Thursday, 26 November 2009

Who are you following?

I don't know about you, but I get quite fed up (surprise surprise) about ridiculous images of Jesus. Especially heading towards Christmas and Easter we get these pictures on cards of Jesus with a warm yellow glow around his head, and with perfectly straightened blonde hair that a teenage girl would be proud of, doeful looking eyes and wearing a spotless white dress. Some of our christmas carols make it worse... "the little Lord Jesus, no crying he made"... really? I wish I had a baby who slept in heavenly peace and didn't cry ever.

Is it any wonder that men and boys find it hard to follow a Jesus like this? Would following Jesus mean they have to give up on being real, tough, honest men? Not in my Bible it doesn't. Now here is the complicated bit, in my Bible, Jesus is fully 100 % God but also fully 1oo % man. That means that whilst we should absolutely love him, worship him and serve him as God, it also means that in following Him men can be men! What, they don't have to grow their hair and use straighteners? No, absolutely not!

In my Bible, Jesus spits on someone to heal them (would a girl do that? really?). He gets angry and turns over a load of tables and gets out a whip (a girl would have called it all to order by clapping her hands and putting on a teacher voice). He went totally against the cultural norms and picked grain on the Sabbath, which would have taken a massive amount of courage. He makes a tree dry up and die because it isn't bearing any fruit - rather extreme don't you think? The most courageous thing of all, of course, is the extreme pain he bore whilst being tortured and left to die on a cross. He felt this pain, because he is a man. He wasn't some kind of Superhero. He didn't just magically leave his body so as not to feel the pain. He felt it, and he died in excruciating agony. Of course, he was the ultimate champion and the ultimate in 'Superhero's' because he beat death and rose again 3 days later.

This is the Jesus I want to follow, and the one we want to teach our boys to follow. Not some namby pamby girly frilly portrayal of Jesus, but a Jesus who is the champion, the King, the ultimate in courage and strength, who has gone before them and knows all the difficulties they will face, who can do radical things and make choices that go against the flow.

Monday, 23 November 2009


I apologise for my slowness in updating, but I have been dying (well, if I was a man I would have been...) of a cold since last Thursday so my brain power has been rather reduced.

My very brave and heroic husband phoned the head teacher ( they are FAR too scary for words) and made an appointment for me to see the class teacher after school last Thursday. I was so nervous, not wanting to come across as a pushy mother, but also needing to explain what was going on and try to find a solution.

We sat on those uncomfortable tiny little plastic chairs that can't possibly fit any sized bottom on them and chatted through different ideas of trying to help Max. She has already put into action the ideas, but to be honest I'm not holding out much hope. I think the main problem is Max's lack of perspective in life. Even if most of his day has been good but there has been a tiny amount that hasn't, it is that tiny amount which upsets him and causes him (and the rest of us) huge amounts of distress.

So at home we have been trying to help him put things in perspective. For example if I told him it wasn't sweetie day and he, therefore, couldn't have a sweet he would start throwing furniture and screaming at me that I "never ever let him have sweets and he will never have any for the rest of his life"! Slightly over the top, I hear you all remarking, and yes it is over the top but to Max this is his reality. It is also our reality because this is what we live with most days. Somehow we need to teach him how to deal with life's disappointments but I really am not quite sure how to do this.

The other unfortunate thing in all of this is that he is remarkably similar to me.... I don't know whether you have noticed or not but I am fairly dramatic in my emotions and the things I feel passionate about. This gives me a very good insight into why and how he is feeling the way he does, but it makes it hard for me to know quite how to react because actually if I was him, I'd be throwing furniture and screaming too!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Wisdom Needed.....

Come on all you who have older children than me, I need some of your wisdom and experience.....

Max is 5. Ever since going into year 1 in September (and don't get me started on my feelings about year 1...) he has been saying he hasn't got any friends and that at playtimes he sits all on his own on a cold log getting a cold bottom (can you hear the violins?). Every time I speak to the teacher about it she dismisses it and says that he is very popular and lots of children want to play with him.

Now I know Max. I know he sometimes lives on a planet entirely different to the rest of us, and I know he sometimes exaggerates and makes things up. I know he is dramatic (can't think where he gets that from...) and I know he is extremely strong willed (or that one...). I also know that teachers have alot of other things to think about than the emotional well being of each child in their class. However, this seems to be becoming worse and worse and is very upsetting for all of us when I have to drag Max kicking and screaming to school.

It came to a head yesterday when, having not seen X Factor at the weekend, I played their new charity song on you tube because I wanted to hear it (funnily enough!). The song, for those of you not in the loop, is the Michael Jackson classic 'You Are Not Alone'. Whilst I was doing this, Max was happily drawing and cutting at the table in the room (thankfully on paper and not on the table, that is Jonah's speciality). As the first verse was sung, Max looked up at me and his eyes filled with tears. His bottom lip wobbled and he burst out "That's how I feel at school! I feel like I am all on my own and I have no friends!". He then proceeded to sob and sob all the way through the song. This, of course, had me in tears too as I cuddled him and sung to him. All the while, Jonah is clambering all over me saying "Mummy crying, Mummy crying!"

When the song finished, I tried to talk to him about how he was feeling and what was actually happening at school. It was very difficult to understand exactly what he was saying, but the main point seemed to be that he has learnt to love his enemies, because that is what is says in the Bible, and he thinks that if he tells the teacher what is going on then he won't be loving his enemies. He was so very upset and I could not seem to get the message across to him that he has to talk to the teacher.

So, this morning I tried to have a "quick word" with the teacher who looked harassed and frazzled already and it was only 9am! She said, again, that he was fine. I will talk to her again after school today. I know that Max is prone to exaggerating things, but for him to sob through a song like he did yesterday, I am sure that there is something happening to make him feel so sad and I want to help......

But How??? Please post ideas below because I am really struggling with this one.......

Friday, 13 November 2009


Why do boys (and grown men, come to think of it) seem to have the ability to turn deafness on whenever the need arises? Here is my conversation at bedtime with Toby, who was reading the Guinness Book of Records at the same time....

Me: "Toby, go and clean your teeth please."

Toby: "The oldest Dad in the world is 92."

Me: "Toby, please can you go and do your teeth?"

Toby: "And the oldest person in the world is 113 years 13 days. And it's a woman."

Me: "Toby, you need to do your teeth."

Toby: "Did you know how old the oldest man is in world?"

Me: "No, I didn't, but please can you clean your teeth because it's bedtime."

..... And the conversation continued until eventually he realised I was actually speaking English to him and he went to clean his teeth. Well, he finally cleaned his teeth after he had stood in front of the bathroom mirror for 5 minutes pulling silly faces at himself.

Why do boys do this? I remember taking Toby for a hearing test when he was 3. I was convinced he had some kind of deafness, only to be told that he had perfect hearing but selective deafness might have been a factor! Even men do this. Have you ever tried having a conversation with a man when he is engrossed in a football match / war film / newspaper? It is exactly the same response! They must be born with an ability to block out the outside world. What a useful skill that must be.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Wiggles

Does anyone out there know about these strange men who prance around our screens, singing irritating songs with an octopus and a dinosaur? Unfortunately I do.

And unfortunately for me, I introduced my nephew to them about 5 years ago. Unfortunately for my sister, he became rather obsessed with The Wiggles. So much so, that my sister could not bear to ever see those inane grins and colourful clothes ever again. The reason this is unfortunate for me is because I then went on to have another child. This child, who is now 2, loves singing and dancing. So, my sister has been able to exact her revenge on me by introducing 'The Wiggles' to my 2 year old!

To her glee, I now have him wandering around the house shouting "Wake up Jeff!" and asking me for the 'Piggles' as he calls them. I have to admit that I have slightly encouraged it because it is the only time he will watch the television without having to sit on my lap. I have created a new medical condition called Cbeebies Intolerance. I cannot bear to watch the re-runs of Big Cook Little Cook and others any longer. Having watched it for 8 years, I come out in a rash whenever Chris, Poi or Auntie Mabel comes on the screen. So, on my sister's suggestion (little did I know her evil intentions), I decided that I would borrow her 'The Wiggles' DVD.

Of course, Jonah loves it. Will I regret this? Will we be Wiggles-ified now for the next few years? I sincerely hope not......

Sunday, 8 November 2009


Little boys (and big boys) are fascinated by soldiers, guns, bombs and fighting. They seem to be able to make gun and bomb noises that little girls (and big girls) are unable to make. Guns can be made out of anything, even supposedly harmless items such as bananas, lego and felt tip pens can be made into weapons of mass destruction.

What is it about war that draws the attentions of boys? As a mum, I can never seem to understand how something that is so awful, so tragic, so horrific can be a fun game. Of course we go along with their games, and we even went as far as doing a Bootcamp party for Toby. We gave up a long time ago stopping them from having guns because it didn't matter how much we tried, it was a losing battle. It still doesn't make it any easier for me to understand though.

Is it that their games of war are detached from the reality of war? This morning I talked to the boys about praying for the families of those who have died in war. Max's immediate reaction was to make gun and bomb noises across the breakfast table. It was only when I told him that some little boys and girls haven't got Daddies any more because they were killed in a war, that he understood and became slightly more sober. Toby, being the sensitive boy that he is, understood and was quick to pray. Yet they still play games where they shoot and kill each other. It doesn't make sense to me! Even Jonah lies on the floor and says "I'm dead"!

My thoughts are with those families who have lost husbands, sons, Daddies and brothers. How horrific it is to lose someone you love and cherish through war. After the First and Second World Wars, how tragic it was that a whole generation of children grew up without Fathers. It is beyond my comprehension. All we can do is pray for those families, and pray that our boys will never have to witness first hand the terror and abhorrence that is war.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

How to greet a Lollipop Man

Apparently there is a new way to greet the lollipop man. He is a lovely old man, always there to help us across the road, even in the wind and the rain. Well, most of the time he is, but sometimes he just stands on the pavement and lets us cross by ourselves, which I will never quite understand. He always says hello to my boys though, and I try to teach them to say 'hello' and 'thank you' as he stands shielding us and protecting us from the horrors of the traffic. A true modern hero needs to be treated as such.

That's what I thought anyway, but I am clearly mistaken. Watching my boys waving a polite 'hello and thankyou' and feeling smug that I had finally taught my boys a small amount of manners, I did not take into account the unpredictable nature of a 2 year old. Not any normal 2 year old either. This is a 2 year old who studies his older brothers (aka gurus) so closely that he has perfected the art of being a dramatic, tantrum wielding, rude song singing 5 year old and a teenage-like, incessant-noise-making 8 year old.

I should not have been quite so relaxed and complacent as we crossed the road yesterday. The lollipop man calls a cheery 'hello' and waves at Jonah who is sitting in the pushchair looking as angelic as they come. What is Jonah's response? "POO FACE"!!! Feeling as though the road needed to swallow me whole, I pretended I hadn't heard (which really was quite a stupid thing to do because how can I not have heard?!) and crossed as quickly as possible.

This morning the lollipop man was not quite so cheery in his greeting to us.

Monday, 2 November 2009


My big boys share a bedroom. They have bunkbeds and share their room. Well, I use the word 'share' very hesitantly because 'share' is not the best way to describe their use of the room. They share it when they are asleep and cannot argue over who stands on which part of the carpet, but when morning comes so do all the difficulties. How can it be so difficult to understand "Max, Toby would like to be on his own for 5 minutes so come and play downstairs and leave him alone"? You or I might not find this hard, but when it is a little boy who feels an overwhelming need to annoy and irritate his big brother, this instruction would present quite a problem. Or is it hard to understand this: "Toby, please can you share your desk with Max because he needs somewhere to draw too" ? Obviously when you are an 8 year old boy with a need to be the boss, sharing something that is yours can clearly not happen.

We talked about whether to swap them around so that Jonah goes on the bottom bunk, Max on the top and Toby has his own room. But then we realised how ridiculous that would be. Jonah + bed = extremely high stress levels. We are not ready to put him in a bed yet, and because he wakes up at the crack of dawn every day (and often before the crack), we did not want him to wake Max up at that time too.

So what solution did we find? Desks! After a disappointing trip to Ikea (disappointing because I could not stop and look at anything, but had to race around the shop like it was an Olympic Sport before our boys could wreck anything / put biscuits crumbs all over the floor / climb out of the trolley / steal anything without us realising), we came home armed with 2 desks, 2 chairs and several boxes. We set them up in their bedroom and told them they had a desk each. They had 3 boxes each. Their desks are for them to have "their own space". They are not allowed to touch each other desks or boxes.

The amazing thing was (and you will be amazed if you know my boys) that they sat at their desks for hours! They drew, wrote, read, created, tidied and untidied, made up exams for each other (yes, that is really true!) and loved being there. Even this morning before school they were both sat at their desks! If you did not know us you would take one look at their bedroom which now closely resembles an open plan office (excluding the bed!) and think "pushy parents, fancy buying them a desk each!" The reason for the desks, however, is so much more simple than academic pushing, it is solely for the purpose of reducing the fighting and giving them a small amount of space that is theirs and theirs only.