Thursday, 18 September 2014

The One Where We Start School

We've started school.

And yes I do mean we!

We've all started school.

Well that's how it feels, and run with me on this because it's not as selfish as it first appears, this is a massive change for me.

Well of course it's a massive change for the boy. It's huge. It's the biggest step he's had to take in his life so far. All children who started school over the last week or so are the same, and this is my point, that is well documented.

Starting school has been discussed, analysed and mulled over since kids first went into education. There are articles, blog posts, forums and books on the subject. You can disappear up your own bum reading them all - believe me over the summer I nearly did.

But what about us parents hey? 

I swear the last time a mum gets mentioned in dispatches is just after she's given birth, when all the texts, Facebook posts and e-mails declare, "Mother and baby doing well."  
After that we're out the picture mate. No one gives a stuff.

Over the last fortnight I have heard stories from friends struggling to cope with drop offs and pick ups as school and nursery times don't coincide. Or a younger sibling having a meltdown because they're stuck in a car seat or buggy due to multiple journeys. Tired 4 year olds falling asleep in the car after school on the way to collect their brother or sister from nursery, then not going to bed at a reasonable time. The pressure on mums to take on more work hours now term has started and trying to juggle that with school runs. Tears and tantrums everywhere. 

And that's just the mums and dads! 

So this starting school malarkey is tough on us parents too. 

I'm not that hard faced though, I had a cry in the car on the way home from dropping the boy off at school on his first day. In fact I've pretty much had a tear everyday since and he's been going 2 weeks today. It's just the boy starting school has had a bigger impact on my life than I realised it would. 

The whole pattern of my week is different and the whole rhythm of my day has changed.

We no longer see Vintage Songstress and her boy on a Tuesday, we can no longer just pop over to see Lemon Cake Lady and associated Lemon Cake family on a whim for a mid morning cuppa. Gone are trips to the park and the beach. Our Wednesday pyjama mornings together are no longer. 

Yes I know we have weekends, half terms and holidays but somehow, right now, it's just not the same.

Damn it all I even miss CBeebies!

But above everything, I miss my boy. 

He has to grow up, to go to school, to develop and learn and find his feet in the world. It's all inevitable and I can do nothing to stop it, nor do I want to but.... well.... I just miss him that's all. 

I miss our snack at 10 and a walk up the park, posting a letter, jumping in the car for a trolley adventure at the supermarket, a trip over to Nanny P's to play in the garden and an ice cream at the seaside after a walk along the beach.

I miss the freedom we had to do as we pleased. Not being tied to someone else's timetable. 

I miss our time together. 

However I find it's not something many parents will admit to. That they miss their little one and they feel lost, overwhelmed and disorientated by the new routine. Maybe the Facebook generation, posting pictures of their little darlings resplendent in their freshly pressed school uniforms on their first day (and I did that too), are all too busy boasting about how better their child is than anyone else's to confess they don't want any of this to happen?  

You've seen the kind of statuses I mean,

'Doesn't Tarquin look lovely in his Royal Blue uniform. It's pure silk and hand woven by nuns. Here you see him on his first day clutching his school book (War and Peace - in the original Russian of course) and his lute - he's already on Grade 5'

My status would read,

"Here you see the boy who's clutching my hand... because I don't want to let it go'

But we move on and the boy is doing fine. He surprises me everyday and we've had no tears, no 'I don't want to go to school' or any major problems so this is all I could wish for.

In fact on his first day, when I picked him up in the afternoon the teaching assistant said he'd been entertaining them by re-enacting scenes from 'Wallace and Gromit and The Curse of the WereRabbit'!

"He's had us in stitches today' she said 'He's quite the actor your boy'. 

Looks like they've got the measure of him right from the start. 

I wish I could have seen it......

Roll on October half term hey...... 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The One With The Impressions

The boy has a knack with voices. 

He switches off when he hears mine but otherwise he seems to be developing a talent for 
accents and impressions.

The performer in me is very proud of the speed at which he can just take someone off. The sensible side of me worries that one day I'm going to get thumped when he does it in public to the wrong person.

The boy does a scarily accurate impression of Nanny P and on Monday, on his first ever bus ride, (yes I know he's 4 and a half, that's one of the reasons I wanted him to go on one before he starts school, it's a '50 things to do before you're 5' type of thing), he started doing an impression of me.

We discovered this talent for mimicry on holiday, when we spent a day at Drayton Manor theme park to visit the boys spiritual home, Thomas Land. 

For a start I thought he was going to spontaneously combust with excitement as soon as we walked through the gates. Also hubby and I had discussed getting a second mortgage just to get round the gift shop, but in the end we got away with one train (bought with his holiday spending money), a window sticker and a small book and the boy had probably the best day of his life so far.

However, when we were waiting to get back onto the little Thomas train that linked one part of the park to another (and boy did we go up and down on that train a lot that day), a man with a thick Scottish brogue called his little boy to come closer to him. It wasn't the full Glaswegian but it was pretty strong as accents go.

"Frasier, Frasier" called the guy.

Like a parrot, the boy immediately copied him and called the name out twice himself. 

I don't think the chap heard, or if he did he was too polite to say anything, but I was filled with a mixture of admiration at the speed and accuracy of the impression and down right fear someone was going to get punched.

Then it happened again late one afternoon in our local Co-Op. I'd taken the boy to buy sweets to decorate the cakes we'd baked for his last day at nursery. As we were choosing we heard a lady, obscured from our view and from two aisles across, say in a reasonably deep Suffolk accent,

"Do we need any bread?"

The boy mimicked the way she said bread instantly. 

'Bread? Bread?" and then finished it off with the surreal, 'Pirates eat bread."

"Yes that's right they do dear- Pirates eat bread." I added to make it sound like I was having a perfectly normally conversation with my four year old and he most definitely wasn't taking the piss out of this woman we couldn't see! 

But just to be on the safe side we ducked round the back of the shop and looked at the tinned goods until I was quite sure she was gone.

So today the boy starts school and with his talent for voices and impressions I'm hoping he'll be a popular lad with his classmates in the playground.

I just hope he doesn't take off the teachers.... well not on his first day anyway. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The One With The Theories

I saw my friend Titfer Tat yesterday. She's been a teaching assistant for a year or so now, so I asked her about the boys lack of skills with holding a pen. I put forward the theory that he hasn't yet decided if he's left of right handed. TT said lots of children his age still hadn't decided that, and not to worry, but the thing to do was to offer him a rolled up piece of paper. Whichever hand he took it with would be his dominant side.

When she and her girls left I tried the theory out.

The boy took the paper with both hands. 

That's my boy! 

This complete disregard of, supposedly tried and tested, theories relating to raising children reminded me of another time when the boys natural, 'I'll bugger that up', gene came to the fore.

Lemon Cake Lady had started counting down from 5 to get Lemon Cake Boy to do as he was told. She had read the theory that if you counted to 10 a defiant child would carry on counting, but if you counted down from 5 to zero, to give the child chance to comply with your wishes, then they have nowhere to go. If you reach zero and they still haven't done as they were asked, then you discipline them with the naughty step, taking a toy away or whatever your particular method is. The theory is that eventually they will do as they are being told before you get to that point. 

Whoever came up with this hadn't figured on the boy!

I tried it out when the boy was playing me up about something.

5...... nothing

4..... come on darling

3.....  still nothing

2..... I'm waiting

1..... still not doing as he was told

0...... that's it! 

Did he suddenly comply for fear of losing out on TV time or similar?

No of course he didn't.

He stood in front of me, raised his arms in the air and shouted,

"Blast off!"

Then he took off like a rocket around the room.

You try not laughing.........

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The One with The Transition Meeting

A week or so ago the boy had the second of his trial mornings at his new school, this time with a packed lunch (the week before it was a proper school dinner - and by proper I mean pizza, chips and spaghetti hoops - an eclectic mix).  He loved it and has talked of little else but, 'When can I go to my new school?' and 'When can I go back and see my new teacher?' 

He's slightly in love with his new teacher Mrs R. In fact we are now using her as a disciplining tool, 'Mrs R will be disappointed if you do that' and so on.  It's working, but I don't want to play that card too much, especially before he has even officially got there.
When I picked him up he wanted to say goodbye to Mrs R, which involved actually throwing his arms around her and giving her a massive smacker on the lips. She was slightly taken aback but genuinely touched, although I did say it was probably best not to do that everyday at home time.
That same week we had our second speech and language appointment. The last time we went in April the boy 'baffled' the SLT with his inconsistency. 
Well have you ever met a consistent 4-year-old boy? 
By their very nature 4 year old boys are unpredictable and as good as gold one minute then a ball of incoherent, incomprehensible rage about the slightest thing the next.  Add to this what Lemon Cake Lady has so rightly defined as the 'buggering about gene' from my side of the family, and you can have all the health care experience and qualifications in the world, but nothing can prepare you for the boy.

This time it became apparent that he quite frankly could not be arsed. To be fair if you were taken into a strange room, with a strange woman, then shown a load of pictures and had questions fired at you about them, would you be arsed and inconsistent? 

I think you might.

He wriggled, he squirmed, he changed the subject. He complained he was too hot, he was tired, he was bored, in fact he did everything he could to get out of answering the questions about the pictures in front of him. 

A distraction technique quite obviously, but why? 

Because he didn't know the answers? Because he didn't understand the questions? Or because he couldn't be arsed and he's a 4 year old boy with a wicked sense of humour and a very defiant, stubborn streak when it comes to authority figures?

Hmmmmm... time will tell....

To top the week off  we had a transition meeting at the new school with Mrs R, the schools SENCO, his key worker from preschool and their SENCO. The heath care worker was supposed to come too but she cried off sick, which to be fair I wasn't all that bothered about as she hasn't seen him since March!

A lot has changed with the boy since March!

I told them what had happened at the SLT appointment and how the boy wasn't interested in flat, 2 dimensional pictures, but had come alive with chat when a toy farm came out. We talked about his transition from pre-school to primary school and the support he'll need. Mrs R is lovely and has the air of a lady who isn't phased by any of this and has seen it all before.

'He'll be fine' she said and I'm inclined to believe her. He has some one to one support to start with and we'll assess how it's going as the reception year goes on.

Tonight I have my last parents evening at preschool before the boy leaves in 3 weeks time. I've always felt a bit odd about parents evenings for children so young. It's like the 'Graduation Ceremonies' they have, all a bit made up! 

So maybe that's how I feel about this whole 'your son is a bit different and doesn't tick all our boxes' scenario?  While the situation itself is real, the boxes the various professionals have to tick are 'all a bit made up'. 

As parents we are constantly being told not to compare our children with their peers and that kids all develop at different rates, but when you get a child who genuinely does do that, the charts, reports and check lists come out in full force.

I can't tell you how many tears I've shed over this whole thing since last October and I'm sure they'll be some more to come, but I feel heartened by his progress everyday and by the positive attitude of Mrs R. He's finally starting to ask 'Why?" questions and be a bit interested in letters. OK, so he can't read or write his name, because he can't hold a pen properly, but that's because he never sits still to take the time to do it. We're working on it with paint and sticks in sand and developing his gross motor skills so they can work down to those fine ones (thank you to my dear friend and teaching assistant Titfer Tat for explaining all that to me).

I'm sure he's not the only child who'll start school in September as a 'clean slate', unable to read or write at present. In some ways that's a good thing. I frankly can't get the hang of phonics yet and I'm worried I'll give him the wrong sounds anyway so much better to let Mrs R do what Mrs R does best.

I just hope that when the boy does eventually learn to read and write he doesn't go and snog her face off ... because I just might.....

Friday, 18 July 2014

The One with The Outside and The Summer

It's bloomin' hot!

Me and hot weather don't get on. And before you all start I know I shouldn't complain because it's lovely to see the sun... blah..blah..blah.. and we don't get enough of it... etc... etc... and we need to make the most of it... but the truth is... I don't like it.

There I've said it. I feel cleansed.

I don't like the summer. It's my least favourite season.

I get uncomfortable when it's too hot. My ankles, feet and fingers swell, I get prickly heat, I get bitten to buggery by midges and gnats and god knows what else. Too much sun (and by too much I mean about ten minutes) gives me headaches and upset stomach. And that's in dear old blighty. You can imagine the state I'd be in if I went abroad and ate dodgy salad washed in local water after a day on the beach. There'd be nothing left of me.... actually that's not a bad weight loss idea... I might look into that.

And another thing I want to get off my ample but horribly sweaty chest is... 

I don't like eating outside. 

Everyone's so bloody fascinated with it. "Oh lets eat outside shall we? It's such a glorious day. It's a shame to waste it." 

No lets not. I don't want to wash outside, get dressed outside, watch TV outside, do all my other normal mundane things I do everyday outside, so why the hell would I want to suddenly eat outside? It makes me feel slightly sick to be honest, like dirt and germs and bugs are getting all over my food. It's like too much outside seems to get everywhere. I've never had a picnic on either park or beach where I haven't ended up with a mouthful of grass or sand. 

I'll cope with a BBQ as long as I can take the food indoors and eat it at a table, rather than try and stand up and make conversation, whilst ramming a burger in my mouth with one hand and balance a glass of wine with the other. 

Can you guess I'm not an 'outdoors' type of girl? Early on in our relationship hubby once asked if I'd like to go camping. I gave him a withering look of 'WTF' and we've never spoken of it again. 

So me and the height of summer don't get on.

Don't get me wrong I like to see the sun. It's cheerful and makes the sea sparkle and to quote Coldplay 'it's all yellow' and stuff (well they just said yellow but you get my meaning) but the heat quite frankly does me in.

Compounding all my other summer woes, I've got sodding hay-fever! I never get hay-fever. Lemon Cake Lady thinks it's because we've moved to the 'burbs' and now I'm not in the centre of town and am surrounded by grass and that (we're well technical us two - we should have a science show) I'm reacting to the pollen. I think she has a point. I've certainly been wandering in and out of the garden much more now I have patio doors. Whereas at the old place I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I ever went up to our garden because, as we lived in a row of terrace houses, it was just so exposed and not private at all.

Talking of exposed this brings me to summer clothes. They quite clearly don't fit do they. Especially not when your whole body swells up and down like someone pumping up the Michelin man of an evening. There's nowhere to hide in summer clothes. There's just not enough of them to cover all the bits I want to cover. There's so 'skimpy'. Me and skimpy are not natural bed fellows. To be honest I look a bastard in skimpy. But then so do a lot of people to be brutally honest. 

Who hasn't driven along in the summertime and spotted, from the open windows of their cars, some terrible sights in shorts and crop tops and worst of all boob tubes? Who hasn't eagerly taken the piss out of people on the beach who really, really shouldn't be wearing speedos or a bikini? And who hasn't, when spying these poor deluded people who really shouldn't be wearing what they are almost wearing, muttered under their breath "The sights you see when you haven't got your gun?'

If you haven't then you're a better person than I am because I've done all that and worse. 

Only now I've gone and joined them as, with some trepidation, I bought a pair of shorts. Well it was so hot and I could no longer stand wearing jeans or leggings. They have been hiding in my drawer for a while, as I was too nervous to wear them. But then the heat got too much for me this week and as I raced out of the door with the boy, on our way to a day over at Lemon Cake Lady's, I stuffed them in my bag.

I got changed when I was there and discarded my jeans in the safety of her house, to wear my new soft, jersey and oh so comfy shorts in the privacy of her back garden.

What a revelation! I felt more free, more able to deal with the weather and above all loads cooler.

This is obviously where I've been going wrong with summer. I should just join the masses of ill advised people who get it all out in the hot weather and don't give a monkeys bum what anyone thinks of them.

So that's what I've done. I wearing my shorts now while I'm typing this and I don't care! 

Of course I'm in my house with the windows open and the blinds shut so no one can see me but at least I'm making an effort. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

The One Up The Rec

On Wednesday me and the boy had a day at home together, which involved nothing more strenuous than a bit of light play-doh work, some CBeebies, making a picture for daddy with glitter glue and pom-poms and endless re-enactments of Thomas the Tank Engine stories.

We did take a break from all this activity to nip up the Co-Op, where we cashed in a completed card of 'Goodness Gang and Friends' stickers and £2 of my hard earned cash in exchange for Felicity Fig - seen below in all her purple glory - yes I thought she was a red onion too but I have been told she's a fig. 

After the shop we went to the local park. Well it's more of a recreation ground really but it's got swings and slides, a goalpost, a basketball net and loads of green space to just run around on. It's really close to the new house too, which is a bonus. When we arrived at about quarter past four I was surprised to see we had the place to ourselves! 

The rec backs onto a golf course, separated by a large wire fence and trees. Where the rec and the golf course join the ground slopes away into quite a grassy dip. As I was soon to discover you can sit, or lay in that dip and not be seen from the main body of the rec because the dip obscures you, and you can't be seen from the golf course because the trees shield you.

It's a perfect place to hide!

The boy was running around with full abandon, Felicity Fig by his side, when he ran down to the end of the rec towards the aforementioned dip.

That's when I spotted them. They were probably 13 or 14 years old, 15 at a push. Both in the colours of the local secondary school uniform and both, shall we sat, slightly flushed in the face.

To use an old fashioned expression they were 'getting off' with each other. 

"What are they doing?" asked the boy innocently 

"Come over here darling" I said as I motioned for the boy to follow me back to the swings. 

The young lad looked up and made awkward eye contact with me but the young girl was in another world, laying on the grass, one arm above her head, in an almost 'Mills and Boon' pose, that look of utter delirious joy on her face at having experienced a damn good kiss. 

I must point out that no clothing had been removed, not even upstairs outsides; and from the small time I observed them they seemed to be just having a bloody good teenage snog. 

And why not hey?

I left them to it.

We didn't leave the rec straight away though. The boy had come to play so play we did. A safe and discreet distance away from their youthful fumbling of course and up where we could no longer see them. 

Every now and again the lads head would pop up (stop sniggering at the back please) and check if were still there but we stayed as long as we wanted to thank you very much. It is a public space after all. I was happy to leave them to it but I wasn't going to be intimidated into not letting my little boy play in, what is after all, a children's playground area. 

When we got home I thought about it a bit more and wondered if I'd done the right thing to leave them to it? Should I have given them a 'Oi what are you doing?' to make them scarper? Or was I right to mind my own business? After all you never know what you're going to get with youngsters nowadays do you? I doubt they would've just sloped off with their tail between their legs (stop making your own jokes up). I probably would've been told to f-off! 

So I want to know, what would you have done? 

Because my other frankly quite startling thought was, in 10 years time or so that could be my boy.....

I'm beginning to think I should've chucked a bucket of water over them.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The One Where I've Been Away

It's been exactly 6 months since I last blogged.

Most remiss of me - I'm sorry. You probably all have forgotten who I am by now. 

In that time a lot has happened in the Randomhousehold. Some of it good, some not so great. All of it I will share with you in the fullness of time. 

So many times I've gone to write a blog and I just couldn't bear to talk about myself. My drafts folder is crammed with half started posts of various quality and subjects. None finished and many now I have no idea what they were going to be about in the first place. 

So in attempt to get my blogging mojo back I've given myself a new look and I'm having an official re-launch. 

That makes it sound very grand, like I'm having a big party in a fancy art gallery with celebrities or I'm smacking myself over the head with a bottle of champagne and shouting 
'I declare this blog well and truly open. God bless Random Woman and all who sail in her'.

But in truth I've just jigged about with the colours and fonts and added a privacy policy, which I am now required by law, or something scary like that, to do and held my glass of wine up to the screen and said 'Cheers all the best' to myself. 

So here's a quick appraisal of what has happened in the last 6 months.

1) We've moved house. It's loads bigger and has two loos and a drive and patio doors and everything I've ever wanted. Yes I'm that easily pleased. I have an office now too, which is covered in boxes, a rolled up futon where Oscar kips, a pile of stuff we keep meaning to put on Gumtree or E-bay and endless CD's and books. Still it's my office (holds onto that thought as she trips over yet another box)

2) We have 'acquired' another cat. 

Bob had been hanging around the old house since the end of last summer but she finally moved in, in November when the fireworks were going off and we just couldn't leave her outside. We tracked down her owner and spoke to them just before we moved in March and they hadn't seen her since November. As she would no longer come in their house since they got a puppy, they said we could keep her. Her real name is Fluffy (she is so not a Fluffy) but hubby called her Bob because her ears make her look like an American Bobcat. Once we found out she was a girl, we carried on calling her Bob because Bob, quite clearly, is short for Kate!

3) The boy. Oh the boy.  Where do I start with the boy.......? We've had a lot of 'challenges', as Hippy Chick likes to call them, with the boy. He is as always wonderful, funny, full of mischief and imagination but since last October when I heard those fateful words from the SENCO at nursery "Can I have a word?" nothing's been quite the same. 

It's nothing massive. In fact we don't even know what it is. We have no answers yet. It's not physical. It's a learning thing. Or maybe a concentration thing. It could be a understanding thing. Or a communication thing. We've had his hearing tested and that's ok. He's 'baffled' (yes she used that word) the speech and language therapist. He's not great at forming relationships they say but he seems happy enough to me. He doesn't follow instructions and will only join in with group time or free flow play after a lot of encouragement. The thing is the games he devises for himself in his head are way more fun.  

The other theory is that the boy is just mucking about and doesn't like doing as he's told. 

He's a 4 year old boy, of course he likes mucking about and not doing as he's told!

He's not living in the real world they say. Well who they hell wants to live there if they can have any kind of choice about it?  

The trouble is the real world beckons. He starts primary school in September. 

He does need strong boundaries and structure, so maybe school will sort out the mucking about and not listening.

This coming week we have a primary school trial morning on Tuesday, a speech and language appointment on Wednesday and a transition meeting with the school, healthcare worker, SENCO and speech and language therapist on Friday.  

It's going to be a busy week.

So anyway that's us. I guess I just haven't felt like sharing all the boy stuff until now. It's nothing to be ashamed of and believe me I could never be ashamed of my boy it's just all so... surprising... I guess. To be told that your son isn't progressing as he should with his social and learning skills, well it was all a bit of a shock. 

He seems as bright as a button to us. Creative, a great sense of humour, a good musical ear, he loves books and rhyme and stories - but he learns by repetition so he soon knows them off by heart and doesn't actually need to read them to act the books out.

And if one more person says - "I wonder who he gets that from?" - like being able to act or to take after me is some kind of curse - I'll belt them one! 

So now I've finally shared it all and blogged again and I feel better for it. 

In my humble and biased Mummy opinion he's come on leaps and bounds in recent months. All children learn, develop and grow at different speeds and at different times, and every day he never fails to amaze me by creating incredible stories, or riffing lyrics while hubby plays guitar or making up hilarious, if not slightly surreal, jokes. 

So who knows he's probably a creative genus. A square peg the system wants to cram in a round hole.

But whatever it is... he's still my special, wonderful, amazing, funny boy and nothing anyone says can change that.