Reasons Why My Kid Is Cooler Than I Am

I'll happily admit that I've never really been one of life's cool kids but it comes to something when your 4 year old son can out-swag you. I've suspected it for some time now, so here are some of the ways that my kid is cooler than I am. Sob.

He rocks the headwear
I've always dreamed of being able to pull off a baggy beanie but alas, I'm just not a hat person. Jack, however, suits a variety of styles. Here he is rocking the 90's indie band bucket hat, the badboy-backward-cap and the Dappy from N-dubz bobble hat.

He is socially confident
I'm not exactly an introvert but I do find speaking to strangers a little awkward at times. Not Jack. He will happily force himself on approach any child who takes his fancy, introduce himself with a suave 'I'm Jack and I like Batman' and join in with their games whether they want him to or not. Last week at soft play he found himself a few playmates and when I asked him to come out and have some lunch he replied with 'I can't mummy, I'm busy with the fellas.' #mandem

I love nothing more than a good belly laugh but you very rarely see grown adults full on guffawing in public, probably because we feel self conscious about being loud, toothy and silly in front of other grown ups. I think it's a shame that we censor our happiness like this and I'm pleased that Jack (and most other small children for that matter) will unashamedly laugh REALLY, REALLY LOUDLY wherever and whenever they want to.

He's a better dancer
It could be break dancing or it could just be flinging himself around the floor like a rabid squirrel. Either way, it beats my moves.

He's so sassy
I sometimes wonder where he gets his attitude from. Definitely not me. With his catalogue poses, cheeky eye rolls and top bantz, he definitely has more sass than I ever will.

He doesn't conform
There's something quite endearing about a social rebel isn't there? Not the criminal kind; just those who don't conform to social etiquette because they give zero fucks about what anyone else thinks. This is my son when he loudly chants Jingle Bells in a monotone voice as we walk around Tesco. In March.

He's so laid back
I am a flapper. I flap. Faced with a tricky situation or in the event of things not going quite how I'd planned I get all red faced and flustered. It's not a good look. Jack, however, takes everything in his stride. He just adapts and gets on with it; out of the two of us it's usually me who panics and cries. He has all the chill.

He's never had a bad outfit day
Not many people can get away with socks and sandals, shorts and wellies or pirate hats in public. But he can quite easily commit these crimes against fashion and still look cool while doing so.

"Yeah I'll be with you in a minute mum, can't you see I'm chatting to my bredrin?!"

Primary School Places: The Wait Is On...

Before I had Jack I never understood why parents seemed to get in such a flap about primary school places. In my pre-parenthood eyes, a school was a school. Of course some are ranked higher than others but providing your child comes away with a decent education, why does it matter which one they go to? First choices? Appealing decisions? Pfffft.

And now here I am, anxiously counting down the hours until Monday when I already know I'll be hunched over my work computer hitting refresh every 5 minutes, impatiently waiting for the news that will determine where the next seven years of Jack's educational life will be spent; hoping for our first choice and not really knowing what to do if we don't get it.

And I know lots of other parents will be doing exactly the same thing.

Jack's current situation is that he attends two 'settings'. He goes to a nursery (as he has done since he was 9 months old) for the first half of the week while I go to work. This is a private nursery that stays open through the holidays which is obviously helpful for childcare purposes. He also attends the local village preschool on a Thursday and Friday morning during term time. He doesn't need to go there. There are no childcare issues on these days and he's already interacting with children at the other nursery. But although the preschool is a separate entity to the village school, it is located within the same grounds and is made up of local children. Basically I wanted him to go there (and have paid outside of his funded hours for the privilege) so that he could get to know some of the kids he'll eventually go to school with and become familiar with the surroundings.

And while the private nursery is lovely and I'll always be grateful to them for taking such good care of my baby when I had to go back to work, out of the two settings, preschool is where he seems happiest. It is here that he's formed the friendships that he comes home and raves about. Here where the invitations to birthday parties and play dates come from. Here that I have taken the most notice of the faces of kids and parents alike because these will be the faces we'll see everyday come September. It never occurred to me that it would happen any other way. It is a village school. We live in the village. Done deal.

But apparently not. Although being in the catchment area gives him a high chance of getting in, the intake for this year is huge. I remember how there were so many pregnant ladies in the village at the same time as me. I remember thinking how nice it would be for this influx of children to grow up together. I never considered the logistical challenges of school places. Of there simply not being room for them all. And it's worrying. Not only because the school is rated highly, has some great staff and because I'd really like him to go there. But more importantly because he wants to. Because he's made these little friendships that seem to mean a great deal to him. And because whenever we pass the school playground to get to preschool he points and shouts 'I'll be going there soon won't I, Mummy?'

I filled in the forms to the best of my ability. I have my fingers crossed. Soon the results will be in.

Like so many other aspects of parenting, it's only now that I'm faced with these situations that I can fully understand the importance of them. Because they all go some way to shaping his future.

This primary school placement thing is some nerve wracking shit.

Film Review: Zootropolis

One of Jack's favourite rainy-day-things-to-do is go to the cinema so last week the two of us went on a date to see Zootropolis.

By now, I know the drill. Fill handbag with snacks from home. Balk at ticket price. Reminisce about the good old days when you could go the cinema with a fiver and still have enough left over to buy a box of toffee Poppets and get the bus home etc etc. Sit in dark room and prepare to lose two hours of my life to garish animation and singing animals. Only this time, the film was actually really good. So good, in fact, that I decided to write a review.

So Zootropolis is a mammal metropolis where animals live together in harmony. They wear clothes, go to work and, most importantly, have evolved into no longer eating one another. Yay! Judy Hopps, a small town bunny, dreams of becoming the first rabbit on the police force and heads off to the bustling municipality of Zootropolis to fulfill her ambitions. Here, she becomes embroiled a mysterious case involving a missing otter and a bunch of predators who appear to have reverted back to their primitive, murderous ways. It seems like someone is trying to cause a divide in Zootropolis. But who? And why? Forming an unlikely alliance with con-artist fox, Nick Wilde, Judy sets about cracking the case and does so in spectacular CGI style.

At its heart this is a tale of friendship; Judy and Nick are natural enemies with preconceived ideas about one another based purely on their species (dumb bunny/sly fox). But eventually they break down these stereotypes and work together to solve a conspiracy that threatens to destroy the peace and equality that Zootropolis is built on. Adults will definitely appreciate the themes of discrimination, racism and corruption that you wouldn't usually associate with a Disney movie...but it's not all political agenda. With an arctic shrew mafia boss, an impossibly slow bureaucratic sloth and a singing Youtube sensation called Gazelle (she is a gazelle,) plus tons of pop culture references, there are lots of fun moments too.

Visually it was stunning, although as someone who grew up with a VHS copy of Mary Poppins that was so over watched it eventually wore away, I'm always impressed with what CGI can do these days.

Jack loved it - even though he said that the  police chief (a surly cape buffalo voiced by Idris Elba) was 'angry and mean' - but I think maybe I loved it a little more. Partly because in the absence of the traditional Disney love story, we are presented with a political message that is important for little people and partly because it's one of the few kids films we've seen at the cinema that hasn't made me want to claw my eyes out half way through. That alone makes it worth a watch.

Have you seen Zootropolis? What did you think?

On Your Fourth Birthday

Jack, today you are four and I can't quite believe it. At three I could still just about class you as a toddler (albeit a very large and shouty one) but at four there's no denying are boy.

At four you are really coming into your own. You are clever, funny and so sweet natured. You are beginning to show a real interest in reading and writing. You can just about write your own name now (although you write your K backwards and tend to get the letters in the wrong order - Granny says it's something to do with you being left handed) and you love stories. Julia Donaldson is a big hit at the moment but you've still got a soft spot for Hairy Maclary. You love the library and the other day you got really cross because - I quote - 'I can't read yet! WHY CAN'T I READ?!' I'm still not a fan of a tantrum but that, that I'll allow.

You are still a collector as you always have been. No favourite toys, just a small collection of interchangeable possessions that you religiously carry around in your plastic doctor's case or one of my old handbags. You've long since ditched Mr Tumble and you're now into Star Wars and The Avengers (Carl's influence). You have a best friend now - he's called Jack too - and you tell me that the pair of you 'don't like girls because they're poo poo heads' but I suspect this will change as the years go on. You are so kind and thoughtful towards others that I sometimes forget you're still so little. A few months ago your nursery teacher told me how a little girl had cried because a boy had taken her seat so you built her another one out of big blocks (so much for not liking girls, hey?!) You're a gentleman in the making with such as sweet heart; it makes me so proud.

Four will be a very exciting year, you know. It's the year you'll start big school. And although the prospect seems to frighten you a little bit right now, I know you'll be in your element when the time actually comes. As for me, well I'll miss our weekday afternoons together. Our swimming trips, our walks, our library visits, our cafe dates. But I'm so excited to see how the next phase of your life unfolds.

Your birthday is a little different this year. You've been on holiday with daddy this week. You're coming back today so I'll get to see you later but I wasn't there this morning. I wasn't the first to wish you a Happy Birthday and kiss your beautiful, four year old face. That feels strange and a little bit unnatural to me but you're what matters and I know you've had a lovely time this week. I'll never be 100% OK with saying goodbye to you for any length of time but I can put my feelings to one side as long as I know that you're happy. And you are. You take everything in your stride and have always made my constant worrying seem unfounded. You honestly amaze me. Some days I look at you and wonder how I possibly created something so brilliant and brave and perfect.

The more you grow, the more you learn about the world and the more I learn about being a mummy. I wasn't too sure about it at first but four years on, I'm convinced it's the greatest thing I've ever done. You are an absolute joy, Jack. Happy birthday.

All my love,
Your mummy xx