Friday, May 26, 2006

the tea lady

My dad sometimes talks about when he first started work and how things were different. No computers, calling each other by title and last name and standard hours. The thing that most appeals to me is the idea of the tea lady. I know, I know, I am a lazy shit and I should just get off my bum and make my own cup of tea (especially in these days of bebing basically chained to a computer/desk) but god I love a cup of tea that someone else makes me. I really do - they taste better.

My lovely friend Jude seperated from her long term partner about 18 months ago and she says the thing she misses most is that cup of tea that turned up beside the bed in the morning or next to her while she studied. She has taken to buying herself a pre-mixed gin and tonic in a can because when she pours it it feels like someone else has made it for her.

I would love someone to make a cup of tea for me right now. I do enjoy a cup of tea I have made myself, I like the ritual. But I really really love the love and care and thought that goes into a cup of tea that just arrives, I really really do.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Developmental fairy

The developmental fairy has been to our place. The small demon of a few weeks ago has left my angel and he is back to his usual charming self. (Well almost, he is 7!) When I went to school yesterday for reading, he ran up to me and said 'yay mummy is here' and gave me a big snug and dragged me off to look at the chicken eggs they are hatching in the classroom.

He is talking alot about our new house and the things that we will do and get once we get the new house especially the things that the 'talking is over' (ie the decision has been made). This, very gorgeous, phase comes from me saying 'hmm we will have to talk about/talk with Gaye about that' when he asks for something that would impact on our lives. He often reaffirms it 'the talking is all over about that isn't it Mum?' and then goes on to talk about said event/activity or purchase.

On Friday he gets his first learning medal at school (a learning medal is achieved after 3 blue certificates, each blue is collected after three red certificates and a red certificate can be for being a good friend, trying hard or academic performance.) Thomas' final red was for 'regular participation in classroom discussion' - a kind way of saying he ALWAYS has something to say! He is thrilled about his learning medal.

Monday, May 22, 2006

ahh I sent them to the wrong field!

I did, can you believe it. I sent the soccer team and their parents to the wrong field for the game at the wrong time!

Gaye says 'that will teach 'em to show a bit of love an care for the manager' but gawd do I feel silly.

We weren't there can I say - we were at Thomas' much loved cousin's birthday (well actually Thomas was, gaye and I were at the movies!).

Hmmm - never mind!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

soccer mum

I find myself in the position of being a soccer mum. This surprises me somewhat as I am not even a little bit competitive (I have checked this assumption I have about myself out with Gaye who agrees with me) and not at all sporty. I don't play sport, watch sport or even talk about sport. Never is not really true I guess, now and then I watch a bit of the swimming at the Olympics and when Perkins won that last one and Cathy won at the 2000 Olympics I cried. But basically none, nada not that interested.

Thomas is sporty, he was born sporty. He has uncles on both sides that are the sorts of blokes who are good at any sporting activity they take up. He has an aunt who is a bit of a yoga nut. He luckily has Gaye who grew up around football and golf and has a good understanding of sporting terminology, thank the goddess, and has been able to explain at least what is happening when we see some sport or another. Which we do, now. Now that I have a sporty child.

Thomas took up soccer last year, he loves it and he is pretty good at it. He is tall for his age and pretty coordinated. Along with taking him to games and practice, last year we took him to watch the national and local games. I decided I don't mind soccer. One of my dearest friends is a soccer crazy and he has been trying to convince me I should let Thomas stay up and watch the live socceroo world cup games at 2:00am (hmmm).

This year I thought I would/should try and be more involved in soccer. The soccer crazy parent and his partner are my parenting gurus (I love the way they parent and their now teenage daughters are completely fabulous, normal, wonderful girls) and they have always taken a big part in their interests. My parents did this too. I want Thomas to grow up knowing I am interested in his stuff and I want to understand it!

So I took on managing the team – this largely involves making a roster of shirt washes and orange bringers and making sure they all know where and when the game is on each week and then at the game looking after the sub-ing on and off of kids.

Mainly this is a pleasure. I am enjoying being part of the team, getting to know the other kids (who also go to school with Thomas) and their parents.
Last weekend it made me cry! There is one parent on the team who, every week, makes a huge fuss over the amount of subs. She is way competitive and admittedly her child is very very good at soccer (I think his Dad almost played for Italy or some such thing). I felt completely criticised and I am trying so hard to make it fair on all the kids.

The club rules are that every child pays the same so should play the same time. This is what we like about the club. They want all the kids to have a fair turn. They aren’t that fussed about winning they just want them to have fun.

But this parent talks about ‘kids who aren’t committed’ (can I just remind you we are talking about UNDER 7 soccer here) and don’t concentrate on the game. I mean sure there is a fair amount of handstands and cartwheels, a kid from time to time who is perfecting his underarm fart technique and every now and then someone forgets and runs in the wrong direction. I think this is all pretty fabulous, and funny and what it is about.

She made me feel like I should be pushing the kids more or something, like if they aren’t thinking competitively they won’t strive for their best. Maybe I am just a complete softy, lefty or Emilin Crunchy but I am more interested in the kids learning that sport is fun, how to be a member of a team and win and lose with grace rather than winning is the thing and that sport should be taken seriously.

Once she had upset me she did come and apologise. And quite a few of the other parents have gone out of their way this week to touch base with me. But she has been odd with me all week at school and one of the other parents rang and asked if I thought they should take their (handstand regular) daughter off the team. This made me so bloody cross. Gaye has been rolling her eyes at me all week and saying “it isn’t about you Clare it is about her” and “Clare this is UNDER 7 soccer!” And I know she is right.

Mostly I just want Saturday mornings to be fun. I want no drama and the opportunity to yell ‘go go go’ and ‘nice try’ at the top of my voice (honestly sport can be quite exciting!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What is a family

June 1 has been declared Blogging for LGBT Family Day...Well why not I guess there is a day for almost everything.

We have been having lots and lots of discussions in our household about 'what is a family' and 'who is in our family?'. They are studying families at school (in a very nice and inclusive way - all sorts of combinations at our school), and I am finding it endearing that Thomas in his usual fact hunting way is keen to know what and who really is family. It is interesting to me that he is keen on them (the family) having names: ie - son, brother, parent, step parent, daughter. A few years ago he would have said that anyone in his parent group must be family (I think the definition then ways someone he loved) and my parents dog got a mention too.

I must say I agree with him the definitions can be complex ( the whole friends who are family thing) but as my dear friend Lisa would say it is the complexities that make us interesting!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

not tired - deafeated

I have been feeling a bit tired lately ... at least that is how I have explained it to myself, new job, house hunting and an ongoing maybe baby discussion seemed like reason enough.

But I have realised today that it is not that I am tired - I am feeling a bit defeated. I am not one to complain usually about the rigors of child rearing - I basically love this part of my life but I do not know what to do about this child of mine and I feel like a completely crappy parent. The last time I felt like this was when he was 4 (that was a completely challenging year). Since then, although I have had hard times myself, most of the time I have felt like I do a pretty good job as a parent. Not perfect but much better than bad. We have had a good and close relationship he and I, and we had a completely lovely holiday - just the two of us - early this year in which we talked and talked and hung out and spent time together in an easy and companionable way. Right now, the idea of a holiday with him ... well I just wouldn't take it up as an option.

I have no solutions. I seem unable to get through to Thomas while he goes through this difficult stage of arguing, complaining and negotiating every event and item in his life. I regularly find myself saying things like 'because I said so' and 'if it isn't positive Thomas don't say it' usually in a “very loud voice.” Our 'little talks' seems to have no impact. Providing more structure doesn't seem to make much difference, spending more time with him and/or organising more time for him to be with his friends all seem to make little difference. Coming down on him has not helped things, jollying him out of it doesn't work, talking things through just makes me more frustrated.

I know he has a lot of change in his life this year and last. But it seems to me these changes have been handled in a very child friendly way in the most part. He is clear and confident that he is the centre of the world for us.

I am completely defeated

Monday, May 08, 2006

why is he being this way

is it just a seven year old boy thing or have I been such a crappy parent that I have turned him into a whingeing, whining, complaining monster?

He is driving me slightly crazy - we have had so many 'little talks' about being a good sport at soccer, finding his manners in his day to day life and not complaining about the order of events for the day or the food that is put in front of him at dinner.

I can't tell you how much I hope it is a seven year old thing! He has taken to heading to his bedroom and 'crying' at the top of his voice with statements like "I can't believe she (that would be me) doesn't care about me crying!"

I found myself this morning, driving along in the car with him saying "Thomas, nothing good to say - then don't say it!" (Swell, I am now officially my mother and a person who squashes any bad feelings he has!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

the problem of being involved ...

At the end of last year I sat in Thomas’ first end of year school performance and listened while the chair of the parent committee talked about how fabulous she had found it to be involved in the school.

I am an ex-primary schoolteacher so I do know of the importance of parent involvement for children and how it impacts on their learning and enjoyment of school. And I had been very diligent about coming to school events and regularly came to the classroom and assembly, but it was my first year back to full time work, Gaye had come back from living in Darwin, my mother was feral – I had enough on my plate I thought.

The school is lovely – its is an infants school so the kids are all in kinder, grade one or two; it is small and very friendly. And suddenly I thought that I was letting these things go by and we only have two more years left at this school so I better get involved.

So I did. I joined the parent committee, started writing grants and the like for them. I negotiated changed working hours with both my current and former employer so I can spend two hours on a Wednesday morning at the school in the classroom. And I took on manager of the soccer team (which is now basically kids from the school). I got involved.

Overwhelmingly this has been a good experience. My connections with the school, teachers and the parents have become stronger (this came in all sorts of handy over this latest school holidays when I had no leave to speak of) and generally more enjoyable. I feel much more part of the school community. When Thomas is having a bad time I feel more able to reach out and ask questions. I know much more about his good days.

I am really enjoying knowing the children in his class and soccer team better, that they all know my name and that I know more than theirs about them. I know more about Thomas now too – seeing him in a different context has been enlightening and interesting and he loves loves loves me coming. Often asking ‘how many sleeps until Wednesday?’

These are all the positives, but last night was not. Last night was the parent committee… and there is one person on our committee who is ALWAYS negative, who ALWAYS disagrees with everyone else but who NEVER volunteers to do ANYTHING.

And before you get the idea that she might be a stand-alone voice in the crowd – her key complaint is always about he minutes. We currently have 6 or 7 sets of minutes unapproved because she wants to make more and more amendments. About a parent committee meeting! About tea-towel fundraising drives and weekend BBQ rosters!

This drives me insane. Gaye has said I am going to have to not go if it drives me so crazy. The meetings are always long (like 3 hours) because of her complaints.

But I refuse to be driven away.

Last night the feminist collective type in me completely rolled over and called for a vote so we could MOVE on.

I did organise for Gaye to pick me up at 8:30 so I wouldn’t have to sit through the complaining once I had the information I needed for my grant application. I rang another parent afterwards to debrief and found they had all gone to the pub. A bloody good idea

Today I have come into work early so I can finish writing the grant and remind myself why I got involved!