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Monday, 15 August 2011

Review and Evaluation - 3 months later

As I write the ocuntry is still reeling from the bizarre riots and looting that occurred  in August this year.  There are many people offering their opinion and and repeating the phrase "lack of discipline".  That might be part of it, but cannot be the whole.  Will the generation that has benefited from parenting courses like this one grow up to commit such hate filled acts against strangers for no better motive than fun, gained through theft and destruction?

A lot of criticism is placed on the emphasis of praise and ignoring negatives to create confidence - does this confidence become arrogance in adulthood?  I think that is simplistic - but neither do I think that one parenting style is better than an another.  Parents need to be present in their children's lives but as they grow older children should be respected as adults and gradually be given responsibilities and be taught to consider other people first. If you are alienated from your family that is one evil, if you are alienated from society and only find meaning in destruction that is quite another. Gangs exist surely because people find greater sense of belonging there than they do in the home and greater acceptance - even if that is based on sharing destruction.  We don't need "more discipline" as such  we need more families where someone is at home to teach and love and cherish their chldren be that offering only "good enough" and terribly flawed it has to be better than the absence most children seem to be expereiencing where both parents are out at work to sustain their lifestyle - be that ever so basic or ever so luxurious presence is what is missing in family life, it is far more absent than discipline.  What I have gained from the course is mainly to learn how to be present and to create and sustain positive local friendships vber and above distant ones because these people arte present for my children too where through no fault worse than distance my family are not

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Blogger Unpacked

We have moved. We have unpacked - and then hastily  repacked some of our boxes ready  to move again. Next move to our very first home of our own. If we could just come to a decision about where . . .  E now 2 has been much better with fewer tantrums, A becoming increasingly independent  just had her 9th birthday. The party was great - her friends are good ones who really do like her. We must be doing something right. The parenting group "Quorum" which stayed the course has stayed in touch and we are meeting up fairly often at a toddler group. The children are lovely.  Have made some good friends here.  I am ending this blog at this point feeling that I learnt something on the way, gained some new friendships and discovered that how we feel our parenting is less relevant than whether our children are happy confident in themselves and when they lack confidence or feel unhappy they know that they can come to us and we will know what to say or do.  When they come to us in that way and we have no clue, that's when a parenting course helps as much because of the peer support as because of the content. The rewards and praising were slow burn, but praise is really working with E now and he even self praises - eg he passed me some washing to hanging on the line and said "Well done, Good helping with the washing" He's happier and settled in this house at last but it has taken the full two months and the realisation that he can go by ride on car to the children's centre and the park to do it.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Boxes, Boxes,Boxes

I had some words for this blog but I think I packed them

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Graduation Day

The course ends and I join the party tomorrow - I'll join up again in mid May so not to be a total fraud.  At the Children's Centre today creative kids was about fine motor skills, threading cheerios and pasta on to edible shoestrings. The brightest children ate the cheerios and shoes strings without wasting energy on trying to fit them together as a necklace. Edward persevered and did manage to thread the necklace - but he wanted and needed lots of help. I used good Webster Stratton praise and encouragement techniques which did pay off - not only that part of the session. His listening to me is improving - the second part of the session was to play "stop" "go" "come back" in the centre garden which all the children really enjoyed. Edward didn't stop on command when other children did but he noticed other children did and so the next time he did too and really enjoyed the game. When B who was leading called the children he went with the children but hung back from physical contact (other kids high fived or hugged her).  When I called him to come to me he just didn't. But as the game was ending he was getting it so we walked home together playing the game and by the time we reached the door he really enjoyed it and had cracked it.  I took the children out for cake after school and bought him a book. We celebrated how well he did with holding hands both then and going to get his sister after school and across the car park.  "Didn't let go hands Mummy" he said to me proudly. Both of us learnt something today.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Messy Life: a tangent

Ok . . . well house is coming together.  We've again passed references, we have again agreed terms, we are again expectant it will all work out.  Did I mention this is the second time we have got to this point in 3 weeks - the first time the Crown Estate withdrew permission to let the property.  On the plus side this house is very local so can still walk to school, library, brownies, shops, park and childrens centre.  On the down side the house backs onto a road where people walk back from the pub/town so we don't leave behind nighttime disturbances on summer evenings which have been such a nuisance here. At least we will be glad to move on when we do.

Recently I took the children to a messy church event - it was fantastic, but missed the idea of all age worship altogether, parents were given consent forms at the door and advised what time to collect their children, so it was in effect a single session holiday club - like Xsite but lower key and for younger children. Edward particularly enjoyed the freedom to worship and play as he chose and enjoyed enacting the Noah's Ark story with an ark playset.

The vision for Messy Church was familiar - make it easy and comfortable for families to come to church whether or not they have a church background, there is a structure and a format but its to enable not to constrict. I like it as a once a month session, but I like liturgy and sacrament too. I also felt like I have been here before its a new name for something all the churches I love have been doing for years.

Every church where I have felt happy has made people regard each other as family, the feeling of warmth and hospitality is expressed in sharing of time and energies but also in coffee and cake and food. The Seabrooks who now are at Taverham embodied this in the family service and their open house approach to bible studies 

Philip and Elizabeth Kettle were Pastors to Hitcham Free Church when I was a child, from a holiday club in 1982 where I became a Christian I discovered what a dynamic thing church could be. They encouraged discipleship by example and by opening their home and hearts to children and families - summer camps and a youth group in a caravan all showed such love. 

And I think of Bruce Nicole's Church in Camberley where even now despite the vast changes that have happened in that area and the number of people who have arrived since we left we still feel a sense of home.  Its no surprise to me that Messy Church occurs here or that the Church continues to grow because like all these churches it is grounded in love and led by people sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Finally I think of the place where my faith both in God and the possibility that other people could accept me took root, Hilfield Youth Camp, where I discovered that I was like Elijah in being oblivious to the surrounding of Angels in my life, and this was revealed to me through people who inspired me, who greeted me from day one not as a stranger but as a friend. This is what church should be.  Not perfection because that is only to be found  heaven, but messy, fun and welcoming with a reflective aspect that leads to real growth

All these wonderful experiences have shaped me, and its a shaping that isn't just from parenting, and one that reminds me how important it is to give your children places to explore their fellowship with God and with others outside the home.  My parents' best gift to me was to let me go to these events, camps and friday nights. Its a gift I want to give my children too - go to new places and find out who you are and who else  there is like you,  open your eyes to the fact that there are other children with values like yours and hopefully connect with God in a new way. Keep your brain switched on too, ask the questions you need to ask.

So where am I with parenting?  Failing! Life is messy like that. You can't crack it in a week. Praise is being rejected again, bribery/ tangible reward is not wanted because all Edward wants is to run free and not be in the buggy or holding hands no matter about the road. I persisted with him today which meant I looked like a real mean mummy - poor baby screaming in buggy was ignored until it was safe to let him down, with periodic options to comply he would not. Got to the park and free range he wanted to walk the wrong way, it all took so long! His sister missed out on play time because of his behaviour.

Also some of the behaviour is resentment about moving house (he is definitely stressed by things being packed up) and an awareness he is too young to have really that his friend - his best friend in all the world apart from his sister - is moving away.  He does have another friend he talks of often, another dear friend's son who has passed on clothing to him with stripes and vehicles on and who also has a deep appreciation of trains, but since he was barely speaking when they last met it might come as a surprise to this little boy that his clothing is appreciated or that Edward has decided trains are wonderful following sharing his track at Christmas. When Edward saw a tractor on his next size up nappies instead of familiar Bob the Builder he asked if this friend had given him the nappy (clearly he assumes good taste in vehicles comes only from this source!) I really hope they play nicely when they meet again in the Summer.

Foolishly I told Aslana today that the best behaved child could have the biggest room in the new house . . . did I just give away the Master Bedroom??

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Things that did not come in the Post

1. Reader's Digests' Cheque for £125,000 - would be so handy about now.  Must surely be delayed. I   mean they keep promising it so it should arrive any day I am sure. May be the postman nabbed it??!

2. A list of houses to let.  In the old days when we registered with agents they'd be in touch by phone or letter weekly at least.  Now they just say - check the internet, can't you?

3. An apology from the landlord or any explanation as to why we are in this crisis

4. Chocolate or tea bags

5. The Birthday Card my sister did not post in January or February but promised she did intend to come March . . .

6.  A note from The Lord to indicate exactly what the plan is.  I am aware we have the Bible but its not so handy on the finer practical points of items such as "The Lord will Provide" in our experience it does tie in with Seek first the Kingdom (ie despite pressing needs arising in your life, consider needs of others ahead of your own) and also Trust - (eg about to give birth with nowhere to go?  Don't worry - there is a stable just around the corner - expect provision around about 6 hours before labour . . .)

7. Selflessness and patience. Really low on these about now. Especially when DH is finding fault with remaining options that I think would be good enough. Little one is poorly - I don't want to have anything to do but comfort him and see him well but time taken for this seems stolen from peace of mind about the move.

8.  An apology for the guilt that Dr Webster Stratton ladles on - if your child has any faults they are victims of your inabilities and incompetencies parents! If any qualities of which you are proud these are from correct implementation of the webster stratton method. There is good stuff in there, don't get me wrong but she's as warm as a cold fish and sees everything as a transaction - love and affection are deposits in a Child's piggy bank of self esteem, time outs are temporary withdrawals to gain control.  I think there are truths in what she has to say but the style of saying it really needs some work.  There is too much focus on achieving "correct behaviours" and too little on happiness and strength of relationship - building trust etc.  A warmer read with similar basic concepts about investing positives to produce happiness and self esteem is here

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Things in the post

1. A letter confirming references cleared.
2. Incredible Years Parenting Book by Dr /Ms??  Webster Stratton
3. A letter confirming Aslana has a place at the new school
4. A letter explaining that the Landlord has withdrawn the property  to which we were planning to move.
5. Junk mail promising a very stripy green lawn
6. Junk mail extolling the new dance phenomenon Zumba as a way for singles to meet.

Am thinking stripy and green lawn over rated as a way to enrich life.  Am relieved to finally understand what Zumba is - had been in my outer consciousness as something new.

When these new words arise its like an unfinished crossword in my brain turning over too much as to what significance it may have. No significance at all as it turns out except to make me feel grateful that I am not single and eager to be loved,  but surrounded by a loving family and not required to learn dance moves to earn their devotion.

Almost everything is as irrelevant as the junk mail when compared to the recent catastrophes in the world. Perspective is restored as to how priveleged I am to have my family together under one roof even if I don't own that roof and arbitrarily we can be asked to move to another - we'll still be together and that is a huge blessing. 

A few weeks from now I may need reminding of that point, but for now experiencing compassion for others over self pity. Am singing a lot of nonsense songs lately to the point that the children are now asking me to sing about anything that pops into their heads on demand.  "Sing Tiger song, Mummy" for example.  Maybe I do have to perform to impress them after all, but its easier than Zumba I should think!

Speaking of impressive performances now have no trouble with shoes or hand holding by the road - Edward I am so proud of you and thank you Dr Webster Stratton my interpretation of your suggestions and persistence are successful - though not perfectly implemented as per your method you did help me think about it.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Have ordered The Incredible Years on Amazon.

They should arrive any day. Meanwhile we have to live with the entirely believeable year. Edward has held hands by the road - the whole weekend and today when I reminded him there will be no magazine on friday if he does not. This is a bit "stick" I suppose, with "carrot" suspended a way off in the future for a little boy of not yet two. (minus brownie points for doubting Webster Stratton spproach)

I am also using proper praise technique now, it seems to have become just about acceptable to say "well done". He still relinquishes his hold the minute I say well done, but grabs on again when I remind him about the promised magazine. He is also enjoying reflective praise when I tell someone else how good he has been at holding hands or we remember it at a later point. Webster Stratton is very clear in her belief that delayed praise is better than no praise, but is not effective, but it does seem that for this child it is helpful. Also he cottons on to conversations now which is proving very interesting. Indirect praise to a third party very worthwhile with Edward for that reason.

Our search for an interim home to get us out from the curse of the landlord impatient to get his house back is coming to fruition. We have nothing signed and sealed but it looks promising. The house we have in mind is only advertised for 6 months but may be available longer. This should not matter too much though as we hope to buy before the end of the year, its just that it is far too pressured to do that now. All of which is not what anyone would recommend for children - 3 homes in one year is a bit much really. But these are my children and I have faith that they will bounce ok as long as they have stable family and emotional support. So it was important to find a school, a brownie pack, pre-school and church with potential to offer that and be static points while we transition between homes.

I visited Aslana's proposed new school today, and needed to since the application has to be in 4 weeks prior to her starting and the school receptionist was really lovely, warm and friendly and very proud of their school. The children were very focused in the older years and curious in the younger ones, with a reception age child actually engaging Edward in play. Sooo sweet.

The pre school children were really well behaved but not in a cowed way or anything. Talking with the manager of the pre school was a real joy - it is so wonderful to meet people who have a real sense of vocation and a vision for developing the talents of others in whatever walk of life they may be. I really felt that Edward would be given opportunities to flourish.  As the manager discussed their way of encouraging the children and marking their personal milestones, she talked about how parents, children and staff had "Wow" certificates which are displayed on the wall that list achievements as varied as "Staying dry through the night" and "Eating Spanish Food on holiday".  Edward was impressed by this "Wow Wow Wow" he said and pointed at the certificates - he was promptly given one for me to fill in at home.  When we went outside everything was ready for the children to come out and play and Edward immediately relaxed - he headed straight for the cars and road mat and made himself completely at home.

I also believe that being closer to nature even if short term is good for everyone, so I am greatly looking forward both to our moving to the countryside and feeling grateful to parents for our bowood season ticket which will enable us to have gracious surroundings not too far from our doorstep. Last year the Rhododendrons were amazing . but where we are moving too has lots of farmland and very close by a lovely place called Morgans Hill which is a rather special place for our family already as we love to wander and roam and you can do so freely here, just occasionally having to give way for horses or cows.

The school for Aslana is a bit more of a compromise for her year group is in with the year above, but the two do separate in the mornings for numeracy (where she needs some additional support) and literacy (where a bit of encouragement to conform to accepted spellings would not go amiss, but she is basically flying).  This means the larger group are together for Art, Geography, history, RE etc. Probably the right balance for her. There is a real sense of community at the school and with the pre-school.  The school has a nature area where they pond dip and there is a choir she can join. Happy daughter I expect. At the moment she is away with her class on  a local adventure.

I asked about the bullying policy - and the answer was a good one, and particularly the observation that if a school says no one there experiences bullying ever, that they must be lying. Bullying occasionally arises but its sorted out quickly and nobody pretends its not there or doesn't matter. There is also a worry box where you can post a note to the School's counsellor if you are upset or worried about anything. Something I think Aslana may like. She might also like having a designated quiet area where if you just want to play quietly, write your bestseller or read you can retreat. I think they might struggle to pull her out of it would be my only concern. 

The pre-school has as one of its staff a Rainbows leader, so finding out about the Brownie group that meets in the village should be fairly straight forward.  By the time I left the school and pre school it was nearly 11 - my visits to both had taken over an hour, but I felt very informed and reassured about moving my children there.  From there I went to Angie's house, Angie is kind of my boss - the creator of StoryBags see I have written some scripts for her (Psalm 23, Sower) and help out with some marketing stuff too. We went to Trowbridge so she could buy fabric for the bags (Easter has been getting a bit low, since that, unsurprisingly has had highest demand) and so I could deliver a donation of baby equipment to Vine for Pat. 

Vine for Pat is an amazing charity staffed by volunteers that is perpetually short on cash and abundantly blessed both with faith and God's provision. They support Pregnant and Abused Teenagers and help them get their lives on track, prevent homelessness and where pregnant provide counselling and support in preparing for parenthood. I was last there 3 years ago nearly when there was no heating (because there was no funding for heating) there was still a long way to go with dividing space in to rooms, plastering and wiring and just two or three rooms were actually recognisable as dining, kitchen or bedroom space.  They received lottery funding by winning the vote on The People's Millions and have been able to complete the refurbishment and open their doors.  Their first clients are being helped now. If you want to feel uplifted see regarding the work they do.

God is Good! He gets a million thumbs up from me!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Rewarding Progress

The homework is to make a reward chart.  We will do this because Aslana thinks its good to help me with my homework but actually the children really liked their charts downloaded from  Edward had Bob and Aslana my little pony.  Specific behaviours is the key to the tangible reward system and that the reward chosen is selected by the child. These were colour in charts with a favourite character featured. Has really helped Edward with positive behaviour eg please and thank you but less well with the negative - ie tantrum throwing or not kicking off shoes when we need to go out or holding hands by the road because when you praise him for it he resumes the undesired behaviour, so ignoring the negative works better than praising the positive.

But today and yesterday Edward has been using praise for others - Well done, mummy or Well done, Lani Boots or even for his monkey Well Done, Norman.  So somewhere in there he does hear it and take it on board its just harder to record the reflective child's approach to praise - he does not respond in the instant but some time later and the indication is not in pleasure expressed but in how he shares it with others as a good thing  He is so proud of himself for using praise!

Cbeebies had a recent bedtime story which is worth noting here called Hugless Douglas - I would recommend it for toddlers because both children who love hugs and give and receive  them enthusiastically
and children like Edward who seem a bit perplexed or even scared about sharing their personal space can find it helpful.  When the programme began Sanjeev Bhaskar was using toys to demonstrate hugs "I expect you like hugs too" he said - Edward was pushing himself back in the chair and saying "No Don't want to!" because he felt so unhappy with the theme.  He really isn't all that tactile and feels threatened when people get too close,  but the story was about a friendly looking bear so he didn't want to miss it either.  The bear learns about gentleness and the importance of hugging someone who he knows really well rather than people he doesn't and who do not wish to be hugged.  It helps give place to gentleness and to thinking of other people's feelings, but also demonstrates the hug to be something special to share and enjoy rather than fear and in the case of Edward it meant I received the best hug ever and a rare one just to say Lub You Mummy rather than night night or I'd rather stick with you than anyone else.

Anyway all that about progress and now I have to be honest and say I feel more at sea than ever because now we are facing a move unexpectedly since the landlord has given notice on the property.  Aslana has been briliant - staying positive and thinking hopefully about everything.  Her faith that God loves us and won't leave us through everything is something of an inspiration.  She has no doubt that he will provide what we need, it is only us adults who stress because we don't really know which way to go or what to do for the best. Nothing we can offer as a home to our children seems to provide security.  If we buy a house big enough for all of us we will be stretching to do so and if a small change in interest rates occurred we would find ourselves struggling and having to have both adults in full time work  We did not have children not to see them and besides in such a situation we would be put at greater risk of homelessness if a job fell through and we were not able to keep up with repayments.  Renting is still cheaper than a mortgage on a property that meets our needs, but is in our experience an increasingly short term measure, landlords talk of long term let but they mean a year or two not the length of primary school education.  Making children have to give up their home with all that entails is of no concern to them or the law.

I took it for granted in my childhood that we had a home we never had to leave - in fact as a very young child  I remember thinking it quite dull that we never moved unlike other children - it seemed like such an adventure.  Now I am a parent though I would rather the adventures my child experienced were imagined ones not the tension of parents wondering where to go when there is a shortage of choices and a deadline for moving. But then again I think a child like view of the world is going to be the only thing to save my sanity.  If I think too hard about interest rates or the whims of landlords I get very depressed, much better to take a walk outdoors everyday feed some ducks, splash in some puddles and be grateful to be alive.  I may not know where the roof over our heads will be but I am pretty sure there will be one.  I just pray we find it sooner rather than later.  Chris tells me we are going to find it tomorrow.  May be Aslana's faith is catching.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Interesting Times

Its difficult to know where to begin with not launching in to even more off topic issues than I usually do.  So lets start with friday's parenting session.  Edward was not happy about being left with his childminder.

There were no boy toys out since the girls arrived first and if there's not at least one vehicle in sight he will get a little distressed in any setting! I let her know this was the main problem and once cars were mentioned his mood improved.  He still didn't want me to go so I did not prolong the agony and just gave him a brusque (is that a word??) hug and said, "See you later, love you." By the time I picked him up he was pleased to see me and ready to go but not unhappy so that was good.

Now my brain freezes as I try to recall what we were talking about and I feel a little pain above my left ear  Is that where the bit of fluff I call my brain is residing? I remember finding it really helpful.

I quickly google webster stratton to check where we were upto on week 5 - are yes, continuing praise and moving to discussions of deferred rewards - where children's sticker charts are used to build up to a reward of their choosing. 

I had printed out charts for the children a week ago - Aslana's because I don't think she recognises that I value her good behaviour - so its helpful to her to see a taangible record so she knows I am proud of her.  With quite a degree of doubt I also printed off a chart for Edward - too young surely? But I used it for my tangible record.  The behaviour looked for with Edward was very specific I wanted to see some acknowledgement of other people's needs and wishes - beginning with saying please and thankyou and recording each instance, but also compliance to simple requests without a tantrum.

My childminder who has him once a week for 3 weeks has partnered me in this - eg keeping rain cover on when it is pelting down, holding hands to walk near roads, saying or signing please and thank you, putting toys away and not upending toyboxes (um with the child not with me!!) .

Unfortunately my husband his Dad is not around till 7.30 so it has been harder to feel supported in the home.
I don't think he will even be aware of what the course is covering except where I am doubtful about it,  or have found it hard to manage. eg the descriptive play was possible and valuable one to one with either of my children but impossible and sanity stealing with both together because they used it to vie for affection and would not cooperate with each other. In addition Edward is praise resistant but Aslana is praise seeking and thrives on it so it is hard for Chris to see that it might work longer term, especially since he does not value or trust praise himself. He like Edward is also not one for physical affection. Here our reading on love languages is helpful in terms of expressing encouragement non verbally.

Anyway to return to the session 5 focus - Reward charts.  OK not now,later everyone waking up!  If you want to find out about this session  while you wait for my personal take on it this link provides a good summary

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Invention of Lying

Edward was not happy about being left for our now usual 3 hours apart today.  I go and do a little bit of work and he has a lovely time with his grown up friend who happens to be a really gifted child minder and all round good person. He loves her not only for her superior train track and bob the builder toys but also for her lovely sense of fun. He often tells me she is funny. He has learnt new phrases from her too - okeydokey and messy were carefully shared with me today in perfect context.  He doesn't use many words but does try to make them apt ones.

So I went to work - I say work but  really for that you must read pleasure, because my boss is my friend Angie and in return for some data entry, some sharing of ideas and script development I receive a good number of cups of tea, a large breakfast, a few snacks and some freedom to be thinking about some less domestic issues than is there enough bread for sandwiches tomorrow and how long til the nappies run out and so on. And since it is so much fun I do really wonder if I should abandon my son but I know I would go slightly insane if I did not. He was very distressed when I left him this morning though and I did feel a heel.

Part of the reason I enjoy work is that what we do is meaningful. Here a Tangent. is a new company, which is only just finding its feet  It began from a Christian ministry for missionaries and sunday school teachers but is taking new directions.  It is still holding to those roots, but we also see opportunities to develop it for new audiences so that there are bags for sharing experiences with under fives such as going to the zoo and down to the farm as well as Christmas, Easter and old favourite bible stories.

My experiences with Edward are leading me to look at what is offered to under fives in a way I had not previously. I think the idea of story telling to impart values is kind of frowned upon in some way by a lot of parents, we have got used to the idea that the concept wrong does not exist and the concept right is purely one's own subjective value judgement and should not be forced upon anyone else. We are also so scared of offending others that we tend to regard sharing our thoughts and ideas as forcing belief  on others.

The parenting course emphasises we should praise children for being compliant and letting others go first.  This is how my eldest has been raised to this point.  Its consistent with Christian values, but it is not consistent with life in the real world where if you are compliant and hang back you will just be pushed aside because the world, propelled forward by its ambitious parents  is a very very competitive place.

 Simultaneously though, the course teaches us to make our children believe they have the very best ideas, are never wrong and are incapable of making a mistake since we should not correct them. This seems to me to put self right at the centre - self esteem without humility does not reckon much to other people's needs or talents, I am not comfortable with this, but it is a tension that highlights the difficulty of raising not just well adjusted children but creating a Christian family where moving forward together is what is aimed for, that we should develop 1 Corinthians 13 style of love but maintain a sufficient grasp on what the world is truly like to be salt and light in it not a complete irrelevance.

I think it is ok to think the way I think and share faith with my children and let them know they can share that with me or go their own path, but I do think this way is the right one.  I want to signpost what I believe to be right and wrong to save them pain in the future, but I wouldn't see any point in forcing belief. I'd rather my children would trust me that fire is dangerous and not experiment to find that out, and spiritually speaking I feel the same way, I don't want them to take emotionally harmful routes through life any more than I would be happy that they suffer injury to their physical being. To be honest even the harm being done to my daughter's spelling and grammar because of the do not correct culture is distressing to me.  I assume by the time she looks for work the people hiring will also be illiterate so she won't miss out but its a shame really that she won't be able to treasure language or manipulate it with facility because the building blocks at the base of learning are arranged by her 8 year old  thought not the consensus of generations  Thank the Lord she reads widely and has the Bible in her cultural lexicon there is at least a chance for her being able to understand why justice is as it has been developed in this country, why our landscape is littered with churches even if many now redundant and what countless references in Shakespeare were really intended to say in his own generation.

 I want my children to grow in faith and be able to express themselves in the world, but I see that as a process of nurture not of my forcing belief which would be counterproductive - the parable of the sower is exactly what it is all about.  The Seed is the word of God, we sow it at every opportunity in the lives of our children in actions as well as words but it is the environment in to which it is sown that really makes the difference as to whether it takes root and flourishes or withers and dies with no discernable effect on the happiness or fruitfulness of that life.

Wow that was quite a tangent and may be it only made sense to me. So to The point.  Today my darling Edward told me a whopper for the first time.  He told me he fell on his bottom (he was sitting in bed and the last story had been read and prayers prayed  and hugs hugged) and he produced some crocodile tears and a wobbly bottom lip.  And I said Oh really?  And when did this happen? Sniffed dramatically he pointed at his stuffed toys and said "My Toys Did it" I laughed and told him not to be a pickle and go to sleep.  Which he did. But I was impressed.  I remember Aslana's earnest reception year teacher telling me with straight face that Aslana could not possibly have been lying to her to get out of PE because a child of 4 is not capable of doing so. So I was slightly proud, and slightly mortified in nearly equal measures.

Its definitely time to read him the one about the boy who cried wolf.  Ah, there is some consensus on what truth is after all - its the opposite of that porky pie you are telling me darling child of mine and if we disagree with all the world what it is still you and I need to share what truth is in order to have trust and once we have trust real love can grow. You test me with your fibs and when I hold you to truth you know love forgives all things and hopes all things but it still knows what the difference is between right and wrong.  Goodnight

Sunday, 13 February 2011

On praising . . .

We had a lovely dinner today.  Also a bit of a row between the supposedly adult. mmmm.  We'll ignore the row. Bad behaviour goes away if you do that apparently.

Not convinced on that point, and it seems particularly unfeasible when talking about danger situations where intervention is immediately and swiftly required. Attention seeking or not, it cannot be ignored out of existence.  And the row was about feeling ignored, so ignoring it made it escalate. Guess none of the child behaviour management is meant to apply to adults anyway.

Chris made a fantastic beef bourginion (as peace offerings go this is much better than cut flowers) and I contributed stuffed mushrooms and laying the table with Aslana. She made heart confetti and she and I wrote on large hearts what we appreciated about each person. I'll quote mine from her verbatim:

Mummy I love you because you cook my dinners & you help me tidy my dinners room. You take me to school & you know how the sofa should look.

This last refers to my constant battle with the sofa throw and cushions.   Being praised is alright.  I can handle that.  Aslana can have a good helping too.  We're both very verbal creatures.  Christopher's affection much more practically expressed both to me and Aslana. I interpret it for her and she's happy. Edward not happy with praise.  If you praise the way he holds your hand when near traffic for example he will instantly desist and throw a tantrum.  If you praise him for saying please he will thenceforth only use thank you.  If you praise him for playing nicely with his sister he will pinch her.  You can bribe him though with video time or colouring favourite characters (hurrah for cbeebie web site) or visiting ducks.

Children are weird.

Friday, 11 February 2011

"Self Praise is no recommendation"

To quote what was often quoted to me.  This is the antithesis of the Webster Stratton approach so I really struggled this week. I found it hard to find anything of merit in myself or my achievements on demand and it was exruciating to have a room of people waiting on me to do so. I came up with not burning the home made burgers last night.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Its February 2011 but I am not 100 per cent sure what exact day it is.

I'm eating humble pie today (slightly over done and burnt at the edges) because I had a big self righteous row with DH last night. I really lost my temper because when we were talking about holiday plans the date of Edward's birthday came up.  "I know when my son was born!" I shouted " I remember every excruciating minute of his birth!  I can't forget when he was born!! We moved the day before.  I am certain he was born on 25th April and you are just WRONG!" und so weiter und so weiter . . . increasingly hysterical and apalled at my husband being such a poor father he could get the date wrong.

But, dear reader, it was me that was wrong.  With considerable restraint he handed me the notes from the birth so I could see that each excruciating minute (of which there were only about 70) was on Sunday, April 26th 2009 not Sunday April 25th which is just a fiction of mine. Another helping of humble pie and though its good for me I really don't like it.

The worrying thing is I don't recall when I got this wrong first.  Have I registered the correct date with the doctors? His child minder? His family will presumably know. What about Godparents and friends of the family??  Is this the only erroneous belief I have been holding?  Are there many more? 

Forgetting TD days or PE Kit or sending A in uniform when everyone else is wearing what they like pale next to this. I am struggling to maintain hold on my few remaining marbles (my brother gave me a beautiful carved wooden pot to hold my marbles, but come to think of it, I can't think when he gave it to me, though I do know it is on the mantel piece in the living room.

Time to fight Edward into the buggy for the school run and I would really rather not.  Parent strategies for this? Um, just that he can't fight too hard with hands full. A snack in advance and clean nappy hopefully he'll just comply and nod off. Wish me luck or pray as takes your fancy. I'm pretty sure I remember where A goes to school and when she's due to leave. Best take her a snack too to avoid strops, its a cold walk home.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Better week

One big tantrum on thursday night when Chris did not get back til 7 45pm. Apart from that not bad at all. Different kind of week though - Edward had his first reguar child minding session with childminder he already knows well, his friend was away for half of this week (a friend who tends to be quite huggy which non tactile Edward is not that keen on) and he had more of me than expected since the parenting course was cancelled.  I dropped him off and arrived at the Children's Centre for 9.15 again impressed to find I was on time only to read a note on the door that it was cancelled. Strangely though the door was opened and I was offered a biscuit by a staff member who said she couldn't run the course on her own and that both she and her colleague were ill. They both called in sick, but since she was less sick she decided to come in any way.

That made no sense to me, but I was pretty certain I didn't want to take the biscuit.  Since it was cancelled I went back for Edward but he was very happy with the Childminder not keen to leave

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Sunshine breaks through

No Tantrums on monday or Tuesday.  Tuesday I left him with Childminder for first time. He had a wonderful time playing with another slightly older boy.  They put wooden train tracks together apparently. His sister has been pretty good, although today she came home from school and tried to take over all the building bricks to make a roman mosaic - of course her brother thought she wanted to play with him and continued his building up and knocking down game to her extreme annoyance.  I don't know why she wants to play with his younger toys and then gets cross that he wants to as well. I guess I am not managing their interactions very well.  Parenting courses seem so much about one to one interactions parent to child, not very real world! I need more help with the sibling side of things. How to stop them to competing for my attention and help them to enjoy a relationship with each other. How do you learn or teach being family? E really responded to descriptive commentary today, but still indifferent to praise. A not very well today but quite stoic about it. I am keeping her off school tomorrow. I really hope they can get along.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

About Tantrums

Called Charlotte today, she is so lovely and calming.  Her response to my opener of "Lots of tantrums this week" was "Children or grown ups??"

She related some tales of tantrums I have known, including a toddler who took off his clothes and nappy and threw them over the stairgate when he was supposed to be in bed, of creativity with nappy cream and hand prints etc. All horribly normal.

The screaming so DH tells me, does not get under his skin. It has no effect on him. To test this theory I left the room when one was in full swing about having been brought to the table and strapped in to the high chair when he wanted to carry on playing with his bricks. (He was making trees out of them, very thin ones for the trunks and very thick ones for the leaves and branches. Looked like upside down towers but was impressed by the fine motor skills involved.  I can totally see why he resented the interruption, but you have got to eat!?

Tried the ignoring of the screaming. And praising when he calmed down, but he really hates praise. It makes him worse. So I left the room completely. He was ignored (tantrumming or quiet) and in ten minutes he was asleep.  Husband regards himself as a much better parent than me.

Tantrums have been worse since he has been on milk free diet since what seemed to me to be an allergy flare up a week ago. He is more energetic generally and is also refusing to sleep in the day though undisturbed nights of up to 13 hours have also occured.

Have been praising both children, Aslana loves it and preens. Edward is irritated by it. He's not that bothered by cuddles either.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

How the Pasta Burnt

It wasn't really the best of culinary moments anyway. 

We had enough pasta for two and a Jar of sauce.  This was the meal for the parents, being too nutritionally void to offer children.

There was no great plan beyond cooking the pasta and stirring in the sauce. That was all.  But. It was an overreach on my part. A & E were happily eating couscous (yes these really are the initials of my children, and now, relating the burnt pasta incident, seems appropriate).  Couscous is so easy.  I needed easy. To make up for easy there were roasted vegetables (possibly even four of the five a day) to be picked out daintily by A and spat out by E. For protein: smoked sausage.  It doesn't need cooking - great stuff. Not great nutritionally maybe but it ticked a box.  So I was happy with that. I was unconcerned that a shower of couscous was landing on the highchair tabled and floor and would later be sticking to bare feet or socks. Children were eating no one was whining, no one was trying to fly from the high chair. There was some singing, some silliness and happy faces.  And then I thought. I could put the pasta on.

Pasta in saucepan. Switch on gas hob. walk back to table with children. Briefly it must have occured to me to put water in the pan.  I found the kettle had been on when I started to smell the acrid scent of the meal I should not have attempted. 

The saucepan was two weeks old.

It survived.

Previously in the same week E discovered Tantrums.  Daily tantrums now with added language - to every single thing I said the response crying, resistence, and don't want to. Tantrums for every single school run. Morning. Evening. Tantrums for being asked to hold hands next to a road. Tantrums for going to his friends house. Tantrums for not going to his friends house. Tantrums for leaving. Tantrums for being hungry. Tantrums for being offered the wrong food.  Tantrums to the point that I cannot remember which way is up.

I called the Children's Centre and booked myself onto a parenting course.  I'll let you know whether pasta gets more edible.