My Sunday Photo

DD3 likes animals. She’s a bit obsessed by them and she’s probably going to own her own zoo one day.

We are a pet-owning family, but DD is not satisfied with dogs and cats, rats or snakes. She wants wolves and bears and pandas and lions, so unfortunately  she has to make do with soft toys.

The bigger, the better as far as she’s concerned. And there is no such thing as too many when it comes to her toy zoo.

This is her on Christmas day, about to open her newest acquisition: a plush Melissa and Doug Lion.

It took me bloody ages to wrap.


Big Present
My Sunday Photo

Learning To Share

Parenting involves a lot of sharing. It can be a learning curve.

When you have a baby, you share your time and the attention of your partner/family with them. It can be odd going from the ‘precious vessel’ status of your first pregnancy to suddenly playing second fiddle to a demanding bundle who effortlessly hogs the limelight instead.

When they are toddlers, you share your food, your phone/iPad and sometimes your bed with them.  Your house stops being an adult space and fills up with the detritus of children.

This moves on to other screens including, but not limited to, your TV and your computer. They take over your sofa or favourite chair. Then they discover the kitchen. At this stage , do try and encourage them to share the dishwasher and hoover too.

But now I have a 12 year old and an almost 14 year old and sharing has entered a more intimate stage.

Not only do they ‘share’ any food I may have been careless enough not to lock away or expressly forbid them to touch but anything else is fair game too.

Pens from my desk, my SLS free shampoo and conditioner ( I buy them plenty of their own but they seem to prefer to use mine), my towel in the bathroom, my headphones go to school with them.
Certain sanitary supplies disappear ‘mysteriously’ on a regular basis and lastly, and most annoyingly, my shoes are often borrowed.

The irony of this is that I only own a few pairs of shoes and my feet are slightly bigger than DD1’s and DD2’s. This doesn’t stop them; if I can’t find my trainers or converse shoes, I know where they will be. The girls have their own shoes, by the way. It’s just that mine will have been closer to hand (foot).

Luckily I am a completely different clothing size to my eldest two, so at least I don’t have to deal with that scenario but know plenty of my friends who do. Thank goodness I don’t wear make up!

The worst thing is that I know this won’t improve soon. In fact, in 3 years time I will be facing having to share my car.

What do you have to share with your children that you’d really rather not?

sharing

 

Coming Last ( Update At End!)

Today is cross country day for DD2 and she will most probably come last.

We’ve had years of this, so have given up pretending that it won’t happen.  Platitudes don’t help. Her aim for today is to try not to cry but she’s taking tissues anyhow.

I have to hand it to my daughter; she has a tough time with the physical stuff but she is usually still quite enthusiastic about PE. She likes moving her body, even though it doesn’t work the way most people’s do.

PE lessons and PE staff seem to have moved on from when I was at school. I hated PE and often refused to take part. Looking back I’m pretty sure I had/have the same sort of issues DD2 does; hypermobility, poor muscle tone and dyspraxia leading to co ordination and propriceptive difficulties.  But PE teachers were much less understanding back in those days. I was often told that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. DD’s teacher seem to be kind and encouraging, and have even enrolled her in a programme for children who need a little more help with sports.

Anyone watching DD2 run or play sport can tell she’s trying as hard as she can. But this is one of those times where effort is not necessarily rewarded. And running is different from team sports. When she runs she’s out there alone for all the world to see how she struggles. She simply can’t make her legs move faster or work harder and can do nothing but keep plodding on while everyone passes her.

She especially hates the way everyone crowds around after they have finished to watch her complete the course and cheer her on. They think they are being supportive, she just finds it humiliating. They say Well Done, whereas she knows she is rubbish.

But she is not rubbish. I’m very proud of her for her efforts. It must be easy enough to take part in this race when you are reasonably sporty and in the middle of the pack. It might even be pleasant if you are among the fastest- I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been there. But to keep on going when everyone else has finished and is watching you lumber your way to the finishing line, even if you can hardly see where you are going because of the tears spilling out of your eyes; that takes determination and sheer guts.

It’s hard for an autistic 12 year old to see this, all she can see is people’s faces patronising and laughing at her and when I pick her up tonight, she is going to be tired, grumpy and in pain.

This kind of thing is one of the worst bits of parenting. Seeing DD upset hurts me as well. I feel terrible that I can’t help her in some way and even offered to write her a note, but she turned me down.

Her reply was that she wants to do today’s cross country, she just doesn’t want to come last.

I know it’s a bad thing to hope that this year there is at least one child that is slower than her, but I can’t help but have everything crossed.

tortoise
Stop Press! She didn’t come last! All  that training for a 5K run paid off ( or Year 8 girls aren’t as keen as the Y7  version) and she actually came in 56th out of 75 runners.
DD2 was beyond thrilled and so pleased she didn’t take me up on my offer to let her stay home. This is the first time in 9 years of school PE that she hasn’t come last! I am really very proud of her.

My Sunday Photo

This week I bought my dogs pyjamas.

Actually, they aren’t pyjamas. The company that makes them calls them jumpers, but they are more like a onesie and are perfect for putting on wet, muddy dogs after long winter walks.

You load them up in the car all dirty and soaking wet, and by the time you get home they are clean and dry and your car isn’t too messy either. The jumpers need a wash of course, but they are much easier to wash than the dogs are.

Our older dog is fine with his but our younger one just froze in place when we tried his on. Look at that face, he’s wondering what on earth I’ve done to him!

farley onesie

My Sunday Photo

Televisions In Bedrooms. Yes Or No?

We’ve always been against the idea of TVs in bedrooms.

‘Bedrooms are for sleeping’, we’ve always said. As well as for playing in, reading in and getting dressed in, of course. The kids aren’t allowed to take phones or any type of screens upstairs anyhow, so that has naturally included television.

We have two big TVs downstairs in our through- lounge, so our children have plenty of opportunity to watch their programs. Once homework and music practice has been done, of course.

And we like to keep an eye on what they are watching. We don’t often have to tell them they can’t watch something but it’s good to be able to know what they are picking up from the programs they like at the moment.

At the moment, even though our older two are are 12 and 13, they still spend a lot of time down stairs ‘with the family’. If we put TVs in their rooms, I don’t think we would see them at all. Except maybe for meals.  I also think TVs would also be an unwelcome distraction for ours when they were supposed to be sleeping or studying.

However, despite not liking the idea of the kids having TVs in their rooms, this year we are considering it. But not for the kids; for us!

We have reached that stage in our family’s life where the kids are wanting sleepovers for their birthdays and their bedrooms are not really big enough for guests. So to facilitate these requests, DH and I will have to retreat from the lounge to our bedroom. A small TV that allowed us to watch our favourite shows would make everything much more bearable.

Is this is a good plan? Or will we just end up with the kids taking over our bedroom and watching TV there on a daily basis?

Watching 3D TV

First Times

As soon as you conceive, you are on a journey of Firsts.

First Missed Period, First Blue Line, First Midwife Appointment, First Scan. And so on until your First Signs of Labour and your First Look at the little human you have grown.

Once your baby has been born, the Firsts come thick and fast. First Smile, First Night Slept Through, First Roll, First Steps.

First Christmas. First Birthday. First Family Holiday.

There are too many to name, but the big ones after this include First Day at School and First Lost Tooth.

These days Firsts usually involve getting the camera out so you and your family have some record of these memories.

You might put something up on social media so that family and friends can see what’s going on and it’s nice to have reminders of when your kids were small and cute, for when they grow bigger and opinionated. Because even self-centred teenagers enjoy looking at baby photos and videos of themselves.

As your children grow from children to tweens to teens, they don’t stop having Firsts.

First Mobile Phone, First Day at Secondary School, First School Run without you.

There are not so many photo opportunities at this point, but it’s worth getting them if you can.

Today I had another First. Today is the First Time one of my children is going to fly anywhere without me. DD1 is going to Spain for a school trip and the plane will leave in about 10 minutes time.

She was nervous so I had to be upbeat about the trip, but my reptile brain is going ‘Nooooo, don’t leave me. The world is dangerous and you can’t cope without me.’

Of course I know she will fine, so when we arrived at the airport and her classmates and teacher were already there, I gave her a quick hug and said goodbye sensibly.

Then I trudged back to the car and drove home. I didn’t even get a photo.

Now I’m  glued to Flightradar24. I don’t think it’s doing much for my anxiety levels but at least it’s only a 90 minute flight. God knows what I’ll be like when my kids grow up properly and decide to visit the Southern Hemisphere on their gap years.

plane

 

 

My Sunday Photo

This is DD1. She is 13, going on 14 and has spent all her pocket money for this month.

It’s no fun being a teenager with no money, so if my older two want extra money I can always find something for them to do around the house. I’m good like that.

There is plenty that needs doing. The car can always do with a wash and hoover, the garden always needs a clean up, the dogs need walking- I’m sure you get the idea.

This week’s task was sock sorting. With six people living in the house, we have a lot of socks. I think it’s safe to say that DD didn’t find this task fun. As you can see she is giving me ‘The Look’.

But she stuck with it and I now have four baskets of matched socks and one of unsorted and she has some extra money. Result! All I have to do now is keep them sorted and make sure no one muddles up the different trugs.

BTW, it’s not so cold in our house that my children have to wear hats. It’s just that DH is trying to head off DS’s liking for Chelsea football team by buying him a Liverpool kit. So far, it seems to be working.

Sock sorting

 

My Sunday Photo

Mr Nobody

With six people, two dogs and two cats living in our house, you wouldn’t think it would be possible for someone else to live here and not be seen, would you?

But apparently that’s what’s happening. What else can explain what happens in our house on a regular basis, other than that we share our home with a ‘Mr Nobody’.

According to our children ‘someone else’ leaves the dirty socks in the hallway. ‘Someone else’ stuffs food wrappers behind the sofa. And ‘someone else’ is responsible for throwing the sofa cushions onto the lounge floor and constantly misplacing the remote control.

And if I calmly point out that these objects are not where they are supposed to be and make enquiries as to whether any of my cherubs knows anything at all about the missing object or mess every one of my offspring widens their innocent eyes and wrinkles their smooth brows in what can only be genuine confusion.

‘It wasn’t me’, they inform me quickly, often before I’m able to explain to them exactly what I’m asking them about. They are obviously concerned about my rising blood pressure. They are such lovely, caring children.

If I ask, it seems Mr Nobody is responsible for leaving empty packets in the cupboards and fridge, knocking all the wet towels off the drying rack, spilling ribena across the kitchen and trying to shove that one last piece of rubbish into an already full rubbish bin.

Because no other bugger owns up to it and what other explanation can there be?

 

nobody

When Is It Time To Drop An Activity?

If you’ve got children, you have probably enrolled them in some sort of after school activity at some point.

Swimming, football, dance, drama, music, brownies or beavers, gymnastics…the list of opportunities is endless.

Sometimes these classes are truly child driven. Your child loves to dance or sing or kick a ball, so you find a class that allows him or her to do what they enjoy, with the bonus of an audience.

But other times, the child has not asked for lessons or classes in this particular skill. You, their parent, choose the class because you think they would like it or it would be good for them. You might have chosen it because you’d have loved to have done it as a kid, or you may think the class is essential.  Lots of little girls end up doing ballet because their mothers were never allowed lessons and many people consider swimming classes essential, for example.

Ballet lesson

It doesn’t matter why your child(ren) started the class, unless they really, really adore them, the chances are high that at some point they are going to come to you and say they don’t want to take lessons any more.

What do you do? Do you let them give up straight away? Or do you insist that they finish the term? Do you listen to why they want to stop? Or do you just say sorry you don’t like it, but you have to keep going?

I tend to do everything I can to encourage my kids to continue with an activity that I think suits them, but I’m fine for them to stop after the term has finished if they haven’t clicked with it. I’ve let them give up gymnastics, trampolining and various after school clubs after it became evident that the child and the activity were not a good fit. I don’t feel at all bad about these decisions.

I have also stopped lessons that the kids have enjoyed because they were too expensive, or didn’t fit into our timetable. Stage school ( Ballet/singing/ acting/ tap and modern dance), gymnastics for DD1 and karate for DD2. I did feel a little bad about making my children stop these, but our schedules were just too full.

Karate Kid
But there are a couple of things that I’ve insisted my kids continue with. Brownies and Beavers, because they are social and cheap; swimming until Y6, because it’s a life skill and music lessons, because they are all quite musical and being able to play the piano ( and one other instrument), are great skills to have.

And just recently DD1 and DD2 have come to me and told me they no longer want to play with a local Youth Orchestra. They have been with this group for 3 and 2 years, and it’s taken up 3 hours of their term time Saturday mornings, as well as many evenings for concerts during those years. It’s hard work but the standard of music is high and up until now I think it’s been a good use of their time. Recently though, DD1 and 2’s enthusiasm has waned, and this term they have decided they don’t want to go back. They are still learning two instruments each and are playing in their school bands/orchestras so they are not giving up completely; they just want a break from playing in youth orchestra.

Initially I tried to persuade them to continue but in the end I’ve let them give up. I have spent years ‘encouraging’ ( IE making them practice) them to develop their musical ability and they have done really well.  They are in years 8 and 9 now, they are busy with school work and they are getting too big to ‘force’ to do anything they really don’t want to do. And I don’t want to put them off music completely, who knows, if I back off now, they might go  back to it of their own accord.

If you have a child that loves an activity, for goodness sake let them carry on with it if you can afford it or you can fit it into your lives, but if your child hates something he is doing, or has no affinity with what they are learning, then what’s the point? Life is too short, surely?