Friday, May 04, 2007

A positive legacy for our children

It’s a strange day for a parent when you suddenly realise you can have full scale conversations with your child.

What used to be a few passing references to broom brooms, nee naws, woof woofs and din dins has somewhere over the past year evolved into full blown conversations about how our car is driving along the Crescent Link to see Fireman Sam’s house before passing the dogs barking in the street on our way home for some lovely dinner of fishy fingers, potato ‘wobbles’ and peas. While we are at it, we may well pass the police station (PC Plum’s house) and several diggers, oil lorries and assorted modes of transport which the wee man can identify not only by their actual names but also by any corresponding names they may be known as in ‘Bob the Builder’.

From the moment we get in the car until the moment we reach our destination, I have a running commentary from my happy and contented little man.

The only respite we get from his constant chitter chatter is when he sleeps (and even then he has been known to chat in his sleep from time to time). He tends to wake up at full speed and run into our room to launch into detailed retellings of his latest dreams.

More than anything, I think it is this ability of his to talk the hind legs off a donkey that makes me realise just how fast he is growing up.

When he was a wee toot he always loved to gurgle and chat in his babyish way. I guess, much like his mammy, he likes the sound of his own voice. He was a stubborn wee so and so too though (much like his father I suppose, as anyone who knows me will tell you unequivocably that there isn’t a stubborn bone in my body).

For the first 18 months of his life he refused, and I mean blatantly refused, to say the word ‘mammy’. He would daddy me up and down. He knew the names of all his aunties and uncles, his cousins, his grandparents and of course his daddy but mammy was not on the radar.

“It’s a difficult word for them to say,” well meaning friends would soothe. It didn’t cut it with me. The wee man could almost manage Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, so there was no way I was about to believe he couldn’t manage a simple maa- mee.

I was delighted the day he first managed it, but it seems like a blink of an eye since then and now we are discussing the weather, the pros and cons of both Smyths and Toys R Us and Arsenal’s latest form in the football. (Apparantly “Arsenal are the champions”- I’m not sure what of, but being a Liverpool supporter his daddy isn’t too impressed).

Admittedly there are times when I would give my last Rolo for a mute button, just for half an hour to allow me to watch Corrie in peace or make important phonecalls. The constant “mammy, mammy, mammy, mammy” can get a little grating when you are trying to catch up on the latest news on the phone.

But I love that we can communicate on such a nice level, and I’ve developed VPM (Very Proud Mammy) status when it comes to talking about my boy and his linguistic skills. His renditions of “I Love It When You Call” by The Feeling raises many a smile, as do his very special chicken prayers. (He thinks it is hilariously funny to adapt his prayers to his current animal of choice: “Angel of God, my guardian chicken, to whom God’s love commits me chicken, ever this chicken...”)

What all this comes back to though is the fact that we’ve been very lucky that our son has been enrolled on the Lifestart programme since birth. As part of that programme he has attended playgroups (which are a Godsend to his poor harrassed auntie who minds him) and Joe Jingles music classes. When we’ve been concerned with his development (such as his stark refusal to say ‘mammy’ and indeed his stark refusal until relatively recently to use the potty) there has been a friendly listening ear ready to assure us as neurotic first time parents that all is okay. (In fairness, I’m the neurotic one. Himself is so laid back he is almost horizontal).

I’ve seen my child, even though he has no siblings, grow to be a very sociable, content three year old and perhaps of equal importance I’ve seen my own confidence as a parent grow too. Let’s face it folks, becoming a parent is a bloody scary business. (And not only because of the whole birth/ tearing/ stitches aspect).

Suddenly you have responsibility for a wee creature who you want to shape to be the best he can be. Lifestart have helped me do that. Today the ‘Journal’ launches our Lifestart Baby Bursary campaign. We are delighted to support the organistion which has worked with hundreds of families in this city to make a real difference and to feel more content in themselves.

Like many organisations in this city though, Lifestart have to be more creative when it comes to fundraising and the Baby Bursary is a great scheme to invest in the young people of the future. Surely the one thing we all want for this city is a generation growing up happy, confident and well equipped for life.

There is much talk in this town of ‘legacies’- the legacy of the Troubles, the legacy of unemployment and under investment. This is the perfect chance to leave a positive legacy to our children.

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