“Books Are Boring”

Olivia last night said she didn’t want a story before bed. “Why?” I asked, with a mix of relief for having the extra time to myself, and apprehension, because I actually love story time. I’m a bit of a bibliophile, and reading together is one of my most treasures moments. I do it every single night since she was a baby, no matter how busy I am or where we are in the world. I probably verge on the point of paranoia, so imagine my affliction when she replied with the following.

“Books are boring,” she said, without hesitation. My heart broke in a million pieces.

“Why?!” I asked, trying not to sound too crazy. She was teasing me, of course she was. She’s got that kind of personality, the kind that pesters her friends endlessly just to get a reaction – and most of the time, there’ll be tears.

But she wasn’t teasing me. She just said “well, because they are.”

To be fair, I was holding a copy of Peter Pan, which is a long story for a 4-year-old. Specially if it’s not animated and it doesn’t come with an embedded Disney musical. I know because that’s sort of what she said, shutting the book in my hands.

“I don’t like Peter Pan, it’s too long and boring.”

“But it’s a POP-UP edition, and it’s got all these beautiful illustrations!”, I defended myself, helplessly. It didn’t work, obviously.

“I don’t like it. I want to go to bed.”

I gave her the benefit of the doubt – after all, it’s ok not to like a book. There are others. But she wasn’t having any of it.

“Why don’t you go and pick a different book? Anything you want.”

“No, thank you. I don’t want a story tonight.”

“BUT WHY.” I know I was sounding crazy already. But you know, when you’re faced with one of your biggest nightmares – own child not liking books –  you tend to react a bit crazy. (“one of your biggest nightmares? PFFF, #firstworldproblems” i hear you say. Yeah, alright, now go away.)

“Because books ARE boring,” she says again, a dead look in her eyes. She looks strangely grown-up saying that.

“YOU DON’T MEAN THAT.”

“I do!” She pulls her blanket over her face, trying to end this conversation. But I refused to be defeated.

“You’re making me sad.”

Blank face.

“Seriously. You are.”

“Ok.”

Closes her eyes. Falls asleep.

I go online and google “what have I done wrong my kid thinks books are boring.”

Everyone says “read to her. Let her choose her books. Make sure she has a shelf and a reading nook. Take her to the library and bookshops.”

I’ve ticked all the boxes already. I’ve ticked those boxes from the moment she was conceived! I was born to tick those boxes!!!

Then there’s one more: “don’t be pushy.”

*Sigh*

Well, when it comes to books, I’m not sure I can make that compromise. I’ll let her wear PJs to school, and eat cereal for dinner, and stay up past 9pm, but I won’t give up on story time. NEVER. So I order some new books, and make peace with the fact that that box will have to remain un-ticked.

MOTHERHOOD – zine for cool mamas #1

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Hellow again.

Back in december 2012 we had this thing called Xmas Break, an ungodly pair of weeks during which I was stuck in the UK winter with a bored toddler and several unfulfilled new-year resolution lists. I was going a bit out of my mind, and to keep myself entertained (you thought I was going to say “SANE”, didn’t you?) I made a ZINE about motherhood. Initially, it was going to be a bunch of pieces about myself and O, like our regular blog posts on paper, but then I thought “what’s the point?” So I decided to have a bit more fun.

In this very badly designed little booklet, you’ll find pages full of rants, stupid collages, random lists, unwanted advice, stolen pictures, ideas and references, and lots, LOTS OF WORDS IN CAPSLOCK. I HAVE A THING FOR CAPSLOCK). That includes the fictional diary of a MCHCSBBSAHM (Middle Class Hip Cool Stylish But Bored Stay At Home Mum), a love letter to TV, an editorial with celeb mums posing in National Geographic landscapes, mums’ reviews, a playlist, and a guide explaining how to become a REAL COOL MUM™ (plus a quiz to find out if you really are a RCM™). SOUNDS APPEALING? I didn’t think so either. But if you still think it’s worth investing £2 in it (plus shipping), then drop me a line at thais@mamadalston.com

Check out some of the pages below from a little vid I posted on Vine.

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Three Cartoon Role Models for Baby O

I’m sure lots of new parents spend considerate time thinking about what kind of  characters and stories they’ll introduce to their offspring when the time arrives, and although most of them can’t wait to delve into world of pink princesses and romantic castles, I’m not too sure I’ll be going down that route. No. I’m TOTALLY SURE I won’t. If Baby O eventually decides she wants to read every princess tale out there, she can of course – but it won’t be her mother’s idea (unless if it’s to show her that princesses that wear pink and wait to be saved by a prince in a white horse are totally STUPID).

The characters below all are what they are because they despise and reject their upbringing – which makes me think that if I raise Baby O on a daily diet of interesting books, fashionable clothes and quality music, it might come back to bite me in the arse. She might turn out a complete girly, prissy, boring air-head just to annoy me.

Daria Morgendorffer, from Daria


If I ever get a teenager at home with the wry, quick-witted sarcasm of Daria, I’d die a happy parent. Daria, the teenager from the homonimous 90s MTV animated show has a very normal, very American routine of high-school and home, which she absolutely despises. She is surrounded by stereotypical characters including the blonde pneumatic cheerleader, the dumb football captain, a wildly popular and fashion-victim sister, and a set of stressed-out, career-driven parents. Highly intellectual and self-assured, she goes about her days wearing a blasé on her face and combat boots on her feet.

What I love about Daria is that despite the fact she seems to have nothing but contempt for everyone, in reality she finds the sheer idiocy of  her peers quite entertaining and great targets for her killer one-liners. And most of the time they don’t even notice they’re being targets.

Awesome quotes include:

“Don’t worry. I don’t have low self-esteem. It’s a mistake. I have low esteem for everyone else.”

and

“I’m a big believer in self-expression. As in, keep whatever you’re expressing to yourself.”

I’ve never been able to make quick-witted remarks myself  – if anything, I’m slow as a slug to think of any smart-arse observations, so I’d probably benefit from having immediate family capable of helping me out in this department. I’d just say, “YOU WAIT UNTIL MY DAUGHTER GETS HERE.”

 

Enid, from Ghost World.

 

Although less sharp than Daria, Daniel Clowes’ character Enid has a similar sort of background (as well as sharing a penchant for thick-rimmed glasses). A victim of small-town boredom, she and her best-friend Rebecca spend their days trying to amuse themselves by stalking the weirdest characters they can find, and swearing at just about anyone that crosses their path.

Enid is very much herself, and refuses to conform to the dictatorship of high-school, which in itself is a pretty great achievement for a teenager. She doesn’t pretend things are cool, and constantly tells people how shitty they are (also a great achievement. I know a LOT of people who are complete f***wits and they have no idea what I think of them). While Daria is a natural born writer, Enid has a talent for sketching and drawing, and any kid that bores artistic talents is great in my books.

While I DO NOT approve of sleeping with older men, as Enid eventually does, I wouldn’t complain too much if O’s first boyfriend turned out to be the boy equivalent of  old-dude Seymour, in the form of a geek her own age with flawless music taste and an obsession for collecting old vinyls (I went through a phase myself obsessing about boys who obsessed about records when I was 16).

Matilda, from Matilda

 

Alright, I’m cheating on this one, because I have NOT read the book nor seen the film. But I’ve HEARD great things about it (and ordered a copy from my local library now), and what great things. To start with, Matilda is ME: absolute cuckoo about books as a little child. Teaching herself to read when she’s 4, she then goes to the library and read every children’s book available, then move on to adult fiction. I didn’t really teach myself to read, but pretty much forced my parents and brother to read me comic books  until I memorised the lines, so I could pretend to read. And when I finally learnt at 5, I would swap any playtime with other kids to stay home reading books. My family wasn’t too crazy about reading like I turned out to be, but they were not as bad as Matilda’s parents who completely dismiss her as a silly child for wanting to read instead of watching TV.

Apparently afterwards Matilda acquires superpowers which she uses to help out her school teacher, but as I haven’t read it yet I can’t comment much – but I DO believe those superpowers were a consequence of being a big reader (I have some myself, but obviously I’m not telling).

I’m hoping Baby O becomes a passionate reader of BOOKS too, but in times of iPads and apps and twitter, that’ll be nothing short of a miracle (who knows what sort of ADHD-inducing fads will be available in her time). I’ll be teaching her as early as possible, as much to her benefit as mine – so soon she can leave mummy alone to have her own reading time.