Fun with Messy Play by Tracey Beckerleg – a book review

Available from “Jessica Kingsley Publishers” and “Amazon UK.”

To save you time and money I shall cut to the chase so that you can determine if this book would benefit you or someone you know. Consider the three following questions carefully:- firstly, are you now or have you ever been a parent? Secondly, do you believe that you are an average parent, one well within the bell curve rather than on either end of the extreme? Thirdly, during the period of parenthood, if you were or are one, did you ever clean your kitchen floor more than once a week?

If so, this book will definitely help your children, and may even help you as a parent, vicariously.

I love this book. It is a no nonsense down to earth approach to helping children learn and grow through play, specifically messy play. Ms. Beckerleg is an experienced mother, and teacher of special needs children. The book is divided into helpful chapters that address areas of need common to many of our children such as 'sensory stimulation, language and communication, social development and motor skills.'

To be frank, I could have done with this book about 6 years ago. Instead I had to trundle about on my own, adapting mainstream guides to suit my own particular children. Because one of my children is a sensory 'seeker' and another is an 'avoider,' especially when the tactile defensiveness issue is dominant, I would have welcomed any additional tips and tricks. Anyone who is already familiar with sensory diets will also be familiar with many of the suggestions in Ms.Beckerleg's book but there are lots of additional useful suggestions and ideas. I also like her chapter on 'Things to remember.' This in part addresses what can occur when you have a group of children with differing needs. Her students were in the classroom, mine are all at home with me. Her 'real life' anecdotes and examples are heartwarming and hopeful, and we can all do with a dose of that.

Don’t worry, the exchange rate is laughable at the moment and if you ever need any translations, just give me a tinkle.
Cheers dears

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A Wolf in uncertain attire

Once I have steeled myself to the prospect on an increase work schedule, the sale of the puppy falls through, we have been pipped at the post by some avaricious type. [translation = a non dithering buyer bought our puppy] This gives me time for further reflection and absorb the dire warnings of many of my pals. “Jerry” I analyze my requirements that a dog should provide.

For junior, I need a smallish dog that doesn't jump up and has had it's bark removed. It would be handy if it were also toothless and clawless but I know that is probably asking too much. It should also have enough zip and zing to compete with the energizer bunny.

Senior son requires a dog of a gentle and tender disposition, that would appreciate bear hugs and lots of physical contact. This dog would need to be more of a plodder, perhaps an older dog.

Also the issues of asthma and eczema.

I ignore my older daughter since she is out of the country for the next year and concentrate on the younger one. She has ALWAYS wanted a dog. She is well able to argue her own corner with faithful promises of commitment to feed, play and walk the dog at regular intervals, happy to be honorary poop cleaner. She may have the words, but I suspect that they're hollow. Typical.[!] [?]

Spouse is not keen on a dog. He knows that a dog will mean additional work for me, that is his primary objection.

For myself. Well, let me tell you a tiny tale to explain my innate dislike of dogs. When I was a small person, five, maybe six, we lived in South Africa, in Cape Town. Below Table Mountain, nestled in a suburban district, we lived in an 'all white' area. I learned Afrikaans at school, it was compulsory. It also seemed compulsory for the local inhabitants to guard their little castles with large Alsatians, which they kept on long chains in their gardens. The chain link fences bordering their properties, gave the casual passer by a perfect view of the dogs' slathering, jaws. Their hollow barks confirmed that they were not potential pals to the unwary. One sunny morning, I recall them all being sunny mornings, I walked along the path. [translation = sidewalk] Despite my youth, it was safe in those long distant days, for people to go about their business. 'Protection' was everywhere if you were sophisticated enough to see it.

A large creature, matching the above description, managed to escape his [?] chains, bounded over the fence and chased yours truly until he managed to make physical contact with my right buttock. Fortunately, an adult person arrived in time to disengage the dog's teeth.
What can I say? My body is not physically scarred for life. Despite my penchant for 'whodunnits,' I still cannot watch 'The Hound of the Baskervilles.' Dogs, contrary to popular belief by cat owners, are intelligent. They can smell fear.

This in part, is why the 'dog debate' has continued for several years in an unresolved manner. Anecdotal evidence of the many benefits of dog relationships with autistic children, has tipped the ba in favour of expanding our household to welcome a dog.

Although I have studied the questionnaires, 'what kind of dog is right for you?' with due diligence, I am still in a quandary due to the disparate needs of so many different people. A dog with numerous personalities comes to mind, which need not necessarily be a disorder.

My minds eye can already see “Estee”, the puppy [regardless of ‘it’s’ sexual orientation] gamboling joyously with my children. But at night I have other visions of a middle aged hag, walking a dog alone with a pooper scooper in my left hand.

I know that I need to address the flip side, compose my advertisement for the ‘Dawg Day Times’ – 101 benefits of making your home with us!’ a sort of misstatement. I ignore ‘Truth in Advertising’ legislation, with criminal intent.

As I come back to the here and now, I tune back in to my domestic situation as one of the cat climbs up the back of my leg meowing; spouse is attached to the computer, my daughter watches Animal Planet on the telly, senior pogo's in front of the Gamecube and junior has his Ninendo DS at full volume. I shake out some kitty crunchies for our furry friends.

I quite fancy a stroll outside in the peace and quiet with wolf at my side.

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I used to consider myself an honest person, don't we all? I'm not averse to telling the odd white lie here and there, but definitely avoid the big whoppers. [translation = mortal, not burgers]

With my first generation of children a couple of decades ago, I found that my primary position on 'truth' was compromised. I adopted a new position; 'sitting on the fence.' Then, a youthful and ignorant parent, I worked on the sound theory, that if I offered two opposing options, that my child would have to work it out their own way. Of course I stacked the odds in my favor on each and every occasion; 'some people think it's o.k. to eat animals and earn their living that way, other people prefer to think of animals as friends, now would you like Whiskers fried or roasted for Sunday lunch?' Now that's what I call value free parenting.

These days, when the audience is more literal and is beginning to acquire a sense of humor, I find that my fence is getting a bit rickety, but that happens with age. With this generation's black and white world, my fence is being shaken. I am in peril of a tumble.

“I am special?” he asks before the sun has risen. I blink behind my bifocals. I am not a morning person. When he first wakes up, he has more words available to him than later in the day, as he uses them all up. He seems to be operating on a quota system.
“Of course, every child is special. Indeed every person is special now I come to think of it.” I need my brain to wake up and connect with my mouth.
“No, no, no. Me. Me. Me. Am I the special one?” Oh dear! Who has being saying what to him? Don't mess it up! Encourage and positively reinforce every utterance. If only I could get him to start at the beginning, to fill me in on all the prior thoughts leading up to this question.
“Who told you that you were special dear?”
“No, no, no. Not 'deer,' 'boy!' Am I a special boy?” Oh dear! I fell right into that one. Wake up! Starting firing on all cylinders! Have my neurons abandoned me?
“Who told you that you were a special boy?” Why am I a night owl? [translation = barmy old bat]
“I don know. I mean, I mean, I mean, I cant remember who is saying dat.” I think. Hurry, hurry, before he loses interest. I need to metamorphose into an early bird. [translation = leopards and spots] I think hard. Why didn't I train to be a speech pathologist when I was 18? Can I swap [translation = trade] my paper qualifications in 'uselessness' for a practical skill set?

I have no back-ground information, no pointers or clues. I don't want to provoke a meltdown by trying to extract chapter and verse from him, when he just wants an answer. I think of an answer. Not an answer to him, but an answer for him to use.
“The next time someone says that to you, can you try and do your 'good answering' for me?”
“Er, maybe.” Perfect! Never agree to anything initially, without due consideration of any and all consequences. A sound response that will stand him in good stead, both now and in the future.
“Can you try and look at the person, their face, shoulder perhaps, and use your kind voice to say, “And you're special too!”

Well it's not a lie. [translation = ain't that the truth]

verb [I] FORMAL
to avoid telling the truth or saying exactly what you think.

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