Swings and roundabouts

A boy and his dog resting. Day 260/366.

A few months ago I shared my story about the golden age of parenting then it turned to crap.

Last night was a bit of a mixture of both.

I had to go out for a little while and he had a couple of minor jobs to do. The understanding is that once he’s done these jobs then he can watch television.

I got home inbetween appointments and he immediately jumped into the shower which he should have already had, and he also hadn’t fed the dog. And I needed to use the shower.

I had to pop out again for a committee meeting and this is what greeted me when I got home.

A lovely note on the lounge room door: “I love you mum, with all my hart.”

The glitter lamp was providing some mood lighting in the lounge and the heater was on. He’d even put a Deep Forest CD on the stereo.

I was absolutely stoked that he’d done this so imagine how much my mummy pride lifted when he told me he’d done the dishes.

Yes, he’d done the dishes. Without asking!!!!!

Not only that. He’d washed out Monty’s dog food container and put it in the esky ready for the dog food delivery today.

He’d provided me with a drink of water – thought he’d better not pour me a wine.

He would have lit the candles but also thought he’d better not do that.

He would have got some dinner ready for me but wasn’t quite sure what I’d like.

But, he washed the dishes. Without me asking.

He was so proud of himself and I was so damn proud of him and he didn’t even have an ulterior motive. Not one.

I gave him lots of hugs and thanks and kissed him goodnight, made myself some cheese on toast and sat down to watch Big Brother.

I reckon I must be doing something right.

Keeping your kids artwork

The lad was away on the weekend at a Scout camp and as I had Saturday free I thought I’d tackle tidying up his room while he wasn’t there. It’s very hard to throw out stuff if he knows it’s going as he’ll want to keep it.

I really wanted to go and see a movie but every time I walked past his messy bedroom I cringed and knew I could put it off no longer.

Another incentive I had was that the school were taking items for the upcoming fete and had a drop-off couple of hours on Saturday morning so not only could I sneak stuff into the rubbish bin, I could get rid of the non-throwaway items.

It took me three hours all up but every time I walk past his room now I smile. I was a bit embarrassed at how much dust I vacuumed up but I did actually move some things I don’t normally move.

I came across these paintings and drawings he’s done over the last couple of years that he’d put aside to keep but I don’t have that much storage space so I decided to take photos of them instead.

He doesn’t know it yet and probably won’t even ask me about it but here they are for posterity. They’re also on Flickr in their full form for him to look back on one day.

For the record, I do have a folder with some things he’s created that I’ve kept the hard copy of but I can’t possibly do that for everything so I think this is a good compromise.

What do you do with your child’s creations?

Be as prepared as you like

Oh the places I've been. Day 227/366.

JJ has been doing scouts for a few years now and it’s something he absolutely loves and looks forward to going to each week. Just recently he moved up to Scouts from Cub Scouts. This means they get more responsibility and go on more camps.

On the weekend he went on a back to basics camp. We were provided with a list of things to take, and this time we packed it in my old backpack. It was the backpack I bought in 1991 all ready to go travelling with for my first overseas holiday – the obligatory ‘find yourself’ backpacking holiday.

The backpack is a bit battered and worn now and it’s been patched up but I’m glad I’ve kept it because JJ will use it on his next scout camp, the hike. When I dropped him off on Friday one of his fellow scouts commented about the ‘badges’ on the bag, which of course aren’t scout badges.

So we got out the items he was told to take and packed it together. I made suggestions of how to pack and for the most part he put things in the backpack. This included spare clothes incase things got a bit wet because they were camping in the Hills and it rained a lot during the week with a good chance of rain again on the weekend.

I dropped him off on Friday evening and hoped that they didn’t get rained out. It was after 8pm, and dark, when we dropped him off and they had to put their tents up so they had somewhere to sleep for the night. I was glad it wasn’t me as we went to a nearby pub to sit near the fire while eating a late dinner.

I missed him during the weekend but didn’t stress too much about him. Afterall they had my phone number and if needed could ring me.

I picked him up yesterday afternoon and when we arrived they were all kicking a ball around on the grass and seemed pretty happy.

He was wearing someone’s tracksuit pants that were at least two sizes too small, so they were more three-quarter length pants. He was sockless. He was also wearing a fleecy zip up top of mine so that was a bit like a shift dress on him. The bare parts of his legs that I could see were quite muddy.

I knew he’d be absolutely knackered after two nights and days of full-on activities but the first thing he asked me if was one of his mates at the camp could come back to our place. I told him no as it was already mid afternoon and they still had to go back to the scout hall to unpack everything and spread all the tents out to dry.

We eventually did all of this and got home. I helped him unpack his backpack. I pulled out clean pairs of jocks and a clean pair of socks – damp. I pulled out a clean pair of jeans – damp. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing those? He told me that he didn’t know they were in there. Remember we packed the backpack together and I explained that he had a spare set of clothes if he needed them.

I pulled out all the dirty and damp clothes that weren’t in the plastic bag we’d also packed for all the damp stuff. Next time we’ll put all the clean and dry stuff in a plastic bag and the dirty and damp stuff can be shoved in next to the plastic bag.

I put everything in the wash – clean and dirty and he went into the shower to give himself a good clean.

We ate dinner at 5pm. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten dinner so early in my life and was happy that I’d organised osso bucco in the slow cooker earlier in the day. I didn’t make him do his night-time jobs like feed the dog or get wood for the fire. I just let him lie flat on the couch in front of the television then sent him off to bed early. He was still tired this morning.

But he had a great time on the camp and is looking forward to the next one. I swear that he grows up while he’s away at these camps and he loves earning badges. Speaking of which, I have some sewing to do.


His last football match for the season.

He improved heaps during the season and I’ve enjoyed getting out there on a Saturday morning watching him.

It looks like he’s being whacked on the head with a ball, but there’s no ball there. Maybe it’s about to come?

At oranges time I look away as you’d think he’d not eaten for a month. It’s a bit embarrassing. See how he’s a head taller than any of his teammates?

The team shot.

This is my *ahem* Wordless Wednesday contribution.

A good age

At 'I Am Eleven'. Day 222/366.

The other night we went to see a documentary called I Am Eleven. As the name suggests it is about a group of kids who are 11 years old and the reason I went was to take my son to see it because he is also that age.

It’s an Australian film made by Genevieve Bailey because she remembers how she felt when she was 11 and remembers it very fondly.

She travelled all over the world to make the film over a number of years, and some of the kids she interviewed are from Australia, India, Indonesia, Bulgaria, England, USA, and France. So there were lots of subtitles. JJ got most of them but still had questions for me throughout the film of bits and pieces he didn’t quite get. Hopefully we kept it quiet enough not to piss people off around us.

I wish I could have made one of the Q&A sessions that Genevieve does with some of the screenings. But we couldn’t make that session so we just saw the film.

Even though the movie was about 11 year olds, I loved the movie too, and so did a girlfriend who came with us.

Eleven is a gorgeous age. I don’t remember my 11 much at all, but I’m seeing it again through JJ who is 11. It’s that inbetween age from childhood to teenagehood when they still don’t mind being seen with their mum. They don’t mind a cuddle on your lap even though they’re nearly as big as you are. You can have some great conversations with them about all sorts of stuff. That stuff can range from them telling you they know what a boner is now, or that they’ve realised that sexual intercourse is the same thing as sex. That they’d thought sex was just kissing and cuddling but ooooh, now they really know what it is. He gets this information about boys from school who have older brothers. I’m glad he wants to talk to me about it and if anyone’s wondering when its age appropriate to talk to your child about sex and so on, your child will probably bring it up anyway.

Then they’re talking about the latest game they really like playing on the computer and want a friend to come around so they can play that game with them or have a sword fight with a rolled up newspaper.

I know I’m going to miss this age when he’s older.

The other great thing about the film was seeing how different kids live. My friend asked JJ if the film made him want to travel, and he said yes.


Making it to the other side

Last Sunday afternoon JJ and I headed out with our dog for a little drive to explore a creek.

I thought Monty might like another little stroll. Little stroll’s are all she can manage in her late years. And I thought JJ might like to look at the creek.

He did.

The ground was quite wet so I stepped quite gingerly around the place, but not JJ.

He’d crossed over to the other side of the creek further back and got to this spot and thought that would be a good place to get back to the side I was on.

Before the jump

But it involved a little jump. He’d found a stick that was enormously helpful in keeping his balance if needed.

Beginning of the jump

You can see his concentration.

Jump in progress. Day 211/366.

I wasn’t worried about him falling in. I was more concerned about having to get wet myself to fish him out if it came to that.

Nearly there.

But he made it and we both breathed a sigh of relief.

Phew, made it.

It wasn’t until we were about to leave that I noticed the bottom of his jeans were soaking and I asked if his shoes were wet. They were also soaking. Too late I realised that I should have got him to wear old shoes. But they’ve dried out okay so it doesn’t matter.

He had a great time having a little adventure down at the creek. There’s something magical about exploring when you’re a kid. They’re memories you keep forever.

When you want to act like a kid

Hip hip hooray. Day 178/366.

He turned 11 two weeks ago. I’m getting around to mentioning it now.

Remember how he was going through a really good stage? I knew that writing about it would tempt fate because he went through the crappy, shitty stage but we’ve come through the other side and he’s back to being good again. I picked him up from vacation care today and beamed when they told me that he’d been excellent and he got to lead an activity. He really enjoyed that and he’s a natural at it.

Three weeks ago he was being sent out because he wasn’t listening, he was answering back and being a general pain in the ass.

So the in the lead-up to his birthday we weren’t getting along at all well and I was THIS close to cancelling the birthday shenanigans.

But I didn’t. I organised a dinner for some of his/our friends. I even organised a cake (see picture above). It was a pretty good night and behaviour was forgotten about for a little while.

I also organised him to have two friends for a sleepover a few days later. I made lasagna and garlic bread. I baked my fabulous banana cake. I took them to see the Three Stooges even though it’s not the type of movie I would have normally gone to see. I cooked pancakes for breakfast and I even manually squeezed orange juice for them. None of them like freshly squeezed orange juice as it turns out and preferred the bought apple juice instead. Weirdos.

I did all of this with good grace and it was a success. But I really felt like punishing him by not doing any of it. Luckily the adult in me kicked in and I didn’t.