IT’S EMOTIONAL, BUT IT’S WORTH IT!

 

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According to a survey of 2000 UK mums carried out by Nurofen for Children, when asked how they found the first year of parenthood and the emotions they experienced, the answers were these;

1. Tiring 69%
2. Love 59%
3. Amazing 48%
4. Fatigued 46%
5. Joyful 44%
6. Stressful 43%
7. Hard 38%
8. Chaotic 36%
9. Lonely 29%
10. Wonder 29%
I am now in my sixth year of parenthood and I experience these emotions daily, normally all of them in the space of the school run (please replace run with very slow dawdling, tantrum filled walk)
Here is my breakdown of those emotions in order of appearance.
1- Fatigued;
 This is how I feel before I even wake up. Luckily we have a faulty stormtrooper alarm clock that flashes and screams to bring us out of our warm peaceful cocoons and fall into reality with a bump and a bit of a grump.
2-Amazing;
It is truly AMAZING that every morning we go through the same groundhog day rigmarole of groans, moans, breakfast complaints (who knew that if you ignore your shreddies until 30 seconds before you need to leave, they turn into a large congealed lump?) strops, refusal to put our coat on , remembering we need a poo as we are leaving, crying that we still don’t have a car (this is mostly from me) , hilarity that Mummy has something unidentified stuck to her nose and is still in her slippers.
3-Stressful;
 Yes, education is necessary and all that. But there is SO much to remember of a day! Packed lunches, one with crusts, one without. Money for toast, money for mufti day, money just in case. Homework. Readers. Socks. School monkey… If you leave the house with less than six bags, you have most definitely forgotten something.
 4-Hard;
 When it’s -6 outside and the boys are clamoring for a day off, it is incredibly hard not to bribe them all the way to school, with two packs of smarties and a creme egg. ( There is a small possibility this might have happened …..)
5-Chaotic;
 Baggage, children, busy roads, knotty hair and all the rest makes the time before school ever so slightly chaotic, factor in a Mum who hasn’t managed her 3 coffees yet and chaos is rife.
6-Lonely;
 It is so easy to feel that you are in this alone, especially when you walk past the other parents with their beautiful glowing faces and perfectly behaved pristine children and pull along book bags. DO NOT BE FOOLED! A quick survey conducted via whatsapp in the last 2 minutes amongst some of my closest parent friends, shows that we are all in this congealed cereal state together. I promise!
7-Tiring;
 Having the same conversation about how you don’t have Inspector Gadget arms or Superman biceps and can’t carry both children over your shoulders (45+ kilos of combined child weight) at once, does get a tad tiring, but it’s apparently a necessary part of our daily walk.
8-Joyful;
 This is how you feel when you have got to the playground and handed them over to people in a position of much more responsibility of you, you walk away with a positive spring  in your step, you did it! Hooray! this process doesn’t need to be repeated for another 23 hours . The joy is immense!
9-Wonder;
 This is what goes through your mind along with fear, when you hear the teacher and your eldest son  calling, yelling your name. You are a millimeter away from the school gate.. but you turn back , to see your son telling you that he forgot to tell you something really important. Worry sets in that you have forgotten something vital like … well you can’t think of it , cos’ you haven’t had your coffees…
10-Love;
 The eldest didn’t run out to tell you off for not putting enough ham in his sandwich, he has run to tell you that he in fact loves you , more than Lego. You melt into a puddle of unhinged parental emotion, he skips off happily , oblivious to the fact that despite your grumbling, you would in fact do the school run a zillion times a day if it meant that every now and again, you get the biggest confidence boost ever.
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to blog about a specified subject or review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. I have been entered into a prize draw to win a £100 voucher as a token of thanks for this post”.
 

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As long as you’re happy (and your pockets are brimming with qualifications)

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Since January, I’ve been looking for a job in the UK for this coming September. Although I’m not a qualified teacher (no PGCE,CELTA or QTS), I didn’t let this deter me and applied for all the jobs I thought I could do, based on my 13 years experience of teaching all ages, levels and in different establishments. I have applied for all the EAL (English as an Additional Language) jobs I’ve seen, but to no avail and all the rejections have come back with a note suggesting I get a CELTA, before trying again. This costs money and I already did this as part of my degree, although it doesn’t count as there was no teaching practice with it. This and all the other certificates I´ve picked up along the way are fluttering in the gutter.

So, I have changed game plan and spent the last few days enquiring about School Direct, where you basically qualify while you work in a school. This makes a lot of sense and I think it’s a great plan as I can’t afford to study and not work, as there are two children to support. (They would argue that Lego and kinder surprises are more important than food). So, I got on the phone to find out about the process. An hour later I got off the phone, even more disheartened than before.

“What area are you interested in?” asks the helpful man

“Either Primary or English in a Secondary School” I say.

“What did you get in English, Maths and Biology GCSE?” he asks.

“A*, C ( miraculously!) and a D”

“Right..” he says, lowering his voice

“Biology was the only one I got a D in” I offer optimistically and add ” I got muddled between my organisms and my orgasms” (It is a family defect, that we don’t know when to shut up when we’re nervous)

Silence. Cue to hang up, maybe?

“Hello?” I ask

“Oh, were you talking to me?” asks the man, hopefully giving me a way out.

“Yes!” I say.

The conversation rolls on, more dismal A-level results and Degree results are confessed.

“Right” says the man, wondering why on earth I think this is the career for me.

“I know my results aren’t the required ones, but I’ve got 13 years of experience and I get good feedback!”
I say, feeling like a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent who wants to be a gymnast, but is actually only capable of a star jump and a lopsided forward roll.

“Don’t worry” he consoles ” The recommended degree is 2:! and above but they do accept 2:2´s too, you obviously have lower than that and if you want to teach primary, you will need a C in Biology…and maybe phone some schools and get some classroom experience before you apply”

“But I’ve got years of experience” I say sounding like that “My Mum who’s a nurse” girl on Johnny Briggs.

“Anything Else?” says the man, who obviously needs to have lunch and most probably hears about 673 sob stories a day.

“No, that’s all” I say and we part ways.

I head to the fridge, grab some chocolate and weep into the wrapper. I didn’t think it would be easy, but I also didn’t envisage it being this hard. Nineteen (19!!!!)years ago, I made bad choices. I’m not competitive at all and I chose A-level subjects that I was interested in ; Russian being one of them, despite friends and family advising me otherwise. At Uni, I was better at French than German, but I dropped French so I could concentrate on German.. Well done me. I also got very distracted by toast and the telephone at school and by the excitement of being free and being able to frequent bars at uni and eat as many Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies as my student loan allowed. (N.B- My son was not named after these cookies).

So, despite my experience (have i mentioned how many years I have been teaching?), somebody fresh off a course with shiny grades has a much higher chance of getting a job than me. I respect that they have to have entrance guidelines, but today I have woken up troubled by this, not for me, but for my children.

I think that I speak for every parent on planet earth, when I say that all I want is for my child to be happy. If they colour outside the lines, I’m not going to tell them off. I can help them, but for me this is not the be all and end all. However, the last few months have proved to me, that no matter how talented you are at Lego building, eating a pack of ham in record time or speaking three languages. Grades matter. Am I supposed to stand over my sons, enrolling them in every single extra school class going, so that they come out with shiny grades and breeze into jobs? If only it were that simple, and the other side is that I have incredibly qualified friend who aren’t getting jobs, because they are overly qualified.

My worries were slightly quashed this morning, when O announced that when he’s 31, (this is the oldest age imaginable in our house) , he wants to be an alien or a spaceman, so he can eat his Weetabix on the moon. I breathed a sigh of relief, then made a note to check what qualifications you need for NASA.

 

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MY FRIEND, THE TELEVISION.

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The other day, a friend told me that her toddler-inhabited house is a TV free zone. I listened to this news with admiration and fear.

Before I had children, I remember thinking in my oh so knowledgeable state, that no child of mine would watch TV. Ever. Oh, go on then, maybe the Snowman on Christmas day. Fast forward four years and ten months and I don’t know what we, (I) would do without it. It pacifies, calms amuses and distracts and is priceless when all other resources, especially me are sapped dry.

I am not condoning plonking the children in front of the TV and doing a runner, although there are days when this may be tempting, hopefully the consequences ever so slightly outweigh it.

Of a day, we probably do about 87 gazillion activities ranging from drawing a picture, until there are tears, because F`s glitter pen “accidentally” strayed onto O’s Star Wars masterpiece and who can write their name the best when weeing (yes, this takes a good 2 minutes). Occasionally, we dabble in the world of cardboard castles , until the sword wielding knight throws a screaming strop , because the plant watering pirate has flooded the fort and all that is left is a big soggy cardboard mess. That leaves approximately 8 hours, twenty six minutes and four seconds left of the day to get through, and that’s when we turn it on , calm down and forget all about feuds for at least a bit, until somebody gets clobbered with the remote or lo and behold, one of them sits too close to the other.

O’s teacher once told me that she was impressed that he knew about Photosynthesis; Big thanks to the Lorax and Cbeebies for teaching him that, I failed GCSE Biology and still get a bit muddled between organisms and orgasms.

A few weeks ago after swimming, there was a MONUMENTAL meltdown, the stuff that makes Supernanny rub her hands in glee, it was hideous. We got home frazzled from crying, reasoning and shouting. On came the Gruffalo, there was blissful silence, we all calmed down, until O declared that the mouse was really silly and somebody needed to tell him he is not scary at all, it’s because there is a great hulking monster behind him.

SIGNS OF TV INDUCED BEHAVIOUR

  1. On discovering our freezer had frozen over, O exclaims “Wow, Ice is my life now!” (Frozen)
  1. On completing any given task, both O & F would break out into “We did it , We did it, Lo hizimos….” a la DORA ( Why, oh Why does she only know how to SHOUT, somebody needs to tell her to pipe down.)
  1. A friend asked O where burglars go after they are caught. F shouts “prison!”, O shouts “The clink! They go to the clink!” (Bananaman, the best superhero that ever there was.)
  1. “Hang on a minute!” said v-e-r-y slowly in the manner of a frustrated park keeper (Mr Tumble)
  1. Burping! We had managed to last this long without them knowing about burping. Blinking Shrek! Apparently now it is hilarious to burp, the louder and the longer, the better.
  1. There was a phase where during lunchtime, O would peg it screaming  “Somebody needs HELP!” (Sportacus , Lazytown) then come back proclaiming it was all sorted, wiping his brow.
  1. I think it’s brilliant that they have learnt some basic Makaton signs thanks to Mr Tumble, although there is a lot of improvisation. “You sign! Mummy’s wobbly boobs!” “You sign! Poo Bum!” “You sign! Ginormous willy!”
  1. Waking up to “Good Morning Swashbuckler! … I want to see you marching or you’ll have to pork peh pank!” (It took me a while, to realise that he was saying walk the plank).

In his poem Television, Roald Dahl basically tells us all off for letting our children watch TV as we are rotting their brains. My pre-parent self would have nodded vigorously and probably framed it, but my slightly disheveled parent-self thinks that it is in fact a thing of genius and nothing to feel guilty about. As long as it doesn’t replace you as the key carer and allows you all to breathe and a luxurious moment to take that slightly congealed cup of two day old coffee out of the microwave, then bring it on in all its goggling glory.

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Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s off to school we go.

Aside from an alarm failing to go off, we made it to school awake, dressed and mostly happy ( the news F couldn’t wear his cape, which is actually a double bed sheet didn’t go down very well). The BIG day we have been waiting for excitedly, nervously, desperately and in denial-ly has been and nearly gone.

IMG_2036 There were only tears when O couldn’t see me as I had momentarily lost F in the hoards of parents, only to find him sitting down on the floor talking to a recently decapitated caterpillar, and it was a bit emotional seeing O’s sleep creased face looking a bit too serious, but we survived, phew! “What, you didn’t cry?!” shouts everybody who knows me. I know, I know, I was on the brink. But yesterday I had an EPIPHANY! Amongst the nerves, the melancholy that the summer was over, I realised that going to school means that bedtime will be at NORMAL o ‘ clock, NOT half past completely RIDICULOUS o’ clock! A fact that fills my slightly heavy “Where have my little boys gone?” heart with jumping joy. It turns out that days of beach, lego, umpteen viewings of Frozen, eating your bodyweight in ice-cream , destroying the house, painting yourself from top to toe with felt tip doth not tired boys make. Quite the contrary, it fills them with extra energy which burns slowly throughout the day slowly getting greater and greater until, just after 7.30pm (the bedtime of yesteryear) they turn into the duracell bunnies and nothing suppresses the great ripple of energy. Nothing, not talking in a ridiculously calm (slightly psychotic) voice, closing all the shutters (” Mummy, we can still see the sun, why are you making the house dark?”), warm milk, reading stories where all the characters are going to bed, putting on their pyjamas or going to bed myself. One night I managed to get them to bed by 7.30pm, it was paradise. I was ecstatic, until they woke at 1:45, 2:37, 3:15, 4:52 and 5:45 am where I admitted defeat and we started the day. “Oooo, it’s a bit dark outside isn’t it!” exclaimed O “Yes” giggled F shouting “Wake up lazybones day!” at the tired sky. In fact bedtime turned into such a ridiculous part of the day that on a few occasions I had to throw it all to the wind and just join them. One night all dressed for bed and nowhere to go ( I showed them the way to their bedrooms, they just laughed) We piled them into the car and we did a bit of rock climbing, made all the more exciting by potential wild boar sightings, but luckily they waited for us to leave. ( I was not too excited by the prospect of scooping up two boys and running down a hill in my flip flops from a herd of hungry boars). They fell asleep in the car on the way home – result! IMG_2054 Another night , I took them out on their skates and scooter, only for them to come back and F had a meltdown about circular bread and triangular fish fingers. So, instead of two ready for bed boys, the next hour was spent negotiating with an angry toddler who was only calmed by watching Frozen from start to finish, twice. IMG_2056 Bedtime had become BADtime. Obviously being the holidays, I wasn’t expecting bedtime to be early but closer to the witching hour than In the Night Garden was a bit much night after night. Today at lunchtime ( school day – 9-12:30,  3:00 – 4:30pm ) O started wailing , “I’m too tired Mummy, I don’t need school. I didn’t go for a hundred years, why today?” I try to distract him by making a cake , Once he has licked the bowl inside and out, he smiles, satisfied. “I’ll go and put my pyjamas on, when the cake’s ready we’ll eat it and then it will be bedtime , ok? ” He says hopefully. It looks like recruiting for my Bring Back Bedtime Campaign is going to be a piece of cake.     ShareWithMePicM

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Second time around

Our first day at School is still a week and a bit away. “Oh, for O?” I hear you say. No, O (4) is going into year one and F (2) will start Reception class.  “F?!” you yell “But he’s only 2!” Yes I know, but here (Spain) they start the year they turn three (Jan-December). Which is too young for my liking, but despite trying, there’s not a lot I can do about it. School doesn’t start until 15th September and we have had THREE months of holidays. Which have been manic and brill, but there have also been a large smattering of fractious moments, where a bit of  routine other than lunchtime would be handy. And as much as I have scraped the bottom of the barrel of `fun` things to do with not really very fun Mummy, I’m not Mr Maker,

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or Bear Grylls,

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or Mary Berry,

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so they are quite looking forward to imminent schooldom.

Yesterday I took F to meet his new teacher, all the way there he was babbling excitedly and all was going deceptively well. Until we got to the school gate. He slowed down, and  started to walk backwards a la moonwalk and there was a wail. “But this is O’s school, not mine ” he yelps trying to peg it.  “But now you’re a big boy, and you get to go to big boy school” I say in my best over the top tour guide voice. He’s not buying it. “I’m 2, that’s not big” he reasons. “But you’re nearly 3 and you’re going to have a party!” I remind him. “No. Today I’m 2. Not a big boy” he retorts, basking in his cleverness.

This goes on for a while, and finally a squished laughing cow cheese I find in my bag coerces him through the gate. After what feels like forty days and forty two nights but is actually 27 seconds, we get to the classroom and in we go. He shuffles in and then shakes his head every time the teacher tries to talk to him. He gives her his drinking cup. She is surprised that it is a Frozen one. He sticks up for himself, “Anna and Elsa, MY princesses” he says matter of factly. The teacher relieved to have made a breakthrough, laughs and tells him that he might need to fight the girls away, as they will all want it. He goes quiet, the meeting is wrapped up, he bolts to the sink and grabs his cup. “It’s my cup, not no girls cup” he pouts and off he struts.

On the way to the car, I try to appease him and then just as we climb the hill to the car. He says in his own inimitable “Oh Mummy, silly you. We need to give this cup to the teacher” and i am promptly pulled down the hill, behind F as he strides through the playground and bounds into the classroom, pops the cup by the sink, gives the teacher a huge cheery wave and off he goes.

When F started nursery, I wasn’t remotely worried about it. He was my happy go lucky, giggling little F. What could go wrong?  So the first day of nursery, when I left him for half an hour, I sat happily outside feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing, which was a huge change from weeping like a willow, when I left O for the first time, a year previously. I went back in after 33 minutes, walked past the crying Mums in the entrance, giving them a sympathetic “Been there, done that but now it’s a breeze look” and knocked happily on the classroom door. Only the door was being barricaded by a headbutting, punching, angry 11 month old. Mine.

When I finally got in, both the teachers looked paler than sponge cake and were shaking ever so slightly, oh and the nursery director was there too. F lunged at me from the floor and clung angrily onto me and my boobs like an angry and disgruntled piglet. And my heart clunked into pieces. Yes, it was distressing seeing F like that, but I was distraught because I hadn’t for one second imagined that he would have any problems, not one. I had just presumed that my easygoing second born, would breeze on in without a second thought. Fail. “I don’t know him!” I sob to my Mum on the phone.

The next few weeks, were interspersed with doorbanging, my guilt, bit of pinching, all night long hugs and probably too many chocolate and ham based foods. Then one day, I handed him to his teacher and he didn’t give me a backward glance. I saw the colour come back to her cheeks and my feeling like Cruella de ville–ness started to subside. And soon, once he learnt to walk, he would waltz into the room, do a star jump, shake his wild hair and all his friends would come to greet him and I was pushed out of the room. He LOVED it.

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At the end of year meeting with his teacher, she told me that his induction  had been the worst one in the history of the Nursery. Ever. Followed closely by O’s. She leant forward and said guffawing “Remember, you were a wreck!”

Last night, F wouldn’t stop throwing lego at O’s head. I asked him if he wanted me to cancel his birthday party. He looked at me and says smugly “I’m a big boy Mummy, don’t need a party, Thanks”

I wait with intrepid curiosity for the first day and make a mental note to pop a hard hat in his school bag.

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