Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Day of Family Fun

Today was our family's second visit to the QinetiQ Family Fun Day. Yup, once a year the Husband's highly classified work environment opens its doors to the families of all its employees to enjoy live animals, paper aeroplane contests, bumper cars, and bouncy castles galore. (Alas, this year was sadly lacking in paper aeroplanes...a contest which Sebastian won last year.) But we did enjoy the live animals, bouncy castles, and tasty burgers (and candy, and popcorn, and candy floss....).

bouncy slide, here we come!
It was a brilliant day for it: though the day started off a bit overcast, the sun came out in full force while we watched some falconry, contemplated a balloon animal (E is a fan of balloons in a big way), and...went to the petting zoo. Yup: after a bit of food, we decided to introduce our son to live animals. This is where you have to understand that, to date, "live animals" has meant his great-grandmother's very docile border terrier and my dad's three (as he calls them) "circus dogs". Ethan and the puppies at Grandpa's house got on alright, but they're used to small kids. And this is where you have to understand that to an eight-month-old child, the words, "No!" and "Gently, please!" don't really mean much. They're nice noises to make as a parent - they make you feel like you at least have the appearance of control over a situation. Don't kid yourself. I still get mischievous and sly grins when I say things like, "Noooo, please" or, "We don't pull Mummy's hair!" or, "No pinching! Be gentle."

Please meet Bacon and Pork Chop.
When it came to the pigs, Ethan was loving it. I will get round to popping up a video, but he just really loved the oinks and squeals coming from the two so-ugly-they're-cute little pigs in their pen. It was hard to tell if there was more enjoyment derived from trying to touch the pigs or getting to stand up and hold the bars of the pen.

And here, we take a look at some captive chickens in their natural habitat.
I love this David Attenborough moment that's going on here. There's something so purposeful about the way Ethan was looking at me; like I needed to be made well aware of his position by the chicken coop. I don't think the chickens were quite as interesting as the pigs, though. Nor as interesting as our next victim subject...

When Children Attack: Petting Zoo Edition
That poor little Guinea pig. Seriously, people: I feel guilty about letting the Husband go pull this one from its cage to meet Ethan and his Savage Claws of Death. You remember what I said about the word "gently"? Well, we were hoping Ethan would give the Guinea pig a couple of heavy-handed smacks on the head and call it a day. Y'all, he got a fistful of that poor little thing and clamped down hard. It started squealing and Sebastian and I were frantically prising Ethan's fingers from the Guinea pig before it defecated in fright or was left with permanent physical scars. The emotional scars, I'm afraid, we were too late to prevent. Needless to say, we put the Guinea pig back to let it recuperate in peace while I brushed the tufts of its fur that had been yanked from its shoulder off of Ethan's hands. We won't be bringing him near animals who are smaller than him for quite a while yet.

The rest of the day was...long. Ethan passed out in his pushchair before we'd left the Fun Day events; though on the way out we bought him a few more books. His favourite author at the moment is Eric Carle of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame, so we got a set of Eric Carle books on counting and colours and such.

Don't even think I'm joking: he knows this story by heart.
After grabbing some books, it was off to do the grocery shopping (including odds and ends for 4th of July dinner!), and then back home for a bit of cleaning. Ethan proceeded to whinge for most of the rest of the afternoon. You see: no one tells you that when your child is on the brink of being independently mobile that their own physical inability becomes wildly frustrating to them. Ethan knows he should be able to crawl and lean over to get things and sit himself back up, but he hasn't quite figured out how to make all of those things happen just yet.

But we discovered something. Sometimes, the best cure for a whinging baby is a little bit of strawberry fromage frais and a bath in the kitchen sink: complete with tsunami-like splashing all over the counter and floor.

If you manage to allow for some standing in the bath, so much the better.
At the end of this exercise, you should be left with a thoroughly exhausted baby, who calmly sits on his father's lap through a reading of The Tale of Peter Rabbit (in the English accent in which Beatrix Potter should always be read), then proceeds to fall asleep sweetly in your arms after a feed, allowing you to place him in his crib and go on your merry way to have a Kit-Kat, write a blog post, and cuddle with your husband. If your results vary, you've clearly done something wrong. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go get that cuddle...

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