Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sam's To Do List!

I'm back home now for a couple of weeks. I got in on Monday morning and Aurelie and Ela headed off to France on Tuesday morning for nine days, leaving Sam and myself  to have a boys week together! 

'Cos Sam knew he wasn't going to get to go to France to see his mami and papi this time he got to make a list of things that he wanted to do with me for the week that we would be by ourselves.  So when I got back he eagerly showed me the list magneted to the fridge.

  • Watch movie Episode 6 (Return of the Jedi)
  • - Over the last couple of months Sam has seen all of the other Star Wars movies (see Aurelie's post on this!) but has been waiting for me to get back before watching the last one.  We are planning to watch it tomorrow, there will be popcorn, exciting times! 

  • Eat bouchon sandwich
  • - bouchon are sort of like dumplings, and they are tasty!  One of the most popular snacks here are bouchon in a baguette with melted cheese on top, double tasty!  For some reason his mother doesn't make them for him (so far this week I've made them at home once and we had them at a snack once (a snack is the name of little places that sell snacks here).

  • Go to Etang Sale
  • - Etang Sale is a black sand beach which Sam likes to go to but the waves tend to be a bit much for Ela so Aurelie doesn't take them there by herself.  we have been once already this week and had a great time.  If the weather is good in the morning we'll be off there again!

  • Play Rugby
  • - Well, Sam calls it rugby, mainly I call it cheating!  Lots of running and tackling in the garden.  At least Sam knows enough about rugby to cheer for Ireland rather than les bleus!

  • Look at space ship Lego on PC
  • - The Lego website has a lot to answer for!  And not just any Lego, Star Wars Lego.  Sam is building up quite a collection (and he doesn't know what is stored on top of the wardrobe, is a dangerous, dangerous place with lots of Star Wars Lego!).  Really how evil are the people who came up with the idea?  Lego and Star Wars, it's like crack for geeks!

  • Do water fight
  • - Self explanatory really, we have supersoakers and water balloons, there will be war.

  • Play Ben 10 cards
  • - Apparently if he can find them we'll be playing the Ben 10 card game.  Not sure what this entails but I'm pretty sure that Sam doesn't intend to lose.

  • Have a BBQ
  • - Planned for tomorrow evening.  We've made a circle of stones where we and rest a grill and have lots wood from the garden.  Sausages and husks of sweet corn have been bought so there will be burnt food for dinner tomorrow!

    So that's what our five year old wants to do with his Dad.  On writing and thinking about this a few of things struck me, prominant among them were;

    Firstly, how profoundly lucky I am to have such a happy healthy little boy who wants to do all these things with me and how lucky I am to be able to do all these things with him.

    And secondly, how lucky he is to lead the life we lead.  Spending time in Guinea and things that have happened there has reminded me how little so many people have, how privilaged we are and how precarious our lives really are. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Things you need to know before introducing your kids to Star Wars.

Aurelie's take on Star Wars and kids from her post from Facebook: ·
This one is kind of about parenting. Not that I want to give advice to anyone, this is more like a warning in case you are as unprepared as I was.

First I want to say that I was not (am I now?) a Star Wars fan. I had watched all the episodes once, the old ones about 12 or 14 years ago, the new ones whenever they came out. So this was not my idea, it was Stephen's.  After being assured that it was not too violent for a (sensitive) 5 years old, I said why not, I would probably enjoy watching it again too in this family bonding time. The only issue was that Ela (3) ended up watching as well, hopefully she'll be ok and won't have long term damage!

At first Samuel refused to watch the movie cos it was too scary, but curiosity won and well, it was a hit, and with that a few unexpected consequences:

1) From breakfast to bed time it's all about Star Wars. Don't expect any other type of conversation. Any attempt of normal conversation is either interrupted by some Star Wars related question, or just ignored until a Star wars statement feels appropriate, probably with no relation at all to the initial conversation subject. I'll give a list (not exhaustive, that would be impossible as more come every day) of questions I get on a given subject, light sabers:
  • Are light sabres stronger than metal?
  • Why do Jedi have blue or green?
  • How do they get them?
  • Why only Jedi have them?
  • Why do the bad ones have red?
  • Can I get a real one?
  • Can you make one?
  • Would they cut through anything?
  • Is it the same button to turn on or off?
  • Can they be other colour? And what about black?
  • Why can you not make one?
  • Can good guys have red ones too?
  • If I become a Jedi, can I get a real one?
This only about light sabres, now you multiply this by the amount of possible subjects (size and shape of space ships, planets, characters, relationship, clothing, robots, lack of toilets...) and you get my day.
This can be fine if you are a Star Wars expert, if not it may lead you screaming (out loud or in your head, depending the frustration level) “I don't know, I don't care, it's only a f*** movie, light sabres don't exist, it's all made up, just like f*** Santa!" - oups-.

2) Don't be a fool thinking “its just a movie, its cheap entertainment!”. Even Sam, who never bgets to see adverts on television has managed to get a glimpse of Lego Star Wars. So as the weak parents we are we got something small to make him happy. This has lead to the discovery of the existence of more lego space ships (the lego instruction booklet helpfully included some ads for more Star Wars lego!). Someone may even have been be foolish enough to show Sam the Lego web site, where they have ALL the space ships. I now have Samuel's christmas wish list ready in May, and mentioned every day to be sure it's not forgotten, and no pressure to get anything before, just because he is a good boy and he wants it so much....
Also I have a request to come up with Dark Vader costume for Halloween (at least the Emperor (Ela) will be easy to make).

3) Of course kids don't watch movies once, or twice. They have to watch it over and over without apparent limit. Who said I was against TV in their room? Or maybe even just a TV, so I could actually use my computer in the meantime (which is the only audio/video media around when Stephen is away).

4) Being the 1st "grown up" movie they have watched, it has also raised a lot of more existential questions for which I had to come up with accessible answers from a 5 and 3 years old.
  • Death. If death by guns shots was no problem, other death causes had to be clarified. Yes, people on board of exploding spaceships in space will be dead. Is Obi-Wan really dead if he still can talk, I'm not sure... it could a Force thing. it was a tough one to explain Anakin's mom and Padme (which he has not watched, just been told - and now I'm so glad I don't have to explain child birth!)
  • Slavery. People working without getting paid, I know crazy stuff, and the worse part, it was actually quite wide spread until recently on Earth. And still happening...
  • Deception. How to pretend to be a good guy when you're a bad one so they don't thing it's you. Please don't learn from that.
  • Turning from good to bad. Proof of a weak mind, never trust a bady, he is just going to use you and get you killed at the end.
  • Gender equality. Women can lead and use guns, good. Still there is a lacking of women Jedi and pilots that I can't explain. They are probably around, just not on camera.
  • Emotions. Yes it's possible to feel so sad you want to die, and to feel so angry you want to kill every one. But it's better to talk about it before getting to this extreme. Anakin and Padme did not talk enough.
  • Power. Some people like it so much, they always want more, and will do anything for it. And then get killed by someone who wants it even more. Not a good thing to be interested in if you're not willing to share. and give it up after a while.
So that's it. We have watched all episode but the last (Return of the Jedi). We are waiting for Stephen to be back to see it so HE can get all the questions. The problem is that now Samuel finds it easier to talk in French than English, so unless Stephen boosts up his French comprehension, I'm going to end up answering anyway...

The Emperor versus Luke!

Make love not war ;-)