Thursday, 22 September 2016
If “motherese” is the term used to describe the way in which a mother speaks to her child , then “absolutely exhausted-ese” might be the term of choice to describe the complete lack of ability to string a sentence together accurately or even use the correct word or name in reference,
My mother told me that I never slept much as a baby and apparently himself wasn’t a great sleeper either, but never in wildest nightmares did I imagine that ALL seven of them would subject me to torturous sleep deprivation.
There are many reasons that I am grateful to be a woman. Make- up is one of them. It covers a multitude and disguises the rest. It cannot however, cover up my lack of precision when I try to make a simple request but just can’t get the words out. At this stage I’m waaaaaay past just the whole just calling the kids the wrong names, though I haven’t yet managed to overcome my irritation when they don’t know who I mean. My exhausted train of thought means that I regularly ask children to put new toilet rolls in the chest freezer, hair gel in the linen press and dog food in the playroom.
I have realised now that it has become a very significant issue. The thing that has alerted me to this fact is…that the kids have started to notice……and …..question if what I said is actually what I mean!
To appreciate the seriousness of the situation, you would also have to appreciate that my children’s minds are usually on much more important things, such as who could win a battle between Batman’s sidekick Robin and Spiderman or whatever the latest teenage crisis is such as “how much contouring is too much”. These days however, they no longer blindly follow instruction (after the fourth time of asking) but openly question and even laugh sometimes at the now recognised ridiculousness of my requests.
Yesterday was one such example when I heard the seven and ten year old laugh at my insistence that they go upstairs and put their pyjamas on immediately because we needed to leave shortly for Kung Fu. “Pyjamas” the ten year old questioned. “Yes” I reiterated, “now hurry up or we’ll be late and you’ll have to do press ups”. The seven year old laughed again and said “Don’t you mean Kung Fu uniform mam?” “I think we’d be made do press ups if we turned up in our pyjamas too” the ten year old added. “What? Of course I mean Kung Fu uniforms” I quickly mumbled.
I was overcome by shock. This was so out of character for my children. They had actually listened to me. They had actually heard what I had said – even if it was nonsense. They had used their initiative and recognised the appropriate attire necessary for the task in hand. Had they not proceeded then to argue and batter each other over a pair of shin guards, it would have been a perfect moment.
Inconsistency, however, still prevails and when I discovered the new tube of toothpaste in the little boys wardrobe later that evening, I began to appreciate that I need desperately to get more sleep and unlearn this language of exhausted-ese. Otherwise, the next thing I might find is the baby in the dog’s kennel.
Now, how to convince the twelve month old of the merits of sleep…….
Saturday, 17 September 2016
September's here and school is back,
The weeks are passing quickly,
Routines take hold, familiar scenes,
The kids start feeling sickly,
In staggered sequence, so it goes,
For maximum disruption,
And working parents everywhere,
Fear a volcanic-like eruption,
As they explain to bosses dear,
That leave is badly needed,
Cos Johnny, Sam and Sarah too,
By sickness are impeded,
From going back to school that day
And so they'll miss the letter
That tells you headlice is back again
Scratching won't make it better,
Activities of different kinds,
Will feature every day,
Football, piano, swimming too,
There's little time to play.
The homework's back, the pain is real,
A battle has resumed,
With projects mounting by the week,
The parents are consumed,
With a dread they never felt before,
When they were back at school,
But dreading won't dispel the task,
They need keep their cool,
And coax reluctant school kids on,
Remind them what's at stake,
'Cos homework's here to stay for now,
Until the mid term break!
Sunday, 11 September 2016
I had known since the week before, that last week was going to be a particularly busy one. What I didn’t wholly appreciate, was that it would also be a week in which I would be reminded once again about the things that are truly important. The things that are so often forgotten about in the daily chaos and mayhem that is life.
As anticipated, my Spiderman loving, Power Ranger costume wearing, Iron-man beaker bearing, three year old kicked up quite the stink when Monday morning came around and it was time to return to Montessori. Whole-hearted declarations of “I’m not going to school” were reiterated at two minute intervals and my Houdini-like escape artist unbuckled himself from his car seat six times before we finally managed to get out of the driveway. Prior to this, the usual morning madness had run it’s course as “tired and emotional” children ate breakfast at a snail’s pace and climbed the stairs to clean their teeth at an even slower one. Even the most falsified, cheeriest tones of encouragement and persuasion could not speed my reluctant troops up!
Once they had gone to school and I had finally managed to reverse out of the driveway with my superhero strapped into his car-seat, while his adoring baby brother watched on in amusement and hopefully without any intent of mimicking his behaviour in the future, we set off to montessori. As the declarations continued I decided there was only one fail-proof way to tackle the situation -bribery!
I knew that once my “not very shy” little dude gave montessori a chance he would be as happy as that proverbial pig. I also knew that my “not very shy” little dude is quite possibly the most stubborn child of my lot and so convincing him to give it a chance was not going to be easy. “Oh you are such a big boy now” I told him. “You’re going to have so much fun with your new friends.” Still, he gave me nothing. “In fact”, I added, “I’m so proud of you for starting at montessori that I think I’ll have to have a present for you when you come home”. Finally I had his full attention. As I continued with my explanation that it was only right he should get a present to celebrate starting at big school, my three year old super hero, unbuckled himself again and started to put his Spiderman bag on his back. “Let’s go mum” he said. And we were off.
Thankfully the rest of the week went pretty smoothly, montessori wise, and the €1.49 that I spent on a Spiderman bubble wand proved to be my soundest financial investment of the week (still no sign of my lotto numbers coming up!) As expected the “not so shy” little dude quite enjoyed the company of his peers and while he was always very happy to see me at collection time, he was content enough going to school each morning. A new week, of course will test this once again.
The other kids meanwhile, plodded along through the school week - literally plodded every step of the way, including through homework. By Tuesday night I thought I would lose what little of my sanity was left, after another afternoon of battling with my kids to just sit down and focus. In fairness, no one had an excessive amount of homework but no one had an excessive amount of focus either. And so it continued into Wednesday, and I wondered how we were going to manage next week when after-school activities came back onto the scene again.
Thursday was a different affair. Thursday morning, before daybreak, I set off for the airport to travel to England for a funeral. My aunt had a passed away after a long illness, still a young woman, and had left a devastated family behind.
Cousins and sisters all met at the airport and chatted ahead of our travels and it was a reunion of sorts when we reached England. As we have all grown older and my grandparents have passed on I have realised that I only see certain family members at occasions like this, or weddings. Life operates at a hundred miles an hour and everyone concedes there’s just not enough time, and yet in our hectic schedules we can all make enough time for an occasion like this.
The funeral was a heart-breaking affair as we remembered a wonderful woman, who had had such a difficult last few years. I watched my mother, her sisters and her brother broken by the loss of a little sister. I watched them support each other and experience a grief unique only to siblings who grew up together. A time before us, a time of shared lives.
The world keeps turning and life goes on. Thursday was a reminder of the importance of our own unique families, whatever the dynamic. We grow up together, we experience things together and we’re hopefully there for each other to offer support in difficult times. It was also a reminder that life is for living and not just existing, bulldozing through the mundane. There are things in life that have to be done, but there are things that can wait. Sometimes it’s important to reassess priorities.
As John Lennon said “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”....
Sunday, 4 September 2016
After two days in school, Sunday has resumed its old familiar feel and the wash basket is calling to me. Within its confines, a hundred different pieces of uniform are waiting to be laundered, some worn a bare five minutes, but the alternative to putting the “barely seen the light of day” jumpers into the wash basket, is folding and placing the “barely seen the light of day” jumpers into the respective drawers. For anyone with similarly reluctant clothes put away-ers to me, you’ll appreciate how it goes.
A weekend break after such a short school week is not conducive to coaxing child number six back to Montessori tomorrow. I have already been informed, in no uncertain terms, by my headstrong threenager, that he won’t be going to Montessori again. In spite of leaving on Friday, full of the joys of life and informing me that he had so much fun, he has decided now that its Sunday, that he hates it. Monday morning looks like it will be quite the battlefield.
Child number one, is quite keen to return to school tomorrow. Having missed her transition year camping trip due to a horrendous dose of tonsillitis, she is fearful of missing any more of her “year off”. She is also afraid that if she spends any more time at home recuperating, I might find some jobs for her to do – especially now that I’ve decided it’s time the older kids pulled their weight a bit!
Child number two has always been reluctant to go to school, so no change there come tomorrow morning, while child number three and four alike, are still in the honeymoon phase of the new school year. Child number five, my self-declared favourite, is thoroughly enjoying the fact that he is now in “seniors” and has plenty of willing participants for superhero games come yard time.
As part of my annual new school year resolutions that never make it past the second week of September, I am trying my best to “be at one” with Sunday. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest- actually I can’t even type that without laughing, so let me rephrase - a day of slightly less stress than a weekday. This week is due to be a particularly crazy one but I have decided not to be fazed by it. I can rant at the time. There is no point in starting early.
Approaching my crazy week in a zen-like fashion that is totally unrepresentative of who I am, I have decided that I will not be perturbed by homework. I will find a way to be at the school early each morning with my approximately twenty five children to sign up for afterschool activities which are allocated on a strictly first come first served basis. I will remain calm when Spiderman insists he wants to be the Incredible Hulk, no Ironman, no Batman, no Spiderman again, just as we’re about to leave the house to collect his big brother. I will not lose the plot when I am handed a note at 8:15 a.m on Wednesday for something that needs to be brought in that day, but was never mentioned to me before.
And so full of good intentions, positive vibes and inner peace, I will finish typing and load the washing machine – again - for the fifth time today. Today is Sunday. It is a day of slightly less stress.
Have a great week!