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Us mummas are a colourful bunch. Some are energetic and resourceful, others cruisy and relaxed. And the rest, well, we’re a little in between.

Whatever ‘mother’ you are, you have to know that you have the most important job in the world. There is nothing more satisfying, difficult or meaningful than sowing into the next generation. It really brings out your true colours, tests you in all sorts of interesting ways and reveals a depth of love you may not have realised existed.

Mothers can be tough on each other. This perhaps stems from our own insecurities or guilt from past failures or simply because we are stuck in our own ways. I am a routine mum. I liked the control crying thing, I like boundaries and in the past I may have come across a little judgemental of others who didn’t quite do things my way.

Ah. Now I am a sort of grown up mumma, I can sit back and laugh at my audacity. Like I know what’s best for someone else’s child! Nowadays I appreciate the variety of mothers, I can empathise a little better and it has dawned on me that what us mums need most is encouragement.

So, I try my hardest to pop in encouragement (always has to be genuine) into my conversations with my  mum friends. They are usually pleasantly surprised to receive a compliment, especially when it comes to their parenting techniques. Because, let’s face it, we all  have our closed doors yelling, stomping moments. And the feedback from our pathetic attempt at parenting is often negative or condemning. There just isn’t enough encouragement flung around from mum to mum! Shame!

It’s easy to do and it makes such a difference. When mums feel appreciated, they tend to do a better job. It’s easier to feel patient when someone has told you how much they respect your parenting. When someone believes in you, it makes you want to try harder. When everyone is telling you that you’re a failure, it’s easy to drop the ball and start losing the plot with the kids, cos you’re already (apparently) a failure so it doesn’t matter!

So, my rambling thoughts summarised are: be kind to each other, speak the positive, encouraging things you think  and remember that we’re all in it together doing the best we can! Isn’t that cool?

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When you become a parent there are certain things you have to teach your kids: how to eat, how to use the toilet, how to shave… But as they grow older, there are other subtle things that you may miss on the way.

My kids are almost all at school now… sigh. They know how to bath, feed, toilet and dress themselves. They know how to pack away their toys, how they’re supposed to talk to each other and us, how to tell a good yarn. But, sometimes I have an ‘uh-o’ moment where I think, “was I supposed to teach you that already?”

Crossing the road is one of those things. Do you take them to a variety of roads, make them sit, wait, look and cross? (or is that just for dogs?). It’s kinda a no-brainer in my mind. If you’re on the side of the road, you wait until all the cars are long gone and then walk sensibly across a clear section of bitumen. I just don’t think kids think like that. So, sorry kids, oops forgot to teach you that one, I’ll try and sneak it in the next time we’re at a road.

Food glorious food! Yes, another lesson I think I missed. How not to be a fussy child. This is a tricky one because I am naturally fussy with my food… and my spoons for that matter (no I don’t want to use a soup spoon with my cereal thank you very much!). Instead of just encouraging them to like a variety of foods from an early age, we gave in to the simple foods such as carrot, cucumber, sausages and bread. So you can imagine how exotic our meals are now! Glum.

Communication with strangers. It is all well and good to have the stranger danger antenna out there but when it comes to manners, sometimes our kids are a little shy or unsure of what is expected of them. They are almost too scared to speak to a stranger… even with us at their sides. I feel I have overdone the warnings and haven’t given them enough confidence and skills to say a cheery old ‘Hello’ to an adult that greets them first. Now, they get the nudge, the winking eyes, the verbal ‘say hello’ from me because I’ve forgotten to explain to them that you have to be courteous as well as cautious. Confusing stuff, really.

So, my dear kiddies I’m sorry for the little/big things that I have failed to teach you. Hopefully, we’ll make it up as we go along and all will be hunky dory. Forgiven? Alright!

First there was birth, then preschool, now hold on to your hats for the greatest challenge around… Primary School! Da… da…DAAAAAA! Yes that’s right parents, school is not just a new chapter, a new set of friends and teachers to get in the good books with but a new community for you to find your place in. Do you dare dig through the muck of years past and find your place? Have you perfected your winning smile and friendly “Hello”? Would you introduce yourself if no one else is interested in you as you sit solo on a silver chair, pretending to text!?

It’s a jungle out there. A new set of rules and expectations: P&C meetings, fetes, meetings, tests, volunteering and fundraising! People come from far and wide and not just mums these days, you’ve gotta know how to talk to the dads too! And the shocker is that you cannot choose who your kid will be friends with and whoever they choose, you will have to connect with the family whether you gel or not! I have been lucky so far in that department but many are not! It’s the first stumbling block on the road to an educated child.

Then there’s the teacher who is responsible for drumming words, numbers and ideas into your little one’s head. If they’re a great teacher (like mine yippee) you are set for the year. Relax, kick off those stomping shoes and have a cuppa. But if they don’t understand how your child ticks, or if they have a temper or are just over being a teacher, then you may be in for a tricky year.

For a first time school parent it is a strange feeling, even just walking into the playground. I have had so many conversations with mums about this very thing. They all feel like they’re back at school. Like they will walk into the playground before pick up and hope to all get out that someone is friendly, someone will say hello and they will not be left alone to stare up at the sky! Having a toddler by your side provides you with a bit of cover but sometimes these mummas are just not very friendly! And it can feel lonely. Why is this? And it’s not as if my friends have adopted the gothic look or come to school naked, they are awesome people. I simply do not understand it.

The thing I always tell these mums is what the other mums say, exactly the same as them. Perhaps there are snobby mums out there who just want to stick with their cliques! Fine. Not the kind of people I want to hang out with anyway. But I think that most times, people are simply insecure and afraid to start up a conversation or completely exhausted by the rush of being a mum!

And so it is left up to the individual to make eye contact, some glimmering conversation, to swallow some pride and to be courageous and take the first step!

Who dares call themselves good? So many people walk around this place never feeling good enough. But for who? For me and you?? (sounds like a song!) They cake on the makeup, wear stilettos to the beach, wear their short shorts SHORT and hope that someone notices them, that they fit in, that they are good enough!

Sounds a bit like me sometimes. I just cannot bear to wear my pilling, slightly hole-ridden t-shirt to school pick-up! What will ‘they’ think? “Poor old gal, money’s as thin as that pathetic excuse for a t-shirt”. Or they may just take a swift glance around the playground in the hope that they too fit in somewhere. I was talking to a few mums about this very thing. It’s a given that kids will feel insecure in the playground, but not the mums. We strut around with our clocks ticking and our sunnies on, giving a swift wave, smile, hello to the regulars we see everyday. What the kids may like to know, though, is that parents care what other parents think of them. We have to make new friends and fit in as well.

The thing grown-ups have learned is how to hide the tears and the nerves. We are experts at it. Busyness is particularly helpful. When you’re scared that people won’t like you, having things to do makes it hard for them to find out who you really are. In the end there won’t be time for them to make a firm decision either way.

Light conversations about ‘the kids’, business and movies are great topics to distract them away from the constant butterfly dance in your tummy. Humour is also a winner, as long as you’re a little bit funny and you don’t try too hard. All this surface stuff works well to hide our insecurities and fears that if they dig a little deeper they may not like what they see.

So who, deep down, is good enough for whoever? Is it the lady with the designer clothes and the beautiful home, with career, travel and family seemingly going strong? Or is it the housewife, home with the kids, setting up the craft in the afternoon and teaching her kids how to cook? Is it the juggling mother who seems to do everything with 23 kids, a massive house to clean, work coming out of her nostrils and a smile permanently frozen on her tired face? And in the end, do we really look at each other or are we too busy looking at others in the hope they may look at us?

Today both my kids are off doing school like things, learning, playing, eating! For the last six weeks they have been my shadows, my constant companions, my noise. Today I am coping with screaming silences which are both welcome and alarming.

After school drop off today, while still in the playground, a few of us childless mummies raised our hands and let out a mild shriek. Free, free as a birdy. After all this time and lack of space, I suddenly find my self in spacious territory. Even my work-at-home hubby has gone west (poor young man) for a business thing, so the place is MINE, all mine. Shall I go for a dip, read a book, pop the air con on and watch Dirty Dancing?

I feel my work self warming up. My brain stretches and jogs on the spot, preparing itself for work mode rather than the land of holiday where I have half been for the last six weeks. Silence often brings ‘shoulds’ to the surface, “I should clean the house, do the gardening, enjoy the outdoors, dye my hair, clean out the fridge, manage my 2 blogs better, learn a new skill oh and get some more work in. But after the holiday period, it is difficult to get the old motivation cranking. Especially when it’s hot (and any other excuse I can find).

Like all things, I find it’s best to start slowly. It’s about finding the rhythm of life again. Routines have changed for everyone around me and a new year has dawned. New, new everywhere. So where to start? First the state of mind has to be right. So I decide to enjoy the solitude. Done. Now, I write cos I love it and it feels a little like I’m building a skill set. Also the nagging guilt will be delayed for a bit longer. Yippee. Then I give myself permission to rest and recover and regain the composure that has been tested over the holidays with little people tugging at my skirt, nagging me to get them what they want!!!

Over the next few free days, I’ll send a few emails, catch up with friends for a real chat without interruption and just meander around op shops and check out the sales. Then next week as life becomes ‘normal’ again, I’ll get a bit more serious about the stuff I really ‘should’ be doing.

For all you mums out there who are starting a year for the first time without kids at home, the key is not to panic (like I did last year). It’s ok to have a breather and rest because inevitably life will get crazy and you will be useful again and things will become routine before you know it. So grab a book, a cold drink, head to the beach, or whatever takes your fancy and enjoy these blissful sounds of silence.

School is back! I’m ready and rearing to go. Walking into the playground this morning felt surreal. I’m a real mother of a schoolboy now. I know the ropes, the people, the uniform and the teachers, no prob.

The familiarity of the school reminded me of a a television show. There in the playground were all the same characters. I was familiar with the plot and the tension. There were reunions, like an old cast getting back together for another season. It felt very Truman-esque. What will happen in the first episode? Will the long lost classmate come back from his world travels or will the directors and writers keep us in suspense?

How will the children cope without their usual teacher? Will the downtrodden finally stand up to the bullies? Will the basil survive the harsh winter and the possums and bandicoots? And when will it be library day? Oooo and who is going to be the new sportsmaster/mistress (?)?

I’m sure we’ll be eased back into the rhythm of the show. We’ll, once again, meet all the characters and observe how they relate to each other. There may be tears or new friendships formed. It will be a settling time once again.

A new term means a new focus with renewed energy. That’s a lot of NEW! But with the new, comes a lot of the old and that’s what makes us feel at ease. We are part of something bigger than a simple story; real community. No tv show can recreate the highs and lows of real life in small suburban Australia.

I love the characters at our school. They are endearing sorts. And I bet at the end of the ‘show’ when we look back, tears will well up as at the end of our favourite tv series. Our hearts will be warmed by the good memories as well as the challenges we were able to conquer together.

It all starts at school. Zero to four are the pure years. They don’t usually know bad words or how to become top dog of the group. Then they begin Kindergarten.

“Dad, what does sexy mean?”, asked our five year old pure blue-eyed lad. What on earth? Where on earth? “Not for kids, son” said the wise father. “That’s what I told the other kids” said the five year old wiseling (“PHEW!”, breathed the parents).

It all starts here and now. The growing, the learning, the eyes widening to the ways of the world. A world that is far from pure, kind or comfortable. What a shock to the system it will be when they know the stuff we know; not that you want your kids wrapped in ‘cotton wool’. But it is a shame that they have to learn the bad with the good. Such is life!

Infants school can bring out the best or worst in a child, depending on where they sit on the social ladder and what kind of child they are. There are the small, weak ones, perhaps younger than all the others. They take longer to learn, they get nervous and do embarrassing things. Their cheeks get redder, their hole gets deeper; it’s a hard place to escape.

It’s so interesting to observe the inner workings of the Kindergarten world. I am humbled by it actually. I see kids behaving as adults do, though kids do it unashamedly, right in your face. Human nature can be so nurturing, kind and equally, damaging, selfish and cruel. It’s built in, taught, modelled. This humbling reflection of the adult world gives me pause. What am I teaching my kids with my mutterings and opinions and behaviour?

Our precious little sponges, sponge off us first, then off to the big old world. Once the Kindergarten train has left the station, this world is opened up. If only we’d kept those rose coloured glasses from our own childhood, they would have come in handy right about now.

Today I taught Kindergarten kids how to read. It was manic. I had to dart between the confident kids who think “this is easy” to the slower, more needy children.

There was one particular kid who didn’t have it in him to try today. You could tell just by looking at him, that today was not his day to learn. He just didn’t believe he could do it. And it was stuff I knew he could do. When the bell rang, he had done nothing on this particular exercise and he started to cry.

This kid needed  the ‘con’ in confidence. That is, fake it ’til you make it. You have to try, to risk failure in order to learn. It just takes the smallest amount of self-belief to get you going. And when you fall down, you get up again, suck it up and off you go.

The world of kids is truly a miniature ‘adult’ world. They have their politics, the social ladder, successes and failures, authority and play. Their insecurities mirror our own and much can be learned from their experiences. To adults, the problems kids have seem tiny and the answers, simple. It’s all about experimenting, having patience and focus. And believing that confidence comes through trying and risking failure.

Ah the things we learn from the mini world of kids. Simplicity is the key.

My childhood is fuzzy. I remember some things perfectly and others have disappeared completely. I’m kinda looking forward to losing my short-term memory so my long-term memory can be rediscovered! (joking, kinda).

It’s the everyday things that go first. What did I wear? Where did I go on holidays in 1987? What did I talk to my friends about when I was in second grade at school?

Having a child starting school brings back all those FEELINGS. One mum said the playground gives her the heebie geeebies. I think I loved learning but did I love school? I remember being scared to go to swimming lessons at school because I had changed groups. This meant diving to the bottom of the deep end of the pool and picking up those sinking hoops. It terrified me. I cried. I remember that.

School playgrounds - love them or hate them?


I don’t remember my third grade teacher because he was nice. My fourth grade teacher, I remember. He used to fall asleep in class while we watched TV. Then we moved, things changed. I remember the changes, not the rhythm of life so much.

I really don’t know how people write their autobiography. How do they remember all the details? It must be a combination of research, talking to people who were there and their own fractured memories. Not a very reliable document, really.

Wouldn’t it be great to put it all together? Maybe it wouldn’t be very interesting in the end and I’d be left disappointed. I’d like to meet myself as a kid and ask a million questions and give that little girl some encouragement.

I love making great childhood memories for my kids. Even if they don’t remember them, I want them to have good feelings about this time. I want them to feel loved, secure and understood. Perhaps I can ask them my million questions and they may help fill in some of the blanks.

It is interesting to see language change as you enter parenthood. Language is efficient between mothers. There are phrases, spoken or written, that instantly make sense to other parents. A tap of the nose, a slow blink of the eyes, they know exactly what you mean.

For example, the other day, one of my lovely facebook friends said that she was having “one of those days”. I could feel hundreds of virtual nods moving simultaneously. ‘One of those days’ for a parent goes something like this:

– MORNING: Sleepless night, followed by whinging kid at the breakfast table, refusing to eat. An hour and a half later, the child is still in pyjamas and you’ve got to get out of the door. Lunches are hurriedly packed, the other child potters around forgetting what he or she has to pack in the school bag, no teeth cleaned. “We need to leave in 10 minutes”, you try not to scream. School child tantrums while trying ever so hard to put on pesky socks. Pyjama kid finally finishes grapes and dismounts chair, and starts fussing over clothes. Tears, screaming, parent tries hard to ignore while a volcano of emotions moves closer to the surface. Finally, both kids are dressed and find themselves in a power struggle over who has the stool while cleaning teeth and who can spit in the sink and who has to spit into the bath. Children meander to the car, taking FOREVER to climb in an sit DOWN. Car in motion, school kid dropped at school. Perhaps tears today, clinging onto legs, “Don’t go!”

-MIDDLE DAY: One child down one to go. You love your kids but this is just “one of those days”. The little one constantly switches between crying sad and painful whinging. Your patience is paper thin. You may use words you promised yourself you never would. You feel worse. You send child to bed for an early sleep after the breakfast behaviour is repeated at lunch. Child refuses to sleep, wants water, toilet, cuddle, story, more water, noises are scary, wants to sing…

-END DAY: Wake up little one. He/she is not happy. Grumpy, tears start again. Refuses to get out of bed. Shoes are put on while still in bed. Cuddle on the lounge before placing bleary-eyed little one in car.  Drive to school.  Little one demands water. No water, left at home! Try not to make little one run as you rush into the playground. Bell goes, school child runs past, dumping bulging, unzippered bag at your feet. You have to chase school child around the playground with bag and little one in tow. Ignored, you start walking out of the playground in the hope that s.c will follow. Eventually get to the car, go home. Afternoon filled with demands, sulks, crying, whinging and then dinner. You place your hard work on the table and you get “I don’t want to eat that”. You put child’s dinner in the bin and eventually they are both in bed!

– EVENING: You want to cry but too tired. You bury yourself in dvds, tv or a good book. You go to bed, trying not to seethe. “I love them, I love them, it was just ONE OF THOSE DAYS!”

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