Friday, 14 September 2012

Stranger Danger

I'm not entirely sure who would be in more danger after our discussion this morning - the stranger or my boys.

Having dismissed it as outdated, I have never had the 'don't take sweets from strangers' chat with the boys. All the evidence shows that they are at more risk from people they know rather than strangers. And then yesterday Max was given a chocolate bar by a builder working at the school. I decided it might be best to have a brief discussion on why it's not a good idea to accept sweets from strangers.

I began the conversation in a light-hearted way, determined not to villify every stranger. Unfortunately, Toby jumped in and before I knew it he was telling scaremongering tales about strangers pushing children into the boots of their cars and driving off with them.

Max and Jonah, eyes wide in the wonder of such injustices, butted in with all the ways they would prevent said stranger from making any kind of evil attack.

"Well, we could just sneak up behind them, take the sweets, punch them like this 'POOOF!' and then run off!"

"Or we could trip them up and take the sweets!"

"Or maybe we could chase them away!"

"I know! If we punched them really hard and then kicked them too they wouldn't be able to do anything!"

I tried to steer the discussion back to a polite "No thank you". Then, the 'what if' questions began.

"What if you have just made friends with them and they want to give you a sweet?"

"What if it's another little boy?"

"What if they don't look like a stranger?"

Toby, in his infinite wisdom, gave plentiful advice about all such scenarios.

"Well, I would say that if you have just made friends with them, that should be ok to take the sweets, right Mum?"

To which I replied, in my slightly more experienced wisdom, that a polite "No thank you" will be all they need to say.

As I tried to close the discussion down whilst they were practising the kicks that might be required if a stranger offered them sweets, I wondered if really there had been any point to that little chat at all. Now, I am more worried about the stranger than I am about my boys.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Handy Hints for Little Boys

Little boys and adults seem to be in their own parallel universes. What a little boy may giggle about for hours on end is not funny in the slightest to most adults (I say most, because occasionally I find myself giggling too). They seem to think differently and speak a separate language to the rest of us. And so, to rectify this situation, I have compiled some handy hints that little boys might wish to see. On the other hand, they may also wish to continue in their parallel universe and that would be ok too. We quite like little boy's universes sometimes.

1. Although Mummy may chase you up the stairs shouting "I'm going to pinch your lovely, squishy little bottom", the lady next door might not feel quite so inclined so it might not be the best idea to pull a moonie whilst doing your best bum wiggle in the garden.

2. When we shout "lift up the toilet seat", we mean the whole seat and not just the lid.

3. Whilst you and your friends may giggle for hours about them, most adults do not find wedgies and nipple twists very funny.

4. The whole of life is not a competition. When Mum shouts "Wash your hands for tea", it's sometimes acceptable to be the last one to do it.

5. Although you and your mates may enjoy playing burp tennis or indeed having a whole burp conversation, girls are not particularly impressed by this skill. In fact, it makes us feel rather sick.

6. This may come as a surprise, but hairbrushes and combs are supposed to be used every day, not just once a month.

7. When someone annoys you, it is unecessary to compile a whole long list of names, for example "you fat idiot ugly bumface poohead willybum". Just a "you are annoying me" will suffice.

8. Some people do not like nerf guns being aimed at their heads.

9. If you find, during the course of a meal, that you have not taken a liking to something, spitting it out dramatically and noisily is not an appropriate table manner.

10. Willies are not actually guitars, swords or anything other than just being a willy.

11. It goes without saying that we are all very impressed with your muscles, but you do not need to take off your t shirts as soon as there is a hint of sunshine to show them off.

12. Whilst you may enjoy a small (or indeed large) tussle and wrestle on the floor with your mates or your brothers, your Mum is right when she says it will end it tears. It usually does, so beware of this fact before you engage in the activity.

13. Frogs, slugs, snails, worms or any other kind of creature were not made entirely for your evil intent. Sometimes it's ok to resist the tempation and just leave them alone.

14. Girls are not alien beings.

15. The word "screen" means every screen in the house, including the DS that you were hiding in your bedroom.

16. Yes, you can light farts but always get the permission from the owner of the fart beforehand.

17. Whilst the game "BOGIES!" may be amusing to you, the old lady in the supermarket will not find it funny if you shout it loudly right next to her.

I do hope these have been helpful in explaining some misconceptions and will help to improve the communication between the species.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Militant Mother Alert

I wish I wasn't such a militant mother, I really do. But some things I feel very passionate about, and when it comes to fighting for my boys I find myself clothed ready for battle.

Homework. There seems to be such a wide and varied range of opinions on whether children should be given it and at what age. Some schools don't give it at all until year 7, some start right at the very beginning in reception. Some parents enjoy doing the homework FOR their children (you know, the perfectly put together projects that are carried into school by smiling, clean children), some parents believe that children should be able to do it themselves. And there are a whole load of opinions in the middle too.

In our school, homework is set right from reception. Now, part of me doesn't mind this too much but there are some things I feel very strongly about (and I know, you will be surprised about that).

1. Homework should be something that can be completed by the children themselves. What is the point of parents doing it? The children don't learn anything, except that when they can't do something, someone else will do it for them.

2. Homework should NOT be set during school holidays. This is a time for children to rest, relax, play, see their friends and learn about the world around them.

3. Homework should be positively rewarded not negatively. If Max doesn't do his 'holiday homework' (and the two words shouldn't even go together in my humble opinion), he has to stay in for 2 lunchtimes to do it instead. This is utterly wrong.

4. Homework should be about exploring the world around them and using opportunities for 'life learning' instead of 'making a poster' or a 'board game' about the ancient egyptians. Instead, why not ask the children to fill an empty matchbox with as many small natural items as they can find?

And so, the militant mother in me rises again. Having spent my Saturday morning helping Max with his poster about WW1 so that he doesn't have to stay in at lunchtime to do it, I will have to speak to his teacher. I don't mind the week to week homework that he is set, to be completed at the weekend (although even that is pushing it slightly too far for my liking, but I can accept it). It's homework that is set for the school holidays that I think is totally unecessary. So I will have to tell the teacher that whilst he will do his weekly term time homework, he won't be doing the enormous holiday projects that are set. And I will not expect him to face the lunchtime detentions either, because the decision is mine and not his. We spend our holidays doing all manner of 'life education' activities. In the past I have listed them for the teacher to see, instead of sending in homework. I work hard with my boys during the holidays to give them experiences that they don't have in school. There is so little time outside of school otherwise to explore these learning opportunities.

Oh dear...... here we go again.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Insanity and Life

I have teetered on the very brink of insanity. Cbeebies, baking with messy little ones, constant demands and requests, cleaning up unmentionables (ok, poo, wee, sick and snot), painting that gets splattered all over the room, park trips listening to competitive mothers, toddler groups, crying, laughing, reading the same stories over and over again, playdough that gets trodden into the carpet, listening to cheesy children's cd's in the car, playing ridiculous monster games. It's enough to drive anyone insane.

And it nearly has. But thankfully, something has come to my rescue.

After 11 years of having under 5's at home, Insanity stands grinning at me, waiting to welcome me with open arms. As I giggle my way towards it, School races into my path, knocking me off my feet and rescuing me from the menacing clutches of Insanity's arms.

Tomorrow my little boy starts school. I have survived. I have more than survived on the odd occasion.

Far from feeling sad and nervous, I feel elated and excited. Our family life is moving forward at the proper pace. I have had the privelege (and I know it really is a privelege) of being at home with all my boys before they went to school. Despite the madness and the grey hairs it has produced, I would not have had it any other way. And now, I have done this part of my job. This box can be ticked. I have prepared them all for school. This part of my appraisal can be signed off.

Tomorrow Jonah will begin his long school journey. I am so excited about all he will learn and the person he will become. I am also looking forward to having some time to do the things I have been putting off for so long. Having small children brings sacrifices and, rightly or wrongly, I have put my life on hold for 11 years, waiting for this very moment.

Life doesn't begin now. Life has continued these last 11 years while I was putting aside my hopes and my dreams in order to give my boys the best start I could. However, in another sense my life does begin again now. And having just about escaped Insanity (although some may argue otherwise), I can't wait.