The Very Hungry Caterpillar takes over bedtime

Reading a book a day will expose Albie to hundreds of thousands of words by the time he starts school, according to research, but I’m not sure he’ll manage that considering The Very Hungry Caterpillar contains just 240. Not all of those are unique, either…

The arrival of Albie’s second birthday last weekend coincided with him selecting reading as his clever ruse to buy precious extra minutes before lights out.

The gluttonous guzzler (the caterpillar, not Albie), is a firm favourite, forming a repetitive double act with the picky animal receiver that is the main character of ‘Dear Zoo’ during the bedtime routine.

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Eric Carle’s classic is so iconic in our house that, when calling the NHS non-emergency 111 service last month, instead of asking their never-ending list of medical questions the operator could have cut to the chase by asking ‘Does your child still poke his fingers through the holes in the fruit’ to check he wasn’t in mortal danger.

Although it rivals Hey Duggee for attention, the caterpillar’s varied diet hasn’t influenced Albie’s eating habits. While the caterpillar dines out on everything from salami to swiss cheese, our tantruming toddler generally prefers crisps and chips.

Despite this, we’re delighted that, as of last week, the dietitian has discharged Albie after making great progress up the milk ladder. He’s not at the top glugging Cravendale just yet but was cleared to try a small amount of cheese instead of the much-hated yoghurt. We tried that, but got the response of ‘Yuck’, so instead havwe’ve tricked him by spiking his Oatly with a dash of proper milk. We’ve left the cheddar out for the caterpillar.

While failing the food lesson, the caterpillar has had a positive impact elsewhere. It’s improved my memory no end.

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My memory is shocking. If I go upstairs to the loo, intending to grab my phone charger from the bedroom afterwards, chances are my phone will remain dead for the rest of the evening.

Tonight, though, I managed to recite the whole book off by heart, apart from the Kim’s Game list of stuff it gorges through on Saturday. It’s so ingrained in our minds, even Albie piped up with ‘DORBRY!’ (his stab at ‘strawberries’) when I said ‘On Thursday, he ate through four…’. This was an encouraging sign, given in Dear Zoo the camel is currently misidentified as a juicy red fruit.

Mercifully his birthday heralded the arrival of some new reading material, so hopefully we’ll wean him off the caterpillar and branch out during our now nightly bedtime reading sessions.

Until now, he’s never been a big fan of reading, his short attention span seeing him wander off to more entertaining distractions. Who knew the caged confines of a cot could prove so effective!

 

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