thought overload

Posts tagged ‘children’

The Chicken Jinx

You know how people make jokes about things and they come true?

This is how The Chicken came into our lives.

Our friends are always laughing (and not behind our backs either) at the zoo that is our home.

Each visit is accompanied by the eye-roll when they discover yet another foundling has moved in and the latest joke was that they can’t believe we don’t have chickens. I did a mental count of all the animals we have had and have. It goes a bit like this. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rats, mice, tropical fish, axolotls, hermit crabs, horses, a goat (oh that was fun, not), a snake, a turtle, a Sun Conya, an Alexandrine parrot, budgies, and other birds. Then there are the animals we have rescued – kangaroos, a possum, a wedge-tailed eagle, a water-dragon, shingle-back lizards, blue-tongues, lorikeets, a pigeon, joeys, kittens, puppies, a koala and a guinea pig. And now, a chicken.

Image

I only came upstairs to make a coffee, that’s all I did, I swear. Just a brief study break and a chance to grab some sun. Sitting on the verandah, sipping my coffee, minding my own business. Well, trying to.

Next thing, The Princess lets out an almighty squeal, “Mum, there’s a chicken on the road”. My eyes squinting from the sun, I can only lay eyes on a straggly ibis, poking around in the neighbour’s garden.

“That is an ibis, not a chicken”, I tell The Princess. Insert eye-roll here. In fact, insert massive eye-roll accompanied by a clicking sound signalling that I had indeed lost my marbles this very fine day. “No, Mum. Can’t you see over there – a chicken”.

Sure enough, in the far distance, a plump little Rhode Island Red was strutting around the nature strip like it owned the place. Now, to understand living with The Princess is to know that we have to watch every animal show, wildlife documentary, Dr Harry repeat and the like. I swear The Princess has an in-built animal detection radar.

Next thing I know, The Princess is running out the door and down the street and to my absolute inability to say no (I’m working on it), we have acquired a chicken. Back up the street comes The Princess yelling “Muuuuuuum, I’ve got a chicken”. Wonderful. Could we at least try and find the owners? After half an hour of door knocking, The Princess returns. I am hopeful but, no. The Princess returns with said chicken and a cage, seed and bedding. Seems the neighbours are NOT on my side.

After her recent visit to The Ekka, I was duly informed by the father of The Princess that she wanted to bring home a turkey, a lamb, a goat and some baby chickens. She must have been 3 hours in that animal nursery feeding everything. Thank goodness for the distraction of show bags.

Image

Image

Image

Looking on the bright side, we now have fresh eggs and I am making a pavlova today. Thank you Cluck.

The Princess no more?

The Princess is growing up.

Gone are the days of tutus accompanying bikini tops.

Gone are the dolls and dress ups.

Gone are the times when she would throw herself across my lap and promptly ask, ‘ Can you tickle me, Mum?’, with hand outstretched.

Gone are the headbands.

No ‘frou frou’ for this girl. It’s no frills all the way now accompanied with cries of, ‘I’m too old for that now, Mum’.

Last night, however, a small glimpse of the little girl reappeared. My little pig-tail wearing, bunny slippered girl in the pink satin pajamas poked her head out for, what I believe will be, the last time.

The Princess had decided to give up her rather large room for  her sister and new niece, to accommodate everything needed for a three-month old baby ( did I really have that much stuff?). With the room exchange finally complete, and with several wrong turns followed by ‘Oh my God! That’s not my room anymore!’, night came and, there was a sudden realisation that set in. I watched The Princess avoid the ‘new room’ at all costs. Fussing and fiddling with her bed time routine led to mock-sleeping on the couch.

Finally, a whisper in my ear, ‘Mum, will you sleep with me tonight? I don’t like my curtains’.

I got my little girl back, even if just for one more night.

The story of the Chicken Tooth

One day, FOTH (father of the house) decided he would play a joke on The Princess. I had chopped chicken for dinner and came across this bit of goodness-knows-what. Before I could discard it, FOTH picked it up and called for The Princess,

“Look what Mum found in the chicken. A chicken tooth.”

The Princess: No way Dad, you’re joking.

FOTH: No, seriously, it is. They are very rare you know.

The Princess: I don’t believe you.

FOTH: Go and ask Jim. He’ll tell you.

Jim is one of our neighbours and has a wicked sense of humour. He is forever telling the children jokes, engaging them with his magic tricks and giving them lateral thinking exercises. His magic, disappearing, elbow, coin trick is the best I have seen.

Off trots The Princess at 6pm, pyjama-clad and carefully holding, in the palm of her hand… the Chicken Tooth. Jim, of course, has no warning of what is unfolding but the FOTH has unquestionable confidence in Jim’s ability to keep the story going.

Meanwhile, I turn to my husband and give him the ‘evil chicken’ stare. I know this is not going to end well.

The Princess returns, flustered from running excitedly across the street. I feel terrible but say nothing under strict instructions from FOTH.

FOTH: So, what did Jim say?

The Princess: (breathless) OMG, he said that it’s really rare and might be worth some money.

FOTH:  Really? Hmmm. Wow.

The Princess: Oh, and he wants to know where you got the chicken because he wants to go there. Chicken Teeth are rare you know Dad.

FOTH: I told you.

The Princess: Where DID you get that chicken from?

FOTH  tells The Princess about the organic chicken sold at the butcher near the local supermarket and off she trots again across the road. This time she returns even more animated. It turns out that Jim’s wife has chimed in, asking if Jim can take her to the butcher right this minute. The Princess is sure she’s got something special now. I can’t bear it any more. I know I have to say something. I go to speak then,

“I’m going to sell this on Ebay, Mum can you take a photo for me?” and there she is, sitting at the computer trying to find out if there is anything else like what she has. Oh for the love of….

Me: Princess, Dad is joking. It’s not a chicken tooth. It’s just a gristly bit in the meat honey. Look, here are some more.

The Princess: Awwwwwwwww.  You’re bums. You’re all bums.

At least she said that with a smile.

The Chicken Tooth that was almost listed on Ebay

Rainy days reconsidered

I have always dreaded rainy days. They make me miserable and I feel trapped. The January floods of 2011 even gave me  a reason to fear them.

Today, rainy days have been given a facelift via my children who are complete and utter nutters and my family as a whole, who are extremely supportive. I’m so very grateful and proud.

I set up my laptop this afternoon in the family area, among all the chaos and noise, to get a bird’s-eye view of the hilarity that was unfolding. My line of sight directed to the upstairs hallway and storage cupboard . The dress-ups are located in there. Rather than pull the box out, The Princess stepped inside and all I could see was a hand extending from the open door to Master 6, who was attempting to don all manner of clothing items. Considering the day’s entertainment began with Master 6 in nothing but boxer shorts, a pink maiden’s headdress and a fake beard, I knew it was going to be a cracker of a day. I watched him as he looked down at me giggling uncontrollably, looking like a fractured fairytale version of one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs. He attempted to drag the rest of the princess costume over his head, losing the beard and the headdress. It was like watching a butterfly emerging from a cocoon on video, except with someone continually pressing reverse, fast forward and pause. There was dancing and singing  including a final fashion parade. The Princess wearing a left over witches costume from Halloween and Master 6 as The Princess, complete with ‘fake boobs’ he described as really ‘soft and squishy’. No gender stereotyping here thank you very much. The Princess then chased Master 6 through the house demanding that he give her back her boobs (socks). I am so very glad that no neighbours decided to visit at that time, although I did notice there was a bag of cookies left by the front door from the elderly next-door neighbour who did not knock. Oh dear, I figure, he’s lived next door to us for this long that nothing should surprise him.

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingre...

(Image via Wikipedia) A bit like these...only...gone.

The ‘bag’ of cookies turned out to be several bags of home-made cookies; peanut butter, chocolate chip, jam drops, almond/coffee and Anzacs. I would have taken a photo of this lot sitting on the couch eating from their individual bags but the cookies didn’t last long enough. The memory is also sweeter in my mind. I looked at Master 6 incredulously who had almost devoured his bag while in full Princess regalia and he said, ‘What’s so funny?’ Indeed.

Bieber managed to appear at the most opportune time – he smelled food. The Princess and her father made Potato Scallops for lunch as I read out a recipe I found online, switching back and forth between it and study. They were really good and much appreciated on this dismal day. I even got ice cream in a waffle cone. I don’t know, some days the food just appears at my desk.Bieber made me a coffee before he disappeared back upstairs to his land of ’12 year old boy’.

Master 6, finally de-Princessed, decided he would sit on top of me and not next to me. I love a 6 years old’s lack of spatial awareness which is still developing and will one day make sure he doesn’t sit ANYWHERE near me. The boy looked rather Dr Octagonapusish attached to wires and metal which I realised was actually earphones and Bieber’s mobile phone. This, and the fact he was riveted to a show on TV meant he sat on me. The phone? Probably a bribe from Bieber to get peace and quiet.

Red has been away visiting his girlfriend all weekend up in North Queensland. On his arrival he did text me. Did I really not text back ALL weekend? Yep. Terrible mother. This is the text I received from his this evening:

Umm well seeing you don’t even miss me I have decided to join the monastery up here…You and the rest of the family will always be in my mind. But I seek enlightenment now…’

The Princess intercepted this text and came downstairs to tell me that Red was not coming back, he’d joined a monastery. Huh? This is my text back to Red:

‘I thought that I would practise being a NAM (new age mother) where my progeny are free to spread their wings without my constant over-shadowing. That, and the fact that my iPhone is not my own (read: The Princess monopolises it). I got your message that you are safe and that’s all that matters to me. The knowledge of where you are is enough to satisfy even my most outrageous parenting concerns. The Princess filtered your text before I read it thus: Red isn’t coming home, he’s joined the monastery. Good luck with that. Your lovely mother xxx

This is the text I got back (from the girlfriend):

‘I love you mummy xxx Also, I kept your son safe from the scaries 🙂

Not from the scaries here though. I love these.

The Queensland summer provides plenty of these shots

You’re not making me go to Summer School

No clever title.

No clever pun.

The Princess has spoken and I almost missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

One of my units this semester is Multiliteracies (Birth -5 years). Studying this subject has caused me to reflect on my past teaching and my current parenting philosophy and what Ruth Shagoury (2009, p. 59) refers to as ‘teachable moments’.

The idea behind it and the plan

The Princess was booked in for summer school at the end of last school term. Nothing major, The Princess has a little trouble understanding some maths rules and needs more time to explore them.  Mainstream schooling doesn’t always allow for this.  We had decided together to take the online option that was offered.  Now that I am studying and considering what happened last year (January floods) and the heat that is our Queensland summer gift, we thought it would be the way to go.

What actually happened

At 9.30 am last Monday, I get a phone call from the Principal of Summer School. Yes. I forgot. Actually, I forgot the date and was wondering why our online package hadn’t arrived. Oh, I’m sorry but online isn’t an option. Huh? We decided to start The Princess the very next day and she could catch up on what she missed easily. Excuse me? Oh, and you won’t need to bring anything, morning tea and drinks are provided for the small break of 15 minutes mid-morning. Sorted. Oh dear.

The next few hours resulted in The Princess stomping through the house. Tears and tantrums turned to dishes noisily being unstacked from the dishwasher. The vacuum cleaner roaring away upstairs. Articles of clothing being tossed across my line of vision somewhere in the vicinity of the downstairs laundry. Back and forth she went. Cleaning spray and a cloth in hand busily scrubbing every surface within an inch of its life. Chairs scraped on the floor. All accompanied by hrrumphs and sighs.

Princess, you don’t have to clean the house. You do have to go to summer school. I don’t want to go to summer school, I hate it. You’ve never been. I want to do it online. You can’t do it online, they’re not doing it. But my friend is doing it online. Why should I have to go to summer school, it’s the school holidays. On and on it went.

Two hours passed. Can I go to K’s house? Sure, be back in two hours. Have fun. Off The Princess trotted to her friend’s house across the road.

The Princess roars through the door at 4pm, excitedly asking if she can stay over at K’s house. No honey. You have summer school in the morning and you need an early night. I want to stay at K’s house but I can’t because of DUMB summer school.

Insert two hours of tears. I never knew you could make so much noise feeding a cat. Apparently there are several ways for opening a tin of cat food and putting this with biscuits in a feed bowl that can make an enormous amount of noise. Add to this doors and cupboards slamming, dirty dishes thrown in to the sink from a distance and plenty of exaggerated groans and you have yourself a party.

Half an hour later, I realised the house was silent. I was concerned by what may lay ahead. I knew that assignment #2 was not going anywhere right at this moment and put down my books. No Princess. As I attempted to shut down my laptop, a small maths grid book was slid under my nose. There, in all it’s glory was a full page of maths sums. All neatly written in red pen. All correct. When all else had failed to grab my attention, convey her implicit feelings and render the required result, The Princess had produced a note. The message inside was unmistakeable and I almost missed it.

Later that evening before dinner, I overheard The Princess tell Master 6 that he had better do his homework or he’d wind up in summer school too. In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the horror, The Princess dragged out her old Year 6 maths books and busily started working through them again, employing the aide of Bieber and Red the maths whizzes in our home. I knew I had to approach this carefully. I had seen this before.

After dinner, The Princess and I sat down for a quiet moment. I softly asked her why she didn’t want to go to summer school. The answer suprised me. It had nothing to do with her giving up her freedom in the holidays. It had nothing to do with missing out on a sleep over. It had nothing to do with waking up early to walk the 2.5 km to school in the heat. It didn’t even have to do with her feeling ‘stupid’ (which was my biggest concern). No, the answer was simply this: I don’t know why you can’t teach me Mum.

A ‘teachable moment’.

Shagoury (2009) reminds us that, as educators and parents, we must be careful not to miss these little moments with children. It’s hard to always understand the meaning behind everything that children do but, we can try. Knowing the child, their background, their interests and strengths is just part of the equation. Asking questions, taking quiet moments out in a busy, hectic day,listening and observing are the ingredients for ‘teachable moments’. These opportunities serve us well on two levels. We learn so much by really listening to children and expanding on what they tell us. These little insights are ‘miracle windows’. We also learn a lot about ourselves and the way we teach.

The experiment

The  next day, The Princess went to summer school. She had resigned herself to the fact that she could at least  give it a go, in keeping with the family motto and then  return home and recount all the problems/issues/atrocities back to us in her utterly guilt-inducing and unshakeable explanation of why she shouldn’t go back. Here is her argument:

  • You took me to the wrong classroom
  • The teacher had to walk me to 4 different classrooms to find out where I was meant to be
  • If you just listened to me in the first place, Mum, we wouldn’t have been late
  • The work is ridiculous
  • You know that 15 minute break? NO FOOD
  • I walked around the school yard for 10 minutes by myself
  • I didn’t know ANYONE and nobody talked to me
  • The teacher really didn’t help me much, he was focusing on the other kids more than me
  • You never asked me if I even WANTED to go in the first place
  • You said I could do it online
  • You can still teach me yourself, you know

That last point was the kicker and she was right. There was so much more to The Princess not wanting to go to summer school. My time.

Amazingly, after it had been decided that she would not return in the morning (and that the Cowardly Mother was to be spared the shame making THE phone call to the summer school  Principal) all these little stories emerged of how she had a male teacher for the day and now ‘I’m not so worried about having a male teacher this year’. I found out that she was playing ‘Moshi Monsters on the computers in the air conditioning. The Princess also came home with a gift bag containing a ruler, and other stationery items. This little bag of goodies contained a bright, yellow sticker with the word FUNLAND with a crown over the ‘a’ (I know, the irony didn’t escape me either). The sticker has since been squarely slapped on to the front of the paper goodies bag and placed on my desk as a reminder of what I have done. You know the nobody-talked-to-me-scenario? Debunked! ‘Two boys talked to me and one was nice. One asked me if I’d had enough sleep because my eyes were all puffy. One told me not to drink out of the bubblers because it was all hot. I didn’t know what to say to the boy about my eyes’ (she had cried a lot the day before).  However, she did have plenty to say to me about her lack of provision for nourishment and water in the 3 hours she was there. I am a terrible mother. I needed to write this post. I have just read it out loud to The Princess as she sat near me, smiling with every word. This is why I am now sitting here, close to The Princess as she writes her own curriculum for summer school under my direction. Yes, I am the teacher.

P.S. There has now been yet another huge discussion about Home Schooling. The Princess begs me at least three times a year to Home School her (usually after holidays). Bieber firmly responded with a ‘No’ and wants to know why I always want to ruin his life. Master 6 emphatically responded ‘YES’! which resulted in a ‘high -five’  from The Princess. When I asked Red his thoughts, I got this :’Why does my opinion matter?’ (in a painfully whiny tone) which I translated to mean ‘Please stop talking to me and interrupting my gaming time… and ruining my life’.

In the middle of all this, my husband says to me ‘It’s up to you Bub’ and passes me a note , written on a used envelope:

I Love u c u r  m q t

I look at him in wonder. ‘I bet you can’t work out what it says’, he tells me.  The note, decoded reads:

I love you ’cause you are my cutie

Once again, all is right with the world.

Reference

Shagoury, R.E. (2009). Raising writers: Understanding and nurturing young children’s writing development. USA: Allyn & Bacon, Pearson

Are you listening to me?

"Look who's listening" - NARA - 514907

I think I am a good listener. In fact I might even go as far as to say I am a great listener. However, there are some times when I would like a pair of these:

Too much?

I would also call these the “Lalalalalala” earplugs.

LALALALALALA

I think the earplugs would come in  handy for these situations:

  • Red’s sarcastic attacks
  • Children fighting… over a hair (yes it has happened, remind me to post about that one!)
  • My ten minutes of peace and quiet soaking in the bath
  • Any sentence that begins with ‘Muuuuuuuuum’

Have you ever told your children that you’re changing your name? My mother used to say that a lot when we were teenagers and I thought back then: what a terrible thing to say. Today, I would say, smart woman! I so get that.

I’m thinking these earplugs would be the perfect accessory to wear for this question: “Mum, why aren’t you listening to me?”

earplugs

Huh?

Raising resilient, capable children without the bubble wrap

Bubble Wrap

Image via Wikipedia

I have watched my children do some really amazing things and  I am often suprised by how capable, resilient, funny and loving they are and then I remember that it is not by coincidence or magic that they came to be this way.

This caused me to reflect on why my children, in varying degrees, are the way they are; critical thinkers, problem-solvers, ‘doers’, funny, loving and emotionally resilient. This is, by no means a how to, more of a how come post.

My comedic family

DO NOT ENTER WITHOUT A SENSE OF HUMOUR

That about sums up the way things are here. Self  deprecation, dry wit, nonsense talk, family language, inside jokes and general goofiness is all part of the atmosphere at  Chez Vix. Laughter, humour and fun are a magic recipe for developing self-esteem. It’s even better when you can laugh at yourself. If not, there will always be someone here to do it for you. The key here is finding the right balance so that no one feels like a joke but are rather part of the joke.  The children never stood a chance.

Working  it out

I figured the best way to teach my children was to let them work things out for themselves with guidance. How do children learn and master skills if they don’t get to ‘do’. My father used to admonish me for the things I let my children do but I refused to mollycoddle them. Bubble wrap belongs at the post office and messes can always be cleaned. Master 6 used a knife from a young age. They have all used a screwdriver to take apart objects and see how they work. Master 6 made me a cup of coffee for the first time last week. Bieber can chop vegetables like a pro. The Princess has been cooking, without supervision, for the last two years ( she just needs to work on the cleaning up part of the process!) and loves to mow the lawn. Red has performed many science experiments (today was build a sparkler bomb day – my only advice –  someone please film it). All children should climb trees, ride a bike on the road and jump on a trampoline. It was interesting to see the trampoline inverted one day and the boys launching themselves against it. There have been numerous obstacle courses, dubious structures and elaborate game play. The children have always tested boundaries and their own limits but they have learned a hell of a lot along the way. I have taken my part as safety monitor, mediator, facilitator and paramedic. Yes, there have been some injuries but everything is dangerous if you don’t have the necessary skills or mind-set to ‘do’. See 50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do). Not for the faint-hearted. The important thing here is; children are allowed to make mistakes, learn from them and try again.

The Rubber Band Theory

Emotional resilience – the ability to bounce back from the situations that life presents. My children are rubber bands. I don’t know how they came to be this way, but I’m guessing that stepping out of the picture and giving them the dialogue to negotiate problems and situations for themselves has probably been the contributing factor. I love that they get angry at each other, it’s healthy. It’s even better when I hear this, ‘See this? This is my angry face. You wanna piece of this?’  My father passed away in September, 2010. That was a big test, for all of us. It still is. We just talked our way through all the hurt, upset and anger. The Princess and Bieber have experienced bullying at school and while that breaks my heart for them, I had to overcome my own feelings and help them work out strategies to deal with it. The princess adopted the ‘delete’ technique where she deleted negative people from Facebook, her social set and most importantly, her mind. Bieber took the ‘ Emo/Shuffle, water off an ignorant duck’s back approach’ where he would hide under his enormous fringe, turn his back and shuffle. He completely ignores any person that is not worthy of his attention. I noticed this odd behaviour at graduation but trusted his judgement. He only allows positive people to enter his ‘mental domain’.  My children all have their own interests and strengths as well as their foibles. Each child is valued and respected for what they can and can’t do. However, do expect a good-natured ribbing (please refer to My comedic family) with the underlying message of ‘we love you for you’.

English: Rubber bands in different colors. Stu...

Love happens

I believe that it is not enough to tell your children you love them. You have to show it. Maybe that is why my children are the way they are. The power is in the ‘doing’ not the ‘saying’. My husband is not a big one for expressing his emotions verbally but there is not one person in this house that would doubt his love for them. The rough and tumble play, the joking and the ‘being’ is all part of the recipe for love. I had a secret giggle when I overheard my husband on the phone to his boss telling him that he hadn’t had a sleep (shift worker) because he was cooking naan bread with The Princess. One rainy weekend minus the shift working husband we were all a bit deflated. The Princess pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle and we all took turns adding to it throughout the day. 14 hours of love in that little display below.

14 hours of love in this thing

There were actually two more people under there!

I have realised that children don’t care what they are doing as long as they are doing it with you.

The Princess gets a birthday hug from Master 6

Love helps children develop good self-esteem. They learn where they belong in this crazy world and find ways to connect with others. It’s healthy. Our refrigerator is full of love. Photos, paintings and inspirational quotes that fly off when the door opens. I really need a cork board.

As I am writing this, I have just been handed a cupcake with Love written on top in pink icing. The Princess is busily cooking in the kitchen. I have just been handed another and couldn’t decipher the pink icing word on top. Happens, The Princess tells me, rolling her eyes. Love Happens.

Author: Bagande

Image via Wikipedia

It all comes down to this

Tag Cloud