Ruby used to ask for the telly to be turned off as she was more interested in making something (the loo roll tubes I’ve saved to plant beans in often disappear to be transformed by copious amounts of cellotape into strange creatures) but things change and I’d started feeling guilty at my teatime reliance on cbeebies. Much as she often loves cooking, when we’re both slightly frazzled at the end of the day, it’s so easy to switch the telly on and get on with making the dinner on my own. But on lovely evenings when there’s play to be had outside, I feel such a terrible Mum to have encouraged my daughter onto the sofa.
When we got the pigs I was so pleased with Ruby’s interest in them. We often gave them their early tea together before I needed to get ours and Ruby would stay outside, picking clumps of grass and dandelions for them. Or she’d pull her outside chair up close to them and oink, claiming an ability to communicate in pig language. I could happily nip between the kitchen and garden, cooking and gathering any salad and herbs from outside, enjoying the odd piggy update from Ruby. How happy I was. And how quickly the novelty passed.
She still has days when the pigs offer fascinating entertainment at teatime, but was increasingly asking for telly again. And while I’m not at all anti a bit of telly watching, it was the regular teatime routine that brought on the Mum guilt. But yesterday the kittens arrived.
Tiger and Mog (yes, my daughter is very influenced by the Judith Kerr books) are proving a distraction for me at teatime, let alone Ruby. They’re from a nearby farm, used to sleeping outside, huddled up to the warmth of their Mum and although Mog was immediately friendly, Tiger was timid. We tried to sit quietly at first (obviously difficult with a 4 year old, especially with a friend round to play) while poor Tiger shook as he ventured out of his corner to lap a saucer of milk. But already he’s letting Ruby stroke him and she’s very pleased with his purrs. She’s also been busy scrunching up bits of paper for kitten toys and finding cardboard boxes for them to hide in.
My telly guilt has vanished temporarily, but for how long? Chickens are next on our list, how fantastic to see Ruby going off to collect eggs. But I’m starting to realise that if I rely on new animals every time I feel like a terrible Mum, our home may soon be crowded. More the crazy chaos of Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ than the cosy homes in the Judith Kerr books…..