Saturday, 20 December 2008


And the term has ended. We can all breathe again without the pressure of school runs / lunchboxes /reading books / homework / washing uniform etc etc. More and more I am enjoying the school holidays. I honestly never thought the day would come. I used to hate them because my boys just used to fight and get bored and I dreaded not having any time to myself. Those of you who know me will know the foreboding feeling I used to have on the last day of term. Now it is just pure relief. Now that I have worked out why they fight and get bored, and I can do something about it, I enjoy them so much more. I love having my boys back and watching them relax into being themselves again. They are so pressured during term time. We all are. During the holidays we don't have to clock watch, and we actually have time to play with them.

These holidays are even better because it is Christmas and Jared is off work for the whole two weeks! We can have time to do family stuff all together, but we will also have the time to give individual attention to our boys. Having 3 children, we don't often get the chance to spend time alone with the boys but we are going to do this over the holidays because it is so important.

We're also looking forward to Christmas Day because we have bought the boys a Nintendo Wii. Well, actually, we haven't bought it with our own money. We have been saving for it as a family for a few months and whenever we have been given birthday or Christmas money we have put it in the 'Wii pot'. We have managed to save enough, but the boys don't know so it will be a big surprise for them! It has been so good for them to save for this because they have learnt the value of it, but also they have been learning about being patient and not having everything immediately. So often now children have things as soon as they want them and they never get the chance to learn to wait. As they have waited the excitement has built and they have really enjoyed seeing the cheques coming in and counting the money in the Wii pot. We have never had any kind of computer game/ console thing before. We haven't got a playstation or xbox, so it will be a new thing for us and I am really excited about it!

Have a very happy Christmas. You never know, we may have been good enough for Father Christmas to come!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tis the season to be... hyper?!

Gosh, its been a long time since I udpated on here. Life has been very busy with christmas parties and nativities. I cannot wait until Friday when the boys finish school and we can all relax into the holidays.

So, as the title suggests, things have been rather exciting in our house. I can't work out whether it is because the boys are tired, or over -excited about Christmas having had so many lovely things to do in the run up to the end of term, or maybe just they have decided to be that way but they are incredibly hyper. It is becoming fairly unbearable. Toby, who is 7, does not seem to be able to a) keep still and b) stop talking. If he is not making noise from his mouth he is tapping, clicking or banging his feet on something. The sounds that are coming from his mouth are repetitious, alien like sounds which seem to make him jump up and down as he says them. Every time he tells me any kind of news from school he leaps about the room like a gazelle going up a mountain. I do keep asking him not to make so much noise, but I really don't think he knows he is doing it. I hope he calms down when term has ended because otherwise Imay resort to locking him in the garden for the holidays ( ... social workers, please note, this is a JOKE...).

Max seems to be slightly less hyper than Toby, but a thousand times more sensitive, bursting into floods of tears the second his scissors don't work or his pen lid gets stuck. He is very very tired, just completing his first term at school. He has also started having tantrums that would make a two year old proud. After school today he screamed, jumped up and down, threw things across the room, just because I refused to give him a chocolate. Life is hard when you are 4. He needs a break from school and the relentless structure and conformity that it brings for him.

Jonah just watches it all from the sidelines, making notes for future reference. The poor boy has alot of bad behaviour to copy, as well as the good (of course... I'll try not to be too negative, it is the season of good will after all).

Despite all the noise and chaos though, I am really looking forward to Christmas, and having my boys at home again. They do need a rest, and until Christmas Day actually comes, we will have the ultimate bribery to use when we tell them that Father Christmas won't come unless they are good!!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Daddy's home!

Hooray! We made it! A whole week without my fantastic, supportive husband who is at this very moment doing the ironing for me! It was a hard and very long week, but we all survived and the boys were generally well behaved.

We went to meet him at the airport. The boys had made a sign to hold up that said 'Best Dad in the World' and they stood there, holding the sign, waiting for their Daddy while lots of people walked past smiling at them as they read the sign. I felt quite proud of my boys, and had butterflies in my tum as I waited to see my best boy. As they saw him walking through they shouted, cheered and jumped up and down. It was as if the whole world had shrunk to just us, and it was so brilliant to see him again.

One thing I noticed though towards the end of the week was that they were becoming quite physical with me. Even Jonah was clambering on me more than usual. I think they were missing the rough and tumble that Jared gives them. This is not just a fun thing for Dads and boys to do, it seems to be a necessity. Not only does it provide bonding for them (yes, apparently rolling around the floor together with arms and legs flailing is a bonding activity....) but when done with Dad it helps them to learn self control in a safe way, and they get to let off steam at the same time. They get to be aggressive with someone who loves them and will help them to control themselves and not let it go too far. If they don't have the chance to do this, I think they will be aggressive with other people who probably won't appreciate it quite so much.

Of course this won't stop them fighting with one another.... unfortunately! They are just like little lion cubs who roll around together. If they could roll around with Dad all day, they probably would, but it seems to be very important that he gives this time to them at some point during the day.

I don't understand the need for it myself. As a mum, I don't like to see them behaving in a way where they might get hurt, and I try not to watch! If I was in the middle of the bundle I would probably just cry! Thankfully I don't have to understand it, I just have to let them get on with it and be there to pick up the pieces afterwards if I'm needed.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Rising to the challenge

My boys are being amazing. We've done 3 nights without Jared, and have 3 more to go. This morning they were little stars. I only had to ask Max once to get dressed, brush his teeth and put on his shoes and coat! Toby went one better and did it all without even being told to! He even helped get Jonah ready by trying to put his shoes on too. He managed to get one shoe on before the little escapologist broke loose. Better than nothing. They really are rising to the challenge. I keep telling them that we are a team, and we need to work together to get everything done. It seems to be working so far.... (you just watch, now I've said all this they'll be awful tomorrow morning!!)

The other thing that has totally overwhelmed me is the support and care I have been on the receiving end of. Our friends at church have looked after me so well. I've had more offers for help than I know what to do with, and people have just popped round to bring me chocolate or other necessities (of course chocolate is the most important necessity). I have never experienced anything like this before and it has made me feel so loved and supported. Today my friend is looking after Jonah all day. It has been an amazing oasis in the middle of the week, and I've got so much done. It has made me look forward to the days when they are all at school!! This same friend, who has 4 children of her own, had us all round for tea on Monday night as well. This is what real church is about. Loving each other in practical ways. Being a family.

Sadly my child free time is now over and off I go to pick up the noisy ones from school. I always go in slight trepidation, wondering what they have been up to and if they have behaved today. Onwards and upwards I go, with my face forward and ready for the next part of my long week!

Monday, 1 December 2008

What are big brothers for?...

..... Cutting hair of course!! On Saturday night, all 3 boys were playing nicely (or so we thought) in their bedroom. When Jared went in to get Jonah for his bath he found a clump of blonde baby hair lying on the floor, next to some scissors.... hmmm. 'Has someone cut Jonah's hair?' he asked. Both boys blamed each other. Eventually, after saying that both of them will lose priveledges if the real culprit did not own up, Max asks in a quiet voice 'will you be cross?'. In my best mummy voice I told him that I was more cross that he had lied to me than the fact that he 'might' have cut Jonah's hair. So... he admitted it! The scissors were just there and Jonah's hair was quite long, and he just couldn't help himself!

I had actually been trying to make myself cut Jonah's hair for a few weeks but it was so lovely and curly and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. This forced me into it and now my baby has been transformed into a little boy with short hair, instead of a cute little curly haired, blue eyed angel. (Yes, I am his mother and I am allowed to exaggerate.... I do know that he is far short of angel status.) Max was suitably punished and we learnt a lesson - check for scissors before letting him near his brothers!!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

The night before the big day

Tomorrow, Jared goes away for 6 days. I am not one of these wives and mum's who enjoy it when their husband is away. I can't understand how people look forward to their other halves going away. I hate it. Normally he is only away for 1 night, 2 at the most. This time it will be 6 nights, and he'll be in a different country - Finland of all places.

So, this is going to be a hard week. Apart from the fact it is a hard slog doing everything on my own, I will miss him alot. I am one of those people who needs to talk alot, and talking to 3 little boys (one of whom can't talk back yet) just doesn't quite do it for me!

The boys are also going to miss him alot. So I'm going to have to cope with their emotions as well this week. Sometimes even if he isn't back for tea they cry, so I don't know how they are going to be this week.

I do know however, that I have a supremely faithful friend and provider who will give me all I need for this week. I'm not sure that I have written about this before on here. As a family we are Christians and we teach our boys to follow Jesus. I see this as one of the most important things we could ever do for our boys. I will write about this another time because otherwise I'll get sidetracked.....

So, this week I know that I can rely on God to give me strength and energy to get me through it. How do I know this? Because He has done it before, and will not fail me this time. When Jonah was a baby ( he still is of course, I just can't face the fact that he's growing up!! ) I was extremely tired. It was a really hard time. I had to just carry on with each day because my family needed me to. I had to make the tea, do all the school runs ( and there were 3 a day because Max was doing half days in nursery) and generally be 'normal'. I found a verse in Psalms that said 'Look to the Lord for strength, seek His face always' and I realised that if God can give me all I need, then that must include strength and energy as well. I can honestly say that I felt 'supernaturally energised'. I am sure that Jared would love that phrase because he is a true pentecostal type!! I am not saying that life got suddenly easier, or that the boys slept better or were better behaved, but I just felt able to cope with it all because I had my best friend at my side giving me all that I needed. I know that He will do this again for me this week. I just need to remember that He's next to me being my Father while I am being a mother.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Swallowing my words....

Ok, firstly I should apologise for yesterdays rant. I was very cross, but did not have all the facts and so shouldn't have responded in such an emotional way. That was my mummy, protective, over-emotional side....

Today I discover that apparently the no running rule is only when it is wet. Sort of ok. It makes it more bearable (although I'm sure that it still has a nasty smell of health and safety somewhere).

I think that I am on a bit of a journey. I am still going through the school system for the first time with my first child, and, like anything when you do it for the first time, I will make some mistakes and see things that aren't really there. I desperately want my boys to have the best they can possibly have, and I do feel that at school they are only acceptable if they behave in a more 'feminine' way. BUT, I need to put things in perspective slightly. It is a good school and they are doing well, and learning well. It could be alot worse and I need to be grateful for the things we have and not moan so much about the things that we don't have.

Having said that, we will still fight for our boys to be allowed to be boys and to learn in ways that suit them best. We will still work hard at making responsible young men of them. (And as I type boy #2 and boy#3 are rolling around the floor in a tiger cub manner.... doesn't look too responsible to me, but then I'm a girl - what would I know?!)

So, I'm going to try to be positive......

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

What on earth??

Two things have happened this week which have not made me happy. Actually, quite alot more than two things but I'm only going to put two on here! (I ever know, I may slip one in further down while you're not looking...).

Yesterday Toby (in Year 2, age 7) came home from school and said 'Mum, if we don't do our homework we have to stay in at playtime to do it'. What?!! They are 6 and 7 years old. He has 3 or 4 sets of homework each week to do plus a reading book. This is madness. What are they doing in school time? Why can't they do all the work they need to do there? When my boys come home from school they need to let off steam. They have been working hard all day (as far as I know...) and they need to play and have some freedom, within my limits, as I have written about before. The last thing they need is me nagging them to do something they don't want to do. I don't want to turn them off from learning and from school because they have a negative experience of it.

We also find it very difficult to do the homework with him. I have 3 boys, one of whom is an extremely active toddler. I cannot sit down with Toby and give him half an hour of my undivided attention (and this is what it needs - he can't do it on his own). I have to wait for Jared to come home from work, which then gives us a very small window of opportunity to do it in. At this time of night Toby is tired and grumpy and it is very hard to motivate him. Should I stand up for my boy and speak to the teacher about this? I really don't think it is right for children at this age to have so much homework. Toby asked me 'who invented homework anyway?', and I answered 'someone who doesn't like children'. That must be the truth. If you truly understood what young children needed, you would not burden them with homework.

So, what was the other thing that made me unhappy? Today, Toby tells us that they're not allowed to run in the playground at lunchtimes. Is this health and safety gone mad? Apparently children are getting hurt. This was red rag to a bull for me. If they stop children (especially the boys, who need to run) doing this they will pay for it later on in the classrooms. The boys need to run off their energies so that they can then go into the classroom and learn. So, I told him that I say he can run. Of course I do not want to teach him to break the rules, but I also know what he needs. No-one else is going to stand up for my boys, I have to do it. I will happily go in and explain to whoever has made up this ridiculous rule why my son will not be obeying it.

And now of course I can hear all the teachers amongst you shouting at your computers again...... It's not that I'm anti-teachers, or anti-schools particularly, it just frustrates me so much when schools do not take into account what the child needs. Every Child Matters? Yeah right.....

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Making Men

Jared goes away with work quite a lot. Well, it feels quite a lot to me but he would probably say it isn't! When he is away my boys change. It amazes me. It is almost as if they grow up slightly because the biggest man isn't there, so all the order shifts and they move up the ranks.

Yesterday morning, for example, I did not have to ask Max to get dressed more than once. That, in itself, is a small miracle! During breakfast they ate their food without shouting and ordering me about as if I'm their own personal waitress and chef. They cleared the table afterwards. While I was in the shower Toby looked after Jonah and I heard him playing with him in a really gentle and loving way.

Apart from the usual arguing, fighting and 'I'm telling's after school it was generally ok, but Max was the one who surprised me the most. While I was cooking tea, he tidied up the train set and some other toys, and then ASKED me if he could lay the table! After my faint from shock, I gave him the cutlery and he set to work. Everything was mixed up and in the wrong places, but he had tried and hadn't even been asked to do it. I was amazed.

Does this show me that I don't expect enough of them? I think it does. When Jared is here, we make a good team (usually in the mornings that means me sitting and drinking a cup of tea whilst trying to come round and him making breakfast.... it feels like a good team to me!). The boys get on with playing and arguing, and eventually do the things they have to do. When he is away, they do so much more. We are not their servants, we are here to teach and train them not just give them everything on a plate. I think they need responsibility and then they feel part of what is going on and have some ownership of it. They are only 7 and 4, but there are lots of things that they can do to contribute to our family life. They always put their clothes away after I have washed and ironed them, and I think this also helps them appreciate what other people in the family do as well.

I don't expect them to always be doing jobs for me, but I do want to teach them how to be useful part of our family. Too many children today are waited on hand and foot and never learn how to look after themselves, or appreciate what other people do for them. I don't want this for my boys. My job is to equip them with the things they need for the rest of their lives, and I want to do it well.

Friday, 14 November 2008


Has anyone heard Beyonce's new song - 'If I were a boy'? At first I really liked it because it's quite catchy. Then I listened to the words and yet again heard how girls are better than boys, and actually girls would make better boys! How ridiculous! And how would that make a boy feel? Like a failure yet again, I suspect.

The 'discrimination' (for want of a better word....) against boys is so subtle, but so real. Girl power did so much for girls, but as girls were raised up boys have been put down. This song is proof of this. Some people might say I'm over reacting and it's just a song. Perhaps they are right, or perhaps I am right and some boys might listen to it and think that they don't know who they are anymore. If girls would make better boys, what does that mean for boys and their identity? Who are they supposed to be if they can't be themselves?

Jared has just told me that this blog is a bit one sided. I don't claim to be anything else. Who else speaks up for boys? I know that I am hugely biased because I have 3 boys and, as all parents, want the best for my children. However I also feel absolutely gutted to the core about what is happening to all boys in our society. I cry when I hear the news about what teenage boys have been up to and when I read about schools and 'systems' failing our boys. I feel so passionate that we need to help these boys be themselves, and be allowed to be real boys, before it is too late.

I'm glad Beyonce isn't a boy. I don't think she'd make a very good one.

Monday, 10 November 2008

New background??

Apparently the background is too girly. My husband, Jared, said that because my blog is supposed to be about boys I should have a warrior type background. Maybe a Braveheart type army going into battle. I'm not sure. I'm still a girl, even though I have 3 boys. I am a mummy writing about boys, which is why I chose a girly background. I try hard not to lose my female identity even though I spend most of my time doing boy type activities. I would not naturally choose to spend most of my Saturday in the cold wind and rain walking up a hill or chopping trees in some woods. I would much rather read my book and snuggle up under a warm blanket. Those days will come... one day... so my mum keeps telling me!!

I think my boys need a female influence though, otherwise they will not learn to relate to women and girls. Jared is very good at teaching them to treat me well. I want my boys to grow up to be men who love, respect and cherish the women in their lives. He looks after me so well and they watch this. They see Daddy making me a cup of tea in the morning, and giving me a hug. Sometimes they giggle, or sometimes they squeeze into the middle of the hug. When they speak to me rudely or ping my bra straps (yes, they really do that to me!!), he steps in and tells them that isn't the right way to treat a girl. We want them to be gentlemen. It is so important that they have a good example in this. Dads have a big job on their hands!!

So, I digress. What do you think of the background? Shall I keep it girly? Or shall I go for the boy theme???

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Putting it in perspective

I found this poem last week and it made me cry (although that doesn't take alot...). I thought I would share it here - its quite lengthy so you have to bear with it a bit. It made me put all my moanings into perspective. We really only have our children for such a short amount of time. I want to make the most of it and not have regrets when they have gone and the house is quiet again. I want to make them my priority and not other things. That is one of the reasons I don't work actually. I would never tell anyone else they should or shouldn't work, but I have chosen not to because I want to give my boys my best. I won't put a career before them, even if that means having to retrain when they are older. They are very worth the cost and sacrifice that I have made for them. Anyway... here is the poem.

Children Won't Wait

There is a time to anticipate the baby's coming, a time to consult a doctor;
A time to plan a diet and exercise, a time to gather a layette
There is a time to wonder at the ways of God, knowing this is the destiny for which I was crafted;
A time to dream of what this child may become,
A time to pray that God will teach me how to train this child which I bear.
A time to prepare myself that I might nurture his soul.
But soon there comes the time for birth,
For babies won't wait.
There is a time for night feedings, and colic, and formulas.
There is a time for rocking and a time for walking the floor,
A time for patience and self sacrifice,
A time to show him that his new world is a world of love and goodness and dependability.
There is a time to ponder what he is - not a pet or a toy, but a person, an individual - a soul made in God's image.
There is a time to consider my stewardship.
I cannot possess him.He is not mine.
I have been chosen to care for him, to love him, to enjoy him, to nurture him, and to answer to God.
I resolve to do my best for him.For babies won't wait.
There is a time to hold him close and tell him the sweetest story ever told;
A time to show him God in earth and sky and flower,to teach him wonder and reverence.
There is a time to leave the dishes, to swing him in the park,
To run a race, draw a picture, to catch a butterfly, to give him happy comradeship.
There is a time to point the way, to teach his infant lips to pray,
To teach his heart to love God's word, to love God's day.
For children won't wait.
There is a time to sing instead of grumble, to smile instead of frown,
To kiss away the tears and laugh at broken dishes.
A time to share with him my best in attitudes - a love of life, a love of God, a love of family.
There is a time to answer his questions, all his questions,
Because there may come a time when he will not want my answers.
There is a time to teach him so patiently to obey, to put his toys away.
There is a time to teach him the beauty of duty, the habit of bible study, the joy of worship at home, the peace of prayer.
For children won't wait.
There is a time to watch him bravely go to school, to miss him underfoot,
And to know that other minds have his attention, but that I will be there to answer his call when he comes home and listen eagerly to the story of his day.
There is a time to teach him independence, responsibility, self reliance,
To be firm but friendly, to discipline with love,
For soon, so soon, there will be a time to let him go, the apron strings untied,
For children won't wait.
There is a time to treasure every fleeting minute of his childhood.
Just eighteen precious years to inspire and train him.
I will not exchange this birthright for a mess of pottage called social position, or business, or professional reputation, or a paycheck.
An hour of concern today may save years of heartache tomorrow.
The house will wait, the dishes will wait, the new room can wait,
But children won't wait.
There will be a time when there will be no slamming of doors, no toys on the stairs,no childhood quarrels, no fingerprints on the wallpaper.
Then may I look back with joy and not regret.
There will be a time to concentrate on serving outside my home:
On visiting the sick, the bereaved, the discouraged, the untaught;
To give myself to the 'least of these'.
There will be a time to look back and know that these years of motherhood were not wasted.
I pray there will be a time to see him an upright and honest man, loving God and serving all.
God, give me wisdom to see that today is my day with my children,
That there is no unimportant moment in their lives.
May I know that no other career is so precious,
No other work so rewarding,
No other task so urgent.
May I not defer it nor neglect it.
But by Thy Spirit accept it gladly and joyously, and by that grace realise
That the time is short and my time is now -
For children won't wait.

Helen M Young

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Oh my goodness. Last night we had 37 people here for a fireworks party. Thankfully most of the time they were outside. 17 adults, 14 boys (mostly under 10!) and 6 girls. It was very noisy and the boys were very appreciative of the fireworks but also rather excitable. When everyone left we threw our 'stinking of bonfire' boys into bed, cleared up and collapsed in a heap. I was hoping that the excitement was over with. Not so.

Considering they all went to bed an hour later than usual I was hoping for at least a 7am wake up call. 5:50am was the reality. 5:50am?! I couldn't believe it, and had to look twice at the clock in case I was dreaming! And from the moment they woke up they were like wild animals waiting to be set free. Leaping, shouting, rolling around, and generally not listening to a word I was saying. It took Max 20 minutes to get dressed because getting dressed is far too boring and has to have other, more exciting, activities inserted in between pulling on pants and trousers. It was not a pleasant morning and there was alot of cajoling and 'come on - ing' going on. By the time it was 8:30 I was very ready to be opening the front door and letting them loose.

I opened the front door and they were off. Set free from their cage, they screamed, shouted and ran all the way to school. I had to almost run (and if you know me, I don't run!) to keep up with them.

I was very grateful that we walk to school. Imagine if we drove there and they hadn't had time to release all this excess energy. What would they be like in their classroom? Would they be the 'naughty boys'? I wonder if this is why we have so many children (especially boys) who are labelled and put on medication. Do they really need to be medicated or would a change in lifestyle be a better option? How many children are driven to school, driven home again, watch tv and play on computer games when they are home and never ever have chance to release all this pent up energy from the day?

It saddens me that we are so dependent on drugs but don't consider our lifestyles first. Of course it would make an easier life if my boys were calmer, and of course I often wish that there was something I could do to make that happen. But they are not. They are not being naughty (not all the time anyway!), they are just being 'normal boys', but 'normal boys' aren't acceptable in our society anymore because we want our children to be peaceful, calm, quiet and not to interfere in our busy lives. When they can't fulfill our criteria we give them drugs or try to make them fit our lives in other ways. Ouch. That's a bit of a harsh thing to say. Is it?

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Half Term

As usual half term came rather too quickly for my liking. I knew the boys needed a break from school, but didn't actually want them to have it at home!! I was expecting a whole week of shouting, racing around the house, fighting and tale telling and to be honest I was not looking forward to it at all. The week that I had in reality was totally different....

I was really struck by the change in them that happened when they had time to relax, to enjoy being together and not be rushed about to school, clubs or other things. Usually at weekends, there is alot of noise and running (normally with lightsabers in the hands!) and I often complain that they have so many toys but don't seem to know how to play with them. This is what I was expecting for the half term break. I watched in total amazement as they got games out, brushed the dust off them and started playing WITHOUT being told to 'find something nice to do'. They had the time and they were just chilling. We did not need to rush about. They enjoyed each others company. This was a total revelation to me.

We rush our children too much. We have such busy lives and we expect them to run at the same pace that we choose to run at. We, as parents, try very hard not to get sucked too much into the clubs / sports thing and our eldest boy goes to 1 club a week. Even this creates more rushing. They don't have time to play, as they should be doing. When they play, they relax.

Our eldest boy, Toby, who is 7 has 2 sets of homework every week, as well as doing reading books supposedly every night (!). Why do they need homework at 6 and 7 years old? When they are at home they should be playing and spending time with their family so they are ready to learn again at school. On weeknights we don't have time to play with them as much as we would like because we are too busy trying to get homework and reading books done. It is a pressure that is totally unecessary at this age. What does this teach the children? When they are adults, will they bring work home with them instead of spending time with their children? How will they learn that relaxation is important? Will they always feel that their lives are only worthwhile if they are 'kept busy'? Yesterday Toby said to me 'We shouldn't have homework in half term, we're supposed to be having fun'.

So, because we have been far too busy having fun, we haven't done the homework yet. Will we do it? I don't know yet. Am I brave enough to make a point about it? I don't know that yet either?!

This week I have seen my boys for who they really are. I've got my boys back again - and they are very lovely. For the first time in a long time, I have enjoyed their company and we have had time to just 'be'. When they go back to school next week, I will lose them again to the pressures of time. We only have our children at home for such a short amount of time.... let's make the most of them. There will be plenty of time for other things in a few years when the house is quiet and there are no toys scattered about the place.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

I've had some interesting comments recently and thought I had better clear up any confusion about what I am saying, and what I am most definitely NOT saying!

I am NOT saying that boys should not have structure, boundaries and discipline. My eldest son needs structure like I need chocolate. He craves it. So much so that in the school holidays I have to write a daily planner with him so that he knows, in his words, 'whats happening when'. Not all boys are like this, but lots are. He feels safe within structure. They also need boundaries. Once boys know what the boundaries are, they can feel safe and be free to express themselves, have fun and take risks without fear of reprisals. For example when we go to the local park my littlest boy needs to stay in the play area, but right next to this is a stream which has fish in it. The 2 older boys would rather take their nets and go fishing. I tell them where they can and can't go and make sure that I can always see them. They feel grown up because they have been given boundaries and I am trusting them. They fish there for an hour or more on their own, under my watchful eye from afar. They also know that if they break the rules, which they have done once, I will take them away from the stream and their priviledge will be stopped. Boys need their boundaries to be very clear, and then discipline needs to be enforced if the boundaries are crossed over.

When boys know that we are consistent in our discipline, it also helps them to feel safe. They know exactly what will happen if they break the rules. Sometimes we have been to places where they don't know what is expected of them, and they just run about and shout. It seems that they do this by default. We have learnt this the hard way, and now we try to remember that whenever we go anywhere we talk about it first and what will be expected of them.

I absolutely love boys to feel free, but not necessarily to BE free to do what they want. They need to be free within the structure that is provided for them. If this means sitting nicely at school and listening to a story, then this is what they should do. However, there are things that can be done that will help them to sit nicely. The child that wriggles alot (and I have one of these - in fact, rolling around the floor is probably a more accurate description) can be distracting to other children and although they probably need to move a part of their body in order to listen there are other, more constructive ways that this can be done. These children need clear boundaries. Give them a 'stressball' to squish in their hands, but tell them that they must keep it to themselves, not throw it about or chat to other children about it. If these rules are broken, then it will be taken away. With just a little creative understanding and concise boundaries, I think these wrigglers would change from being a negative distraction to children who learn and join in.

So that's it for now - as yet again I have another nappy to change. The joys. I do hope this will clear up any confusion ( especially for Mr B.... you know who you are!!!).

Friday, 10 October 2008

I have recently been click happy on amazon. I managed to buy myself 3 books all about boys and on reading the first one have become quite excited. There are people out there - real, professional types - who agree with little lowly me!! I am just a mother, so really what would I know?! I would love to buy this book for our school head teacher for christmas.... but I'm not sure how well it would go down. She is a lovely lady. But very in charge (and a bit scary).

Anyway, I digress. So my books arrived yesterday and after school I decided to fling wide the back door and let the boys play in the garden so that I could engross myself in my book. Great idea, I thought. Let them burn off the tensions of the day. They'll get a bit muddy but clothes and children wash well. Everything was fine and dandy for a while and I was totally immersed in my new world of boys and how they learn. Suddenly I heard a very loud and guilty sounding laugh. Daring to poke my head out of the window I discovered that not only were they a 'bit muddy' (they were caked), but my littlest man had a hold of the hosepipe, and was swinging it round whooshing water everywhere while middle boy Max was turning the tap on so it would come out faster. I of course rushed out to turn the tap off. 'It wasn't me', Max said. Hhmmmm. After that I couldn't quite concentrate on my book.

Its all very well buying books, but I need another life to read them in. So now I am preparing myself for another weekend of noise. My husband and I will have to shout at each other if we want a conversation, or wait til the boys are in bed. I don't know why they are so noisy. I have contemplated buying a decibel measuring machine so that I can report them to environmental health. I'm not sure what they'll do about it though. Probably say its not in their remit.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Sorry, it has been a while. 3 little boys = a busy mum! I was talking to my friend today on the way home from school. She has 2 girls and a boy. She says that she shouts her son's name so many more times each day than her daughter's names. What is it about boys and their ability to listen... or lack of it? Why do they find it so hard to listen when we give instructions?

An example. On our walk back from school we unfortunately go past a patch of grass. I say unfortunately because this particular patch of grass is used by the local dogs as a toilet. It is also very tempting for small boys. We are walking along, fairly peacefully, (apart from the fact that I am having 2 different conversations at the same time, which the boys seem to be oblivious to and blissfully unaware that I can't actually listen properly to them both at the same time) when suddenly Toby breaks free and starts running. 'Don't go on the grass Toby!', I shout, just as he runs onto the grass and straight into the dog's toilet. Did he hear me and choose not to obey me? Or did he really not hear me? I don't think I will ever know.

Another example (and then I'll stop, I promise). 'Max, get your shoes on'. A simple and easy to follow request - or so I thought. A 4 year old boy thinks differently. My request was not carried out, even after saying it 5 times and threatening to take away priviledges. It wasn't even that he said no, or argued with me, he just continued playing as if I wasn't there. So I whispered 'Max, do you want some ice cream?' His reply was immediate 'yes!' Aha!! You can hear me then!!

I think sometimes they are so engrossed in what they are doing that they really don't hear us. How many times have you spoken to a man who is watching the football and been totally ignored or given the obligatory 'I am listening really' grunt? Sometimes though, they can hear us but choose not to. We need to make sure we look them in the eye, and maybe get down onto their level and put a hand on their shoulder, every time we give an instruction or make a request. Realistically this can't always happen though. I am not going to chase after Toby, pushing a pushchair, to tell him not to go on the grass.

I do love boys. They are fun. But they are hard work and are most definitely a 'long term project'. Maybe one day when my boys are grown up I wll see some of the results of my hard work. We will have to wait and see on that one.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

One size fits all?

I have spent most of the last week chatting to other parents about their boys (and girls) and have discovered a very familiar theme. Although I would not make a sweeping generalisation about boys and understand that some girls slot into this category, and some boys don't, I have discovered that lots of children, boys in particular, do not seem to 'fit'with school. In school children are taught to sit still, listen well, practice neat handwriting, read quietly, walk slowly..... all lovely things which sound very right, but what if this feels impossible to you? What if you need to move so that you can learn? Ok, now I can hear all the teachers shouting at their computers - shout away! I can't hear you!!

Yesterday I was talking to a friend whose little boy got into trouble for being the 'class clown'. She says he is very bright, but is bored. Apparently he can't sit still. I understand how a fidgety child can be irritating for a teacher, but instead of disciplining them for wriggling, maybe its better to work out how that child learns. Some people, including me, need to move a part of their body so that they can listen better. One example of this is doodling whilst on the telephone. Lots and lots of boys need movement, and not just in Early Years where there is already opportunity for this. If this was provided at all levels, boys would learn more. I am not a teacher and don't pretend to be an expert, but have you ever seen a classroom where the boys are all sitting quietly practising their handwriting, while the girls wriggle, fidget and quickly scribble something down so that they can be let loose to go and play? I haven't. Whenever Toby does his homework (...hmmm homework for a 6 year old is a whole new blog!!) he writes as quickly as he possibly can. I say 'Remember Toby, nice and neat; take care with it; don't scribble; make sure you put a neat line through it if you get it wrong'. What does he do? Ignore me most of the time! He writes it quickly. He doesn't think before he writes. He makes a mistake, so he almost makes a whole in the paper scribbling it out. He doesn't like writing. He doesn't see the point in it. So he doesn't want to waste his time learning how to do it better. Especially when he has to write about something he's not interested in......

Are our schools using a 'one size fits all' approach to teaching our children? If they are, its no wonder that lots of children drop out or lose confidence in themselves. Those are the children who are not being taught in a way that helps them learn.

On a positive note, Max (4 yr old superhero in the making) managed to get into 'silver' today, which means he was very good! If you know Max, that was a lovely surprise for me, bearing in the mind that last week he got into 'red' (very very bad) for strangling someone in the playground...... I blame the parents!

I have been awake in the night (not unusual in my house) worrying about upsetting teachers. I thought I should add that I have had very good experiences of teachers and think they work very hard and do a good job with the 'system' they have to work under. Don't all write in defending yourselves because I genuinely like you!!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

It's been a busy week. Especially for middle boy, Max, who is 4. He has been in school all day every day this week for the first time, and that's been hard. He is very tired. So surely he should spend Saturday resting and doing calm, quiet activities..... hmmmm I don't think Max knows the meaning of calm and quiet. Actually, we understand that because he's had a hard week learning and following new rules and becoming institutionalised what he really needs is to be set free for a bit. So we pack up half the house and set out for the nearby woods. As soon as we arrive and the boys are wellied up they are running. Thats when we know they needed this.

We meet up with our friends who have a huge variety of axes for chopping trees up into firewood and the boys get chopping. There was only one scary axe moment when Toby (almost 7) was swinging his axe slightly too close to Max's head. "Toby!" I shout, "thats a bit too close to Max's head". "I told him to move", he shouts back. Obviously Max did not move, so Toby decided to continue swinging his axe anyway. ( Don't worry, for the health visitors and social workers amongst you, I did intervene and move Max out of the way.)

After the novelty of the axes has worn off Dad decides to start a fire. This proves to be a success as all the boys, including Jonah who is 1 but has to do the same as his brothers, sit burning sticks and watching the flames for a very long time. And when it is time to go, what do we do with the fire? This is the best part for the boys..... and definitely something girls fail in miserably.... they stand around it and wee on it! It does the trick and the fire goes out nicely.

Is this a good idea for little boys? Yes. Why? Boys need a bit of danger and a lot of fresh air. What they didn't realise was that we were making sure they were safe the whole time and although they felt limitless there were actually alot of limits in place.

My boys do not 'rest' in the traditional sense of the word. This, to them, is a form of rest. They can open their wings and fly for a little while without having to conform or follow any rules. Even now, as I type, they are donning wellies again to go in the garden and look for frogs / make sticks into bows and arrows / make mudbombs or whatever it is they do. They need to have some safe time without adults intervening all the time. They can make their own choices, make their own mistakes, and hopefully learn from the consequences.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Let me introduce myself.....

So here I find myself at the end of a busy week setting this blog up so that others can join with me in my passionate quest for releasing boys to be boys. Its best if I explain myself a bit.... I have 3 boys who, from almost the moment they were born, are not content with lying or sitting still and quiet. Some have described them as boisterous, others as 'full of life' (is that a compliment or a criticism?). I would describe them as exhausting, loud, physical, loving and full of passion.

I have spent a long time worrying if there was something wrong with my boys, and googling adhd and other things, to try and find answers to why my boys seem to be bursting out of their skins. I have sometimes been shocked at their behaviour ( for example, holding frogs upside down to measure how long they are) and other times watched in total amazement as they have stood for literally hours throwing stones into water. As a mum, and therefore the dreaded 'girl', I do not understand in any way why it is fun to dig holes in mud or climb a tree only to get stuck.

So.... as parents we have embarked on a journey which goes against the grain and have decided to let our boys enjoy their boyhood (with hopefully some safety that they don't realise is there) and are trying to understand why they do what they do, and how we can help them to grow into men who are free to express who they are.

The reason I feel this goes against the grain in our society is because boys are generally expected to behave like girls. A mild example.....Sometimes I feel embarrassed because my boys are the ones running down the high street chasing the pigeons, while the lovely little girls who enjoy shopping with their mums walk serenely next to her, perhaps pointing at a beautiful dress in a shop window. Shops? I don't think my boys even realise there are any shops there.... its just a wide open space with pigeons to chase (people and shops just get in the way!). That is of course an amusing example but there are many serious ways in which our society is failing boys - education being a main one. The result is boys who lag behind and get into trouble in schools because they are bored, ignored or not given an opportunity to learn in a way that suits them; and ultimately men who are frustrated and feel like they are failing. I do not want this for my boys.

I am learning (the hard way) how to help my boys, how to socialise them, how to let them express themselves and how to encourage them to grow and develop in the way they were supposed to. If you have boys, or you teach boys, or you are a grandparent of boys, please join me and we can learn together to let our boys be real boys. Lets not fail them.