Yay! School holidays are here at last! It was such a drudge going back to school after Easter. It really felt like we’d earned a break already. But anyhoo, here we are, holidaying.
We’ve just come back from spending a few days on the south coast, first with my mum at her house, and then with Tom’s parents at a family friend’s holiday house.
The kids had a great time, but were rather ratty. Not sure whether it’s due to the change in routine, or the excitement of being away, or whether they’re feeling a bit off. Either way, we spent what felt like a large chunk of the trip arguing with each one of them about various things.
Despite this, a good time was had by all. Tom got to check out a brewery he’d been wanting to see, and he also managed to escape to the pub to watch the A League Grand Final.
I managed to finish two books while we were away, so that’s two more books than I usually finish in a week. Result.
Sliding with Gran.
Checking out a demolished lighthouse with Nanny and Poppy.
Checking for dolphins.
We headed to an indoor play centre due to bad weather on Day 2. The kids had a ball. They even tried rollerblading for the first time.
Neave enjoyed dancing in the lights as much as the rollerblading.
Checking out the local sights with Dad while Mum
relaxes packs and cleans up (with a bit of relaxing time thrown in after!)
A quick stop off for ice cream on the way home.
So now we’re safely home again and still have another week to enjoy before school goes back. Lucky us!
We were eating dinner the other night when the phone rang. Neave rushed off to answer it.
“He-llo! Yes! He-llo! Here’s Mummy!” She thrust the phone at me. I put it to my ear, expecting to hear my Dad’s voice on the other end as he has impeccable timing and almost always rings while we’re eating. However, what I heard was a computer voice saying,
“… if you would please participate in a short survey that will take under one minute…”
I tuned out again as I considered whether or not to hang up, but as it was going to be less than a minute, I decided to keep listening. I completely missed hearing who was conducting the survey or what it was for, so had no idea what subject was about to hit me, but hoped I’d know the answers.
The first question, still delivered by the detached, electronic voice, was,
“If there was a State election tomorrow, who would you vote for? If you are not sure, indicate whoever you have the slightest leaning towards…”
Oh great, politics. Here we go. Um…
“…Press 1 for Liberal, 2 for Labor and 3 for Greens.”
I entered my choice and hoped there would be no more political party questions because, quite frankly, I’m disenchanted with every one of them.
Next question: “Do you agree with legalised hunting in NSW National Parks? Press 1 for Yes and 2 for No.”
Well that was easy, 2. But it didn’t let me indicate how strongly I disagree with hunting in NSW National Parks, so I held the button down for a little longer than required. That should do it.
Next: “Do you agree with legislation that would make same sex marriage legal in NSW? Press 1 for Yes and 2 for No.”
Oh bugger it. 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1. 1.
I hope they got the message because there were no more questions after that. I think I broke the survey.
1. You are generally a happy, bubbly kid. Pleasant to be around, cheerful and funny. However, over the last two weeks you have been very inclined towards tantrums, even over silly little things that normally wouldn’t bother you. I hope you’re just tired and that you will snap out of it soon.
2. You are now one of the ‘big girls’ at preschool and at dancing, and you are enjoying this different role for you. Having always had a big brother, you don’t get to be a ‘big kid’ very often. It’s nice seeing you getting this chance to shine a little and be a leader for your peers.
3. You still absolutely love dancing, so you’re really happy now that your classes have started up again. You had a concert last week at a local event, and you had a blast. So much so that someone in the crowd came and congratulated you afterwards for your enthusiasm and concentration: you had a big smile on your face and never took your eyes off your teacher the entire time!
4. I’m really fed up with your screaming. Playing, tantruming, crying, happy, sad, angry – any excuse will do for you to start screeching at the top of your lungs. It’s contagious, too. Neave and Tiernan are quick to join in once you start. It’s a wonder the neighbours haven’t put in a noise complaint.
5. You are making good progress with your speech therapy, even though I don’t make time to practice with you as often as I should. You enjoy the attention you get from the speech pathologist, and from me when we practice, so you are keen to try. Your program ends in another month or so. I really should get my act together before then.
6. You’re still not keen on playing soccer when we’re at your actual game, but you had a fantastic training session last week. You joined in with the exercises, dribbled the ball, kicked, passed and played a game at the end. You even scored a goal! So I am encouraged to persist with you and keep taking you to games. Hopefully you will realise soon that games aren’t much different from training.
7. You don’t seem to need your day sleep as much anymore. About two day sleeps a week seems to be enough to keep you going. I actually prefer it that way, because when we have to pick Tiernan up from school, it is very difficult to coordinate sleeps as well. If I try to get you down too early, you’re not tired and it doesn’t work anyway. But if I leave it too late, you don’t get enough sleep and when I wake you up to go, you are cranky and awful for the rest of the afternoon. Even when you don’t sleep, I still have to sort Neave out somehow, but it just seems easier when I only have to worry about one.
8. Now that Tiernan is off to school, for the first time I am thinking about what school will be like for you. It seemed silly to contemplate it before Tiernan had started, but now he has and I’m beginning to wonder. I think you will like it. I think you will be ready and confident. I think you will know some stuff already, because you are very interested in what Tiernan is doing, and you seem to be taking some of it in. I’m really excited for you. It’s still a while away, though, so I want to make this a good last year at home for you. I hope we will get time to do some fun things together this year, to show you you’re my big girl who is nearly ready for school.
9. Your asthma has recently started playing up again after we took you off the preventer, thinking you didn’t need it any more. Oops, better start you on it again.
10. You have escaped needing glasses yet again. At least, for the time being. This is a big relief, because the longer we can wait, the better, I think. I’m happy with the specialist’s decision to wait because he seems quite conscious of the balance between waiting too long that you struggle with letter recognition, and starting too early that its a big cost, not to mention a hassle to get you to wear them. I can’t say I like the guy much personally, but I think he has made the right decision. We’ll review it again later in the year.
1. After nearly a term at school, you seem to be getting the hang of the routine. We’re still investigating a few things to see if there is anything we can do to help you focus better in class, but your teacher has reported that you’ve been having some really good days. Hopefully that means things will turn around soon.
2. You just started soccer again and you are loving it. It’s amazing to see the difference a year makes in your skill level and confidence. You aren’t at all afraid, you just get in there and take the ball, using your body to push your way through (and sometimes your elbows, but we’ll work on that). You’ve even scored a few goals. It’s great to see you having so much fun and doing really well.
3. You constantly make noises. All the time. It’s like you can’t stand it if the noise level in our house drops below a certain number of decibels, so you keep it up with a steady stream of silly nonsense. Boop Boop. Blah Blah. Poop Poop. Waaaaaahhh!
4. I really embarrassed you at school last week, accidentally. I’ve been helping with reading groups in your classroom on Thursday mornings. As expected, when I’m working with your group your silly behaviour tends to intensify. Last week, you started with your noises and non-compliance and I admit, I was at a bit of a loss in dealing with it. It was an odd situation; I knew how I would deal with it as your Mum, and knew how I would deal with it if I were your teacher. However, being in another teacher’s classroom, I didn’t actually feel I had the authority to act on my own. I thought about swapping activities with another parent helper so that you could do your work without my presence. But instead, I decided to briefly discuss it with your teacher. This was a mistake, as your teacher then called out to you to do your work, and you looked up to see me standing next to her, effectively dobbing you in. I’ll never forget the embarrassment that came over your face. As I watched your cheeks turn red, I could feel the sense of betrayal you must have been feeling. I am sorry. It won’t happen again. We made amends that afternoon. I explained that I asked the teacher what to do because I was in an awkward position. You said you liked me coming into the classroom like the other Mums, and that you would help me do my job properly by doing your best to concentrate. We’ll see how we go next time.
5. Your drawing has improved dramatically since you started school, and I love receiving pictures you have drawn and hearing your explanations about them. This one is a monkey with an Easter egg:
6. Recently we have been trying something a bit different with you when it comes to discipline. It probably breaks all the parenting book ‘rules’, but it seems to be working. When you are getting really silly at home and not listening, I step in and talk to you before you do something that gets you into trouble. I let you know that you need to settle your behaviour because I can see it is building up, and I don’t want you to do something you’ll regret. I let you continue playing, but if the behaviour doesn’t stop, I intervene again and give you a chance to go and cool down in your bedroom for five minutes, knowing that you’re not in trouble. At first, you refused to go to your room because you just thought it was the same as going to time out. But after trying it a few times, I think you have started to appreciate the difference. For starters, you’re not in trouble, I’m calmly talking to you (rather than yelling, which I know I do too often), and the five minutes is a bit more flexible than with time out. When you’re calm, you come out. I feel this approach allows you to understand where the limits are as you approach them, rather than after you have crossed them. It also allows me to deal with you calmly because I’m not angry yet. No lines have been crossed, nothing is broken, no-one is hurt. It’s a work in progress, but I think it helps, especially when I time my intervention just right.
7. I’m really enjoying having real conversations with you more and more often, as you gain the maturity to understand and want to be involved. One thing you’ve wanted to discuss a lot lately is Jesus. You’ve been going to scripture classes at school, and it seems you’ve actually been paying attention. Despite this, you recently told me you don’t think you believe in Jesus. So we discussed what that means, and that it was perfectly ok not to believe in Jesus. We also discussed how some people, many of our friends in fact, do believe in Jesus and that is also perfectly ok. The important thing is that we respect each other’s beliefs, and our own. I admit I’m slightly apprehensive, sending you to scripture and allowing your young mind to be filled with someone else’s strong beliefs, which I do not share. However, your Dad and I decided that scripture never did either of us any harm, and that we would rather you have some understanding of Christianity so that you can make up your own mind when you’re older. It would be even better if other religions were also taught at schools but at this point that seems too much to hope for. I’m a bit excited that your school does offer Ethics classes, though, from years 3 to 6. So we’ll be trying that out when you’re older.
8. Recently, at your Nanny and Poppy’s, you found a photo of one of your cousins, and you asked if you could keep it so you could remember him. I love how very deeply you love your cousins, and it breaks my heart that we have not been able to resolve our problems with their parents so that you can grow up with them.
9. You’re still a big cuddly baby. I love holding you in my arms, all squished up into a ball on my lap, and rocking you like I used to when you were a baby. It’s hard to believe you will six soon.
10. Pre-wrapped packets of biscuits (Tiny Teddies, Scooby Doo Snacks, Pony Snacks) have been a part of our lives for a while now. I shudder to think of their nutritional content. I do. But they’re also very handy and easy to chuck into a lunch box, and I do hate packing lunch boxes. We usually rotate the snacks on a weekly basis, so every third week we have Pony snacks living in our cupboard. They come in a delightful pink wrapping. One day you came home from school and asked me not to pack them any more. I knew why straight away but wanted to tease it out of you, so played dumb. I asked whether you didn’t like the taste anymore. You did. I asked whether you didn’t like My Little Ponies anymore. You did. I asked whether you didn’t like pink things anymore. You did. Then what was the problem? The boys at school said they were for girls. Yep. Now, I could have just told you that was nonsense and continued to pack them. But instead I let you know that, while I thought those boys were wrong, I understood if you didn’t want the Pony snacks anymore. I said I didn’t really think it was so important to worry what those boys think, but if you weren’t comfortable, that was fine. You decided not to have the Pony snacks. I was sad. I mean, not too sad, because they are really hideously awful. But, they are no worse than the Scooby Doo Snacks or Tiny Teddies. So I was sad that you are already conscious of what other kids think and are modifying your behaviour to suit. I hope you’re not modifying your own opinions too much, though. I don’t think I have too much to worry about, however, because after a few weeks of no Pony snacks, guess what happened? You told me I could put them back in your lunch box. The subject hasn’t come up again since. Good on you, my clever, brave boy.
So. It was the first trial game of the soccer season. Tiernan and Molly were both due to start their games at 9am. As usual, and much to Tom’s annoyance, we were pushing it to get there on time. Happily we made it, but little did I know the embarrassing events that were about to unfold.
8:55 We arrive at the field, disheveled, disorganised, disgruntled.
Tom and Tiernan head straight to Tiernan’s game. Since Tom’s the coach it’s a good idea for him to be there.
8:56 I line up with Molly and Neave to buy Molly some shorts and socks for the game. Since we require very tiny sizes, it takes a little while for the uniform guy to find what we need.
8:59 I start dressing Molly in her newly purchased gear. Halfway through, I notice a bad smell and ignore it. Not here. Not now. But then Neave sweetly informs me that she’s done a poo. In her undies.
9:01 With Molly kitted up at last, I pause to consider my options. I can either change Neave now as best I can (with no wipes or spare undies – they were forgotten at home), or I can quickly drop Molly off at her game before attempting the task. I go for option B, hoping to prevent Molly from missing too much of her first ever game.
9:02 We set off to find the Under 5 Alligators. This turns out to be not so easy. There are about five tiny fields set up all over the park, and with the sun beaming down at the exact wrong angle, it’s very difficult to distinguish one bunch of silhouettes from another. We end up weaving in and out of every tiny game before finding the right one.
9:06 The game has already started but we say a hasty hello to the team manager and get a shirt for Molly. Molly is a bit quiet but puts the shirt on. But then I try to put the orange bib on, and hit a wall. She won’t put it on. I explain that it’s so that she can tell who is on her team and who isn’t (they’re playing another team from the same club), but she is adamant. I try to convince her again, but it doesn’t work. In fact, it only gets worse. She starts crying and saying she doesn’t want to play soccer at all.
9:08 I give Molly a cuddle and say reassuring things, but as I do so, I notice Neave lifting her dress to reveal the poo, clearly discernible beneath her underpants. I ask her to just wait patiently another minute, and hope against hope none of the other parents have noticed. I don’t know any of them yet and don’t want to start like this.
9:09 After another minute of steady crying (by Molly) and increasingly desperate placating (by me), Molly is still showing no signs of being ready to play. Unsure what to do next, I glance again at Neave and see that she has now got poo on her hands, and all down her legs. Great.
9:10 I quickly inform Molly that I have to take Neave to the bathroom. She can stay or she can come, but we’re going now. Molly responds by crying even louder and starting to take off her shirt. I don’t have time to argue any further so walk away, one pooey child in tow, one screamy, half-naked child abandoned. A quick glance at the manager as I leave and I know she’ll watch Molly for me. Phew.
9:12 Neave and I make it to the toilet block, which features the lowest grade of toilet paper, that plasticky grease-proof paper stuff; the worst ever dispenser that makes you fight for every torn piece; and a large puddle taking up most of the standing room. It does not feature soap. The clean up is going to take a while.
9:13 I start cleaning.
9:14 Still cleaning. A family of three walk in and have to dance around us and the puddle to gain access to the only remaining toilet that isn’t being slowly filled with poo paper.
9:15 Still cleaning.
9:16 Still cleaning. I am beginning to wonder if Molly’s game will be over before we’re out.
9:17 Still cleaning.
9:18 Ok, done. Sort of. There is the question of what to do with Neave’s poo-coated undies. I decide to put them in a bag and throw them in the bin. We wash our hands as thoroughly as we’re able (no soap). As we leave the toilet block I tell Neave sternly not to touch her face or put anything in her mouth.
9:20 We arrive back at Molly’s game and it’s half time. Molly is back in her normal clothes and is sitting as far away as possible from her team mates. I take her back over and try one last time to convince her to play. No luck.
The Alligators go back on the field. Molly wants to go and play at the park. I tell her no, we’re going to stay and watch her team finish the game. Another tantrum ensues.
Throughout the rest of the game, other parents try to coax Molly onto the field. I am of two minds about this. I feel that pressuring her will only make it worse, and don’t want her to play unless she wants to. So for others to step in and add their two cents is a bit annoying, even though they mean well. At the same time, I’m already a bit flummoxed by the morning’s events, and am hyper aware of other parent’s judgement. I don’t want to worsen the fabulous first impression we’ve just made. Really, I just want to go home and start the day over.
9:35 The game ends. We make vague plans to return for training on Thursday (Yeah right I’m thinking to myself). We sulk away as quickly and quietly as we can.
I’m seriously considering stepping in as Tiernan’s coach and letting Tom deal with the girls.
We were discussing Ancient Egyptian mummies in the car this evening.
Actually, no. First we were discussing Scooby Doo, but the conversation naturally wound its way around to Ancient Egyptian mummies.
I explained a little about the process involved in making a mummy, and that it was done to preserve the dead person’s body.
Tiernan asked what Daddy Egyptians turned into when they died.
I told him they were turned into mummies, too, and that mummifying has nothing to do with being a Mummy or a Daddy, it’s a completely different thing.
Then I told him that Ancient Egyptians sometimes even mummified animals, like cats.
He was incredulous. Why did they do that?
I answered that they believed cats to be Gods so they treated them with honour and turned some into mummies when they died.
He asked what a God is.
I told him a God is a being with special powers.
He laughed. They were pretty stupid and funny then, weren’t they?
Yep. Those stupid Ancient Egyptians, with their uncanny scientific knowledge and ability to build mind-blowingly immense structures that have stood for millennia, and we can’t even figure out how they did it.