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.

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.