Friday, 22 November 2013

Embarrassing Mum

I've made it.  I have finally reached the status of Embarrassing Mum.

It doesn't matter what Embarrassing Mum does, it won't ever be quite right.  I'm old.  I don't understand how things work these days.  I don't know what 'everyone else' does or has.  I certainly don't know how to be cool (and that's probably not even the right word) like 'everyone else's' mum.  

And so, I begin the task of continuing my relationship with Toby (12, but far more knowledgable than you could possibly imagine) when he is beginning to push me away to form his own sense of identity, separate from me and even from our family.  It's a daunting prospect.

And it's a very strange feeling to watch my child, the one I cradled in my arms, sung to in the middle of the night and taught how to wee in the toilet, pulling away from me.  Of course, he doesn't know that I know what he's doing.  He just thinks that I am clueless about the whole thing.  I've always been old.  I was never his age.  And yet, I find myself remembering being 12 and feeling shocked that Toby is as old as I was then.  I remember boyfriends to awkwardly hold hands with, giggling girly friends to meet in the town (2pm, outside 'Boots', every Saturday) and feelings of being desperate to grow up.  

It's time to let go again.  I need to let go, but hold on at the same time.  He needs me to be his safety and security as he begins to tip toe out into this world of girls (not yet), school results, new friendships and fads.  As all around him turns into a whirlwind of confusing thoughts, decisions, dilemmas and not to mention changing bodies, he needs his parents to be the boring ones who stay constant.

So, I'll be Embarrassing Mum with pleasure, as long as (when nobody is watching) he will still come and give me a hug and tell me he loves me.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

"Come, follow me."

Stepping out of the boat wasn't just a thrill-seeker's adventure.  It was a death sentence.  To climb on top of the edge and then stretch your toes out onto the cold, dark, swirling waters was madness.  This wasn't some crazy bungee-jumper's adrenaline rush.  This was certain suicide.

What would make someone do such a thing?  How would it even occur to someone?

Gazing into the eyes of his Master, Peter heard the word: "Come".

No questions asked.

It was a no-brainer. 

Did Peter engage his brain before clambering out of that boat?  Did his friends shout and tell him to stop being ridiculous?  Did they try and pull him back to safety?  Or did Peter see his Master walking on the water, calling to him, and just follow?

"Come, follow me."

Does following require us to seek thrills or does it require us to obey, finding grace given to us every step of the way?  Does it mean we keep our gaze fixed, firmly, on the One we follow despite the danger and difficulties?  As we step out, putting our own desires and dreams to death, we are given a whole new set of dreams that are more than we could have ever imagined or hoped for?.

"Come, follow me."

Can we follow, but keep hold of a couple of things just in case?  Do we follow just for the benefits or are we in it for the long haul, when the waters threaten to overwhelm?  Do we really trust the One we follow or do we keep a back up plan? 

Following requires our all, or we're not really following.  We can't pretend to follow - we either do or we don't.  But the promises we are given outweigh the shaky, fearful steps every time. 

Certain death?  Yes. 
Certain hope?  Yes. 
Life beyond anything we could ever have expected?  Yes. 

"Come, follow me."

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Reading Books - What the teachers don't see.

If only the teacher could see what happens at home when, in good faith, the reading books are handed out.

If you are lucky enough to have a child who actually wants to read their book and you don't have to go through the crying / screaming / bribery / attempting to think of innovative ways of making reading fun, then you have already passed the first hurdle.  I have been known to read by torchlight; in a Yoda voice; inside cardboard boxes and even up a tree to persuade a child to read their book.  

The next hurdle is attempting to stop the sibling distraction.  Younger siblings are difficult to contain and while you are sitting down attempting to explain 'was' is actually pronounced 'woz' they are merrily taking their favourite cuddly toy swimming in the toilet or emptying the contents of the fridge into their mouths.  Older siblings present a different problem.  Their activities are fun - more fun than reading about Biff's latest adventures - and the reading child would far rather be with their older brother or sister.

Sometimes you come across the 'independent reader' who does not want you to even look at the book let alone help them.  They sit as far away as possible, holding the book away from you as though it is a secret document.  This makes for a long and frustrating reading session while the child stumbles over laugh, pronouncing it 'lowg', but will not, under any circumstances, allow you to assist.

The 'rolling around whilst reading' days are my particular irritation.  Holding on to the book, they roll across the floor, kicking their legs, constantly losing their place in the book.  Once the place is lost, you have to start the battle all over again.  

As much as I promised myself I wouldn't ever do it, I have been known to say (in a very pious tone of voice) "What in earth would Mrs Baker think of your behaviour this evening?" and I have even written in the reading record book: "Said child has been very silly tonight silly tonight and has not concentrated well on their reading". I hope the teacher could read between the lines.

End-of-day tiredness has a big effect on the quality of the reading.  Often, there is no opportunity other than when they are very tired at the end of a long day.  Not only are they worn out, but so are you, and patience levels are low.  Allowing them to sound the word out themselves when you are tired and really don't want to hear anymore about how Floppy the dog fell into the river, it's very difficult to contain yourself when you just want to snap the words out and be done with the whole thing.  Tears, on both sides, are common at this stage.  

Oh, if only the teachers could be a fly on the wall.