The Blog

Press press press...

Bringing up a son is an education. The male psyche is a foreign land to me, and I have, until now, expected it to send ambassadors. But sons send out no ambassadors, and I am preparing an envoy as we speak.

Bringing up a son is an education.

The male psyche is a foreign land to me, and I have, until now, expected it to send ambassadors. But sons send out no ambassadors, and I am preparing an envoy as we speak.

We ambled along the South Bank to the Tate to see what was going on this week, and found a lovely surprise. For below the ground floor, at the very base of that impressive old power station, was an exhibition tailor-made for the pint-size.

It was 'The Itch Of The Golden Nit'.

Part of the Cultural Olympiad, and championed by classic BBC magazine programme Blue Peter, this is a first of its kind. It is animated democracy. Because it is entirely made of children's' own designed cartoon characters, with the artists plucked from the length and breadth of the UK. Using drawings, workshops and the miracle of the upload, children's' art was collated into a half-hour long action packed adventure film, and children voted for celebrities to take the voices of the main characters. It cost £3 million: but one watch has you hooked.

We sat in the little Tate projection room and watched, entranced, no one more so than my son, Felix, whose eyes were as big as saucers.

He adores the hero, Ten Hearts, played by Sanjeev Bhaskar. The epitome of dashing masculinity, for ten minutes of every day this superhero becomes evil: and by the end of the film he's looking like a dead cert for consort of Catherine Tate's Evil Stella. To persuade him, Stella says he will have a great time: because he gets to press lots of buttons. The film is privy to Ten Heart's thought bubble, where he sits with manic joy, in the cockpit of the baddie spaceship, pressing buttons. As he does so, he mutters "Presspresspresspresspresspress..." ad infinitum. There is a dangerous light in his eye.

This, for a male, really is a pull far greater than Stella's evil charms. Pressing buttons all day wins it for Felix.

Today we found ourselves with an impromptu dinner to prepare with all speed, and a trip to the supermarket was in order. Felix and The Supermarket have a healthy suspicion of each other. There is one bribe, which will usually tempt him along, though: buttons. He is bequeathed my iPhone on short-term loan, and times our visit. To add a little spice we negotiate a time to get from the entrance to the checkout. Today it was generous: ten minutes.

He monitored our progress with his usual officious gusto, and I was not short of advice and frequent timely reminders. We completed our mission and he announced with a wide grin as we walked out of the shop: "I've done 487 laps!" He had been active, to be sure, but I draw the line short of allowing my youngster to play Usain Bolt round the aisles. I queried his analysis.

He explained: athletes often use the iPhone stopwatch, and so it has a 'lap' facility. If you press the lap button once, the phone records that you have done one lap. So Felix went: presspresspresspresspresspresspresspress ad infinitum. He passed 500 laps while we loaded up the shopping. He was delighted.

What I do not know about the male psyche is a lot.

And as if to prove my point, a Swedish gentleman has been in all our papers today with a blokish scheme which, quite literally, backfired.

Men cooking up chemicals and playing amateur alchemist are no strangers to me. I will not easily forget the day I came home to find my husband melting lead with a view to using a rubber mould (an old cats eye with two disc-shaped indentations) to make lead coins.

The smell was horrendous and the fumes probably toxic. But my man was happy. The presspresspresspresspresspress bit of his brain- the bit that says, I wonder what will happen when: that bit was fully exercised.

Richard Handi, the 31-year-old from Angelholm, Sweden who hit the headlines today, seems to have had the same mindset. Industriously - and one dreads to think how - he went about procuring a little recreational radium, americium and uranium. And then, he attempted to split the atom in his kitchen.

This necessitated combining the ingredients and heating them thoroughly. Dismally, and perhaps predictably, he only managed to blow up his cooker. And finally, when he should have kept stumm, he blogged about it. Presspresspresspresspresspress.

He was immediately arrested, and charged with unauthorised possession of nuclear material.

The week's events have sent me haring towards the parenting books which advise on bringing up these puzzling, highly empirical creatures, sons. The charm of pressing a button or testing a hypothesis is heady motivation indeed for the men in my life.

I have absolutely no idea how I am going to handle the endless possibilities that will bring.