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.

Apparently I’m a bit bolshy

At my exhibition opening when I finally was able to take a photo. Day 157/366.

Eden Riley asks, ‘Who are the hell are you?’ My son asked for some words to describe a friend of his. I don’t really know this friend that well so it was a bit hard. While we were thinking of words I wondered how people might describe me?

I used to do temp office work. I remember having an interview with an employment agency and as part of it they told me that I needed to wear tights every day to work. I nodded in agreement and vowed to myself that I would never wear tights on a hot day. I don’t like wearing them in winter but I dislike cold legs more. Actually, I dislike hot, sweaty legs and bum more than cold legs. So I never wore tights on hot days and it didn’t affect my employment. I did, and still do, keep my legs in a tidy manner. They are usually hair free in summer so I couldn’t see the point of covering them with synthetic material on a hot day. I’m someone who can keep my mouth shut sometimes when I think a request is plain silly – like wearing tights on a 40 degree day.

I went for a job interview early in my working life and at my second interview for an admin role at a law firm, the interviewer was a partner in this firm. He told me that (and I’m paraphrasing) that they wouldn’t employ me because I might have to take time off in the not too distant future to have a baby. I was gobsmacked at this blatant sexism and I probably sat there with my mouth open. Not only was I really annoyed at his assumption, I was annoyed that they’d invited me back for a second interview to tell me this. I felt like calling him 14 years later when I finally did have a baby and telling him that he would have had a damn good worker for up to that amount of years but due to his short-sightedness, he didn’t. Actually would I have liked working there with that type of attitude? Probably not.

I used to work in a small firm, again, in an admin role. All my colleagues were professional men and it was my job to make coffees and teas for them. I’ve always hated doing this because I think you’ve got two arms and legs, do it yourself. However, it was part of my job so I sucked it up and made them, and washed the cups and so on as part of that. I was the office dishwasher! My job was sometimes very busy with looming deadlines so taking time out to make coffee for the blokes was an unwelcome interruption. On more than one occasion one of the fellas would bleat out the word – cofffeeeee…. I would yell back – only when busy of course – I’m busssyyyyyyy, do it yourselfffff…, and he would. One of the other guys often called me bolshy and I never quite knew what that meant then but I’m guessing it was this type of behaviour, and probably other stuff that made him call me bolshy.

A few years later I worked in another office in a support role and I was flat out doing their ‘word processing’ as it used to be called then. I did a heck of a lot of work and they expected a lot of me. We would break up over Christmas/New Year and finish at midday on our last day to go out to lunch. I was winding up my last lot of work when someone came into my office and asked me to type him a letter. Without thinking, I called him a very very rude name (one which I won’t write here because I’m shocked that I even said it). His jaw dropped too. I typed the letter and the matter was not referred to again. However, I reckon he thought more carefully about dumping work on me at the last minute from then on.

I’m a person who decided on a whim about a year ago to exhibit some of the photos I’d taken for a day every year. I’d never done this before and really didn’t know what I was doing. My bolshy attitude helped me along the way and I had the opening the other night.

I’ll write more about this another time.

I’m a person who had a ‘surprise’ pregnancy which meant becoming a single mum and having no help whatsoever from my son’s father. As I’ve written over the years on this blog it hasn’t been easy at all. Being a parent isn’t easy but being a sole parent isn’t ever easy. But, wearing all the hats that people have taken off to me over the years, I’m doing it and we’re okay. Sometimes I stand somewhere away from my son and open my mouth and silently scream when he’s really pushing my buttons but we have some laughs too. He loves being tickled and we have some moments when he’s lying on the floor laughing so much from me tickling him. Being bolshy has helped me on this parenthood ride, that, and the fact that I get to go to sleep every night and wake up to a new day. That really helps.

I’m a person who’s linking to aforementioned Eden Riley’s Fresh Horses brigade and I’m not always bolshy.

Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade

His detentions used to fill me with dread

Mother and son. Day 115/366.

When my son started school nearly six years ago he didn’t have an easy time with fitting in and settling into the school’s expectations behaviourally. He regularly spent time at the office, in detention, and was even suspended twice for a day each time.

So I’d go to pick  him up from school or after school care filled with dread about what I’d find out when I got there.

It’s taken nearly this long to be able to walk onto the school grounds and not feel this way as he’s finally fitting in a lot better with the system. It seems to me that if you don’t get the system, or just try to buck it, then it won’t like you and you’ll stand out. He stood out because of this, and because he’s quite tall for his age and because people think he’s older they expect more from him.

He’s the kid that always gets caught carrying the can. He’s not sneaky enough to run away before the teachers get there so he used to always be in trouble.

This  year he’s had a few detentions but they’ve been over quite minor misdemeanours. Take yesterday for example. After I’d picked him up we were waiting at the pedestrian lights when he told me that he’d received a detention that day. What for I asked?

He said that a bunch of kids were dancing while sticking their rude fingers up. I tried not to laugh when he told me. And to me, this doesn’t seem detention worthy but I wasn’t there. I always ask more questions when he tells me he’s been put in detention. Who else was involved? Why were you doing it?

There were heaps of the kids doing it. Did they all get detentions I asked? No, he said.

He told me that he owned up to doing it, and apologised for it, and the kid who dobbed on them had also been doing it but didn’t get a detention? Some other kids got detentions too. I think the teacher’s still filling in the forms as I haven’t received the note yet.

He asked me if I was cross with him and would I be punishing him?

I told him I wasn’t cross, but I was proud of him for apologising and being honest.

Kicking balls

Kicking practice. Day 117/366.

Today marks the day that JJ starts playing football again for the season and there go my Saturday mornings carting him around to games and standing on the sidelines cheering him and his team on.

Part of me would much rather be at home still in my pajamas than out there doing this but I know that it’s a good thing for him to do.

It gets him out the house and being active. It gets him involved in a team sport and learning new skills about the game and about playing in a team. It gets him some male mentoring which he doesn’t get at home being in a single parent family.

Last year was a bit of a write-off as far as football was concerned. JJ and the coach didn’t get along at all and consequently JJ was either on the sidelines or playing for the other team for much of the season.

The coach also kept the better players in the positions they were good at so JJ was the only player who was consistently sidelined. However, other parents talked to the coach about it and surprise surprise, their kid wasn’t sidelined so much. Being the optimist and the person who doesn’t like confrontations I kept hoping he’d see sense and not keep doing it, but this didn’t happen.

It wasn’t until the very last game – a carnival – when he asked JJ to be off for a second time that I finally said something and he took someone else off instead.

I’m hoping this year will be better. There’s a different coach who also happens to be a PE teacher. JJ is older and a bit more mature. And, as evidenced by the photo above, he’s keen to get out and do some practise.

And thank goodness for being able to buy men’s size 9 football boots in op shops. Football shoes are the one type of shoe he doesn’t wear out, and neither do others as there are always second hand pairs in op shops.