{Living Arrows} 4/52 – Drawing

Thomas loves pens. Crayons don’t cut it for this boy. Nor pencils. He always wants a pen. He knows where we keep them, and stands looking imploringly upwards like a little lost puppy until we (invariably) give him and let him have one. And it’s usually a specific one that he wants too. Not just any pen will do!

His skills with a pen impress me, though. He mastered the tripod grip at about 14 months and has now progressed to drawing straight lines and circles which actually join back up with themselves. He scribbles over shapes that I draw for him, moving steadily towards proper colouring-in.

This picture captures perfectly the flash of concentration that passes across his face when he is “doing drawing”. That’s my boy, lying on his belly on the floor, focused entirely on the task at hand.


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{Living Arrows} 3/52 – Foodie

My son loves to eat.

Yet, he’s also very picky about his food. Or more specifically where he likes to eat.

At home, the dining table is not a popular spot. He’d exist, on days spent in the confines of our house, on biscuits eaten on the run – if only he could. “Don’t like it” is a frequent refrain, even when I’ve set before him something that he has previously declared as “mmmmmm, yummy tummy”.

Nursery is a different story. There he apparently gets his head down and shovels food in as fast as he can, giving warning glances to his little play mates not to try to touch his plate. He eats things there that I’ve never successfully served at home – tuna, cheese and melon, to name a few.

His very favourite thing of all , however, is to eat out at a restaurant. Sat up at the table between us, he states his preference for pasta or sausages, peas or carrots. Confident enough at two to order his own meal. When the food arrives his face lights up. “Mmmmmm, lunch” he shouts, winning over waiting staff and fellow diners alike.

He’s been confidently feeding himself with cutlery for well over a year now, but there is still one meal that foils him every time: pasta bolognese. It’s almost like he can’t help but turn himself orange in the process of eating it all as fast as he can. And I can’t say I mind, because watching him is priceless.


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{Living Arrows} 2/52 – Tantrum

In so many ways, Thomas is a typical toddler. When the answer to a demand is “no” – when he is not allowed to eat biscuits all afternoon, go out without shoes or play with scissors – he makes sure he shows his disappointment via that timeless medium: the toddler tantrum.

And he also has a tendency to become extremely frustrated with his limitations. When something does not work how he’d like, when he doesn’t understand how to fix something, or a task is physically beyond his capabilities, he expresses his displeasure for all to see by the same method.

Sometimes I envy him the ability to express his emotions so easily and so completely. Given the opportunity, I’d happily throw the odd tantrum myself. The apple, it seems, does not fall that far from the tree after all!

My weapons of choice for dealing with a major toddler meltdown are distraction and denial. My denial, that is. If I ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening, it usually goes away soon enough! But sometimes I have to take a step back and just laugh. The way he throws himself against furniture or on to the floor. The beating of his fists. The look that comes over his face. The set of his mouth. The anguish in his calls. It’s all Oscar worthy stuff.

And this picture sums up a typical Thomas tantrum!


(I think I had denied him any more train videos… after almost an hour of trains at London Bridge on a loop!)


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{Living Arrows} 1/52 – Trainspotting

I read about the Living Arrows project from I Heart Snapping a few weeks ago. Like many others, I can identify with the Khalil Gibran passage which lends the project its name. I loved the inspiration and the idea of the project. Then I promptly forgot all about it.

Until this week when the posts of others taking part began to pop up in my Twitter feed. I loved the idea all over again, and wanted to join in.

Then I sort of forgot about it again. It’s been a tough week of illness and stress. I’ve been busy. All the usual excuses.

Until Friday.

On Friday, Thomas was in the most immense grump. Another new tooth has put in an appearance. He’s been ill and lacking in sleep too. Leaving him at nursery, he cried for the first time in… Forever. I promised him I’d be back just as soon as I could and that we’d go to see trains. A promise that is enough to put a smile on my son’s face no matter what.

Every evening without fail, as we walk past the station on our way home from nursery, Thomas demands that I take him to see the trains. In fact, having patiently explained over and over again that we need a ticket to get in to the station, he now simply demands that we buy a ticket.

“I want to see a train Mummy. Buy a ticket.”

His wails of protest last all the way down the hill and around the corner to the point where we can see the tracks and the trains entering the station. Only then does he calm a little. And we repeat this routine each and every day that he goes to nursery.

But now that I take the train to work on Fridays, I have a train ticket. This simple fact means that I can access the platforms of our local station and take Thomas to see the trains.

When I picked him up on Friday, he asked immediately if we were going to see the trains. And when we got there, with him clutching the receipt for my tickets (“Thomas’s ticket!”), he was in heaven. He chatted away about where the trains were coming from and going to (“London Bridge” and “London Charing Cross”) and what colour they all were. He commented on the number of people getting off each train and declared “going now” and “bye bye train” each time the guard blew his whistle.

We spent a good 25 minutes on the cold platform and the smile never left his face.

It was when I snapped this picture, that I remembered the Living Arrows project.


I couldn’t help but think how perfectly this photograph fits.

My son is a train obsessive. I can’t pretend to understand what it is that gets him so excited about watching trains – in real life or via You Tube – for hours on end. But what I do know is that this is something he has discovered and come to love all by himself. It’s his self selected passion. When I watch him watching trains, I’m reminded of how rapidly he has developed his own unique personality and interests with very minimal influence from me. That whilst I can guide him and influence him to some degree, I am not in charge of the person he is now, nor the person he will become.

I, of course, love my little train spotter, and will always love him, no matter what he becomes.

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