My boy

In early 2012 when the sonographer announced that we were having a boy (and kept repeating, yup that’s definitely a boy), my bewildered face said it all.  For some silly reason I’d convinced myself it was another girl.  I understood girls.  I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but was a bit…unsure?

Anyway, I got over it pretty quickly and now I can’t believe I ever paused at the idea of having a son.  Because little boys are little legends!

In many ways mini versions of the guys in our lives (generalisation coming), they are headstrong, tactile, in love with cars, obsessed with their own and the female anatomy and always find humour in their bodily functions.  Boys will be boys.  They’re also sensitive, less manipulative than their female counterparts and unguarded with their love.

At 2.5 years, M embodies all of the above and as his personality emerges, he’s got a cracking sense of humour.  You can regularly find him trying to wind up his sister by undressing her dolls, rocking out and singing along to Motley Crue’s ‘Girls Girls Girls’ (thanks Chris) or acting out his favourite Reeves and Mortimer sketch about a dog named Greg Mitchell that resembles his fav stuffed labrador.  This last one includes shouting out Oh no, mama’s gonna kill me (rather than my wife’s gonna kill me, the punchline in the actual sketch) in the middle of busy public places.  Thankfully social services hasn’t turned up yet.  On the other hand he’s got quite the metrosexual vibe going on, never shying away from a dress up opportunity or chance to use my lip gloss (it’s clear).

I know if we’d had another girl she would be completely different to C but I must admit I’m loving the experience of having a son as well as a daughter.  This is a really fun phase that I find grounding amidst other grown up stresses.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with an adolescent boy in the house one day, but hey, that’s not for awhile yet.

Men out there- no doubt your mamas will remember you at this brilliant, innocent and explorative stage even if you don’t remember it.  Go give them a hug.

 

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Graduation

It was mid July and I was at C’s pre-school graduation.  She sat with her fellow graduates in a semi circle at the front of the room, shoulders hunched and scowling like no tomorrow.  It was the graduation cap.  Apparently she’d taken an instant undeniable dislike to it.  It was only when her teacher told her she could take it off that C radiated a little sunshine.
Maybe it was frustration, or pride for my defiant yet rational little lady who wouldn’t smile for a photo but sensed she was at the edge of a precipice.  Maybe it was the 25+ temperatures, my struggle to keep M quiet and on my lap, my poor attempt to hold my i-phone steady to video the proceedings for Chris who couldn’t be there.  Or maybe it was bloody Take That, and their cheesy music that supported a poignant montage of C and her friends projected for our tender audience.
Whatever it was, or all of the above, broke me a bit emotionally in that moment.  I’m a pretty empathetic person and since the kids I tear up at John Lewis adverts and random stories about cats, but I’m reasonably good at keeping it together in public.  But not that day.  Tears burned my eyes and then spilled down my face while I tried to brush them away and get on with watching/filming the montage with some degree of composure.
That graduation slapped me in the face with the latent realisation that C and M are not really small babies anymore.  Yes, they’ll always be my babies.  And yes, this might seem obvious with a little girl headed for Reception and a little boy who now relishes 30 piece puzzles and talking about my big bottom.  But sometimes in the hubbub of daily life you don’t take stock of these things and when the penny finally drops and you stop, think and feel, it’s like the wind’s been knocked out of you.
Where did the time go?  Did I appreciate it enough?  Will I ever have another one and experience that raw dependence and love of a tiny baby, which fades like innocence?  I don’t know.  Life is busy, and I often feel like I’m treading water….am I doing anything justice?
This has been knocking about at the back of my mind over the summer but I’m not really in the mood for giving in to the ever-present mother guilt or feeling dwarfed by figuring out what I’m doing with my life.  I’m determined to have my best crack at this next chapter, to take things one step at a time, to switch off autopilot a bit more…I’ve seen some people around me go through some awful times of late and that makes me more grateful for what I have, and more determined to move and use.
At the end of that provoking graduation ceremony one of C’s teachers told me that she loves C’s spirit and that we’ve done a great job with her.  And for that I gave her the biggest hug.
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Girly girl of the scrum

At nearly 4.5 LLC scrums like a trooper, has perfected her growl of indignation and fears not the mud but she’ll do this all in a pretty frock with her party socks on.  Or else.

My little lady loves a dress, and she loves her bling.  Every night she decides which of her 20+ dresses she’s going to wear tomorrow.   Is it wrong to be jealous of my daughter’s wardrobe?  I could only hope for so much choice!  Then she lays out various necklaces, bracelets and rings  for easy access.

By the time Chris or I stumble into her room the following morning she’s often dressed, with jewellery and hair clips by 6:30/7am.  Her hair is probably not brushed, but we’re moving in the right direction.

While I wouldn’t have classed LLC as a tomboy her rough and tumble nature never made me see her as a particularly girly girl either.  She has developed a love of ‘the princess’ but I wouldn’t describe her as princess obsessed.  But she’s definitely got an eye for clothes and accessories and more than ever it’s a struggle to convince her to don trousers or leggings!

What’s more she’s projecting her fashion sense onto me.  ”Mommy”, she’ll say.  ”I love your dress.”  (I often wear dresses to work).  And on days when I’m not in a dress (often those I’m at home, crawling around on the floor with children) she’ll say the likes of, “Where’s you dress mom?  I love you in a pretty dress.  Wear the one blue/green one with the sparkly bits.”

Fortunately she hasn’t got a full on shoe habit yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.  My bank balance is crying.

Posted in keeping up appearances, LLC | 3 Comments

My Petite Frite – in French School?

Last autumn I encountered the hurricane that is school applications. It blows in, screws with you and then blows on, leaving a wake of maybe not destruction, but certainly apprehension and often frustration. State or public school? (For any American readers, public school in the UK is private school – this is confusing enough!).

For us it was state school all the way, but the prevalence of private education in our area did give me pause for thought…will our kids be at a disadvantage in the state education system?

So then there was the whole state school lotto system.  Create a preference list. But with catchments as small as 0.2 mile where we live, do I really have a choice? Oh and Ofsted has identified some ‘issues’ with the school LLC is most likely to get a place at.  Word on the street is that the school does have negatives, but that the positives outweigh them.  Plus I liked the setting. Did I? Yes, I think so? But it’s hard to tell on an Open Day full of 100+ other parents.

All I want is a safe, stimulating environment for LLC that will teach her, challenge her and ensure she enjoys learning.  I think she’s bright. I know that we teach her things at home, so do I need to stress about the school that much as she’s young and this is still primary education? But isn’t primary the foundation for the 11+ exam and wait, what is
that? I’m not from this country….what is Key Stage 1 and 2? And so on…..it’s a whole learning curve in itself within the general learning curve of being a parent and it’s made worse by the fact everyone goes on about it. Like me right now!

Back to the title of this post, we are not enrolling LLC in the Lycée Français in South Ken – ha! We are considering sending her to a new, ‘free’ state French primary school on our patch (if she gets a place there). It’s an English curriculum school that embraces
a bilingual teaching approach. Core skills like writing and math will be taught in English first, though French language will be used in parallel with English from the start.

LLC and LMM have both been exposed to French from an early age through our neighbor who babysits them. While neither of them run around speaking French on a daily basis, they understand a lot and have a foundation in the language.  I personally believe that learning another language from an early ages wires a capacity into the young brain for both picking up language, and approaching ‘the new’ with confidence. So after initial (in hindsight foolish) apprehension, I couldn’t be happier that my two have had the luck to learn a new language from such an early age.

Then a friend told me about this new school opening and I started to seriously consider it as an option for LLC.  It’s currently being set up, so I’ve had to apply for a place alongside the Council’s lotto system.  She’ll get a lotto place regardless, and if she gets a French school place, we’ll have the luxury of a choice.

My main hesitations:

  • I don’t speak French.  Will I be able to properly support LLC with her homework, etc?
  • It feels like a bit of punt – LLC would be in one of the opening year reception classes, a guinea pig of sorts. The leadership and teaching will all be untested.
  • Lack of a ‘school culture’ – the first pupils will help create this from scratch – can something so new feel nurturing to little ones?

On the whole though, if she gets a place, I’m inclined to want to send her there.  I like what I’ve read and learned of the proposed ethos/methods of the school and isn’t this a fantastic and reasonably rare opportunity to grow her language and learning skills through the state system at such a young age.

We’ll find our own way in the end, but I’m always interested in your thoughts…

Posted in overwhelmed, Uncategorized, US/UK differences | 2 Comments

Friday Funnies – careers aspirations and the ‘little boss’

This afternoon I was having a really nice, relaxed chat with LLC and LMM in the kitchen. They were having a late lunch, we weren’t rushing off anywhere, peace reigned….

Somehow we got on to the topic of what they wanted to be when they grew up.

LMM said: A car. Surprise, surprise…. Should I take that to mean a mechanic, or a Formula 1 Driver?

LLC said: A hairdresser.  Or a princess.  A hairdresser princess.  And a mommy.  The first two?  Typical LLC.  But the mommy - I must be doing something right then….or maybe it’s just LLC’s obsession with having ‘six’ children.  Apparently they will all sleep in her bed and life will be great.

***

LMM is a feisty little fire and can usually be found bashing or splashing something he’s not supposed to.  After hearing me tell him off time and time again, LLC is now donning her ‘parenting hat.’

No LMM, she’ll say.  You must not spit your water on the table.  It’s not acceptable and if you keep doing it there will be consequences.

Recently after one of her disciplinary speeches I said: LLC, thanks for trying to help LLM understand what is not good behavior.  But you must stop trying to discipline him yourself.  I’m the mommy, so let me do that.  Then I went into my own little diatribe that summed up amounted to I’m the mommy, so I’m the boss who gets to make disciplinary decisions for my children.  When you are a mommy one day, then you will be the boss.

To which LLC simply replied: Well now, I’m the little boss.  

Why did I even plant that seed?  I had to laugh though…

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