Tagged Children

Toddler Photography (Toddler Lessons: Part Seven)

fotagrafin-263381_1280Welcome to Part Seven of the Toddler Lessons series, where we will be looking at toddler photographic techniques.

 
1. Subject Matter

When you find a subject that works, such as a knee, stick with it. Take three million identical photos of the knee. Do not mess with a winning formula. The aim should be to create a series of photographs that would work as a flick book. A really dull one. A flick book of a day in the life of a knee.

Controversy sells, and it therefore pays to be as inappropriate as possible with your subject matter. Extreme close ups of family members’ breasts and crotches are ideal.

 
2. Composition

It is important to have an interesting and unusual viewpoint, as these add intrigue to a photograph. Photographs taken whilst face down on the carpet are perfect examples of this.

Correct placement of the main subject of the photograph is important. Achieving the right balance between different elements can be tricky. The simplest method, as advocated by toddler photographers, is to miss the subject of the photograph out altogether, thus negating the need for balance.

Plain and unobtrusive backgrounds are very important in photography, in order to avoid detracting from the main subject matter. So important are such backgrounds that, should a nice plain piece of wall be located, it should probably be photographed alone. Avoid detracting from the plain and unobtrusive background with any subject matter.

 
3. Motion

Capturing motion in photographs is a difficult skill. Toddler photographers recommend approaching it with the utmost zeal and commitment to the idea of motion: ensure that the subject, photographer and camera are all moving as much as possible.

 
4. Flash

The use of flash should be as startling as possible, particularly to the photographer.

 
5. Focus

This should be either entirely lacking or completely bizarre. Think out of focus family with crystal clear raisin box on coffee table.

 
6. Filters

Filters placed in front of the camera lens to modify and subtly alter the image are frequently used by toddler photographers. The most popular toddler photographic filter is known as ‘the finger’. ‘The finger’ subtly modifies images so that they display a subtle hint of finger.

 
7. Special Effects

These should be applied completely randomly, with no thought for aesthetics. A sepia toned radiator gives a vintage look to modern central heating. A bin with artfully blurred edges is always a winning composition.

 
8. Exhibitions

Every good photographer needs an exhibit. ‘Study in Patch of Beige Carpet’ should do it.

 
9. Panoramic Photography

Panoramic photography is so last year. Toddler photographers in the know now practice twirloramic photography. Twirloramic photography is a technique involving the spinning of a camera in a circle in order to capture a 360 degree image. The effect is widely admired as ‘dizzying’, ‘vomit-inducing’ and ‘blurry’.

 
10. Water Drop Photography

Some absurdly clueless adult photographers believe this is taking photographs of drops of water. Toddler photographers smugly mock this ignorance, whilst following the correct technique of dropping the camera in water.

 
 

(Please Note: As always, neither I nor toddlers know much about this subject. Please do not drop a camera in water.)

 
 
You can see other posts in my Toddler Lessons series here

 
 
Nominations for the
Mumsnet Blogging Awards 2016 are open until 31st July. If you find me at all amusing, I would love nominations in the Best Comic Writer category. Nominating is very simple by following the link above. Thank you for reading my shameless begging.

‘Twas the (Real) Night Before Christmas

santa-31665_1280 Now, I should say that I love Christmas, and I like a bit of magic. But, just to be contrary, I have decided to de-magic* the classic poem The Night Before Christmas.

 
 
The (Real) Night Before Christmas

 
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
The children were shrieking, like they’d seen a mouse.
The stockings weren’t hung by the beds anymore;
The children thought they looked better thrown on the floor.

The children should have been nestled all snug in their beds.
Instead they were manic, as every parent dreads.
And Daddy and I, in utter despair,
Were trying to calm them (we hadn’t a prayer).

Out on the road there arose such a clatter,
The drunks passing by with their yells and loud chatter.
If they’d woken the children, finally sleeping,
They’d have received quite a browbeating.

The drunks finally passed on, into the night;
I noticed there wasn’t a snowfall in sight.
Though ‘magic’ oats by the children had been sprinkled liberally about,
There were no reindeer in view (but there was a fox with a glittery snout).

Now I had to enter the bedroom, stealthy and quick;
Filling up stockings, playing St Nick.
I crept into the room and the children sat up, asking, ‘Who’s there?’
As I ran from the room, I began to quietly swear,

‘Now bugger, now feck, now piss it and shit!
Oh bollocks, oh arses, oh crap and dammit!
To the bathroom to hide: oh what a close call!
Dash away, dash away, dash away all!’

So I was stuck in the bathroom, until all was clear;
While the children were up and now drawing near.
Rather suspicious, they called through the door;
While I pretended to be bathing, splashing and all.

How clever it would be if this were all a diversion,
Drawing the children away with this little excursion.
If the real St Nicholas had merrily climbed down the chimney,
And delivered his presents while the children were yelling at me.

Alas, it was not to be:
The presents had to be delivered by me.
So, until the children slept, there must I remain.
How long could this bathing pretense I maintain?

Perhaps Daddy could rescue me from this quagmire,
Leading the children to bed with stories so dire.
Of how they must go to sleep for St Nick to arrive;
For he could not be seen for the magic to thrive.

The children were back in their room, but not yet asleep.
I was free from the bathroom, downstairs I could creep;
Though it may yet be some time until I could return
To deliver the presents, and to my own bed adjourn.

(Perhaps I was not cut out to be St Nick: it’s true my beard is not white.
Indeed, with appropriate tweezing, it’s not even in sight.
And, whilst certainly not washboard flat, my belly
Has yet to shake when I laugh like a bowlful of jelly.)

The children remained wide awake in bed,
While an idea began to enter my head.
Telling the children St Nick could not visit while they observed,
I would take the stockings outside for the big man to fill undisturbed.

As the children listened for the sound of St Nick in the night sky so still,
Downstairs in the living room stockings and sacks I could fill.
Then I rang a bell for the children, sleigh bells just out of sight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

 

(*My appalling rhymes alone are capable of stripping most of the magic, it has to be said.)

A Wayne in a Manger and Other Christmas Weirdness

christmas-crib-figures-1060026_1280Christmas, as we all know, is the time of year when we suspend disbelief, believing in the impossible and the incredulous, in order to keep the magic alive.

In this spirit, I present my top ten festive peculiarities and anomalies.

1. The Snowman
In The Snowman, they fly over penguins on their way to the North Pole. That’s certainly taking the scenic route, isn’t it?

2. Father Christmas’ entrance
Why didn’t he always use a magic key? When most houses stopped having chimneys and Father Christmas started to use the magic key to come in the door, I can only assume he fired the person (Bob) who had suggested chimneys. ‘A magic key, Bob! We could have been using a magic key and a doorway all this time, Bob! Do you know how high my dry cleaning bills are, Bob? Dammit, Bob!’

3. It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is the quintessential Christmas film. The perennial favourite. The Christmas classic. We all know this, right? We’ve never actually, well, seen it though, have we? No one has seen this film. Have you seen this film? Do you know anyone who has seen this film? No. No one has seen it. The film might not even exist. Does anyone conclusively know it exists? Maybe they just did a title, a poster and a vague description of ‘something about an angel’, and never actually made the film.

4. Tinsel
Tinsel is apparently dangerous to cats and young children. They should not play with it. SO WHY IS IT SHINY?

5. Nazis
The Sound of Music and The Great Escape are shown every Christmas without fail. When, and how, did it get decided that it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the Nazis, and various highly improbable escapes from them? Nothing says Christmas spirit like the SS, right?

6. We Three Kings
What are the real lyrics to We Three Kings? Does anyone know them? Is it just a myth that there were real lyrics? Was it always about a scooter?

7. Home Alone
Some parents admit that they have left their eight year old home alone in Chicago while they are in Paris. Not only do Social Services have no issues at all with this situation, but the police have to be persuaded to go and check on the small child fending for himself. They eventually rock up, knock on the door, and get no answer. So they leave. They don’t break down the door or search for the child, oh no. They report that there was no answer and everything is fine. Did they believe they were supposed to be checking that the eight year old home alone wasn’t going around doing anything dangerous like opening doors?

8. The Elf on the Shelf
That elf. The original one. It is clear that the only rational reaction to seeing that thing is to cut off its head, burn it and quarantine the area, just to be safe. But, no, people are taking it into their houses, and encouraging their kids to interact with it. How is it doing this? Clearly it has evil powers. Mind control? More importantly, what does it want with us? If you see one of these, DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT IT. (Please note: as a precautionary measure, it is advised that you do not look directly at Instagram for the remainder of the festive period.)

9. A Wayne in a Manger
I’m not religious, so I’ve probably got confused, but who is this Wayne in a manger we sing about, and what has he got to do with the Nativity?

10. Baby gifts
Did the Three Wise Men not read any new baby gift guides on Mumsnet before they set out? You know the ones: ‘don’t get lots of clothes in newborn size; booties do not stay on feet; newborn babies do not enjoy gold, frankincense or myrrh…’

 
 
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a slightly bewildered night.

Fairytale of New Parents

christmas-tree-708002_1920

(To the tune of Fairytale of New York, my favourite Christmas song)

 
 
It was Christmas Eve (help)
For the parents
The children said to us,
Can we have more chocolate now?
If we do not allow
Then they’ll have a cry
Til we give in to them
And kiss discipline goodbye

We need a lucky night
The kids to go to sleep
We’ve got a feeling
It might not last for long
We’ll quickly wrap the gifts
And fill the stockings up
Hope they stay in bed
How could this go wrong?

They got Lego galore
Princess dresses in gold
But they just like the boxes
In which they were sold

When they first went to bed
On a cold Christmas Eve
We promised them
Presents were waiting for them

They were excited
They were giddy
They got a little bit lippy
When we finished their stories
They called out for more
One started bouncing
The other was singing
They must go to sleep
They can’t dance through the night

Father Christmas in his sleigh
Is travelling on his way
And the bells are ringing
Out for Christmas Day

We’ve got sprouts
We’ve got stuffing
And potatoes for roasting
Lying there on that tray
Dinner’s in disarray

We’ve got pudding
And crackers
Where are the nutcrackers?
Merry Christmas from Mummy
Dinner may not be yummy

Father Christmas in his sleigh
Is travelling on his way
And the bells are ringing
Out for Christmas Day

We could have organised
We shouldn’t be surprised
There’ll be no dreams for us
Won’t get to bed tonight
We underestimated
all we had to do
Do kids need breakfast too??
We built our plans around chocolate

Father Christmas in his sleigh
Is travelling on his way
And the bells are ringing
Out for Christmas Day

Muppet Babies v Sarah and Duck

I’m conducting a comparative study of children’s TV programmes in the eighties and children’s TV programmes today. Impressive, non? Non. It’s a posh way of saying I’m trying to decide whether the children’s TV I watched was more or less utterly ridiculous than that which The Toddler now watches. In order to answer this all important question, I am comparing Muppet Babies with Sarah and Duck in five scientific* categories. Each of these categories has been meticulously formulated** to assess the relative levels of ridiculousness between these two shows. Once the outcomes of the five categories are combined, I will be in possession of clear, indisputable evidence conclusively proving*** which generation watched the more ridiculous TV Programmes.

(*Stupid. **Not at all. I made them up on a whim. ***Not even slightly.)

 
Category 1: Random Animals

Sarah’s best friend is a duck. Due to the complete absence of parents/guardians/responsible adults around to set her right (see below), she appears to believe this is normal.

Of course, at least half of the Muppet Babies were random animals and, frankly, who on earth knows what the rest of them were.

Still, ill-advised as it may be to put a baby bear and a baby pig in the same nursery, Sarah takes a duck to the library. And the doctors. We all know the saying. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it is not suitable company for a child at the doctors. Because it’s a duck.

Sarah and Duck is the most ridiculous programme in the random animals category.

Category 2: Random Animals Aside, What on Earth is Going on with the Characters?

Okay, so The Muppets, as babies or otherwise, have always been a little on the weird side.

However, let us just take a moment to consider a few of the characters featured in Sarah and Duck: a seven year old girl; a duck; a rainbow; a wool wrapped lady with a talking bag; a talking bag; a donkey; a cake; a flamingo; a girl with a plate; an umbrella that is scared of rain; and some shallots.

I think we can all agree no more needs to be said. Sarah and Duck is the clear winner here, too.

Category 3: Parents and Guardians

The whereabouts of the Muppet Babies’ parents was never addressed. However, the Muppet Babies were being cared for by Nanny. Nanny had her weaknesses. She was just a torso and a pair of legs. That seemed a little odd. Mary Poppins would certainly have frowned upon that sort of thing in the nannying world. But, in all fairness to that torso, it was there for those muppet kids. It was a torso and a pair of legs more than is supervising Sarah and that duck.

Yes, Sarah and Duck are wandering around town without a single parent or guardian in sight. To make matters worse, the one adult who appears at all is Scarf Lady. Hardly the epitome of a responsible adult. She’s called Scarf Lady; has a pet donkey; and her talking knitting bag helps her when she gets confused. Though evidently not when she got confused and thought a donkey was an appropriate pet.

Sarah and Duck is once again most ridiculous.

Category 4: Stupid Names

Sarah and Duck has Scarf Lady, Ribbon Sisters, Plate Girl, Scooter Boy. Yes, you don’t want to be called Plate when you have to go to school (not that anyone in this programme has any parents to send them to school) but, to be fair, these names are accurate descriptions. It therefore just doesn’t seem quite justified to call them stupid names. Stupid characters, perhaps. But with pertinent names.

Over to Muppet Babies: Fozzie, Rowlf, Gonzo, Animal, Beaker.

Muppet Babies takes this one.

(Interestingly, both programmes have a Scooter. Scooter is a cross-generational daft name.)

Category 5: Plot (or What Are They Doing?)

The Muppet Babies lived in a nursery and went on imaginary adventures, with songs, before returning to Nanny and reality. They played hide and seek, tried to cure fear of the dark, performed Snow White, and avoided the dentist. Actually, this is all relatively normal behaviour for young children (or young whatever they were).

Sarah and Duck also go on adventures. Not imaginary. Surreal, but not imaginary. They go to the zoo because Duck wants to be a penguin (of course he does). They photograph birds (yes, that’s a duck photographing birds). They learn to bobsleigh (Cool Runnings 2: The Child and The Duck). Their bus gets diverted and makes some underwater stops. They make soufflĂ© (a seven year old and a duck, weirdest Come Dine with Me ever). Imaginative? Yes. Different? Yes. Ridiculous? Absolutely.

Obviously, Sarah and Duck wins in this category.

 
 
By four categories to one, children’s programmes of today are declared more ridiculous than those of the eighties. So, there you have it. Children of the eighties may have believed nannies didn’t have heads, and to this day think the word ‘beaker’ is hilarious, but at least we weren’t asking our parents for pet ducks. Or, indeed, ignoring the very existence of any such thing as a parent, and making a soufflĂ© with a small aquatic bird of the anatidae family (i.e. a duck).

 
Tune in next week for the epic smack down that is Rentaghost v Mr Tumble.*

(*This is not happening. Do not buy foam fingers.)