14 Sept 2009

Thomas reassured

"What is the most important thing in your life?" Thomas asked earnestly, a mode he often adopts.
I didn't have to think about that one. "My family, all of you."
"Well, the most important thing to me is to live with someone," said the child whom I know hates the idea of being alone. But then, who at 7 can contemplate solitude. "If you all died I would probably go and live with B. and S. [my brother and sister in law]. That is, if I can find their phone number."
"If something as awful and unlikely as that were to happen, then there are so many people who love you and they would come to you and help to care for you. Your Granda and Grandma and all your aunts and uncles would help you and make sure you were safe."
"Oh, OK," said he and we hugged.

9 Sept 2009

Flipping and cycling

We had a sporty weekend. Thomas and Lady had their jujitsu class after which Lady tried out to join the new competition squad set up by her cheerleading group. Thomas and I watched and she was great. Afterwards one of the coaches I didn't know asked if she'd like to join 2 other squad classes, in tumbling and acrobatics. Hell yeah! She is so keen on her gymnastics and has for ages been hoping that a time may come when she could join a squad. She is very happy and I am proud of her. She will be doing over 7 hours a week of gymnastics and would happily do twice that. Flipping ace!

Gordon got bike racks for the car so we can fit all 5 bikes on and head off to various cycle start points. After lunch we drove to Comber and rode the Greenway into Belfast. It was a beautiful day and there were plenty of other people using the path, causing me to repeat the instruction "keep left" many times, along with old favourites like "slow down Duncan!" and "be careful, don't bump into the people/dog/child" as needed. There are few spots where the cycle path crosses a road so I had to be aware and make sure the boy didn't just ride on out without looking. It went well though. We did have to divert off the path to buy drinks for thirsty children as I'd left our own bottles in the car. But we made it all the way to Belfast.

Our final destination was McD's in a shopping centre. Duncan made another diversion into an electronics shop where he'd previously spied a Sonic PC game. The child never forgets. I allowed him to buy it and then we had to get to the (ahem) restaurant. Gordon and Thomas had gone on ahead (loo emergency) and I couldn't see where to go. Thankfully the curly haired sat nav that is Duncan took the lead. There was a hairy moment when he rode in front of a car pulling out of the carpark, thankfully it was going very slowly but it made me scared for a while and I stuck even closer to him.

We all went in, ordered and ate. Duncan sat and had burger and chips, interspersed with mouth fulls of ice-cream. It was, to use behaviourist speak, very good sitting. Clearly getting him well tired out is the key to family dining in public. He got a bit fed up by the end and shouted a little about something or other, certainly nothing too unusual given the generally high screaming child background noise of our location, but two girls in the booth next to us seemed to find it, to use Thomas's favourite word, fascinating and stared constantly.

The journey back was even easier as there were fewer people on the path. Lady and Thomas were marvellous as always, just got on and had fun. Duncan and I were last back. He was very pleased with himself, telling me that he was the fastest, the strongest and the proudest boy on the bike path! It was all very nice, but my backend hurt!

Next day I was lackadaisically lolling around as is my right on a Sunday when I remembered Lady's acrobatics class. We dashed off in the car, as fast as possible when the car was laden with bikes, and drove to the gymnastics hall. Sadly silly me hadn't looked at the timetable properly and I was at the wrong place. Lady was nervous about the new class and stressed at being so late. We got to the right place and she didn't want to go in at first but thankfully she changed her mind and really enjoyed the more advanced class. I am delighted that she has such a strong interest in a sport and that her persistence and effort is paying off.

As I write, Thomas is practising the splits on my bed wearing his band new leotard and shorts combo and he looks so adorable. He had a haircut on Saturday, had to be done since he'd tried the DIY approach and now it's really short. It suits him though. His gymnastics class is on this afternoon, and after that, Lady's first tumbling class. I'm going to be doing even more mum-taxi jobs than before. It's a good job I don't have the school runs to cope with also or I'd have to move into the car full time.

1 Sept 2009

Summer Ends

The summer holidays have ended and for a few hours each day, my lot are just about the only children around not in school or nursery. We needed new wellies; walks through the forest and down to the beach tend to leave one's footwear rather mucky from September onwards. So we went to the shops and noticed for the first time in months how we stuck out, even more than usual.

But since so many of their friends are in school and not tearing up and down the streets on bikes, my children were content to settle to some reading, writing and 'rithmetic (or Mathematics, as Thomas says gravely) and that sort of thing. As usual though the best part of their learning comes through conversation, asking questions, playing their games, reading, watching TV and whatever takes their fancy at any particular time.

Duncan has discovered Mr Men so has started collecting the books, watching the films, playing games on the PC and making pictures. He's quite taken with Sonic the Hedgehog too, and he and Thomas take turns to play a PC demo game he downloaded. Duncan gets Thomas to help him with the trickier parts. Sometimes he gets distressed when it's not going well. He's been distressed a lot about something or other these past few months. It's been hard for him and I lost a bit of my coping mojo for a while there (hence the lack of blogdom). So he was sad, and I was grouchy, making him sad and screamy making me tired and head-achy and so on.

But I discovered a great cure for these feelings of stress and inadequacy on the internet; a 3 night holiday in Portugal. Actually my sister found it for us. In an astonishing coincidence, she needed a bit of respite from life's arrows just now too! We both went to stay in a posh hotel where we lazed in the shade from a hot sun by the pool/beach, swam a couple of times, dined well, drank a bit and strolled a little and I read 3.5 mostly lowbrow books. It was the laziest most relaxing holiday I have ever had and it was marvellous. On our last visit to the beach we thought it wise to get off our backsides and go parasailing. But there were no slots left for us, so we stupidly handed over money to have some youngsters pull us behind the boat as we sat side by side on an inflatable dingy thing. I was not 100% sure I wasn't going to die while out there, gripping the handles and bracing with my legs as I fought to stop myself from crashing into the sea as we bashed and bumped our way through the surf. It was nice enough when they slowed down and went straight but mostly, it was hellish. Afterwards our arms ached and shook and even now, there's pain in many parts as I recover from that self inflicted ordeal. At least, I forgot my troubles utterly while it was happening as I focused only on the path of sea in front of me.

I returned to my family, a bit sorer, more freckled, but relaxed and ready to work. They'd all had a lovely time without me. They'd been for long bike ride on one of the days and Gordon enjoyed spending more time with the children than usual.

I'll be happy to get back into our normal life groove and hope to do more blog reading and writing again.