Can I help?: Watch their Natural Creativity blossom in the country

Related Topics
Half term can be a wonderful time for brushing up on social skills outside school. As Timon has now been singled out as a gifted child in need of individual tuition, I felt it was important for him to enjoy some interactive play in a new environment.

We were planning to stay in one location, but instead stayed with different families in Shropshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Lanarkshire. Each night, somewhere different - coincidentally, each of our host families found they had urgent appointments after only 24 hours of enjoying our highly energised family units.

I had one remaining school friend, Jill, whom we had never visited. The ages were not right for optimum socialisation - she has a small baby and a 16-year-old boy - but I felt it would be wonderful to see Suffolk as all England's woodland is fast disappearing. My life-partner Chris agreed to come to spend his last days bonding with the kids before his departure to Namibia for six months.

Jill told me she had hens. I was looking forward to collecting eggs. Blown eggshells can be a wonderful medium for creativity in kids. None of the rest of the family was very keen but one of a good mum's important roles is to stand up against the innate conservatism of the family unit. Even when the children threaten her with the withdrawal of love.

Timon: "I hate the country. I hate eggs. I'll hate you if you take me."

Emotion Trainer Mum: "I completely understand that you love your home. You are fearful of a new environment and are wary of the femaleness of eggs. However much you hate me in the future I'll always love you very much." (Correct response.)

Timon: "I'm bored already."

Esme: "There'll be nobody for me to play with."

In these arguments, mums, never forget about gender stereotyping. Mum: "While Timon's helping Jill look after the baby, Esme can enjoy Social Play with Jill's 16-year-old son, Aidan."

I hadn't seen Jill since school. I remembered her as a mousey girl, so I hoped she would be sufficiently assertive as a mum. As a professional in the world of childcare one of my important roles in these New Environment experiences is to help mums. Jill's greeting was all too revealing: "I'm so sorry about the mess."

Me: "Don't undermine yourself by apologising."

Her baby had obviously been crying solidly for a week and anyone could tell Jill needed me. In her insecurity, she was worried that she'd spoilt the baby by going to her too often. Mums, you can never go to a baby too often. Baby needs a full programme of activities.

Me: "Social Interaction is the only thing she wants. She's bored."

Jill: "I've been up all night."

Me: "You must put her needs before your own. If rolling over on a blanket or touching items on a tray is her chosen activity she's not going to change just to suit mum's needs."

Jill: "'She's a 'he' actually."

My reply was crisp but I hope soothing: "We always call babies 'she' to try and counter-balance the general assumption in manuals that babies are male."

Timon and Esme were happy in their guest-room once I'd fixed up a television and a barrier between their beds. The barrier I constructed - without Chris's help - with some plywood, plaster and wire mesh.

Chris: "They should be able to sleep in the same room."

Me: "They are each their own person. Parenting the individual means ensuring that your children have their own space. Your maleness is threatened by my ability to build a wall."

Jill and I formed a wonderful female partnership which she particularly benefited from - I was able to give on-the-spot advice round the clock. For the first two days we went with Baby for woodland walks while Timon and Esme enjoyed their video sessions. The children missed most of the meals but I felt it was good for them to be upstairs on the same floor as Aidan, from the point of view of socialisation. On the third morning I was rewarded by seeing the three of them involved in a Native American Fantasy Play. I sustained a bullet wound when I pointed out that Esme was playing a gender-stereo-typical role as the female tied to a tree. But I made sure of dragging myself inside without too much fuss, and a minimum of blood on the carpet; never forget, mums, guilt feelings about inflicting injuries upon others can last well into adulthood.

My influence on Jill was so positive that by our last day she felt confident enough to spend hours at a time alone with Baby in the hen-house. Oh, and my kids did get round to some creative play with the eggshells, breaking them up with their feet and stamping on them, and so forming myriad patterns of wonderment all over the floor.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Chancellor George Osborne got a standing ovation from the Tories for a package of tough measures  

The Conservative party would have us believe that the poor deserve to be punished

Andreas Whittam Smith
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack