Monday, 27 June 2011

Squeezing a round peg into a square hole....

.... That's what school is for my lovely Max. Existing in his own alternative universe, Max does not quite fit into the box that school tries to squeeze him into. He is funny, intelligent, curious, creative, inventive, logical (although his logic is often different to mine) and passionate.

School has always been something to tolerate and he has never quite fitted in to the system. Of course there have been aspects he has enjoyed, and like any child, aspects that he does just because 'that's what you do in school'. Now though, at 7 years old, he is discovering what the consequences are of not managing to fit the mold.

Last week his teacher called me over and explained to me that she is worried about him. Having had a really good term last term, in which she raved about him at parents evening, he is now not listening well and following her instructions. He wants to play with his friends and is messing about with the other boys instead of working hard. She asked me to 'have a word' with him. Now, I don't claim to be an expert, but don't most boys want to play with their friends instead of working? In fact, if I was a 7 year old boy, I would probably do the same thing!

I tried to 'have a word' with him. He was totally oblivious to his teacher's frustrations, thought he was working hard and explained that he finds it hard to listen when he's doing lots of thinking. His actual words were "If you tell me to stop thinking, then I can hear you."

The 'word' did not work and he continued to get into more trouble towards the end of the week. On Friday the teacher told me that if it didn't improve, he would have to spend some time with the headteacher this week. I felt that this was rather extreme and when I asked him about his behaviour he told me that he receives the blame and punishment for other people's misdemeanours. He said he had been trying really hard. Then, just to break my heart even more, he burst into tears and cried "I'm not a boy who does bad things Mummy, I'm not. They all think I am, but I'm not."

I am not under any illusions that I have a perfect child. I am fully aware of his tendencies towards bad behaviour. However, I am also aware of his sensitive nature and the fact that it does not take much for him to lose confidence in himself. All his hard work over this year (and he has worked incredibly hard and done amazingly well) now feels worthless if he thinks his teachers regard him as a 'bad boy'. Why would he say that unless he is given that impression from them?

It is always difficult when you have not been in the situation and seen what has really taken place. However, even if his behaviour has not been ideal (and I suspect that sometimes might be the case), his teacher's job is to motivate him and spur him on to better things not shrug her shoulders at me as though she is giving up on him. She is there to instill confidence, not take it away from him.

After school tonight we will see her and attempt to chat things through with her. I have told Max that he needs to apologise to her for his behaviour, but also to explain to her the things that he has told me. I am dreading it. And it makes me wonder if we will be doing this the whole of Max's school life. Why can't schools accept the child as they are, and teach them in the way that they learn best? Why is it that my child is the one who suffers because of a teacher who is having a stressful day?

I will fight for my boys. I will fight, not because I want to, but because I have to.


I am so so proud of my little boy who has just shown me a new level of maturity and courage today. He said sorry to her for his part in the 'messings about'. He explained how he was feeling. He spoke well and, although he got upset, he managed to get his point across. His teacher then understood that mostly he is 'nearby' the boys instead of the instigator of trouble and together we came up with a plan to help him remember to stay away from them.

An important life lesson learnt today for Max... maybe this is all worthwhile because it builds and strengthens his character.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Wanted: Fathers

"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it" writes the American writer Clarence Budington Kelland.

It was 2:30am and I heard the telltale thud of footsteps heading towards our bedroom. The door banged open and in ran 3 year old Jonah - well trained to run straight round to Jared's side of the bed. "I'm scared", he cried. Without a word, Jared took him in his arms and snuggled him up into the bed. Within minutes, in his Father's safe, comforting arms, Jonah was quietly snoring. I smiled to myself as I watched them cuddled up, snoring together and thought how grateful I am that my boys have such an incredible Father. I couldn't let Father's Day pass without writing a blog on the importance of Fathers. Forgive me for being politically incorrect, but children need Fathers. They need them more than they need an X-box or playstation. They need their Dad more than they need a TV and DVD in their bedroom. They need their Dad more than they need expensive holidays abroad.

The role of the Father is so often downgraded. The Mother's role is clear. She was created to nurture, feed and care for her child; to administer magic kisses when they graze their knees; to sing soothing songs when the baby goes to sleep; to love even when they are being unlovely ( and we all know how hard that is!).

What, then, is the role of the Daddy? Does he just provide the sperm to make the little human? Is he truly no longer needed after 'the act'? Absolutely not. For different reasons, a Father is vital in the lives and development of both boys and girls.

My boys are privileged in today's fatherless society to benefit from the care of their exceptional Daddy. In his gentle and careful manner he leads them to take risks. He bundles and fights with them, teaching them when to stop. He is demonstrative in his love and affection for me (much to their disgust) which will one day stand them in good stead for their marriages. He shows emotion and teaches them how to handle their own. He takes the lead in their discipline. He shows them love by spending time with them, doing things that he might not actually want to be doing. By being passionate for his God, his boys follow suit.

As their Mother, I can never prepare my boys for manhood in the way that their Father can. Everything he says and does is watched and copied. It is an enormous responsibility (which young men who are 'sowing their seed' should be made aware of, but that is an entirely different blog) and one which men need to take more seriously. It is so exciting when we see men who are brave enough to accept the challenge of investing in the lives of their children. What an immense task, but how satisfying it must be to see the end product.

Sunday, 12 June 2011


Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.

But not all day. Please. As much as we embrace most weather conditions, there are some days when I just do not want to get wet and cold. Today was one of those days. The rain cascaded continuously from the sky like a trapping torrent. Trapping, because it meant we were imprisoned indoors with 3 boys who really do climb the walls if they are not let out. Eventually, we decided to brave a trip to the cinema to see Kung Fu Panda 2.

Having loved the first film, the boys were more than excitable about seeing the second. That enthusiasm was made far worse by the fact that Jared had unwisely given them lucozade to drink (Why oh why oh why on a rainy day when we're stuck indoors with them, does he give them lucozade?!) and we had a bag full of sweets and popcorn that we snuck in to avoid paying the exhorbitant cinema prices.

The moment the film began (and the sweets were, by that point, all gobbled up already of course), Kung Fu Panda's Master Shifu fills the screen with his search for 'inner peace'. The rest of the film, with it's weak storyline but furious fighting scenes (which, lets face it, is the only reason the boys wanted to see it), continues the theme of discovering Kung Fu Panda's inner peace.

I felt the lie. I felt the sneaky, insidious lie that is whispered to children through these apparently harmless films. The trickery of it is there for all to see. They don't even try to cover their tracks anymore.

The lie is that we, as humans, can do anything we want to in our own strength and relying on our own abilities. As Master Shifu said to Kung Fu Panda, "If you are truly at peace, you can do anything." This crafty deceit is found in so many children's films, programmes and books now that it is impossible to avoid.

A person may find inner peace for themselves, but for how long? And can they truly 'do anything' once they have found it? Surely it would be better to find the true source of peace. A source that will never run dry and will give peace freely to those who ask. The propeht Isaiah way back in the Old Testament named Jesus as the 'Prince of peace'. He is the one in whom we find our peace. We cannot work it up ourselves. We do not have to sit on top of a sharp pole in silence for hours on end to find peace. We do not have to shave our heads, or walk over hot coals. We do not even have to attend church meetings or do good works. All we have to do is ask the Source. All we have to do is come to him in humility, admitting that actually we do not have all the answers and cannot do it all on our own. Only then, will we find true peace. Only then, will we be able to accomplish the things set out for us.

My job as a mum is not to always protect my boys from these lies, but to expose them for what they are. They will not go through life with their eyes closed, they need to be able to see what is there for themselves and have the wisdom to be able to make their own choices.

Returning home from the cinema and having sat still for 2 hours, after eating sweets and drinking lucozade, they were wound up to the eyeballs! At that point, I gave up, doled out the wellies and raincoats and shut them in the rainy garden to run off their energy. Thankfully, I think Jared may have learnt the Lucozade lesson now.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Will it ever happen?

There are occasions when I look at my boys and wonder if it will ever happen?
Will they ever realise that burp talking and armpit farting at the table is not actually that funny? Will they ever stop giggling at the words "boobies" and "willies" or will they just stifle their sniggers? Will they ever walk down the path instead of running? Will they one day walk past a pigeon without giving in to the temptation to run up to it roaring loudly (much to the disgust of the people standing right next to the pigeon)? Will they ever make it through an entire day without turning something into a weapon? Will they ever manage to eat food without dropping it all over their clothes and then wiping their dirty hands on their t-shirts? Will they ever be able to walk around a puddle instead of through it? Will they one day have mud-free clothes? Will my toilet ever last more than an hour without being wee'd on?

There are also occasions when I am struck by the incredible responsibility we have as their parents. Who else is going to teach them not to make that pigeon flap right in the old lady's face? Who else is going to teach them that they must snigger behind their hands instead of laughing out loud when there is something inappropriate that amuses them? Who is going to show them that, contrary to little boy's opinion, girls are actually quite good company and must be treated with respect?

Above all, who else is going to teach them to be young men who are passionate about their God and will follow him whatever the cost? Who is going to train them to be warriors? Who is going to teach them how to fight for others? Who is going to help equip them with the armour they need to fight with? Who is going to teach them how to do everything in love? Who will show them how to have courage? Who will be behind them, encouraging them on in their walk? Who can teach them to resist the sexual temptation that is so accepted these days that most don't even think of it as temptation? Who will show them how to be a good friend? How will they learn to obey unless they have been taught at home first? How will they learn to persevere even when things are tough? Who is going to teach them to work hard?

I am in awe of the opportunity that we have as parents to teach our children these things. We have a generation of young men growing up who have never had these things taught or modelled, who now lack confidence and do not know how to lead their families, provide for their families and love their wives and children. We cannot leave it up to someone else, or hope that 'eventually they might just get it'. We have been given these boys as a gift and as a responsibility. It is our job and we need to be intentional about it. If we don't teach them the right way, someone else will teach them the wrong way.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Friday Failures

Not only is it Friday, but it is also the last day of the half term holidays which means my standards have dropped horribly lower than before. I am glad though, that I can have failures. No smug mummying for me. Their project through the whole of their childhood (and possibly more, who knows?) is to increase my humility. How can I possibly be smug when even as babies they never followed what the textbooks said they were supposed to do and they have continued to baffle me daily? So, here are a few more of my Friday Failures for you to enjoy, and feel grateful that perhaps you rate higher than me in the Mum stakes!

Friday Failure #1

Rather than playing with the boys in the sunshine, I read my book and pretended to 'watch' them at the same time.

Friday Failure #2

I attempted to turn a trip to Morrisons to buy cat food into an exciting adventure by singing "We're following the leader" (from Peter Pan) loudly around the shop whilst all marching in a line, much to Toby's pre-teen embarrassment.

Friday Failure #3

Whilst at the checkout in Morrisons, my delightful 3 year old pointed to a lady of the more mature generation and said "Is she going to die soon?". Instead of trying to explain anything to him, I pretended I hadn't heard.

Friday Failure #4

After the trip to Morrisons, I tried to snatch a few minutes sitting down reading my book whilst the boys played in the garden. I noticed them running into the kitchen to collect alot of tissues, but, absorbed in a good storyline, I didn't take any notice. Until I smelt the smoke. Running outside, I discovered they had lit a roaring fire in the fire pit (without a match - their Father would be extremely proud) and were incredibly pleased with themselves. Boring old Mum that I am, I made them pour water all over it.

Friday Failure #5

The jam on their sandwiches at lunchtime was the 'fruit' section of the meal.

Friday Failure #6

I took them to a water play area in the blazing hot sunshine and forgot to put suncream on their lovely bodies.

Friday Failure #7

I have shouted today. Alot.

Friday Failure #8

Having five 4 week old kittens in the house is extremely distracting and I keep forgetting to play with the boys because "the kittens need socialisation". Of course, the boys don't.

Friday Failure #9

This week has generated so much dirty washing so in order to be more efficient and save energy today, I let Jonah stay in his smelly, wee patched pants rather than change him and create yet more washing for me.

Motherhood at it's best today then.