Just discovered that the squashed sultana I have been merrily stepping over and ignoring all week, was not in fact a sultana.
It was a tiny poo.
Molly had her prep play session today, as the last step before starting school next year.
She surprised me by turning quite shy as we arrived, preferring to stand with me rather than sit on the floor with the other “Preppies.”
It was quite relaxed and informal, a bit like a playgroup really. There were lots of different play activities set up and the kids were encouraged to just do whatever interested them. Here is what we got up to:
And stompers. Molly had a go too but didn’t want me to take a photo.
Both the girls enjoyed the activities we did, but there was quite a bit of drifting around in between, where Molly just didn’t know what to choose. I don’t know whether she was tired, out of sorts, or overwhelmed. By the end of the hour, she was saying it was all stupid and that she was never coming to big school. In her usual, melodramatic style!
That was not really the outcome I’d been hoping for, or expecting. She has been looking forward to starting school for months now, and I think she’s definitely ready. Feeling the need to create a happy memory from the day, I took the girls to the local cafe for a milkshake and a debrief. Molly got to look at her ‘take home pack’ – some crayons, a pencil, some rubbers and a handwriting chart. She was soon in a better mood, and we talked about what school will really be like when she starts. More like what Tiernan does when we help out, and less like preschool. She was satisfied with this and I’m happy to announce that big school is ‘back on’!
And, as the Assistant Principal pointed out, there are only 80 sleeps left until the big day!
Lately, I’ve been thinking we have created three monsters. Spoilt brats. Ingrates.
I don’t even know how it happened. We don’t, as a rule, buy them toys and things unless it’s for their birthday or something special. We try not to get them treats all the time when we go out. We expect them to do a reasonable amount of things for themselves (making breakfast, putting things away, keeping rooms tidy -which, by the way, doesn’t happen and it’s a miracle no-one has broken a limb trying to get in or out of a bedroom yet).
I have even started introducing the idea of making donations to toy drives and clothing appeals. The perfect opportunity came up a few weeks ago with the devastating fires that ripped through our beloved Blue Mountains. Many families lost everything. So the kids and I put together some toys they no longer play with and sent them down. They were more than happy to participate and felt very proud to be making some other kids happy.
And yet, somehow, we have got three kids with so much stuff they don’t know what to do with it. They each have more clothes than they can possibly wear. More toys than they can play with. And more rubbishy food than they need to eat. And their attitudes stink. All of a sudden, they seem to think it is totally fine to ignore our requests to do simple things, like getting dressed in the morning. That we, their parents, live to serve them and grant their every wish. That if we don’t, they can call us idiots and chuck tantrums. None of it ever works, but still they try. And we are both pretty fed up with it.
Who did this? Who raised these ungrateful beasts? Well, we did.
Just a few weeks ago I told Tom of my idea to spend a year volunteering somewhere overseas with the kids when they are teenagers. So that they would learn to recognise their own privilege, and also learn that there are ways of giving back. I thought the teenage years would be a good time for this because they will probably not want for much throughout their childhoods, and as a result, they could one day be in danger of turning out spoilt.
That’s still my plan, but what am I going to do in the meantime? They’re acting like spoilt brats already.
I wish I had the strength to do what some people I know of are doing, and go a whole year without buying anything (apart from food). Could I do that to the family? Should I? Maybe I should…
Or, maybe we should take away all their toys and make them earn them back, by being kind and thoughtful towards others? Is that too extreme? It’s what Tom wants to do, I think.
I don’t know. But I shudder to think what they’ll be like in years to come if we do nothing. I’m almost tempted to cancel Christmas. I feel sick at the thought of bringing more useless crap into our house, for them to wreck and leave all over their bedroom floors. Surely there are better things to spend money on? Maybe we could go on a holiday instead, and get them nothing.
I know it’s not their fault. I know I was probably the same as a kid. I definitely know how messy my bedroom was for many years. And I turned out ok. (Don’t laugh, I did!)
Anyway, this afternoon we are going to have a chat about some things that need to change (certain attitudes and behaviours), and about how lucky they are to even have enough food in their bellies, let alone enough toys to hide their floor. We’ll see how that goes for a start.
1. You are definitely carving your place as the cheekiest of our three. You wantonly ignore many of the ‘boundaries’ we set, all the while grinning from ear to ear and giggling. The cute is wearing off, but it’s still there, so we sometimes have trouble keeping a straight face while enforcing the rules with you, again and again.
2. All little kids talk in a cute way, but you have a distinctly ‘Neave’ way of saying things. All your f’s and s’s sound the same, which is somewhere in between ‘s’ and ‘th’. You can now say ‘L’ but you like to linger on your l’s and so you say “Mollllly, I want a lllllolllllly.” And you add extra words into your sentences, like “I did do it Mummy.”
3. It’s obvious you’re growing up and becoming less toddler-ish. I can tell because you no longer think packing up is as fun as playing. Lately, at pack up time you have been disappearing into your room while everyone else pitches in (or doesn’t, depending on their mood). It’s a shame because you used to be the best packer-upper.
4. You still come into our bed most nights. I love waking up next to your warm little body. I miss you on the mornings you don’t come in.
5. I think I have been taking for granted how easy you and Molly are to have around during the week. It will be a big change next year when Molly goes to school and it’s up to me to be your entertainment instead… Hopefully we will meet half way, doing things together and also doing things apart (me house stuff, you playing on your own). I am looking forward to having some one-on-one time with you on a regular basis though.
6. We took you all to the pool last weekend and wow, you are suddenly a little fish. All your swimming lessons seemed to click into place, and you were zooming around doing rockets, backwards and forwards to the side of the pool. Watching you practice and being so confident was such fun.
7. On a similar note, you are also confidently riding Molly’s bike (with training wheels). We haven’t bought you one yet as we got Tiernan and Molly there’s on their 4th birthdays. I wonder if you can share Molly’s for that long, or will you be ready for one at Christmas? I’ve been looking forward to you all having proper bikes, so we can go on proper rides together!
8. You’ve been quite defiant of late, often yelling “No!” when we ask you to do something. Not for any good reason, just because you feel like trying it out. Subsequently, you’ve also been spending a bit of time in ‘time out’ as well.
9. You are growing more and more confident with strangers and in new situations, when you used to be so shy. Maybe you are following Molly and Tiernan’s example, or maybe you are just coming out of your shell in your own time? It’s funny to have three such friendly, open kids who are eager to sit and have a chat with just about anyone.
10. I know I say it all the time but I just can’t believe how fast you’re growing up. You’re my littlest baby but you’re not really a baby any more. At least you’re still happy to let me ‘baby’ you, sometimes. Just keep on being you my little Neavie cherub!
I feel I owe a great big explanation, about what we’re doing here, and how it’s all going and why I’ve been too busy to blog lately. But I really have none. We’re here. We’re enjoying it so far. There have been challenges. But mostly, it’s been quite easy. Unexpectedly so. I anticipated sadness, confusion, loneliness, resentment, anxiety and lots of other emotions when leaving our home and our families behind. However, there has been less of that, and more excitement, gratitude, fulfillment, and even refreshment… That’s an odd word to put here, but it’s true. This venture has been refreshing, for both Tom and I. Maybe even for the kids. I feel there has also been bonding between us. We rely on each other more. And appreciate each other. After all, we’re all we’ve got up here! I’ve also had the opportunity to make some new friends, through Tiernan’s school. They are a wonderful bunch, and I can’t believe my good fortune to have landed here in the middle of them. It’s funny how things work out. We recently visited the Blue Mountains, and it was very nice. I felt as though I had never left. That I could just pick up and carry on from where I’d left off. I was sad to leave when our stay was over. I miss everyone there, and I miss my life there, too. However, the relief I felt when coming back to this new house was rather unexpected. It’s not home yet. But it’s a nice place to be. Things are different now, but we’re getting used to it. And we’re better for the experience, I think. I don’t know how long we’ll be here. I think the longer we stay, the harder it will be to make up our minds about where to go next, what to do. But I’m glad we did this.
It makes me feel old to say I now have two children over five. I can’t quite believe how quickly things have changed, from 3 under 3 to 3 over 3!
1. Your confidence is amazing. You are just so engaging and friendly, always happy to have a chat to just about anyone. You also really understand the two-way nature of a conversation, you give and you take. I think this makes you stand out a little, particularly with adults, who seem drawn to you. You are very entertaining!
2. You’re a smart little cookie, always thinking about things and working them out. You recently told us you knew that three times two is six. Apparently the buckets in the bath taught you (because there are six of them and you like to line them up in groups of two).
3. I have my fingers crossed for smooth sailing when you start school next year. I think you’re going to fit in just fine. You are keen to learn new things, especially about reading and writing. I think the biggest problem you will have is learning to wear your shoes all day! Right now the only footwear you will deign to put on are your ballet shoes, your plastic high heels, or your thongs. Socks are right out. Apparently this was an issue for me too,. Hopefully you will be so happy at school that you will soon forget your loathing of shoes!
4. On your fifth birthday we were able to have a little party for you and invite some new friends you’ve made already at preschool, plus your neighbour friends. The kids you chose to invite were all lovely, as were their parents, who stayed for the party to. It made me quite proud of your social skills, to be able to surround yourself with nice friends so soon after moving.
5. I think further testament to your social abilities is that you obviously still miss your old friends. We had the opportunity to see two of your best friends, whom you’ve known since you were tiny, on our recent trip to Sydney. The three of you were so excited to be together again, and you slipped right back in to playing without any fuss or shyness at all. You were quite upset when we had to say goodbye again, poor thing. But we’ll be sure to visit again next time we’re down that way.
6. You’re quite bored at home some days. Ideally, you’d be at preschool two days a week instead of one, but that’s all we could get at your new preschool. You’re quite happy to play with Neave, most of the time, but I think you’re really ready for bigger and better things. I find it hard to motivate to get out and about, because you seem to think you’ve seen it all and done it all. At least you got a stack of crafty things for your birthday, so you’ve got quite a few things to keep you occupied for the next little while.
7. You can be a right miss at times, quite demanding and rude when things aren’t to your liking. And there is still that dreadful scream to contend with. I have very little patience for you when you are like this. You spend quite a bit of time in your room or time out, ‘adjusting your attitude’, as we say.
8. The thing about you is that you’re well balanced; you are equal parts awful and super sweet. One minute you’re bellowing that you hate me, the next minute you’re telling me that you will love me forever and that I’m the best mummy in the whole wide world. Little suck-up, that’s what you are.
9. When we go out, you are usually the one I can rely on to be sensible, follow instructions and listen. You are unique in your ability to do that (your brother and sister are missing the listening gene, evidently). I’m grateful to you for that. Instead of having to chase three of you around, I usually only have to chase two.
10. You went through a stage where it was very difficult to get you out of bed in the mornings, despite your previous reputation of being the early riser in the house. I think it had to do with you being embarrassed about not staying dry at night. However, in the last few weeks you have made a big improvement, and are only wetting occasionally at night. You’ve got your morning spring back, and are once again happy to get up and dress yourself, and even start making your breakfast without much prompting. Well done, you!