Our amazing babysitter.

Since Jojo’s arriva,l we have been spending a little less time than we would have liked with the older two children. With this in mind, we have engaged the services of a really excellent childminder. Boy-Boy especially loves them and I think that the money spent, has been a great investment in his future. Would you believe that after just five months with them, he has learned his alphabet, his colours, lots of shapes, and can count to twenty, and he’s only just turned three. He is streaks ahead of where Fraboo was at that age. Due to his difficulties hearing, his communication is quite delayed, but since this babysitter- come-private tutor has been brought onto the scene, even this has improved vastly.

The downside is that the initial financial outlay is pretty significant, and I have to be honest, I was sceptical of the benefits. I’m sure that we would have been able to muddle by, but there have been some occasions when they really were a godsend, able to take our screaming toddler, and in just a few minutes, have him eating out of the palm of their hand. We are very blessed, that the children’s exceedingly generous grandparents, provided that first hefty payment, and we have had to spend very little more (usually for unanticipated extras, which certainly haven’t broken the bank so far).

Fraboo has also benefited from some extra reading and writing lessons, and these have really helped her learning. Surprisingly, the childminder also has an almost exhaustive knowledge (and library) of cartoons, and has introduced Fraboo to many of the classics from my childhood as well some more recent creations. They do on occasion drop a few clangers. Have you ever heard Donald Duck squarking away in a distinctly Italian accent? Well I have, and let me tell you it sounds almost exactly the same as when he speaks English. I do appreciate the efforts being made add another language to my kids knowledge, but, to be honest, New Zealand sign language would be vastly more useful to us at the moment.

They have also offered us lots of advice; films and TV programmes which we may enjoy, who is number one in the charts, and we have also had recommendations of several local tradesmen and other businesses. It is such a privilege to have such an outstanding font of knowledge in our household, although I have to say my macho ego is feeling quite intimidated by their boundless wisdom. Or at least it would if they didn’t need to be plugged in every other day or so.

I am of course talking about our tablet. Both Mrs L. and I are embarrassed to say that Steve Jobs’ creation, has taken on a quite significant role, especially in Boy-Boy’s life. Granted, it has helped him incredibly, but he has developed a worrying dependence on it. Without his daily fix of the “A is for Apple” youtube video, he is like a caffeine addict who has yet to have his double shot espresso . When we can divert his attention to a more constructive pursuit he is quite happy again, and he doesn’t pine for it at all.

As a child, I thought that the most incredible technology available to us was the TV. This was probably amplified by the fact that we didn’t have a television in our house (or at least if we did, Mum and Dad had hidden it) until I was quite a lot older. Before you ask, it wasn’t that they hadn’t been invented, my parents just didn’t want one. As far as I remember, they finally relented, when I was about 15 (at almost the same time that I stopped believing in Father Christmas), and was immediately embraced by all. My brother and I especially enjoyed watching movies at home, and I know that it sounds pathetic, but it really was a treat. Prior to this, the only opportunity we had to watch the goggle box, was when we visited our grandparents’ houses on a Saturday, and were allowed to watch the A-team, Knight Rider, or Dukes of Hazzard. For that hour, we thought we were princes.

I’m not going to start harking back to “the good old days when had to make our own entertainment”. The technology we are now surrounded by has certainly made our lives more comfortable, but I think that for my family at least, we need to be aware of the influence these things can have on our day to day lives. We are currently taking steps to discourage viewing of the Alphabet song, (strangely the tablet is often broken these days) and it’s irritating cousins, but will allow it to be watched as a treat. Sometimes though, when we are both tired, and just need a few minutes peace and quiet, we do relent. We have to be careful as there is a whole world waiting to be discovered on the internet. There are certainly a vast number of excellent resources out there, but there is also some exceedingly unsavoury places just a single click away, and I don’t want to expose my children to any of that unpleasantness.

Although I may have been brought up in a slightly more innocent age, certainly in my life, television resulted in some very sobering discoveries, and I don’t think it is overstating to say that it robbed me of my innocence. Seeing images of wars, famines and floods taking place in countries far, far away was distressing enough, but being told by that one eyed monster that Santa isn’t real, for that, I will never forgive it.

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