This week I have mainly been…. attending my very first parent/teacher meeting and being mortified afterwards!

On Tuesday we attended our very first parent/teacher meeting. A meeting that served to update us on how eldest has been getting on in terms of learning and socialising. Since he started in September, I have beseeched him with questions the whole way home from school each day. “How did today go? “what did you learn?” “what letter did you learn and how does it sound?” “who did you play with today?” and, finally, “did you behave and listen well?”. Each day he replies in the same manner, “I can’t remember a WHOLE day mummy, I don’t know!”. Ok, forgive me entirely for assuming you could at least regale me about one moment of your day. A day that generally involves some learning, knocking the crap out of each other in the playground, eating lunch and then going home. Sorry for even asking.

As usual eldest had to accompany us. Just like last time, he sat quite peacefully and well behaved outside the door. I now know why. His teacher (who is so lovely) told us what he was doing well at and, the areas he needs to improve on. Phonics mainly which, I will admit, is entirely my fault. He understands most of them but, the ones he doesn’t, I don’t either. Everyone has told me to look up ‘Jolly Phonics’ on YouTube which I would do if middle wasn’t constantly watching f ing Steve and Maggie and Baby Shark on my phone/laptop. He is doing very well with numbers and counting which, does not surprise me as he is very logically minded, like his daddy. To this day I still do not have my Math’s GCSE though A stars in anything English. My mum even sent me to night classes at the local tech two years in a row and, I still couldn’t manage it. I ended up betting her that I could learn Chinese in the evening and pass quicker than I ever would at maths. She obviously knew this was true so, wouldn’t bet me. I did always have a penchant for languages, especially those of the swearing variety.

All was going so well. I felt so proud of eldest and his achievements. Then she got to the not so good things. He can be quite ‘silly’ apparently. “The other day he spent the whole art lesson, sticking his work to his face for, and I quote, ‘a right laugh” she said. This would explain why his face and, also hair, was covered in glue when I picked him up on Monday. “He also likes to make his presence known by randomly poking anyone he is sitting beside whilst they are trying to concentrate” she added. Ground and swallow sprang to mind. On hindsight, this doesn’t actually surprise me as we have always had problems with him shouting in other kid’s faces etc. He doesn’t seem to understand that everyone is entitled to their own personal space. Mortified. Other than that he is conscientious and socialising well with everyone.

Later on that night I called my mum. ‘”Who sticks their artwork to their face for a ‘right laugh’?” I asked. She paused, then continued “Grace, when you were in P3, you got so annoyed at the artwork you had been working on for weeks on end that, you just started cutting someone’s hair off instead”. The moment she said it, I remembered. We all had to sit in a circle and cut cardboard for what felt like hours. Every Friday. People got so bored and numb, they ended up changing positions and sitting with their backs to some people. I really wanted to be a hairdresser at the time (some relative had bought me a Kylie annual that year for Christmas) and, the person beside me had changed position to put her back towards me. So I got bored and I gave her a new ‘do’. It looked marvellous from what I recall but people were more than raging. Alas, my hairdressing dreams ended here. Surely I was just way ahead of the times and had single-handedly invented my own Peter Mark training academy in a primary school? Maybe art and the ensuing boredom it brings is just not for me nor eldest. I will literally die if he cuts someone’s hair though. My poor parents.

Part of this parenting journey is recognising yourself and your traits in them. Then trying to navigate it. Because, when you stand back and try and remember, maybe they aren’t so different from you as what you think. Should I tell the school he shouldn’t have scissors? Maybe I will stifle the next Nicky Clarke if I do that though?

Baby is now on the move, albeit in a rather weird one-legged crawling way. I feel like my life had been quite easy with him until now.  I had totally forgotten how bonkers it is when they can actually move. Arggh! I now have another one to try and keep from flinging himself off things. Challenge accepted (begrudgingly)!

 

This week I have mainly been…. back to losing my shit (again)

I haven’t had a week like this week in a long time! Maybe some kind of zen-like calmness had descended upon me previously and, now I have just reverted back to normal? No matter what, it’s safe to say that I am back to royally losing the plot.

Letters from eldest’s school seem to be materialising in his school bag at the same rate owls first brought letters to Harry Potter at Privet Drive. Every time I open it, there is an avalanche of them! I am running out of room on my calendar for all the events and activities I am supposed to remember. Don’t they realise I am still suffering from baby brain and teethingitis? My lack of memory became quite apparent this week when, I completely forgot that there was a parents curriculum talk on Tuesday evening at his school. Had I not have overheard two other parents talking about it on Tuesday’s afternoon pick up, none of us would have been there. I frantically text hubby- ‘Bugger, curriculum talk at school at 6:30 pm tonight. Must have missed it in the billion’s of letters. One of us will have to go as surely a shit parent alert will trigger if we don’t’. He came back saying no worries, we will sort it out. I text him that at 1 pm. Come 6:30 pm, I was still waiting on him returning home from work. He had forgotten all about it! Cue a mad dash to the school to hear all about what amazing things eldest will be learning about. Phonics, mainly. Wtf are phonics? They sound like a highly confusing method and one that is certain to drive me around the bend (more than usual).

Crisis avoided on the talk front, I diverted my attention to the physio appointment I had to attend at the hospital on Wednesday (mother, eldest and baby in tow). I had been referred the day I was discharged after having baby. Apparently, my stomach muscles have come apart. I hadn’t even realised this if I’m honest. What I had realised however was that, since middle, I have had a rather attractive hernia right at my belly button. Where there used to be a pretty, sparkly, belly bar after eldest, I now sport a bulging lump of my abdominal wall. Rawrrr! As much as I am making light of the above, it does make me highly self-conscious. Especially, as middle loves nothing more than pointing at my tummy and proclaiming “eugh!”. Charming. Upon attending my appointment, at Antrim Hospital, I met with the most amazing Physiotherapist. She explained every little detail before even examining me. She described how us superwomen’s bodies take such a battering during childbirth. How, like breaking an arm, things take time to heal. It made me think about how us women tend to beat ourselves up about how our bodies aren’t perfect after carrying and, giving birth to babies. Because put simply like that (using a broken arm as an example), it would take us years and years to fully recover! Celebrities have a lot to answer for this and, mainly the Kardashians. Don’t you ever find it strange how they all disappear for ages after having kid’s then, reemerge even slimmer and better than ever? When do they ever disappear otherwise? Oh, to have their surgeon! Turn’s out my stomach muscles are actually quite strong (I don’t know how) and, my main issue is the hernia. Now I find myself questioning, do I put myself through surgery (which eldest seems quite fearful of when I explain it) or, do I embrace the reminder kids have left me with? I  went through my teens with stretch marks galore and, a doctor told me, ‘it would only get way worse when I had kids’. I, fortunately, didn’t get many. So, my hernia is almost like my tiger stripes. It takes a lot to harbour a baby and, even more to birth one. There is a reason why we, as women, are the chosen sex to do this. We may not get equal pay ladies, but we can have babies, bear the scars and, still be gorgeous! Maybe it’s time we embrace the bodies childbearing left us with? All we have to do is look at them to see that the sacrifice of our bodies, was a small price to pay (when they aren’t being little shits, of course!). I think it is vitally important that our generation sticks with the girl power theme. The Spice Girl’s didn’t work that hard nor, flaunt all that flesh for nothing (sarcasm).

In other news, upon picking eldest up from school on Friday, I observed he had his trousers on fully back to front. He had PE that day so, had to dress himself afterwards. “Why are your trouser’s back to front?” I asked. “Are they?” he replied, “I did everything you said and put the label to the back mummy”. I rolled my eyes, out of his vision of course. When we got home and, I removed the trousers, it became clear that Tesco’s had decided to place the label at the front of the trousers. My bad son! Why Tesco’s, why?

Middle also insists on more bonkers outerwear every day that we pick him up. The other day he had to wear eldest’s coat (three sizes too big) and a helmet. He also had to bring his ride on bike (again). I cannot deal with the tantrums anymore, so he can wear whatever he likes and look as insane as he likes.

Baby is now capable of feeding himself and it is utter carnage! Food all over him, up the walls and all over the dog. I forgot about this messy stage arrgghh! See featured picture for the evidence.

This week I have mainly been…. adjusting to new routines and observing, then ignoring, school gate etiquette.

Eldest is loving school. Not only that but, he has actually been so excited each morning that he is dressing himself! We are still having slight meltdowns over his trousers and how rough they feel but, on the whole, he seems content with his uniform. The seamless socks I purchased from M & S (after a lovely reader advised) have been amazing! I wish I knew they sold these years ago. Maybe the majority of my sanity would still be intact then? Who am I kidding!

The new addition of the school run has served to add slightly more stress to my days though, a few hours peace admittedly. Getting all of them out of the door for a specific time is proving slightly mental. Middle finds the morning and afternoon run, the prime time to deploy a tantrum about anything and everything. He has learnt to use the word ‘no’ in context. So now anything I ask results in a crossing of the arms, stamping of the feet and, a yelled “NOOOOOOOO!”. The afternoon run is around his nap time so, this one is particularly hell-raising. Trying to get him to walk the five minutes it takes to get to school is, well, head melting. It also usually takes fifteen in the end. Baby is all out of his routine too and now proceeds to scream all morning until right as I begin the afternoon pick up. Of course, everyone at the school gate then thinks he is the most amazing baby, always sleeping soundly- yeah right!

This leads me quite seamlessly to the school gate and, what I have observed. I might go all David Attenborough here as I think it’s warranted. In the vast landscape that is the school gate, there are two types of species. The ones that prey on everyone for a good old chinwag and, the ones who prefer to be lone wolves. The landscape is dominated by females mainly, with a few males stalking the perimeter. Said males seem to be of particular interest to the aforementioned chin waggers. It is important to note that they don’t seem to care for the attention nor, the intrusion. Appearance varies wildly. On one side we have the species that views the daily ceremony as a catwalk and, those that just don’t give a flying toss and rock up whichever way they want. And, why not say’s I (sorry, Attenborough).

I have fallen, rather unintentionally, into the lone wolf category. I am unsure as to whether this is because, on day one, I forgot to put the brake on babies buggy and it rather aggressively hurtled into a yummy mummy. She was in no way amused. This may have been the catalyst to my ostracising from ‘the pack’. I also usually have a pint-sized dictator in tow who, on numerous occasions, has plonked himself across the gate horizontally in a rage, thus preventing other people from gaining access. No matter how much I say “hello” or smile, no one wants to know. That was until the afternoon pick up on Tuesday when a fellow lone wolf decided to take me under their wing. Patricia is a sixty-two-year-old grandmother who picks up her grandson every Monday- Wednesday from the gate. We have struck up quite the accord. As in one where I can’t swear as she was a Girl’s Brigade leader in her formative years. I am so thankful to Patricia for chatting with me and, making standing at the gate alone, like a knob, that little bit easier. I am also highly thankful that it doesn’t appear that she heard me on Wednesday when, upon leaving our street, myself and baby were very nearly run over by a speeding car up the lane beside the school. This old man gets out, like the exemplary person he is, and, accuses me of being in the wrong. Considering he was flying up a lane that school children generally walk up, driving up one side of the lane and, the fact I couldn’t possibly have seen him until I exited the path I was on,  has cemented his status as wa#ker of the new school year. ” How was that my fault?” I assertively screamed back, shaking. “Just, um, because it was” he intelligently responded. “I sir, am I pedestrian” I added, “who couldn’t see you from where I was due to the hedge. Maybe if you hadn’t been speeding, you might have seen me”.  He did not take kindly to this reasoning and began swearing and gesturing rather madly. “F#ck you!” I suddenly yelled! Mainly out of pure anger that he may have wiped out my third born. I then turn around to witness his shock at this little woman responding to him in the manner in which he spoke to me, only to see five parents dandering down the lane looking horrified. Look’s like this mama and Patricia will be school gate buddies for life! I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. Patricia rocks!

Before we nearly got run over
How he rolls on the school run

**I want to dedicate this blog post to the beautiful and amazing Rachael Bland who tragically passed away the other day. Her blog, Big C. Little Me. was an inspiration to many and sharing her battle so openly will have helped others. Not only now but, in the future also. This is why we have to be honest- to help others.**

 

This week I have mainly been….. a complete emotional mess as eldest start’s school!

I have been saying to anyone who will listen how much eldest was ready for school and how much I, as his mother, was ready to get rid of him for a few hours each day. I’m aware that sounds rather ruthless but, it’s been a LONG summer. I knew I would be emotional, he is my first born after all! I just had no idea how emotional I would actually be.

On Tuesday morning we met with his teacher for a chat. I couldn’t bribe anyone to mind eldest nor baby (middle at nursery) so, they all got dragged along.  The teacher asked him if he would like some pegs and boards to play with outside the room as we talked. I filled with immediate dread! He is attached to my side anytime we are together. “Yes, ok” he surprisingly responded. What?  We discussed his level of independence in terms of getting himself dressed, (when he can be arsed basically) any issues he has, (the feeling of certain clothing deeply distresses him) and, start times and finish times etc. It was at this point only that it hit me- the little baby boy I held in my arms only five years ago, was starting school in a few days time. I came home and immediately sobbed my heart out for an hour. I kept looking at him and thinking ‘I’m going to miss him so much’. He has been my little buddy since I took him out of private nursery, at Christmas, in order to give middle a go. If I thought Tuesday was bad, I had been wholly naive- as Thursday morning was to show me.

There was a minor drama about his school trousers, which I expected. But, on the whole, he was relatively excited to get dressed. When I eventually stood back and looked at my little boy, decked out in the togs that will define him, my eyes began to brim over. After the obligatory front door picture, we rather frantically set off as a family to deliver him to school. As he let go of my hand to walk into his classroom, I literally felt like my heart was breaking (I’ve started to cry again whilst typing this -fml). He turned back and gave me the biggest hug and kiss, knowing full well that it was harder for me than for him. “It’s ok mummy,” he said. “See you soon”. He really is so thoughtful and loving which, of course, made me want to cry even more. It was strange coming back home and it just being me, middle and baby. Middle was loving being able to play with eldest’s toys without them being taken off him immediately. This kept him quiet and not peeing everywhere- the only bonus! When I went to collect him at 12pm, a bundle of nerves, he had got on great! Since he has been able to talk, we have always spoken about the best part of our day and, the worst part. I got this from the Kardashians, not a parenting manual, ashamed to say. “My best part was all of it” he stated. “What was the worst part?” I enquired. “There was no worst part mummy, I had a good day”.

This is the beginning of a big journey for him. A journey where he may not like the rules set for him and, knowing him, will try and rebel against them. A journey that will teach him new and amazing things and, show him how intelligent I already know he is. A journey where he will make friends and, probably lose some along the way. I can only hope and pray that he never lets himself down, nor I for that matter. Because, ultimately, I am more nervous than him. I want it to be a great experience for him and one that helps shape him. I want it to be a happy time for him and, I want him to thrive. I also sincerely hope that he doesn’t send his poor teacher round the bend like he does to me all day.

To all the pessimistic, moaners who harp on every year about the endless start of school pictures. To you, I say this- do you remember the excitement, pride and nerves you felt at your child starting another chapter each year? Do you ever think that maybe it took one full hour to get that child into their uniform so, therefore, it’s more than a big deal? Surely all the above warrants a picture, never mind where it’s taken. If you can’t be bothered to even consider all those factors then best to avoid Facebook for a week. Thanks!

In other less passive aggressive news, middle is alternating from being the perfect, potty trained child to a rampant defecator on my floors. I am going to have to take shares out in Domestos at this rate. He is testing my patience ten fold.

Daddy had to get into the door pic! All ready for his very first day of P1

This week I have mainly been….going school uniform shopping for the first time!

This week I decided to bite the bullet and finally take eldest school uniform shopping. I won’t lie, I had been putting this task off for as long as humanly possible. Firstly, I had the irrational fear that he would grow a size up in the mere space of a month. Secondly, he is so fussy about every type of clothing (see previous post: https://youandmeplusthree.uk/2018/07/10/this-week-i-have-mainly-been-worrying-about-eldest/). What better day to do it than his birthday when he was so distracted by all the new objects he had been gifted. I also figured the threat of taking them all away again could work to my advantage- result!

Off we went to the local supplier with Yoshi in tow. This was my very first time ever school uniform shopping. What I learnt was, kid’s hate trying stuff on. Also, uniforms come in very weird sizes and are insanely expensive. Five to six was a good fit but, they have to do him all year. The next size up was seven to eight. What? I instructed him to try the bigger size on. “But I’ve only just become five today, I’m not seven!” he protested. “You needn’t think I am spending all this money for you to grow out of them in a month, try on the bigger size now!” I thundered. He begrudgingly obliged. Well, they were huge on him. The frugal side of me was thinking ‘meh, that’s ok, he will grow into them eventually’. The motherly side was thinking ‘it’s his very first time going to school and trying to make friends. Best not to have the clothing wearing him instead of the other way around’. I went with the five to six knowing full well that I will be frequenting the same shop in a few months time to buy the seven to eight version of everything. We purchased anything that had the school logo emblazoned on it but, I was not buying his trousers etc there. Instead, I dragged him to Tesco’s. Two pairs of grey, reinforced knee, trousers for £7! I bought a few sets, some shorts also, his school bag and lunch box. I was hair swishing like Beyonce around Tesco’s just knowing how well I had did with the uniform financial management!  I had socks in my hand too but, decided to leave them back and go to M and S for some seam free ones. I already know he will go insane at the roughness of the trousers each morning so, I have to make it easier for us all somehow. I am going to cry so hard on his first day then, probably get over it relatively quickly when I am not running around getting him things every two minutes. FREEDOM!

In other news, his party went well. It was a lot calmer than any party previously has been. I imagine this was mainly due to my sister in law coming early to help hubby with the cooking. The only issue was when hubby thought it would be a right laugh to put magical candles on eldest’s cake. He quickly blew them out then, decided he would like to remove them for better access. They then re-lit! I have never ran so fast in my life. We have also both been tortured to build all the Lego sets he received. “What was your favourite present?” I enquired the other day. “The special coin great grandad got me” he responded. So a limited edition Paddington Bear coin is much more riveting than Lego, games or anything else? As hubby said, it will be excitement overload when great grandad gifts him some stamps at Christmas!

Middle is being a complete angel with the potty training one day then, the next day, having numerous accidents. I am currently at a crossroads as to whether I continue or, give up entirely. I never faced this with eldest as he just seemed to get it. Middle does get it, he just get’s distracted easily. I’m going to adjust my attitude, be more relaxed and, see what happens. I have to think how he thinks!

Baby is just loving life and being happy as per usual:

I took him swimming for the very first time on Wednesday. He had a little sob to begin with then proceeded to conk out in the swim seat for the whole duration! I must take him swimming daily if it has that effect.