Category Archives: Children

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW: “The Imagination Box” by Martyn Ford

  • imagination boxStars: 5
  • Would I recommend it: Definitely
  • Age range: 9+

” “There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want. What would you pick?”

That’s exactly the question ten-year-old Timothy Hart gets to answer after discovering The Imagination Box. The greatest toy on earth.

The top-secret contraption transforms his life but when the box’s inventor, Professor Eisenstone, goes missing, Tim knows he has to investigate.

With the help of a talking finger monkey called Phil, he sets out to find the professor. In order to rescue his friend, he must face his darkest fears and discover the true potential of his own mind.”

 

I picked this book up in the library last summer for SC and I to read as part of the summer reading challenge.

Now, the official guideline says it’s for 9+, well SC was 8 when we read it last year and to be honest I think even a 7-year-old would enjoy it – it makes for a great bedtime read, if you are strong enough to stop despite cries of “Don’t stop reading mummy!”

I thought the back of the book blurb sounded like it could be a fun book, and I was not wrong.

This book is brilliant. It is very cleverly crafted and will appeal to children and adults alike.

There is laughter, lots of it, and without giving any spoilers away let’s just say there are jet-packs to add to the amusement.

There is sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what’s going to happen next.

But at its heart is a story about friendship.

When we finished it last year, we definitely gave it a 5 star rating – it would have got more.

Well, imagine our surprise when looking through the books at the library this summer for suitable reads for the reading challenge when lo and behold we spied “The Imagination Box: Beyond Infinity” on the shelves.

A sequel?

Oh yes indeed.

Is it as good as the first book?

Yes, yes and a thousand times yes.

All the characters are back for some more fun with the imagination box, including Phil the talking finger monkey (mine and SC’s particular favourite – he’s very posh don’t you know?)

This time Tim needs to rescue his imagination box after it has been stolen from him. But who can he trust? Can he trust anyone?

Let’s just say I guessed the baddie much to SC’s annoyance. But I didn’t see the ending coming!

Another fabulous read and there is another book coming out – the third in the series – Spring 2017, hopefully.

That will be another one on the list.

If you can lay your hands on a copy of these books, do so. You, and your children, will love them.

So …

There is a box. Anything you imagine will appear inside. You have one go, one chance to create anything you want.

What would you pick?

Let me know in the comments section – happy imagining.

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The Strange Phenomenon of Wobbly Teeth

SC has reached that age when the Tooth Fairy has visited twice, and in all likelihood will visit again in the near future.

But, as his teeth have become wobbly I have noticed a strange thing.

You can actually tell which tooth will become wobbly – and no, I haven’t suddenly tuned in to Psychic TV – the wobbly tooth will move away from the surrounding ones.

Sounds weird, I know. But with his first one, I noticed, before we even knew it was wobbly, a small gap appearing between the wobbly tooth and it’s neighbour.

And sure enough a couple of weeks later it was wobble central.

His two front teeth are going to be the next ones to go, as an enormous gap has appeared either side of the pair – there is no gap in between the two wobbly ones …. yet.

But it just seems a really weird thing to be happening. My mum can’t remember if that happened with mine. All I can remember is that somewhere along the lines my baby teeth got replaced with rabbit teeth – thanks though to the modern wonders of orthodontistry they have been manoeuvred back in to a straight line 😉

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Wands, Broomsticks and Dragons

I don’t like Halloween!Samhain

(There I said it)

Possibly because, scary masks completely freak me out (I went to see one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films years ago (and yes, I know it’s tame compared to the vileness that we see these days) but it still scared the heebie-jeebies out of me to the extent I had to sleep with the light on, and have my giant teddy bear in the bed with me – and yes, I was over 18!!)

But also because where I live we have had some trouble in the past with ‘charming young people’ (note, the hint of sarcasm) terrorising the neighbourhood, vandalising property and so on. (I know, and in the ‘burbs as well!)

These days it’s lights off and pretend not to be home.

And finally, because gruesomeness seems to have taken over a seemingly innocent ancient festival.

On Halloween, I took SC to a Samhain festival, from which Halloween has its origins.

Samhain is the Celtic festival held on the 31st October, which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter – which some people say also marked the start of the Celtic New Year.

Like Beltane (held on May Day) it is a time when spirits and souls of the dead can move from the otherworld to this one – and where Halloween has taken off is from the ‘guising’ part of the festival where people went from door-to-door in costume reciting verse in return for food.

But I digress.

Since this is the one day in the year when creatures can move between worlds we had to help protect a village from a fierce dragon who had come from the other world, and send him packing.

This involved making wands from willow. As someone who would like to be more ‘crafty’ than she is I surprised myself with my wand-making abilities, although I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be suitable for any student at Hogwarts!

We (SC & I) were shown how to shape the willow and fix it so we had a wand with a ‘sort-of’ star-shaped top. Then we got to decorate it with wool (they didn’t have sequins in those days!) – although there was some very ‘Celtic’ sparkly, luminescent curly wire. I must admit I went for the sparkle darlings! Ashamed? Nope – sparkle is essential! 😉

Then we had to make a broomstick to  shake at the naughty pixies and goblins to send them packing.

We had a good stab at it – but I don’t think it’s very good for flying. I made the handle too short and quite frankly it would not be sturdy enough to take a fairy, let alone me! Shame, because I quite fancied pretending to be a witch with a cat “and a very tall hat, and long ginger hair which she wore in a plait….as they sat on their broomstick and flew through the wind” – so there is definitely not room on the broom for me!!

Think I’ll just buy myself a proper broomstick – if nothing else it will help clear all the leaves that have dropped in the garden – which is amazing since we don’t have any trees!

We left worries and wishes in the Celtic chief’s cauldron, followed dragon footprints round the woods to his den, and then went through the haunted forest, where the high wizard gave a magical protection spell to give us safe passage.

At the end of the day we followed the torches through the forest, banging the drums as we went and watched the “Chief” send a flaming arrow into the Wicker Man, over which were scattered our worries and wishes, to welcome in the Winter.

Definitely nothing pagan about it (as some people are led to believe – that, from what I understand, is just the ‘spin’ the early church gave it – so ‘spinning’ is not a new thing!) There was no devil worshipping or sacrificing anything at any altar.

We had the most amazing time – and, more importantly heaps of fun 😉

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You know that feeling …

… when you’ve put photos in an album and then quickly flick through, only to find halfway you’ve missed a double page and now have to remove half the album and replacenewfoundland them so you don’t have the blank space?

That!

Just spent the afternoon with SC putting his summer holiday photos into an album, so he can take it into school this week – I’m nothing if not prepared this year 😉

We may not have been traipsing off round the globe like half his class seem to have done, but we have knocked ourselves out in a ‘geek sense’ and have spent time searching for Gromits (as in the dog from Wallace and Gromit) in the city of Bristol!

(Gromit was unleashed over the summer in Bristol, 80 differently painted dogs scattered all over the city and region, in September they will all be auctioned off to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital)

Boy that certainly got my competitive streak going. I wanted to find as many as possible out of the 80 and in the end we managed a respectable 74.

But I digress, I then had a flick through after I had finished and lo and behold there was a blank page staring right at me in the middle of the book.

Oh pook!

Off to calm my OCD side down by moving the pictures – it could take a while!

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There are fairies at the bottom of my garden…

…all ringing little bells!fairy dust

Not really, but SC now has a fairy friend.

The other day he wrote a secret note to the fairies to ask for a cat, and requested it be delivered the following day at 4pm.

Now obviously, I didn’t want him to be too disappointed when it didn’t arrive – not least because my dad needs seriously buttering up to get a new cat – I decided to write a letter back to SC from the fairies.

I used a handwriting font and some cream coloured paper to print it out on and then tore it down to size, so it looked more ‘fairy-like’.

I explained that fairyland didn’t have any kittens at present and that they (the fairies) wanted to make sure he had the perfect cat for him, so he had to be patient.

The following morning he woke up (super early, even by his standards – 4:30am is not a time I wish to be re-acquainted with), and when he found the note he was beside himself with joy – announcing he’d got a new best fairy friend – I called her Petal!

So, he wrote a letter back, and now I have to write another reply!!

What have I gotten myself into?

On the minus side, I have to write reply letters.

On the plus side, he seems to be content he has a confidante – so to speak – and maybe through the letters I can get Petal to help explain why some behaviour is not appropriate, without it being me the only one saying that he shouldn’t do this and that attitude is not appropriate!

Well, I guess I best get my fairy wings on (no joke I have some) wave my magic wand and write another letter before sprinkling it with fairy dust and leaving it on top of his note!

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Sorry Miss, the dog ate my homework!

Obviously, SC doesn’t have a dog so he doesn’t have this excuse.homework excuse

But maths homework duly done at the weekend – when I say homework, it was just colouring in – was put careful with said maths book.

OK, so it was the floor in his bedroom, but I digress, I knew where it was…

Cue, for the homework ghosts!

Yesterday I went to his bedroom to get maths book and homework and stick one in the other, but could I find the piece of paper that had been duly coloured? Oh no? The Homework Ghosts had taken it to that mysterious place in the ether where all homework disappears too.

I looked everywhere.

I searched high and low.

I searched through the recycling pile, shredding pile, all the bits of paper in his room. And yes, I did look through his maths book.

Cursing the Homework Ghost, I told him to please put it back.

But could I find it anywhere?

Nope!

ARGH!!!!!!

Thankfully, it was not too onerous a task to re-print off a page, courtesy of PowerPoint and using triangles and circles, within 5 minutes I had re-created the template, of a sort.

This morning when SC woke up he re-coloured in, which took all of 5 minutes. Then I gathered the paper and book and immediately went in search of sellotape to stick the sheet into the book.

And guess what fluttered out of the book as I opened it?

Yup! You’ve got it. The original bit of paper.

ARGH!!!!

I swear to God it was not in that book yesterday – that Homework Ghost played me for a fool … darn him!

Still, at least the original homework could go into the book and I didn’t have to write a note explaining the “Case of the Mysteriously Vanishing Homework”!

It certainly beats the dog eating it anyway 😉

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Fathers…

An interesting phrase which I hadn’t heard until a few months ago:fool

“Any fool can be a father. But it takes a real man to be a daddy.”

And it’s so true.

Take Mr Wrong No. 2 – SC’s father. He’s the kind of man who thinks he’s wonderful and whose mother told him, obviously so very often that he actually believes it, that his father had taught him how to be a good father.

I beg to differ.

This is the man who took SC at 3 days old, after saying he was going to give him a hug, only to sit him propped up on cushions whilst he ignored him and continued reading his paper.

This is the man who spent most of SC’s first year totally ignoring him at the weekends. Instead of getting down on the floor and inter-acting he just totally ignored him and read his newspaper.

This is the man who gleefully watched me struggle carrying baby in car seat, bag of toys, changing bag and handbag down flights of concrete steps, whilst he swanned about with his newspaper.

This is a man who never once gave SC a cuddle. Even now he doesn’t when he comes on the ‘fortnightly state visit’, he doesn’t hug him, or kiss him.

This is the man who said, although his oh-so-amazing-brain has conveniently forgotten, that SC didn’t need him until he was about 8 or 9 years old.

This is the man who said we should go and live with my parents – probably so he could carry on with goodness-only knows what woman that particular week.

This man is not a father – he thinks he is but he isn’t.

He swans about, but in reality he hasn’t got a clue.

Take today, there was a fun day where we live, so I said for him to meet us there. SC loves the outdoors. He had a go at archery, watched the sheep being shorn, climbed inside the fire engine and tractors (several times) and then he found the straw!

Now, he decided a good idea would be to grab a handful of straw and throw it at Mr Wrong No. 2 – now most men who are great dads would get in the spirit and join in and throw some back.

But, oh no! Not Mr Wrong No. 2 he got the right hump. Stuck a face on him like he’d sucked a lemon to quickly and swallowed a pip, shook the straw off and crossly said “don’t do that!” whilst re-doing his Mr Baldy Man hair-do. SC’s face dropped like a stone, and from then on he was very quiet and subdued.

To be honest, my dad is the one who has been there for SC.

My dad is the one SC calls ‘daddy’ (bit weird I know, but he is the only male role model he’s really ever known). If I’m working and my dad has to pick him up from school he tells his teacher “my daddy is picking me up today!” As far as Mr Wrong No. 2 is concerned, he’s just some ‘friend’ who comes to ‘play’ (in the loosest sense of the word, if you can call sprawling over the floor for half an hour before he gets bored and then practically throws his phone with games on at SC to keep him from having to actually interact) occasionally!

My dad is the one who wrestles on the floor (I do too, I hasten to add) and we both kick the ball about the garden.

My dad is a daddy.

I know I’m a source of constant disappointment to him, but he’s my dad and he loves me (I hope).

He’s always there for me and I can always count on him if I need advice – my mum too but for different kind of advice.

He’s a great dad, he has been for me and now he’s a great role model for SC. (Although probably not quite what he envisaged doing in his retirement!)

In some ways, I’m also having to learn to be daddy to SC as well as mummy.

It’s a tough job.

I’m the one that goes off and does boys stuff with him – like cars and bikes and museums.

I’m the one who knows what he likes and dislikes, what gives him nightmares, and how rotten a time he’s having a school.

I’m dreading him growing up and me having to have ‘that talk’ with him. I’m hoping my dad will still be around to help out.

 

Thanks Dad – Happy Father’s Day

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How to Confuse a Child…

… in a couple of easy steps.confusion

Time is a difficult concept for children to grasp, especially the ideas of yesterday, today, tomorrow, next week, etc.

For children, unlike adults take their life one day at a time and live it to its fullest.

When does this stop, when do we stop living life to its fullest?

But I digress.

Hilarity ensued at the breakfast table this morning with regards to days.

Half term starts tomorrow – it being Saturday and all.

SC said that he wished it would be tomorrow, and the start of half term proper.

I replied, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that if it was tomorrow, then tomorrow would actually be today and tomorrow would in fact be Sunday, the 2nd day of his holiday.

“After all,” I said, “remember that tomorrow never comes, because tomorrow always becomes today.”

We went round in circles for a while, whilst I explained, several times that if it was tomorrow, it would be Saturday and Saturday’s tomorrow would be Sunday.

He looked at the calendar on the wall, perplexed.

Then said, “I still wish it was tomorrow!”

😉

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I Feel Powerless, What Can I Do?

… to stop SC going through the hell I endured courtesy of bullies.

Since SC started school last year there has not been a week gone by where he hasn’t been pushed, shoved, hit, bitten, kicked, called names, etc.

Now I appreciate that some of these could be down to accidents, goodness knows I’m clumsy enough and I know SC takes after me in that respect. If it is there to bump into, we basically turn into Mr Bump. And sometimes he does run around not looking where he is going.

And I’m not the kind of parent that thinks their child is a complete angel – they all have their moments, we all do – but SC is not malicious, or violent, or mean.

But it appears there are 3 children in particular for whom SC is fair game.

So far this week he has been:

  • pushed with force onto the railings and received a lovely bruise to the lower ribcage in return;
  • punched on the jaw, with such force he was knocked to the ground onto the low-rise wall and received a beautiful shiner to the thigh;
  • hit/punched/bitten on the stomach, where there is a red abrasion mark as proof;
  • called names.

No wonder he doesn’t want to go to school.

And the teachers?

Oh well, it seems they never see anything. But if the boot is on the other foot and SC, in clumsy mode, accidentally knocks someone over;

  1. he always puts his hand up and admits liability and apologises immediately, without being told to;
  2. the teachers are always to keen to haul me into class.

 

I am literally at the end of my tether.

I was bullied at secondary school – to the extent I cannot remember anything about it, literally, I have no high school memories.

SC has at least another 10 years to go and these charming, delightful offsprings of the devil will more likely than not follow him through the education system.

I want him to have a happy childhood, full of fun, warm, happy memories. Not drawing a complete blank whenever anyone asks about it, or letting it affect him so he does not fulfill his potential in life.

I could leave him where he his and hope for the best.

I could move him to another school – but chances are there will be similar kids, just with different names and faces.

I just don’t know what to do?

What would you do?

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How do children learn to bully?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

Children must learn it from somewhere!

And how young do these bullying tendencies appear?

Now, I know that no child is an angel, my own included, and that at some point they will inevitably make mistakes, and push and shove their counterparts. But, what is it that turns that innocent push into a relentless tirade of physical and verbal abuse?

Why do children bully and where do they learn it?

The first part is easy to answer.

Bullies bully out of jealousy! Pure and simple, jealousy is what it all boils down too.

So the person that puts you down and says you are no good at what you do, is saying it because they are jealous that they cannot do what you do.

The big kid that picks on the new kid on the block does so to prove they are top dog, but underneath there is a jealousy that maybe the new kid has more loving parents than they have, or the new kid has better clothes, etc.

I was bullied. I cannot remember minute details, but the scars have run so deep, I have no memories of secondary school at all.

I was bullied because I was different. I went to an all-girls school and because I was preferred the Arts to make-up and boys, I was easy prey. Looking back, it was probably out of jealousy because I wasn’t ‘one of the crowd’, I wasn’t ‘a sheep’, I had my own mind and stuck to it, did not bow to peer pressure.

But how do children learn to bully?

Is it from parents, the television, media? What?

That’s the bit that I don’t understand.

The reason for this question is because SC is having a bad time at the moment. I’ve written before about how he’s been hit, kicked, pushed, punched, etc pretty much every week since he started school. But in these last few weeks, he has not wanted to go to school, at all!

Every morning he wakes up and states “I’m not going to school today!”

Every time I ask why, he says it’s because people are unkind. I hasten to add, after further questioning, it is not everyone, but merely 1 or 2 children that seem to have it in for him.

And it’s always the same 2.

Now, I have spoken to another mother whose son seems to back up SC’s claim, and that 1 of the children involved is particularly vile to everyone (to look at him butter wouldn’t melt, but then isn’t that always the way?), but is especially vile to SC.

I have no idea what to do?

I certainly don’t want SC hating going to school – at the moment he is well above his peers in his level of learning (this is probably the underlying root of the problem), and has admitted he is also bored at school, “it’s too easy!” – but the more he says he doesn’t want to go to school, his reaction will be to shut down, switch off, and then all his potential (of which he, and every other child, has an enormous amount of) will be gone. He just won’t want to learn.

I have sniffed out the possibility of him going to another school, but I don’t want to make a knee-jerk reaction.

I know, more than anyone, that there will be nice and nasty children at any school, they will just have different names and different faces. And I have said as much to SC.

Yesterday, he was adamant he didn’t want to go to school and sat in bed shouting “I don’t ever want to go to that school again! I want to go to School X” – he even told 2 boys that he was leaving school, and then they went and told the teacher (snitches!). When his teacher asked him about this SC said that “mummy said I could!” (oops!)

So there is obviously a problem, but schools don’t like to admit this, let alone do anything about it.

I know a lot of parents tell there kids to fight back, however, I have a big problem with this.

a) if SC hits back, he is no better than the bully, and more likely the bully will go running of to the teacher and tell a pack of lies, so SC gets into trouble.

and

b) violence escalates. If I hit you, you hit me, I get a stick, you get a stick, I get a knife, you get a knife, etc. Where does it all end?

My advice to SC has always been, just walk away. Don’t let anyone see you are upset, just walk away. If you walk away and don’t react, the bully will get bored.

I don’t like violence, I don’t want to bring SC up to thinking the only way to get out of a situation is to use his fists. There are other ways.

Bullying was bad enough when it was me. How do I protect my son? I don’t want him going through the next 12 years of schooling afraid of being himself. I want him to enjoy learning and going to school, not hate every single minute so that all his childhood memories are warped by the horridness – if that makes sense.

So I ask the questions again how do children learn to bully?

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