I'm coming up to a birthday soon, one year before a major milestone birthday....and it doesn't start with 2 or a 3. When I was a teenager I used to baby sit a little girl who was 3, and her mum was quite hip and young, unlike my own parents, and I vowed I wouldn't be an older mum, and certainly wouldn't be a grumpy one. Wrong. Here I am, a GEM. Here are some things that make me grumpy!
CGI Children's Programmes - My son has developed a Toto obsession - Thomas the Tank Engine. I can't watch it, it's wrong. In the words of the great Aaron Harvie of Masterchef Australia, just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. What's wrong with old fashioned animation? Yes its time consuming, you probably can't do the clever things that you can do with CGI, but it just makes me grumpy. Quality over quantity for me every time!
Bells and Whistles Baby Toys - Bouncy chairs that play a song, conduct a light orchestra on the ceiling, give the baby a back massage, playmats that sing and dance and have 50 million bells and whistles on them, things that buzz, and flash and make noise, and for which you never have the right batteries. Joseph had a basic bouncy chair and no play mat to speak of, and he's just fine. I think sometimes we're in danger of creating children who need something electric to keep them amused, and it starts too young. Just my opinion of course, and not to denigrate those who love such things, just not for me!
Toys with Television Tie ins - I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I posted about Joseph's birthday presents, but it was impossible to buy an easel that met my requirements that didn't have branding on it. It's hard to buy a toddler train or car or firetruck that isn't Thomas, Rory or Fireman Sam. And yes I know them all. As I type this Joseph is posting letters in his Postman Pat van.
Processed Toddler Food - Now I know this is a sensitive area. I am a stay at home mum, and have time to cook, and I know a lot of people don't. But is it really necessary to have specifically branded toddler food? Surely by the time they are toddlers little people should be eating what their parents are eating? Is it really necessary to have all these refrigerated meals, and toddler snacks cluttering up the shelves? And none of this stuff is cheap. A quick meal for Joseph is fish fingers, chips and peas, or a platter of cheese, meat, bread and veggies. Snacks are fruit or the very occasional bag of wotsits, a box of raisins, or a biscuit.
Soft Play Centres - I have a ground breaking business idea. A clean soft play area, with plenty of staff supervising, healthy food that people genuinely want to eat, and a "bring your own food" policy. Every soft play I have been to has been difficult with Joseph, its getting easier now he's walking, but I've never been able to go to one without my blood pressure rising. Except one. Springolino's in Germany. The food is good, you can bring your own, you can cater your own party there if you want to. The areas are huge, and well supervised. Why can't they all be like this?
Franchised Baby and Toddler classes - There's a new one of these popping up every week, music classes, signing classes, sensory classes. I do think there is a place for formal learning, but for babies? I'm not so sure. I think sometimes a lot of pressure is put on parents to attend these things, but what I really object to is the cost! Some of these classes are just cost prohibitive and often they don't go for more than an hour. And a lot you have to play by term block, which I have always avoided, babies get sick, or have days where they want to sleep. What also annoys me is that as SureStart centres close, or are put under immense funding pressure, the classes are often the only opportunity parents have to meet other parents and to socialise, and for those of us on limited incomes, they are not always within our reach.
Dining Out with a Toddler - Back in the 1970s when I was a toddler, you ordered a half or even quarter portion of a main meal. Nearly everywhere I've eaten with Joseph has been "*** and chips" or margarita pizza. Hardly anything ever comes with vegetables. It's not this way in Europe and I've had no problems when travelling in Germany or France ordering healthy kids meals. And its was reasonably easy in Australia too. Also the other thing that makes me grumpy is that said "kids meals" are often enormous. Very few places size things appropriately for under 5's.
I have possibly ranted enough, but pleae tell me I'm not the only GEM, and perhaps I have some GYM's too! (Grumpy Young Mums!)