Not Toby's education, you understand. That's pretty much looking after itself.
No, it's all about our education.
And, believe me, we're learning a lot.
Mainly in the area of psychology. Which is odd. After almost a decade as a secondary teacher, and then just as long doing school visits and speaking gigs, I thought I knew a thing or two about how to communicate with kids, how to get them onside and all that.
Which just goes to show what an idiot I was.
Nowdays, when it comes to being masters of devious manipulation, both Min and I are well on our way to becoming, well, not experts, but not complete idiots, either. Of course the fact that we're so rapidly developing the classic parental skills such as 'bait and switch', 'distract and act' and of course 'cave in without appearing to' in order to deal with a child who's not yet two years old probably says more about us than it does about him.
Still, we're learning a lot. Toby is training us up nicely.
His favourite tactic is the one best described by the brilliant US author/illustrator Mo Willems in his picture book Knuffle Bunny (an almost perfect literary work, IMHO, and definitely one for the parents...) as "Going Boneless"
By using this one simple technique, our little angel has taught us the following:
- Don't ask 'Do you want a bath?' Just put him in it.
- Similarly, don't ask 'Are you ready to get out of the bath'. He'll let us know when he's ready by trying to climb out an nearly braining himself in the process.
- No, he doesn't want peas.
- No, he doesn't want to sit in his high chair.
- The expensive coffee machine is actually a toy.
- If he wants to go in his carseat, he'll tell us. Not the other way around.
- Our iPhones are, in fact, his iPhones (I've gone to great lengths to ensure that he doesn't yet know of the existence of the iPad....)
- Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury's 'Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes' is the pinnacle of contemporary literature.
And that word?
(I hesitate to even type it, even though he's been in bed asleep for the last hour. Oh well, here goes...)
I have no idea why, but the boy is obsessed by trains at the moment. From the second he wakes up, until the moment we put him back into his cot it's "Choo Choo?" (deliberate question mark there, you need a rising inflection to get the full effect.)
And if either Min or I even hint at the word "train" then it's all over for us, for quite some time. Out comes the Brio, and the Thomas set, and the Fischer Price. And then down we all go to floor level.
I'll be honest with you, despite everything, including my better judgement, I say 'Train' quite often....