moreshortstuff

Life, kids etc.

Angels guard us…from alien attack!

English: Alien invasion in Nercwys Pentre Bach...

May the Lord guard us from Daleks

“Daddy,” says four-year-old Eli one evening.

“Yes son?”

“If we don’t say our prayers the baddy aliens will get us.”

“Excuse me?” I said, somewhat surprised. I wasn’t expecting that to be honest.

What followed was quite a rambling  conversation so I’ll boil it down for you.

Eli has a learnt a prayer at school, to say at bedtime. It goes like this: “Lord keep us safe this night/ Secure from all our fears/May angels guard us while we sleep/ Till morning light appears.”

His understanding of what this prayer means is a bit, well, off the wall.

As he sees it, it’s essentially about asking the Lord to protect us. And what do we need protecting from? Overnight alien invasion of course!

This, in Eli’s mind, is the only thing it could possibly mean. The angels hang around, waiting to kick some alien butt. “If it’s not that,” he reasoned, “why does it say ‘angels guard us’?” Good point, small child.

“Children can need protecting from other things, ” I said. He shot me a look that said: “I absolutely refuse to believe anything you say.”

At this point my wife managed to supress her giggles long enough to join in too. “It’s a very old prayer Eli,” she explained. “And in the olden days there were lots of diseases and some people were  very poor so they needed protecting from bad bugs. I think  that’s what they meant.”

He didn’t believe her either.

When they first start learning about it, religion can be a funny thing for kids.  Ahead of my First Holy Communion as a six-year-old, legend has it I spent weeks blessing anything that moved and anything that didn’t – the dog, my Mum, cups of tea etc all got a holy and serene wave of the hand over them from time to time while I whispered a few incantations.

Catholics, eh!

Eli has his firm belief in a Higher Power, a force for good there to protect us. He is as readily accepting of this as he is, say, of his firm belief that animals can secretly talk.

Yet he refuses to believe our simple everyday explanations for all manner of things – we had to take him to a farm before he finally, reluctantly accepted milk came from cows.

On the one hand it’s this sort of thing that makes being a parent so rewarding. Seeing him grow up and learn new things each day and getting an insight into how the world works from the perspective of fresh young eyes has provided the Short family with some of our biggest laughs of recent years. Then there’s the warm, fuzzy feeling of satisfaction as he grasps new concepts  and ideas, as he grows and develops. Although it must be said this can backfire from time to time and destroy and semblance of childlike wonder. Example: when Mrs Short recently pointed to a particularly bright moon and asked him: “Can you see the man in the moon? Can you see his face?”

“Mummy,” he replied with disdain at her stupidity. “The grey bits are where meteorites have hit. It’s not a real face.”

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The magic of Christmas. Really.

christmas tree

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 9 DECEMBER 2011

IT’S Christmas tree day tomorrow, when the Short family traditionally makes the annual trip to a car park to take our pick of hundreds of identical firs.
We will spend roughly an hour umming and ahhing over the right tree for us while the kids run around and occasionally come looking for us with tears in their eyes because they have fallen over, or been told off by a man.
We will select the tree, then find out it won’t fit in our car. Mrs Short will kick off when I suggest she stays with the kids for half an hour while I take the tree home – but will refuse to leave me with the children because she cannot manage to get the tree from the car to the house on her own.
We will then pay a man £10 extra to deliver the tree, then be out when it turns up late and make arrangements for it to come the following day instead.
When it finally arrives and we take the net off, the damn thing will take up half of the living room.
“It looks a lot bigger than the one we bought,” one of us will say.
Then it’s decoration time. The dust-covered baubles are removed from the loft, most of them broken because they were packed away in carrier bags and the heavy suitcases were then accidentally put on top of them at some point.
We manage to salvage enough of them to make the tree look presentable, hiding the rubbish ones the older child has made at school round the back of the tree, next to the wall where no one can see them.
Oh, the magic of Christmas!
I’m a bit of a humbug merchant if truth be told. I think we do Christmas too early and I think its place as a religious festival has all but disappeared.
I struggle to explain to my four-year-old boy what part Santa plays in Baby Jesus’ birthday celebrations.
In truth though, his understanding of the Christmas story is already pretty warped – he recently told us Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem “to kill the baddie king, Herod”.
The thing is, he’s appeared in a few nativity plays so should really have started to grasp the true meaning of Christmas by now. Although, now that I think of it, he was the only shepherd wearing a Ben 10 Omnitrix last year, which can’t have helped.
A few years ago, one of my young nieces became obsessed by the Christmas story and got very religious for a six-year-old. She walked around with her hands joined together, in prayer, for weeks, and would not do anything that could “make Baby Jesus cross“. It eventually wore off but when Easter arrived a few months later, she asked her grandad what it was all about. When he told her, it blew her tiny mind. “Baby Jesus is DEAD!!???“ she asked in stunned disbelief.
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Mummy, cats and Robert Peston

Teach em' Young

Another child chooses to make an early start on learning how to write computer code after encouragement from Ofsted

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE BOLTON NEWS, FRIDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2011

MY YOUNGEST boy goes to a childminder on week days.
He is 18 months old now and loves it.
It helps that the childminder is recently qualified and therefore really keen.
Which means she has plenty of ideas for how to keep the kids (which is really just my boy and another toddler a few months older) busy.
They were learning about “the beach” recently so she took them to the seaside for a day. The petrol alone must have cost more than we pay her! As I said, she’s keen, and we’re reaping the dividends.
The little mite has come on leaps and bounds since he started going in September.
He knew two words back then: “mummy” and “cat”.
Now his vocabulary is huge, considering he’s still a baby. “Daddy” is in there at last. As is “more”, “rice crispies”, “please“, “socks”, “bear“, “pirate” and, oddly, “Chihuahua”.
Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still choose to watch “In the Night Garden” on Cbeebies rather than, say, BBC economics editor Robert Peston’s insightful analysis on Newsnight.
But the point is we’re really seeing a difference in the way he acts and interacts each and every day.
Sadly, it may have to stop.
Because Ofsted has suggested to our childminder that she could do more “child centred planning”. What that means is she needs to let the kids have more of a say in what they are learning about.
When she pointed out the kids are under two, they suggested – and this is absolutely true – holding a “brainstorming” session with the toddlers.
I’m not sure how you “brainstorm” with an 18-month-old child whose idea of fun is to pour porridge on his head, then scoop it up and put it in the fish tank. Then scoop it out and eat it.
But, God bless her, she said she’ll give it a go.
So her educational fun activities about the postman or growing vegetables may fall by the wayside.
Our educational leaders believe that perhaps the grown up with life experience may not always be best placed to decide on what a child should learn about.
The idea of giving our Jesse a say in his learning might be admirable on one level. But in reality it means the childminder is in for a long cold winter and her days filled with activities centred on mummy and cats.
Myself and Mrs Short know exactly how difficult this task is going to prove for the childminder. After all, we recently tried to give our older boy more of a say on what we do as a family at weekends. Sadly, while Bolton can boast a great many things, footballing robots made of chocolate that fire rockets at baddies is not something we were able to locate.
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