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.

Where we pretend we’re in Sherwood Forest for a little bit

Last Friday was a gorgeous day so we went for a drive to do a mother/son activity for a couple of hours. It was something that JJ had been wanting to do for sometime.

Channelling his inner Robin Hood. Day 102/366.

That’s right – archery.

Shooting the target

It’s a great spot near Clarendon called Archery Park and after getting the right bow for your height and strength, you’re shown how to use it on a target 10m away. There’s a few things to remember but it didn’t take us too long before we were let loose to go and do our shooting course.

I chose to do 14 targets where you can shoot from 10 or 20m away with three arrows for each target.

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It was fun. We both enjoyed it and you can see the look of concentration on his face as he goes for the target and gets yet another bulls-eye. According to him he got about ten.

We had to go searching for some arrows that missed the target but managed to find them all, otherwise there’s a fee to pay for lost or broken arrows.

Bulls-eye

It was fun to get out the house in the beautiful autumn weather we’re having.

We finished it off at the nearby Clarendon pub out the front eating lunch together.

Seeking shoes that will last the distance

A shoe as a planter pot. Day 88/366.

I’d like to know where one can buy decent shoes that last for longer than two months for a very active boy whose got size 8 men’s feet and still growing.

I’ve bought him more expensive shoes and they still don’t last very long – I’m talking two to three months tops. I’ve given up spending that bit more when it doesn’t guarantee that shoes will last that bit longer.

As he is still growing there’s no point buying a whole bunch of different shoes for him. I tend to get him one pair of sneakers and when they wear out buy him another pair. This means that he has one pair of backup shoes until I buy the next pair and we get rid of the backup shoes, or as you see above, donate them to the school garden.

I bought him boots when he was younger and even though they were slightly more sturdy they still fell apart.

My son, as mentioned above, is very active. He’s nearly always on the go so he needs something he can run around in that’s comfortable.

He goes to the type of school where wearing sneakers is okay, he doesn’t have to wear  black leather school shoes for instance. In fact I can’t think of any boys at his school that do. And even if I went down this path, would they last? Or would I get my money’s worth before I had to get the next size?

I can’t afford to spend $100 or more per pair of shoes that will only last a short time and I’m guessing that even these shoes would only last a certain length of time before he wears them out.

So, other parents in a similar situation. What do you do? Have you found a type of shoe for an active boy that will last until it’s grown out of? I really want to know.

If a shoe company reads this, I’m willing to try out your shoes and write about them here.

The golden age of parenting

We’re in a good place at the moment my son and I. And I know I’m bringing it on by saying that. But I have to say it.

I have a boy who – without me asking him to do so – got the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard this morning and vacuumed his own room. I couldn’t quite believe it.

Apart from a few silly things he still does – he’s just gorgeous at the moment. He’s doing his jobs in the mornings without me asking him to. I have a system for that. His daily jobs are written down and stuck on the fridge so that he knows what’s expected of him per day, and what days to pack sports and music stuff.

He says some really mature things and I marvel at where it’s coming from. He knows about The Surfer wanting to get back together with me and he’s said things like I should make him wait as long as we’ve been broken up before I tell him one way or the other. He’s also observed that he reckons we’ll get back together.

Other people have noticed his level of maturity as well. He sees the chaplain at school once a week and spends time talking to her and doing various activities and she’s commented on how well he’s doing. His teachers have also commented on it.

He went on a Cub Scout sleepover a couple of weeks ago and when I checked in with one of the leaders upon picking him up she noted that he’d matured lately.

He’s started playing cricket again this season after taking a year off because he didn’t want to wear the protective gear they have to wear when batting. I’ve noticed a big difference in how he approaches it. Previously when he was fielding he’d get a bit bored and roll around on the grass to pass the time. Now he pays attention and he seems to have some natural talent with his bowling and batting.

We went to Womad just over a week ago and this is where I found him after we’d both been to the toilet. Who could resist climbing such a tree? The beauty of Womad is that it is very family-friendly and I was comfortable letting him roam around on his own or with a friend so long as I knew where he was and when he’d be back (roughly). We had a central meeting spot and he had a wristband on with my phone number in case he got lost. Perhaps I should have worn one of those. He was more than comfortable wandering off to buy his dinner or a drink or to just go and have a look. And it was fine. A few years ago he used to be too shy/scared/embarrassed to go and buy stuff from shops or ask questions of shopkeepers but not any more.

He’s also developing a love for growing things and has bought some plants from the school garden and made me buy him some. He goes out and waters them every morning without a reminder from me. This interest will hopefully stand him in good stead when he applies for the agricultural high school that he currently wants to go to.

I was reminded of how horrendous parenting young kids can be – how mundane it is in those early years of looking after them, feeding them, entertaining them before they can do most of these things themselves.

The ‘horrendous’ word above is my own. I didn’t like it much at all. I’ve always loved my son but those early years of parenting never came naturally to me. It probably didn’t help that I did it on my own – completely on my own. No second weekends off for me. I was glad to go back to work when he was just over seven months old to have adult company more often again and use my brain for something other than being a mum. I used to dread the drives home because he wasn’t always a happy passenger and there’s nothing you can do when you’re driving and you’ve got a squealing kid in the back seat.

But I made it through those years, and through the early years of school when his behaviour made me scared to go and pick him up from school or after school care because there was often a detention slip, or a teacher needing to talk to me about what he’d done that day.

So I’m loving this patch of my parenting. He’s at the stage where I can leave him alone for a little while in the mornings so I can go for a run. He loves the independence. He’s at the stage where I don’t mind him walking the dog around the block by himself. He loves doing that too, and it’s all that Monty is capable of these days as she’s well into her retirement years.

I love that I can still give him a hug and a kiss and he doesn’t object too much.

At this stage he’s nearly as tall as me and it won’t be long before he’s looking down on my head and goes through those teenage years but I think he’s had a pretty good grounding for those years.

The gardener

Green thumb. Day 36/366.

You think you’re broken up then you find out that he would really like to get back together.

Obviously there’s so much more to it than I’m going to share here – you know how it is – but I’m working through all of the things that a request like that comes with.

On another completely unrelated note my son begged me to buy this plant when we were shopping recently. It was only $2.50 and it’s a pretty plant – how could I say no? I haven’t watered it once since we got home and it’s still alive. My son, the wannabe gardener. I’m all for it.

Where are those extra hours? I’d like to find them.

He loves me. Well most of the time. Day 29/366.

This was left on my pillow last Monday morning and I saw it just before I had to leave for work.

I don’t that we were even fighting or anything that morning or that he needed to suck up to me. He just did it out of the goodness of his heart. Bless him.

I try and remember these times after I’ve screeched at him while he’s outside practically hanging off the clothesline looking like it will break.

It’s been a mega-busy week with things on every night except for Friday.

I’m rearranging our front bedroom. It’s a spare room and it’s been a bit of a junk room, a bedroom for my nephew when he lived here for a couple of years. Since he left it’s been a separate living area mainly for JJ and his mates when they come over but it wasn’t laid out very well.

I got rid of some old furniture that I’d been given over the years and bought a new sofa bed/lounge and an IKEA tv cabinet/bookshelf.  I found out too late that it had to be attached to the wall which added another level of complication I didn’t want. It’s okay now thanks to a good mate. I found the instructions to be really awful though. I think IKEA instructions should be more like LEGO instructions. Give me some more numbers IKEA and some order to things. As it was I had to open box 3 to get the first two pieces I needed to assemble. I did it though. And now I just have to tidy up all the things that are on the floor.

The coming weeks don’t promise to be any quieter thanks to a hip-replacement operation (not mine), a girls weekend away, and the fringe/festival coming up. I think by the time winter gets here I will be glad to hibernate. Although the weather today is kinda wintery.

The small rewards help – a lot

Fun at the beach. Day 16/366.

As any parent knows, parenting is hard – really hard sometimes.

There’s moments when you can’t say anything right and your child goes off at you for not understanding him. And this is a pre-adolescent. God help me when he’s actually an adolescent.

You just want to laugh at how ridiculous they’re being but you can’t because that sets them off even more. So you just take in deep breaths and try to act calmly because you know that if you get hysterical like they’re being, then things really will spiral out of control.

He comes to talk to you in a little moment of calmness and you say the wrong thing again. Out he storms, bangs the door and things are back to yuck.

You just remind yourself that parenting is bloody hard, continue on with getting dinner ready and reward yourself with some alcohol while preparing dinner. And you know that they will eventually go to bed although because it’s so damn hot it will take a while for them to actually go to sleep and you hope like hell that this doesn’t make them even grumpier the next evening.

It’s like treading a very fine line. You wonder if that class you started on a Tuesday night is pushing things when you realise that he starts back at school next week and he’ll have his Wednesday evening commitments as well. That’s two nights out of the week gone and this doesn’t even include sport and social stuff.

Oh well. You brush that aside and decide to deal with that when and if the shit hits the fan.

But then there’s moments like this and you realise that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel after all.

You’re at the beach and you’ve had a swim and you’re lying on the towel relaxing. You watch your offspring in the water having a great time and your friend calls him a dolphin because he loves the water so much.

Then he decides to get out of the water  and gets you to help him spread out his towel next to you. He lies down next to you and says that this is the first time ever that he’s come out of the water and just relaxed on his towel instead of running around like a moron (his word).

You realise that he is gradually growing up and observing his own behaviour and that all that work you’ve done as a parent is maybe working after all.

You enjoy this moment while you can because you know it might be fleeting. And sure enough it is. You’re soon being annoyed by the previously calm child as he hops around on your towel with sandy feet and dripping wet body and ignoring your requests for him to move.