Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Noise and the Great Escape

Half term begins with noise levels equivalent to standing at the front of a very loud concert. At least, that's how it feels to me. Is it because my boys are boys that they feel the need to shout instead of talk, or do girls do this too? Is it just because of their personalities (can't think who they might get their loudness from) or are all boys more prone to the louder end of the volume scale? Do they have to shout as they race around they house? And do the bomb and machine gun noises (which I just cannot make my mouth do)have to be quite so realistic?

This morning, instead of wearing my ear plugs I discovered another solution to blocking out the sound. I donned my mad scientist goggles (from one of the boy's science kits, not really mine, honestly), plugged in the sander and began to sand down a table outside while they played in the garden. This was perfect. I could keep my beady eye on them but could not hear any of their noise. Even when Jonah was throwing himself around the trampoline with a face like a squawking chimpanzee because he didn't want Max to be on it at the same time, I could not hear the violent screams emitting from his mouth. It was bliss. I could feel a sense of achievement at the (yet to be completed, my hands have gone too fizzy) sanded down table, I could block out their noise and I could pretend I was being with them all at the same time.

Why are some children so quiet that they only speak when you coax it out of them, and yet my boys are so loud I worry that the neighbours might report us to environmental health for noise pollution? Have I gone wrong somewhere? Should I whisper to them so that they whisper back?

The sanding will continue throughout half term. Hopefully by the end of the week, I'll have a beautiful table and will have escaped all the petty arguments, whingy voices and the deafening yelling. Sounds like a good result to me.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Friday Failures

This week has been a long week. My first week back into normal life after having my operation. Friday has finally arrived and I am very tired. Sometimes, parenting standards just cannot be kept high and in those moments we find ourselves giggling at each other as we do and say things that would most definitely be frowned upon by Supernanny! Fridays are particularly prone to this type of parenting as we are tired from the week's busy-ness. Here are a selection of today's failures for you to giggle at too.... (And at this moment, I am desperately hoping that other families also have these moments)

Friday Failure #1
Sloth-like Max finds it hard to get out of bed in the mornings. Getting up and dressed for school is always a battle and one that I could not face this morning. At 7 years old, he was being dressed by his mummy.

Friday Failure #2
After breakfast, I caught Jared saying to Max (notice the theme here?) "If you clean your teeth really well, I'll give you extra pocket money tonight." Max, who is more on the ball than Jared expected for that time in the morning, negotiated, "A pound?" His negotiation skills worked.

Friday Failure #3
The boys then discovered that they could find money underneath cupboards and behind sofas, and spent the rest of the half hour before school walking round the house with knives trying to slide coins out from difficult places.

Friday Failure #4
When Jonah arrived home from playgroup and left his shoes in the middle of the floor, I gently reminded him that they did not live there. "How about, if I put them in the cupboard, you give me a sweetie?" he said to me with his winning smile. His smile won. The sweetie he was given.

Friday Failure #5
After playing duplo and dinosaurs for far longer than my concentration span but not long enough for Jonah's, I lay on the sofa and made up voices for the dinosaurs in order to hide the fact that I actually wasn't playing anymore.

Friday Failure #5
As I am typing, Jonah is standing at the kitchen sink mixing up a concotion of PVA glue, orange juice, water, blackcurrant and who knows what else - I have no idea because I, although the adult in charge, am not actually supervising him.

Friday Failure #6
When the two big boys arrive home from school, I fully intend to sit and read my book while they play, fight, amuse themselves, watch TV, play on the wii....... I don't really care what they do as long as they don't bother me!!

I may have more Friday Failures to add to my list by the end of the day. It is, after all, only 3pm and I have yet to pick the two big boys up from school. Who knows what delights the rest of the afternoon will bring?!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Giving up and the lesson I need to learn.

With great excitement, my little sister and I would trawl around the Travel Agents of Horsham, collecting travel brochures and pretending we were going on holiday. Once collected, we would take them all home and set up our very own Travel Agents in our bedroom. I loved the thrill of collecting the brochures and making sure we had a good range of different countries and types of holidays for our own Agency. I took great pleasure in laying the brochures out so we had the perfect display, and making the signs that said "Come to Helen and Trudi's Travel Agency" or "Special Offers!".

Once we were satisfied with the perfection of our Travel Agents, we were ready to begin the game. Except that I was not. To my sister's frustration, I then announced that "I don't want to play anymore." For me, the buzz was in the setting up. The adventure and the action of setting up the game was all I was interested in, leaving my poor sister vexed and annoyed with me.

Now, with a family of my own, I greet this battle again head on. Setting up our own business is full of emotional ups and downs with the heady excitement of other people's interest and the reality of the long hard slog ahead. I find myself thinking yet again "I don't want to do this anymore". I have many excuses: The challenge is too hard. We don't have enough money to make it work and can't seem to find anyone who will sponsor or support us. We are using up every evening available and every spare minute of our time. Jared is also trying to hold down a full time job. Our family time is being sacrificed.

Yet this time, I cannot just give up. We have come too far for me to walk out of the room, throwing the travel brochures down behind me. Yes, it is extremely hard work and yes, I am tired of it all. Do I think we will make it? I honestly don't know, but we have to try. We are so passionate about inspiring families to love the outdoors and to discover the wilderness and beauty of creation that we just have to keep going. It's not easy though and the battle of giving up is often hovering behind me, whispering in my ear. Perhaps, to my sister's relief, this time I will learn to persevere.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Heroes and Villains

Gazing up at the big perm, the trendy 80's clothes and the soft silvery pink lipstick, the arrival of my big brother's new girlfriend brought a new hero into my life. At 9 years old, I was in awe of her and wanted to be just like her.

Children need heroes. They need role models and they need healthy relationships with adults other than their parents. I have been reminded of this today as our wonderful friends have looked after our boys for a couple of hours for us. Max had someone else to teach him how to climb trees and build fires, and Jonah spent a happy time making a mess / cooking in someone else's kitchen!

Although I suspect my mum knew more than I told her about my teenage years, I did not readily talk about my teenage woes with her. There were, however, other women who were well trusted both by myself and, now I think about it, by my parents who were generous with their wise and godly advice to me throughout my teenage years. The relationships I had with these women were vital and I look back with fondness and gratitude of their sometimes sacrificial time and love given to me.

Children and teenagers will look for role models whether we like it or not. If we do not point them to the right people, and provide them with those relationships, they will look to teenage magazines that spout rubbish about needing to have the latest designer shoes or celebrities whose marriages change with their underpants. This is why we need to ensure that our children have role models who we, as parents, trust. We need to be developing those friendships with other adults now so that when the time comes for them to go to someone else for wisdom, we have the perfect person waiting in the wings. I want my boys to look up to men who are passionate about God, who are wise, who dare to be different in the world, who have strong marriages and who take risks and love adventure.

If we do not provide our boys with those heroes, they will look to villains. We need to be pro-active now in creating time and opportunities for these relationships to develop before it is too late and the villain steps into the breach.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Invasion of the Dirt House

Having recently had an operation and being unable to clean the house it has quickly resembled a landfill site. Piles of the boy's drawings, pens without lids littering the floor, corners full of dust balls, letters scattered in different places, duplo towers towering the heights, empty dvd cases lying in wait, not to mention the state of the toilet. It's up to you if you want to use your imagination on that one.

This morning, in a desperate attempt to clean up the ever increasing chaos we engaged the services of our boys. This is a great risk. Either we will spend the whole time nagging, cajoling and eventually crying or they will throw themselves into the task wholeheartedly. It's a tricky business which requires great skill in handling.

First, we told them we needed an Army to 'invade the dirt house'. It was a difficult mission. We gave each Groundtrooper a name - "Sniper Max", "Cadet Jonah", "Private Toby" while I was "General Mum" and Jared was "Special Forces Dad". We gave each one an assignment. Each assigment was to tidy, dust and hoover one room. The rules were as follows:

No torturing the enemy.
Stay on your assigment until it is completed.
Always follow The General's instructions.

Then, we played "Eye of the Tiger" very loudly and dispatched them.

To my utter amazement, they spent 45 minutes on each room. They did it beautifully (although they would not appreciate my use of that particular word). Of course, they were over-enthusiastic with the furniture polish and now the wooden floor is hazardously slippery and the hoovering attempts left large gaps but overall The General approved their efforts.

This is such a rare occurance which took me by surprise. Usually our efforts at getting them to clean and tidy are met with moans, groans, cryings and "But I didn't make that mess"! Often I feel like the house slave. Today, they have shown me they can do it. That was their first mistake.