Listen to me!

My kids have been driving me a little crazy lately, and much of it is down to lack of listening.  Sometimes I say come here and they go there because they are trying it on, oh I mean asserting their independence and budding personalities… Whatever.

But often, they are just simply. not. listening.  I’m there talking, and they are ignoring me, or more frustratingly still, starting vacantly in the other direction.  When did my words lose their weight?  When did they determine not listening was standard fare?  I try to listen to them and lead by example- maybe I could do better?  I thought we were raising polite children…

This has really started to grate; my patience for it is seriously waning.  I’ve always tried to be quite even keeled with C & M, but lately, I feel like my fuse is shorter and I don’t like it.  Flying off the handle when you’ve had enough is not leading by example.

Then take today, the result of the 2016 American Presidential election.  Donald Trump will be the 45th American President.  The world is disappointed, calling Americans nuts.  A scarily large slice of the country has forfeited track record, morals and sense for headline promises and blatant bias (racism, misogyny, ignorance…).  How can a man that publicly belittles women, makes a pass at a 10 year-old and intent on wanting to build a wall be our President?  Friends and family Stateside are putting in bids for our guest room…

And it struck me.  Across the country, people aren’t listening.  Across the world, lots of us have stopped listening.  At the risk of sounding like a preaching granny, we’re all chained to social media, we’re all victims of our modern interconnectivity, spoilt for irrelevant choice and not making enough effort to step back, live in the present, listen and learn.  So many of us fall back on ideology instead, and it leads to some really batshitcrazy choices all over the world.  Yesterday in the US, furore against ‘The Institution’ is that strong.

Here in my London home, I’m trying to calm down and be a good role model for my kids.  To keep my cool, to show them how important it is to listen and respect.  To show with a healthy mix of graft and passion, they can reach for the stars.  Don’t roll your eyes at me British cynics!  I am grateful the ‘American can do’ attitude runs through my veins…though at times latent, it’s always there in the background as a confidence boost when the going gets tough.

In the US, Hillary has been gracious in her defeat.  There’s lots of talk from both sides about coming together and collaboration for the common good.  It’s all a good show, but are our leaders finally ready to really work together, listen to different perspectives, actually compromise?  Or will this Western superpower self destruct and send shockwaves around the world in the process.

And will all the ashamed Americans, of which there are MANY, be more inspired to become more proactive community citizens, hopefully educating and building wider solidarity in the process?  Have we learned similar lessons here in the UK post Brexit?  There’s more impetus than ever to tackle ‘movements’ of dissatisfaction shaking our countries to their very core.

The world is watching, and hopefully learning.

Come on people, let’s start listening to each other and make steps to put good into society.  Cumulatively, we will make a difference.

Posted in debate, society, US/UK differences, wacked out | 1 Comment

Friday Funnies: Silly town

Zinky walendi kampalllini gerrykebabit.

or

Welcome to Silly Town!

Have you ever visited Silly Town?  No?  Let me tell you about it!  There are unicorns and flying pigs and more sweeties than you could reasonably eat without getting a tummy ache.  What doesn’t make sense in the real world makes perfect sense in Silly Town.  And the language, the vocabulary- the sky and your imagination is your limit!

C loves Silly Town.  It’s her imagination hotpot, that spills out into games with M, debates with me in its foreign tongue and written works (I’ve got at least a couple of illustrated stories about Silly Town).  Sometimes she uses it to justify behaviour that doesn’t fly in our reality, and it’s only then that I tell her to come back down to Earth.

My sister and I cooked up many an own-titled imaginative game as kids and I really enjoyed them….’hospital’, where you made casts for your dolls’ broken legs; ‘Christina and Cazzie’s house,’ a game charting the adventures of two cool sisters; ‘house boat,’ where we loaded a blanket with our best possessions and went travelling down rivers in our house; and of course ‘Red Zayee,’ where regularly outsmarted and escaped the clutches of none other than the infamous Red Zayee.  So I embrace Silly Town shenanigans.

While this is often a world for C and M, C will sometimes talk with me in Silly Town tongue and I oblige.  We’ve got a knack for actually communicating while talking nonsense and we have fun with it.

Unfortunately on two recent occasions C hit me up with some Silly Town talk out in the public eye.  Once in front of our wider family, who I think just thought we were mad and didn’t really play along.  Then once when out to lunch with a group of friends, some of whom were friends of friends and I believe actually thought we were talking a genuine far flung dialect until I set them straight.  I guess I didn’t need to play along in either moment, but I didn’t really see the harm.  Though after the second time I suggested to C that Silly Town talk is probably best a game we play at home, like our family beat downs!

Do you embrace the Silly Town spirit in your homes?

Posted in Friday Funnies, the kids do..., wacked out | Leave a comment

Big kid at heart

I asked my mom when you properly, officially feel like a grown up.  She’s in her 60s and her reply was that to a certain extent, you never really do.  I’ve probably said that here on the blog before when pondering when or if I’ll ever have all my crap together…

I’m now in my mid 30s and so far I definitely agree with my wise ma.  Part of it is having her and my dad, and Chris’ parents there in the first place.  As mentors and sounding boards in life, as fiercely loyal supporters, as comfort whether far or away.  Who doesn’t like to be taken care of sometimes?

For me the other part is that playful piece of my soul that pervades for most into adulthood.  That drives my personal interests outside mamahood, that counters the functional (pay the bills, clean the house) with the fun (dance on the sofa, roll on the floor, bounce on the space hopper).  Being a grown up is not just about doing adult things.

This past week I had a real kid moment.  We were at our local swimming pool where we don’t go that often because it’s mental at the weekend and we used to swim via our gym membership (now cancelled for it’s price tag and the fact we didn’t use it enough- though we did use it a lot for swimming with the kids).  The pool has amazing old school flumes that descend in curves and loops a few stories from ceiling to floor, and I took a real fancy to going down that flume!  I love absolutely love water parks but haven’t been for ages.

Our issue was that I was there solo with the kids, so we needed to stick together and they don’t let you ride the flume in pairs.  C took a little bit of convincing but she was keen.  Some of her friends had been and she’s getting a bit more daring.  Little M was another story. He’s on the whole less risk averse than C, but he’s no fool and shooting down a flume a few stories high is no small feat when you are four and a half.  But he was up for trying.

I should mention here the flumes come out into shallow water that children can stand in so you don’t need to be a swimmer.  And that beyond the entry ramp they are fully enclosed, and that their is a ‘slower flume’ for children, flume virgins and the like.  I even checked with a lifeguard who said M was ok to ride provided he was comfortable to ride solo.

We climbed the stairs.  We waited.  We reached the top platform.  We peered at the rushing water at the flume launch.  Our game plan was that C would go, then M and finally me.  That way I’d know they were both down safely and could wait together with the lifeguard at the bottom.

And with a little shout, C was off like a rocket.  The water gushed.  My heart started an adrenaline pound.  I lifted Max onto the launch seat and reminded him to lay back.  And then, as he prepared to launch, he scrambled around into my arms and said he didn’t want to go anymore, that he was scared.

I picked him up and gave one last longing glance at the flume before making our way back down the stairs to meet C at the bottom.  Truthfully I’d been surprised he was willing to give it a go because he is still pretty small, and even though I think he’d love it, you don’t know that until you take the plunge.

So my big kid adventure streak needs to wait a little longer.  I love that it’s there, but the little kids take priority.

 

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School for two

I remember quite vividly writing my blog post about C finishing pre-school.  At the time I was feeling pretty raw to the fact that ‘milestones’ with kids come and go in what can feel like the blink of an eye.  I guess I wondered if I’d taken enough time to appreciate that chapter while we were still living it.  So when M graduated this past July and prepared to start Reception this September, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel….

Happy and sad I’d say.  Happy because he’s ready to fly.   Sad because he’s my little guy and he’s entering the big leagues.  Most of all proud.  Proud that when we took him to school on Wednesday he gave us a kiss, waved goodbye, and walked into the new with a quiet, perceptive bravery true to his nature.  He’s ready.

So although nostalgia toys with my heartstrings, I can now look it in the face and say shhhh! Because yes, life can feel like a runaway train.  And to counter that, I have taken more steps to focus and enjoy the moment.  But time still marches on, and I’d rather embrace our next adventures with fond memories in tow then lament the inevitable.

It helps that we wave them off to school to a place I view their school as a nurturing and enriching place that cultivates them to have spirit, social awareness and knowledge.  One other thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that where you send your kids to school is hugely personal and what’s right for me isn’t right for everyone.  So if you are starting school now or it’s on the horizon for next year, my advice is to visit, ask questions and go with somewhere that feels right in your gut for your kids!

Speech and emotional recap over.  Now I need to go do a school run.

Posted in firsts, new life balance | 2 Comments

Personal space (or lack thereof)

We’ve been having a fantastic summer break.  After a number of years as a childless young adult and then several more with pre-school age kids, I’ve finally been reunited with the magic of not needing to be somewhere on time every day and coming up for air from term time structure. It’s of course great to have more concentrated time with C and M too.

But with all the joys, come the hard truths, and I’m on about one of those today, namely: lack of personal space.

It starts early on bright summer morning (my children rarely sleep in).  The groans and sighs.  No, not of sexy time.  Of children awake and firing up on all cylinders.  Then ‘pitter patter pitter patter” and “whoomph.”  My leg spasms, M is kneeling on it.  “Good morning mama! Cuddle!!”  Chris and I really need to get that blackout blind.

Later I’m walking.  On an angle.  Probably due to the child rudder hanging off my handbag.  I used to get told off by my mom for doing this to her.  Mom, I finally understand!!

I’m so accustomed to being hung off and climbed on that I didn’t bat an eye when C’s tennis instructor inadvertently bopped me on the bum with a tennis racket.  I probably thought it was M trying to get my attention.  If I even felt it at all!

And who likes admin, right, but it’s a necessary evil.  The kids are playing nicely so I can quickly sign into online banking and check my emails.  Right?  Wrong!  Children can be fine if you are not playing with them.   You can be floating around the room, tidying up after them, preparing their dinner.  But the second they sense something unrelated requires your focused attention, they’re on you like a shot!

The other day (a long day), we got the kids off to bed and I escaped for peaceful shower.  Just as I step into the welcoming steamy cascade, the bathroom door slams open.  “Mommy, I need a poo.  It’s going to be a messy one!”

Oh personal space, where art thou?

 

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