives alone, sleeps alone under the Tigger duvet of her childhood having never moved out of the home she was raised in and who doesn't even yearn for MORE. 

Since that tooth conversation day all 3 of our kids have grown and matured and done all the things expected of them at each stage along the way. We still have lots of questions in our house. Sometimes distraction is used, occasionally there are difficult conversations to be had, but most commonly we google it.

I've also become a bit less precious about the baby teeth and not all of them have made it into a memory box. Some have been laundered, fallen out at school, swept onto the floor, rinsed down the plug hole, lost in the swimming pool or even swallowed. And of the ones which have made it into a memory box I can't even be completely sure if they're in the correct one. 

9 Jan 2013


There's normally quite a lot of people in our house- kids that belong to us, the kid's friends, our friends, workey people (we run a business from home) and for the last few months our housemate, Anna. The following conversation took place in our house. Pseudonyms are used to protect the identities. It could be ANY of us. 

Miss Wormwood: Enough mate. This isn't going to end well is it? Can you see you're winding her up?

Stupendous man: (Expression reveals emotion somewhere between indignation and amusement) Yes- but I am right, aren't I?

Miss Wormwood: You are technically correct, yes- but can you see that your method of delivery isn't helping?

Stupendous man: (Expression reveals that yes, he can see this point of view) Perhaps... I can, yes.

Susie Derkins: So STOP saying it then!

Miss Wormwood: Sshh Susie- I'm talking to Stupendous man. Y'know sometimes it's possible to be right in what you say, but it's unnecessary to say it at that moment in time, or at all, or the way you say it hurts somebody else so saying it makes it wrong. Even though you're right. Do you know what I mean?

Stupendous man: (Head burried in hands, trying to decide whether to laugh or cry. It could go either way) But I AM right though...

Miss Wormwood: Yeah, but why you are saying it? Is it just to be right?

Stupendous man: (Sits bolt upright and smiles) Yes- it is! 

Miss Wormwood: You like an argument, cause you like to be right?

Stupendous man: (Big grin) Yes I do!

Miss Wormwood: So you like to get into an argument that you feel is really important and you know you will win it? 

Stupendous man: (Incredulous) Yeah... of course! 

Miss Wormwood: What about an argument that you feel strongly about, but you think it might go badly and you'll lose- do you ever get into one of those?

Stupendous man: Well, no.

Miss Wormwood: What about an argument that you don't feel that strongly about and it doesn't really matter who's right and who's wrong and someone may end up being upset about it BUT you know you can win it: Do you ever start one of those?

Stupendous man: (Pats my arm in comforting manner and gives his biggest bestest grin) You know what I think right now? I think we really shouldn't be arguing about THIS.

6 Jan 2013

Problem solving

When I was a kid we got a rubix cube for Christmas, as did probably every other family in the country at some point in the 80's. No one in the house could do it. No one I knew in school could do it either and in the pre-internet era of my childhood no one could google the technique. There were books published to help the rubix-impaired but the one my dad brought home for us didn't have enough pictures to be helpful, and to this day the cube has remained a mystery to me.

However, there was also another puzzle in our family. I can't remember which Christmas it first appeared- someone in the house got it from someone else in the house and it was always just there from that Christmas day on. It's spherical and made up of sections which rotate at 90 degrees to the tram lines of coloured beads which circle it. The premise is to get all the coloured beads in rows of the same colour- thusly.

From this image of perfection, it takes just a few random moves to cock it up completely and have none of the coloured beads in any sense of order at all. Like this.

For the first 20 minutes of Christmas day, the ball looked as it does in Fig 1. We took it in turns to click the ball round once or twice, shunt the beads round a little, then immediately reverse the process, replacing the beads on their correct layer and keeping the lines complete. But gradually the shunting around became more and more adventurous as the ball was passed between family members until (horror!) the previous action was not successfully reversed and the puzzle was mixed up. The ball was snatched back by it's original recipient (whoever that was) then by someone else, then someone else, each attempting to repair the damage- but the ball got more and more disordered and pretty soon my dad was the only one fiddling with it, muttering away under his breath in frustration as we continued to open presents and eat chocolate.

The puzzle ball remained undone for 8 or 9 years after that first Christmas morning when it was first opened. Oh we spent time with it alright- clicking it and shunting its beads and cajoling it and occasionally throwing it, before abandoning it in frustration, lying that we would never attempt to solve it ever again. But it would patiently lie there on the floor or at the bottom of the magazine rack, taunting whoever came near with its fig2-ishness until the next person idly picked it up while watching telly and started click-clicking awayThe lure of the sphere always won.

The main problem was that there were no breathing spaces. The beads touched each other in one big long traffic-jam of nose to tail plastic at every point on the track. So each move made by the solver impacted on something else in at least 3 other places. While you worked on fixing the greens on the lower level, the reds snuck out of position when you weren't looking then laughed at you.

One day I was sat idly playing with the cryptic sphere for the ten zillionth time when I made the smallest of tiniest discoveries: Click the ball round by 2 positions from the concentric-hoop position and you ended up with 2 independantly moving tracks. A flicker of hope rose inside me. All this time I'd been wrestling with the fact that every time you moved a bead by even one place there was a chain reaction which cocked up something else on the other side of the world, but NO- here we have the possibility of changing one thing without inadvertently dislodging something else.

I began to breathe a bit faster and my hands shook a bit as I tested this new discovery. Actually there were 8 clicky positions where the tracks could intersect with each other and at TWO of these positions, there were independent loops of tailgating beads, eternally circling each other. Great- work with that. Knowledge is power... The theory developed and slow progress was made, eventually resulting in the greens becoming reunited after 8 1/2 long years. 

Good, good... Now it's your turn reds... But hold it right there! No no no. In reuniting the last red with it's kind a green one has sodding well jumped back up to the top! Aargh. So near and yet so far... OK, don't panic- repeat last move for red and have green at this junction here instead of wherever-it-was and... both slot in together during the same clickety-click! Yes- we are 50% there. Half way. Keep your head together soldier and BREATHE... Remember what you have learned. Apply the same strategy to the colours at the ends now... Keep calm though, don't let it know you think you've beaten it cause it's a crafty beggar this one- it may still have some way of getting out of this one... but NOOOOOO! It's all over for you cryptic sphere! You are SOLVED baby! You have no power over me now oh Ball of Ridicule. Your mystery is unravelled and your spell is broken!  IN. YOUR. FACE. Bwah-ha-ha!!!!!!

I was rather smug in my household that day. But I willingly shared the sphere's secret with all who would listen -  after all, one person should never have that much power. Plus it was reassuring to repeat the solution again and again, to prove it wasn't a blip and the sphere really had been defeated.

Looking at it now it's plainly ridiculous that it took so long to beat. (What was I doing for 8 or 9 years of my childhood? We only had 4 tv channels). I've just counted the beads now. There are 56 of them. There are 4 different colours in a track with 8 different configurations. Some mathematical whizz could work out the total maximum number of Fig2nesses there could ever be. Ultimately it's just a plastic ball that fits in the palm of your hand. 

But just say there was a bigger ball. 
With more tracks. 
And even more beads. 
In 5 or 10 or 50 different colours.

Or just say there was a gihumungous ball that transcends time with a bead which represents every person ever- not just those of us on the planet now, but all those who have lived and died already AND all people not even born yet. 

Just say... every person is like a bead on a massive cosmic puzzle ball that is intrinsically connected to all other beads. When just one of them moves it has an impact, not just on those immediately around it, but sometimes (depending on the position of the other tracks) on the other side of the world too- or on beads which exist only as echoes of the past or on beads which haven't yet appeared? 

Just say... just say the ball contains the whole of humanity and God has got to jiggle and move all the beads around to make the best possible pattern out of the puzzle at that particular point in time while the beads are moving around on their own accord. Could all the beads be reconciled to the completed puzzle when each has their own agenda and destination?

Impossible. Noooooo way. There are just far too many variables. In Bruce Almighty Jim Carrey gave up and resigned as God after only a few days of prayer-answering and he only had the people in Buffalo to look after.

I believe prayer works. I really do. But I don't know how it works or why God sometimes appears to ignore or refuse some perfectly reasonable requests. I just need to remind myself who designed the puzzle ball in the first place and be thankful that he can multitask- unlike Bruce Nolan.

3 Jan 2013

Books books books

Our 3 kids couldn't be more different. You hear people saying it again and again but it's really true- use the same biological building blocks to create new life, donated by the same two parents, raise the products in the same household applying the same principles and you will get very different small people. Our household is no exception to this universal law and here's my favourite example: Reading.

I vividly remember when our eldest realised that the tiny random squiggles on a page of paper actually meant something. He was 2 years old and far too young to appreciate ‘The owl who was afraid of the dark’ (my favourite book from childhood which had made its way onto his bookshelf in a dog-eared-held-together-by-Sellotape kind of condition). He pulled it off the shelf and asked me to read to him.

After a brief but useless explanation that he wouldn't understand it we snuggled down together and began to read. I moved my finger below each word as usual but only got to the end of the first paragraph. Eldest was awestruck. He was giggling and pointing his finger at the words too, alternating between looking at me then the page, and bouncing up and down on his knees in excitement.

He had no clue what I was saying. He didn't appreciate Plop's predicament or understand that the little owl was in considerable distress (and therefore a jovial response was somewhat inappropriate).

But he had discovered something new: the words coming out of my mouth (whatever they were) were intrinsically linked to the book I was holding. In fact, the words were also quite probably connected to my finger that continued to move across the page as I spoke.

Eldest child LOVED this discovery and took over the bedtime reading himself. For the next 10 minutes he babbled, pointed and laughed his way through Plop's stilted conversation with his owl parents and, stopping to turn the page occasionally, told me of their helpless frustration at parenting their fearful little barn owl and their worries for his future in owl world.

Even before starting school eldest child quickly latched onto the simple phonetic rules and applied them constantly- often stopping without warning in the street to spell out N-E-X-T, or C-O-S-T-A, then squeal as I rammed him up the ankles with the buggy as I'd not anticipated the emergency stop in time.

These incidents predicted that eldest child would prefer a mechanical, formulaic approach to reading which has proven true- both for reading and lots of other things too. The principle transfers seamlessly to other situations:

• c + a + t = cat

• 1 + 1 = 2

• Take crisps and juice into soft play area = We leave the soft play area. Immediately.

• Sit on baby until he turns red = Make mum go red and shouty and find yourself swiftly transferred to naughty step

Eldest child has thrived with this kind of learning and quickly got the rules. Educational people have probably got a name for it. It’s the kind of method that favours structure and predictable results- where effect is always due to cause. It's safe and constant and has boundaries that he understands and can function within.

For this reason he picked up reading really quickly and was free-reading reasonably complicated books by year 2. However, the flip side of this approach was a loss of engagement with the text. He could read stuff but not necessarily enjoy it. He would often race through his reading homework in record time, but on asking him what the story meant, he’d struggle to explain then become annoyed. Wasn't the primary goal to simply read the thing as accurately and quickly as possible, then move onto the next thing. Comprehension? Well that’s just unnecessary.

Cue child 2. Child 2 is very different from child 1. Child 2 has always loved books and stories and TV. Child 2 enjoys the story for the story’s sake and gets soooo excited by the cliff hangers at the end of The Famous 5 chapters that he’s been known to do handstands.

According to the universal law, Child 2 also has a very different approach to reading. And learning. And life. For him:

• c + a + t does not necessarily = Cat

• 1 + 1 may not always =2

If we dialogue about these things and I prove to him that they are true, he will accept them. But only after he has challenged them and I have proven them worthy. (For this reason Child 2 was a very interesting toddler…)

Child 2 also hated me pointing to individual words as I read to him, which took a lot of adjustment for me after the hours of pointing and reading I had shared with eldest child. For Child 2, the story’s primary purpose is to entertain and be enjoyed. Thinking about the elements that create the words only distract from the narrative and should therefore be avoided.

For a long time this was a bit of a struggle and I couldn’t quite get how a child who loved stories so much could be so reluctant to read for himself. He also spent a lot of time batting my finger away from the page sighing ‘NO mummy, just read it!’

At school Child 2 has progressed more slowly with reading. And compared to the freight-train approach of eldest child, reading with him takes forever- because we must discuss every picture in great detail. (Why do I think the tent in the story is red and not blue? Do I remember the blue tent we used to have? It was a bigger tent than this one, wasn’t it? But I seem to remember that ours leaked- is that right? What happened to that tent anyway? etc etc).

I can learn a lot about my own approach to stuff by looking at my kids.

I do life like Child 2. I spend time on people detail and piecing together the little bits that I know to make a whole. I love the connections I can help make happen between people and projects and enjoy watching events unfold without necessarily having a long term goal. Technicalities like sorting the broadband and arguing with the sky people who promised us xxGB? That's my husband's sphere.

And I approach cooking in eldest child mode- it’s a means to an end and should take as little time as possible. In fact, if someone else wants to do it so I can play with tidy up the lego, then they are very welcome.

I also approach my relationship with God in a cutting the corners kind of way. I recently heard the learning approaches being applied to the Bible- as there is more than one way to read that too. Rush through it to get it done and tick the box for today, or slow down and make space for God to speak to you. Don’t just read- engage with your creator and expect him to respond. Enjoy the journey rather than racing ahead to the destination. There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity (unfortunately).

So am working on this. But so far today, have spend endless hours creating this blog (do you like it??) and not read my Bible AT ALL. I have a long way to go.