Monthly Archives: February 2017

Just go with it

I’m a planner. I like lists. I like to know what I’m doing and when. I cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

One thing that The Big Break taught me back in the summer is that some things can’t be planned and sometimes things happen that just stop all immediate plans and you just have to go with it. Just Go With It = My Worst Nightmare. Well, maybe not my worst nightmare – not as bad as my child being in agonising pain with a completely broken leg, but you get my drift. I had to take every day as it came, in fact on some days it was more a case of taking each few hours as they came. It sounds like I’m dramatising. I’m really not. For a control freak who has life nailed down and running like a well-oiled machine, to not be calling the shots was horrendous. Not being able to make things better for my child, not being able to take away his pain, not being able to tell him everything was going to be fine, was beyond unbearable.

I have to admit that the whole experience knocked me for six. More than six. It knocked me right out of the park. I still find it very hard to think back to That Day without getting a bit emotional. I was talking to a friend about it over dinner the other night – I haven’t seen her since T has been out of plaster and back to normal life – and found myself welling up. I apologised and said how ridiculous I was being. She told me to shut up, nicely. She has been through a good few traumas with her kids over the years and she said each and every one still made her feel emotional to talk about. Phew. I thought I was being a complete cuckoo.

Looking back through my blog, some of the posts seem like they happened to someone else. Me and A going up to London to see Wicked (I remember the day but a bit like watching it from a bit of a distance); going to clinic appointments;  A starting secondary school; A going on her school trip, etc. – I feel like I was on autopilot for it all. I think being on autopilot for a while makes it hard to come back to holding the controls and taking over again, being in charge. I’ve definitely struggled being in charge again, making plans and getting things organised.

But maybe this has had some positives:

K and I have become closer and now make more decisions together, talk about things more, plan things together more. I think he knew that I would not cope with all of the fallout from the break on my own and that I am not superhuman, despite the image I try to portray. I didn’t crumble, but I needed him. I’ve always joked that I don’t need him for much apart from putting the bins out and cleaning the school shoes, but it’s not true really. And this completely drove that home. We do need each other, we do make a good team and we can cope with stuff – together. I don’t need to be superhuman, I can ask for help.

I can cope with living day to day more. Although I will always live for weekends, just because they are the best days, I am happy to plod through the week and just wait for Friday to come along with all it’s happiness. I can cope with Monday (most weeks) and I actually quite like Thursdays now, rather than wanting to rush through them. Of course, there are some things that have to be planned and given a bit of thought, and those are fine. I still have my lists – I can’t give them up, in fact I find I need them a lot more now just to remind me of things I need to do (perhaps being on Autopilot has closed off the section of my brain that I used to keep my to-do-list in?) – and I still like to have a semblance of an idea of what we might do at the weekend, but not weeks in advance and not set in stone. Nothing in my head is set in stone any more.

Having to change or cancel ideas at the last minute no longer seems so awful. It can’t be helped sometimes and sometimes we just have to do what we have to do. I still hate being late for meetings or even just being late for coffee with a friend, but that’s because I hate rushing and don’t like being stressed! But actually people are very understanding and are far less bothered than I am by a bit of tardiness.

Yep, there are some definite positives from the whole experience. Obviously, T having no lasting effects and making a complete and full recovery are the main positives! But maybe me being a bit less of a control freak and a bit less of a planner is up there with it. I’m sure my family are happier now that I am a bit more chilled!

 

On another note, my lovely dad is having a small op this week. He hasn’t been in hospital as a patient since his early twenties (50 something years ago) so is understandably a bit nervous. We’re all a bit nervous. He has got to be there at 7am on Friday morning, he will have the op at some point during the morning and is expected to be in overnight. He should get a bed on a ward at some point, but we won’t know until we ring during the day. I’m nervous because he is having a general and I obviously want it all to go completely to plan and all be easy and straightforward because I love him to bits and want him to be all fine, but I am not going to stress about the why’s and wherefores of what time and when – because it won’t change anything. I am going to be as supportive as possible to my mum (for whom it will be far worse to be waiting to hear) and pick her up, take her where she needs to go and get it sorted. I will be thinking about him every minute of the entire day. But all we can really do it just “go with it”.

 

 

 

 

 

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Good changes

Thinking back to half term holidays in recent years gone by, T would be out with friends most days – on his bike or at someone’s house – or one of his friends would be at our house. A would have been busying herself baking, reading, popping out to the shops or for a walk with me – generally occupying herself.

This half term has been almost a reversal of this situation.

T has had revision to do, admittedly, so has been occupied that way but has also been at a bit of a loose end during his scheduled breaks due to most of his friends being away. In contrast, A has been to a birthday party at a local “bouncing arena” type place, had a friend over to just chat and do whatever it is girls do when they get together, just and this afternoon has gone to another friend’s house for a sleepover. All three of these friends are new ones that she has made since starting at secondary. I am almost giving myself a little hug and am overjoyed that my mantra for the last 2 years of primary school “it will all be different at secondary school, it will all be different at secondary school…” has actually (so far) been spot on. It HAS been different. She has grown in self confidence without losing her innate kindness and thoughtfulness. She has maintained the few friendships that were good ones from her old school, but she is equally unafraid to do what SHE wants to do and chooses who SHE wants to spend time with. I am so very happy for her. I am also very proud. SHE has made this happen. The fact that she changed schools has enabled this change but SHE has made it work. My favourite motto that she has on a picture in her room is “She believed she could, so she did”. It sums her up totally.

Another difference for me this half term was going into work today. We normally all work from home during school hols as we all have kids and we all prefer to be around when they are off. But today I needed to train a new member of staff and so we all met up at the office. Until now I would have asked K to be at home, or would have asked G&G if they would do grandparent duty for the day and have them at their house. But, now they are both old enough to be left alone. And we regularly do, when they don’t want to come to Sainsburys or Homebase  (who can blame them – even I don’t really want to go) and they are perfectly fine. But I have never left them ALL DAY. It was therefore with some reluctance and trepidation that I left the house this morning at 8.45am. By 10am I had created a Whatsapp group ‘Kids’ and messaged them “both ok?”. “Yep” was the response. And maybe a smiley emoji from A. I then heard nothing, and honestly was too busy to message them, until midday when T rang to ask could he have crackers for lunch instead of a sandwich, and could his friend come round about 1pm until I got back and then they would go out. Yes and yes – but don’t annoy your sister.

I’ve come home to a bit of washing up and a daughter desperate to get out to her friends for the aforementioned sleepover. The boys had gone out just before I got back as he had rung to see if it would be OK to leave A for a half hour until I got home, which it was.

I am now finishing off work (and writing my blog!) waiting for K to come home and an evening with just him and my boy. One day very soon it will be just me and him. All the time. Oh.

 

 

 

Too much

I don’t like to stress out. I don’t like rushing. I don’t like having to do things at the last minute. I try to organise my life so that I don’t have to do any of these things but sometimes the universe conspires against me. As the kids have got older life is less hectic, less last minute and less rushing around. But there are still things that make life stressful. Revision for one.

Revision. For exams.

I thought we were a way off this yet as T won’t sit his GCSE’s until May 2018. I knew there would be Mocks in early 2018 but I was oblivious to Mock Mocks. Mock Mocks. Is that even a thing? Apparently so. And they are doing them this March. Yes, barely 5 months into the course and they are doing Mock Exams. And is it serious or what? I’m pretty sure that Mock Mocks have been a “thing” for a few years. Friends with older kids seem surprised when I mention that I knew nothing of this phenomenon. I didn’t think I was that out of touch.

I think the reason it feels like a big deal is that the teaching staff seem nervous. At parents evening in October the resounding feeling I got was that the staff were worried.  The new curriculum that the knob-head Gove dreamt up one night over a large bottle of gin (it’s the only excuse I can think of) – i.e. lets get rid of coursework and make them try and remember EVERYTHING in the exam so that if they can’t then they fail, oh and let’s chuck some stuff in there from the A’level so that the gap between the levels isn’t so blindingly obvious  – doesn’t seem popular. Funny that.

For someone who was the guinea pig for the GCSE’s (probably the only reason I managed to pass most of them) with the joy of coursework taking pressure off us exam-phobics with the knowledge that the exam was not the be-all-and-end-all this is horrifying. Yes, when I then went on to do A’Levels I struggled. I can see why the A’levels and GCSE’s need to be brought more in line. But to revert to the purely exam based way of testing, from nigh on thirty years ago, seems bonkers.

And T’s teachers seem to be putting on a brave face (not very well, some of them, it has to be said) and hoping for the best. They have no past papers to offer up, until the current year 11’s – the first ones to sit the new exam – take their exams in May this year. They have no benchmarks, they can’t really offer much advice other than “let’s wait and see”. They’re nervous and I am worried.

T was instructed to devise a revision timetable that he has had approved by his form tutor. We had a parents meeting about it. About how to help them through the stress of revision. Where, how and when they should revise. How long for and how they mus factor in some down time. It feels like he is studying for his finals (not that I have ANY clue how full on that is) not just his Mock Mocks. Today was Day 1. Half term Day 1 and Revision Timetable Day 1. And the day when I can feel stress building very slightly but very insidiously into our lives. T seems OK. I am already feeling resentful on his behalf and wondering how we will all be feeling when he is revising for the exams to end all exams. The be-all-and-end-all exams.

A on the other hand has done a bit of homework and is now baking cakes. I hope beyond all hopes that the madness that is Gove’s legacy is reversed before she has to go through this. She is a very different creature from my laid-back boy who takes it all in his stride and the stress levels when she comes to take her GCSE’s might just tip me over the edge!

 

 

Awkward/Prude

I’ve admitted this before, but I will reiterate the point in light of what I am about to talk about – I am a bit of a prude. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any objections to others talking about.. er, you know, er, sex (said in a slightly Miranda-esque manner) and I don’t really mind too much if I have to read a sex scene in a book or watch one in a film or TV programme – I mean, I’m not Mary Whitehouse reincarnated – but I’m not one to sit and chat to friends about it or to electively watch something dodgy (see I have to say dodgy, I can’t even use proper words). When K and I watch a film or tv programme and a raunchy (what is wrong with me?) scene happens we quite often laugh about it “what’s that they’re doing then?” sort of thing. Just to stop me feeling awkward.

I’ve become very aware of late that I need to try and not pass on the prudish tendencies. But it’s difficult. It used to be funny (sort of cute) when A would sing along to songs in the car – she loved Scissor Sisters and one of their songs ‘Filthy/Gorgeous’, was a particular fave. She was barely two years old so her singing along “cos you’re filthy…..ooh and your gorgeous” didn’t really matter, or similarly singing to Lady Gaga about losing her shirt in the club you see see. Nothing dodgy, just a little child singing words she didn’t understand the context of. But, when I hear her now singing along to Zara Larsson (someone who really should consider wearing a skirt sometimes) about “getting to know you better” (this is the least provocative of her lyrics) and so forth, I feel a bit uncomfortable. I suspect that there were plenty of songs in my heyday that made my parents’ toes curl – Frankie’s ‘Relax’ for starters – but somehow it seems different when it’s YOUR daughter. Luckily, she is probably still young and naive enough not to fully get the intention behind a lot of the lyrics that she hears/sings along with and she is definitely still at the “yuck” stage so I am feeling uncomfortable for no real reason.

K, T and I settled down to watch a film the other night (A had a friend for a sleepover and was otherwise occupied) and I was way more than just a bit uncomfortable when the opening sequence involved a ‘scene of a sexual nature’. Bloody Ewan McGregor. I’d forgotten how much that man likes to get his kit off on screen. Now, normally I wouldn’t be too bothered as I’m quite a fan, but when my 14 year old son is sitting 4 feet away it’s a bit different. It was a very brief scene and was not overly gratuitous – it was sort of necessary for us to get the message that all was not well in the marriage of the couple on screen – and so we carried on watching with little to disturb until a further 20 minutes in when another far more disturbing scene (a fairly violent, albeit again very quick, rape scene) at which point I almost yelled “are you sure this is a 15?” and stalked off to check the DVD box before allowing us to continue. Thankfully, that was it sex-wise for the rest of the film and we thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists and storyline, but I was left feeling a tad uncomfortable.

I’ve tried to be a grown up as far as the kids are concerned when it comes to bodies and puberty and sex and have answered questions (while trying not to stutter) that I would rather not have had to answer and have had conversations that I really would prefer a real grown up to come along and undertake for me. I think they believe that they can “ask me anything, tell me anything and I won’t be shocked or upset” (I will be dying inside but I will try not to show it). And I think that K and I are fairly liberal in a non-1960’s free love, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll kinda way. We don’t censor too much in the way of bad language on TV or films or music (within reason!) – we have the party line that just because you hear someone else say it, it doesn’t mean you should repeat it or that it’s appropriate – because let’s face it T did spend 3 years of his school life on the bus. Nuff said. But when it comes to sex and, indeed, violence, I am more than a little more conservative and would definitely err on the side of, well, prudish.

My colleague was talking about taking his son (same age as T) to see T2:Trainspotting and I am sure he noticed the look of horror on my face before I was able to hide it. Really? At 14? I would rather stick pins in my eyes than let T watch it and he then went on to say that maybe his son should watch the first one to set the scene. Woah. I’ve seen it (the first one) many times and it is NOT something for a 14 year old to watch. Not my 14 year old anyway. I know that T has and will undoubtedly watch films that I deem inappropriate  when he is at a mates house, but I am definitely not laid back enough to take him to see them at the cinema or watch them with him on DVD. My colleague’s theory was that he would rather his son see films while in his presence so he could talk to him about it and make sure he was OK with stuff, rather than watching at a mates house. Makes sense, I guess. But can I please have a pass from that parenting session and let someone a bit less prudish than myself do it?