Twelve years

12th birthday.

This time 12 years ago I was about to leave hospital with a new baby and no idea as to what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I was also shit-scared because of the new mother thing and because I would be raising him on my own.

Fast forward 12 years and we’ve made it this far. He’s now as tall as me and a pretty damn fine human being. He drives me absolutely crazy sometimes but other times I’m overwhelmed with how much I love him.

While we were celebrating his birthday a couple of nights ago the Australian prime minister leadership spill was happening. I could have been watching it unfold but I know what I’d rather have been doing.

Three years ago we were in Bali when Julia Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd and now the reverse has happened. Karma perhaps? I don’t like it and I hope that the Labor party gets its shit together before the election in a few months so that this leadership thing isn’t a focus then.

But politics aside. My boy is 12.

What happened to this little cutie?

Julian

Besides my boy turning 12 and the political situation there’s been quite a bit of turmoil in my life. I went to a memorial service last night of a friend of The Surfer’s who died of a brain tumour a couple of weeks ago. It was a memorial service because she’s donated her body to science. I only met her a few times but she was one of those people you instantly like. Even though she had a lot of turmoil in her life she didn’t let it get her down too much and was a very positive person.

And I found out on my son’s birthday that a girl I used to go to school with died in a car accident last week. Too many people I went to school with have died in car accidents. Many of them could have been prevented if drivers weren’t drinking or speeding but I don’t think this last one had either of those factors. Just one of those awful tragic things. So, another family is left to pick up the pieces of an unexpected death.

Oh, and my job situation has been top of mind too. Two weeks ago I had two weeks left of my contract with no work after that. Then in the same week I applied for a three month contract which I am still to find out if I was successful but it’s looking promising and work offered me an extension for another month or so. I’ve extended for two weeks there while I wait to hear about the other job and JJ and I are off on holidays after that for two weeks.

I can’t wait to go away. It’s been three years since we had a decent holiday. This is the trouble with contracting. You get a few months here and there and because there’s an end in sight you think you’ll have a holiday after that and then you get extended again so you don’t feel as though you should go away while you’re in the midst of that contract. This time I knew I was finishing up in late June so I booked a holiday a few months ago and come what may, we’re going. If I miss out on work because of it, then so be it. Too bad. I need a holiday.

It will be me and my 12 year old who is now an adult in buying a plane ticket terms. I suppose he’s as tall as many adults and eats just as much but he has a few years to go to reach maturity and the legal adult age of 18. Not that I’m wishing that time away. It goes too quickly.

But at the memorial service last night I thought of him and thought of the silly arguments we sometimes have and thought how trivial they are. He really matters.

Happy birthday JJ. xx

12th birthday.

 

No time to be bored

This is what I sent to vacation care this morning.

Before I had a child I’m not really sure what I did with my time. I worked full-time but when I came home I didn’t really have that much to do unless I had plans for the evening. And of course it was easier to go out but I usually saved that for the weekend anyway.

I remember answering some questions for a phone survey and they asked if I did volunteer work and other questions around community work and I left that interview feeling quite slack because I didn’t really contribute to the community much at all.

I got a dog nearly two years before I had my son so I had to walk her and she occupied some more of my time.

Then I had a baby and my life completely changed as babies tend to do for you.

I look back at those childfree days and feel really very lazy and sometimes I miss them. Sometimes I would rather sleep in on a Saturday morning or lay in bed and read my book rather than get up and drive around town and watch my son play sport. Sometimes I’d like to make plans on a Friday night when my son has scouts and I have to drop him off and pick him up at certain times. But I’m not bored.

I remember a girlfriend telling me I’d never be bored once my child came along and she was right. Mind you, I have been bored in completely different ways. I got bored of changing nappies. I got bored of tantrums in public, and I’m talking about my son’s tantrums. I had mine in private. I got bored of staying at home when he was a baby before I went back to work. I was never a baby person. I couldn’t wait for him to start talking but now I’m bored of him talking so much. Well that’s not quite true. We do have a really good laugh sometimes. I’m much more into the age he is now than the baby age and that baby boredom has lifted – thank goodness. I like other people’s babies because I can hand them back and I know that I won’t be up at an ungodly hour feeding them.

And as well as the time that having a child takes up, and working nearly full-time I seem to be doing lots of other things that I never did before. I’ve developed an interest in photography and then sharing those photos on social networks. And there’s all the other online stuff that uses up my time. I go to pilates once a week. I’ve dabbled with salsa classes. I recently started singing lessons again so I’m doing some things for myself so that my whole life doesn’t revolve around my child. I’m conscious that he’s growing up really quickly and one day my time won’t revolve around him so much. I’m sure I will really miss that.

This is what I sent to vacation care this morning.

And how can I be bored of this devil-child?

The Anzac Day march

Look out for the 2nd/14th Aust field regiment section. #AnzacDay #adelaide

My son is part of his local scout group and every year they get the opportunity to take part in the Anzac Day march. JJ wasn’t going to do it but then decided that he would. I’m so glad he did.

We got hold of his great-great uncle’s medals so he could wear them on the day. Uncle Alf was in the army in Papua New Guinea in World War II and JJ got to hold a banner for the 2nd/14th Australian Field Regiment, also part of World War II. I don’t know what unit Uncle Alf was in.

We had to get there at 8am, so we didn’t go to the dawn service this year like we did last year as we had plans for afterwards and it would have made a very long day.

Before the march

Holding the banner for the 2nd/14th Australian Field Regiment

After a while they line up in the order they’re going to march in. As his scout group was holding the 2nd World War signs, they were towards the front of the march. Unfortunately there were no soldiers left from their regiments to march with them. Uncle Alf died about 14 years ago and he was in his early 80s, and when you consider that the 2nd World War ended nearly 70 years ago, there wouldn’t be too many of them left.

Marching

Marching

Finally at around 9.30 they started marching. It’s about a 1.5km march – not too long for young legs, or the older ones. I walked more or less alongside so I could take photos.

We will remember them  The Anzac Day march 2013 The Anzac Day march 2013

 

 

The Anzac Day march 2013

I got a real buzz from being there and watching my son march. I could tell that he was really getting into it and I was really proud of him. The ladies below caught my eye and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of them.

The Anzac Day march 2013The Anzac Day march 2013The Anzac Day march 2013The Anzac Day march 2013

As I’d never been to a march before it was great to see so many people go along and support the participants and clap as people walked past. I think this helped JJ feel a large amount of pride at participating.

Then before we knew it, his part of the march was over and the SES volunteers collected their signs.

Finishing

Then he plopped down on the ground as though he’d run a marathon.

Relaxing after the march

Here’s a close-up of the medals. As far as I can tell they’re service medals. They’re pretty heavy and they didn’t fall off. I was so worried that he’d somehow lose them.

Uncle Alf's medals

The smile on his face sums up how he felt about the whole experience.

After the march

We walked back towards the start and the march was still going so we got to see more recent soldiers from Vietnam, Afghanistan, East Timor etc before we ducked across the road to head home.

Mourning

West Beach

I think yesterday was probably the last day I’ll stroll along the beach wearing summer clothes. It was an unseasonably warm autumn day.

I will miss summer but I do love the change of seasons.

Digging

The lad put his bathers on, but didn’t go into the water to get them all wet. See his short hair? It hasn’t been short for a while. That itchy head he’s been complaining of for the last week resulted in this haircut because of nits. I found them on Saturday as I was trying to prepare for a dinner party.

So I had an unscheduled extra load on my day of washing, cutting and combing hair, and making beds. I’d caught it early so there weren’t too many bugs to comb out. But my head’s been itchy ever since.

Running

I’m so glad we get a guest dog staying over every now and then. I really really miss having a dog around the place ever since Monty died. I dreamed about her the other night.

She was lying on the floor and I walked up to her. She started talking to me. I can’t remember what she said but just the fact that she talked to me, and that she appeared a lot younger than my last memories of her.

I woke shortly afterwards and cried. I had to get up just to calm down a bit. I hadn’t expected grief to hit me unawares in my sleep like that. It’s also a bit weird getting used to talking about her in the past tense.

Psst, listen

 

Listening at the Whispering Wall

It was beautiful weather on the weekend so we spent one day doing domestic things, and the next day getting out and being the tourist in our area thing.

I love being a tourist in our town. It was a bit of a drive from our place to the Whispering Wall at Williamstown but a lovely one.

Whispering Wall

I went to the Whispering Wall when I was in high school – so some time ago now. I had visions of it being an old stone wall. I don’t remember the dam at all. My, how time changes memories.

Whispering Wall

One of you stands at one end, and the other at the other end and the acoustics of the wall allow you to talk to each other. It’s really amazing. The trouble is you can’t think of anything good to say, so there’s lots of hallos, and, can you hear me?

We met some Ukrainians, and we were surrounded by other Adelaide visitors also. It must be in the guide books as a place to visit.

Williamstown is pretty too, and it had a market on the day we were there but we didn’t stop as we were on a geocaching mission.

IMG_1047

We didn’t do very well with a count of one in four geocaches.

But we had a great day apart from one meltdown when JJ wanted me to stop on windy roads for geocaches and there was nowhere to park.

We ended up dropping in at a friend’s place on the way home, and then went to a nearby pub to listen to jazz music. Another friend’s dad plays in a jazz band which just happened to be playing that day.

We had fun.

His schooling has turned a corner

My son started grade 6 this year. In most states of Australia that would be the last year of primary school but in South Australia he’s in the second to last year. He’s now in senior school and there’s a noticeable difference in teachers’ expectations of him, particularly when it comes to homework.

My son has never been organised – never. I’ve tried all sorts of methods to get him to remember stuff but I’m not at school with him when he finishes as he goes to after school care so I have no control over him bringing home the things he needs for homework including the diary that’s supposed to have what homework he’s supposed to be doing written in it.

I’ve never been a fan of homework because it just seemed stressful to me, and it seemed stressful for him. As he goes to after school care most days he’s tired when he gets home and the last thing either of us want to do is more work. Spelling lists were a nightmare where I would get annoyed with him for not trying, and he would get annoyed with me for not being patient enough. A couple of years he’s had a homework contract where there’s a page to a week and there’s different tasks to do from maths, spelling to saying what sport and jobs you did around the house. Many weeks saw him whiz through this the day that it was due with a real half-hearted effort. Gentle reminding from me never really seemed to help when he didn’t really want to do it.

In week three of this term I finally saw his diary – after repeatedly asking him for it – and there were some notes in it from the teacher saying that it wasn’t signed and that he hadn’t done aspects of his homework. One of the notes said it might be a good idea to meet to make a homework plan.

This was on a night when he was having huge trouble doing one of his assignments. This year is the first year that he’s had a weekly assignment to do and this one was a huge one it seemed to me.

See, he’s had trouble with his spelling from early primary years. Having trouble spelling means having trouble writing for him too. So the first part of this assignment involved writing ten things that he observed about an exhibition they’d been to the previous week. Not that hard you would think. But it was for both of us. See, he said he couldn’t remember what he’d seen.

Come on, I said, you’re really observant. Surely you can remember what you saw there?

It took an hour to get nearly ten things down on paper and this was only the first part of the assignment. There were still six or so other questions – most of them involving writing. It meant by the end of the hour both of us were frustrated. This is why I could never home school my own child. I might be okay with someone elses, but not my own.

I never thought he would finish this assignment.

The next day on Twitter I asked for help with resources for helping a kid to improve their spelling and the lovely Joh messaged me and made me feel a lot better. She asked if he enjoyed reading and when I said that he did she said not to worry too much about spelling as that would follow. That made me feel a bit better but I thought he’s still got to wade through the rest of that bloody homework. And the amount of homework is only going to get worse from here.

Meanwhile I made an appointment for both of us to meet with the teacher.

She sat down with us after school one day and went through the data she’d collected about JJ since the beginning of that year – all three weeks of it. I’ve never had a teacher talk data before. She’d noticed that his comprehension was really really good, but his spelling let him down and asked both of us why we thought that might be. I mentioned that a previous teacher thought he might be dyslexic. She also asked if JJ had missed much school and I said that no he hadn’t.

I mentioned that he’d had behavioural issues in class before that meant in some classes he was sent out a lot as that was how some teachers seem to manage it so it was partly his fault that he’d missed out on some schooling. I asked how he was in her classroom and she said that he wasn’t disruptive at all. I said that this would be the first class he hasn’t been disruptive in. I know from meeting her that she won’t tolerate it and she seems to have the respect of the kids so that they don’t want to be disruptive.

It’s only taken seven years of schooling to get to this point, HALLELUJAH! Go JJ!!!!

She basically told us that JJ was a bit lazy when it came to some aspects of his schooling and while that’s not great to hear it made perfect sense. She told us that so long as he makes an effort now, it will reap rewards fairly soon and that he will catch up.

We were with her for about twenty minutes, and JJ and I left the meeting both feeling really good. He has improved out of site since. He managed to finish this assignment and while he hasn’t been given his mark yet, it looks fairly promising although his teacher said he didn’t need to write so many slabs of text. He’s even mentioned to me that he feels smarter.

He’s since done another assignment and got a B+. He did this assignment without any stress on his part, or mine.

He used to ask me how to spell words that he should have known how to spell, like ‘with’. His confidence has picked up that he now doesn’t, but if he does I tell him that he should know how to do that and he at least gives it a go.

I emailed the teacher to thank her for the meeting and to say that I’d noticed an improvement.

She replied back with, ‘He certainly seems switched on and very keen to learn. I have already noticed an improvement in what he is handing up to me. I think he is the kind of child who likes to be challenged as he is a bright and creative thinker.
He already is a “smart” kid!’

I’m hopeful for the rest of his schooling years now. And it’s such a relief.

More things I love about you

It’s the eve of the beginning of a new school year. Where did the last six weeks of school holidays go? I joked to someone yesterday that it will be Christmas soon. I could have slapped myself, but I know that time is travelling faster the older I get. Scary.

Here’s some more things that my son loves about me according to his Christmas present to me.

MUM

Friendly, Nice,

Fun, Caring,

Jenny’s nice to be around.

Listens, helps, cares,

Epic, cool.

My mum

And here’s another one.

You like to play Skylanders with me,

unfortunately shop with me,

have a walk with me,

talk to me,

and much much more.

You can use the computer 1,000,000 times better than me.

You teach me.

You even created me.

You are the Best mum I could have!

The school uniform is all ready for the morning and I think this year is the first year in his seven years of school so far that he’s looking forward to going back to school. I hope it lives up to his expectations. It seems like yesterday that we were both anxious about his first day at school.