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…..

Pre School Peeves, Homework Hell and Hair Disasters!

Middle is STILL settling in at his preschool. We are coming up to week five and he is only in until 11:30am as opposed to the 1:30pm he should be. It doesn’t seem to be solely him either but, lots of them! I’m finding myself getting envious of other mums whose kids have settled in and all. Not only this but, I think their process is just drawing things out when there is no need. He is used to being in nursery for longer than their standard day (at his private one). In saying that I have no idea how he, as an individual, is getting on each day. The app I check daily never seems to be updated. Is anyone else having the same issues?

Upon picking him up on Monday he bounded into my arms and gave me the biggest cuddle. We then went to change his shoes (they wear pe shoes when in class). Upon getting to his peg, he was enraged that a little girl was sitting under it getting her shoes on. “That girl is at MY peg!” he bellowed. “Aw it’s ok, she is just getting her shoes on then you can sit there” I placated. “No, it’s mine and she is a girl so, she move now!”. What a way to ingratiate yourself to other parents son. The girl having vacated ‘his spot’, off we went to the car. I quickly glanced back at the snack menu to see what he had eaten that day. It informed me that he had had peppers, apple and muffins.

When we got to the car, I enquired as to what he had eaten that morning. He looked positively fuming. “We had some orange thing mum. It was disgusting (yelled). I don’t like it at all” he said whilst gesticulating wildly with his hands. “Aw, well, at least you tried something new. I guess we all like different things. Did anyone else try it and like it?” I ventured. He rolled his eyes then started mimicking his teacher. “Mr T (he is point blank refusing to call any of his teachers Mrs) said ohhhhh it’s sooooo yummy”. With this he mimicked her putting it into her mouth. “But, it so wasn’t mum. She tells lies” he added with annoyance. You can’t win them all I guess ‘Mr T’.

In other news, Eldest is finally receiving homework again. Although I dreaded it starting back up again, I have been impressed with how easy he is finding it. I can totally see a difference between his work in P1 and now. The amount has definately ramped up however and it is hard to get him to sit down and focus on it no matter what time I attempt to do it.  His behaviour the last few weeks, when at home, is also driving me to distraction. I’ve had to introduce strict new rules and be rigidly firm with him. I’ve began to notice that when he is bored, all chaos breaks out. Middle is crying and Baby too. He invades their space and begins to lash out for no discernable reason. This continues until one of them obliges him and stops what they are doing to muck around with him.  Arrgghhh!

Some of you may have saw that I decided to home bleach my hair last week (I know, I shouldn’t have done that). I lasted a grand total of a few months dark! Obviously it went very badly, very badly indeed. I drove to the local chemist and all they had was a silver hair dye so, I reluctantly purchased it. I mean it couldn’t have gotten any worse could it? Well, it actually turned out ok in the end. I am loving it and may now become a professional colourist (just kidding). I find that the level of  depression I am dealing with makes me quite impulsive and do things without thinking them through. Normally I would weigh up the pros and cons whereas now I just go for it. I guess I’ve went from being Eldest to being Middle. In some ways this is a good thing as I’m not worrying as much but, it has it’s downsides. Mainly with hair decisions……..

Clip Climbing And Sliding At High Rise NI!

Yesterday the three boys were invited to test out a new indoor activity centre in Lisburn. A venue that boasts a whole clip n climb section, a soft play area, cafe, and the piece de resistance- sensory rooms!

When we arrived, Middle and Baby set off with my mum to the soft play area whilst myself and Eldest got ready to do some climbing. I hadn’t expected to have an active role in this part but, it looked like too much fun to say no to. We were provided with a safety briefing first and foremost. Eldest was chomping at the bit by this stage but, it’s so important that they know what they are doing (as I later established). We got adorned in our harnesses and off we ventured. I cannot tell you how huge these climbing walls were! They were literally to the roof! Before they can just speed off attempting everything, they must first complete a practice run. Once this is done, they are free to roam and climb their little hearts out. There were so many options that Eldest was running manically from one to the other, completely unable to make a decision. When he finally made one, there was always an attendant on hand to strap him in and supervise him at all times. This placated me and I felt confident that he would be safe at all times.

Then, this mama decided to have a go! Not wanting to be outdone by my firstborn, I decided to climb nearly to the top of one at breakneck speed, glance down and totally panic as to how high up I actually was. I hate heights, why did I even do that? In my moment of sheer terror, I totally forgot the protocol of getting back down. So, I just kind of flung myself down and hoped for the best. I imagine it was not dissimilar to Bridget Jones when she does that piece to camera from the fire station. Entirely ungraceful and highly embarrassing to all who witnessed it. See why the safety briefing is so essential? I would say I have learned a lesson but, there’s no point at all.

Middle and Baby loved the soft play area whilst I was nearly breaking bones. I don’t think my mum knew if she should be watching them or me by this stage as I was being so reckless. There was a baby/toddler area that Baby thoroughly enjoyed dandering around and twirling things and building foam blocks. Middle was running about like a mad man going up and down the different tiers, crawling through tubes and flinging himself down the slide. He didn’t shut up about the slide the whole way home infact.

Just before leaving, I asked to be shown the sensory room. I know that a lot of my followers have children who are autistic and this was important to me before writing any review. They led me to a sensory stimulation room. It was dark to begin with then, gradually made more colorful. This is essential to avoid kids becoming overstimulated. There were things on the floor that children could stand on or touch that looked like paint was splodging, items on the wall that they could play and interact with, a projector, a vibrating plate and lights that they could feel and touch. There is also a separate quiet room. You can pay to use the rooms for an hour or if you would prefer your child/children to be fully alone, you can hire the rooms for the hour too. I think this is such a great approach and shows the level of thought and understanding that has been put into all aspects of this place.

I walked away feeling very impressed. Even more so as it is a social enterprise. So, 100% of their profits go back into helping working families. I think this made me feel much better about buying them a load of drinks and snacks afterward. Because, whatever you spend, you are ultimately helping others. All whilst having fun and, hopefully, some peace and quiet whilst they play!

High Rise NI is based in Blaris Industrial Estate Lisburn. Prices are as follows:

Clip ‘N’ Climb– Adult £12 and Child (under 18) £10, Soft Play– Baby (under 2) £2 and child (up to 8) £5, Sensory Room– Baby (under 2) £2, Child (under 18) £4, Adult £4, Parent or carer £1. Check their website out here: https://highriseni.org/

Yes, this 34 year old scaled one of these!
Always know the price of tea and coffee before you go anywhere….

First Week Finito!

We have survived the first full week of being back to school/preschool and nursery. Woo hoo! Not only this but, I didn’t forget to pick any of them up (yet)! This is in spite of all the different finishing times.

Eldest seem’s to be enjoying P2 despite his initial reluctance to go back. I think being reunited with all his friends is the main reason. As per usual, my pleas of what did you today are responded to with his usual ‘why do you always ask that mum? How am I supposed to remember a FULL day?’. My sincere apologies son for taking an active interest in your life and your education. He also randomly had no homework all week. Whilst this should have been amazing, it caused huge confusion and fear to all us school mums who automatically figured that our kids just weren’t bringing it home. To be fair I’m happy enough to wait for bloody Biff, Chip, and Kipper. I’ve also noticed that his new teacher seems to have a laminating obsession. Which, in a way is good as I can keep them for him and they will stay in good condition, though I am left questioning if most of my school fund money is going purely on laminating sheets.

Middle has managed to keep his clothes on all week at his new preschool and not insult anyone. But, it’s early days. He did try to leave on his very first day with two toys smuggled up his jumper. Apparently they were now his as ‘I played with them the most so, I bring them home now’. He is also point blank refusing to call his teacher ‘Mrs’ and has decided she will be referred to as ‘Mr’ purely because he ‘hates girls’. I don’t know how I am explaining that one to her. So, I guess he can explain himself and she can realise what she will be dealing with going forward. I must admit that his nervousness and clinginess this week have greatly surprised me. He usually just gets on with things and is very independent. But, he has asked each day if I will be staying with him and if not, when I will be back for him. I have secretly loved this as I don’t normally feel needed by him. Today he even came up to me out of the blue and gave me a huge cuddle and told me that he ‘loved me’. This is all so alien but obviously appreciated. I have to remember it is only his first week and it will take some time for him to adjust and settle. I know he will eventually as he has already made so many new friends (boys solely).

Baby has also embarked on a new routine in preparation for me returning to a new role. Because of this, I have had to change the days I usually work and he will be staying much later than usual. On the morning of his new times, it was almost like he sensed a change was coming. He awoke at 5 am and started shouting ‘cuddles’ from his cot. I dutifully adhered. Then, before he left, he just sat on my knee cuddling into me for ten minutes. This led to me spending all day battling the dreaded ‘mum guilt’. I’m not going to lie, I may have sobbed twice because I missed him so terribly. If I had of had my car I would have been straight down to get him. But, it’s important he gets used to these long hours in advance. I wasn’t the only one pining for him either as both the boys constantly enquired as to his whereabouts. The second he came home we all fought to get to him first. You would have thought we hadn’t seen him in weeks (it felt like that). We all got some slobbery kisses, then he did his usual and started pointing at the fridge and demanding a yogurt. I have never known a child so obsessed with yogurts in my life. He would literally eat them all day if I let him.

It’s new and stressful times for our family and I do find myself getting very overwhelmed with everything I have to do each day (literally from the moment I wake up). I have tried to counteract this with CBT. But, in terms of routine, it’s just not possible. Being organised is the only way to get them all out of the door in the morning and I have to do that don’t I? One mum said to me at the school gate the other day ‘it’s crazy all this and I only have two!’. It doesn’t matter how many children you have, it’s all the same. The same stresses and worries, the same organisation, the same mad dash to the school run, the same dates to remember and, the same responsibility that probably falls solely on you. I don’t see any men reading the floods of letters that come home and dutifully writing all the important dates/times in the calendar. There’s so much for us to do each day that I’m not surprised we all have days when we want to lock ourselves in the bathroom and have a sob (and a cup of tea). Like I’ve said before, we are only human. I’m writing that across the calendar in capitals so I remember that as well as all the other important things I’m supposed to.

This also happened this week- no high chair! I’m so emotional about it. He however is loving life!

Managing the Different Personalities

I’m going to level with you. Sometimes I read back my old posts. Purely as a means of reassuring myself that I can find humor amidst the utter bedlam. Whilst reading, I suddenly panicked that people would feel I am harsh to Middle. I’m not, I positively adore his personality and I will explain why. By breaking down the different personalities I deal with on a daily basis.

Eldest is obviously my first born. We share an amazing bond. When I say to him ‘my boy’ he replies ‘my girl’ and has done so since he could talk. Total mummy’s boy. Like me, he is overly sensitive and loving. He always wants ‘huggles’ and if Middle ever says anything awful to me, he is the first to reprimand him in my defense. On the other hand, unlike me, he is very logical and methodical. Quite often he is teaching me things. He absorbs any kind of information whether it be from a book, something he has been told or, tv. If you tell him he is wrong at any time, you can await an explosion of pent up frustration and tears. Clothing too can cause the same effect. He is so particular and there are fights each day. The best thing that ever happened to him was Middle. His little brother has taught him to loosen up a little and have fun, meaning that when they are together, he takes things less seriously.

Middle is totally the opposite of Eldest. Although I did everything the same with him (co-sleeping until he was eight months old) he can take or leave any kind of affection. Mainly leave it. He is not demanding in any way and very independent. Whilst Eldest will spend forever weighing up the pros and cons of certain things, Middle will just go ahead and do them and see what happens. Having fun and being cheeky is his forte. He doesn’t take anything seriously at all. I will admit to finding this endearing if not a tad embarrassing at times. When I am having a particularly bad day, I can always rely on Middle to cheer me up. Whether it’s his complete lack of being able to stay in his bed at night without falling out, him proclaiming to ‘hate girls’ yet spending most of his days shouting ‘girls girls’ to the little one’s next door and the fact that a year later, when I pick him up from nursery, he still says ‘I didn’t pee my pants today- yeah!.’

Baby (can I even still call him that? I’m going to as technically he will always be my baby) is a mixture of both of them. Obviously, it’s hard to tell fully but, I can see his personality traits beginning to emerge. He is very loving. Even more so than Eldest ever was. Random kisses and cuddles are doled out to everyone. He refuses to go to bed each night without having kissed everyone (much to Eldest’s dismay due to the slobbery ones he bestows). But, he also has an enormous temper on him for someone who looks so cute. You can’t give one of the others something without him throwing an absolute hissy fit. Even if he doesn’t like what it is in the first place. He is also prone to jealousy which the others weren’t. If I give one of them a cuddle, he will be straight over crying for me and saying ‘cuddle’. Though, weirdly, he too can take or leave me. Complete man’s man. Shown by his obsession with daddy and papa. He rarely says ‘ma ma’ unless he is in the throes of a fit and still hasn’t got what he wants. I’ve also noticed recently that he is beginning to be quite reckless just like Middle. Flinging himself off things and realising it was a bad idea only afterward. He also picks up on any naughty thing Middle says and try’s to repeat it. Most notably, this week, he too has started shouting at the girl’s next door. Those poor girlies are going to be tortured next summer with two of them doing it.

So see, all entirely different but the same in certain ways. All with their own individual needs and wants, meaning I have to adapt accordingly to each one. I could be dealing with a clothes meltdown from Eldest whilst Middle is flinging himself off the sofa and Baby is throwing a right tantrum because I haven’t given him a Babybel (he hates them anyways). It’s no wonder I’m going slightly mental some days! Not that I would be without any of them or their personalities. The good ones and the bad.

** After I typed this I went to pick Eldest up from his first day at school and Middle and Baby from nursery. Upon getting Baby, he pointed at a little girl. The nursery assistant advised that she had just come up from the baby room and it was her first day in toddler room. I began to fuss over her. Baby danders straight over and slaps her across the face. FML. Pure jealousy from him and embarrassment for mum.**

Summer Summed Up

Well it’s official. The summer holidays are very nearly over. Whilst it has been fun (on occasions), I am ready to get to grips with our new routine. A routine that will involve three drop offs and pick ups at different locations and, at differing times. I’m almost certain I will forget to collect one of them at some stage!

Eldest is back to school on Wednesday and is not one bit happy about the prospect. ‘Are you excited to head back to school this week?’ I enquired of him the other day. ‘Of course not, school is boring and I hate it’. P2 bodes well. I have enjoyed spending time alone with him though have found it difficult to keep him entertained at times. I resorted to arranging play date after play date just so he had company. What I’ve learnt is, play dates with five year old’s are stressful. One minute they are playing nicely and the next they have monumentally fallen out over something stupid like a tv programme. ‘But when I’m at his house he just watches whatever he likes so now he’s at mine, I’m going to watch what I want’. Yeah, that’s not how it works son. I realised, probably later than I should have, that it was best to take them out somewhere and away from the house.

We’ve visited lots of fun, local places this summer. Notably, Hillsborough Castle for a tour, a week in Ballycastle exploring/swimming/non swimming and yesterday we went to the Shoreline Festival. All was going so well until eldest pleaded to go on the bumper cars. One minute in and he was crying profusely. All I could do was yell in a panic (baby on hip) for him to get to the side as I had no way of getting to him through the throng of cars. He had badly hurt himself and was frightened when people kept bumping into him. Once the ordeal was over, he was reflective in a way that only eldest can be. ‘Those adults should not be allowed on the bumper cars mum. It’s like they’ve spent their whole lives going on bumper cars and still crash into kids. Which isn’t fair as for some kids it’s only their first time on one and it’s scary. I don’t think it’s fair or thoughtful of them’. In his defense I do this when on bumper cars too. The kids are much more fun to bump into and sure, it’s only a laugh. But, point taken on board son.

Middle’s last day of his private nursery is Wednesday before taking up his free pre school place next Monday. I feel all emotional about it as he has come on leaps and bounds at it and I am worried about how he will deal with the transition to a new nursery. As you all know he does not lack personality and is also in pocession of a rather rude vocabulary. I am just praying he avoids using it for the first few weeks at least. ‘hello poo face’, ‘I hate girls ‘ and ‘you stupid’ will not a good impression make! He has also spent most of the summer randomly falling out of his bed each night. I don’t know why this is happening as nothing about his bed has changed. We all just wait for the thud now, roll our eyes and run upstairs to reposition him.

Most of all, this summer will be remembered for baby finally walking. Something that I longed for and worried about only to realise what a fool I had been. My life is now more chaotic as he danders off slowly then makes an absolute break for it running at surprising speed. For the first time with any of them, I am going to have to purchase some reins as he just cannot be trusted. He has also started to say ‘hello poo poo’ this week too. Which will further add to my embarrassment when in contact with fellow humans.

After writing all of this, I’m thinking getting rid of them for half a day everyday will be a good thing. The summer holidays were good whilst they lasted but, the fun and games are over. See ya kiddos!

** I am still working on the podcast idea and learning what I have to do. I also have to somehow get my sister free to do it**

O School, School, Wherefore Art Thou School?

Are the school holidays over yet? Seriously, how long have they been going on for? I feel like they’ve been ongoing for decades now. I am starting to lose the will to live on all fronts. The only part of me not wishing them to be over is the dreaded cost of the school uniform shop. I have yet to pluck up the courage to undertake it. I really must do that as I have two sets to purchase this year. Maybe next week eh?

Eldest is driving me bonkers trying to keep him entertained over the whole summer. He hates soft play now as, ‘it’s for babies and boring’. Fantastic, considering most of the summer has been a complete wash out. To remedy this, I have been arranging play date after play date. Each play date has descended into utter chaos however due to bloody Pokémon cards. At one stage he tried to swap ALL his cards (200) for ONE card his friend had. Um, hello? I am the one who’s bought them all, I don’t think so! When we got invited to a beautiful day out at Hillsborough Castle on Tuesday (the Queen’s residence whilst staying in Northern Ireland) and, I was explaining to him all the activities we would partake in, he responded ‘this is just a way to expel my energy. Like, that’s what adults do. Just try and expel kid’s energy’. How does he even know the word ‘expel’ at five? Also, how does he get that that is in fact what we do? In the end he had the best day ever, as I expected he would. I highly recommend bringing your kid’s there during the rest of the summer holidays. The scenery was vast and breath takingly beautiful and the tour of the castle itself was so interesting. Goss: The Queen’s living room smelt of stale smoke. So maybe she likes the odd cigar whilst lounging on her sofa when she’s over here. I can see her now in her dressing gown, watching Gogglebox and puffing away! **Don’t sue me Liz**

In other news, Middle’s behaviour is becoming worse by the day! He seems to be so well behaved in nursery yet his behaviour is utterly appalling when home. No amount of naughty step is working. He seems to get a kick out of any punishment, laughing in response to me losing my sh#t. He is also up half the night nearly every night. I’m exhausted and have come to the conclusion that it’s an attention thing. Yet I am unsure what to do as all them get equal attention. I maybe need to spend a day with just myself and him, make him feel special? I also have to try and get him to stop calling people ‘poo poo face’, telling people ‘mummy pees everywhere’ (no, that’s all you son) and stripping in the garden and trying to expose his winky to all and sundry. He cannot be left unsupervised for even a second. But, he is too young to end up on any kind of register. For that, we can only be thankful. Hopefully he adjusts ok with the change in nursery come September. I pray that it won’t serve to make him even more cray cray.

Baby is walking completely now. You all know how worried I was about how long it was taking. But, he has gone from 0 -100 the minute he knew he could do it. He danders from room to room now causing utter carnage. This week, unbeknownst to me, he turned the washing machine off. He also turned the oven down two days in a row, thus resulting in our dinner not being ready on time. Arrggh! The stairs are his new playground now as he has realised he can get up and down them with ease. Much to the detriment of my nerves! I brought him to the park yesterday, without him having a nap, and he went absolutely mad climbing up everything and going up and down the slide like he had been doing it his whole life. I honestly thought he would be my easiest one when really I am beginning to realise that he may be the worst. Because, he is watching both of them and emulating their behaviour (the good but, mostly the bad). So, forget the naughty step (it clearly doesn’t work) and forget reward charts (they only work for a short period of time), this Mama needs to come up with a new plan. Do military boot camps exist for kids? Please summer holidays, will you just be over already?!!

Looking like he just knows he rules the roost
Eldest at Hillsborough Castle

Bereavement and the Boy’s- trying to find some humour amidst the sadness

I have never felt more nervous in my life having to break the news to eldest that Molly was no longer here. Knowing that with a few words, I would send his world crashing down. That, for the first time, nothing I would say or do would make it better for him. I couldn’t bring Molly back for him, nor myself.

We sat at the kitchen table, after the others were in bed, and I broke the news to him. ‘Molly was very sick and the vet’s could no longer help her. She’s passed away and is now in heaven’. He looked confused. ‘What does passed away mean?’ he enquired. Arrgggh I was trying to get out of saying the ‘d’ word. ‘It means she died son’ I replied in between sobs. He looked at the floor and calmly asked what she died from. I had decided the best and most simplistic way, was to say her heart just gave out. ‘Her heart just stopped working son’ I said whilst cuddling him. ‘She had a heart attack and is now no longer in any pain’. At this, he started scratching his head. ‘Are you ok Aden?’ I asked. This was going much better than I ever imagined. ‘You had a heart attack that day in the vets when they told you the price of the vet’s bill and you were ok’ he ventured. Oh sh*t! ‘Um, that was just a turn of phrase son, I didn’t literally have a heart attack but unfortunately Molly did’. This is when things changed. He dissolved into floods of tears and refused to even let me console him. I have never felt more terrible in my life to see him so utterly heartbroken. He cried for nearly an hour. ‘Molly wouldn’t want you to be sad, let’s talk about some good memories we have of Molly instead’ I offered.

We then discussed the varying humorous things she had done over the years and he calmed down considerably. Phew. ‘Can I get a new dog for my birthday?’ he asked once the tears had subsided. Um, no!

The next day was Middle’s turn. The second he awoke, I was straight in to tell him before eldest could break the news in an insensitive manner. ‘Owen, I have something to tell you’ I said. ‘Ok, what you want say?’ he responded. ‘This is very sad for mummy to have to tell you but, Molly has died. She was just too sick’. I looked at him for any sign of emotion. None. ‘That’s ok’ he finally said. ‘Me go to do huge poo now!’. Off he sauntered, zero f’s given as usual.

Now Molly’s ashes have been returned, it’s restarted the grieving process. Eldest will not let me bury her at all! He has been attached to the box and wants to bring her everywhere with him. At first I thought it was so sweet and loving and, it made me happy to see them reunited again. But, I have to draw the line when, the other day, Molly accompanied us to the pound shop, all around the town centre and also the barbers. I watched eldest get his hair cut mortified whilst the poor barber kept glancing down at the little box resting on his lap nervously. Did he know it was a pet? Did he think he was lugging a relative around? Who knows! I also had to beg him not to bring her into Burger King! Imagine. Middle is handling her being back home much differently. On the day she returned, as my nephew came in the door to visit us, he brazenly walked up to him and stated ‘Callum, you will never see Molly ever ever again. Molly is dead’. When asked to say something nice about her whilst we all said a few words, he responded by turning around, putting his bum in my face and blowing a raspberry. To be fair to him it dispersed the sadness we all felt. Only middle!

School Reports, Staycations and Stressful Situations

Eldest has officially completed primary one! Not only that but, he managed to do so without getting spotted battering another classmate. Hooray! On his last day he came bounding out with his school report in hand. I glared at the envelope for a long time before finally plucking up the courage to open it. When I did I was pleasantly surprised. It declared that he was good with numeracy and logic (no surprise there), that his reading and writing could do with some improvement and thus, he will need support going forward (no surprise with that one either) and that he interacts well with other children, especially boys (defo not a huge surprise). As a treat for a year well done, we decided to go to Ballycastle and stay in a caravan (my idea of hell). But, it was cheap and close. Plus, it would take everyone’s mind of losing Molly.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I was shocked when we got to the caravan and it was actually spacious and modern. I had an image of one ingrained in my mind from a Father Ted episode. You know that one were Graham Norton keeps river dancing all the time in a caravan you couldn’t swing a cat in? The site also had an indoor pool and kid’s disco running every other night. Who need’s Spain eh?

Having left our things off, I took the boys swimming. This was the first time since the utter madness that was the local pool: (https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/04/25/the-nightmare-that-was-going-swimming-alone-with-the-boys/ ). Eldest gets in no bother and heads straight for the huge slide, without the slightest hint of fear. Middle leaves the changing room and swiftly declares that he will not be getting in the water as ‘it’s too scary’. Great! Maybe I will have more luck with baby. Upon entering the water with him on my hip, he screams blue murder. To the point everyone was looking at me like I was forcing him into a pool of acid. The swimming attendant goes to get him a swim seat. This seems to make things worse. Middle has not left the steps during this whole episode and is sitting crossed armed, dipping his feet in. ‘Come in Owen!’ I shout whilst wielding gurning baby in a huge, yellow float. ‘I not’ he staunchly responds. FML- what is the point? After 30 mins, baby was still crying and middle was still rooted to the same spot so, out we all had to go.

Next we tried the park which was covered in sand. Middle runs off to have fun, yelling at random children ‘what your name is?’ and chasing girls with his standard sex pest line of ‘Hi girls!’. Eldest refuses to go in however, as apparently, he ‘hates sandy parks’. It’s only day one and I have already lost the will to live. How do you please them all at once? Hope that maybe the kid’s disco will be something everyone enjoys.

Get to kid’s disco with eldest moaning profusely that he ‘will not dance as that’s stupid and only girls do it’. Tell him that’s fine then, he can just watch. The guy running it is aptly named ‘Rob the Beard’. He seems to have a great way with all the kids but, baby is having none of Rob nor his beard and proceeds to cry anytime he even glances in his direction. Not even an offer of a sweet quells his fear of poor Rob. He spends the whole proceedings sobbing. Middle gets up and follows all Rob’s moves to every song. Giving it stacks and living his best life. Eldest observes his enthusiasm and decides to join in. Ten minutes in and eldest is throwing shapes I didn’t even know he had in him. He is also having, shock horror, FUN! Two out of three isn’t bad I guess.

All in all, the boys had such a great time in Ballycastle. Visiting farms, parks, eating the infamous ‘cloud’ ice cream and torturing girls. Middle eventually embraced the water on the last day and ventured further than the steps! Baby I couldn’t win over swimming wise but, he did start fully walking. I only saw him Gollum crawl a handful of times when he was tired and being lazy. In the end eldest finally came around to the sand also. The only downside was the boy’s sharing a room. Utter bedlam each night and routines all over the place. I am home more knackered than when I left! Aw well, it’s all about the memories and replacing the bad one for them that happened last Monday. I hope it’s worked. I am still crying every time I see anything white, sheep included. Miss you Molly x

Chilling in the caravan after a day at the amusements

Soft play fun on a rainy day

No more sand fear!

Sowing the Seed for Imaginative Play with The Field!

Baby is all about farm’s and farm animal’s at the moment. His favourite book is ‘Moo Moo’ and every night, at bedtime, he demands that I read it to him numerous times. I don’t even have to read the actual words now as his obsession has lead to me knowing them by heart. So I was very excited when Irish company, The Field, approached me to review one of their products.

The Field promises to spark your child’s imagination by encouraging imaginative play. The possibilities are endless. Create a farm scene, check! Create your own football pitch with some Lego figures, check! I had an inkling that middle and baby would love it. Middle loves to create elaborate scenes with his teddies and toys and comfortably creates different scenarios, nattering away to himself as he does so. Baby is most content at the minute when throwing multiple objects, mainly at me but, I knew the moment he saw all the farm animal figures, he would associate it with his book. Eldest I wasn’t sure about as he doesn’t often partake in imaginative play. Something that has worried me off and on. He much prefers logical play- building with Lego and creating large marble runs that take over any space we have left in the living room (sigh). Standing on multiple marbles is worse than Lego, I can assure you! Why are both everywhere in my house? Arrgggh!

The boy’s have played with the toy for over a week now and it has surprised me how well they not only interacted with it but, calmly played together. Even if baby keeps taking the farm animals off them! Eldest has actually played with it the most which has greatly reassured me after his P1 report showed he isn’t overly creative (I said that didn’t I?). Baby has thoroughly enjoyed placing some Lego men on it and playing away, as has middle. I’m loving the change from them wrestling the daylights out of each other on the trampoline. Peace at last!

You can purchase The Field at: https://www.thefield.ie/ and prices range from £27.00 (24.99 Euros) and upwards.

Baby having fun with The Field and some Lego
Even cousin had a play with it