Gifted Magazine (Photo credit: Creature Comforts)
Mothers’ Day has been and gone. So what have we learned?
The answer is simple – the best gift of all is the gift you’d give to yourself.
I awoke on Mothers’ Day to a tepid cup of tea made direct from the tap and a bowl of soggy cereal lovingly carted up the stairs and liberally dripped all over them.
Sleep in? What sleep in? They were bouncing on the bed in no time demanding that I get up and open their presents.
Okay, okay. First up was a little wooden box lovingly decorated with whale stickers. This was a treat! The youngest has an un-abiding passion for sea creatures. So, for him to share his sticker collection was a big step indeed. There were hushed discussions at the foot of the bed about wanting his killer whale sticker back, but his sister held firm. “You can’t have it yet!” she said.
Next up was an origami cup with personalised tea bag. Lipton’s tag had been replaced by another reading ‘Enjoy you cuppa’ on one side and ‘I love you’ on the other. Aw, shweet!
Last but not least was a multi-media canvas featuring hearts, spots, squiggles and more.
After much admiration, the energetic trio left me in peace to enjoy my morning cuppa and by the time I was finished – it had long turned cold – I was ready to find new homes for my prezzies. But where had they gone?
A little investigation revealed that my sea creature box now had pride of place on the youngest child’s book shelf and was already loaded up with treasures. My tea bag had relocated to the mid-kid’s room amongst a collection of other bits and bobs while the canvas adorned the wall of the eldest child’s room.
It’s the gesture that counts after all. 🙂
Cockatoo with character (Photo credit: ash-s)
There are days when I can’t get my kids out the door fast enough. They’ve argued since dawn, treated the kitchen like a café and the lounge room like a three ring circus.
We hear the school bell from our house and still my kids move at a snail’s pace. On a typical day, the clock is counting down and I’m on edge.
But today was NOT one of those days.
Our youngest decided to fill a few spare moments (when he probably should have been packing his bag) climbing on the backyard swing-set.
The next thing I heard was screeching. And it wasn’t him. A collection of pink cockatoos had gathered on the TV aerial atop our house.
My husband, who is something of a twitcher, has taught our kids how to make a particular sound that attracts the attention of birds. It’s a bit like the whistle you do before you learn how to whistle.
Sure enough, the little man was perched on the swing-set doing his best bird whistle. And the birds were responding. Every now and then they would all look his way and listen intently. It was a sight to behold.
When the birds eventually flew away, he raced inside and grabbed the big book of birds, tracked down the page he needed and stared in awe and wonder.
A little bit of nature had just visited his backyard.
And yep, we were late to school. Notes had to be signed, explanations given. But our youngest had a fabulous story to tell.
The trial is over, the results are in – empathy (as a parenting technique) really works!
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called ‘Parenting . . . like you mean it’ – about a revolutionary* technique to restore peace and understanding to my household.
I’ve gotta say, I had my doubts. For months, we had all been living on edge, only moments from full scale meltdown if someone said the wrong thing or looked like they were going to. I was tired of living in a war zone. It was time for a reassessment of my parenting techniques.
So, instead of responding to all those quibbles with “you’ve got to be kidding”, “build a bridge” or “just stop it” I tried a little empathy. And the result was instant!
My youngest was on the verge of losing it. I tried to understand . . . and, as a result, so did he. There was no door-slamming, no tantrum, no need for time-out. Peace ruled, at least for a little while.
Other opportunities soon presented themselves. We talked through the options. Tried to understand the other person’s point of view. Took on board whatever emotion was bubbling at the surface. And peace ruled.
I’m not saying the process has been without its problems. There’s not always time to talk through the issues and my level of patience can be a little prohibitive every now and then.
But I’m loving it. We seem to be making more time in other areas as well and the kids are responding.
This household ain’t perfect. But I like it a little more these days.
The look of guilt was written all over her hairy face. As she stood quaking at my feet, I knew something was up.
A moment later, the howling began.
Red-faced, blotchy and in a state of shock, my youngest daughter arrived on the scene, offering up her shaking hand amidst a sea of tears. She had just had a close encounter of the snapping, toothy kind. And she couldn’t believe it.
Someone she had trusted all of her life, someone with whom she had shared so many good times and someone who now stood between her and me had just bared her teeth in anger.
In a fit of pique, during a stoush over bedding, our 15-year-old Maltese had nipped her two-legged sister by mistake. And she knew she’d done wrong. Her tail was tucked between her legs and she couldn’t look me in the eye.
In the doggy’s defence, I must tell you she was defending her territory from the older dog who, from all accounts, was throwing her weight around. Add to that the unrelenting argument between our son and daughter which, no doubt, had her worried. After all, how was an innocent pup meant to know that the angry words were not directed at her?
Once the tears had subsided and all parties had acknowledged their role in the caper, we headed inside. On closer inspection, any hint of the bite had disappeared.
But the effect was evident for the remainder of the night – no more fighting.
It wasn’t enough that I kept telling them to stop. When the dog got sick of it – that’s when they finally listened.
No bills, no worries, no doubts – kids really do have it good!
Do you remember the days when you could skip down the street just because you were happy? No-one looked twice and if they did, it was only because you’d reminded them what it was like to be a care-free kid.
Library fees didn’t exist. The school library was just happy to see the books returned even if they were a few months late.
And the thought of guilt being attached to dessert was simply unheard of. I mean, really, the only reason we ate our dinner was to get dessert.
So, in honour of my unappreciated youth, I have compiled a list of things I haven’t done in a while. If you think of some others, feel free to add your own.
- I haven’t left the house in my pyjamas.
- I haven’t eaten a whole bag of lollies just because it was there and without fear of a sugar high.
- I haven’t been brave enough to return an old law handbook that I borrowed back in 1997. I’m concerned they may have some legal comeback if I remind them about it now.
- I haven’t cleaned under the couch in recent memory. If the kids didn’t dump their rubbish there, it wouldn’t be an issue.
- I haven’t ordered dessert instead of dinner when I’ve been out to a restaurant.
- I haven’t asked for the haircut I actually want. This is a whole can of self-esteem worms we don’t want to open.
- I haven’t paid the phone bill on time for the longest time. An extra day won’t spark a worldwide economic collapse. Or will it?
- I haven’t ignored Facebook for any more than a week since I signed up. I am a teeny tiny bit addicted.
- I haven’t sung out loud for fear of someone hearing for a very long time.
- And I haven’t climbed a tree just for the heck of it.
But the day is young . . .
Playgroup is a strange beast – equal parts distraction, gossip, support and escapism.
It’s subject to the same worries and woes of any workplace – clashes of personality, differences of opinion, out and out tiffs.
But lately, I’ve noticed another element creeping into the mix. It’s just a tiny dash of . . . boredom.
I say this in hushed tones for fear of being labelled a traitor. After all, playgroup has been a great source of fun and friendship. It’s meant to be the place where people are at their most understanding and non-judgemental.
But, if I hear another discussion about blankies, dummies or potties, there is a very good chance I will quietly implode.
To explain myself, my youngest child is almost ready for school so a lot of these issues are a distant memory and I’ve worked very hard at forgetting them. And I’m sure I’ve done my share of boring other people with the details, but as of today, I’m declaring a stop to it.
Like fingernails on a chalkboard, the next time I hear one of these topics pop up I will be the person who suddenly and inexplicably volunteers to sift the sandpit for lost toys, clean the cubby with a toothbrush and hunt down that elusive mouse that calls the playgroup kitchen home.
If you’re passing by and see a sudden puff of smoke where a person once stood, you’ll know I didn’t make my escape in time.
Last Sunday the mutiny occurred.
It was an afternoon like any other. The kids had been fed. Their afternoon was organised. I was full of relaxed confidence.
And then . . . there was silence.
Another mum might have reacted sooner. It wasn’t until I spied the paint brushes that I realised something was out of order.
They’d been warned. But like so many times before, the younger pair had chosen to do what they wanted anyway.
Harsh words were spoken before big sister announced:
“That’s it! I’m packing my bags.”
It’s not the first time this threat has been made so I wasn’t tripping over myself to stop her. That is, until some minutes later I heard another, younger voice pipe up:
“Will I need undies?”
It was time to step in. The lecture followed a well trodden path, but little did I know big sister had already convinced her younger brother that he would need to find work in the big, wide world in order to support them.
A few minutes later, I looked out the front window to see him standing at the bottom of the drive with an arm full of magazines ready to become a catalogue delivery person. His eldest sister had joined the party but was ready to reassure when I launched out the front door.
“It’s okay, mum,” she said. “We’ve got our shoes on.”
Never mind the road, the traffic, the unknown neighbours. At least their feet were safe.
I guess I’ve taught them something.