June Journals #3 ~ Inattentive Works Too

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Working on Cartwheels

Yesterday I learned that, while my children thrive on attention, it’s by no means bad to ignore them now and then. Actually I knew that already, but yesterday proved my point.

If I’m in a grump, my kids quite often stop squabbling and unite in a common cause against me. And if I persist in telling them (politely at first, then ‘go away!’) to let me have a bit of me time, they do go and find something to do eventually.

We went to the gym again in the morning, after I did my Week 2 Couch to 5k run across muddy fields. My daughter mastered the handstand while I dutifully fulfilled my role as ‘watch this!’ Mummy. But we were all definitely more tired.

I took them to the charity shop to buy them a toy and myself some peace. Oh my, that backfired. The first toy was broken and the replacement (a microphone, I know, I’m crazy) wouldn’t work with our computer. My ‘me’ time turned out to be an hour fighting with technology while the children came in every five minutes to ask, ‘have you fixed it yet?’

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Just Hangin’

In the end I resorted to the favourite, ‘we’ll get Daddy to sort it.’

I hate using that phrase, because it reinforces the gender stereotype that women are rubbish with technology. I can do technology, what I lack is patience. Anyway, I decided it just needed to go back to the shop, and I ordered a decent one off Amazon. I might not be very good at patience, but I’m really really good with a credit card.

The nap was harder. I had to sleep. I don’t sleep well at night at this time of year because Hubbie gets hayfever, and often I catch up during the day. But I couldn’t sleep through son’s movie because I actually enjoyed it (Puss in Boots) so I sent them off after, for ‘half an hour’ and then we’d go swimming. They came back every twenty minutes, pestering me for a swim, but I was resolute (i.e. exhausted). When I did finally wake up an hour later, swimming was the last thing I felt like doing. But I had promised…

Actually it was lovely. The water was fresh and my patience non-existent, but it was just the three of us, which made it easier. The children are less annoying without an audience. When Grandpa and Daddy are there, they fight for attention. But once they’d figured out I was all done being ‘watch me’ Mummy, and after I confiscated the Lilo, they just got on with it. I swam for an hour. It was bliss. My mum’s pool is only a few metres long, but big enough to actually do lengths. Boy can I feel that today!

It all went wrong as my son started doing lengths (can’t remember if it’s the first time he’s swum unaided. Bad Mummy), and my daughter felt left out. But, hurrah, Grandpa arrived, and all was saved.

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Cheeky Thief

We didn’t get home until 7pm, and dinner was a bit random. To be honest, feeding in general goes to pot in the holidays, with the shortfall made up for with daily vitamins!

But it was another nice day, even though I didn’t want to get up this morning. My son finally got me out of bed by pulling off the covers, and then jumping in my warm spot! Time for coffee.

This has been a prosaic post, sorry. A bit like our half term. I see pictures on FB of other kids in Spain, or at CenterParcs, or Peppa Pig world, and hide them from my two. Although perhaps I don’t need to. My daughter’s a bit bored, but my son is enjoying the time at home.

Getting him to school on Monday might be a challenge. But we’re off to a play farm with friends today, so plenty of time to worry about that later.

Raising a Reluctant Reader

Solving the Pumpkin Trail

Solving the Pumpkin Trail

My daughter is coming up for seven and she is amazing. She is caring, kind, thoughtful, beautiful inside and out. She rocks at karate and loves to draw. She can build complicated Lego sets and tell you every detail of what happened in the latest Sofia the First (and why).

But she hates reading.

As an avid reader, and an author, it’s the hardest thing for me to have raised a reluctant reader. I wonder what I did wrong. Did I spend too many hours playing on the iPad instead of curled up with a book? Did I set the wrong example?

We have read stories to our children every single night before bed. We go to the library several days a week. My daughter reads her homework book every morning, and reads with skill and expression. She is reading a year or two above her age, and can tackle the most complicated words. But ask her if she likes reading and she’ll say not really.

It causes me no end of worry. Raising a reader is seen as the parenting holy-grail. Reading allows you to experience a thousand lives that are not yours, get inside the heads of others, escape from life, be happy. As a parent I want that so desperately for my child.

Enjoying the Last of the Sun

Enjoying the Last of the Sun

But, here’s the thing. Maybe she doesn’t need to escape. When I was a child, reading was the main stimulation. I could travel off on the Faraway Tree, escape the mundane. I could hide from the rows inside the covers of a book.

Now, though, stimulation is everywhere. Computer games are like mini stories, with graphics so real you could be inside them. The right television shows (I’m thinking Cbeebies and Disney) are full of adventure and wonder, great characters, impressive songs, moral stories.

My daughter would rather write stories than read them (I wonder where she gets that from?) And she’s more logical and practical than whimsical and creative. She’d as soon read a book on Space Junk as a tale about fairies.

My son is different. He’s desperate to learn to read. He loves role play and creating stories with his superheros. My daughter builds the Lego and my son plays with it. So perhaps it isn’t me at all. Maybe my parenting isn’t lacking. Maybe it’s okay to be a reluctant reader.

And maybe my daughter doesn’t need to escape. We have a happy life (not saying I didn’t as a child). This half term we have done spooky Halloween treasure hunts, stately home tours, climbed trees, played in the water fountains, tried ten-pin bowling, drawn and painted, glued and sellotaped. We’ve had cuddles, and baked cakes. Life is good.

Hopefully a love of reading will come. There is such a wonderful world to be discovered in the pages of a book. But, if she doesn’t, perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much. She’s still amazing.

Half Term and Halloween

The closest I'll ever get to space

The closest I’ll ever get to space

I feel guilty that I’m not managing to blog regularly at the moment. With all the various things going on in my life, I don’t have many words. I have been pouring my creativity into other endeavours – knitting, playing the piano, photo editing and rearranging the furniture.

It’s also half term here in the UK and while ten days has been easier to manage than six weeks, I still find it drains me so that I just want to sleep. That’s been exacerbated by the clocks going back last weekend – our normally early rising kids have taken it to new extremes by getting up at 5 a.m. every day, and still not getting sleepy until 8 p.m. I wish I knew where they got their energy from. At least we have been blessed with some unseasonal gorgeous autumn weather.

So, in lieu of interesting words, here are some random family snaps to bore you instead! 🙂 Hopefully life will right itself sometime soon and normal service will resume.

First ever trick or treat adventure

First ever trick or treat adventure

Pumpkin Trail at Lyveden New Bield

Pumpkin Trail at Lyveden New Bield

Fishing in October

Fishing in October

Knitted brooches

Knitted brooches

Halloween cookies (made without cutters)

Halloween cookies (made without cutters)

Den building at West Lodge

Den building at West Lodge

Sand castles on halloween

Sand castles on halloween

Making potions in the garden

Making potions in the garden

Carving pumpkins

Carving pumpkins at Sacrewell Farm

Directing a space launch

Directing a space launch

Pony ride on cracker

Pony ride on cracker