School’s (Nearly) Out For Summer…

summerschool 2

Can you believe it’s Freya’s last day of nursery today? I can’t. How can a whole academic year have passed in what seems like little more than the blink of an eye?

Her first tentative steps into education couldn’t have gone any better – for both of us, actually. None of my fears about her starting nursery  – especially the one that kept me awake for months where she clung to my leg in tears and begged me not to leave her – came true. In fact, the only time she really cried is when she couldn’t go to school when she was poorly.

It was big change at first and for a while she was often a bit overwhelmed when she came home but she always wanted to go back.

We did quite a lot of work to build it up as The Most Exciting Thing Ever pre-September but I know a big reason she settled so well is because of her amazing teachers and the brilliant, fun activities they plan for them. It’s no wonder she looks forward to going – I quite fancy it myself some days.

While I only have to look at her to see how much she has grown physically, the other ways she has changed shine bright too. Whereas, before, I knew everything she knew, it was a bit startling when she first started coming out with new things; singing different songs, using different words, cutting out with scissors and, most recently, writing and drawing things that actually resemble letters or aren’t just squiggles on the page.

name

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while it will come as no surprise that I shed a tear the first time, with a wobbly hand, she copied her name…and when she wrote an F on her own or drew a face that actually looked like a face (well, more like a cat). Goodness knows what I will be like when she starts reading.

Where she has really blossomed has been socially. She’s always loved other children but being able to make her own friends, without me there to prompt or negotiate, seems to have been an experience she has thoroughly enjoyed. Some mornings you would think they had been apart for months, the fuss they make of one another, when we only said goodbye the previous lunchtime.

She’s also brought me some new friendships.

I don’t mind telling you that, after reading many stories about the politics of the school gate, I had sort of braced myself on that first day, warding off feeling snubbed or lonely or, worst case scenario, bullied, with the sentence: “I’ve got plenty of friends. I don’t need any more.”

However, I must have looked a bit lost as Freya happily ran into her classroom with little more than a wave. One of the other mum’s very kindly took me under her wing (she’d already been through it with her older child so knew the drill). She told me how much her daughter enjoyed nursery, how great the teachers were and the fun she would have. I’m not sure I would have left the playground that day without her filling me with confidence that I was doing the right thing. I can’t tell you how grateful I was for her support, especially that first term when it was all so new. I know she doesn’t think she did anything special but it made such a difference to me.

As the weeks went on I got to know more parents and they have all been lovely. We often walk to and from school together and we’ve since been invited on playdates, to the cinema, to birthday parties and Freya’s had some fun afternoons splashing about in a paddling pool in the sunshine with her friends.

So, thank you to the teachers, the parents and the children for making our first year so enjoyable.

Some of the old fears remain but I’m almost looking forward to reception in September – and I know Freya is because she’s already asked me three times when she can go back to school (and she only finishes today).

Advertisements

Freya, Freya, Quite Contrary (Why Didn’t I Name Her Mary?).

IMG_7673 2

At three years and nearly eight months old Freya definitely seems to have climbed aboard the rollercoaster taking her from being a toddler to a child – and what a wild ride it is.

Sometimes she seems so grown-up, especially when she’s in her school uniform, racing into nursery without a backward glance. I always stand still and wait for a few seconds, amid the hustle and bustle of drop off, trying to catch a glimpse of her through the door, just in case she suddenly remembers she hasn’t said goodbye and comes back.

She never does.

At other times there are little reminders that maybe the train is still trundling its way up that final hill before hurtling down the other side.

She often pretends to be a (crying) baby and asks me to swaddle her in a blanket (not that she liked that when she was an actual baby, always preferring her arms free).

“Sing me a lullaby,” she pleads while I cradle her on my knees, with her legs now dangling almost to the floor.

As a pretend baby she’s quite the tinker. Her first words appear to be “poop” and “bum” at which I act horrified, sending her into fits of giggles.

She’s not the only one laughing. I know every one thinks their child is hilarious but some of the things she comes out with have me either in stitches or make me want to roll my eyes.

At the moment she’s taken to calling me “buddy”.

The conversations we have now amaze me almost as much as they bemuse me.

“Is the sky a book?” She asked, after we spent some time looking for animal shapes in the clouds.

I love her sideways (sometimes upside down) take on various things. I probably get as much out of our chats as she does.

However, if I had to pick one word to describe her right now it would be contrary (I knew I should have named her Mary).

No matter what I say she will disagree – even when it’s for her benefit.

Nothing is too small to be argued about, which makes everything a billion times harder.

The other day she was even arguing with the SatNav and was genuinely furious when we decided not to follow her instructions – that would have sent us completely the wrong way.

She’s three going on 13.

So. Much. Attitude.

I mostly try and sympathise or look at the bigger picture and quite often I just take Elsa’s advice and let it go.

It’s just a stage. A hard stage (for her and me). Hopefully it means she going to grow into a confident and assertive child.

The one good thing about sleep deprivation is that my parenting style is more relaxed than I think it would be if I were running at full speed/not so knackered.

Some days I do worry that saying yes much more than I say no is not doing her any favours (especially now she’s at nursery).

Some days I also know I am not the mum I want to be.

I snap at her when I should explain, demand when I should ask. I long for bedtime (only to miss her five minutes after she’s asleep).

When she tells me “You’re the worst mummy I’ve ever had”, ironically usually when I feel like I’ve not done too badly that day, it hits its mark.

Guilt comes trotting up telling me she’s like this because I’m doing it all wrong.

“She’s a reflection of you.”

And then, every now and then, something happens and I see a glimmer of light. A flicker of what I hope she might be like in the future.

We were in a shopping mall recently looking out of the window while we waited for Mark and she spotted a man going through the litter bins.

“Why is he putting his hands in the bins?” She asked. That is a definite no in our house.

I try and answer all her questions as honestly as possible – while remembering she’s three.

“He’s looking for food. He doesn’t have a home, so he doesn’t have his own kitchen, which means he has no food and he’s hungry.”

“That’s really sad,” she said, frowning.

“It is really sad. It makes us really lucky because we do have a home and we have food in our fridge.”

“I know! He could come and live with us,” She said, ready to dash down the stairs and invite him.

I felt a lump in my throat.

“That would be a nice thing to do but we unfortunately don’t have enough room. Where would he sleep?”

“He can have my bed.”

“Your bed is only small though. How about this? When we go shopping we can buy some extra food for people like him who need it.”

I try and do this anyway but I’ve never thought to explain why I’ve put the pasta and soup I’ve just bought as part of our shopping into the wire basket by the check out for the food bank. It’s not enough, of course, and her kindness made me realise that it’s not a very personal approach and that maybe I need to do more.

She seemed somewhat satisfied with that (she told every one we know that she had something sad to tell them and then explained homelessness for days afterwards, so it was clearly still playing on her mind). In the next moment she had taken her shoes off and was refusing to put them back on.

Even as I thought “here we go again’, I smiled.

I’m not claiming any credit for her compassion, as I feel like maybe that has to be something within you, but it makes me excited to see who eventually steps off that rollercoaster (and start bookmarking blog posts like this to see me through her teenage years or maybe four, five, six etc, which friends tell me also have their challenges).

IMG_7421

How did you handle the contrary stage? Did you just hold on tight and enjoy the ride?

Little Hearts, Big Love

Life with a two-year-old (it’s a bit surreal).

image.jpeg

“Oh, hello Michael,” Freya said conversationally to a man in the entrance of M&S food hall. A man clearly not called Michael.

He looked bemused.

I smiled, a little apologetically, and gave a shrug that was meant to convey: “No idea what she’s on about. Kids, eh!” Mark turned to me with a frown and said: “What exactly do you get up to when I’m at work?”

Well, mainly, I grow ever more accomplished at that shrug.

***

“HELLO!” She shouts at the top of her voice as I push her (in her buggy) into our local co-op. It’s so loud and unexpected it makes me jump. The ladies on the checkouts laugh and wave back. One customer looks shocked, a few others chuckle.

When we go to pay Freya wishes the lady on the till a “Merry Christmas.”

It’s January 5th.

“I think you mean happy new year,” I said.

“Happy new ear,” she said.

“And happy new YEAR to you,” the lady says.

“Happy new ear,” Freya calls again. And again. And…

“Let’s say something else now,” I put in but then the lady behind us in the queue comes to the till and wishes Freya a happy new year so it starts again.

“Did you have a lovely Christmas?” She asks her.

“Great.” Freya responds.

“And were you a good girl? Did Father Christmas come?”

“I don’t like Father Christmas,” she is very definite about this.

“Did you get a lot of Frozen toys?” The lady asks, glossing over the slight to the big fella.

“LET IT GO!” Freya sings. Obviously most things are now said/sung at full volume.

The five of us join in with the next bit.

A man at the next till looks a bit taken aback at the flashmob (thankfully no one is videoing us).

I do the shrug as I wheel her past him.

***

My mum will often look at Freya, shake her head and say: “She’s been here before, that one.”

Usually after she has said something entirely out of character for a two-year-old.

For example, she was sat with her eyes closed once and when I asked what she was doing she said: “Just resting my eyes.” My poorly grandma used to say that. My brother and I would go and sit in her bedroom and she’d drift off after a time. Just to check she wasn’t dead (we were young) we’d ask if she was ok and that was always her response.

Also, sometimes when I ask her to do something she will bow slightly and say: “Yes, m’lady.” I thought I had misheard the first time but she does it consistently now. I can’t say I dislike it. It makes me feel like I’m in a Jane Austen novel.

My favourite, though, is when I ask for her help and she shouts: “I’m on it!” Like she’s working in some high-pressured job. This makes me chuckle every time.

“I don’t know where else she could get this stuff,” my mum ponders.

*shrug*

***

I still don’t know who Michael is.

 

Little Hearts, Big Love