I love to travel. I’ve travelled the world (literally) and can get quite itchy feet in between holidays so am always planning our next adventure. Much as I do like a bit of a relaxed holiday from time to time, I do prefer a bit of an explore. Hubs isn’t great at sitting still either and with active kiddies we, in general, prefer to be out and about a lot on our holidays. We have been abroad with the kiddies but we love our UK holidays too. There are some stunning places in the UK, and our recent holiday took in one of my favourites, the Lake District.
It’s been a bit of a cheeky one as it is in term time. Monkey isn’t yet 5 so as he’s not yet of “compulsory school age” we can get away with doing it without getting a fine, and as the timing worked better for my parents, and little brother and fiance, to join us, we decided to do it. Plus of course it was much cheaper.
We rented out a lovely, and very large, cottage for the 8 of us, in Lakeside at the south western edge of Lake Windermere. I have been to the lakes a few times before and just love the lakes and mountains.
In short we’ve had an amazing week. I will write some more posts about some of the specific places we’ve visited over the next few weeks but on the whole we’ve done so much! Here’s a brief rundown (with tonnes of photos, obviously!)
We’ve seen a castle and an aquarium.
We’ve been on a boat trip up Lake Windermere, visiting Ambleside and Bowness along the way.
We’ve been to Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top and had afternoon with a gorgeous view at the hotel next door. We’ve been to the Claife viewing station on the edge of Windermere and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead.
We had a day close to the cottage, with a nature trail and adventure play area followed by a yummy lunch at a nearby hotel, before taking an amazing walk through the stunning woods opposite our cottage.
We visited Coniston and Tarn Hows where we saw some stunning waterfalls and amazing scenery before stopping at the Bobbin Mill to learn how bobbins were made. (This was actually fascinating and the tour was much more interesting than I thought it would be!)
Finally we visited another lovely castle with the most amazing gardens I have possibly seen, and a lovely wild adventure trail.
So it has been a busy but amazing week. We have seen and done so much… and yet we’ve barely touched the surface in terms of things to do up here.
The Easter holidays are over and I honestly can’t believe how quickly they have flown by. We’ve had lots of ups and down but mainly ups, thankfully, and lots of fun as a family while Monkey was being off school, so I thought I’d share a little run down of our adventures over the past couple of weeks rather than trying to write separate posts about what we got up and what is going on.
I’m going to start with the negative first as there has been a bit of a shadow cast over the last couple of weeks that I’ve hinted at but not really talked about. Deep breath, here we go. My amazing aunt was, very sadly, and shockingly diagnosed with cancer just before the start of the holidays. My aunt, who is the fittest 70 yr old I can imagine, who treks all over the world. She came back from a trip to Sri Lanka in February and got a cough. The cough got worse so she saw the Dr, they did an x ray and referred her to a chest specialist. It got worse and they got her in for a scan. The scan revealed an aggressive tumour in her lungs, another on her spine and cancer in her liver and kidneys. This all happened incredibly, incredibly fast and it was hard to catch our breath. They started radiotherapy, then she lost the use of her legs and was admitted to hospital. The speed this has happened has been mind-blowing and there’s obviously been a lot of sadness and coming to terms with things. We don’t know what the future holds exactly but we so know that she probably won’t be with us into her nineties as we had hoped previously.
I’m not going to go into it more than that, and it may sound like I’m being cold and matter of fact but that’s the way I have to handle it. My aunt is an amazing lady and she is positive and upbeat and we have to be the same on her behalf. And I have to live my life. Below the surface I am obviously incredibly sad but I can’t let that overwhelm me as I have the kids to focus on and to think about. We’ve explained to monkey that she’s poorly and the Doctors are trying to help and that they may not be able to. And that is how it stands at the moment. I’m sure you can imagine that this has dominated the last few weeks for us so I couldn’t talk about our Easter hols without mentioning it. Well I suppose I could, but I didn’t want to.
Moving on to the lovely things we have been up to during the holidays. It got off to a brilliant start with some tree climbing for our Monkey, a lovely family bike ride and some gruffalo spotting while enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. Sadly that Sunday night our Little Miss had croup. It was nowhere near as bad as she has had previously, she didn’t have the wheeze (that they call stridor) just the horrible bark like cough. She even slept ok, while hubs and I were awake and worrying for half the night! So we had a quiet day on the Monday as her cough thankfully became more normal. Hubs took Monkey to work with him which he loved.
On the Tuesday, hubs had some time off work so he came on a bike ride to our local country park with us which was really lovely. The kids had a whale of a time in the sand and water play area there and we had lunch together in the café. That evening my stepdad popped over for tea that evening as my mum was down in London with my aunt.
That night I drove down to London to see my aunt and my mum. Hubs and the kids had lots of fun together the next day with another cycle ride and café trip
I was feeling pretty drained on the Thursday after the trip to London but we had previously arranged for a day out, going on a bear hunt, at our local country park. The kids loved it, though Madam did have a major tantrum (as she wanted to go to feed the ducks while we were on the trail s couldn’t) which I struggled to deal with with everything that was going on, though thankfully I had a very good friend there who supported me through it. She did get over it and once I explained that the bear was just a man in a suit, she liked him, and she loved the journey back on the little train, so all ended very happily.
On Good Friday we did a couple of errands, one of which was looking at bikes for Monkey’s birthday next month. We were planning on just looking but there was a fantastic one, which was on offer over the holidays, and because only the display model was left available we get an even better price for it, so we couldn’t resist. It’s bigger than we thought we would get, with 20″ wheels, but Monkey is so tall and the smaller ones just felt like he would grow out of them so fast. It is much bigger and heavier than his previous bike and while he is fine when he is riding it, he did start off with lots of wobbles when he was standing up, starting or stopping bless him. My older brother came over that afternoon so Monkey loved showing him his new bike and we all went out to help and encourage him. We also did a bit of easter baking on the friday, with easter nests and some Creme egg brownies, yum!
The Saturday of the Easter weekend was a beautiful day and with rain forecast on Easter Sunday we did our little easter hunt then instead. Monkey loves a good map so I made a little map for the kids to follow. We tend to just give the little eggs, and this year we gave them some little troll toys too (they aodre trolls atm). They get so much choc from all their relatives so they don’t need much from us! That afternoon my little brother and his fiance came over too.
Sunday was a roast dinner for lunch at my mums which was lovely and another little easter egg hunt there. Monday we had Hubs’ family over, including his aunt and uncle from Yorkshire for a lovely bbq. I didn’t take many photos but that afternoon we went back to hubs’ brother’s house and the kids loved playing their cats and tortoise including giving the tortoise a bath!
Tuesday was a quiet day for the kids and I as hubs took my parents down to London to visit my aunt in the hospital. This kids and I pottered at home and went on a bike ride to play on the play area. We also had a bit of a princess party which you may have seen! The kids were so good and it was nice to have bathtime fun with them as that is normally hubs’ time with them.
Wednesday we visited one of our favourite farms with friends and had such a lovely day. Just so full of fun and probably the fullest day I’ve ever spent at the farm so there was a tired Mummy and children that night!
Thursday was nice and chilled and we saw hubs’ parents for a play in the morning and just had a little play on another local play area in the afternoon. My phone also broke on Thursday which was just a pain, then when I took it into be repaired I was persuaded to upgrade as I only had 1 month left on the contract instead. So apologies for the pants pictures at the play park here, they were taken on a temporary phone.
Friday was at the park with friends in the morning, testing out my new phone. (more to come on that in a separate post) and we had a fab time with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. That afternoon was at My mum’s house for the afternoon for some snuggles and hot wheels fun.
So there we have it, 2 weeks went by in a flash! As mentioned there were definitely ups and downs but on the whole it was really lovel, My house is a tip though so I’m ready for monkey to be back at school, no matter how much fun we had!!
Wasn’t the weather last weekend just stunning? A bit of sunshine can work wonders and I think almost all of us were out there in some form to make the most of us weren’t we? We had already arranged to meet friends at Fineshade Woods, which is a forestry commission forest near to where we live, and were quite pleased to be able to go there in the sunshine as we’ve only ever been on rainy or cold days before!
The biggest difference was obviously how busy it was, still we were there early enough that we managed to park and met our friends. First up was a little play on the fab play area near the visitors centre.
Then we headed off onto their newest trail, the Gruffalo trail! They had a Gruffalo trail here previously which ended with a sculpture, but I knew this one was all about the latest app, the Gruffalo Spotter, so I had downloaded it prior to arrival. We headed off down the trail and could immediately see the difference a sunny Sunday made, as it was busy! The kids loved spotting all the signs along the way even though we sometimes had to wait a bit to get close to some of them.
The app itself is based on an augmented reality. You scan some of the signs and then the characters from the book come to life on your device. It’s kinda cool… But I’m not that convinced I have to admit. On a bright sunny day it was tricky to see the screen… And we only had phones rather than a tablet which I guess may be better.
But for small children, I don’t think they really got why things were on my screen but weren’t really there. Trying to get them to pose for photos was tricky too as they were standing next to a sign and didn’t really get why. Monkey grasped it a bit but LM didn’t have a clue what was going on really! It didn’t help that it was a busy day as sometimes we had to wait to get to one of the signs, which the little ones really didn’t see the point of!
Then, the worst bit for us was that the final one, with the Gruffalo… Just didn’t work. I tried a few times and restarted the app but just nothing. I don’t think we were the only ones either so it was a shame. By that point the kids were pretty hungry anyway we easily distracted them and headed to the cafe.
I don’t think the app and the downsides detracted from our enjoyment of the trail… But actually I don’t think they enhanced it either. We all loved running around and playing in the woods and looking out for clues. The images we saw and pics we took gave us a bit of a giggle but I just think that actually for my kids at least, that they would have liked something tangible they could see, more than something on a screen. It also meant I was behind my screen a lot trying to get it to work, rather than being present and joining in the fun with them.
Like I say, we had a really lovely day. Catching up with great friends and having a fun outdoor adventure in lovely woods on a gorgeous day. I’m just not sure I’d bother with the app next time!
Have you tried the Gruffalo Spotter app? What did you think? Am I being overly negative about it or did you think the same?
I’m so so proud of our little Monkey at the moment. He’s always been a bit reserved about trying new things, and gives up quite easily if he feels he can’t do something, refusing to even try. But there has been a bit of growth in that area recently. Since learning to ride his bike without stabilisers his confidence has really grown. His balance has improved and he is taking more things in his stride.
He’s really gotten into climbing too. He likes climbing up the sides of our local pirate ship play park, and is desperate to climb trees too. When I saw our local country park was offering a tree climbing session I knew I wanted to book it. It’s not climbing in the traditional sense but using helmets and ropes.
I hoped he would love it but because he is who he is, I wasn’t 100% sure how it would go. He may have decided he didn’t want to do it at all, he may have decided not to try. But I tried to forget all that and just kept up the positivity about it. He had seen pictures of his frienddoing it before so I hoped that would help.We arrived on the day and there was a TV camera there as ITV Anglia News were doing a piece about it!
Monkey was very quiet but had an excited look on his face the whole time. He got suited up then it was his turn to climb.
And he was amazing! He listened to the instructors and did as they asked. He just went straight for it and right up that tree and was so happy about it. It was amazing!
Of course I took a little video if you fancy a watch … (feel free to keep the sound off so you don’t have to listen to my prattling… though the end is amusing)
Afterwards he was interviewed for the news and, well typical child, I’ve never known him so quiet and not chatty haha but they got a little soundbite… And well that night he was on ITV news! Our little TV star! I filmed the clip on my phone so you can see it, though sorry about the poor quality.
I am so so so proud of him, this was a real achievement for him it really was! He is really proud of himself too and loves the fact he was on the tv haha.
We had a fairly momentous milestone in our house this weekend! Mothers day 2017 will be remembered in our house as the day Monkey learned to ride his bike. I cannot tell you just how pleased, and relieved I am to be able to write that, as I wasn’t sure when this day would come!
I’ve written before about our boy and my worries for him. He can be very stubborn and he gives up on things. He refuses to try something if he thinks he is going to fail at it, crying and saying “I can’t do it” without even trying. He’s the same at school too apparently. He’s only 4 I know but it’s something we have to work on. His self confidence and believing in himself that he can do things if he just tries.
It’s hard to know how to deal with it sometimes. I try to positively encourage him, but I’m not a perfect person and I get frustrated when he refuses to try. I also find that if I pander to him too much, that he will just play on that and keep crying until I either give in to him or get cross. Every kid is different I know, and I have to find the way that works for him, and it’s often that something that worked before, won’t work again!
Sometimes I find I have to use a bit of a “stick and carrot” approach. I have to give him a reason to try, usually a combination of the promise of something positive and the threat of something negative. On their own neither seem to work for him but a bit of both can just do it sometimes. For example yesterday was all about how proud everyone was going to be of him when he did it. His relatives, his teacher, his friends. It was enough incentive some of the time… But after a while he started to give up, even though he was making such good progress. So then I got cross. I told him that if he didn’t stop crying and didn’t try again, that he wouldn’t see his Granny & Grandad that afternoon. And what do you know, his tears stopped, he said ok, and he tried again.
I don’t like having to be the bad guy as a parent. I hate having to threaten but sometimes I have to as nothing else will work and I guess the end justifies the means. It’s like the thousand times that I ask him nicely to do something, then eventually shout. I don’t want to shout at all but when asking nicely doesn’t get you anywhere, sometimes you have to. It was the same with his recent tears at school in the morning. The more we were nice about it and the more attention we gave him the worse he got. We couldn’t find any reason for the tears other than he wanted to stay with us, which isn’t possible. Once we ignored the tears and ushered him in without acknowledging them (much as it broke my heart not to cuddle him) surprise surprise he stopped crying in the morning. I hate it but the truth is that it works. I guess it’s all about balance.
Anyway, back to the cycling. Once he was trying again, we found it really helped him to have one of us a little way ahead so he could focus on getting to us and concentrate on where he was going. Once he had enough of an incentive his progress sped up, and well, it just clicked. He just got it and then he was off!
It was amazing!
I was then running alongside him and I made up a little theme tune for him “woo oo woo oo Monkey can do it, woo oo woo oo Monkey can do it” which he picked up and as he cycled started singing “woo oo woo oo, I can do it!”
Once he started he didn’t stop and he doesn’t want to get off now! He was so proud to go into school today and tell his teacher and show his friends, and I’m so pleased for him. I hope that we can build on this and remind him of this day. Of how he tried and how he achieved! I hope we can help build his confidence and and give him the courage to try instead of giving up.
March already? Blimey, this year is flying and the kids are growing up faster by the minute. I try and write down some of the gems my kiddies come out with but don’t always manage, and sometimes forget to write a blog post about them, still, here are some that I remember since the last time I wrote a post about them!
Monkey Says (at 4yrs 10 mths)
“When I was a little boy” funny how old and wise a 4 year old can make themselves sound isn’t it?
“On the 7th Sunday” Everything with monkey is on the something’th day. “Can we see granny on the 3rd tuesday?” The dates are completely random but I have to admit I like this random thing of his because he never remembers what he has asked for on which day (I mean, seriously, who could?) which means we can say yes to things we don’t want to do or can’t do, and get away with not doing them :):) haha bad mummy?
Looking in the mirror after a hair wash “hmm stylish”
A transformers programme “I think this is a bit too interesting for me..”
Larking about in the bath “I almost did a hula hoop!”
On finding one of my very long hairs somewhere and holding it up to his head “This is my hair, see, it fits” (errr no darling, your hair isn’t red and is about a 5th of the length haha)
“I was just imagining if, like in the book, we had flaps that you open and see inside our bodies.”
“Look at your bottom, it’s so big!” Um, yeah, thanks darling!
On learning about doctors at school ” They have a Mermometer and a Steposcope”
“Rain goes into the ground then through pipes back into clouds” loving his rationalisation of the water cycle!
“When is my birthday?” it’s the 21st. “We call that 21.” Yes but it’s the 21st day of the month. “naooo its the 20 last day hahahaha”
I found out this week that one of the girls in his class has told her mum that she wants to marry Monkey. I asked him if he liked her and he said, so so sweetly “I would like to marry her.” My heart melted!!!
My heart also melted when on evening he got out of bed and came downstairs (not my favourite thing for him to do) to tell us “I know how to click my fingers!” he was so proud of himself and it was just adorable. Love our boy!
Little Miss says (at 2 yrs 4 mths)
Little Miss’s speech progression is still pretty slow. She is coming along even if not as quick as I would like. I don’t think she can say quite as much as Monkey did at this age (and we were worried about his lack of speech at the time) but it’s hard to tell. Because it is progressing, even if not as quickly as I would like, I refuse to worry about it!
Some of the things she is saying at the moment:
“Urbit (frog, as in ribbit I think)”
“Wuh, two, wuh, two, wuh, two, teh!” love this imitation of counting. She can say all the numbers from one to ten now when she sees the numbers and it is seriously adorable so I have tried to video it loads of times but she never plays ball haha, minx!
Her numbers sound a bit like “wuh, two, tree, or, yigh, see, seyeah, aigh, nigh, teh”
She was very cute the other day when she came in and I was watching the new Cinderella. It was right at the bit where she is given her pretty blue dress and LM was awestruck “oh, wow, a Dreh!” (dress) She then insisted on finding a dress and it had to be one that reached the floor, and she spent ages pegging it around the house giggling that she couldn’t see her feet!
Her current favourite TV programme is Dora the Explorer “Doo” and I don’t mind too much as she really interacts with it and is often shouting “uh” (up) “dow” (down) or “how” meaning any building amongst other things. It may also be the reason she keeps saying “Pah Bah” (backpack) and wants to wear her backpack when we go out! We also had a recent obsession with both kids loving some winnie the pooh films, “bear” is what LM called Winnie the pooh himself but her favourite of the films was the heffalump movie, as indicated by her shouting “Ooh” over and over till we put it on. I think it was her impression of an elephant, as she still calls most animals by their sound rather than their names!
One of her funniest habits at the moment is involving food. She makes an “ng” sound to mean she wants food (meant to be an mm sound maybe though we don’t actually know for sure!) and she likes to tell us all to eat. If any of us pause for a second we get “mama/dada/cugger, ng!” while she points from us to our plate. I think this may be as a result of always hearing us nagging her brother to eat, as he can be so slow haha. The funniest though is when she decides she’s hungry. She will lead me by the hand to the kitchen, where she sas “mama, in nair (in there), ng, ng.” She will then close the gate to the kitchen and stand there while I make lunch/dinner. If I dare to step out of the kitchen or any reason before it is ready so screams and go made shouting “ng ng, in nair in nair” over and over until I go back in. Seriously she has become a 50s husband – basically shouting get back in the kitchen and make me some food! Funny girl!
“Tigh t go” or “T go” are her very cute ways of saying she wants to leave, like right now, and she says “go war” for go for a walk and “oh dare” when she sees something over there.
One of her favourite games involves us pretending to be asleep (I really love this game) “go beh” and then waking up when she shouts “Tigh to geh uh, tigh t geh uh!” and repeating endlessly :).
There are still lots of things that she says that only I really understand “too way” means too windy for example and there is yet more that I don’t even understand, bless her, but she really is getting there now! Slowly but surely!
Before having children I don’t think you can ever quite comprehend just how much you will love them, or how much you will worry about them! My boy. He’s such a lovely boy, he’s so kind and caring. He’s like a sponge and is learning so much at school, his reading, writing and maths are brilliant for his age. He is so good so much of the time and I know we are very lucky with him.
He has his moments of course, he doesn’t always want to eat his dinner, but we can usually get him to eat these days thankfully. There’s the usual stuff, arguments about getting in the bath, about getting out of the bath, going to the toilet before we go out, etc.
They don’t worry me… But other things do. I know we are so so lucky with his behaviour and he’s lovely… But he can be hard work in other ways. I sometimes describe him as being very linear, which isn’t really fair as he is empathic and thoughtful and I don’t believe he is on an autism or aspergers spectrum (any more than we all are I suppose). But he has his ways for things. He’s grown out of a lot of it but one example is his swimming and getting water in his face.
Learning to swim is hugely important in my mind, and hubs.’ because of that we took Monkey to swimming lessons fairly young, and carried on with them for a long time, even though it was actually a bit of a nightmare. He screamed the whole session and clung to his daddy. Hubs started to dread Saturday mornings because of the misery it caused both of them.
I’ve written lots about our swimming journey since then and he is much better than he was. As long as the water is warm he isn’t too bad, and by taking things slowly with him we have got to a point where he will swim now with armbands on. I am proud of what we have achieved with him.. But then I see other kids his age or younger who are swimming without any floats or swimming aids, and I know all kids do thing at their own pace, but that doesn’t stop me worrying. Are we ever going to be able to get him confident enough to swim unaided, let alone underwater? Is he going to be behind the other kids at school when they start swimming in a couple of years? Are we failing him by not paying for 1 on 1 swimming lessons? Would he drown if he fell in the water? (not sure when that would happen but I can’t help but imagine the worst case scenario.)
It doesn’t help that he is such a tall boy for his age (at 4 he’s wearing age 7 clothes) . I see people looking at him with his armbands on and I try not to worry about the judgement of others, but it does affect me and I want to justify it, to justify him.
It’s not just his swimming that worries me of course but lots of little things. He can be very clingy, he likes to stay firmly in his comfort zone and doesn’t like trying new things at all. We try to encourage him as much as possible and get there with small things these days like trying new foods (a huge step if you knew what a fussy eater he was) but with other things he is too stubborn for us to win round. I know that all of this is probably just who he is, and I feel guilty for trying to change him, and I wouldn’t want to push him to do something he really doesn’t want to do. But what if we push him to do something he turns out to love? What if we don’t and he never finds it?
I guess it’s the eternal parenting question… Am I doing the right things for my child? Am I being a good parent? The answer is that I still have no idea what I am doing most of the time.
So, I worry. Then I convince myself that he is fine and I’m being daft and he will do things in his own time. Then something else pops up, or someone asks if Monkey does any clubs outside of school and I remember the dance class fiasco. Where he was fine when he was dancing with one of us, but when he had to move up to the next stage and go on his own, and he spent the entire 30 mins crying, every week and the teachers basically ignored him the whole time. Then I worry what he will be like at a different group and if I am a worse parent if I let him not do these things or if I make him go to things.
I’m sorry to anyone still reading, I know this post isn’t really anything more than a jumble of thoughts. I don’t have much of a point, other than that I have no idea what is for the best. This boy of mine is not a straightforward easy to please child, and I’m sure that is a good thing. His stubbornness and intelligence will probably stand him in good stead for the future. But his unwillingness to try something new, and the way he gives up on things so quickly without really trying, won’t, so, I worry. About his entire life, even though he’s only 4. Am I the only daft parent who over thinks and over worries about their children?
Answers on a postcard, please, (or, you know, in the comments below) they are very welcome!
So our little Monkey is about 4 3/4 and has been at school for about 5 months now. He has changed and grown up so so much in those 5 months that I thought I would write a little update about how he is getting along, and the ups and downs we have with our little school boy. Starting with some real positives, his learning is simply amazing. He is like a little sponge soaking up everything that they are teaching him.
His reading is amazing to listen to as he just reads so many words now, and sounds out and blends any he doesn’t know. It is wonderful sitting next to him reading his school book and he’s so proud of himself too. With a bit of encouragement (as he can be a bit shy) he has read his books to other family members too and they are all equally proud of him. We get him to read his book 5/6 times a week and can get a new book to read once he has read it twice. We tend to do this because after reading a book a couple of times he is more likely to try to read it from memory rather than looking at the words, so gets it wrong more often the more he reads it. The school recommends reading a minimum of twice a week but it has just become part of our routine now that he reads a story after dinner so he reads a few little books a week (pink band level) and this seems to be working well for him.
His writing is so good now too. It has been a bit harder for me to get him to practice writing at home, as quite often my suggestions to do it are met with a cheerful “no thank you” and if I push him he just gets grumpy and it’s not the right atmosphere for it then! Having said that he wrote the names in all 60 of his christmas cards to classmates and I think that all that practice definitely helped. I now try to get him to write things for a purpose. For example if we have been building something, and playing with something I try to get him to write a sentence about it. One day he came home from school so excited about what they had learned about ice that day and, as I normally struggle to get much out of him about what happens at school (“I can’t bermember,” “I just did lots of things”), I decided to capitalise on it and he wrote a sentence about ice and water. We’ve done similar writing a couple of times now and he is getting a tiny bit more enthusiastic about it.
I have been so impressed with the way he has been learning reading and writing with his phonics at school. Last week I went for a stay and play session at the school which was so much fun. It’s hard to know really what is going on behind the school gates every day so it was lovely to see it for myself. There’s obviously a lot of play and most of the time that is what they were up to, but there were also sessions on phonics and maths. I loved the games they used as part of the phonics lessons and the kids did so much writing it was lovely to see and made it quite apparent why his progress has been so fast!
I remember a couple of years ago, talking to a friend about whether to send her summer born 4yr old to foundation stage at school, because they don’t legally have to start until age 5. I remember at the time thinking the foundation is a good segway between nursery and school because they are at school but mainly still playing. I now actually think that it is really important kids don’t miss out on the foundation year, because of how much I have seen them all learning. Monkey is a May baby so technically could have started later, but I’m glad he didn’t. We always felt he was ready and now know we were right. I fear that any child starting at age 5 straight into year 1 may be really quite behind. I definitely don’t think Monkey’s progress in reading and writing would be anywhere near what it is, if his learning were down to me. I definitely don’t have the skills or knowledge that his teachers do in this area!
I also got to see a maths session at the school and that was so lovely. Again I have been impressed as they have been learning about counting in two’s recently and when I was there they were working out “3 lots of 2″ and how the x sign means the same as “lots of.” Basically they are learning the 2 times table already, and the kids were lapping it up. Just lovely to watch. Monkey has always loved numbers so he kept turning around grinning and giving me the thumbs up during that session!
Monkey has loved drawing for a while, and his drawings lately are just getting so good and so imaginative that I had to share a few here. He has a particular love of drawing instructions, like this one of instructions for how to build a house, but I just think all of is drawings are brilliant. Proud mummy moment!
On the whole, Monkey has been pretty happy at school. He comes bounding out of school so happy every day and like I say, he loves to learn. He has always been quite a shy and sensitive soul though. he has started off pretty well in terms of friends, there seems to be a fair amount of children he plays with at different times and on the whole he has been quite happy. He quite often tells me he played with so and so and so and so on the playground and they played superheroes or police or something. Recently though, he has had a bit of an upset with his closest friend, F. F’s mum and I are really close friends so we see quite a lot of each other and had even got into a bit of a rhythm of walking to school together. I think because F and Monkey are such good friends that they began to have a bit of a power struggle and F said some things that upset Monkey. Nothing major, but things like “I’m not sure if you will be able to come to my party, I’ll have to see if there’s room” and “that bell on your bike is a baby bell.” You know, 4yr old stuff but it did bother Monkey a bit.
Speaking to other mums and the teachers and it seems to be happening amongst a lot of the kids at the moment. They got really friendly with one or two children and then the power play started. It’s what kids do as they are learning about other people and friendships etc. as well as all the academic stuff, so it’s natural they will say things to provoke a reaction, or have their feelings hurt by another kid. Having watched some of the “secret life of…” programmes, I’ve seen it and I guess am not that surprised by it… but the reality was still pretty hard. F’s mum was horrified at what he was saying to Monkey and I’ve been torn between hating seeing my little boy hurt in any way… and knowing that he has got to learn to deal with it, because it is all part of life. Sometimes people say things either intending to hurt you, or not thinking about whether it may hurt you.
It was a tricky few days and Monkey didn’t want to walk with F to school anymore, and said “F makes me sad” which broke my heart a little. I think that extra bit of space has helped and they seem back on good terms again now. I know the teachers have been talking to the children about not saying things that are mean or exclusive too so hopefully that is helping all round! I’m sure there will be many more times where things like this happen over the years though!
This tricky patch coincided with us really taking a backwards step and Monkey being tearful saying goodbye in the mornings. Back in September we expected to go through this phase but never did, he was so happy and excited to be going to school that he didn’t cry at all. Then a few days in to the new term in January and he started crying. Possibly brought about by the slight change of routine they have introduced, where on a Monday and Friday morning they have to sit on the carpet and get ready for assembly, rather than having a play to start off the day as they did before. It could also have been the spat with his friend but even after talking about these things and trying to resolve the issue, it didn’t seem to be getting any better. He was so happy coming out of school every day, and was happy even when dropping him off, right until the very second we said goodbye, when his face would crumple and the sobbing would start.
It was such a depressing start to the day to leave him so unhappy, especially when we couldn’t figure out the reason. After randomly finding one of hubs’ old sets of lego in the loft that Monkey hadn’t seen before, we decided to try a new tack. Because it was feeling like the crying had become a bit of a habit, rather than because he was really upset about something, we decided to give a little incentive to stop the tears. One week without tears and he could have the lego we found. Right from the first day of this bargain being struck, the tears stopped. He left with a big grin on his face. His teacher also noticed and praised him for it so he told her “my mummy says I can have new lego if I don’t cry every day.” I have to admit to being nervous about her reaction to this but she seemed equally pleased that it was working. If there had actually been something bothering him, I doubt the promise of lego would have stopped the tears. Even now, after he has the lego, we still haven’t had any more tears. So, phew to that!
One definite downside to school is the tiredness it brings for our little Monkey. He can be quite crotchety at times and he really is, just, tired. He gets really tearful sometimes, and often about the most irrational of things. He had a meltdown about putting his shoes away one afternoon, and a full on meltdown over the weekend about blowing his nose because he insisted that he couldn’t do it. This morning was particularly frustrating as he started to cry about his name. Yes, his name. At school, when there is a word that can’t be sounded out phonetically, it is called a “tricky word”. Such as “go” for example, it isn’t guh oh, goh, it’s go, and that is a “tricky word.” Monkey’s name is a “tricky word” too and this morning we had sobbing because “I don’t want my name to be a tricky word.” There is just no reasoning with him when he is in that mood so I just decided to change the subject and move on! Daft Monkey!
He also uses tiredness as an excuse though, especially when it comes to eating dinners. He is so slow at eating and often sits there and says “I’m too tired to eat.” We, of course, point out that eating food gives you energy, and stops you being tired…. but he refuses to accept that fact!
So, negatives aside, he is doing so well at school. He’s such a happy chap and on the whole, such a good boy. He loves the PRIDE code that they have at school and loves to recite the words it stands for “polite, respectful, independent, do your best and everyone matters.” He gets quite irritated that is little sister doesn’t yet follow these rules too lol.
Monkey’s learning and growing doesn’t stop at school. He loves to learn basically constantly. I got a couple of new books recently that he loves, one is an atlas and another is a book about the human body which has lots of flaps you lift to look at. It’s a great book and he said yesterday “I was just imagining if like in the book, we had flaps that you open and see inside our bodies.” Bless him. He loves baking with one or the other of us and a LOT of time is spent playing lego when he is at home, and some of his creations are brilliant. We went on a nature hunt at the weekend which was great fun, and he’s just getting so grown up.
As a result, we have also been asking him to help out a little more. Just simple stuff, he makes his bed in the morning, lays the table at dinner and puts his clothes in the laundry basket at the end of the day. So far he is doing really well with those and most importantly is happy to do them.
Feeling very proud of our boy after writing all of this down :).
I’m a bit late joining in with the fab Me and Mine linky this month. In fact I wasn’t planning on joining up at all as the only shot I have of us as a family this month is one on our bikes, which isn’t the best.
But then today, after a slightly odd morning with ratty kiddies who are coming down with colds (and therefore slightly ratty parents too) we decided to get out and get some fresh air on a little autumnal walk. We found the most conkers I’ve ever seen in my life and had a good old nature hunt in general.
Then during a little game of family hide and seek we managed to grab a few very happy family selfies.
We had a lovely walk and as always a bit of fresh air did us all the world of good. So this is us, at the beginning of October, enjoying autumn.
So this week saw a big change in our little household. A change we have been preparing for for a long time, yet still seemed to creep on us. Monkey started school! It’s just mornings this week, and afternoons next week before going full time the week after that. Doesn’t he look so grown up though?
After a few tears on arrival at all of his settling in sessions in July, we fully expected the same to happen in the first couple of weeks. We had done our best to enthuse about school and to focus on all the great things he would do, and though we knew he would love it when he was there, we really thought there would be some initial tears.
So we were hugely surprised when the time came and he gave us each a big kiss and a cuddle, smiled and said “see you later!” before getting stuck straight in to playing with connex. Hugely surprised and obviously hugely proud too. Our boy! He had said on the walk to school “I won’t cry, I cried before because I didn’t have my uniform, but now I do. So I won’t need to cry!” I don’t care what his reasons were but the fact remained there were no tears and by all accounts he loved every minute.
It’s notoriously difficult to get out of kids what they have gotten up to at school, and having experienced this at preschool too, we try to ask a number of questions through the rest of the day to prompt him (what song did you sing? Do you read any stories? Did you do any drawings? Etc.). Not like an inquisition just as part of conversations through the rest of the day. So it was we discovered he had sung a song and had an apple for his snack (or a couple of bites at least haha). We also knew he had played with the water wall outside as he came out in a different top to the one he went in wearing!
The drop off on day 2 went just as well and that day he was due to stay for lunch. I’m obviously nervous about how much he would eat but his teacher had said they encourage them to eat a good amount of their mains before letting them turn their plate round to eat their pudding. He was very enthusiastic when he came out about his meatballs and pasta and carrots bless him so I think that went pretty well.
On the 3rd day he read a book about a diver, built a pirate ship out of a plank and wheels “and everything else” outside. He ate a banana for his snack (only teeny bites apparently but still better than we can get him to do) and he also got a badge for his “house team” and his team is yellow. He adores his badge and is so proud to wear it everyday haha.
Unfortunately that night at bedtime as he was running in to LM’s bedroom to say goodnight to her, he tripped and fell face first on the floor. There was blood everywhere and he went into school the next day with such a swollen lip that I had to tell his teacher. I managed to get Monkey to tell me later that she had asked him and found out he had told her what had happened. Then he did a drawing of a hospital and a Dr’s note. He then announced at dinner that night that the drawing was in his pocket. On inspection of his trousers (which had been swapped for shorts as soon as we got home as it was a hot day) I found a very screwed up piece of paper that was indeed his drawing.
It was a hospital with a person in a window who was “daddy when the Dr bandaged his knee but he’s all better now though he can walk now he can’t run but he can walk.” Love his verbal diarrhoea descriptions of things.
That afternoon playing on our neighbour’s trampoline Monkey’s friend landed on his head and his sunglasses cut his cheek. Thankfully it didn’t look too bad the next day as starting to worry the school will think we are harming him or something!
Friday morning we thankfully got him into school before the rain started and by all accounts he had a lovely time. He apparently played outside in his splashsuit twice and sang a new version of humpty dumpy which he loves and thinks is hilarious.
The afternoon school run was pretty miserable with the rain but I think I will just have to get used to those! Next week is going to be a bit odd as he is just going for a couple of hours every afternoon, but then the week after it will be full time. I’m so so proud of our boy though, he has handled it all so so well. I’m proud of us too as obviously we did just the right amount of preparation for it with him to give our boy, who can be very nervous of change, the confidence to go in happily. We have a schoolboy, seems a bit hard to believe really.
As for how I coped.. well I was more emotional than I thought I would be for the first couple of days, which I wondered whether was because I was so geared up for tears from Monkey that I didn’t know what to do when he was fine! I was so proud but it was also a bit of an anti-climax. I’m not much of a crier, or that good at showing my emotions at times and I was just so so focussed on making sure Monkey was fine. So when he was fine and didn’t actually need my help or reassurance I just felt a bit odd! So I had a few snappy irritable days and feeling like I wanted to cry over absolutely nothing… then eventually talked through how I felt with hubs and a couple of friends and as often happens with me, felt like a huge weight had lifted and I have been alright since really. I need to learn not to bottle things up I really do! Enough about me though as this is Mnkey’s adventure and we are so so proud of how he has taken it all in his stride!
How did your little one settle in to the first week of school?