I’m so glad that I’ve got a dog. At the time I think she was a sort of child substitute because I never planned on having a human child but now it’s great for JJ because they get on so well. He’s really happy with her and when JJ and I have huggles, Monty always wants to join in on the action, so it become a group hug.
We have started what I want to continue to be a tradition in our household on Friday nights.
Friday is the one day of the working week that I have off, therefore I am available to pick my son up from school on Friday afternoons. He’s been at school for nearly one year now and we’ve never done anything concrete on Friday afternoons.
Because I pick him up and we get home about 3.30pm I’ve got at least two hours extra to do stuff that I don’t have on the days I work. This allows us to come back home, have a snack, I look at his spelling test results – he’s doing pretty well by the way – and I try to elicit information about the school day from him. It’s like pulling teeth from a hen mostly but I do get some snippets. Today he had a disco so he showed me his dance moves.
Friday nights has become our nachos night and because I prepare the bean mix beforehand I don’t have to do much to throw the nachos together. I don’t know if most people make it with meat but I make it with red kidney beans. It’s delicious, economical and easy. Here I’ve got it with avocado, but in addition to that some sour cream or even natural yoghurt is great.
Therefore, because the dinner is pretty much ready and I’ve arrived home earlier than normal, I can spend some extra time with JJ. Lately we’ve started playing games to spend this time together, and to fill in some time before dinner and we’re both really enjoying it.
Trouble is one of our favourites. In the last month or so, probably since we started playing more on Friday nights, I’ve noticed that JJ has become more strategic in how he plays. He used to get a piece out on the board and stick with that one until it was home and he got another one out, even if he threw a 6 in the meantime (you have to roll a 6 to get your piece into play). Now he usually takes a piece out whenever he gets a 6. Also after he rolls he sees if he can land on me to put me back at the start. We’re pretty even at winning now.
Tonight he wanted to play Snap. He got his Snap cards out and we played one game very quickly where I won. I thought I’d let him win his next game but he saw right through me and even said that he could tell I was trying to let him win. My boy is getting smart. Or he’s always been smart, he’s just showing me more. He told me he started letting me win so the game would continue for longer.
It made me think of a recent parent/teacher interview where his teacher said that he was no academic. I didn’t take offense because I don’t think he will be an academic sort. I think he’s smart though, just not in a book kind of way. I think he’s smart in a I know what you’re thinking and how to read you kind of way which will stand him in very good stead.
Whenever I do pick him up from after school care he is more often than not playing a card game of some description and it is teaching him to listen to rules and to take turns.
I’ll soon get sick of Trouble and Snap, so we’ll have to find some other games to play on our Friday nights. I think a good way of doing that is going to garage sales to find games to keep our new Friday night game tradition continuing.
I don’t know if non-mother is a word, but it’s the most succinct way I could think of describing it.
On Wednesday night I left JJ with my nephew and went out with three girlfriends to go to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Beforehand we ate out at a restaurant. A proper one with attentive waiters and cloth napkins and yummy red wine. It’s such a rare treat these days to go out to a restaurant. If I go out to dinner with JJ it’s usually somewhere that serves fish and chips like a pub or a cafe and it’s somewhere that isn’t too fancy.
We saw Tina C with her show I’m a Little Bit Country, I’m a Little Bit Aboriginal. I didn’t have much idea of what to expect apart from some country and western music which I’m not really into but she sounded entertaining. Toward the beginning of the show she said she’d love to hug everyone in the – fairly large – audience but couldn’t possibly. Therefore she’d hug one person and that person would have to hug five more and so on until the whole audience was done. We were sitting towards the back and my theory was that people wouldn’t get that far but they did.
I’m not really into doing things like this and I don’t know why as it’s quite harmless. I got one or two hugs from a couple of blokes but didn’t run around dispensing my hugs. I thought it was a bit of a time waster but we decided afterwards that it was a good ice breaker (a bit like being in some sort of workshop) and it was confronting which was what the whole show was about really.
She didn’t sing as much as I thought she might but she was very funny and on the ball in regards to our politics and the Aboriginal stolen generation. Her guest, Auriel Andrews, used to be on the Reg Lindsay show which I remember from when I was a kid and had completely forgotten about until she mentioned it.
My only real gripe was the room was really stuffy and it was hard to get comfortable. I noticed a few audience members fanning themselves so it wasn’t just me.
Then yesterday, instead of going into the office as per normal, I went to Melbourne with work. Just for one day. I had to do some motherly duties like organise JJ to be dropped off at school and then picked up just incase my plane was late, but for the rest of the day I felt non-motherish because I was out of my routine and doing something a bit different.
Mind you, when I got home I was completely tired and uninspired so I scraped together some food to eat. My nephew was supposed to cook (he cooks once a week) but said he wasn’t feeling too good. He still managed to eat some leftover soup and use the internet for a couple of hours. Hmmmm.
It’s definitely back to being a mum now. My house is a pigsty from severe non-attentiveness during my very short non-mother phase.
JJ has been going to school for nearly a year now and getting him ready for school while getting myself ready for work used to be fraught with problems and lots of yelling and stress.
I get up at 6.30 in the morning, have a shower then go and walk my dog. By the time I do all of this an hour has passed and it’s 7.30. We just about one more hour to have breakfast, make lunches, get the work clothes on and get out the door for the short walk to school. I head off to work from there.
I used to concentrate on doing what I had to do, then ten minutes before we walked out the door I would be yelling to JJ to get his shoes on, clean his teeth, get his bag so I could put his lunch in, and run around trying to find his drink bottle. He never did things quickly enough for me and the end result was predictable, ie raised voices, crying, and lots of stress. Not a good start to either of our days.
This continued for quite some time. Some mornings were easier but mostly it was the same old pattern of my heart absolutely racing when we finally walked out the door and sometimes JJ had tears drying on his face because I’d been yelling so much.
While I was seeing the psychologist to discuss JJ’s behaviour at school and after school care inevitably his behaviour at home surfaced and we’d discuss that also. She suggested that we have a chart outlining the jobs he has to be responsible for, with tokens that can be stuck on the relevant chores once they’d been completed.
Getting tips like this and doing them are two completely different things and I’ll always do it really soon. Sometimes ‘procrastination’ is my middle name.
The beginning of the change from chaos to calm in the mornings happened after I’d asked JJ to put away the breakfast things. He argued with me that he’d got them out so he shouldn’t have to put them away. True to form we yelled at each other and yet again, we were off to a bad start to the day.
The next morning, I explained to him that it was his job to put his plate on the sink, and put away the cereal and the milk. He did it without much fuss and I realised that if I gave him his jobs to do then he’d know what was expected of him and if he forgot, a gentle reminder to do his job of putting the breakfast things away would suffice.
Of course, this was pretty much what the psychologist suggested but I just haven’t made it into a chart that we can both see.
I’ve since added to the list of jobs he has to do in the mornings (he’s nearly six by the way). Before he can play, he has to do the breakfast things, clean his teeth, get his bag out of his room and make sure the drink bottle is there and filled up, and he has to put his shoes on. Once he’s done all these things he can play until it’s time to go to school. Five minutes before I’m ready to go I ask him to pack up his cars or whatever he’s been playing with which he does without a fuss.
This morning we stood in the kitchen after a smooth morning of getting ready for work and school, his bag was on his bag and I was similarly loaded up with my bits and pieces. I said to him, isn’t it much nicer now that you know what you have to do in the mornings and I don’t feel compelled to nag you to get ready for school. He agreed with me and noted that he had five jobs to do and he’d done all of them. He was pretty proud of this.
It truly works a treat and he loves the fact that he knows what is expected of him. I love that he knows this and it runs smoothly most of the time and we leave the house pretty happy that we’ve had a calm day so far.
Over a period of two days JJ made me this necklace at after school care. Perhaps he’d seen me make my necklace and didn’t want to be outdone so he started his? I don’t know.
He gave it to me and I effusively thanked him because I know he’d gone to great effort and used up a lot of patience which he doesn’t really have. And it is made up of lovehearts so it’s really special.
Trouble is, that it’s been taken away from me a few times because I’ve been mean. I’ve given him consequences for behaviour that I won’t tolerate from him so his answer is to take the necklace away.
I’ve explained that once you give a present to someone you shouldn’t take it away from them but I don’t think that’s sunk in yet. The thing is, when I’m good again, I get the necklace back again. I currently have the necklace so I must be being good.
I can’t help myself. I continue to take photos of JJ while he is sleeping if he falls asleep with something in his hand, dressed up, or something next to him. See previous evidence.
I’ve heard of learning to read subliminally but I don’t think this falls into that category somehow.
Last week he fell asleep while wearing his new wizard costume. At least I was able to take it off him while he slept through the whole thing.
It was mother’s day on Sunday and I knew there were a couple of little gifts awaiting me out in the kitchen so I lay in bed on Sunday morning eagerly anticipating a happy mother’s day greeting and a big cuddle with my boy as he’d made a big fuss about it in the preceding days and my hopes were way up. But he forgot. He came into my room and asked if he could watch television which I ignored until I heard a please.
I eventually had to remind him that it was mother’s day and didn’t he have something to give me? He gave me a bracelet (a bit of a lucky dip thing I’d paid for through school) and a sort of a certificate that had form questions on that his buddy at school had scribed the answers on for him. It had questions like what colour eyes does your mum have (brown – in fact they’re blue), what colour hair, what does she know (everything – thanks son), what’s her favourite food (chocolate – yes my top 5 addictions confirm that one), what’s her favourite item of clothing (star shirt – I don’t even own one).
I love these types of gifts where some thought has gone into it and will find somewhere to put it until it goes into the keeping folder. The keeping folder is more like a small archive box where I’ve got drawings and other bits and pieces JJ has done. I’ve still got the drawing he did for me last year and I wish I hadn’t lost the bookmark he did for me two years ago.
Afterwards we went to the farmers’ market to do our weekly fruit and veg shop but had breakfast there as well. I had a voucher for a free coffee and I asked for a cup of milk for JJ which they really graciously supplied for free. For breakfast we had a bacon and egg roll and a honey icecream. I don’t normally have icecream for breakfast but we’d done our shopping inbetween the bacon and egg roll and the icecream so it was more of a mid-morning snack.
Unfortunately the rest of the day went downhill from there. It was one of those weekends where I didn’t want to do anything at all but lie in bed and read and relax but I had to do the housework, cooking and washing so I did a bit of lying around and a bit of work. I also physically didn’t feel that great and thought I was coming down with something but luckily it didn’t manifest into any sickness.
The night was even worse with a local businesses alarm going off all night. That’s for another post, but it meant I didn’t sleep at all well and worked yesterday with what felt like a hangover, but not with the good time preceding the hangover.