Confessions of a Technophobe

When it comes to technology I was something of a late bloomer. When I was doing my A-Levels, I had such a dislike for computers that I somehow persuaded my teacher to do the computer based part of my Biology coursework for me. When I arrived at University in 1999, pretty much everyone had a computer and a mobile phone. I had a word processor and a BT Charge Card!

I was also refusing to make the transition to CD player, clinging to my trusty cassettes (many of which I had recorded myself whilst listening to the charts).

I have no idea why I was so technologically reticent. Perhaps my love of all things retro was getting a bit out of hand? Perhaps I lacked confidence in my technical abilities?

I soon came to realise that if you wanted to maintain any semblance of a love life, a mobile was kind of essential. It may have looked like a brick and only had one game (Snake) but at least I could add Predictive Texting to my repertoire of skills (after my very patient friend taught me how).

The word processor ran its course soon afterwards and I had to finally give up on tapes when they stopped selling them!

Although my computer skills have caught up and I have a smart phone, I am now behind on Sat Nav choosing the old fashioned way – an actual map. Overall we are still quite low tech as a household. We have one TV and no Sky. We thought we were very modern when we recently got a Google Chromecast, probably about a year after everybody else did.

My boys, however, are very much of this generation. By that I mean the generation that exit the womb being able to swipe a touch screen. I frequently walk into the living room to find all 3 of my Bears perfectly lined up, eyes fixed onto some sort of tablet device each. I speak to them, try to find out the answer to some important question or other, pass the time of day. If I’m lucky someone might grunt in response but God forbid they would look up. I can usually be found backing out of the room again, chunnering to myself about bloody technology and the lost art of conversation and children ending up with square eyes.

As much as I dislike it, I do kind of get the appeal for the boys, especially for Little Bear. We have placed a heavy emphasis on listening and the Ipad provides his struggling language system with a welcome break. He can fully interact with the device without any language at all and the visual nature of the tasks means he instinctively knows what to do. And he can excel at it. He may be experiencing Developmental Delay but his Ipad skills are bob on.

But still… I do yearn for a childhood for the boys more like my own, without the addictive temptation of technology, in which things like Magic Painting held more appeal. In which you didn’t need your own phone at 9 years of age and have to be concerned about your image on as well as off line.

So, isn’t it ironic (don’t you think?) that my new favourite hobby is so tech that it would not even exist outside of the digital age?

Blogging: a whole new media, existing virtually but very real – a fantastic way for frustrated authors like me to get my words out there. In the times pre-internet, my wafflings wouldn’t have got further than my notebook. So I do have technology to thank for that.

I am still a little baffled by it though: the widgets and add-ons and linkies and Search Engine Optimisation.. It’s like another language, one which I speak hesitantly and probably with a very bad accent. Onwards and upwards though, at least I’m not typing this on a word processor!

In other exciting news, I have just got a new car. It’s a petrol/ electric hybrid that I plug in! How new-fangled is that?! And it has a built-in Sat Nav…

So, technophobe or techno-forward? I can’t quite make up my mind.

 

Confessions of a Technophobe

Moments to Treasure in March.

This week on the #WASO – weekly adoption shout out – the theme is Moments to Treasure. In amongst the germs and innumerable sick days, there have certainly been some of those. Here are my top three:

A successful supermarket trip

It is fair to say that when we first got Little Bear, he was not at his best in the supermarket or in fact, any shop. I know this is not an unusual story, I think many parents feel challenged by shopping with their little people but Little Bear did take it to the max. Even on a relatively calm day, it wasn’t a good idea. It was as though on crossing the threshold, some sort of spell was cast upon him, turning him into a wild creature with extra-specially-grabby hands.

I can remember one particularly stressful trip in the very early days when I thought it would be nice to have an easy lunch in the café first. We were all frazzled before we’d even got there due to Little Bear refusing to get into his car seat and a ‘scene’ ensuing as Grizzly lost his temper. This had evidently set the tone for the day as on arrival in the café, Little Bear didn’t take kindly to having to pay for his food first and launched his dummy at an old man’s head with the strength of a professional bowler. He continued by refusing to eat any of his food and throwing anything in sight onto the floor. The shopping part wasn’t exactly fun either. Thinking he would be more contained in the trolley, I hadn’t really factored in the long arms with the grabby hands on the end. He would literally touch and pick up anything within reach and most times it would seem, want to eat it. One of the first items he tried this with was raw chicken goujons. Strangely, I couldn’t let him eat them. He didn’t take kindly to my ruling, threw more things to the floor and started head banging the trolley. Grizzly and Big Bear couldn’t stand the screaming and wandered off, leaving me to it.

After that, I decided a better plan was to leave Little Bear at home while I did the shopping alone! For several months that has been my approach. However, I knew I couldn’t avoid it forever and that the real solution would be to teach him how to behave in shops. More recently I have popped in somewhere with him to get a few bits but never a full shop. On these occasions I have had to steer him away from the security man’s seat with all its buttons and cameras, prevent him from reaching round to fiddle with the till, constantly nag him to stay where I can see him.

It was a glorious day therefore that we managed a really successful shop and I didn’t have to tell him off at all. I made a deal with him that if he was sensible and stayed next to me he could walk around the shop. Any messing and he would need to sit in the trolley. He was straight into grabby hand mode, putting anything and everything into the trolley. I decided to be very clear about what we didn’t want and to send him off on little missions (within the same aisle) to get the things we did. He coped brilliantly and really tried hard to listen and to follow my agenda, not his own. He didn’t wander beyond the end of an aisle and only rolled around on the floor a few times. By the time we got to the tills, he knew he was tired and voluntarily sat in the trolley so I could unload and pack bags. A little well-earned treat for him to nibble helped him to stay there. I may have been sweating and feeling like I’d run a marathon but we were both so pleased with ourselves. Little Bear got truckloads of praise, from me and everyone else I told about it so hopefully next time will go ok too…

A lovely trip to the park

Little Bear and I frequently go the park on our own and we do usually have a nice time. However, on this particular March day, we had an extra lovely time. The sun was out and the promise of spring was dancing on the air. We had the whole park to ourselves to start with. We played Little Bears favourite game which involves me holding him while he grabs hold of the zip wire. Then he lets go and we spin around looking for it and I pretend I’m annoyed that we can’t find it and he laughs and laughs. Although I’m not a huge fan of the actual game because he’s getting heavy and the spinning makes me dizzy, I love how relaxed he is when we play. How carefree his giggle his. How much eye contact I get. How I can easily sneak my hand up his top and tickle his warm back. How I can plant kisses all over his face and make him squirm and laugh more. We were having a moment of feeling really well bonded. Or in the “love bubble” as Grizzly and I like to say.

A few minutes later, another little boy and his parents arrived at the park. Usually Little Bear is entirely disinterested in children he doesn’t know but on this occasion, Little Bear strode right over and started to play football with the boy. The other boy was younger and a bit hesitant with the ball. Little Bear tried to encourage him by saying “good one” when he did kick it. Later he put his arm round him to help him up the climbing frame. I could feel tears welling in my eyes watching him because it is only a few short months ago that I was wary of taking him to places with other children for fear of what he might do to them. And here he was, interacting beautifully, not only playing with somebody but being kind and encouraging too.

Toe nails

I know this is a random point to end on but usually when I cut Little Bear’s nails he screams the house down. I think it must be a sensory thing. He is very brave and lets me do it but screams all the while. However, on this occasion, he didn’t. I cut every single nail and there were no screams. Not even a whimper. I definitely prefer it that way.

 

I have enjoyed this week’s theme. I think it’s therapeutic to keep a record of all the little positives and to take the time to reflect upon them. I might do it at the end of every month.

Moments to Treasure in March.

Surviving the Lurgy

The theme on this week’s #WASO – Weekly Adoption Shout Out – is Survival Strategies. Mine have been a little tested over the past weeks. Here is what has been happening and how we have survived, in list form:

A chronology of recent weeks:

  • Grizzly had gastric flu and was laid up on the sofa for a good week. He got well enough (ish) for work and went back the following Monday.
  • On Tuesday night Little Bear started with a vomiting bug. He recovered quite quickly and managed a couple of hours in pre-school on the Friday.
  • That night, Big Bear caught the vomiting bug (you see where this is going). He got the flu symptoms too and was out of action for the whole of half term.
  • On the Friday of half term, Grizzly got the vomiting bug…
  • Somehow we managed one whole week at school/ pre-school/ work
  • On the Friday night of that week, Little Bear started vomiting again. This time he had a high temperature and when he woke in the morning, had a non-blanching rash all over his face.
  • Cue to a trip to the out of hours GP (Little Bear was still vomiting!) who sent us to the hospital. 6 hours later they were sure it wasn’t Meningitis, he was keeping fluids down and thankfully we managed to get him back home.
  • I deep cleaned the entire house. Why oh why would the germs not leave?
  • On Sunday night, Big Bear was up in the night with a very high temperature, dizzy head and feeling generally pretty unwell.
  • Cue a trip to the doctor the next morning. Diagnosis: virus. Isn’t it always? I wished I hadn’t bothered dragging him out in his pjs with a 39.8 degree temperature.
  • I rang my mum in law prior to the doctor trip to see if she could look after Little Bear for me, only to discover she too was laid up in bed.
  • This week I have kept both bears off school in the hope we would finally rid ourselves of germs. Big Bear is still poorly and Grizzly has returned from work and announced he has a temperature and feels weird….. AAAH!

The challenges:

  • When Little Bear was ill he was very brave and angelic. When he was half ill, he was entirely disregulated. This meant more aggressive behaviour than usual and that his main aim was to irritate Big Bear. This worked well as Big Bear has been grumpy and very much lacking in patience..
  • At times it has been better to separate them on different sofas to reduce the risk of it all ending in tears. However, this meant that I then had to decide who I was going to sit with whilst the other one got jealous.
  • It would be better if I could be in two places at once and doing two things at the same time.
  • I have missed my precious alone time that I usually get when Big Bear is at school and Little Bear is at Preschool.
  • There has been a lot of getting up in the middle of the night.
  • We all like to get out and about so Cabin Fever is at an all-time high.
  • There has been A LOT of washing.
  • I have washed my hands A LOT and they are sore.

The Silver Lining:

  • Little Bear does seek comfort from us when he is poorly so it has been good bonding time.
  • I’ve had loads of snuggly boy cuddles.
  • We’ve had some lovely moments of me and both boys tucked up together watching a film or snuggling in bed.
  • Neither bear has had much energy so I’ve managed the odd cheeky snooze when they’ve been watching something!
  • My lovely parents have helped me A LOT.
  • We have done some “wholesome” activities (my term for activities that make you feel you are doing good parenting and that your children might learn something from)
  • Little Bear is saying more every day.
  • We’ve watched some good films.

Our favourite family films:

  • Mr Peabody and Sherman
  • Home
  • Madagascar (all of them)
  • Paddington
  • How to Train Your Dragon

My favourite wholesome activities to entertain busy boys when you can’t leave the house*:

  • Baking – I like to prep 2 sets of everything before we start so they can both join in equally and it’s easy to manage.
  • Playdoh
  • Motion Sand – it sticks together so children can make perfect sandcastles without any help (great for experiencing success and for those who struggle with resilience), it doesn’t dry out and it doesn’t stick to your carpet.
  • Sticker books
  • A massive cardboard box that can be decorated and turned into a rocket/ car/ den.
  • Painting – a bit more rock and roll than drawing or colouring. I would love to draw all day but neither bear is really down with it
  • Mosaic sets – good for Big Bear when he wants to do something but hasn’t the energy to move off the sofa. Ditto Top Trumps and a Beetle drive game.
  • If in doubt with Little Bear, the washing up.

*When we are all too tired/ cranky/ disregulated for wholesome tasks, I just resort to lazy parenting: Ipad or TV. Not sure anybody learns anything, but who cares? Sometimes it’s just about survival.

Strategies to maintain my own sanity:

  • Getting a break. Even a 20 minute walk around the block helps. A little wander round the shops and a coffee definitely did – thanks Parents.
  • Not even thinking of all the other things I could be doing helps me be more present and find the silver lining.
  • Having a little plan in mind of what I will do when the children are finally asleep. It’s never anything big – new pyjamas and an episode of Location Location Location will do it. Just something nice to look forward to.
  • Having a good old de-brief with Grizzly when he gets back from work.
  • Tea.
  • My big men’s woolly jumper for days that already feel a bit too hard when I’m getting dressed. It’s like a woollen hug.
  • Writing. Thinking about writing.

 

Shared on #thelist and #WASO.

See #thelist at  www.youbabymemummy.com

You Baby Me Mummy
Surviving the Lurgy