Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Little Pep Talk

 A little pep talk for the day that’s in it.  Because today is as good a day, if not better than any other, for a pep talk.

Are you familiar with the helpful, insightful and profound life affirming messages Facebook likes to share with everyone  The ones that proclaim to know the secret to a happy life, telling you how to side step toxicity and just be happy?

Those ones.

The ones that if you adjusted the volume on your computer a little bit, would most likely chirp at you.  If they spoke it would be in a bright, annoyingly uplifting, high pitched voice.

Those ones.

If you are anything like me, you find yourself nodding furiously along to 5% of them and telling yourself to make that one your screen saver and stick the other one on your fridge door.

Last summer I saw a brilliant one and I embarked on a fruitless endeavour to source stencils in order to print it on the wall at the top of the stairs.  Where I would see it every day.

I know!

A whole year has passed and I still think about that uplifting message.  But I am no nearer to doing it.  In my heart of hearts I know it will never get done.

I enjoy those messages and I can take something from some of them but you know what I have realised? 

We don't need them!

When someone says something shitty to you, it is an indication of their own insecurities and they are just taking those out on you.  They see something that they like or covet and instead of enjoying your success and happiness, decide to take you down a peg to make themselves feel better.

Does that make any sense at all?

It’s hard and it’s shitty least of all because you come away feeling drained and upset, tired and a bit down for no good reason.

But really what has happened is the person you have just spent maybe only ten minutes with, drip fed their crap into your mind and sucked the warm fuzzies out of you.

So what can be done to prevent this in future?

The minute that person starts to suck the life out of you leave!  Take yourself away and don’t allow them to.  Take back the power.

If your inner light has been quenched before you even cotton onto what it happening, it’s still not too late.

If you feel like crap, feel it and then push it away.  Remind yourself that you have gotten to this part of the day intact and do not allow anyone to rain on your parade.

Then do something nice for yourself.   Buy something; to wear, to eat, to read.  If it takes spending your last twenty quid on a frivolous treat to make you feel better, do it.

I broke a plate one day to heal myself.  And maybe a cup.  But it worked.   I needed a little outward explosion to destroy the rot that was taking place inside me.   

Then, and this is the important bit, stay away from such people. 

It may not always be possible and there may be random connections, but if you can at all, make the effort to protect yourself from them.

In the scenario that there is absolutely no escaping their presence, arm yourself against them.

Be reminded of your achievements and good qualities.  Breathe slowly and evenly and if conversation is engaged, keep it short and sweet. 

Make your excuses as soon as you can and leave their company.

And don’t re-visit the visit.  If you get me.  Don’t analyse the conversation.  Move on and away.

With your last twenty euro in your hand if needs be.

I leave you with this little picture.


Disclaimer:  I am aware I have included several positive and affirming messages.  But they are nice ones and I like them.  Okay?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Why I Don't Love the Buddy System

Photo credit: Paul Kuehnel Daily Record/Sunday News (Buddy Bench)
You may or may not have heard of the latest initiative that many primary schools across the country are rolling out.

It is called The Buddy System and it involves each child being assigned a “buddy” which is essentially someone to look out for them in the school yard or during times when they might feel lonely or vulnerable. 

It can also include allocating an area in the school yard for those who don’t have someone to play with or are feeling lonely to go to.  This area usually has a Buddy Bench, a seat for the child to rest themselves on.  Some schools use a sign on a wall. 

The thought behind the bench and the sign is, other children will notice a child who is alone and [hopefully] approach them and include them in their games.

I felt uncomfortable immediately upon hearing this.

Some kids are introverts and their energy is drained by settings like the school yard.  It can be a very intimidating place for small kids.  Oftentimes they feel a strong need to break away from the madness and regroup by themselves.  This is perfectly okay. 

Similarly a lot of kids don’t like it when attention is drawn to them.  The last thing they need is to sit on or stand beside something that, no matter what way it’s painted, shouts “Loner” “Loser” “Billy No Mates” and “I have no-one to play with.”

The Buddy System has its merits but as a parent speaking for a child who needs his own space and really dislikes people approaching him during this time, I don’t love the Buddy System.  I don’t love it at all.

He would rather die a thousand deaths than stand under such a sign, or have someone ask, no matter how well intentioned, if he is okay and does he need company.

It only serves to highlight what some kids are struggling with and striving to hide in the first place; the belief that they are the only one in the yard without a playmate and not included in the fun and games. This is how many of them see it.    

My son can feel this acutely at times but it makes it worse for him if he feels other people notice it.

Sometimes kids just want to be alone.  Maybe that stone they are examining or the trail of ants they are following is much more fascinating than a game of tag or a conversation about Minecraft.  Just maybe.

I also don’t think it’s hugely fair to expect one six year old, for example, to essentially baby-sit another in the school yard.  They are there to play, to enjoy their down time from lessons and not have responsibility that they may not be ready for, or want, placed on their shoulders.

Do teachers not monitor the yard for this very reason?

I accept it is a nice idea and very important to foster empathy and friendliness in others.  
But perhaps it is more important to recognise and understand the differences in children and what puts them at ease or sets their teeth on edge and their skin itching through being uncomfortable. 

Or just leave them be to get on with break-time as they see fit.  I know this is what my son would prefer.     

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Stop Bursting my Bubble!
“It doesn’t actually get any easier, you know.”
“Wait till they’re teenagers.”
“It gets harder/crazier/more expensive the older they get.”

Stop!  No more!  It’s too hard.  Stop bursting my bubble.  I am in a good place at the moment.  There’s sleep.  There’s wine.  The odd night out or two.  I’ve had a few hangovers recently.  The words “lie-on” are once again part of my vocabulary.  I now eat dinner at the conventional time of in the middle of the day.  Not like yesteryear when I was forced out of my bed at dawn and dined at 11am.  There are whole cups of coffee made and finished these days.

Stop bursting my bubble.  I am in a good place at the moment.  They’ve all got teeth now. Bye bye horrendously painful teething.  They all eat proper food.  Bye bye tediously messy and frustrating solid food stage. Most of them can put on their own clothes.  The odd underpants goes on horribly wrong and shoes are often put on the wrong feet but that’s okay.  I am still brushing four sets of teeth but I’m grand with that too.  It’s all in the name of reducing future dental bills.  Three quarters of them can do up their own seat belts in the car.  They can all help themselves to snacks.  It’s all coming good.

So please.  Stop bursting my bubble.  I am in a good place at the moment.  There’s sports.  Swimming and football.  Trips to the library.  Three out of four of them are old enough to sit still at the cinema.  The buggy is all but an accessory now.  I am months away from being nappy free.  We might even be able to pack away the cot after our summer holiday where he will probably need to sleep in a bed.  Telling them “no” is met with reasonable acceptance.  This year, three of them will be in school.

So please.  Stop bursting my bubble.  Let me enjoy where I am at the moment.   It’s still messy.  Very definitely louder than I would like.  Bath times drain any last drop of energy I may have in my reserve tank. I am demented buying clothes for them all the time.  Hand me downs don’t work when knees, elbows and backsides are ripped out.   Shoes are definitely not made like they once were.   Their hobbies and interests are expensive and can be short lived phases. I have accepted that the inside of my house will probably always look like the aftermath of a rave until they are of an age to move out.  My grocery bill scares me.  Driving a tank for a car is another financial drain.

But it’s good.  It’s better.  Dare I say I am enjoying it at long last?  Sometimes.  Maybe not often.  But I realise I prefer the older age to the toddler one.  And there are no more toddlers in our house.   It’s all onwards and upwards from here on out and I am happy with that.
I am very happy with that.

So please.  At the risk of repeating myself.  Stop bursting my bubble and let me enjoy being in this manageable stage.  *I will deal with whatever the pre-teen and the full on, riddled with hormones teenage stage throws at me.

*I hope.  But I know where to find you if I need some advice.  You can even say I told you so.  And I will try not to snap your head off.  Much love. xx      

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Few of my Favourite Things

Some of the nicest things in my world are:

The smell of my boys.  As squeaky clean babies and smelly, dirty ragamuffins.

Freshly baked bread.  Anywhere.

A drink of cold water when I am thirsty.

A belly laugh.

A good run.

A tepid shower in the morning to wake me.

Decent coffee.  With cake.  With friends.

Sunlight on my face.

Waking up in good form.

My boy coming home from school grinning from ear to ear.  Different to the one I had to coax out of his nest at 8.20am with all sorts of bribes in order to get him to school.  I fear it is only going to get harder but for now I have to run with what I am given.

A tall glass filled with ice and a G&T fizzing inside it.

Hugs and kisses from my boys.

A new book.

A good cry.

A glass of beer.

“A-ha” moments.  Big, small and in between.

Sun showers with rainbows.

Connecting with someone.

The time I saw something that I knew one of the boys would love but I didn’t have enough money at the time so I hid it.  When we went back two days later, it was still there in its hiding place. 

Waking up and it’s 8 o’clock.  8 o’clock!  That’s a lie on, that is!

When Smallest Boy wakes up and is not yet ready to join the world, choosing instead to sit on my knee for a love until he is.

My boys getting the hang of their bicycles.

That first noticeable stretch in the evenings.

May day.

My boys’ shadows in the garden during early summer.

Spotting the first summer swallow.

That scant glass of wine left in the bottle for a middle of the week sup. 

That last one is a lie.  I prefer a whole bottle of wine.

The older I get the more I realise it is the little things in life from which we derive the most enjoyment.