Child’s best advocate

As any sole parent out there knows it’s bloody hard work doing the parenting by yourself, particuarly when you don’t have the support of the father at all. It becomes even harder when there are difficulties that need to be worked out. Our difficulties have been brewing ever since my son – JJ – started school in the middle of last year. The main difficulty is his behaviour which has definitely not been angelic. He spent half an hour in the principal’s office on his second day at school for misbehaving in the classroom. Even with incidents like this and incidents in the playground and at family day care after school I kept thinking that things would work out and he’d just get it and start behaving.

I finally realised that this probably wouldn’t happen without some help. It had reached the stage where he nearly wasn’t allowed to go to family day care after school anymore. As I work 4 days a week out of the home, and there’s a shortaqe of after school care, it really freaked me out that he might be expelled from this and I’d have to find something else or that I wouldn’t find something else. Actually he wouldn’t have been completely thrown out as he’s been going there on and off ever since he was one, and she would have accommodated him until I found something else, but it would have disrupted him and me. I also noticed that he wasn’t getting invites to some birthday parties when lots of other kids did and of course I want him to be happy and get along with other kids and do the playdate with school mates thing.

During conversations with a good friend she said to me that I was my son’s best advocate and at the time I didn’t really take this on board. Last week though, I went to see a psychologist about him because I’m worried that his behaviour could escalate and he’ll become known as the school bully. This is the worst case scenario but I want to nip it in the bud.

After I finished my session with the psychologist (JJ meets her next week) I felt so so much better and being my son’s best advocate is coming home to me now. I had a talk with his new teacher and she’s just fabulous. We’ve lucked out there. She knows what he’s like and doesn’t put up with any bad behaviour from him or anyone else in her classroom so he listens to her because he knows there’s consequences. As she said it’s easier for her because she’s not emotionally involved. There’s consequences with me, but I am emotionally involved so don’t always carry through when I should. I was also given homework by the psychologist, one thing being positive play.

Positive play is where you let your child lead the play and you don’t give directions. There’s suggested toys for this, like building blocks, lego, magnetic blocks, crayons and paper. Toys to avoid are ones that encourage rough or aggressive play, ones that have preset rules or ones that lead the parent or child to pretend they are someone else. The idea is that imagination is encouraged without the play getting out of hand.

It is very hard to shift habits and not give direction when doing this type of play but I have noticed that after three days of it, that JJ enjoys it, I enjoy it and we have a laugh while doing it. It doesn’t have to last long – 5 minutes is recommended.

I know that any changes in JJ’s behaviour will not come about because the light switch goes on his head that he needs to change. He will have to learn appropriate behaviour and obviously this is harder for some kids than it is for others. But at least when I get the ‘teach your son how to behave properly’ comments which I have had occasionally I can say that I, and the school are taking steps to teach him how it’s appropriate to behave towards other kids and adults. I’ll be able to explain to them that this is not necessarily innate, but in his case it’s taking longer to learn and that something is being done about it.

I know there will still be incidents of naughty behaviour but I feel a whole lot better that I’m moving in the right direction to help teach him better behaviour.

Time to eat

It’s cricket time of year here. There’s no escape from it on Channel 9, and most weekend days and some week days there’s cricket being played on a local oval. JJ and I had a discussion about it and being the encouraging parent I am I told him that it takes a long time to play a game. I’m not real keen on him developing an interest in playing the game purely because I don’t fancy spending half my weekend watching him.

He obviously understood that a day is a long time because he told me he didn’t think he’d play cricket because they wouldn’t get time to eat. He loves his food and the thought of not being able to eat whenever he likes obviously worries him.

A few days later we were discussing the occupations of bus and train drivers. I told him they’d drive to the end of the bus or train route and turn around and come back. He then informed me that he didn’t think he’d become a bus or train driver because they don’t get time to eat. I tried to explain that both cricketers and drivers do get time to eat but it didn’t sink in.

I’m thinking he’ll always do something where he can eat when he likes.

Addition – I meant to mention at the end of this post. Despite JJ’s obsession with food his memory lets him down. Yesterday at work I got a phone call from his vacation care director. They were at the pool and JJ had forgotten his lunch after being asked to put it in his bag. He had to miss out on food for various reasons and didn’t get his lunch until mid afternoon.

Still sleeping with sharks

I’m detecting a bit of a theme in regards to JJ sleeping with various toys in various states of action. He obviously starts playing with them and they wear him out so much that he just falls asleep while still playing. Here’s the latest in the series, a shark puppet.

In bed with a shark

It was a particularly hot night here too which is why he sleeps without any bed coverings. I usually put a sheet over him but that ends up all twisted around him or just completely off.

To see other photographic evidence of what he ends up sleeping with, see him with his other shark, sleeping in the batman costume, sleeping with my old doll.

I guess I’ll have to stop this practise of taking photos while he’s asleep when he’s a bit older and starts sleeping with real live people. That probably wouldn’t really be acceptable.

Goodbye trainer wheels

Today was the first day JJ rode his bike without relying on trainer wheels. Truth is, he had to, or not ride his bike. This is the third set of trainer wheels we’ve had and they just aren’t robust enough for a 23kg boy who relies on them, because they bend. The trainer wheels were’t aligned with the bike wheels, they were more at 45 degree angles so if he did lean on one of them, he would inevitably fall off.

This morning he wanted to go for a ride and I tried to bash the trainer wheels back into alignment but it just didn’t work. I said to him why don’t I just put the trainer wheels up a notch so that they’re there if you need them but I don’t think you do need them. Fortunately he was confident enough to give this a go. We walked the bike over to the school and after a short amount of instruction from me about how to start off with one leg resting on the ground to start with, he was away like a pro.

I was so excited, actually we both were. I was so excited I even ran alongside the bike with him here and there. Unfortunately the chain came off the bike twice. This has happened before and our friend had fixed it for us but it must be a bit loose again.

JJ has a bigger bike in the shed that’s relatively new so I might dust that off, pump up the tyres and get him going on that if this smaller bike keeps losing it’s chain. It’s had a lot of wear and tear from its previous owner, my nephew.

Now, I have to get myself a bike. I promised him that when he stopped using the trainer wheels I would get a bike for myself and we could go riding together. That day has come my friends.

Getting crafty about dinosaurs

During our six week school holiday break I am having three of those weeks off with JJ so I need to find things we can do together so we don’t tear each other’s hair out with boredom.

On New Year’s Day I wasn’t suffering from a hangover or a severe lack of sleep so I decided to find something crafty we could do together with bits and pieces we had around the house. I’m not that creative when it comes to thinking of things like this so it’s just as well there are websites like Kiddley to draw inspiration from.

I actually didn’t find the activity we ended up doing on Kiddley, but found a website called Kids Craft Weekly where we found out how to make a dinosaur from a paper plate.

We didn’t have a paper plate so I found some cardboard and used one of our plastic plates to draw a circle.

Cuttingcirclefordinosaur

We were then supposed to paint the piece of cardboard with acrylic paint. The only paints I have were cheap acrylic type paints and didn’t cover the surface very well so it looked a bit cacky but it still gave it a green base.

Paintingdinosaur

I then drew on the back as instructed to cut out the legs, head and tail, luckily found some stick pins in the toolbox and put it all together.

We didn’t have the suggested embellishments but had some bright cardboard small dinosaurs which we stapled to our stegosaurus and some feathers for good measure and we had a finished product.

We were both pretty pleased with ourselves. Here is the finished product. We’ve borrowed the image from the Kids Craft Weekly website.

Finishedstegosaurus

Along the dinosaur theme I bought tickets to go to the live ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ show on in March. It’s supposed to be pretty good and hopefully we’ll both enjoy it and JJ won’t get too scared. The dinosaurs are lifesize and pretty noisy so it could be a bit scary. I won’t be leaving the show if JJ gets scared so perhaps I’ll take some earplugs if it freaks him out too much.

Cactus flower

Last night after work I went out and I felt a bit like I’d blossomed just like this cactus flower. 

This is the first time for a long time that I’ve been able to do a drinks after work session with colleagues for a very long time (since I’ve been a mum actually) without having to rush to childcare to pick up JJ. And I must say it brought back some good memories of being able to do this type of thing.

My sister picked him up from his vacation care and brought him back here. Mind you this wasn’t done with Christmas love. I was threatened to be back home for a certain time otherwise she said she wouldn’t pick him up.

All the sisterly love aside, it was great to go out after work, chat to my colleagues like I can’t chat to them at work because everyone’s so busy all the time. It was also our last day of work for the year so we were all very merry even before we started drinking.

I could have probably stayed longer but being the responsible parent I am, and mindful of not incurring more of my sister’s wrath, I got home to a house of resentment, waved the resentment goodbye and went through the motions of putting JJ to bed.

Just as well I’d had a few drinks as it didn’t burst my bubble. I think my bubble’s burst now though. I don’t want the sort of attitude my sister has to wash over me whenever I ask her to have JJ (which isn’t that often) and I don’t want it being absorbed by him either. I think we need to sit down and have a chat about this as it’s driving me nuts.

This post wasn’t going to turn out like this. It was going to be more about what a great couple of hours I had last night after work, but this sibling stuff is a tough business. I know one shouldn’t post what they don’t want other people to read, and I’m not. If she ever does read this, then I’m sure she’ll let me know what she thinks as she’s that type of girl.

Bit of a love/hate thing going on

Just about all blog posts I read at the moment are themed around Christmas and this one is no different. In short, I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.

My main hate bit is the hype surrounding christmas and the associated commercialism. Here, the christmas decorations are put out in the shops in early October from memory. Every year people comment about how the decorations are available already and that it’s too early.

Partly, Christmas for me means I buy presents for people because it’s expected of me. I like to give gifts but I don’t like to buy gifts just because it’s Christmas and I feel I should. And it’s really painful going shopping when everyone else is out there doing it. I’m not organised enough to have it all done before the madness starts either.

It gets harder and harder to buy for my parents every year as they have every material thing they need. Ronni over at Time Goes By recently wrote an article about gift giving for elders. I’ll have to try and remember this for next year and consult with my sisters because I’m sure they have the same problem. I’ve resorted to alcohol for them this year and a photo of JJ I took, printed and put in a frame.

Christmas for me nowadays is more about my son than about me. It doesn’t bother me so much about receiving presents for myself or not, but looking at the joy JJ has when he opens his presents. I don’t go overboard on him and spend thousands or even hundreds. Some years I do spend more than others though depending on what I decide to get. He’s looking forward to Christmas and we’re marking the calendar with crosses until 25 December and I remember the anticipation as a kid was excruciating.

I’ve put up the tree, there are some presents underneath and a stocking hanging near the fireplace. The stocking will have to come with us as we won’t actually be home for christmas day so hopefully I’ll remember that.

As I said he’s looking forward to Christmas but then he’s also looking beyond that to the next time when he’ll get stuff at easter. And that’s what I hate about these holidays, the expectation. I alluded to it earlier about being expected to buy gifts for people. I try not to get my Christmas gift recipient list get too long. I used to buy for a couple of friends and we’ve mutually agreed to put a stop to that as it can get out of hand.

Last week JJ and I bought a gift for a boy about his age and put it under the Kmart wishing tree for charity. We shopped together and chose a present for someone who isn’t as lucky as him so they have something to open on Christmas day. He was really great about it but I don’t know how much it sunk in about who might end up with it. I’d like to make this our yearly tradition.

The Christmas card thing gets me though. I send off some cards to people overseas who I have very intermittent contact with and it’s a way of maintaining those contacts. I also send some to people within Australia I don’t see that often for the same reasons. I do not, however, give a card to all my colleagues and friends I see all the time because I think it’s ridiculous. I do feel a little guilty when I get one and I know that I won’t be giving one in return. Is it expected? Do these people feel put out when I don’t send them one? Too bad, because I’m not going to start doing it. JJ got given cards from his school mates. I didn’t go down that path either as it would have been something extra I had to do. When he can write, and when and if he wants to do it, that’s when it will happen. It’s in his hands.

I’m lucky in that I have family to hang out with at Christmas time but that’s fraught with family politics as I’m sure lots of families are. If I didn’t have family I guess it would be really hard and if I knew a Christmas orphan I’d love to include them in what I do. So while my family are all still around I try and make the most of it because I know I’d miss it like mad if it changed.

So Christmas looms every closer. I still have some presents to wrap, food to buy to contribute to the various places I’ll be visiting during that period. That brings me to one thing I do love about Christmas, and that’s holidays. I get to have just over a week off – yee hah!