Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lesson Learned- Taming the Goblin

This week in my new guest post series, Lesson Learned, "The Monko" from Taming the Goblin is here to share about life at home with her little boy. Goblin and Boogie are both October 2009 babies, so I always enjoy seeing the ways they are the same or different regarding their skills, abilities, and interests. I love the way the Monko writes about the things that go right and the things that don't go as planned with humor and reflection. She often makes me giggle at the same time that she is making me realize something about parenting. Her post "Someone forgot the importance of Child-led" is one of the reasons I felt compelled to be more transparent in my own blogging. I highly recommend that you read her post below and then go browse around her kid-friendly, idea-filled blog!


Since I found out about this series of guest posts back in January I have been fretting. I signed up straight away thinking that as I often have bad mummy days and disaster craft days I'd have plenty of material to choose from. Only the pressure of having to screw up made my life go swimmingly well for the best part of a month - I was the perfect parent (or at least my occasional grumps at Goblin were not interesting enough 'failures' to warrant a post). I was really starting to panic that I would have nothing to offer but I needn't have worried......

So on Friday I decided to make seed-cake bird feeders. I had seen beautiful pictures on other blogs of interestingly shaped seed-cakes suspended from trees by pretty ribbons. They looked adorable, and here is where I made my first mistake: Rather than saying "how much fun would Goblin get out of this?" I said " How awesome would these look on my blog?". 
I have discovered that blogs work in one of two ways: They can help to galvanize you to do cool things with your child even on days you don't feel like doing anything, because you know that you need something to write about that week; But on the other hand they can lead you to do stuff that your child isn't really interested in, just because you need something to write about that week; And they can lead you to gloss over the difficulties in an attempt to make a post read well. 

Our ingredients for the seed-cake bird feeders were 
- One bag of fruit and nuts,
- One big bag of sunflower seeds 
- One pint of dissolved gelatine. 

I thought I'd use a pestel and mortar to get Goblin to smash up the nuts for the feeders (which is good for motor skills). However the nuts proved too tough for Goblin so I ended up having to do all the smashing while he sat and watched. Now this is the kind of mistake I would probably come clean about in writing up a post. It was worth a try and I have learned that I need something softer next time. 

However I probably wouldn't 'fess up to my utter stupidity in dissolving the gelatine in boiling water and pouring it straight into the mix of nuts and seeds. This basically made the mixture completely out of bounds to Goblin as a scalding hazard. In writing this up my post would probably have said - "this could be an amazing sensory experience for your toddler mixing the nuts and cooled gelatine with their hands" - see I haven't lied, I'm not claiming it was an amazing sensory experience for Goblin, I'm just not pointing out that I was too stupid to allow it to be an amazing sensory experience for Goblin. 

When the mixture had cooled down a bit I gave Goblin a long handled spoon so he could help me spoon the mixture into a cupcake tray. In an ideal world I would have had my 'good patient parenting' head on and I would have let Goblin do his own thing with the mixture and sat back and watched the path he took. He probably would have played with it - picked it up with his hands, put some in his dumper truck etc. And eventually I would have been able to scoop it up and put it into trays. But by this time I was determined to make beautiful seed-cakes to put on my blog. So when Goblin started spooning mixture into "the wrong" tray, I started barking at him to spoon the mixture into the "right" tray. Then he started digging the mixture out of the cupcake holes that I had filled so he could put them in his tray. This was too much for me and I confiscated his spoon. (Wow - its quite hard being this honest about how utterly useless I sometimes am as a mother). 

So the activity that could have given Goblin a 30 - 45 minute fun activity playing with gooey birdseed and trays was ended rather abruptly after about 5 minutes. I then left Goblin with his dad while I put the trays in the kitchen to dry. 

But the disaster activity does not end there. When I went to turn out the seed-cakes the top of the cakes had solidified but the bottom half hadn't - and i'd failed to line the tray So they broke up as I took them out. This is what they looked like. 

Only one came out perfectly - obviously this is the one that would have made it into the blog post! 

One minor success was the straws I'd stuck through the middle which did actually create a decent hole for threading the string through. And the final (half) seed-cakes did hold together enough to be hung in the garden. 

Its not all as bad as it sounds. For a start I am quite good at reflecting on my parenting skills (and using this activity for this post has made me even better!) so I learnt some useful things from my activity and attitude: I learnt to remember to ask "what will Goblin get out of the activity" and not "what will I"; And doing an activity to attract the birds to our garden inspired me to go and buy a bird feeder to stick on our patio window. Goblin and I had a great trip to the pet shop where he enjoyed looking at the rabbits, holding a guineapig, staring at the tropical fish for ages, and picking out and paying for a bird feeder - he likes giving the stuff to the assistant at the counter. 

I think its okay to have days when your parenting skills fail, its an opportunity to learn and do better next time - that's why this series is a great idea, we can learn from each others mistakes too. But next time you read a blog post remember that bloggers have editorial power and they don't often blog about their parenting fails even though we all have them. 


If you would like to participate in this series (running on Sundays), please email me at hisforhomeschooling {at} gmail {dot} com! 


  1. Thank you for sharing! You are so right, we don't always share our parenting failures. thanks for being so honest and transparent. :) Great post!

  2. Hysterical. I can relate top every part of that post. And its a coincidence ad I was thinking of making some beautiful heart shape bird biscuits with my small for a birthday. Beautiful in my head of course, I'm sure they will be a gooey mess!


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