Lockdown Log (Day three)

Well, I didn’t see that coming- not! Here’s how we have fared during the first few days of lockdown. Disclaimer: May have lost it more than once.

Day announcement made

Get up at the usual time and dress kids. Grab a cup of tea and proceed to homeschool. Eldest is highly receptive and enthusiastic- weird. Homework never goes as easy! Middle loves doing his worksheets but needs a lot of guidance. Eldest continually tells Middle that his effort at circling words is “absolutely rubbish!”. Middle begins to cry. Too early for wine? Yes, it’s not even 11 am (sigh). Morning work done, tablets permitted whilst I get ready. Any point doing your make up if you can’t go anywhere? What if there is a worldwide shortage of concealer? Decide to just leave it. Coronavirus doesn’t care if I have makeup on I’m sure. By the time I’m ready, the boys have started knocking lamps out of each other and are getting restless. Make lunch then head out for a walk. Every elderly person in the area has decided to do the same. FMAL. I have one flying mad on a scooter, Middle is on the Paw Patrol ride on and Baby is on a toddler trike and moving at the pace of a snail. Have to shout like a madwoman for them to pull in somewhere and keep a distance from others. All of us are coughing so I’m frightened one of them will cough in the presence of others. Seemingly no one knows the correct protocol for social distancing and we are all suddenly afraid of people. Very odd. Come home and have a wee sob. Is this real life even?

Official day one of lockdown

Decide to jump on the bandwagon and start the day with Joe Wick’s PE lesson as opposed to worksheets. Eldest attempts five minutes of said workout and begins to cry as he “can’t do it!”. Middle ignores all Joe’s instructions and has stripped off his jeans and pants and is raving in the corner. Baby is wailing due to my lack of yoghurt getting. It’s 9:10am. Yes, 9:10am! This bodes well. Get myself ready (finally) and prepare to do battle with something called SeeSaw Class for Eldest all whilst Middle’s teacher is sending work through for him to do on an entirely different platform. Resist the urge to scream and cry simultaneously. Having navigated both and, ready to lose the will to live, all are forced outside. Make a cup of tea and enjoy five minutes of peace and tranquility. Forget that the boys cannot spend five minutes on a trampoline without battering each other. Bring them back in. Tea goes cold as I run around getting them what feels like a million different snacks and drinks. In an effort to expel boredom, I try and get all of them to draw a rainbow to put in the window. Eldest adamant that instead of a rainbow, we should draw Mario from Super Mario. Try and explain the whole concept behind the rainbow drawing. No, still insistent on drawing Mario. Middle gives it a good go (see picture above). Possibly the worst rainbow in a window in the whole of Northern Ireland but, God loves a trier.

Day Two

Struggling to even get out of bed as my anxiety levels are through the roof from the second I wake up. Take a call from my mum who is in tears as two confirmed Coronavirus cases in my nan’s care home. I haven’t seen her bar leaving things to her door on Mother’s Day. Feel utterly helpless. I can’t hug her nor make her a cup of coffee. Even have a face to face chat to soothe her worries. She laments the fact she is missing the kids. They are missing her also. I am missing her more. Reality is setting in for everyone. Try and maintain the routine with boys but find it difficult as my head is all over the place. Get them to bed and pour a glass of wine. Read on Facebook that the NI Executive has declared that all off licenses should close with immediate effect. WTAF?! You can take away my freedom but you cannot take my wine. Arlene, have you been in lockdown with my kids? Just plain selfish! Discuss with a friend on WhatsApp about how we could do a weekly booze cruise to Dublin with her sitting in the back to socially distance ourselves. Feel placated and no longer worried about the lack of toilet roll.

Day Three

F#’k homeschooling. I will never ever again say anything negative about a teacher. The novelty has worn off. Meanwhile, I still attempt it as I am so worried about Eldest falling behind when he has a referral to Occupational Therapy in place. We may not survive this. Oh, stand-alone off licenses can now stay open! Maybe we shall survive after all! Middle appears to be taking the lockdown very seriously and has self isolated in his bed for most of the morning. That one loves his comfort! Up you get! Jesus Christ, Baby has started asking “why?” about everything going. Also, anything I try and do for him results in him screeching “I do!” whilst having a complete fit. If there is a God, is he there? If so, can you send a cleaner my way? Just realised my house has fallen to absolute pieces. Thanks!

To be continued. If I survive the next few days…..

Coronavirus Chaos

I couldn’t even have dreamt this happening. That’s coming from someone who once had a highly questionable dream about David Cameron and Nick Clegg. If I could have divorced my own brain after that, I would have. I will never ever be able to look at either the same way again, especially Nick Clegg. (shudders).

It all seemed to happen so fast, I think I’m still in shock. I imagine you are all the same. We’ve gone from thinking “it will all be ok” to “holy sh#t the schools are closing!”. I won’t lie, I had a monumental breakdown once that was announced. Firstly because this is unprecedented and, secondly, because I have zero faith in my own ability to teach Eldest from home. He gets so frustrated even doing his homework each day. If I dare to rub something out, he throws an absolute fit. Once it’s finally done and dusted, the two of us have to socially distance ourselves until he succumbs. Usually when he needs some milk. Guess we were prepared for that part at least.

Middle I am worried about for different reasons. He will be four when he starts P1 in September. So he will already be at a disadvantage. I’m so lucky I had his parent-teacher interview last week and no issues were raised in terms of his capability bar scissor work. Which I’m rather ok with because Middle + scissors sounds like a nightmare combination! But, on the other hand, he is a sociable child and I imagine he will miss that aspect enormously. Even if everyone is an “idiot” and he “hates girls”. He doesn’t seem to act this way when I’m peeping at him through the window however and tells me continually that he has three girlfriends. Contradiction much?

Baby is terrible twoing (as per last post). I took him to the park today only to spend thirty minutes dealing with multiple meltdowns that his hood wouldn’t stay up! We were the only people in the park. Maybe that say’s more about me than anything. But, there is no way I can keep three boys couped up in the house. They will batter the daylights out of each other and I will be locked in the bathroom sobbing or rocking in a corner somewhere. Mental health is so important during all this too.

I don’t know how I will fare, as I’m sure you don’t. But I kind of figure that we’ve given birth and kept them alive up to this point. Is it ideal? No. Is it going to be highly stressful? Yes. Will we require lots of wine? Probably.

The lack of clarity around everything children related, be it with schooling and the effects of the virus itself, has been disastrously managed. They have left a nation of mothers in a state of anxiety and panic. I’m still unsure as to whether my own mother should see the boys. Mainly because of the mixed messages and statistics that are slowly being released. My sister is also a midwife which will add to any decision that has to be made.

It’s a frightening time for all of us in every aspect. I will be making a point of sharing anything I think might help us. Anything that will relieve some pressure. If you have something you think might help someone else, message and I will share. If you run a business that is having to rethink how you are operating, message and I will share too. If you are royally losing the plot, message and I will lose it with you! Disclaimer: I will definitely be losing the plot! #Mumpower

Terrible Two’s Time……

I had totally forgotten this stage. You know the one were your cute little baby suddenly morphs into some kind of irrational dictator?

Eldest let me off entirely lightly with the tantrums. I still remember the two times he had one. Mainly because one of them focused purely on me having the audacity to enter the living room when, according to him, “you stay in the kitchen!”. Sexist much? I now realise however that he has always struggled with expressing certain emotions. He has more tantrums now through frustration than he ever did when younger.

Middle had a delayed reaction to the terrible twos and decided to embrace them precisely at the moment he was turning three. He would throw utter fits anytime we left soft play, the shop or any other establishment he was enamoured with at the time. It got to the stage where I would just say “that’s fine then. I’m going home. If you want to act that way, you stay here”. I would then waltz away expecting him to get up in a panic and run after me. He never did and instead lay on the floor until I had to forcibly remove him. Never underestimate Middle, as I always extol.

Baby is my only one who gets jealous. I don’t even understand why as he actually gets the most attention out of all them (especially as I spend most of my time getting him yoghurts and cleaning him up afterwards). Even Eldest cuddles and kisses him which is primarily an honour reserved for me only. But if any of them dares to mention the word ‘cuddle’ or ‘kiss’, he is straight over to me like someone has just shouted: “Tesco just got more hand sanitiser in!”. So the dramatics were always apparent and I really should have thought I would be in for trouble. I just didn’t factor in how much. This weekend alone he has gone off on an almighty wobbler for the following reasons:

  1. I dared to make him hold my hand when crossing a road. So infuriated did he get, he threw himself down in a rage and into a massive puddle. He then proceeded to get more raging because his clothes were “wet”.
  2. I refused to let him bring three teddies out with him. Looking after three boys is stressful enough without having the extra responsibility of Peppa (f ing) Pig, Mickey Mouse and Nelly the elephant! So outraged was he, he deployed the stiff as a board act whilst I tried to put him in his car seat. I’m sure most of you ladies are familiar with this one. It’s as big a fight as trying to get a Conservative MP onto Good Morning Britain to placate the nation.
  3. I had the sheer nerve to ask him if he wanted a banana. When he said yes and I handed him said banana, he then decided he didn’t want one and went into a kicking and screaming fest on the kitchen floor. This mama left him to it.
  4. I opened his yoghurt lid halfway to make it easier for him. What a savagely cruel person I am.
  5. I put him in the bath. Pretty sure the neighbours thought some kind of murder was occurring the way he was getting on.
  6. I confiscated half my cutlery drawer off him that he somehow thought was acceptable to walk around brandishing. This caused a breakdown of Britney proportions (I can say that as I’ve been there, minus the hair shaving).
  7. He asked for “uce” (juice) and when I dutifully adhered to his request, he then decided he wanted “mulk” (milk) instead. Cue him flinging said juice on the floor, the cup then opening and my floors becoming a sea of diluted orange.

So I hope I have prepared/reminded some of you of what lies ahead or what you have finally escaped from. I mean, he’s still cute and all that but dear god he is driving me bonkers. Someone keep the hair clippers out of my reach….

Resolving To Fulfil My Resolutions

As the clock struck twelve last night, I turned immediately to Eldest and embraced him tightly. “Happy new year!” I yelled at him happily. I then found myself bursting into floods of tears, seemingly out of nowhere. Tears that wouldn’t stop flowing at that! I was unsure at the time if this was due to the fact that I had permitted Eldest to stay up for the first time or something else. Upon reflection today, however, I think it was due to 2019 feeling like the worst year of my life.

Earlier that day, as I drove the boys to visit my sister, I raised the subject of resolutions to Eldest. “What do you hope to achieve in the new year then?” I asked. He looked at me entirely nonplussed. I thought for a second. “Ok then, mummy will go first” I said, clutching the steering wheel. “In 2020 mummy would really like to feel happier. Mummy would also like to shout at you all less, do lots of fun things with you all and devote more time to the things she enjoys doing too”. I looked at him expectantly and reposed my earlier question. He turned to me, looking stern and replied, “in the new year, I’d really love Owen to stop being such an idiot!”. I dissolved into giggles. I think that may be more far-reaching than my resolution to devote more time to myself son! One can hope though.

After visiting my sister, we spent the drive home holding an impromptu 2019 awards ceremony. The winner for the best farter went to Middle (totally deserved), Baby won the biggest demolisher of yoghurts in 2019 (I think I might contact the Guinness Book of Records as I’m pretty certain he could feature in it) and Eldest awarded himself the best at everything trophy (methinks this was a slightly biased vote). “What award should Mummy get?” I asked. “The best shouter in the world award!” Eldest replied whilst laughing into his hands (see, hence my resolution). Having accepted my award, whilst feeling a bit embarrassed and sad, Eldest suddenly turned to me and said, “only joking mum, you get the best mum in the world award, even though you shout sometimes!”. I may have sobbed for the duration of the drive home.

This year has been shit to put it blankly. Utterly shit. It’s been that way due to depression and the mindset I suddenly found myself in. It’s been that way because I finally lost the will to fight against it. What is the point? I tried everything within my power to wage a battle against it this year. It won, I lost. It will always be the victor and I somehow have to try and figure out how I adapt and prosper with this being the case. In 2020 I have faith that I will. If I can’t shout, I have to find another way to channel my energy. I’m ready for the fight depression.

I just wanted to leave you all with the most important thing I learnt over Christmas. You can put yourself into debt buying presents and fulfilling their lists but, the most important thing to them is quality time spent with you. I daren’t look at my bank account and haven’t for weeks now. Eldest got everything he asked for and more yet, when I sat with him colouring one afternoon, he did nothing but talk about it. So impressed was he with my effort, they promptly got stuck on the door to his room (scroll to bottom for pic). This is an accolade usually reserved for posters in magazines alone. Every time I’ve walked past his door today, instead of going mad about the mess (and shouting), I look at those pictures and remember what’s important. He better not take them down anytime soon or the shouting may return………………

To all my readers, I hope you had the best Christmas and have a fantastic new year xx

Pride and place!

Walking In A Winter Wonderland At Enchanted Winter Garden

We were very kindly invited to a preview night of Enchanted Winter Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens yesterday. I have never been before. Mainly due to the fact that I am a disorganised person in general and always leave it too late to get tickets. But my sister goes every year and I’m always so jealous of the festive pictures she manages to get. If I had of got myself in gear last year, I would have had a lovely December picture for the calendar I print for my mum each year. Who am I kidding? Three of them looking at a camera simultaneously? A mum can but dream…

Baby was mesmerised from the second we set foot inside. The whole place is awash with colour and lights. At every turn there was something new to see. You want flashing fairies- sorted. You want a huge ferris wheel- sorted. What about a festive train ride that takes you direct to Santa’s workshop? Well, that’s sorted too! There was a multitude of rides catering to all ages. Baby seemed utterly petrified of them all however, bar the train ride and ferris wheel. To be fair he is at that stage where anything that involves him having to leave my side makes him get on like I’ve just sold him to a stranger!

They have an array of food choices too. Slightly expensive however, so empty their money boxes before going (just kidding, as if I’d ever do that). A burger at the stall we chose cost £6 and a kids meal £5. The food was delicious however and the portions big. I noticed too late that they had a fire pit that you could toast marshmallows on (at a cost). That would have made the perfect Christmas dessert.

Baby loved going on the “choo choo!” to visit Santa. This was great as it served to build up the excitement, for me more than anyone. Inside the workshop, there were lots of animatronic displays to observe whilst they eagerly awaited their turn to meet Santa. Baby wasn’t overly fussed on St Nicolas and got on the same way he did about some of the rides. I mean, if I was going to sell him to anyone, surely he should be happy that I was selling him to the CEO of the biggest toy factory in the world? He did come round however when offered some chocolate buttons.

I can’t even begin to describe this place properly and give it the credit it so rightfully deserves. It truly is magical in every way. At every corner, you are greeted with a new scene and different characters inhabiting them. All that whilst basking in beautiful surroundings and shimmering lights.! I totally felt like I was at that London one you see plastered all over social media at this time of year. A PSA to Simon Cowell: have you considered visiting Antrim this Christmas instead?

The only downside for me was Eldest and Middle not being there to experience it. I know they would have loved it and I would have loved seeing their reaction to it also. It’s definitely something you should do with your whole family. Unfortunately, they were too busy screaming “oh yes he is” to May Mcfettridge at the panto. Once home, Middle was positively fuming when I showed him my pictures. He growled at me “if you don’t take me to that place next year Santa will bring you no presents as you are a bad girl”. Don’t worry son, this mamma isn’t being put on any naughty list. Well, hopefully Santa hasn’t seen what mummy did to your money boxes (oh no she didn’t)……

Enchanted Winter Garden takes place from Friday 6th December to Sunday 22nd December and is open from 4:30pm – 9:30pm. Tickets cost £4 per adult and £2 per child (children under two are free) note that these prices are if booked in advance. A family ticket is £15. Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.enchantedwintergarden.com If you don’t prebook, prices are £6 for adults and £4 per child. So pre-book! Note that the event will be closed Mon 9th December to Wed 11th and also on the 16th and 17th (the fairies need to recharge their batteries). Check out my Instagram for even more pics and things I don’t post on Facebook : https://www.instagram.com/youandmeplusthreex/

Meeting Santa
What? No yogurts on the menu?
Wanted to go on this so badly but Baby had other ideas…
You know I like to tell you prices for prep purposes!

Nightmares

Last night the kids were sound asleep and I had just settled down to take my make up off (after tidying up their carnage). Suddenly I heard a familiar sound. Footsteps up above. Footsteps that for someone so small, should resemble a ballerina pivoting on a cloud yet sounded like an elephant trapped in a jumper. They all have their own sounds and I can tell who it is immeadiately by footstep sound alone. Middle was up!

Upon his descent from the stairs, it became apparent that he was highly upset. “What’s wrong I asked?” whilst scooping him up into my arms. “I had bad dream” he informed me through sporadic sobs. “Oh no! Come and tell mummy” I soothed. He sat calmly on my knee and began to divuldge his dream. “A really bad guy was trying to freeze me mummy!” he advised. “He turned off all my lights because he was so bad” he added. This is quite apt as he has spent two weeks now turning on every light in the house no matter what the time and I have found myself yelling “it’s like Blackpool illuminations up here!”. Yes, I have become that kind of mum. “Dreams aren’t real Owen” I reassured. “They are just your brain playing tricks. Plus, mummy would never let anyone hurt you let alone freeze you” I added whilst cuddling him. He gave me a kiss, looked at me square in the eye and said “the only way to defeat the bad guy was to throw cake at him. So, I think we need to get cake tomorrow mummy”. Um what? “You know, incase he comes back” he stated seriously. Nice try son!

Meanwhile Baby has morphed into a complete and utter nightmare himself. His new thing is throwing every book we own down the stairs, many of which are unfortunately hardback. I’m no sooner bending down to pick them all up when he’s lobbed a Pokemon encyclopedia back down, near knocking me out in the process. No amount of telling off is working as he finds the whole thing hilarious.  His only redeeming quality is the fact that he has started asking to hold Middle’s hand and the two of them dander away together. So cute! There’s nothing better than seeing them actually be loving towards each other. Whilst Middle brings out Eldest’s less serious side, Baby brings out all of their loving/caring sides.

This week and next, we are nativitying. Going by my kid’s past record with these, I can only but hope that all of them pass without any kind of drama or embarrassment. Eldest is highly annoyed that he has been cast in the role of shephard again, Middle is point blank refusing to sing the songs he has been taught as he wants to sing exclusively about tacos and Baby will probably spy me and cry the whole time. I will of course keep you updated on how we fare.

Baby Baby Baby Oh/Mad Middle/Toy Car Gate

Yes I have used a Justin Bieber song lyric as a blog post title. The shame! But it’s totally fitting (I promise).

It was 2am on Tuesday morning and Baby had awoken from his cot. As usual, I gleefully transferred him into my bed for lots of cuddles and kisses. As he lay there, greedily guzzling some milk, I stared lovingly at him. Come 3am I was still staring at him (stalker much?). He looked like a proper little boy and not a baby anymore. I found myself getting all emotional and sentimental. It seems like only yesterday that I was holding his little 6lbs frame in the same bed, glaring at him in disbelief that he was finally here. Where has the time gone? I can’t be dealing with this!

If there was a pause button I would hit it right now, at this exact stage. I love it when their personalities are starting to shine through and they still need you but are becoming more independent. He won’t let me open anything for him these days and insists on trying to dress himself (all of which have varying success rates). He is becoming highly vocal also and his dictation is clear and concise, mainly when voicing his extreme displeasure at his brothers “NO, bro bro!”. This is the worrying stage however as it’s when you start to consider another. How bad could it really be? I imagine very very bad indeed if I end up being a mum to four boys, which is exactly what would happen.

In other news Middle has me entirely exasperated this week. I picked him up on Wednesday from preschool and he was more subdued than usual. He also looked quite sheepish in hindsight. I buckled him into his car seat and off we set for home. “How was your day?” I implored. “Um it good” he replied whilst fiddling with the bottom of his trousers frantically. “What are you doing?” I asked. He threw me daggers then dissolved into giggles. “Me have a car” he replied whilst wielding a black toy car that had seemingly emerged from the bottom of his trousers. “Where did you get that from?” I replied alarmed. He looked at me like I had just uttered the most stupid question ever. “I took it from nursery because I want to play with it at home in my room”. Oh dear god! I pulled the car over and tried to explain the concept of stealing to him. Whilst doing so, he continued to retrieve a further eight cars from every crevice of his trousers! “How many do you have Owen?” I yelled. “Lots AND me have more in my jumper too” he answered proudly. “You can’t just take things from nursery Owen, that is wrong! The other children need to play with them. How did you even manage to smuggle so many up there?”. I asked this for a reason. Mainly as he hadn’t placed them in his pocket like a normal person but had blatantly shoved them all up the bottom of his trousers. “I wait until no one looking and I just put them up there one by one” he answered matter of factly. Surely this was the least inconspicuous method he could have deployed? His trousers are cuffed at the bottom and super tight! How no one managed to observe his shenanigans is beyond me.

Upon returning home, I confiscated his contraband and hid them. I then had to message his teacher and advise that she has a thief in her midst and one of whom was showing zero remorse for his actions. Whilst reprimanding him he kept repeating “but where my cars so I play with them?”. He was not receiving the message at all that what he had done was wrong.

This kid- he literally dances to the beat of his own drum all whilst I scramble to fix the situations he gets himself into. I am also having to strip search him before we leave nursery now as I don’t trust him one iota. So I reckon three kids is more than enough and Baby can stay as my baby. Imagine trying to keep on top of two Middle’s? Um, no thanks!

My Brain Hath Deserted Me Again

I cannot stand depression. If I could kick it in the face I would (and multiple times). Just when you think you may be turning a corner, even just a little one, it knocks you back down and floors you. It sucks your happiness from you, your motivation and your positivity.

Every day I am struggling to get out of bed as I know I have to face reality. From the second I open my eyes (if I’ve even managed to sleep) I feel so overwhelmed regarding everything I have to do. I was never like this before. I ran a military operation in my house. The second the kids came in, they were organised for the following day. I had set cleaning chores that I would complete on certain days and would have a freak out if, for some reason, I had to neglect them. In hindsight, this is what probably kept me somewhat sane. Now I just don’t care at all.

The more it continues, the more upset I get. Because I feel like I’m doing everything within my power to counteract it. Yesterday I felt so low that I could have cried all day. I have three kids though and that wasn’t an option. So, I got us all dressed and we took their scooters out and went a long walk. Chaos ensued as usual with them all speeding ahead of me and ignoring any kind of road safety rules. Normally I would return home and just laugh about the stress. I had nothing. I walked home with them (scooters under my arm as per) and I felt nada. Devoid of any emotion at all. So I brought them out the front with a frisbee (one of our favourite things to do). I threw it to them, ran back and forth and still, I felt nothing. Even as I watched them have so much fun, I was aware that I was merely going through the motions to placate them. To make them think that mummy is ok. That mummy is not drowning. That mummy may be at the end of her tether. That mummy is quite simply and honestly, burnt out. Because no matter how low I am feeling, they must come first. There is no pause button. You have to just get on with it. This makes the internal battle with the brain signals rage on. With the guilt mainly. The dreaded ‘mum guilt’ on top of all the other guilt. Even the guilt I felt last week about Eldest and his handwriting. When you are in this frame of mind, it is so difficult to think logically. This is what I hate the most. It doesn’t matter how many times people tell me to think otherwise, it will not compute. Because I am so low anyway.

It’s just a vicious cycle that I am entirely at a loss as to what I can do about it. I don’t want my tablets increased again as to me, this is defeat. After counselling, CBT and everything else I have done. Can someone just flick a switch and send me back to me again, please? Not even asking for a friend this time.

The Parent Teacher Interviews

Why are parent-teacher interviews so nerve-wracking? I panic every time I have to go to one but especially this week as I would be talking to Middle’s preschool teacher for the very first time. What could possibly go wrong?

But before that it was Eldest’s. In advance of the meeting, his teacher had sent home all his school workbooks. I sat with a cup of tea and dutifully poured over them. In the writing one, there was a note from her stating that Eldest was ‘struggling with letter formation and fine motor skills’. I called him into the kitchen. ”Are you finding writing difficult?” I asked. He looked to the ground, hands in his pockets, then responded ”yes mum. I really don’t like how they are making me hold my pencil”. This is the very first time he has said anything like this to me. In fact, I can’t glean any information from him each day about how he’s fared at school. ”That’s ok son” I replied, ”I will raise that with your teacher when I meet her”.

Whilst waiting for the interview to begin I surveyed all the written work adorning the wall outside his classroom. It became quite clear to me there and then that he has some issues with his handwriting. I braced myself for what lay ahead. His teacher explained that she has added something to his pencil to try and enforce the correct manner of which he should hold it. She also advised that he is self-conscious about this and tries to sneak a normal pencil when she’s not looking. I felt my heart sink. That’s what he was trying to tell me all week. Trying not to burst into tears, I asked was he the only one struggling in this way. She advised that there are others but, she is having to spend one to one time with him to try and get him up to speed. I have never felt more grateful to someone in my life! Having got the main issue out of the way, she went on to say that his maths is excellent and that he is well behaved and quiet in class (what??). She then handed me a booklet of work to complete with him at home. As I strolled out of the school, I began to sob. I just felt so sorry for him. He is obviously so embarrassed that he has to use that pencil when others don’t. I also felt like I had failed him as his mum. I do his homework with him after all and I’ve just been hoping that his effort reflects that of his classmates. You never know if it does until these things and he’s my first one at school. Now the hard work begins. I’ve every intention of doing all within my power to get this resolved. But I know he is trying so hard every day to master it and this makes me beyond proud.

Now onto Middle’s which was an entirely different affair. This one I was dreading for obvious reasons. I haven’t been overly worried about how he is settling in as he bounds in every morning yelling his now customary ”hi guys!” to anyone who will listen. But, I had arrived early to collect him the day before and had watched from the window whilst he ate some ice cream at a table. He wasn’t just eating it but making all these funny faces whilst doing so. There was a little girl beside him who he was seemingly trying to impress with this impromptu show (even though he hates girls). ”Which one is yours?” a fellow mum enquired. ”Um, that one” I sheepishly responded whilst pointing at him. He was also fuming all this week due to falling out with a boy in his class because he ‘hadn’t known what a Yo-Kai is and that’s stupid’ (a Netflix tv show).

His teacher began by informing me that his learning level is excellent and that she isn’t having to help him with anything. He moves freely from one table to another trying different activities and interacting with others. “Even girls?” I enquired. “Oh yes” she responded “he plays with anyone”. So Middle doth protest too much then, as I assumed. She then went on to say that he is very easily led. “There are a few boys who play up and, the second Middle gets around them, he is playing up too” she informed. Well, this was no surprise as that is precisely what happens at home with Eldest. “But the second I voice my displeasure, he swiftly takes himself away and plays with someone else” she added. Thank god he is smart enough to sense the warning signals! She then said something that took me totally by surprise. “Have you had issues with his speech?” she asked. Now, this child, from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed, does not shut up! “Um no” I responded. “He was very delayed when it came to talking but now we can’t get him to stop!” I added. She then went on to explain that when she asks him a question he just stares at her blankly and refuses to answer. Odd I thought as I was leaving. Upon returning home, I sought out Middle. “Your teacher says you are amazing and doing really well! I am so proud!” I advised him. He looked completely disinterested. “But, she said that when she asks you questions, you don’t answer even when you know how to” I repeated. He stopped what he was doing and turned to me looking sternly. “It’s just coz I playing and I don’t care. She asks me when I’m busy and that’s a stupid thing to do. So I just not answer Mr T”. Arrgghh give me strength someone!

May the force be with you all for the half-term break. May we stay strong and survive it with all of us still alive and somewhat sane! We can but hope…..

Why I Agree With NI Entering A New Era (finally)

On Tuesday something amazing happened. Northern Ireland entered a new era. An era that others have been experiencing for quite some time now. An era of equal rights! I debated posting this as I am aware that it’s such an emotive topic but, I have to adhere to my mantra of being honest in terms of the blog. I share my opinions weekly so, why not with this too?

Love is love, irrespective of what guise or form it takes. I spent most of my teenage years in the Kremlin (not with Putin for outside readers but, a gay club in Belfast) and I can tell you, these were the best nights ever (despite the horrendous hangovers). Watching my friends feel comfortable and free to be themselves, when they felt they couldn’t in any other establishment, was part of this. I realised pretty swiftly that I took it for granted, as a heterosexual, that I didn’t have to hide my identity everywhere I went. We have a same-sex marriage in my family also and I am in awe of these two individuals daily. They are a shining example of what a marriage should consist of. They support each other, are loving and share equal responsibility when it comes to their children. All whilst facing scrutiny that I never did. I am a firm believer in live and let live. If it’s not affecting you, why are you bothered? Many have an issue with this but didn’t kick up a fuss when some woman married the Berlin wall. I would rather someone be their authentic self than feel pressured to marry someone of the opposite sex and have children because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. It’s not what’s right, it’s what’s been wrong all along.

Now the second contentious issue- abortion rights. I believe a woman has a right to choose and strongly so. I also believe that more education in schools is essential with regards to contraception and what an abortion entails. Being fully informed is half the battle. Shying away from even discussing it just exasperates something that many find difficult to decipher here. Having an unwanted pregnancy, no money, having to inform your family because of this and then travel to England is a horrendous experience. Knowing that it is illegal here only makes the decision even more difficult. Because it’s all you’ve grown up knowing. To say that it is being used as a ‘form of contraception’ shows nothing but ignorance. Any woman from Northern Ireland, who has traveled for a procedure, has spent more time than anyone else thinking about their decision. They’ve had to have multiple consultations over the phone, arrange travel and navigate their way there. It’s not just an ‘ok, we’ll book you in tomorrow then’. There is also the cost of paying for the procedure itself which is highly expensive. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I will always respect others but, I think it’s essential that people are made aware of the actual process when making such a monumental decision. Maybe you are struggling with mental health issues, maybe you have nothing to offer a child at all and maybe you are in a relationship that is just downright dangerous to bring a child into. As I type, there are 3,019 children in care in Northern Ireland. 85,000 children live in poverty and 2,431 are actually classed as homeless. Why don’t we focus the same energy on fostering and adoption? Because, in certain cases, when you have no choice and essentially no voice, this is what tends to happen.

Not everyone will agree with my stance and I fully respect that. The world would be a very boring place if we all had the same opinion right? I mean, mum shamers wouldn’t exist for one thing! Debates are a great thing. Hearing other’s opinions is a great thing. It challenges us to think differently. At the end of the day, we agree or disagree. It’s all good……