Fast cars

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This boy is one of three who happen to make my world go round. After counting down the days until I would be completely off work and available to play, it wasn’t long after I stumbled out of bed that first morning that I was handed a car and told to play.

My kids hate that I work full time. And I get it. (As well as all the guilt that comes with loving my full time job). So despite the fact that stopping and just enjoying the moment is incredibly difficult for this chronic multi-tasking, plate spinner…I’ve been trying my hardest to say “yes,” and get down on the floor to brumm fast cars as often as possible over the past fortnight.

It’s too easy to say “no” – there’s dish s to be done; washing to hang out; and just sitting down to do. But I don’t want them (or me) to remember their childhood as me sitting on the couch or being too busy all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big believer in good old fashion benign neglect…it’s the route of all creativity, surely! It’s the all the time element I am concerned with.

So my last fortnight has been filled with fast cars, stick ball, camping, running, picnics, bike rides and trips to the park. Tomorrow is my last day and although I’m ready to be insanely busy again, I’ve enjoyed being available to say yes.

And let’s not talk about my little boy being big enough to start school next week!

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Into the woods & back again

Today we went to the woods.

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Although we did not stay long, my non-outdoorsy child spent every second building, dreaming , and enjoying. All because the rangers had enough foresight to leave offcuttings & a few examples.

I don’t think we could give him anything more valuable than possibility.

Today we went to the woods.

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Although we did not stay long, my non-outdoorsy child spent every second building, dreaming , and enjoying. All because the rangers had enough foresight to leave offcuttings & a few examples.

I don’t think we could give him anything more valuable than possibility.

There you have it.

My eldest son, E, is intelligent.
I know, all mums think their little boys are the cat’s miaow, but he is.

In fact, I have learned that is difficult to discuss a gifted child without trying to simultaneously highlight any faults you can think of. Otherwise it puts people off; makes the conversation seem competitive; or just makes you feel like that mother.

And believe me, I’m not her.

But he’s intelligent and things at school are easy for him. At 2 E would comment that his pineapple pieces were trapeziums. At the start of year 1 he passed an end of year 2 maths test (but, when he couldn’t explain why the answers were right they held him “back” to do year 2 maths). He reads novels in a day, while many of his friends still struggle with picture books.

The trouble is, he’s my boy. So like me before him, he doesn’t know how to deal with things that are hard. He is unfamiliar with hard work and struggle makes him question his understanding of himself. But he’s 6. And what I can personally guarantee him is that there will be hard things. He won’t win every race and he won’t be the best at every task.

How do I teach him that is ok? How do you breed resilience in a child? How do I lead him to defining himself as more than his abilities?

And how do I have the conversation with other parents without making it sound like I think my child is a prodigy?

When it goes right.

I don’t know what it is about “family days” but they usually involve at least one bad mood and one strop or tantrum (often one from a certain two year old and one from a parent!).
We never manage to get out of the house at a reasonable time when there are 2 parents. We can’t agree where to go, or what to do, or it’s too late to do what we wanted. Etc. Etc.
But yesterday? Yesterday the stars aligned. All 4 of us were in brilliant moods. The weather agreed with our plan for the morning. And we got out of the house and went.

It began with feeding the ducks. I know, I know. Ducks shouldn’t eat bread. But how do you explain that to a toddler who is screaming and giggling in excitement with dozens of ducks scrambling

around his feet trying to a bit of bread? If someone has a more responsible duck snack we can offer, please let me know. This is such a rare treat for Eden because I feel guilty…

 

And then we went to the cafe for a warmup. Always a winner.

Then it was naptime.

And then we went to the park, just before sunset, just before it was time to head over for our weekly tea at the grandparents.

I think Eden had a good time, do you?

the division of two

“Mummy Guilt”, despite its slightly sickly name, is a powerful force. It reaches all the way into your gut and doesn’t let go. At the height of its grip, there is nothing to be said that can release you, but you will do anything in its name.

 

And before I became pregnant with Caleb, whom we affectionately refer to as The Bird (whilst Eden remains “The Beast”), I was not intimately acquainted with the phenomenon of “MG” … We’d had such brief encounters, so far between. Encounters that could be overcome with a new toy purchased and extra treats allowed.

 

And then there were two. In fact, and then there was just the knowledge that there would be two and Mummy Guilt and I started to hang out. Regularly. Guilt about the timing of “the next one”, guilt that I was too tired, too sick to properly play, etc, etc. The last few weeks before Caleb was born, Eden became very needy. And I started feeling sick with guilt because we were beginning to expect him to grow up, because we needed him to. (he started preschool and having a grandma day)

 

With two here, each making his demand known, Mummy Guilt is in all its glory. Caleb is left to cry at times that would have had me desperately upset with Eden and it barely phases me. Just admitting it brings that sickening squeeze. I can’t let it phase me though, as I constantly try to justify to people, because I can’t physically see to both their needs at the same time. Not generally, at least. I can’t hold Caleb as he struggles to get to sleep whilst changing eden’s nappy. And yes, Eden probably should be out of nappies but he’s not.

 

The guilt of how much different Calebs infancy is/will be, compared to eden’s, is suffocating. Today I’ve held him whilst he sleeps because this is eden’s naptime and this is his chance. This is his chance to come first. What a thing to say, and to mean.

 

 

I won’t even begin to explain the guilt about the “not yet”….

I have started so many posts in the past week.

About Comfort. About Need. About This and about That.

The first one, my iPod deleted. The rest have been left intentionally unsaved by me.
Sometimes it’s the writing that is important, rather than the sharing.

I had the arrogance to forget that being a new mum (even though it’s the 2nd time) would change everything. I have this tiny little creature slung onto me, snoring away and despite my previous confidence of how it easy it would be ‘this time round’ I think I forgot that Caleb is his own person, right from the word go… and that how he would be, and how he would respond was not to be predicted.

And then there’s the Big Beast (Eden) who is currently asleep upstairs. I tried not to think about how he would deal. For that I am glad, because worrying would not have made this last week any easier.

But there have been such *great* moments already. Eden’s pre-nap story was cut short because I was alone and Caleb wouldn’t stop crying. Eden sat up and gave Caleb a cuddle (The First) and a kiss. Because he wanted to.

And we’ve sat on our couch, a child on each lap, reading great stories, with both of them happy.
Those are the moments I want to remember from this week.

 

Once again I have learned a lot about myself. About my needs. About my buttons. About my insecurities. And about my strengths.

I have missed Eden so much whilst he has clung to Phil in this insecure time. But today, with Phil simply not there, he clung to me. And I remembered first, how good it feels, and second, that he reacts somewhat how we allow him to react.

 

Christmas is a few days away. I’m not ready. There are presents unmade. There are key items for making the presents which haven’t even been purchased. There are presents that are still ideas in my head and items in a shop. But I’m not stressed. I refuse to allow Christmas, particularly this Christmas, be about the Things. So a stocking is slightly un-filled. A tradition un-kept (ok that one sort of bothers me…if only I drove!!!) … This Christmas will be my first with my parents in 7 years, our first as a family of 4 and our first with both sets of grandparents in one place.

This is a Christmas to remember and not for that Prada Bag. (ha as if that’s on anyone’s list…but you know what I mean.)

lessons amidst the butter beans

With the more technology that enters our daily lives, I find it more difficult to dedicate my full attention to Eden. I’m not crazy – i know he doesn’t need it all the time (he’s currently sitting near me playing with a garage and cars)… but it occasionally dawns on me just how little of my attention I give him, so much of the time. It’s so easy to ‘just check this’ or ‘just sort that out’…

So today, one of our first full days alone for a very long time (with the introduction of ‘Grandma Days’ and preschool), I sat myself on the floor and we played. I was ignored a lot of the time, but got to experience more of him by doing it. We got out our tupperware container of butter beans, muffin tray and some spoons… but quickly discovered that the best thing to do with butter beans is to put them in the cement mixer truck, and in the portholes of his ark. Obviously.  It was great. I took a few photos, but they weren’t great. He’s too vain – if he hears the camera, he immediately stops and demands to see all photos and videos!!!

I purposely made no plans today. Such big changes are occurring and about to occur, and he can tell. So we’ve had a lovely day.

our days

Our days are a blend of repetition and new experiences. I have found that the repetition is what builds his confidence – there are certain things he can rely on. In that confidence he can search out new things. The deer farm is a very regular part of our lives. We’ve been walking there several times a week (at least) since I was pregnant with him, and now as soon as we get to the private road, he scampers off ahead…searching for puddles, stones (to climb on) and whatever animals may be living in the fields that day. He knows the road, he knows the basics (where the stone pig is that he kisses every time, where the biggest puddle will be, etc) and he is bold. But he also always sees new things. Yesterday it was buttercups (who taught him what buttercups were?) . . .he ran excitedly through the grass, pointing them out, saying bye to them and looking for more.

Also yesterday the chair that lives outside our house was knocked over (probably by him if we’re honest) and suddenly it was the greatest toy ever. He climbed under it for more than 20 minutes before he decided that climbing on top was equally as fun.

This age is so fun. There is so much wonder. So much to learn. So much to touch and taste and try out. I have so much to learn from this little bundle of exploring energy.

free range children and sacrifice

I’ve been watching Season 7 of Project Runway lately… and when the final designers were making their collections, 2 of them were talking about how they came from immigrant families and the sizeable sacrifices their parents made so that they would have ‘a better life.’ It has kickstarted some serious thoughts in my wee little brain.

This isn’t a novel concept – I’ve been hearing reference to parents working long hours and numerous jobs, going without and living a life to a lesser quality than necessary for the sake of their children’s future. But these days I hear a lot more about making the children’s childhood important and special and ‘right’. Ensuring they have the right experiences, the right amount of attention and tuition and love.

I guess what my thoughts boil down to is that by staying home, I am not only reducing our current quality of life (in material terms) but also I am not putting any money towards my children’s future. And this doesn’t really bother me, except occasional moments of panic. (but i have occasional moments of panic surrounding most topics!).

But it does make me think. Because my mother’s choices as mum and my choices differ greatly. She probably thinks I pander to eden and I’m too soft (which again,  i may well be). I read books about not passing babies around too much because of personal space issues. I refused to leave him to cry (until he was old enough to be tantruming at me) because I didn’t want him to be insecure. When he developed separation anxiety at 10 months, I let him stay with me instead of leaving him in a different room. At the same time, I don’t want to wrap him in cotton wool.

I came across this article recently (good old BLW). I want to raise free range children. I want children who are independent and are able to be children. At a village meeting about the park they’re planning on building, the architect described a park that isn’t completely safe, and that it isn’t on purpose. I believe in that kind of thing. I let eden run around on the tarmac outside, even when I know that he’ll probably fall. And when he does I don’t react, unless he really is hurt. But sometimes it takes conscious effort to let him do things for himself.

But then my mum’s reaction to the article filled me with all sorts of conflicting emotions. She reminded me that a week after my 17th birthday, I boarded a plane to return to Canada, to move to university and left them in their new home in Costa Rica. In that, she reminded me that I did EVERYTHING young.. and believed myself to be fully capable and fully independent. The truth, however, was that I wasn’t. But I don’t know how to reconcile that with the fact that I had a brilliant time at uni and was very happy with my life. They didn’t make the wrong decision in letting me go but I do wonder if there were factors that could of been changed. I was very convincing at being capable. It’s now that I am fully-fledged adult that my incapabilities shine through. There are things missing in my development and I think it’s because I was working so hard to prove that I could manage, I didn’t even realise there were things I couldn’t do and that those things mattered.

So what age will I let eden (and his sibling of unknown gender) board a plane to visit his grandparents on his own? I don’t know. Will I let him walk to school on his own? What age? The world is different than it was when I was a kid, but it remains different because of fear. I believe many of the dangers are worse because we stop ourselves from doing things that used to be safe.