The Bug in the Photo Frame

You know those little annoying 5min jobs that you put off and put off until it becomes so ridiculous that you haven’t done it yet that the job just becomes a write off?  No?  Perfect?  Well done.

Some of our friends in San Diego framed a photo taken of Ethan a day after he was born.  It is a beautiful, extravagant frame with a lovely beaded matt and totally unlike anything I would pick for myself.  There has been a bug preserved under the glass in this frame for about three years – I really should have named him and started a Facebook page, however I digress.

Ethan has been fighting a major head cold all week.  I know this for a fact as he has been sleeping in our bed with me while Dave nurses his big new tattoo on a mattress on the floor {Ethan’s room is currently undergoing a major makeover so we are all camping together. yay}.  He has soldiered on at school all week but today just wasn’t going to fly.  He got dressed, all ready to go and then I had a long hard look at him and realised that it didn’t matter if I didn’t get paid today;  my boy was sick and needed a day in bed.  At this point I had forgotten about my nifty remote access which means I can indeed work from home, but it was time to get my priorities in order.

So there we were, Ethan rugged up and watching fishing shows, me deciding that a day when I can finally clean the bug from the photo frame really wasn’t that much of a sacrifice anyway.

Sick little boy

 

Changing Moods

One month on and the stress of moving house {2 houses in our case} is fading and life is settling into a new routine; one which feels deliciously concrete and complete.

As we packed, cleaned, organized then reversed the process in our new house and then threw a box of spanners in the works by beginning renovations the first week in, it was easy to think that Ethan was cruising along, oblivious to the process and going about his 7yo life.

In hindsight, as we struggled with 2 weeks of bad behaviour, talking back and being mean to his friends, I see that even though he wasn’t burdened with the actual physical and mental process of the move, the emotional lack of control he was experiencing was having a large effect on his behaviour.

Though we knew where most things were, or at the very least in which general direction, Ethan knew nothing.  He didn’t know which boxes contained his things, when those boxes would be opened, where his books were or even who would pick him up from school that day.  How unsettling must that feel when you’re 7.5?

But we and he have survived, he has had a much better week and has been trying extra hard both at home and at school.  I have been giving him more of my time and remembering to say YES, I would LOVE to play with you {on the rare occasions he asks}.

Read | The Mums Club, but don’t expect a membership app

Did anyone else read this article published online from the granny-herald and just about puke, or laugh, or laugh while puking?

Could the author have picked a more stereotypical gang of hipster milfs if she had canvassed Ponsonby Rd between naptimes?  I doubt it.  I don’t begrudge or doubt the friendship these mothers obviously have, I guess what I take issue with is the elitism of profiling such an obviously privileged group of young women and passing it off in the guise of an article on coffee groups!

I would hedge a bet that most kiwi mums with kids under one are not slipping into their custom made Cybele leggings, Karen Walker Boat Pants or Juliette Hogan cardy to schlep along to coffee group.  Are you kidding me?  Most of us struggled to get out of the house at all without looking like we had been dragged through a bush backwards; never-mind having the where-withall to slap some Fudge Dry Shampoo through our unwashed locks so we could glam up.

I’m not naive and I’m not claiming I’m a salt-of-the-earth take me as I am type because I’m not.  I love splurging and selfish fashion indulgences as much as the next Shore Girl, but I do feel that new mums deserve to cut themselves a break.

I hope anyone with a baby who has the misfortune to read such a self-misogynistic article that perpetuates the Super Mum myth of having it all, whilst perfecting your M.A.C pout and looking like a million dollars realizes that those chicks are about as rare as a Range Rover owner without a finance payment.  We are all worth more than to hold ourselves up to a measuring stick made of acrylic nails and High St fashion.

School Holiday Play Tools

As happens at the end of every term, Ethan is careering at full speed towards the wall of mental exhaustion, I’m hoping he will last the week so meltdowns can occur safely behind doors (fingers crossed x).  He is ready for the holidays, and I’m trying to be!

Once kids get used to having their toy or tech focused play objects removed at intervals, imaginative and ACTIVE play will gradually become easier and more natural – as it should be!  This is something I think is so important to kids; how often do they play without a very specific ‘guiding’ principal?  Creating imaginative active play without the aids of modern toys is a skill that is fast getting lost in the toy aisles and app stores.

I have thought carefully about these items which are all inexpensive and can be re-purposed in a number of different ways.  Importantly, they all lend themselves to active play and are wide open for kids and caregivers to interpret in a multiplicity of scenarios.

  1. Skipping rope | Tug of war, handy for tying up prisoners, actual skipping!
  2. Sidewalk chalk | Essential for hopscotch, drawing the Four Square, handball, driveway netball/basketball  courts
  3. DIY outdoor bowling set | Fun for little guys and big kids, mix some paint with water swish around in plastic bottle, drain excess and leave to dry.  Put a little sand/rocks in the bottom so they stand easily and voila!
  4. Multiple balls | Must haves.  Essential for backyard sport, ball tag, fun relays
  5. Elastics | Have you forgotten how many hours we spent playing elastics as little girls?  2, 4, 6, 8 in the middle out the gate…..
  6. Hula hoops | I spotted these at the $2 shop last week, perfect for makeshift goal hoops, ‘safe’ territory, races rolling the hoops
  7. “Adventuring Tools” / Scavenger Hunts, you could create an on-the-fly scavenger hunt in ANY location, speed it up with a timed version to get them really moving
  8. Large cardboard box |  Can be used to create a hut or home base, or as a target for shooting balls into or hoops around

Sweet Little Notes & Deciduous Teeth

Sometimes it’s too easy to look at my son and marvel at how he has grown into such a big boy {mostly because he is massive!}, how he is so independent and capable and smart but then out of the blue he surprises us with something so sweet and indicative of a seven year old that we suddenly remember how young and needing of us he still is. This is a nice feeling that I fear know will become more and more rare.

Ethan grew his wee ‘special‘ tooth quite early.  It looked like a regular tooth that had simply split in the middle.  Try and imagine my panic at the thought of a child with dental issues; we were living in San Diego at the time with NO health insurance in the land of user pays.  Scary.

Turns out it wasn’t a split tooth it was an extra tooth.  A lovely little mutant extra tooth. He has treasured his special little tooth as have we.  But he has been growing.  And growing and his teeth have been falling out like autumn leaves.

Last week we said goodbye to his extra tooth  (and it’s conjoined twin next door surprisingly).  As this wasn’t just any tooth E felt it warranted special consideration from the tooth fairy and I wholeheartedly agreed.

My Little Minder

Ethan is quite convinced that I am unable to make my way through the world without his assistance.  Lord knows how he thinks I manage at work, where I have keys to the building and have to drive a company car and TALK TO STRANGERS {to be fair, I’m not sure how I handle these things some days either}.

I’m pretty sure he views me as the Brittany Spears of Mothers, apt to make huge social faux pas’ like flash my bits in the swimmg pool parking lot, or get busted shop lifting nail polish at Four Square or something.  Despite his reservations, most days I am able to keep my shit together without his help, but he likes to remind me of things.  Often.

  • On Monday.  “Mum have you got my swimming bag?”.  Ethan has been swimming for seven years now.  I have forgotten his swimming bag ONCE.  He will never forget.
  • “Mama……you better close that door!”.  The second hand dog decided yesterday morning that before work/school was definately the optimal time to jump the fence and head down the road to the pub (I’m serious, that’s where he went).
  • “Mama have you got your wallet?”.  I went to Pak ‘n Save ONCE without my wallet.  Master was not amused.
  • “Mama, are you speeding???”.  Maybe….
  • “Mama do you drink anything that doesn’t come out of a can?”.  Of course I do, wine doesn’t come in a can!
  • “Mama have you locked the doors?”.  Yes, but not the windows.  I need them open to climb back in to get my keys that I locked in there.

I try not to giggle at him but some times his bossy little old man ways are hilarious.  Do any of you have little worry-worts at home? How do they keep you on the straight and narrow, I’d love to know!

Empty Nest

Last week as I sat at the side of the pool, Ethan’s swim instructor ejected all the kids from the pool to watch Ethan swim 25m of PERFECT breaststroke.  I was proud.  Until I realised that he had no business being in this class anymore and had been overlooked for advancement more than once.  ETHAN OVERLOOKED!?!  I don’t know this was possible or how I let this happen (I’ll blame Words With Friends) but the day had finally come when someone (ie TYLER Swim Instructor) had failed to notice Amazing Ethan.  Of course I could not let this rest, after a brief discussion it was decided that Ethan would be assessed the following week.  I put this down to one thing.  Speed.  The boy is built like a baby buffalo, whom I can imagine are not that aerodynamic whilst swimming laps.  He is not the fastest kid in the stroke class but he has the endurance of an Ethiopian.  Kid can swim and swim and swim with perfect technique.

Anywho, fast forward a week and Ethan is preparing to go to Nana’s for the day when I remind him he has swimming in the afternoon (which he will not miss because that shit costs money);

  • Instant tears
  • “My holiday’s RUINED”
  • “I’m MOVING IN WITH NANA”
  • “I’ll be there at least until next Wednesday MAYBE LONGER!!!”
  • “I am SO angry”
  • “I’m packing my bags” (which he did, he packed 2 sets of clothes and jammies – obviously enough for a week away – MAYBE LONGER.

It’s very quiet here.

Ethan begins his new class next year :  )

I’ve Read: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherAfter receiving my wondrous Kindle from Mum for my birthday I promptly downloaded the current NY Times Best Seller List.  I was STARVED for reading.

First up was Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother, a memoir By Amy Chua recounting her parenting style as she raised her  two VERY successful Chinese/American daughters.

Chua is an amazing, engaging writer.  This book has no action, romance, mystery or thrills but it does have drama, heroines and a villain (as Chua often portrays herself).  For me this was a ‘can’t put it down’ kinda book.  I was hooked as I think many readers would be, by her honesty and passion and seemingly unfaltering self-belief in herself as a mother.  I mean, we all doubt ourselves as mothers at some point? right?  I know I do.  Ethan often puts me at crossroads where I simply don’t know how to proceed.

What this book unanimously did for me, was affirm that I’m not the only mother in the world who expects a ‘little’ bit more from her child.  OK, a lot more.  I have a talented son; he is crazy smart, an exceptional swimmer (he just made his first squad at 6.5yrs!), won Player of the Year in Soccer last year and is now proving to be a natural at Rugby, playing loosehead prop.  This is all great stuff, however he is a little boy; what he does without prompting is play DS, PSP, Wii, Moshi Monsters or laze around watching shark documentaries.  That’s all good too, but when it’s time to do some homework or training, he better turn it on.

The softly, softly positive affirmation approach to participation in sports or any pursuit holds no appeal for me either as an athlete myself or as a parent.  If my kids is messing around and not listening to you at practice, then by all means yell at him.  Better yet make him do 20 press-ups in front of his team I WON’T CARE!  That’s how I was trained as a young gymnast, mistakes led to reps.  Hundreds of repetitions.  It didn’t make me cry (every day), it made me hungrier to do better next time.  It made me work hard and it made me succeed.  Little boys are lazy, they NEED to be pushed and they thrive on it.  Making them work  that bit harder, run that bit further, read that little bit more doesn’t make them hate you, or feel weak.  Quite the opposite, it’s how they develop self-respect.

Achieving something they didn’t think they could do teaches kids not to accept the limits others impose on them.  Kids are rubber, they bounce back from defeat, and they are also elastic, they can be stretched without being wrapped in cotton-wool and told how fabulous they are in their mediocrity.

Obviosuly this approach won’t appeal to all, some children won’t respond to being told their ‘best’ isn’t good enough.  What this book will challenge parents to do (I hope) is wonder if a child’s ‘best’ really is THEIR best, or are you both just settling for an easy compromise?

Our house was full of flowers…

One day it wasn’t and then the next we had bouquets out the ying-yang and we were all sad.  Baby Peanut had missed the bus and it was a BIG shock.  I never in a million years had considered that I would miscarry, or that if I did, my body would be so retarded as not to tell me at all.  For like 5 WEEKS!  I know.

Having spent the day in hospital having unspeakable things done to me, I can honestly say that I have lived through the worst day of my life and I am quietly proud of myself.  I expected to fall apart and lose the plot and crawl back to my GP begging for antidepressants.  But I haven’t done any of those things, I am just quietly getting on with things, loving Ethan about a million times more and being so thankful for him.

The Flip Side of Parenting

Yes it’s true.  There is one.  It’s not all spectacular family outings and cute photos of Ethan and his dog.  There are days {like today} when I simply don’t know what to do any more.  I have run out of  good parenting tips and ideas, the reward charts aren’t working any more, taking things away seems to not faze him.

Don’t extrapolate from this and crucify me for being honest.  My son is a wonderful caring boy, who is SMART beyond his years and intensely focused, driven and competitive {all of which are characteristics I value highly in people} but he also has a furious temper, is a control freak, requires instant gratification and refuses to take no for an answer.

Just like me.

So, somehow I need to teach my mini-me to respect ME and his father and his Nana and Grandad.  Because, as he told me tonight, he is a lovely boy to everyone else.

So this is a bad day.  And that’s all it is, but it is the truth and it is the reality of being a parent.