In our case, it’s crayons on copier paper over some plastic puzzle blocks. Sure, I could have gone and collected some nice leaves and shown you something planned and prepped. But The Child was bored one weekend afternoon and wanted to colour. This is the result.
She then spent a few minutes ripping it all up — two activities in one!
My recipe for pasta puttanesca started with this one from Nigel Slater. Then I got too lazy to look it up and just winged it. Still tasted good. Clearly, as long as you have the correct ingredients, you can kind of wing it with the quantities — to taste — and it’ll be fine.
1-2 tbsp oil
1 small tin of anchovies in oil, if you’re feeding up to four people
2 cloves garlic, bashed, peeled, and chopped (or 4, if you like garlic as much as we do)
sprinkle of chilli flakes
1 tin of chopped tomatoes, as above
A couple of sprigs of fresh basil, or a generous shake of dried
½ cup or so pitted black olives, chopped
1 tbsp or so capers, chopped
pasta of some description
Make your sauce: Heat the oil and fry the garlic, chilli flakes, and anchovies, stirring frequently until the fish breaks down. Add all the other ingredients (except the pasta) and stir to combine, then leave to simmer, partially covered, for around 30 minutes. Take it off the heat.
Bring it all together: Cook your pasta according to directions, then put the sauce back on the heat, and mix the pasta into the sauce. Serve hot.
Let’s cut to the chase. While we were on our holidays, I met parents of one through five children, the children were of varying ages (one even had a child of her own, with the biggest blue eyes you’ll ever see), they are / were privately-educated, go / went to state schools, or are / were home-schooled.
And they are all good kids. Interested in the world around them, pursuing higher education, physically active, musical.
I always worried — and honestly, still do — that I am not doing enough for The Child. But as someone once pointed out, the fact that I worry shows that I care. And if you’re reading this, you care. We’ve all got different ways of parenting, either purely by instinct, by the book, or somewhere in between, and I think as long as we spend as much time with our kids as we can, showing as good an example as we can, they will turn out okay.
None. I was tempted to buy The Child a Mr. Potato Head from our local charity shop but never got round to it (I was told later it was incomplete by someone in the know). But she does like poking my various facial features while identifying them by name. And I will do anything to pre-empt any angry screaming while on a long-haul flight. You should have seen my stuffed-full cabin bag last time we went on a flight. I brought nothing, it was all snacks and toys for The Child.
I went online and sought out some blank faces, eyes, ears, noses, mouths, hair, and hats (from public domain clipart). I laid them out in my word processor to make sure the proportions were right before printing. I then ‘laminated’ the various pieces using clear contact paper (i.e. book covering self-adhesive plastic) and cut them out, because I don’t own a laminator (The Husband got the blank faces laminated for me, though). This was especially fun because I am also exceedingly ham-fisted (thank you, The Husband, for helping). I used self-adhesive hook and loop tape to get the placement right.
Playing with small pieces on an aeroplane is a very bad idea. I was constantly bending over to pick tiny slivers up. However, she does love playing with it, and will spend A WHOLE TEN MINUTES at a time making a Picasso-style face before moving on to something else. It’s not exactly quiet either, as she likes announcing each feature with gusto (maybe I need to put her in a leotard covered in sequins and feathers).
Further experimentation required:
This is a game that shouldn’t be brought out every day. I spent ages putting it together, so I don’t want her to get bored by it too quickly. That bloody moustache and Groucho Marx face took far too long to cut out!