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Rapunzel knew better than most the simultaneous blessing and curse of having beautiful long thick hair. It’s wonderful, an asset, until it becomes tangled and knot-ridden. My own little Rapunzel, with a head of golden ringlets fears the comb like many fear the dentist, an unpleasant yet necessary ritual to be repeated as often as required.

That was until we discovered one of the newest products from our favourite kids beauty brand, UK-based Child’s Farm: Get un-knotted! hair detangler for flowing locks. In a compact spray bottle and comprising the delicious scents of grapefruit and organic tea tree essential oil, a few spritzes of this magic product saw the pain of après-bathtime fade as a distant memory.

The hair detangler not only makes brushing out knots a doddle, its luscious ingredients also protect your little one’s hair against head lice. As with all bath and body products in the Child’s Farm range, the hair detangler is likewise natural, affordable and kind to skin from newborn and upwards. Dermatalogically tested and paediatrician-approved, all products are safe for excema prone skin, meaning my knot-afflicted princess with her super-sensitive skin has found her perfect cosmetic match.

New to the range, the hair detangler (£4.99) is joined by Quick dip! (£3.99) a fabulous 3 in 1 after swim care which combines shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Its scrumptious strawberry and organic mint scent is the perfect antidote to wash away the chlorine and leave skin and hair clean and shiny. So now those trips to the seaside, swimming lessons and weekly hair-washes don’t need to end in tears, just sweet-smelling tendrils of detangled hair.

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When you think of a two year old, which words come to mind? Patient? Predictable? Attentive to direction? I’m inclined to think the antonyms to these words are more apt in surmising the average toddler’s behaviour. So what do you get when you mix said ‘average two year old’ with an age appropriate dance class? The perfect student? I think not.

Embarking on a weekly dance lesson courtesy of the Rhythm Factory franchise (Randwick branch), my music-loving two year old had enormous fun running around the parachute instead of sitting quietly on it, running in the opposite direction of her classmates, pompoms in hand and occasionally climbing onto the benches which ran the perimeter of the dance studio, from which I promptly removed her.

It sounds like a total bust, doesn’t it? But although it seems all she did was assert her non-conformist rights as someone going through the “terrible twos”, for the majority of each session she did participate with the simple routines and took great pleasure in handling the various props and socialising with her peers, two of whom have become great friends of hers.

A new teacher arrived after we’d been attending for just over a month, however, clearly lacking her predecessor’s sunny disposition and affinity for her young pupils. My fellow mothers and I were wary of her as she barely broke a smile, rather assuming the expression of one Miss Hardbroom – the stern school mistress from my childhood fictional favourite, The Worst Witch. Unhappy for a child to hold onto a prop after its two minute usage for a particular song, fielding complaints through the upper echelons regarding the consumption of food and drink during the 30 minute class and demanding my child in particular sit with me if she could not follow the prescribed choreography for the class duration; in short, I think we all felt like we were in school.

A change in class time saw a marked improvement in my two year old’s engagement with the routines and I was thrilled to see that she had in fact absorbed the choreography and sequence of the lesson. However, last week she had a slight setback, reverting to her fondness for subverting the expected attentiveness during the class. Running around rather than following all the actions, at one point climbing on the benches and though participating at points, overall her attention was elsewhere. The teacher again reprimanded her and told her to sit with me if she could not join in.

It goes without saying that I do not condone my toddler’s anti-establishment antics; I pay $20 a class and do not enjoy seeing it wasted on activities she could enjoy elsewhere for free. I find it embarrassing when she diverts the attention of her friends who would otherwise participate and find it exhausting to have to chase after her when my fellow parents are enjoying 30 minutes sit-down time. Having said that, my daughter is two and I appreciate that her behaviour, needs and desires are less than predictable and in light of a teacher who regards her with such hostility and irritation it is no surprise to me that she would act in opposition of such a person.

It was with shock and upset that I received a call following last week’s class to say that following prior complaints from the dance teacher, my daughter was being removed from the class. Her disruptive behaviour and inability to engage with the choreography had apparently gotten to be too much for the teacher and she no longer wanted my child in her class. I hadn’t realised it was so structured, as I said to the woman verbally punching me in the gut on the other end of the phone, I thought I was just taking my daughter to a fun music class on a Wednesday morning. How wrong I was.

This is a direct quote from the introductory page of the Rhythm Factory website: “At Rhythm Factory we aim to provide a fun and relaxed atmosphere, nurturing each child’s individuality to build their confidence and love for dance.” I don’t believe that this teacher understands the meaning of a “fun and relaxed atmosphere” and I certainly don’t see how her hostile attitude equates to instilling young children with a love of anything, least of all dance. Clearly, we were misled into thinking we were signing our daughter up for a fun, relaxing dance class. Until the Randwick branch acquires a new teacher I can only say the website is brandishing false advertising.

With a self-proclaimed philosophy that champions fun, comfort and confidence and assures parents that each child is given individual attention, as well as encouraging the physical exercise component of the class through music and movement; I don’t understand why my child was singled out. All she was doing was having fun, feeling comfortable and confident in her own skin and moving to the music. Perhaps at times she wasn’t moving to the beat of the teacher but then, she is a toddler and like snowflakes, there is not one alike.

I suppose my daughter is one of a kind, unique, someone who knows her own mind and dances to her own tune, in some cases, literally. She is not a standard model manufactured by a Rhythm Factory and of that I am very proud.

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Her signature bow, trademark polka dots and ladylike finesse have made Disney’s Minnie Mouse an icon over numerous generations. As befitting such a style maven, a roster of fashion collaborations have sprung up in her wake, including Marc Jacobs, Giles Deacon, Lulu Guinness and Richard Nicoll. Now is the turn of global fashion etailer, ASOS.com who have just announced their own exclusive partnering with the animated “first lady.”

Creating a collection of Minnie Mouse ears headbands (from £10), just for grown up girls, each design picks out one element or other of the Disney star’s timeless flair. The “Classic”, “Dotty” and “Blossom”, which features a summery floral bow, are among a range of nine unique styles that will be available online from June 2014.

Drawn for the first time in 1928, by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney, Minnie Mouse was modelled after the “flapper girl” fashion of the time. Her look adapted to the times, becoming more conservative during the 40s and 50s and later loosening up as fashion finally caught up with her carefree attitude.

Fellow female icon, Madonna, proved once again the enduring influence of Miss Mouse as she posed in Minnie Mouse ears and bow, topless save for some strategically-positioned bed covers, for Herb Ritts in 1987. The image found its way onto a set of t-shirts designed by Stella McCartney in aid of Red Nose Day in 2009 and in 2012, a whole host of designers took their cue from the cult cartoon character for an exclusive collection to be unveiled at London Fashion Week spring/summer 2013.

From Michael van der Ham and Kate Hillier to Richard Nicoll and Terry de Havilland, designers were falling over themselves to create one-off garments and accessories inspired by Minnie Mouse. The pieces were later auctioned on eBay in support of the charity Fashion Arts Foundation, which works to promote and nurture relationships between the fashion, film, music and art worlds. Design duo Meadham Kirchhoff further announced its own unique collaboration with the Disney darling at its SS13 catwalk show.

Alber Elbaz, designer for Paris couturier, Lanvin, dressed Minnie in his own bejewelled and shoulder-padded creation for a catwalk show in Disneyland Paris in 2013, and in the same year, Minnie Mouse made her magazine cover debut. Inspiring a series of covers for LOVE magazine’s fifth anniversary issue, Minnie was featured amid a red, white and black polka dot motif. Designer heavyweights from Prada and Gucci to Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton got in on the act, celebrating the magazine’s milestone and the cult appeal of Minnie Mouse with their own interpretations of her signature ears and bow silhouette. Models including Cara Delevigne and Georgia May Jagger donned the designer headbands for the additional anniversary covers.

The collaboration with ASOS.com marks Minnie’s continued reign over the style industry. Inhibiting a timeless relevance as she appeals to fans of all ages, Minnie Mouse stands for not only finding the fun in fashion but most importantly, consistently celebrating individual style.

The hairbands start from £10 and are available online at www.asos.com this month.

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There’s a simple rule a writer must follow when it comes to the business of storytelling, and that is to create a protagonist who gets his or her audience on board with the journey they are taking. Disney understood this formula perfectly; from the kind-hearted generosity of a homeless boy to a teen mermaid’s battle for independence from an over-protective father, Disney gave us heroes and heroines we couldn’t help but like and more importantly empathise with. So, when these characters came up against the inevitable big bad waiting around the corner (or seabed), we the audience were actually invested in a successful outcome for our hero or heroine.

This formula is something George R. R. Martin seems happy to dispense with however, as he serves up one grisly death after another at the expense of many of his most likable characters. The latest offering, The Mountain and The Viper, proved once again that no pawn in Martin’s Game of Thrones is safe. Because they are in fact just that, pawns on his medieval chessboard of brutality. I do understand where Martin went with this particular storyline, as Prince Oberyn dwelt too greatly on his need for retribution than on the task in hand and Tyrion discovered that while he backed the victor for his first trial by combat at the Eyrie, the same luck would not befall him for a second time.

While we cheered at King Joffrey’s all too kind death by poisoning (though accurate for the fact that he was himself the living incarnate of poison) and enjoyed Viserys receiving his molten gold comeuppance at the hands of Khal Drogo; the same cannot be said of the grim fate of the Starks, Ros, Theon Greyjoy and Prince Oberyn. The heightened contrast between those on the side of good and their foes upholding the evil certainly highlights the former, and without the toxic players in this game the victories of the ones we like would seem flimsy and unimportant. But, seriously, the more good that is killed off, the more certain that bad will prevail.

If Jafar had succeeded in slaying Aladdin and turning Agrabah into his own personal sorcerer’s wonderland, and if Ursula had eternally imprisoned Ariel along with the rest of her poor unfortunate souls; well, they wouldn’t be the classics that they are today. Put plainly, ultimately we want to see good triumph over evil. It is what the world is built on, it’s why we have a justice system, a legal system, a police state… though the truth is, a murderer will only serve a portion of his sentence, a rapist will be out in less than three years and children taken from an abusive home will more than likely be returned to those parents after some time.

Maybe the reason we find it so abhorrent to see our favourite characters beheaded, tortured and tormented is because it is simply a reflection of our society and our real grievance lies with the fact that we know bad things happen to good people and there’s little we can do about it. George R. R. Martin presents us with the fact that every person is capable of both good and evil, but it is our personal motivations that determine on which side of the coin we will fall.

There may be room for Happy Ever After, but only once we have battled adversity, and then it may only last until the next force of evil is put in play.

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I love it when a movie inspires more than just a feel-good feeling. Written and directed by Jon Favreau, Chef, is one of those movies that makes its audience fall in love with food again. Just as its bearded and bespectacled hero finds himself doing. LA chef, Carl Casper (Favreau) finds himself the victim of a social media onslaught following a less than praiseworthy review of the restaurant he works in. Bumbling into the twittersphere in order to engage with food critic Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) and educate him on the impact of his words and the falsehood behind their sensory perspective; Casper finds himself embarking on a journey of rediscovery.

Evicted from the kitchen and subsequently from the creative rut into which he had fallen, Casper goes it alone at the helm of a food truck. Joined by his ten year old son and friend and line cook, Martin (John Leguizamo), Casper gets his groove back taking his truck and his audience from Miami to Austin and to the heart and soul of where it all began, New Orleans. Getting back in touch with the food that inspires his menus, as well as reconnecting with his son, Casper’s story is heart-warming and full of fun.

With a script as sharp as it is funny, set to the beat of a Cuban band and the tweeting power of social media, the real star of this film is the food. Shown in all its glory, it will have you salivating in your seats as you long to have a taste of what Chef is selling.

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Captain America is making it big in the box office taking the heroic mantel that traditionally passes from one male caped crusader to the next. But what of their female counterparts? Where is our beacon of girl power? After all girls can be superheroes too.

The message that heroes should not be subject to gender classification is one strongly endorsed by toy company Arklu, the creators of leading doll brand Lottie™. Joining forces with US non-profit organisation Brave Girls Alliance, Arklu is launching an exciting and innovative global competition inviting entrants aged 10 and under to design a superhero outfit for the Lottie™ doll.

One lucky Lottie™ fan will see their design come to life, with the winning superhero outfit being manufactured and made commercially available later this year. Empowering not only the notion of female superheroism but more importantly placing the ideas of a child into the mainstream marketplace to be taken seriously by the world in which they live; the ‘Design a Superhero Outfit Competition’ is unique. This marks the first time that a crowd-sourced design by a child will go into commercial production with the winner’s original artworked design, first name, age, city and country included on the back of the outfit packaging. The winner will also receive the entire range of Lottie dolls, accessories and outfits.

To a child, the subject of superpowers is something that amounts to a tangible dream within the limitless potential of youth. Flying, mindreading, invisibility, strength, immortality; the list is endless when you’re young. Anything is possible. So what better time to instil the attitude that our young girls are strong enough to stand on their own two feet (as is the ethos of Lottie™) and achieve anything they set their mind to (with obvious exceptions). Lucie Follett, Creative Director of Arklu, explains “Lottie™ dolls motto is ‘Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You’ and many of the Lottie™ dolls explore inspiring, empowering and adventurous themes, so this competition is a really fantastic way to build on these strong ‘pro girl’ values.”

Melissa Wardy of Brave Girls Alliance says: “The Brave Girls Alliance is proud to support Lottie doll and their campaign that champions girls’ desire to be heroes. The Superhero contest is a great way to bring girls’ voices forward and allows them to show the world their ideas on what a girl superhero should look like and what powers they should possess.”

Built around the jewellery and make-up free appearance and physique of a regular child, Lottie™ is the perfect canvas from which young girls can imagine their ideal superhero.  After all, a superhero that comes from a real place may actually become the kind of superhero that could really exist.

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Competition Details:

Parents and guardians are asked to download a colouring page template from the superhero contest app on the Lottie dolls Facebook page at http://woobox.com/cggtn7 so that kids can use this as a starting point for their design, as well as describing the superpower abilities that their design has.

Parents are then required to take a photo of their child’s design and upload it onto the superhero contest Facebook app and fill in a form to grant parental permission for their child’s entry to be considered for the competition. Full terms and conditions of the competition are to be found at: http://www.lottie.com/superhero-outfit-design-competition-terms-conditions/

The Facebook app is available in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Norwegian.

The hashtag #girlsuperhero will be used on social media to promote the competition, and entries will be displayed on a dedicated Pinterest folder http://www.pinterest.com/lottiedolls/girl-superhero-outfit-design-competition/

Entries will be judged by a panel including at least one independent panelist member of the Brave Girls Alliance, and judged on their creativity and originality, fun and overall ‘kid-appeal’, as well as keeping true to the ‘pro girl’ values that underpin both the Lottie™ brand and the Brave Girls Alliance.

Closing date for entries is 7th May 2014 and the winner will be notified confidentially in May 2014, with the public announcement being made when the winning outfit goes on sale in October 2014 – just in time for the International Day of the Girl.

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Wednesdays are dance days in our household. This morning my increasingly-headstrong two year old selected her own outfit of pink ‘I love the 80s’ crop top (something I picked up at FOX in Israel) and lacy black leggings. My obsession with the 80s and SJP must be rubbing off on her.

Off we went some time later to keep our weekly dance date with Miss Alicia of Rhythm Factory (Clovelly, Eastern Suburbs branch). Half an hour of up-beat music, colourful wands, pom-poms, ribbons and a rainbow-coloured parachute and my twirling toddler was in heaven.

In a class peppered with tutu-wearing toddlers between 2-3 years, there is something for every stage of development as the youngest enjoy the sensory and social experience while the girls at the older end of the age spectrum respond enthusiastically to Miss Alicia’s smiling instruction.

Music is an important part of any person’s life, particularly for a child whose task it is to absorb the contents of the world around them. My younger brother is special needs and for him, music acted as his access code into the English language. There’s something about rhyming that sifts information into our brains more fluidly than in any other form and opens us up to learning in a way that’s fun and engaging.

To that end, I will continue encouraging my little dancing queen in any lyrical ventures she may wish to entertain… now, she and I have a date with the sofa, a bowl of popcorn and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on DVD.

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There’s something about opting for writing as a profession in its inherent capability for free expression and unrestricted use of imagination. Anything is possible, and with next month’s ELLE magazine cover star being none other than Muppets diva, Miss Piggy, never has that statement been more apt.

One of the most iconic characters of fantastical reality, Miss Piggy dressed in bespoke Donna Karan covers the May collector’s edition issue of UK ELLE. It certainly sounds as though the editorial team had fun with their larger-than-life guest and it made me consider the realms of my own imagination and its place in my life.

Getting lost in the fictional worlds I create through the written word, first through the short stories I wrote in childhood and more recently through my self-published chic-lit Choo or Faux and scripterly work in progress. However, the issue I find is as I try to write the real world through my own eyes, the room for imagination shrinks. Words like “plausible”, “believable” and “accessible” fill my head and filter through to my fingers as they tap at the keys of my computer. I suppose I should change the focus and genre of my writing as surely imagination allows me the poetic licence to write the world I want to see, rather than the one I have to reflect?

After all, our imaginations give us chance for escape and temporary relief from the often stressful life we live in the real world. Suspending reality for just a moment to believe we are living in a world where puppets can be magazine cover stars and fairies really do live among the stems of grass at the bottom of the garden and our toys come to life when we’re not looking, is simply wonderful. It’s where childhood enters adulthood and the endless possibilities that existed in our formative years fade away in the face of grown up responsibility.

Thinking about a scene from one of my favourite films Knocked Up, Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen discuss children’s love of bubbles. Rudd’s character laments: “I wish I liked anything as much as my kids love bubbles.” But why can’t we? Why can’t we as grown-ups find pleasure in magic and fantasy and imagination? It’s why places like Disneyland are so profitable and stage shows that turn our animated icons into tangible characters attract the audiences that they do. There’s even a brand of chocolate that claims to have come direct from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. We’re desperate to find a way of merging the stuff of our imaginations with real life.

There’s a freedom that comes with the fantastical, as ELLE writer Annabel Brog references the scandalous fact that Miss Piggy stole the clothes from the shoot. Were the cover star a Jennifer Lawrence or Victoria Beckham, such an accusation would be liable for serious consequences but in this case it’s just fodder for the comedy of the whole experience. Within the spaces forged by our imaginations and of course, the legendary imagination of individuals like the late Jim Henson, the beauty is in the unbelievable, the implausible and things only accessible via our desire for the make believe. “Why be you when you could be moi?” is the cover line that accompanies the Muppet famous for her love of the spotlight and her froggie beau, Kermit. It is the ultimate question for this piece as we consider who we could be within the world of our imagination.

Perhaps Miss Piggy’s magazine cover will be the starting point for freeing my imagination as I free myself from the constraints of reality and plunge head-first into the limitless possibilities of what could be…

Click here to see Miss Piggy’s takeover at the ELLE cover shoot…
Miss Piggy covers UK ELLE

 


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I have to admit, while I LOVE being a mother, genuinely my daughter is the best thing since sliced bread (Hovis Best of Both to be precise, being that she’s an exact mix of me and her father); I do find there are times where I feel, powerless.

I was discussing with a friend recently the simultaneous gift and burden we mothers have as sole carer for our children. On the whole it is the fathers who do as their cavemen predecessors did and hunt and gather in the great wide world. True to form, my husband is a head-hunter, gathering opportunities for his fellow cavemen to fill their own roles as “provider”. Therefore, if at any point said caveman is called upon to break with tradition and look after the children, such a request is typically met with a roll of the eyes and an eventual concession to “babysit” one’s own offspring. There may also be a negotiation for reward in response for such valiance, i.e. tuning the TV to the sports channel the following evening.

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My response now, to this and other circumstances – a dirty nappy, mealtimes, brushing teeth – is a reminder that I did not procreate our offspring by myself. By that reasoning, my caveman is equally fair game for dirty nappy duty. However, the issue lies in the fact that while I am ‘at home’ caring for our child, enjoying days out at soft-play facilities, art and dance studios, friend’s houses and so on; my caveman is at his office working very hard to provide for our family.

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It’s a catch-22. Part of me wants us to be equally responsible for the day to day of raising OUR child, but the rational part of me knows it’s unfair to expect certain things from my husband when he is filling the role we have set out for him. He earns the money so I can stay home. He has to factor annual leave into our holiday decisions so I can stay home. He has to commute to the city every day so I can stay home. So is it fair for me to want him to get up with the toddler on the weekends, or miss out on weekend five-a-side so I can go on a rare outing with a friend, or make a meal when he gets home in the evening because I’m too tired?

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It’s this kind of situation that could lead to resentment building as two people try to acclimatise to life in a modern day cave. One that reminds women they should be having it all while playing to the notion of traditional archetypes. So, which is it? Perhaps that is down to us, learning and growing with each life experience as we gradually come to understand what we’re doing here, and figuring out how to get a modern mum and a caveman to speak the same language.

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Have I given away some of my power by being a stay-at-home-mum? Would I gain some of it back by getting a job? Does the power lie with whoever holds the financial security or am I in a more powerful position than I realise? Taking charge of the home, nurturing my family, supporting my caveman, organising our schedule, taking charge of the important decisions… this is my domain. It doesn’t mean I must stop fighting for my autonomy both inside and outside of the cave, after all, my caveman may have discovered fire but he’s not the only one who knows how to use it.

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I had a reality check this morning, as I scrolled through the latest posts via social media – the refuge of the modern day mother who pins every hope on her facebook wall and twitter feed of retaining a connection to the outside world and her life BC (Before Child). I discovered a piece by Bunmi Laditan, author of The Honest Toddler: A Child’s Guide to Parenting. Written for The Huffington Post, Laditan’s frank and candid narrative directly dispels the myth of the fairytale childhood we are all desperately trying to bestow upon our offspring.

Pressured by the parenting urban legends proffered by the likes of Pinterest, Tumblr and parenting blogs that all seem to be in league against the ordinary among us; we are forgetting what childhood meant to us and therefore what it could mean to our own children. I took my daughter to her weekly dance class this morning and while she embraced the various props and musical tunes, it was having the opportunity to run around, shrieking with her fellow tutu-wearing companion that meant the most to her.

You don’t need ‘pinspiration’ to raise your children, because it’s the simple things in life that hold the real magic. Playing with a ball. Raiding the kitchen cupboard and filling the utensils with toys. Getting that flying feeling on the swings. Playing with friends. A good tickle. A story or two before bed. A goodnight kiss.

The competitive nature of modern day parenting doesn’t allow us to rate these things on its list of “ways to keep your child entertained through the Easter holidays”. Or understand that its bulletin outlining the “7 signs that your child is gifted” may send some mothers into depression because their toddler doesn’t meet any of them. In pregnancy when asked what we’re hoping for, most will answer with “a healthy child”. After birth when asked the same question, the adjective changes to “happy”… that is until they attend their first mother and baby group where Baby Einstein, pre-school acceptances and baby yoga are the norm, and anything less is met with smug tuts laden with judgement as the competition is weeded out.

I kind of winged it through maternity leave, intent on doing my own thing, but peppering our week with the odd communal activity meant to strengthen our mother-daughter bond (in spite of the fact that 90% of the time she was permanently bonded to my breast). The past two years have been a rollercoaster of doubt and assurance that I’m doing it right. It being parenting. Going round to someone’s house for a playdate and discovering a room dedicated just to art supplies for their toddler made me wince as I considered the three tubes of paint stashed away in a kitchen cupboard seeing the light of day maybe once every other month. Laditan references crafts and their place in the home as being neither here nor there:

“I don’t have a single memory of doing a craft with my parents. Crafts were something I did in preschool and primary school. The only “crafts” I recall were the ones my mother created in her spare time. The hum of her sewing machine would often lull me to sleep as she turned scrap cloth into hair accessories to sell and hemmed our clothes.”

It occurred to me I too share none of those ‘craft-at-home’ memories. What I remember is playing outside in the garden with my best friend. Having a dollies picnic in my bedroom. Turning my little brother into an assortment of sidekicks as the stairs became a mountain, the living room a cave and my bedroom base camp one. Like Laditan, there were two words one should never utter in my mother’s or grandmother’s presence: “I’m bored” was a sure-fire way to get your ass handed to you as a list of potential activities was reeled off in 90 seconds flat.

Laditan goes on to rubbish the modern day parent’s need to be the source of their child’s entertainment, while acknowledging the line between neglect and reality.

“Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. …It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.”

Childhood should not be fuelled by unrealistic goals set by parents who are desperate to keep up with the Jones’. Childhood should be fuelled by imagination and love. The wonder of seeing the world through eyes that are witnessing the changing seasons, bubbles, the sea, a train for the very first time is magical in itself. We feel the need to turn life into a grand production of expensive holidays, lavish birthday parties, excessive gifts and a wardrobe eligible to appear between the pages of Vogue; the truth is, our children are unlikely to remember much of these trimmings. What they hopefully will remember is spending time with family, being made to feel special and being loved more than anything in the world.

So, parents, ease off yourselves. You’re doing a fabulous job. Don’t worry about what all the other kids are doing because all that does is take your attention away from your own little star. Look at them; they are a product of your love, your support and your presence; that is what makes them shine. Family time, a safe and loving home, the familiar. The more we drive ourselves crazy trying to put on the greatest performance ever for our children, the less they will appreciate what really matters in life.

Embrace the simple pleasures, the meals out, trips to the cinema, afternoons at the playground, picnics, patting the puppies at the pet shop, watching the coloured fish at the garden centre, walks in the woods, feeding the ducks and the 100 other things you don’t need a manufactured website to inform you of. Anything else is just a fairy dusted, chocolate sprinkled bonus.

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