So, they are all back at school. No. 4 is now no longer under my control for most of the week and is getting on brilliantly - far above my expectations. Bea is also getting on wonderfully well at her secondary school. By the end of the first day her tears and tantrums from the term before were forgotten and she was brimming with its brilliance. The school is very strict and has a weird policy regarding the compulsory wearing of tights if you wear a skirt - regardless of temperature - and there is an awful lot more homework and hard work, but on the whole she likes her teachers, loves her new friends and has entirely forgiven me 'ruining her life' by sending her to a different school to her primary school friends. Even the boys are happy, (for now). G is happily reunited with his friends and and Ted's class tables are helpfully named after different types of sharks which are his current obsession. And both boys have been voted by their classmates to be School Councillors which is rather lovely as there are only two per year so I was most proud. I can't pretend that everyone is happy every day but, on the whole, the new school term has not been quite the trauma I had feared for anyone.
Cybs isn't screaming and clinging on to me every morning and sits on the mat with the other children with very little fuss. I am quite amazed by it all. I don't know quite what I was expecting but that wasn't it. It was me that cried on the first day and had to escape quickly to ensure that she didn't see me. It is quite unlike me to cry about such things - I certainly didn't for the last two. But as she is a summer baby she seems so much smaller and more baby like. I think that, combined with the lovely summer, made leaving her that much harder. I'm pretty sure the worst thing about a child starting school is that having known every little detail of their life, from how much liquid they've ingested to how much poo they have ejected, you suddenly don't know anything about six hours of their day. Other people are now far more involved in their lives and you are just 'the mum' - the teacher even refers to them as 'her children' which for some reason struck me on Cybil's first day. Also they are assessed for various things from the moment they arrive on site and although I am more than happy to point out the children's faults and moan and write about them, the moment anyone else does it I become immediately defensive and pretty annoyed. After a few days of Cybs being at school it dawned on me that any minute now I will have to sign a form allowing her to be weighed as part of the government screening programme and yet again I will get a letter home telling me she is bloody obese. I HATE THESE. I know it's important, there's an epidemic blah blah blah. But I already know she's heavy. I think it's delicious, as I did with G before her. I will do my best as a responsible parent to ensure she doesn't end up with Type 2 Diabetes and using a mobility scooter at 16 because her bones can't carry her heft but I really don't want anyone else to point it out to me and include helpful 'tips and ideas' for small changes - "Don't give them cans of coke - why not swap it for a lovely glass of water?" NO SHIT. Why don't they extend the whole monitoring thing to more important stuff, like personality. Why don't other people get letters home telling them that their child has almost no personality and is borderline thick as shit. HUH? But no, it's how heavy you are that seems to be all that matters. I have no idea where I need to send it but I have taken the time to re-write the letter they send out to the parents of those children who have a little more meat to their bones in order to soften the blow a bit. It is far more useful than their current standard correspondence.
Dear parents of X
We had the pleasure of meeting your child, X, last week who is obviously a very enthusiastic and happy child. One of the many things we noticed was her great love of food. This is a wonderful aspect to her multi faceted personality and may well lead her on to an exciting career in catering in later years, however we think it might help her in the future if she enjoyed a little less food in the present. I'm sure you're already well aware of this and have plans in place, we just bring it to your attention on the off chance you were blind or thick as two short planks, which is actually more common that you might think! Please don't worry about it as it won't take too much to make a huge difference. If you can't think of any changes we have helpfully included 'An idiots guide' to feeding children and exercise.
All the best
Interestingly, my ability to adjust to her being at school every day is remarkable. It is quiet at home, yes, but Dot is more
than happy to make up for that and create quite a lot of noise and mess
so I don't feel too bereft at the loss. She is happy to empty absolutely
every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and I have just spent half an
hour recovering bits of Weetabix that she had thoughtfully scattered
throughout the downstairs. She's also a big fan of spending hours on end
moving things that belong in one room to another room where they most
definitely do not belong. And she gets pretty pissed off when you don't
give her what she wants, the minute she wants it. Mainly food and my
iPhone. I had, once again, planned to achieve an awful lot in the weeks where I only have one at home. So far the six years of thank you notes I need to
write/the children need to write have gone unwritten. Photobooks have
also not been lovingly created from the million or so photos I am keen to organise. Clothes remain unsorted and exercise remains very much not undertaken. However I HAVE managed to organise
the kitchen cupboards and my scary coat cupboard which was waist high
with absolutely everything you can ever imagine. It is now possible to
not only find coats/shoes/cleaning equipment with exceptional ease BUT
you can also walk in to the cupboard and reach the far end. It is
My sudden urge to sort and tidy has been precipitated by my selfish solo departure this weekend. It is just basic science that the further you go from your home and the more selfish the reason for the trip, then the more likely you are die. It's basically D (distance) + S (selfishness) = % chance of death. So, if you have to go somewhere locally for work, all good. If you go to Barbados for two weeks of indulgence and decadence then it's curtains for sure. I am only going to Kent for two nights of old-school-friend fun so I think it's pretty much 50:50. I'm not a massive fan of those odds so I am making sure that the children know that I love them, the house is tidy and that all the tupperware, shoes and coats are sorted and easy to find. It's bad enough that K will suddenly be left in charge of five grieving children without struggling to find a plastic container with a lid that fits in the mayhem of the school mornings. As I haven't managed to sort the photos into photobooks or albums it is imperative that in the event of my death my Facebook page is made in to a memorial site as they are currently the only photo albums in existence for 90% of the children's lives. Just in case anything does happen I'll let you guys know that the rest of the photos are on my phone/external hard drive and a few laptops - the hard drive is in my underwear drawer - I keep it there to hide it from burglars, obviously and the passwords for the laptops are Alicia0. If I don't die this weekend and go on to win the lottery and therefore able to build my 'dream' house it would contain a dedicated photo room - just for photo albums, photo filing cabinets, photo printing, photo framing, photo sorting and its walls would be adorned with photo wallpaper. I would also hire a photo archivist to do all of the above - I just thought I'd share that with you.
It's funny but with every stage of baby/childhood you inevitably end up looking forward to the next stage. Even from the very first day when I am deeply in love and hormonally 'high' I look forward to the milk coming in so that I can properly feed and for the days my bits feel slightly less battered. Then I start looking forward to the days when they have a regular sleep and are able to go more than an hour or so without my boob in their mouth. Then it's the days when they will go to bed at bedtime and I can have my evenings back, then the days you can bribe them with chocolate, drop them off at nursery/school and have time to sort the washing and pair up socks etc etc. But with every stage I find that you gain and lose in equal measure. Obviously it comes with a whole new heap of utter cuteness or useful independence (depending on the age) but it also comes with a whole new host of problems. When Dot started talking I was so excited. "Cat". I was so pleased she was an early talker and the children and I were keen to get her to say it over and over again for our own amusement and to show off her obvious brilliance to others. Fast forward a month or so and dear god it has lost its appeal. It doesn't help that she is scared of the cat so whilst she might spend the day in search of the 'cat' and then pointing at it and saying 'cat' over and over and over again, as soon as it moves or comes near her she screams and yells CAT because, ultimately, she doesn't actually want the fricking cat. She also says Ted. But he has a tendency to play with her in a 'boy' way which usually means shouting in her face or throwing stuff and this tends to result in her crying so, again, she says Ted over and over and over again, finds him, and then cries. It is pretty annoying. (He has also helpfully taught her to say 'shake that booty' and then filmed it for hilarity's sake - which is exceedingly 'boy' of him). Same with any stage to be honest. The excitement at them all growing up and the changes this brings to us as a family, also throws up new issues you hadn't thought about. Instagram, homework, boys, girls, friendship woes, willies, bits (I'm still not ok with the whole labia/vagina thing - I don't care what 'right on' folks say - I don't ask if the children want to urinate or defecate or to wipe their anus - I don't think all things need to be bloody anatomically correct so I will still use 'bits' until I find a suitable alternative) puberty, freedom, choices, future - and we're only twelve years in. I can't imagine how much life is going to change in the next twelve years - Dot will be a teenager then and Bea will be 24 - this is all unimaginable right now. My greatest fear though, is the fear that I might not get to see it. I think it is every mothers fear. I think that is why we go a bit crazy worrying about stuff and trying to control everything. I think. Or it is age or the fact that we are turning in to our mothers. Either way, I shall be driving extremely carefully all the way to Kent and back.
Until the next time (if all goes well).