Every day I am pretty sure I do at least one thing wrong. Most days I do more. I used to think I was alone, until I talked to other parents who were honest. Here is a place for more parents to feel less alone, and more "good enough".

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

13 years ago............

Well. There goes Week One of the holidays. I was all set to write about Week One tonight, but it has hit me with some force that my eldest child is 13 years old in the morning. Well technically at 7.05pm, but I don't think he would take kindly to that idea. I'll catch you up on Week One in a few days - it was not very restful despite only having one child around for the majority of it. A snap shot would be of chicken pox with a side of bacterial skin infection and cheeky random mice trying to take up camp in our house - see what I mean?

So, back to the almost 13 year old. I distinctly remember finding out I was pregnant with him. I was actually at work, and hiding out with a pregnancy test during my break. His existence was discovered in Bradford University Library - that'll be where he gets his brains and eccentricity from then ;) I didn't tell anybody for weeks as I hadn't a clue what to do. I think it was about January before it was common knowledge. The boy completely altered the course of my life. I had been coasting along, rather a mess if I'm honest, pulling a whole trolley of baggage behind me and not really with any kind of a plan. But I knew that I could be a good mum, and I knew it was my responsibility to do it right.

2003 was a really hot summer. My brother's girlfriend and my mum's next door neighbour were also heavily pregnant, and we spent most of the time complaining about the heat and swapping tips for getting cooler! I was a week over due when I went to Bingley Hospital, which isn't even there anymore, for a routine check-up. Only to be told that I was 4cm dilated! I hadn't even had any labour pains! It was 1pm in the afternoon and because I was young and my mum had pre-eclampsia with all of us, they wanted me straight into the hospital. We dashed back home for my bag, and the builder was just smashing up the concrete to start the extension. When we told him I was having the baby that day, he just looked at me as if to say "Well, you don't look like it!". And that was how I felt too.

Adam was born at on Monday 4th August 2003 at 7.05pm. He weighed 7lb 8oz, which was the exact average weight for babies being born at that time. He was absolutely fine, no problems, and we went home the next day. Well, home to my mum and dad's house for a few weeks until our flat was ready for us to move in.

He was a really chilled out baby, not too keen on noise but then we lived alone just the two of us, and I guess that's what he was used to. He was happy to go to anybody and just trundled along with every day life, rarely crying, and waking up most mornings at about 4.30am just in time for The Morning Line ;) I was the only one of my friends to have a baby, and they all spoilt him rotten. I don't think I even bought him any clothes until he was 12 months old! Never crying was the luckiest thing in the world, for more reasons than one. At 4 months old he had bacterial meningitis with septicaemia and spent days in an oxygen tent, but came out of it without a scratch (apart from a few chest infections for the next couple of years), all down to the fact that he never ever cried, so when he did cry that day non-stop, we took him straight in and it got caught early xx. Bless his cotton socks xx.

Tomorrow he's going to be 13 years old. Which is not adult by any stretch of the imagination, but it's the road to that. Only 3 more years of main schooling, then 2 years of further ed at sixth form or college. Next year he'll be choosing his options and thinking about what he wants to do a little more. We are already looking at university options and talking about volunteer work along with other outside interests. At present he's going for teaching History in secondary school, which is no surprise considering for his 7th birthday he had a tour of the Imperial War Museum in London and knew more about World War 2 than the Eden Camp guide did when he went to look around aged 10.

13 years seems to be a bit of a watershed moment, a bit of a, "standstill and look at me, remember, I won't be here for much longer", kind of time. A time to remember that you don't really have them for very long at all. Sometimes my 7 year old and my 3 year old spend the whole day vying for my attention, and I have to go hide for 2 minutes to try and get a piece of sanity back. One day, they will stop doing that too. I feel like the eldest is the one we have to figure out the most things with, and especially the teenage years. Working out when to pull nearer and when to let go, treading the fine line between independence and yet giving enough support. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I get the feeling most parents don't, especially with their eldest. The ones who say they do are usually lying, or not doing how they think they are. I see kids I looked after in Reception finishing their GCSE's this year, and that is my son in 3 years time, and I don't feel like I've done all the right things to prepare him for life. I don't think any of us ever think that. All we can really do is just try, and keep on being around.

All we can really hope for, is that they grow up to be kind. Kind is what matters every day.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

A "Plan That Is Not a Plan" For the Six Week Holidays...................

For children who are educated in school, the six week holiday is upon us. For some this is awesome, for some this is worrying, for many it is somewhere in the middle. There are articles telling us all about the top 20 places to go in the UK - mostly high priced. There are articles telling us that kids need to be bored to develop their independence and we should just leave them instead of planning every day. There are articles with summer holiday planners to download and fill in. There are lists of things every child should do before they are 11 3/4. And there are tons of Pokemon Go memes - either telling you that you are the worst parent ever, or the coolest parent ever - it depends on your Facebook friends list ;)

We like a bit of 'middle ground' in this household. There are few planned concreted in things - a small family holiday (we take our main one in October when it's cheaper!), a local charity holiday club, a scout camp, and a few craft days at a local community centre set up via school. Then there are lots and lots of other days with no plans. On some of those days, my children will quite happily potter away at home, in their bedrooms, in the living room, in the basement, in the garden. With an odd request to get something out that they know I need to give permission for, and a few arguments over whose turn on the computer it is. On other days, I will have a 7 year old coming to me every 5 minutes - "I don't know what to do, what can I do, I just don't know what to do" - repeatedly saying this. And all of the usual ideas will be given short shrift. If I leave her to be bored and insist she finds something herself, she will just get louder and more insistent, start pushing everybody's buttons and I will end up with a completely melted down household and a child still asking for something to do.

So, this year, we are going to use the 'Boredom List/Jar' method. When a child is asking for something to do, or needs a bit of a push to get away from Netflix, they can look for ideas on the list/in the jar. At the moment, we have a list written on the computer. I think this may make it's way into a jar at some point, or a pin-board, or some kind of document where the children don't get bored of reading through the whole thing and so only ever do things from the top of the list. I haven't put any of their very common activities on there, because the plan is to use it when they can't think of anything to do, not as a complete replacement for ever making a decision off their own bat. So it doesn't really have any electrical/screen devices on, but this is not because we are particularly bothered about their usage. It's just that they self-regulate pretty well, but equally don't need any extra encouragement to go on them!! There is also not really much on there that costs anything as we are rather skint this summer, and I'd rather have them have a list of things they can definitely very easily do on the spur of the moment, rather than have to wait to do in a few days. We do have a list of 'Plan in Advance' ideas also, which may go up next to the Boredom Jar, for inspiration of a few treat days out.

I created our list through a combination of looking up 'Boredom Jar' on google, cribbing the bits that suited our family best, adapting some to fit, and also thinking about what we have in the house, what they like to do, and things I have in the deep recesses of my brain that break out at these times! I suggest you do the same if you are thinking of making one. There is nothing worse than simply printing one straight from a website, and then your heart sinking when they ask to do something that is really expensive/not nearby/you don't have the stuff for/you just know will cause major chaos in your house. There were some I saw that I just thought, do you know what, I have over 100 things on this list, I really don't need that one on there, they can live without that experience and I will remain a sane person for not providing it!

We also, in our 'Already Planned' section, have decided to do a 'Daily Lego Challenge' which I am going to create using various online resources, take part in the 'National Library Reading Challenge' and create a 'Holiday Scrap Book' where they can put photos in, write in, draw in, whatever they want really, as a record of the holiday. It will also be a good thing for the younger two to take into school in September, as the 7 year old is especially motivated by being able to show her teachers everything she has experienced.

So this is our list. Please, please, remember this suits our location, our budget, our children. My children are aged 3, 7 and (almost) 13. We live near parks, woods, a canal, a river, and a town centre, with really good transport links. This list is mostly aimed at the 7 year old as she is the one who needs it, however most activities are adaptable to suit them all, if they want to do them. And some are aimed at getting them to do things together!

Boredom Jar Ideas
Make a junk-model
Chalking outside
Cook something of your choice
Bake something of your choice
Find out about the human body
Go to the pet/reptile shop
Build up a lego set
Take a picture every hour to record your day
Go on a nature walk
Make a nature scrapbook
Do a page of your memory scrapbook
Play a game with your sibling
Play a board game
Picnic indoors
Hama beads
Make a hedgehog hotel
Alphabet tour with a camera
Make some jelly
Do some maths
Picnic outdoors
Make salt dough
Write a letter
Make a gift
Build a Lego city
Learn the guitar
Visit a family friend
Make flower + leaf prints
Do a magic show
Build a big Playmobil town
Make friendship bracelets
Set up a 'home corner' with your little brother
Do a puzzle
Go to a cafe
Watch a movie
Make a family tree
Make a pirate ship
Have a bubble bath
Do a science experiment
Play a card game
Write a poem
Do some crafting
Find bugs
Trace a picture
Make a card for somebody who lives alone
Make pizzas
Look up places around the world
Learn the keyboard
Make a treasure map
Make a robot
Make sock puppets
Play hide and seek
Make a card for somebody who is ill
Water fight
Play I Spy
Hand + Foot painting
Go to the library
Colouring in
Make fingerprint animals
Ride your scooter
Ride your bike
Go to the park
Learn chess
Do some gardening
Tidy your room
Read a book
Write in your holiday scrap-book
Draw something
Draw an animal
Draw our house
Paint something
Tidy your desk
Make homemade bubbles
Bake cupcakes
Make Gloop
Make something with a box
Write a story starting – There is a monster in my garden….
Write a story starting – Yesterday I went in a spaceship to….
Write a story starting  – There once was a little girl who liked to skip….
Write a story about you
Find shapes in clouds
Create a family flag
Make a musical instrument
Build a time capsule
Play with a toy you haven’t played with in a while
Learn ten words in a different language
Make homemade play dough
Make and decorate paper airplanes
Make a den
Paint your nails
Make a board game of your own
Make a button picture
Draw a picture blindfolded
Draw a picture with your feet
Make a video
Google something to make
Make a card pyramid
Go and collect some stones and make them into bugs
Dance to loud music
Bake cookies
Make a bookmark
Make some homemade ice lollies
Build a marble run
Go on a scavenger hunt
Watch a nature documentary
Vacuum your bedroom
Draw a picture of your family
Plan a garden party
Tie dye a tshirt
Sweep kitchen
Shadow drawing
Make an obstacle course
Make a fairy/small world mini garden
Design and build an outdoor musical area
Design, make and race boats
Sweep bathroom
Go out for dessert

Plan in advance days
Go on a mystery tour
Go to a museum
Go to a farm
Go to a park that isn't local
Go swimming
Go to the cinema - BFG
Have a garden party
Day out with a friend
Play Team sessions
Go to the beach
Complete the sculpture trail
Indoor play area
Charity Shop bargain hunt

Already planned
Daily Lego Challenge
Nana's caravan
7 year old holiday club
13 year old scout camp
Salvation Army Fun Day
7 year old community centre days
Holiday Scrap Book
7 year old Library Reading Challenge
7 year old Park Meet days  - these are events set up via our school facebook page, a few pre-planned days in the local park for the children to meet up during the holidays.

I hope this helps some people................................if not - order more chocolate ;) We stock up our freezer with ice-lollies from Fultons - they tend to have packs of between 8-12 for only £1.00 a bag :D Enjoy the holidays!! We will try and keep up with the blog, recording our escapades over the next 6 weeks :D We also are planning to keep this Boredom Jar as a long-term addition to our house, the 7 year old has been using it after school all week and it has certainly helped retain a sense of calm on what is often a hectic week xx.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Parents - The Silent Partners in Education?

I don't actually know where to start writing. My mind is so busy, that I can't even make sense of it myself. So really, this is just going to be a complete ramble. I apologise in advance. I wrote this poem over my 'thinkative' morning coffee:

People put labels on who I am. Make presumptions. Who is the real me? I don't even know, I make new decisions all of the time. Form new opinions, worry about new things, and always, always, I am learning.

I have three children. I am their parent. According to the law, parents are responsible for their children's education.

Section 7 of The Education Act 1996 states:
"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—
(1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
(2) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."

What is important, is that this law recognises that it is the parent/s who are best placed to make the decision as to what is best for their child. The 'or otherwise' bit is also important, as that is what allows for home education, flexi-schooling and any 'otherwise' education provisions.
It is the parents duty, and the parents that are entrusted with having knowledge of what is suitable for their children's age, ability, aptitude and any additional needs they have, therefore the government must listen to our requirements for our children's education. Teachers also have knowledge of many children they have taught and currently teach. Most government ministers are not experts on children or education; even if they are parents they know their own children, not ours.

Right now, I feel very much like my parenting is a 'silent partner' in my child's education. I have these rights, but it is difficult for me to use them. If I dislike the way the education system is going. I don't really have any re-course to alter it. Even if many parents, and many teachers, feel the same. We sign petitions, in vast numbers, but nothing happens. Right now, we are at a tipping point. A point which once gone past, can not be reversed. If we privatise our children's education via academies, we can't just 'un-privatise' them if it doesn't work. The way academies work, with a business manager at the top of the rung, being paid more and having the final say, above the heads who are actually responsible for the children's welfare, teaching and learning, is not the way I personally think education should be run. I don't think we should value a number-cruncher more than an educator. I don't think that a number-cruncher and business manager should be able to veto something that an experienced head knows would be best for their pupils. I'm certain there are good academies, and good free schools, it would be wrong to say there aren't. The distinct difference between having them around, and enforcing them on every single school regardless of area, intake, size, the actual best interests of the children, is massive. I saw a Conservative MP's response to a parent asking about academies. I directly quote: "It seems that the Labour Party and their left-wing cheerleaders at 38 degrees have forgotten that it was, in fact, the last Labour Government which introduced academies." Ok, so our country is being run by people who resort to "He started it sir" upon being questioned. The parent who had contacted this MP had not actually indicated their party choice. I do not indicate my party choice, I am not a member of any political party at present. This is not about what party started it. As my mother would say "I don't care who started it - I'm ending it!" Just because one party started something, does not mean another party can choose to enforce it onto every single school, and then when people complain, blame the original party for starting it rather than actually engage in a proper discussion about it. Life doesn't work like that in the real world. The fact of the matter is, that the government should not have the mandate to completely alter the way state education is run, without fully and properly taking into account the views of the people who are legally responsible for ensuring that education is provided. That also includes providing parents with the true facts and figures, or lack thereof. Respecting parents and valuing their opinions and thoughts, taking the time to fully consult with teachers and experts in education, not just following through with an idealistic plan regardless of any opposition or consequences.

I have had people questioning me over my objections to SATs. Questioning my parenting. "I don't pressure my children, maybe you should be careful how you talk to your child?" Which is quite laughable to anybody who actually knows me and my (very fluid) parenting style. My child knows it's a test because it says test on it. And because it's set out like a test paper that she has seen in tv shows. She will most definitely figure out it's a test when she asks for help during it and her teacher is unable to give her any help or feedback. She doesn't actually mind doing the test. But she's a bit fed up of the fact that she doesn't do as much Science as she used to do. Or as much Art. Or as much PE. She lives for the afternoons at school, the mornings are 'just boring learning and tests'. Not a great way to motivate and fire her up to learn the essentials skills of English and Maths, or enjoy investigating them further. Just tonight she has told me that she has tummy ache every day at school. A few weeks ago she told me that she had a nightmare that all of her friends got every answer in a test correct, but it still wasn't good enough. And believe me, we do NOT put any pressure on this child at home. We have told her that the SATs are just to check what she knows, so that the teacher knows what she still needs to teach her. In reality of course, I'm pretty certain her teacher has a fairly solid idea already of what she knows and what she still needs to learn. I'm pretty certain that she's doing great from my knowledge of my own child. I don't really care about whether she's 'meeting age-related expectations', especially seeing as this year her age-related expectation is what was last year expected at the end of Year 3. So a whole 1 year + 1 half term older than she is now. On a new KS1 curriculum that she has only been taught the second year of. And that has changed a fair few times just since this January. So forgive me if I don't really see the point of testing her on it. It's not the actual test I mind. It's the blatant disregard for the teacher's knowledge of my child. The time wasted teaching her all the new additions to the tests, when she could have been learning far far more without picking up on the obvious stress her teacher is under. The fact that the results are going to be completely inaccurate because the information has been crammed in and rote-learned in a really short space of time, and actually bears little relevance to her life or even adult life. And don't even get me started on the KS2 SATs - try asking the secondary schools how accurate and useful the 'results' they provide is.

Sometimes, my daughter is so brave that she astounds me. Recently, she smashed her nose on the floor of the school playground. She lacerated it right down to the bone, and broke part of the cartilage. When her teacher saw her, she herself was in shock. My daughter cried for a few minutes, and then she stopped. When I got to school, she wasn't crying. She was sat with her teachers, who were desperately trying to keep her from falling asleep and trying to stop her seeing the amount of blood. They told her everything was going to be ok, and she believed them. The paramedics came, and she talked to them and myself in the ambulance. She got to the hospital, and she let the doctors look at her nose, and pull it about. She didn't ask for any pain relief. When they asked if it hurt she said "just a little bit". She talked to the surgeon who was going to operate on it, and said she was looking forward to having a free sleep. The surgeon came to see me whilst she was in recovery to say that he had put real stitches in, that would need taking out, because he believed she would be able to cope with having them taken out. He said that usually they don't put them in children her age, but having met her that he would, and it would make the scar heal better. She did this on Thursday morning and was operated on Thursday night. She was back in school on Monday morning, with black stitches right across her nose. When she went back to have them taken out, it took an hour. The nurse kept apologising to her, but she sat as still as a statue for the whole time, letting the nurse pick and pull at the stitches. When she looked in the mirror afterwards, I could tell she was upset that the scar was there. She hadn't quite realised the long-term scale of the injury. That night we had angry tears in bed, and then it was done. Now, she watches her favourite film, 'Soul Surfer', and she says that if somebody can do that with just one arm, then what does a scar on her nose matter? The paramedics, the A+E staff, the surgeon - all of them commented on how resilient she was, and how they get many adults, let alone children, who cope worse with the level of injury she had.

Despite this resilience, sometimes my daughter is too worried to go to school. She is too worried to leave the house. She imagines all sorts of things happening to her. She gets tummy ache and she sits curled up in a ball on her bed, refusing to move. And yet when something does happen, she is amazing at dealing with it. On these 'scared of the world' days, we usually get her out of the house,we give her the tools to feel better, and she tries, she really tries, to break through the wall of whatever is holding her back, and she keeps going forward.

She is amazingly brave every day just for getting dressed and leaving the house. And somebody, somewhere, thinks they can define her as 'below age related expectations' just because she doesn't fit their mould. The SATs don't measure reality. They don't measure my daughter. They are not a fit for purpose measurement of a child's ability and aptitude. They are not age appropriate. They take up far too much time in preparing, sitting, and marking. They don't take into account the fact that a 6/7 year old child is not designed to sit quietly for 45 minutes and answer questions on a paper with no feedback or interaction. They don't take into account that not all children progress in a nice straight line. They certainly don't take into account that many children put pressure upon THEMSELVES even if other people don't, and that they are very finely tuned to picking up any change in mood of any relevant adult in their life, i.e. their teacher.

I am not asking everybody to agree with me. I am not asking everybody to even understand. I just would like everybody to really think. To really think about how children learn, and that what we are teaching them is important. Think about what life is actually about, and what skills they may need when they grow up. Understand that not all children are the same, and that many children fight many demons every single day. Think about the skills and experience teachers have, and how disrespectful it is to presume a nationally applied 'one size fits all' test is better at assessing our children than a teacher who is with them almost every single school day. Think about how much and how well you know your child, and how disrespectful it is that unless you are able to home educate or afford private education, you have no say in how your child's education is run, yet you have the responsibility for it, enshrined in law.

Last but not least, no, I am not using my child as a weapon. I have not told her that she is missing school because the SATs are bad, or the schools is bad, or the government is bad. I have told her that we are having a picnic, and fun together, to show our support to teachers and to try and make sure people remember that children are supposed to learn through play. If she doesn't want to miss school that day because they are doing something she really wants to do, then I will not keep her off. I will send her and attend the picnic myself. I am not trying to upset my child - I am simply trying to make my voice heard. Petitions don't work, talking to councillors and MP's doesn't work. Some parents have said that teachers who are worried about attendance affecting their Ofsted results, are planning trips for this day to try and prevent the protest from happening. To me, this is a perfect example of children being used as a weapon, but not by the parents. And again, a concern, that a) people are scared of an inspecting body so much that they will use a child as a weapon, and b) that parents are unable to have a voice, because we are so scared and feel so guilty about affecting the school's attendance or being fined.

Be confident in your knowledge of your own child's best interests and also remember that the law was written with the knowledge that parents are the ones who know their children and have the right to choose how to educate them. This just seems to have been forgotten somewhere along the way.

Friday, 4 September 2015

What a difference a day makes...................

I have just put Toby to bed. He disappeared off to the kitchen and came back with the 4 pint bottle of milk and a beaker.....................I think he was tired.
However when I took him down to bed, he cried and pointed to the door and wanted to go "Back upstairs, wait Daddy!" His Daddy is out this evening. He will be back soon, but too late for this tired little man to stay up, especially seeing as 30 seconds later he was fast asleep so obviously very tired.

Earlier on today, I took him to coffee morning. When we arrived, it was quieter than usual due to some people being away on holiday. Toby did not want to go in. "Where's my old man Jack?" he asked. He took a bit of convincing, but once in he was happily playing away as usual.

Tonight, as he cried and asked to wait for his Daddy, and I remembered his reluctance to go into coffee morning because there were people missing..................I felt my own eyes beginning to fill with tears.

What if we had to leave our house, what if we had to leave everything he knew, with only what we could carry? What if we lost his Daddy, or his brother, or his sister, along the way? What if he was crying "I go home, I go church, I go Nana's", and I couldn't even find him anything to eat or anywhere warm and dry to sleep?

I cannot even begin to imagine what people are going through who are trying to claim asylum in Europe at present. That is what they are, asylum seekers. As quoted from my good friend - 
"Technically people are asylum seekers until they've had their claim investigated and been give permission to stay in a new host country, then they become refugees. Asylum seekers are looking for safety; a refugee has found it. Anyone has a legal right to claim asylum, you can't be an illegal asylum seeker."

There are also many people in the camps in Calais who are refugees, currently claiming asylum in France but still with nowhere to live or any other help from the state. I found this on this link -  a very good read - https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/introduction-to-calais/

People are starting to question whether the aid going to Calais is going to the right place/people. I don't think that is the right question. The right question is, how can we help everybody? The people in Calais, AND the people elsewhere. It shouldn't be either/or. Our government shouldn't be choosing between a short-term OR a long-term plan. They should be working on both, working with the EU to sort out the crisis right on our doorstep, AND a more long-term plan to help the countries figure things out and people be able to go home.

Sorry if this writing is not as fluent as normal. I've spent the last two days pretty much on facebook. I started a 'little' group for local people to collect items to arrange somehow to get them to Calais, maybe via a larger group somewhere nearby. It has now turned into a larger group, organising pick-ups from a local music festival, organising a big 'drop-off' and awareness raising event, sorting and collecting the donations at the Salvation Army that I go to and offering to store it all there. Obviously, there was a need. And for some reason, somebody picked me to fill that need.

I don't really know what I want to say tonight. In the context of this blog, I am being a pretty imperfect parent as my house is a tip, we had toast for tea, and in general this has taken over the last two days leaving the rest of the household fending for themselves.

In the context of everything else.............................people are people. Would you sit in a camp with a shortage of pretty much everything, despised by the locals, miles away from home, if you didn't desperately need to? When did we decide that men are worth less than women and children? For that matter, when did we decide that 13 year olds and above are all men?

What if we left our house, as above, but instead of us losing his Daddy, his brother, his sister........what if his Daddy lost all of us? Would that mean he didn't deserve help anymore? Would he be somehow less in need now that he had lost his entire family trying to get them somewhere safe? I don't think it should work like that.......................

In one day, 174 people joined our group and starting trying to form some sort of plan. The second day, today, we have 507 members (and counting), and many many plans.

I couldn't think of a song. Or an image. I'm all out.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

"I don't want to live like I don't care....."

I most likely need to update my blog. I don't feel like I identify with the background anymore and I probably need to have a good look through the lists etc. Ah well, another thing for the to-do list.

So here I am, another year, another life phase about to commence. I seem to have this happen quite frequently ;)

I have decided to finally step up and attempt to be and do the role that I think I am supposed to be doing. The role that all my mistakes and life experiences have been for, the reason that actually they were not all 'screw-ups', they were put there on purpose so that I would BE fit for purpose.

Right now, I could go and get a full-time job in child-care, on a decent enough wage, put the children with a childminder, and between us we could have enough money to most likely buy a car and go on a decent holiday once a year. I'm not sure that would make us all happy though. Not because of the working or the childcare, at some point that is going to happen and I don't have a problem with it if it's for the right reasons. However, I wouldn't be in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. A parent unhappy with their role, is not the way to make a household happy, even if it means they have more money available.

I just played a song, and it made me cry. I don't even remember listening to it before but it was on my YouTube history so I must have done. I think, what has held me back for so long, is a fear of failure. I am, didn't you know, a bit of a perfectionist and a worrier. What, you didn't realise?? Sorry about that ;) I have a tendency to over-analyse what I am actually good at, what I am actually supposed to be doing, and all that jazz. I also know, as do we all, that it's a lot easier to say, "Well I did well at school and my teachers wanted me to go on to further study and so I know I can do it if I wanted to, it's not aptitude that's holding me back, it's a life choice and just the way things have gone here"..........................than it is to say, "Maybe I have used the fact that my life had a diversion as an excuse to not try and achieve the things I should, because I am scared that I will fail and then I can't say that I could have done it if I had had the chance".

I have the chance now. I have the chance to study, to learn so much more and then use that knowledge to make a difference. It may sound rather corny and rubbish, but I completely totally just love solving puzzles and situations and helping people. I love when people come and talk to me and I can help them figure out a way through the maze.

There are so many people stuck in the maze. I sometimes am stuck in the maze. Currently, my house is the maze. It is an absolute tip and at my Nana's funeral yesterday we were remembering how hard she worked and how she kept her house immaculate despite having 7 people living in a 2 bed-roomed house and no washing machine. So for the next two days, you will find me having a cleaning frenzy. Except for the fact that I am sat here writing this and listening to music instead of starting the cleaning. But after that. And tonight you will find me watching The Help (which I have just discovered is on Netflix) and eating the chocolate and wine that my lovely children and parents at my last job gifted to me. Feel free to come around if you live local. You can marvel at my half-tidy house.

Life is busy, it's full, it's always always crazy. Who wants to be on their deathbed wishing that they had done more, that they had actually stepped up and done what they were supposed to do? I keep looking at the toddler group bumph that I need to organise and set-up for September, the training for my volunteer position that I need to start sorting out, and the start date for my OU degree course, and thinking am I just crazy?? I have 3 children?? I'm nearly 33 years old.

That is the point. I am ONLY 32 years old. My Nana was over 50 years older than me when she passed away. Do I want to spend that time coasting? I don't think so. There is absolutely no point at all in having the experiences that I have had, for nothing. It is time to put them to use, to stand up and be counted. And I'm sorry if you are not religious and therefore find this song 'uncomfortable' to listen to. If I'm completely honest, sometimes I find it hard, I still need to allow myself to open up, I'm not really as open a book as I make out on here. For example, yesterday, there were only a few seconds that I let the tears come, and that isn't because I didn't love my Nana, it's just that I don't let people see my emotions when they are real, only when I am crying over stupid stuff like a cat stuck up a tree in Fireman Sam. (Yes, I really do that). So if you feel that way, then just listen to it anyway. It's a good song, and it spoke to me today when I just randomly picked it from an old history list. So it must have been there for a reason.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Whole Picture of a Lady

Today is going to be a strange day.
A day of dressing up and looking smart, to say goodbye to a lady who took rather a long time to come around to the idea of females wearing trousers. A lady who had a hairdresser come to her house regularly to wash and set her hair to make sure it looked decent.

Celebrating the life she had, the life she gave all of us, her big family that she was the head of. Former boyfriends were known to liken her to the Queen Mother - gentle and well-dressed, but ruled with a strong will. For me, I used to call her Beryl the Peril, and my Grandad was Dennis the Menace; it was the source of much amusement to me as a child that these were the names of my grandparents.

My Nana would mostly likely think she was an imperfect parent, as do we all. But she was perfect at being her. She was perfect at always having chocolate on her china tray in her living room, tins of Baxter's soup and Ambrosia Custard in the larder, strawberries and gooseberries in the garden, and always ALWAYS giving us elevenses at 11 o'clock in summer, with lemonade and biscuits at the table in the garden.

She was also perfect at knowing about nearly every single flower or plant, and getting her fingernails full of mud whilst she looked after them all in her garden. And then letting us make perfume with all of the petals from the roses that she had cut back.

She could give you just one look, or say your name in a certain way, and you would know that your skirt was too short, your top too low, or that what you had just said was not to be repeated in polite company. But she would have a twinkle in her eye when she said it, and you would remember that photo that your Mum showed you.............the one with 4 ladies on the lawn in extremely short mini dresses..............your Mum, two Aunties, and your Nana. And your Nana's dress was the shortest of the lot.

She was perfect at knitting matinee jackets for all of the babies, and we still have some tucked away downstairs for memories. When her fingers didn't work very well anymore, I bought a set of knitting needles and accessories with some money that she gifted to me, and taught myself to knit. I think it will be a while before I master her intricately patterned baby jackets, but it feels good to knit blankets and know that she would be saying "told you so" as I feel myself relax whilst doing clicking away.

There will be many things about my Nana that I don't know or don't remember. I was at the younger end of her grandchildren, and only vaguely remember some of the older traditions and things she used to do. There will be many things that my children do not know about her. We have a habit, as people age, of just remembering the last 20 or so years. We have a habit, of only seeing the bit of them that they showed us, as the 'real' bit. In reality it's a bit like a jigsaw. You need all of the people that she knew, or that knew of her, with their own little piece of the puzzle, to get the real complete picture. You need to listen and believe what other people tell you of her, even if it doesn't fit what you think you know. That is the way to respect and remember a life.

Hopefully, today, we can all sit together and all remember and celebrate the whole picture of my Nana. There's one thing for sure. She loved roses, Salvation Army brass bands, and this song. We will be singing it today, this afternoon, and I hope she will be listening and seeing all of the family she created, all of the friends lives that she touched. Jessica says she will be sat with "That man, that Grandad you told me about, and of course Baby Isaac, he will always be a baby you know, but now he has a Nana with him too".

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Working on Wednesdays

Arghhhhhh! Now breath.
So today, the little man was wheezing and cuddly and just wanted to feed all night and morning. His Daddy was working and I needed to go to work and we are both on temporary contracts (his more than mine) so time off is rather frowned upon. My children have, due to this, begun getting sick on Wednesdays as they know this is the day we find hardest to get alternative childcare. We have foiled all their attempts to have a stay at home parent once more, so far only I have missed one Wednesday and that was last minute due to Tobys last ditch attempt and sudden escalation of cold to severe chest infection in 60 minutes flat.
Toby this week has been flitting between poorly and well roughly every half an hour (except at night when he is full on poorly and needs to feed or sleep on my chest pretty much for 8 hours). I took him to nursery, signed in a calpol sachet and his inhaler, told them to ring me not Dad if he got worse, and went to work feeling guilty. Then felt even more guilty when I read the nursery Christmas party invite and figured out we have nobody to take him and he is probably going to miss out. Then got to work and cried on a colleagues shoulder because I felt like a crap parent. But on the plus side I found my mobile in my bag whilst looking for a tissue , instead of it being lost somewhere in the house like I'd thought (and ran everywhere looking for before we set off).

So, work was fab and fun, no phonecalls from nursery, went to pick him up and he'd been fine, even eaten for the first time in 2 days, then slept solid for 2 hours 20 minutes. Next time he is ill, he'll be off to nursery to get better.

Went to pick the girl up from Grandad. She looked tired....uh oh. Trudged home, made it with no pleading/shouting/bribery/tears.....feel like superwoman. Then had a rather stressful 30 minutes sorting out a phonecall, a dvd rack emptying toddler, a 5 year old worrying about a dvd rack emptying toddler, and cooking a rather fiddly tea that got moved from Monday and will NEVER EVER be cooked on a Wednesday 'busy walking small children home and having Adam home for 20 minutes inbetween film club and scouts and getting pe kits washed very quickly' night EVER AGAIN.

But it tasted nice. To me and James. The children had a cold/lingering urine infection/cough/tiredness/general mistrust of food thing going on.
I ran up and down a few hundred times running a bath (the boy bombed on scouts to get better for school trip tomorrow), getting pjs, brushing hair, getting milk and weetabix and bourbon biscuits and more milk, writing a nativity cast list and basic walkthrough, changing the washer, finding thermals (in a carrier bag I sent up to his room in AUGUST for him to empty and put away), fixing a marble run, putting dvds away (twice), brushing teeth, reading a story about Tom and his elastic band and replacing batteries in a nightlight frog.

And now I am sat. Trying to figure out how to get my littlest man to his nursery Christmas party without feeling massively guilty that I am only 5 minutes up the road but can't be there so that he can be there. Hopefully I will figure something out, that's what superwoman do, after all ;)