30-40. What I wish I’d known then.

wouldn't it be fantastic to look into the future and reassure yourself that everything will be fine.

I had my first child when I was 30. He started school when I was 34. You think you know it all at 30, but of course, this isn’t true. Nor at 40, and probably not 50, 60, 70 or 80 either. I suppose life would be boring if we knew it all. Sort of.  But. There are things that I do know now, things that had I known then would have made my life a damn sight easier. Or maybe just my conscience clearer. Mostly around the whole school thing.

Those hideous first few days when your child is about to start school. Feeling as though they’re  abandoning you. This little person who has been my right-hand man for 4 or 5 years is now off to school. Wearing his new shoes and uniform and looking all grown up. It’s Tuesday! We always go for our big food shop together on Tuesday and then for a fluffy afterwards…Yes, I know I swore I’d never take you back there again after you kicked over the chair and broke one of the spindles, but it’s our place. Our routine.

The First day of school. Trying your hardest to be cheerful. Upbeat. ‘It’s going to be soo exciting.’ And then the dreaded question. “Will you stay with me, Mummy?” Up the path to the classroom. All the while chattering on incessantly about how ‘those gates are a nice colour blue’ and  ‘I wonder if that tree always has those pretty flowers?’ His hand starting to grip a little bit tighter now.  Why couldn’t I have been more like that new entrant Mother? You know the one I mean? Always there,  smiling, confident, breezing in as though she’s done it a million times before. Her child biting at the bit to get into the classroom. To show the new teacher a picture that he’d drawn in the summer holidays.

But no. There’s You. Still trying to figure out where your child is supposed to hang his coat up. “Oh look! Your peg is next to Lauras. That’s a nice name. I bet she’s a lovely little girl” you blabber.  Pease let her be a lovely little girl. You want to go to the teacher, take her to one side and say “can I just let you know…he’s a really sensitive little boy” but she’s already swarmed with all of the other pushys and you don’t want to be one of those.

I wish I’d known this.

That they’ll always be yours. No matter how many hours a day they’re away from you at school they will still be your number one and you theirs. You’ve done the groundwork. They’ll love you and miss you immensely. It’s just their new adventure.

Homework. Those first few years of school. My son was so little. I look back at the photos and literally, he was a baby.

Why then, when he’d been at school for 6 hours already and was thoroughly exhausted, did I make him sit in a car park- waiting for his swimming lessons to start and force that tired little boy to read the assigned book that had been given to him for homework?

There was an alternative woman who had a child in the same class as my son. You can read more about her here. She had quite an effect on me. I watched her float into school one morning with a letter for the headmaster stating that under no circumstances was her child to be given homework. He wouldn’t be doing it she said.  Not ever. At the time, I was too busy trying to keep in with the in-crowd and so outwardly scoffed at her hippy ideas. Deep down though, I knew that she was right. I wish I’d said the same thing. Wish I’d been brave enough to stand out from the crowd like her.

All of those wasted hours spent doing extra work with a tiny child who was already exhausted were the most unproductive, unnecessary and needless to say the most stressful waste of hours of mine and his life.

Being told he was slow in maths.

How many nights did I spend crying and worrying myself sick once I’d been told that my 6-year-old was not up to standard with his numeracy?

His teacher advised me that on our summer holiday to France, I should spend an hour a day with my slow child asking him to add up the numbers on the car number plates. And you know what? This silly cow did. There were tears every day on that holiday. Both from him and from me. The poor boy dreaded it if a car drove past. And regardless of my efforts, every time those annoying little stat test papers came back, they would bring with them that familiar ache of dread in the pit of my stomach. There it was glaring out at me. Numeracy. Still shit. Below average. Not good enough.

I wish I’d known that this would happen.

That at 15 years old, my son would  pass his maths exam (that he took a year early.) He wanted to get it out of the way as he hated maths. He passed his algebra exam and now has the required maths achievements should he want to go to university. (You can read about my thoughts on that though, here.) All of that worrying. All of those tears. What a waste.

Please.

If you are told that your child is ‘slow in anything, get the teacher to put it in writing then rip the piece of paper up and flush it down the toilet. When your child is ready, they will learn. I promise.

I promise.

Bullying. It’s every parent dread, isn’t it? Here’s your baby going happily along, believing that everyone in the world resembles the characters from children’s TV, and then it hits them. They come to learn that there are mean kids out there. Of course there are. There are also mean adults out there too.  Mean parents. But we are bigger and stronger, and we have cars that we can go and sit in and hide. Mascara that we can slap on to cover up the tears.

My son started to be bullied after about a year at school. And this was supposedly a ‘nice’ school. They had the buddy system with the older kids. Plastered all over the walls were the posters about being kind and respectful, all of those things that bullies don’t give a shit about.

Back then, stupidly, I dealt with it the PC way. The way that every school asks you to deal with it. The way that won’t bring attention to the precious school and maybe affect their stats. I went to the headmaster who said he would speak sternly to the boy in question. My boy continued to be bullied. I went back. This time the same man insisted he would have the child in question write a letter to my son, apologising for scratching his back. My boy continued to be bullied. All the while, while I’m faffing around backwards and forwards with a teacher who is more concerned with his school’s stats, my son is becoming increasingly terrified of going to school.

Unfortunately, if your child is in the least bit different, stands out from the crowd, doesn’t fit neatly into the box, there’s a fair chance that some bullying will come their way during the school years.I’m sorry but its highly likely. My son is an actor, he sings at any given opportunity. He doesn’t like rugby. He used to wear coloured contacts so people would think he was a vampire (I know, don’t.)

I wish I’d known back then just to kick up the most almighty fuss imaginable. Fight for him. I know that people say that by doing this you make it worse for the child but believe me, that’s crap. His life at school was hell anyway. It couldn’t have been any worse. I wish I’d fought his corner so hard so that he knew that no matter what, his mum would never stop fighting for him.

Friends.Yours, not theirs.

aaron-burden-25844

Standing outside the school gates and making gossipy chit chat with a load of women whom you normally wouldn’t ask the time of day from. They were the times that when I think of them now, send shivers down my spine.

You try so hard. You want to be accepted. Be part of the mummy club.  But what is it with these parents? Why the hell is it, that all they want to do is mouth off about how their child can recite her nine times tables while playing the flute, or brag about how their little Johnny is going to skip an academic year next year because he is soo intelligent.

You. Wanting the playground to open up and swallow you. Even considering going over to the caretaker and asking him if he needs some help sweeping up the leaves. Anything to get away from this bunch of seagulls.

What you long for is a friend. A real friend. You want to talk about how much wine you needed to get through last week or how your jeans are too tight as a result of it. But unless you are really, really lucky you won’t find that friend hovering at the school gate. You have to look in the car park. She’s there look! Sitting in her car pretending to read something important on her phone. Secretly waiting for 10 seconds before the bell rings so that she can rush over, grab her child and make her getaway.

I wish I’d looked for her straight away. I found her eventually, but it took me 4 years. She too, rushed into the classroom late, flustered. I knew then that I’d found my partner in crime (Hi Anjie). 4 Years. 4 Years wasted on dead end acquaintances. Pushy parents whose goal in life is to make other parents feel inadequate.

There are many more ‘wish I’d known then what I know nows’ but I think this post is long enough. Anyway, it’s 10 am, and the grass needs cutting. It’s forecast to rain at midday.

Maybe, when I’m 70 I’ll say “I wish I’d known to get a ride on mower.”

I’d love to hear of your wish I’d knowns. Jot some down in the comment box below. Let me know your wisdom. Right. To the grass.

IMG_0206

>
diaryofanimperfectmumthemumproject

R is for Hoppit
You Baby Me Mummy

Rhyming with Wine

Mummascribbles

Pink Pear BearMother of TeenagersMummuddlingthroughMy Random Musings Continue reading “30-40. What I wish I’d known then.”

Saturday morning anxiety.

I’m convinced that everyone else’s parenting skills are better than mine.

They’ve all got this motherhood malarkey down to a tee I reckon.

I chose the wrong time to go for a quiet coffee. Just the two of us, me and my husband, Brian. I thought it might be like the old days. You know. Before they came. But I didn’t think it through. It was Saturday morning. It was 11 am. I should have known that the parenting anxiety would plague me. Follow me out of the door.

“hey! don’t forget me!”

That’s all you need on a Saturday morning, isn’t it? A coffee a pastry and a hearty serving of angst, please.

The café door swung open and in bounced that teenager. If you’ve ever read a New Zealand sports magazine, I think he’s that model kid that advertises rugby boots or some coconut water sports drink.

Me, with my paper cup in one hand a croissant with jam in the other. Him, with his muddy knees and sweat lathered hair, looking the picture of teenage boy healthiness, bellowing to his mum (who had her running shorts on and was ordering a ‘trim’ and looked more like she should be his girlfriend) for food.

He was hungry. He was sporty. He’d been on the pitch since 4 am. He’d been with the team. He’d been with the ‘guys’

Bang. My, parenting barometer goes flying right down.

I knew there was something I had to worry about this weekend and here it is.

“why don’t our kids do sport?” I whisper to my husband.

Annoyingly, he refuses to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations or talk about them behind his coffee cup like me. He doesn’t believe that if you speak about the person sitting behind you like this:

 

 

IMG_9496
see them behind me?

 

 

They can’t hear you! Foolish fool. Needs to stay in more like me. Get some practice.

“They do karate.”

Ah, shad up Mr positive. That’s what I thought in my head. But because I’m 46 and really very mature, I refrained from verbalizing those thoughts.

Yes. I know both our kids are black belts in karate, but that’s on a Tuesday and Thursday night. That doesn’t count. It’s not on a Saturday morning, is it? There’s never anyone outside the village hall on a Thursday night when I drop off.

No.

It needs to be a Saturday morning to have any credibility in this world.

If your kids don’t play sport on a Saturday morning? Then you are… well. I don’t know. You’re weird and so is your dog.

Every bloody time.

“No school today?”

“Hi, person that I’ve never seen before in my life, No. They’re not at school today… we homeschool.”

Wait for it… Wait for it…

“Really? But…what about the. Dun Dun Duunnnn… SPORT!”

 

 

IMG_9173
Oh my god! That completely slipped my mind!

 

Yes. You’re right. Let’s not worry about whether or not I can teach my children algebra (actually, umm, no). Or if I can give a plausible explanation as to why the moon is round (is it something to do with it whizzing through the air so fast?) or even, did Shakespeare write Hamlet? (I don’t know. Let’s watch Shakespeare in love, and we’ll see). No. None of that, only,

“what about the sport?”

It’s getting worse. The anxiety. Rather than ignoring this beast of a teenager, and closing my ears to how he and his mates “nailed it”, I’m thinking back to what my own two beauties are doing.

Oh god. On this beautiful Saturday morning, when it seems every other teenager worth their weight is out on some pitch doing something that involves a ball, my two?

They’re playing bloody Minecraft.

When I ran out of that door at 10 am this morning screaming the list of jobs I wanted to be done by the time I returned, one was still in her pyjamas stinking and the other? Well. I don’t know about the other because I only saw the back of his head. His face lit up by the artificial sunshine of brick man land.

Deflated and feeling familiarly inadequate, I suggested to Brian that we return home and,

“I don’t know… Maybe you could take them on a bike ride or something”.

He reminded  me that he has (cough),

“a few things I want to do around the house”.

Yeah, I bet you do.

Back from the café. And they hadn’t moved. Still sat there. Staring. Glued to it. (in all fairness the dishes had been done, but I think they’d used the dog blanket to dry the wine glasses.)

Mummy’s home! Yay! All kind and tolerant and relaxed from her time alone with Daddy. Hurray!

“Turn that bloody thing off. NOW’

“I’m winning… just give me five more minutes.”

Only it wasn’t said like that. More like this.

“ H an n g  on… I’ m…………w…i…n n…in…g” fingers going ten to the dozen.

I should have been a nice parent. Like in the books. You’re supposed to listen to what they say and take their opinions into consideration. After all, they’re humans too.

I contemplated this for about minus zero seconds. Reached over the hump of fleecy pyjama top and the cereal bowl. And clicked the little X.

Horror.

Good job Liz. So mature. You really thought that one through.

All shouts and flinging arms and dramatics,

“I’m banning the computer” I scream “ go and get a life”.

I’m on to a winner here. I can feel it. There’s no stopping me now.

There’s the teenage scowl that would melt ice, followed by the sigh that would freeze it up again.

Me. Busy, busy, busy. Got to wash those wine glasses again in time for tonight. Far too busy polishing the hob to get into a fight. Eyes down, wiping the same spot for the past two minutes, middle-aged huff, huff, huff.

Like a gnawing little rat I proceed;

“if you put as much time into your piano as you do that bloody game you’d be Mozart by now.”

That’s an intelligent observation, Liz, seeing as Mozart is dead.

Teen flounces out.

It’s pouring down, Brian has decided that today would be the perfect day to put a pull-up bar in the garage (probably so he can escape out of the loft) and I’m left here. That’s the downside to living in the country. Beautiful yes, but no transport. 15 minutes drive from town. I hate board games as you may have heard, so there’s no way that’s happening.

Two big, lanky, bored teenagers, circling me in the kitchen like  hyenas.

“What’s there to do if we can’t play on the computer?”

I kid you not. Those were the exact words.

“Ermmm. Shit, shit, shit, think, think, think. Why don’t you read a book?”

The raised eyebrow.

 

 

IMG_1117
seriously???

 

 

I ask myself am I being unrealistic. Are there any teenagers, anywhere, who get up  on a wet Saturday morning and think, ‘I know. Sod Facebook and my memes. I think I’ll read a book.”

Are there?

Don’t lie. You’re just saying that to make me feel better.

I know the answer is yes.

I just know it. I can see it in my head.

In my mind movie.

It’s fantastic actually. If ever I get bored, I’ve got this film that runs 24/7 in my mind. No joke. It stars a fabricated family that looks a little like mine. There’s always a perfect husband. Cool and chilled.

A  calm and beautiful wife, calm. Not frantic. Calm.

And these two wonderfully intelligent, funny, adorable teenagers. These teenagers do things like stand in the kitchen with their mother. Talking. Sharing funny tales of stuff that have happened throughout the day. They make smoothies with lots of green stuff in them, and they’re chatting, chatting, chatting. Laughing, Laughing, Laughing.

Drinking their green smoothies. Together. Liking their mum.

And do you know what? I can never see a phone with a picture of a girl with doggy ears, ANYWHERE!! Nope. No computer, no YouTube, nothing. Only books. Glorious books.

And the mother? She’s smiling away and nodding in agreement with the child. She never EVER says;

“is anyone going to empty these bloody bins or shall I just do it again?’.

No. She never says that. She never rubs between her eyebrows with her fingers, trying to erase those two lines that are being etched deeper and deeper into her face. No. She just opens the door to the bin cupboard, takes the milk carton from the non-recycle bin, that hasn’t been washed out properly and stinks of cheese, and calmly places it into its proper place. All the while, keeping eye contact with the smoothy drinking book worm youth standing next to her. Oh, and I think he’s got a rugby shirt on too.

I want to be in that film

I could watch it all day. It’s rated a U. There’s never any bad language or violence. And the rude bits? They all take place in candlelight, and there’s this ever-present wispy fog surrounding the husband and wife. Oh and look! She’s laughing again. Never yawning and saying,

“where’s my Nurofen my stomach’s friggin killing me”

No. never that. Just smiling. Wanting to join her fun-loving husband. In all things fun.

*******

I wonder what rugby boy is doing now? Probably practising some fancy rugby throws with his dad. Getting Ready for next Saturday’s game. Out with ‘the guys’. Making his parents feel as though they’ve done a bloody good job.

I’m desperate. I don’t know what to suggest to them. They’re both just hanging around. Sighing.

I know. I’ll do what I always do when I feel like I can’t cope. Go to my office and have a little cry.

 

img_9214
Come on in liz. You know you want to.

 

 

I think back to my own childhood. To my brother. To my sister. We weren’t homeschooled. We went to school. But we never played any sports on a Saturday. In fact, we were lazy little sods who given half the chance, would stay in and watch Swap Shop.

Sometimes, if my mum and dad went out to the shops, we’d have a farting contest on the landing upstairs, but that was about as sporty as it got. No netball or hockey for Lizzie.

Come to think of it, the only sport me and my friends actively participated in on a Saturday was ‘knock a door run’. Either that or phoning the operator from the phone box and asking her if we could speak to E.T.

No computers back in my childhood.

I love this toilet. And it loves me. It has a way of showing me that everything is going to be alright. I swear, if it was big enough, I’d put a day bed in here and never come out.

Tap tap tap. You’re nearly through Brian. I imagine I’ll come home tomorrow to find him camped on the roof by the chimney. Like that nutter grandad in chitty chitty bang bang.

My time in the office has both calmed and educated me. While here, I’ve been informed, by courtesy of mindfood magazine, that gaming is actually beneficial for the youth of today. It teaches them code.

There. Thank you very much, gifted journalist, who wrote that. That’s all I needed to hear. You’ve saved my Saturday. And my kids would lick your shoes if they could find you on Facebook.

So what if my kids never play team sports. So what? Neither did I and I’m alright. Ok, ignore the fact that I find solace in a two metre by three-metre room with a toilet in it, but that aside, I’m pretty normal.

I admire from afar those parents who drive their kids to all of these sports at the weekend and stand and watch on the freezing cold sidelines, I really do. But face it, Liz. It ain’t you. And that’s ok.

My positive thinking brings me out of the office a new woman (I think I, may have schizophrenic tendencies but we won’t go  into that today ’cause I’m in a good mood now).

I tell them they can put the screens on.

Knock themselves out on musically. Put dog ears on their photos and send them to the world. Get on snap chat and send streaks. Smiley face, heart eyes, unicorn. Rainbow.

Kill square block man with your hammer that won’t move sideways. Learn some more code.

And when they get bored of that? They can go and play ‘knock a door run’.

There are approximately  100 metres between each house on our road. That’d keep them fit. Keep my lovelies occupied.

I could get them to wear that old rugby shirt that my mum got me from the charity shop. Someone might drive past and notice, and then I would no longer feel inadequate. Perfect. Sorted. I’m happy.

 

 

IMG_9493
Who needs rugby?

 

 

 

 

 

Mummuddlingthrough
diaryofanimperfectmum