Saturday, 29 November 2008

The night before the big day

Tomorrow, Jared goes away for 6 days. I am not one of these wives and mum's who enjoy it when their husband is away. I can't understand how people look forward to their other halves going away. I hate it. Normally he is only away for 1 night, 2 at the most. This time it will be 6 nights, and he'll be in a different country - Finland of all places.

So, this is going to be a hard week. Apart from the fact it is a hard slog doing everything on my own, I will miss him alot. I am one of those people who needs to talk alot, and talking to 3 little boys (one of whom can't talk back yet) just doesn't quite do it for me!

The boys are also going to miss him alot. So I'm going to have to cope with their emotions as well this week. Sometimes even if he isn't back for tea they cry, so I don't know how they are going to be this week.

I do know however, that I have a supremely faithful friend and provider who will give me all I need for this week. I'm not sure that I have written about this before on here. As a family we are Christians and we teach our boys to follow Jesus. I see this as one of the most important things we could ever do for our boys. I will write about this another time because otherwise I'll get sidetracked.....

So, this week I know that I can rely on God to give me strength and energy to get me through it. How do I know this? Because He has done it before, and will not fail me this time. When Jonah was a baby ( he still is of course, I just can't face the fact that he's growing up!! ) I was extremely tired. It was a really hard time. I had to just carry on with each day because my family needed me to. I had to make the tea, do all the school runs ( and there were 3 a day because Max was doing half days in nursery) and generally be 'normal'. I found a verse in Psalms that said 'Look to the Lord for strength, seek His face always' and I realised that if God can give me all I need, then that must include strength and energy as well. I can honestly say that I felt 'supernaturally energised'. I am sure that Jared would love that phrase because he is a true pentecostal type!! I am not saying that life got suddenly easier, or that the boys slept better or were better behaved, but I just felt able to cope with it all because I had my best friend at my side giving me all that I needed. I know that He will do this again for me this week. I just need to remember that He's next to me being my Father while I am being a mother.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Swallowing my words....

Ok, firstly I should apologise for yesterdays rant. I was very cross, but did not have all the facts and so shouldn't have responded in such an emotional way. That was my mummy, protective, over-emotional side....

Today I discover that apparently the no running rule is only when it is wet. Sort of ok. It makes it more bearable (although I'm sure that it still has a nasty smell of health and safety somewhere).

I think that I am on a bit of a journey. I am still going through the school system for the first time with my first child, and, like anything when you do it for the first time, I will make some mistakes and see things that aren't really there. I desperately want my boys to have the best they can possibly have, and I do feel that at school they are only acceptable if they behave in a more 'feminine' way. BUT, I need to put things in perspective slightly. It is a good school and they are doing well, and learning well. It could be alot worse and I need to be grateful for the things we have and not moan so much about the things that we don't have.

Having said that, we will still fight for our boys to be allowed to be boys and to learn in ways that suit them best. We will still work hard at making responsible young men of them. (And as I type boy #2 and boy#3 are rolling around the floor in a tiger cub manner.... doesn't look too responsible to me, but then I'm a girl - what would I know?!)

So, I'm going to try to be positive......

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

What on earth??

Two things have happened this week which have not made me happy. Actually, quite alot more than two things but I'm only going to put two on here! (I ever know, I may slip one in further down while you're not looking...).

Yesterday Toby (in Year 2, age 7) came home from school and said 'Mum, if we don't do our homework we have to stay in at playtime to do it'. What?!! They are 6 and 7 years old. He has 3 or 4 sets of homework each week to do plus a reading book. This is madness. What are they doing in school time? Why can't they do all the work they need to do there? When my boys come home from school they need to let off steam. They have been working hard all day (as far as I know...) and they need to play and have some freedom, within my limits, as I have written about before. The last thing they need is me nagging them to do something they don't want to do. I don't want to turn them off from learning and from school because they have a negative experience of it.

We also find it very difficult to do the homework with him. I have 3 boys, one of whom is an extremely active toddler. I cannot sit down with Toby and give him half an hour of my undivided attention (and this is what it needs - he can't do it on his own). I have to wait for Jared to come home from work, which then gives us a very small window of opportunity to do it in. At this time of night Toby is tired and grumpy and it is very hard to motivate him. Should I stand up for my boy and speak to the teacher about this? I really don't think it is right for children at this age to have so much homework. Toby asked me 'who invented homework anyway?', and I answered 'someone who doesn't like children'. That must be the truth. If you truly understood what young children needed, you would not burden them with homework.

So, what was the other thing that made me unhappy? Today, Toby tells us that they're not allowed to run in the playground at lunchtimes. Is this health and safety gone mad? Apparently children are getting hurt. This was red rag to a bull for me. If they stop children (especially the boys, who need to run) doing this they will pay for it later on in the classrooms. The boys need to run off their energies so that they can then go into the classroom and learn. So, I told him that I say he can run. Of course I do not want to teach him to break the rules, but I also know what he needs. No-one else is going to stand up for my boys, I have to do it. I will happily go in and explain to whoever has made up this ridiculous rule why my son will not be obeying it.

And now of course I can hear all the teachers amongst you shouting at your computers again...... It's not that I'm anti-teachers, or anti-schools particularly, it just frustrates me so much when schools do not take into account what the child needs. Every Child Matters? Yeah right.....

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Making Men

Jared goes away with work quite a lot. Well, it feels quite a lot to me but he would probably say it isn't! When he is away my boys change. It amazes me. It is almost as if they grow up slightly because the biggest man isn't there, so all the order shifts and they move up the ranks.

Yesterday morning, for example, I did not have to ask Max to get dressed more than once. That, in itself, is a small miracle! During breakfast they ate their food without shouting and ordering me about as if I'm their own personal waitress and chef. They cleared the table afterwards. While I was in the shower Toby looked after Jonah and I heard him playing with him in a really gentle and loving way.

Apart from the usual arguing, fighting and 'I'm telling's after school it was generally ok, but Max was the one who surprised me the most. While I was cooking tea, he tidied up the train set and some other toys, and then ASKED me if he could lay the table! After my faint from shock, I gave him the cutlery and he set to work. Everything was mixed up and in the wrong places, but he had tried and hadn't even been asked to do it. I was amazed.

Does this show me that I don't expect enough of them? I think it does. When Jared is here, we make a good team (usually in the mornings that means me sitting and drinking a cup of tea whilst trying to come round and him making breakfast.... it feels like a good team to me!). The boys get on with playing and arguing, and eventually do the things they have to do. When he is away, they do so much more. We are not their servants, we are here to teach and train them not just give them everything on a plate. I think they need responsibility and then they feel part of what is going on and have some ownership of it. They are only 7 and 4, but there are lots of things that they can do to contribute to our family life. They always put their clothes away after I have washed and ironed them, and I think this also helps them appreciate what other people in the family do as well.

I don't expect them to always be doing jobs for me, but I do want to teach them how to be useful part of our family. Too many children today are waited on hand and foot and never learn how to look after themselves, or appreciate what other people do for them. I don't want this for my boys. My job is to equip them with the things they need for the rest of their lives, and I want to do it well.

Friday, 14 November 2008


Has anyone heard Beyonce's new song - 'If I were a boy'? At first I really liked it because it's quite catchy. Then I listened to the words and yet again heard how girls are better than boys, and actually girls would make better boys! How ridiculous! And how would that make a boy feel? Like a failure yet again, I suspect.

The 'discrimination' (for want of a better word....) against boys is so subtle, but so real. Girl power did so much for girls, but as girls were raised up boys have been put down. This song is proof of this. Some people might say I'm over reacting and it's just a song. Perhaps they are right, or perhaps I am right and some boys might listen to it and think that they don't know who they are anymore. If girls would make better boys, what does that mean for boys and their identity? Who are they supposed to be if they can't be themselves?

Jared has just told me that this blog is a bit one sided. I don't claim to be anything else. Who else speaks up for boys? I know that I am hugely biased because I have 3 boys and, as all parents, want the best for my children. However I also feel absolutely gutted to the core about what is happening to all boys in our society. I cry when I hear the news about what teenage boys have been up to and when I read about schools and 'systems' failing our boys. I feel so passionate that we need to help these boys be themselves, and be allowed to be real boys, before it is too late.

I'm glad Beyonce isn't a boy. I don't think she'd make a very good one.

Monday, 10 November 2008

New background??

Apparently the background is too girly. My husband, Jared, said that because my blog is supposed to be about boys I should have a warrior type background. Maybe a Braveheart type army going into battle. I'm not sure. I'm still a girl, even though I have 3 boys. I am a mummy writing about boys, which is why I chose a girly background. I try hard not to lose my female identity even though I spend most of my time doing boy type activities. I would not naturally choose to spend most of my Saturday in the cold wind and rain walking up a hill or chopping trees in some woods. I would much rather read my book and snuggle up under a warm blanket. Those days will come... one day... so my mum keeps telling me!!

I think my boys need a female influence though, otherwise they will not learn to relate to women and girls. Jared is very good at teaching them to treat me well. I want my boys to grow up to be men who love, respect and cherish the women in their lives. He looks after me so well and they watch this. They see Daddy making me a cup of tea in the morning, and giving me a hug. Sometimes they giggle, or sometimes they squeeze into the middle of the hug. When they speak to me rudely or ping my bra straps (yes, they really do that to me!!), he steps in and tells them that isn't the right way to treat a girl. We want them to be gentlemen. It is so important that they have a good example in this. Dads have a big job on their hands!!

So, I digress. What do you think of the background? Shall I keep it girly? Or shall I go for the boy theme???

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Putting it in perspective

I found this poem last week and it made me cry (although that doesn't take alot...). I thought I would share it here - its quite lengthy so you have to bear with it a bit. It made me put all my moanings into perspective. We really only have our children for such a short amount of time. I want to make the most of it and not have regrets when they have gone and the house is quiet again. I want to make them my priority and not other things. That is one of the reasons I don't work actually. I would never tell anyone else they should or shouldn't work, but I have chosen not to because I want to give my boys my best. I won't put a career before them, even if that means having to retrain when they are older. They are very worth the cost and sacrifice that I have made for them. Anyway... here is the poem.

Children Won't Wait

There is a time to anticipate the baby's coming, a time to consult a doctor;
A time to plan a diet and exercise, a time to gather a layette
There is a time to wonder at the ways of God, knowing this is the destiny for which I was crafted;
A time to dream of what this child may become,
A time to pray that God will teach me how to train this child which I bear.
A time to prepare myself that I might nurture his soul.
But soon there comes the time for birth,
For babies won't wait.
There is a time for night feedings, and colic, and formulas.
There is a time for rocking and a time for walking the floor,
A time for patience and self sacrifice,
A time to show him that his new world is a world of love and goodness and dependability.
There is a time to ponder what he is - not a pet or a toy, but a person, an individual - a soul made in God's image.
There is a time to consider my stewardship.
I cannot possess him.He is not mine.
I have been chosen to care for him, to love him, to enjoy him, to nurture him, and to answer to God.
I resolve to do my best for him.For babies won't wait.
There is a time to hold him close and tell him the sweetest story ever told;
A time to show him God in earth and sky and flower,to teach him wonder and reverence.
There is a time to leave the dishes, to swing him in the park,
To run a race, draw a picture, to catch a butterfly, to give him happy comradeship.
There is a time to point the way, to teach his infant lips to pray,
To teach his heart to love God's word, to love God's day.
For children won't wait.
There is a time to sing instead of grumble, to smile instead of frown,
To kiss away the tears and laugh at broken dishes.
A time to share with him my best in attitudes - a love of life, a love of God, a love of family.
There is a time to answer his questions, all his questions,
Because there may come a time when he will not want my answers.
There is a time to teach him so patiently to obey, to put his toys away.
There is a time to teach him the beauty of duty, the habit of bible study, the joy of worship at home, the peace of prayer.
For children won't wait.
There is a time to watch him bravely go to school, to miss him underfoot,
And to know that other minds have his attention, but that I will be there to answer his call when he comes home and listen eagerly to the story of his day.
There is a time to teach him independence, responsibility, self reliance,
To be firm but friendly, to discipline with love,
For soon, so soon, there will be a time to let him go, the apron strings untied,
For children won't wait.
There is a time to treasure every fleeting minute of his childhood.
Just eighteen precious years to inspire and train him.
I will not exchange this birthright for a mess of pottage called social position, or business, or professional reputation, or a paycheck.
An hour of concern today may save years of heartache tomorrow.
The house will wait, the dishes will wait, the new room can wait,
But children won't wait.
There will be a time when there will be no slamming of doors, no toys on the stairs,no childhood quarrels, no fingerprints on the wallpaper.
Then may I look back with joy and not regret.
There will be a time to concentrate on serving outside my home:
On visiting the sick, the bereaved, the discouraged, the untaught;
To give myself to the 'least of these'.
There will be a time to look back and know that these years of motherhood were not wasted.
I pray there will be a time to see him an upright and honest man, loving God and serving all.
God, give me wisdom to see that today is my day with my children,
That there is no unimportant moment in their lives.
May I know that no other career is so precious,
No other work so rewarding,
No other task so urgent.
May I not defer it nor neglect it.
But by Thy Spirit accept it gladly and joyously, and by that grace realise
That the time is short and my time is now -
For children won't wait.

Helen M Young

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Oh my goodness. Last night we had 37 people here for a fireworks party. Thankfully most of the time they were outside. 17 adults, 14 boys (mostly under 10!) and 6 girls. It was very noisy and the boys were very appreciative of the fireworks but also rather excitable. When everyone left we threw our 'stinking of bonfire' boys into bed, cleared up and collapsed in a heap. I was hoping that the excitement was over with. Not so.

Considering they all went to bed an hour later than usual I was hoping for at least a 7am wake up call. 5:50am was the reality. 5:50am?! I couldn't believe it, and had to look twice at the clock in case I was dreaming! And from the moment they woke up they were like wild animals waiting to be set free. Leaping, shouting, rolling around, and generally not listening to a word I was saying. It took Max 20 minutes to get dressed because getting dressed is far too boring and has to have other, more exciting, activities inserted in between pulling on pants and trousers. It was not a pleasant morning and there was alot of cajoling and 'come on - ing' going on. By the time it was 8:30 I was very ready to be opening the front door and letting them loose.

I opened the front door and they were off. Set free from their cage, they screamed, shouted and ran all the way to school. I had to almost run (and if you know me, I don't run!) to keep up with them.

I was very grateful that we walk to school. Imagine if we drove there and they hadn't had time to release all this excess energy. What would they be like in their classroom? Would they be the 'naughty boys'? I wonder if this is why we have so many children (especially boys) who are labelled and put on medication. Do they really need to be medicated or would a change in lifestyle be a better option? How many children are driven to school, driven home again, watch tv and play on computer games when they are home and never ever have chance to release all this pent up energy from the day?

It saddens me that we are so dependent on drugs but don't consider our lifestyles first. Of course it would make an easier life if my boys were calmer, and of course I often wish that there was something I could do to make that happen. But they are not. They are not being naughty (not all the time anyway!), they are just being 'normal boys', but 'normal boys' aren't acceptable in our society anymore because we want our children to be peaceful, calm, quiet and not to interfere in our busy lives. When they can't fulfill our criteria we give them drugs or try to make them fit our lives in other ways. Ouch. That's a bit of a harsh thing to say. Is it?

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Half Term

As usual half term came rather too quickly for my liking. I knew the boys needed a break from school, but didn't actually want them to have it at home!! I was expecting a whole week of shouting, racing around the house, fighting and tale telling and to be honest I was not looking forward to it at all. The week that I had in reality was totally different....

I was really struck by the change in them that happened when they had time to relax, to enjoy being together and not be rushed about to school, clubs or other things. Usually at weekends, there is alot of noise and running (normally with lightsabers in the hands!) and I often complain that they have so many toys but don't seem to know how to play with them. This is what I was expecting for the half term break. I watched in total amazement as they got games out, brushed the dust off them and started playing WITHOUT being told to 'find something nice to do'. They had the time and they were just chilling. We did not need to rush about. They enjoyed each others company. This was a total revelation to me.

We rush our children too much. We have such busy lives and we expect them to run at the same pace that we choose to run at. We, as parents, try very hard not to get sucked too much into the clubs / sports thing and our eldest boy goes to 1 club a week. Even this creates more rushing. They don't have time to play, as they should be doing. When they play, they relax.

Our eldest boy, Toby, who is 7 has 2 sets of homework every week, as well as doing reading books supposedly every night (!). Why do they need homework at 6 and 7 years old? When they are at home they should be playing and spending time with their family so they are ready to learn again at school. On weeknights we don't have time to play with them as much as we would like because we are too busy trying to get homework and reading books done. It is a pressure that is totally unecessary at this age. What does this teach the children? When they are adults, will they bring work home with them instead of spending time with their children? How will they learn that relaxation is important? Will they always feel that their lives are only worthwhile if they are 'kept busy'? Yesterday Toby said to me 'We shouldn't have homework in half term, we're supposed to be having fun'.

So, because we have been far too busy having fun, we haven't done the homework yet. Will we do it? I don't know yet. Am I brave enough to make a point about it? I don't know that yet either?!

This week I have seen my boys for who they really are. I've got my boys back again - and they are very lovely. For the first time in a long time, I have enjoyed their company and we have had time to just 'be'. When they go back to school next week, I will lose them again to the pressures of time. We only have our children at home for such a short amount of time.... let's make the most of them. There will be plenty of time for other things in a few years when the house is quiet and there are no toys scattered about the place.