Caroline Verdon: Parenting skills: patience is needed in abundance...

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Sometimes the skillset needed to adequately parent feels exhaustive. Patience is needed in abundance.

“Can you put your shoes on please. They’re in the hall. Your shoes. No, not on your hands, can you put them on your feet. Both of them. Put both shoes on your feet. No, not my shoes, your shoes, your feet. Will you just put your shoes on your feet.”

If your house is anything like mine then that’s an abridged version. You also need to be able to have fun and be silly. We spend many an evening dancing around the lounge roaring and pretending to be dinosaurs. Then there’s organisational skills; making sure everyone leaves with the right hats and coats and lunches is a serious feat. Then, every now and then, you need tact and delicacy.

Last month, an NSPCC video popped up in my Facebook feed. It was called ‘#talk pants’ and featured a cute cartoon dinosaur called ‘Pantosaurus’. In a nutshell, it’s a catchy song and accompanying cartoon designed to help protect children from abuse. It’s an important and difficult subject that the NSPCC has made relatively easy to talk about.

My little boy is only three. There’s only so much a three-year-old should know but at the same time I think it’s important that he knows right from wrong. Since he was born we’ve made a conscious effort to not make him kiss people hello and goodbye. Instead we impress upon him how important it is to be polite and say hello and goodbye but let him choose how he wants to do it – whether that’s by waving, high fiving or going in for a cuddle and a smooch.

He also knows that if he wants to cuddle someone or give them a kiss on the cheek he should ask first. It hasn’t made him anti-social or made him avoid physical contact, he’s a very cuddly little boy but hopefully it’s made him realise that he chooses if he’s to be touched and so do other people. For similar reasons we felt it was important for him so see this video. If you haven’t watched it, it’s worth a look. It’s not remotely explicit – far from it. The cartoon is of a dinosaur playing with a dog and building a sandcastle. Without looking into the lyrics you’d be clueless it was about abuse. The song itself is incredibly catchy and I’ve found myself accidentally singing “Pants, pants, pantosaurous” in all sorts of places. The words to the verses are tame and get the point across: “your private parts belong only to you, if someone asks to see just tell them no” is your general gist.

Now Arthur is a huge dinosaur fan and having just potty trained is obsessed with wearing big boy pants. You add into that the repetitive nature of the song and he was a huge fan. It ticked all boxes. He asked to see it again and we probably watched it about three or four times in a row before he wanted to move onto playing with his trainset. I felt accomplished. I felt like I’d given him a little coat of armour should the worst ever happen. The thing with three-year-olds is you never know what they’re going to take in. Arthur frequently forgets that he has to wash his hands after going to the toilet and yet will remember where Nana put the chocolate cake last time we went round to her house.

Last weekend we went for a pub lunch in the Fox and a walk around Roundhay and for whatever reason, a good three weeks after having watched that video, the song popped into his head. Now you’d have thought I’d have been proud of this – of both him for remembering and for having done the right thing and shown him the video in the first place. Whilst I did feel both those things I also felt like I wished the ground would swallow me up whole. Why? Because the way in which he showed that he remembered was to randomly start singing parts of it whilst we were on our walk. More specifically just the line “what’s in your pants” at the absolute top of his lungs each time a person walked passed.

On the upside when one lady questioningly repeated “what’s in your pants?” back to him he declared in a very stern voice which was accompanied by a pointy finger “NO!” At least the message sunk in!

Apology to tradespeople

Dear Tradespeople. We are sorry. This week Ant and I made two completely separate and yet equally as humiliating mistakes.

My husband and I have just had work done on our house and a joiner came round to fit some new doors. My husband reckoned one of them was sticking – even more so after the woodwork got painted so I called the joiner to ask him to take a sliver off the door so it would close more easily.

The joiner turned up…and it turns out there was nothing wrong with the door at all.

It opened and closed as smoothly as you could ever want. It was mortifying and I couldn’t get him out of the house quick enough.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one to make this sort of mistake this week. Ant’s heating hasn’t been working and he’s put it off repeatedly but this week he finally called out a 
heating engineer to have a look at his boiler.

He’s had hot water but that was it. It turns out the reason for that, as discovered by said heating engineer, was that Ant hadn’t actually turned the heating on.

Had he looked at the instructions taped to the front of his boiler he would have known this.

Instead, he paid a £90 call-out charge for someone to press a single button.


Festive lights switched on

Thursday is the night! I’ve been looking forward to the Leeds Christmas lights switch on for months.

As I’ve wandered through Leeds and seen the lights get put up on the lampposts I’ve counted down the days until the twinkling starts.

Leeds is a beautiful city anyway but the lights lickering off the front of the Town Hall and the Corn Exchange make it look almost magical.

The Christmas season is my favourite – the Christkindelmarkt, the mulled wine, the brass bands, the lot.

I love it and the big switch on signals the start of it all.

It kicks of at 6.45 on Thursday and there is a full stage line-up including Kevin Davy-White who came third in last year’s X Factor.

It’s also hosting a pair of local legends – IBF Featherweight champion Josh Warrington and comedian Micky P Kerr who also happened to be on last year’s Britain’s Got Talent.

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show on Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.