It’s been 13 months now for me as a single parent. For the first five months my children and I lived with my parents and that came with it’s own challenges (namely 400 miles a week of commuting just to do the school run). Since September 2016 the three of us have lived back in our home town in a two bedroom rented house. The children spend the night with their father anywhere from once, twice or three nights a week depending on his work schedule and availability and my one proviso is that the children are home with me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when there are after school clubs and activities and I try and maintain a constant mid-week routine.
I remember when EJ was first born and the seemingly massive gap of almost three years between the two boys; wondering how it might ever be possible for them to one day be friends and partners in crime. The difference between a baby and a pre-schooler is massive – their needs so varied. Yet within a relatively short period of time EJ has grown up to the point where he is now a school boy himself at the tender age of four – and both boys now attend the same school two years apart.
I am their primary carer so I spend the most amount of time with them and I get to witness the whole gamut of their sibling relationship – from love to hate and back again.
We went to see the movie The Secret Life of Pets at the weekend and it got me thinking about the subject in general. I particularly liked the bit where the cat lobs a ball with disdain for her two dog friends and they scatter just as a budgie picks up a laser pointer and the cat then goes crazy chasing the red dot. It’s so true! Cats love a laser dot!
It occurred to me recently that, despite not having pets ourselves, my kids actually know quite a collection of dogs (and a couple of cats) owned by family and friends.
For a while now I’ve been thinking about the best way to encourage my kids to move to the next level with their behaviour and the way they think and act. To be fair to them (particularly JJ who is obviously no longer a threenager), they are generally good boys and can be sweet, loving and thoughtful. However we do have plenty of meltdowns – often when tiredness or hunger kick in, but there are certain issues which do come up time and again and it can be really hard to negotiate with a small child when they decide to be stubborn!
I haven’t been able to write too much lately – life has been completely knackering and if I’m going to write then my optimum time seems to be mid-morning which is really unfortunate due to the fact that I am rarely unoccupied mid-morning. However I have managed to find a few things to love lately.
My favourite programmes recently have been: the BBC3 comedy Cuckoo with Greg Davies who is brilliant (and also used to teach drama at my old secondary school! [way after my time I should add]). I just love the silliness of it all – all the characters are written so well; Happy Valley – so sad it’s over already, another tour de force performance from Sarah Lancashire; The Voice UK – I know, I know, so predictable of me but I enjoy this so much more than something like X Factor, although now it’s going to the live shows it remains to be seen if the natural talent will survive duff song choices. I think Boy George has turned out to be a pretty good judge as far as I’m concerned, I have agreed with most of his choices although Ricky has the best team in my opinion – Kevin Sim’s performance of Chandelier is definitely going to be one of the series highs; and Thirteen – another BBC drama series, this time the story of a girl who was snatched from the streets by a man who kept her hostage in his cellar for 13 years before she manages to escape. It’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds though as the details of what actually happened behind those four walls gradually emerges.
Yesterday was day number 8 in the further potty training adventures of EJ. Day 6 had left me traumatised after I happened to detect the familiar eau d’excrecment wafting in my general direction post –breakfast as several magnetic Chuggers and two engrossed children crossed my path. I had one of those anti-eureka moments when the rolodex of emotions in your brain suddenly clicks from ‘medium alert – nappy change gear up processing’ to ‘HIGH ALERT – Oh Sh*********t!!!!! Fire in the hole!’. Not only had he failed to recognise the signs or mention the nature of ongoing events in the pant-department but he had done so in *brand new* *pristine white* pants. FFS.
I grew up near one of London’s big green spaces – Bushy Park, which borders Teddington and the Hamptons on the city’s southwestern corner. In this park I learned to ride a bike, built snowmen, played rounders in the summer as the deer looked on, and spent many a happy Sunday afternoon playing hide and seek amongst the bluebells and rhododendrons of the enclosed ‘Woodland Gardens’. However, it wasn’t until the last decade (now that I no longer live in the area) that I discovered the tradition of celebrating ‘Chestnut Sunday’ – the day in early/mid-May when the Horse Chestnuts (which line the main avenue) are believed to be in full blossom.
Back in 2008 when we decided to move in to our current home the hubster and I had few real reservations about the fact that our house is situated on a busy main road. We were a bit concerned about the lack of allocated parking outside but the times we visited there was invariably little reason to believe that the strip of freely available parking right outside wouldn’t always offer an available space. I grew up living on a main road – albeit on a ‘drive’ set back and a little more secluded from the road by hedges and trees, so I wasn’t too worried about getting used to the noise. I also lived on another busy street in Brighton whilst I was at university and knew that the worst kind of traffic noise occurs when you are too close to a set of lights and have to listen to people slowing down, radios blaring and engines revving.
Recently I had a bit of a shock. I was engaging in an activity I’ve become accustomed to over the years but suddenly the game has changed, the goalposts have been moved and the stakes have risen.
Let’s start at the beginning. Back in September 2014 my eldest child embarked upon his “big” school life, entering Reception year at our local Primary. I was well aware that this milestone was going to affect all of us as a family, putting time pressures and (soon, I fear) homework and attainment stresses on all of us. One of those time pressures very much includes the strict limitations we now have when it comes to family holidays, and of course I was familiar with the debate which rages on with regards price surges at peak, school holiday, times of year.
One thing I really enjoyed doing at the end of last year was putting together a little round up of the year’s highlights and it is lovely to have a blog on which to feature the happy memories!
So without further ado:
I started the year on a bit of a high, full of positivity and ready to take the blogging world by storm having been a bit of an occasional dipper into cyber waters up to that point. I actually wrote a post at some point patting myself on the back for publishing five posts in one week! I now know that there are people out there publishing three posts a day!