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Age appropriate reading….?!

My 5 year old, T is in reception class at school and I am extremely proud to say is a real whizz at reading, writing and spelling – Cringe a proud mummy moment, apologies!

T reads anything and everything; adverts, road signs, newspapers, magazines, everything and if it’s a bit too advanced she still gives it go. I will be honest sometimes it gets a bit tedious, but I ALWAYS try to encourage it. On the other hand my eldest daughter, L, who has just turned 11, hates reading. She can read and is actually good at it, but cannot be bothered and finds it boring. I accept this, not everyone is a natural bookworm and each child is different in a variety of ways. My Husband and I have tried in vain to temp L to read more, but she just will not do it.

T’s school actively encourage reading at home, books are sent home with a “reading diary” so we can keep a record of what is read by T and how she is doing. I imagine this is fairly standard in all primary schools these days. We use this and always make a record for her teachers to see. If however I were to write in there all the things T actually read when she was at home, I would be forever filling the blasted thing in and would probably be asking for another one.

Last Sunday evening, I had just sat down to start a book my sister had lent me, “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly. I had never heard of it, and it looked quite interesting. (I now know that the book was made into a film in 2011 – a bit behind in the times on that one!) T came and snuggled next to me on the armchair and was asking me about the book, “did it have any pictures?” “Did it have any princesses in it?” etc, the normal things 5 year old girls want to know. I was four pages in to the book when T started reading along out-loud from the top of the page. I was happy to let her carry on with this and was excited that she wanted to. She did remarkably well.  T read probably one complete page, it took a while, but I was fine with that; it’s all good practise after all. I decided that I would put a note in her reading diary to let her teacher know, but instead of writing it in the book itself I put a wrote a note on a post-it, just outlining what she had done and letting them know. I thought, naïvely perhaps that they would think this was good progress. I was wrong!

Wednesday afternoon (2 days later!) T came out of school and inside her reading diary was a post-it note in reply, basically saying that T should be reading material more suited for her age, and they have given her more books to read at home. I was a bit dumbfounded, and felt like a criminal, like I should be run out of the school playground and locked up. Had I done the wrong thing by allowing her to read one page from one of my books? Could I have scarred her for life?

I relayed this to my Husband that evening, and he much like myself was slightly stunned. What is age-appropriate for a 5 year old? Only the books the school sends home? Am I only to allow her to read those? Do I have to discourage her from reading anything but those? If I had been sitting reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” then yes I could see where the school was coming from, but I was FOUR pages in a book about an American lawyer – nothing sinister had happened in the book at that point! Lets be honest here, T is only 5 she will not have taken in the story from the page she has read! However, now I each time I pick up my book to continue reading it’s been tarnished, as I get a heavy feeling in my chest, I’ve been made to feel like such a bad parent.

I have yet to speak to T’s teacher about this, and with the parents evening just around the corner I am very much looking forward to!

Do you censor what your children read? Was I wrong to encourage reading an adult book? I would be very interested to hear if this has happened to anyone else or what you would do, if anything? Please leave me a comment, let me know what you think.

Thanks

S xx

 

 

Hello stranger…

It’s been a while since I posted anything. What can I say it’s been a whirlwind in our house in the last few months. My day to day life seems to have gotten so busy, finding the time and sometimes having the energy to have a shower is a miracle, let alone to sit down and write anything.

Christmas has well and truly been packed away. The tree went back in its falling-to-bits box (We don’t have a real one – maybe one day); the fairy lights put away all nice, tidy and not tangled up although, I am sure the un-Christmas fairy gets top marks for sneaking in during the year and undoing all my good work, tying them in complete knots and therefore putting me in a foul mood when that time of year comes around again; the left over wrapping paper has been put away ready to re-use for next time, but I can never remember where I put it so somewhere in my house I have at least three years worth of Christmas wrapping paper; the Christmas chocolates has nearly all been eaten; credit card bill has been received; the mountain of rubbish bags have been collected; the Christmas booze has been drunk, nearly.

We are now on day one of the second week back at school/work. The first week was a long one. Hearing that alarm clock go off on the Monday morning was quite possibly the worst noise in the entire world. My muddled and groggy brain simply could not function. I was convinced that I had got the days mixed up. Unfortunately it was when the Husband stomped into the bedroom, dripping from his shower and spraying his deodorant, that I realised just how wrong I was. It was 5.35am and time to get up, throw on some frankly disturbing clothes – good job it’s dark – and drive Husband to catch his 6.03 train.
Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee the voices in my head were hollering. I would need it by the bucketful today!

I usually creep around to get myself dressed once I am back to avoid waking up the rugrats. You simply do not realise just how noisy you can be when putting on foundation and eyeliner! There is nothing worse than trying to make myself resemble anything other than human when there are 3 children; grumpy, hungry, ratty, loud, arguing, demanding, whining, zombie-like children around. That was not the case on this morning however. After two weeks of not having to get up early and going to bed a bit-too-late, they were well and truly still on school christmas holiday mode. They were not getting up. No sooner had I pulled the various duvets from them and turned around, they had pulled it back again. Oh lordy it was a struggle.
I begged, played along, moaned, shouted, bribed, tickled, I did everything, short of dragging them by their hair, they were NOT getting up. In the end it was the (empty) threat of all their new Christmas toys being put in the bin that got them out of bed.

I can only assume that every parent had the same struggle I encountered on that first school morning of 2014.

But….on this, the second school week of the year, you would not think that I had the same 3 children in my house. All 3 were up and causing havoc just after 6am today.

Welcome home Gorgeous!

So my eldest daughter, L, has been , and since returned from a holiday with her Dad. You may recall I posted about this a while back “holidays during term-time” and I can now sit back and honestly say that I feel as if a weight has been lifted. Normal service has since ressumed.

For the past few weeks, the situation had been hanging subconsciously over me like a stubborn cobweb in the corner of my head. I don’t like being apart from my children, any of them, for any longer than a school day. (Am I weird? I must be!) I hate that they are with someone else. Call me a control freak, but I like to know what my children are doing, where they are and that they are happy and safe. They will hate me when they are teenagers. I may just microchip them – Is that allowed?

I tried not to dwell over it, but it bothered me and niggled away; eventually the day came when I had to say my goodbye to L and watch her go off. I was happy and relieved  that she was excited, but I still could not shake that dull nervous feeling I had. It was the ‘what if’s’ that bothered me. You know the…..What if she is ill? What if she gets lost? What if she gets upset? What if…….

In the end I had to accept that she was gone for two weeks and that I had two other rugrats that still needed me, so I looked for the positives of only having two children for a short while:

  • No school runs to do each day – so it was almost like a holiday for me. (Although T still has preschool three mornings each week)
  • No having to make a packed lunch for two weeks
  • No clothes/shoes being dumped and left around
  • No Disney channel shows – we can stick to good old CBeebies
  • No arguing/begging/pleading for her to GET UP and OUT OF BED every day!!
  • No backchat
  • No begging to stay up later – as a result bedtime was done and over with by half 7 each night!
  • No fussy eating habits at the table

It seemed odd only having two children. I was not restricted by the clock and “school-run” time, When we went shopping, during the day, I felt as if I was doing something wrong. I didn’t have my mini-me with me. I almost felt as if I were playing truant. I know that sounds ridiculous, even the Husband said I was mad.

I actually missed the school-run. I missed seeing my friends each morning for a moan and a gossip. I felt as if I were missing out on things. It’s funny how a simple thing can become such a large part of your daily life.

I pined over making the packed lunches. Day-to-day, as a chore, I loathe it. But take it away and I suddenly have this empty period of time which I didn’t know what to do with. Hands up I’m a routine kinda-gal, especially since having children. But a change in that routine, in any way (unless its driven my yours truly) completely throws me out!

The first week went quite slowly and seemed to drag on and on and on. It felt as if the impending second week would do just the same. However, after various trips to the Doctors (T had a chest infection) and learning to relax and play with just two children, the second week was over, and before I knew it I was opening the door to my smiling, grown ever so slightly, browner, blonder and happy L.

Welcome home gorgeous….now get your backside back to school!!

Half-term nothingness

So we’re coming to the end of yet another half term break, and actually despite not actually doing anything, it’s been pretty damn good.

During the last school holidays, I put myself under pressure to do things with the kids. And yes we went to the cinema, had buckets loads of naughty food, but in my opinion because we hadn’t planned anything this time, we actually relaxed and took each day on our stride.

As usual the weather hasn’t been on our side. Although quite remarkably we has sunshine, yes I said sunshine, over the bank holiday weekend; however once the BH was over the weather turned again. So as no plans were made, no plans were ruined.

Tuesday: a lovely late lazy start to the morning. The kids and I didn’t actually get dressed until about 11am! Yes, yes I know. But it is the holidays. Ordinarily we get up, get dressed and are sitting at the table eating breakfast by 7 am during the term-time, so this is loooovely.

After the youngest has had a nap (such an exhausting morning has been had so far!), and we’ve had a light lunch,  we get the bikes out.

I would point out that this is a very brave thing for me – it’s raining! I don’t like rain. But I loooove my bike. It has been tucked away all winter, and now I think it’s time to bring it out of hibernation.

So anyway, we’re on our bikes; me with the two youngest in the trailer (I forgot how heavy that thing is!) and the eldest on hers. We set off into town, so pick up a few essentials. It’s not a very exciting trip out granted, but they enjoyed themselves.

They enjoyed it even more when the saddle came off Mummy’s bike! Yes, despite being covered up for winter, that damned north sea wind has got to the frame and rusted/corroded or something and well, my saddle came off! I was not happy, but I found it slightly amusing at the same time. So Husband has something else to add to his weekend to-do-list….service my bike, re-rust, re-attach my saddle, the works.

Wednesday: Again, we had no plans. I had to do very boring things like paying a bill at the post-office and renewing our parking permit with the local Council office. So I told the kids, that once I had done my bits we would go into the next town, have some lunch,  a mooch around the charity shops, where they could spend their pocket money, and maybe meet up with H a friend of mine and her kids for a cuppa.

Again, these plans didn’t go to plan. The local Council office has, unbeknown to me, been closed permanently. This is no good when the parking permit runs out in two days! Instead I have to drive into a different town, Clacton, to visit the Town Hall. I am not amused. And now it was raining, again!

So  cancelled on H and off we go. Went to Town Hall, dealt with and put up with a rather rude and obnoxious Council employee and took the kids to the Wimpy. This perked us all up. Food works a treat doesn’t it? Well it does with mine. And now my eldest, L, was happy as she could head straight to Claire’s Accessories and spend an age deciding what she wants to waste, sorry spend, her money on.

We spend a further two hours in Clacton; we visit New look, Shoe Zone, Peacocks, Burtons, The Card Factory. Spend a bit more than originally planned, but it could have been more.

Thursday and Friday: very very non-happening days. Nothing to report. Lovely lazy get ups, breakfasts. Catching up on playing with kids, housework (which I simply cannot avoid), watching Cbeebies, playing in the garden, colouring, visiting Nanna (who lives next door), walking to the local corner shop to pick up an unhealthy selection of penny, or rather “ten penny” sweets.

So there you go, half-term  is over, and I am not looking forward to that horrible alarm clock going off on Monday morning. This is the first school break that I have actually relaxed and enjoyed the children without the stress of clock watching and keeping to any plans we’ve made.

But it isn’t long until the end of the school year, and we’ve got six lovely weeks of lazy get ups and having relaxing fun, in hopefully slightly warmer weather.

To holiday or not to holiday…….during term time!

Holidays during term time….

I know this subject may stir up a hornets nest of opinions, but this has never been a subject that has ever bothered me, until now….allow me to explain.

A bit of background first: My eldest daughter, L, is my Husbands step-daughter. My Ex, L‘s dad lives approximately 60 miles away. We split up when L was 2 years old, and she does not remember us being together. L sees her dad every fortnight, she spends two nights with him, her step mum, half brother and step brother (bear with me) and usually spends about half of all school holidays with him/them.

Last year, L‘s dad knocked me off my feet by informing me that he was going on holiday to Spain for two weeks and hadn’t asked me if he could take L with him as he was taking the holiday during term time and knew I would say “no”. He said all of this in front of L (I was collecting her at the time), who looked as though she would burst into tears, and understandably so. It made me feel absolutely and utterly awful.

I was furious. The most furious a furious person who was furious could be. He had not even asked me. He had assumed I would say “no”, and yes ok I probably would have instinctively said “No”, that is beside the point; he still should have asked. He blamed ME for L not going on holiday with them. The lowest game he has ever played!

I told him a few days later that in future he was never to leave L out again, that the damage he caused was irreversible and never ever to put the blame on me again. EVER!

So all last summer I had to deal with and try to repair the damage EX had caused. And to be honest, I am not sure I will ever be able to. L will always remember the summer her dad went on holiday with his family and left her behind (her words not mine.) My poor little baby girl (ok she is not that little anymore, but nonetheless, she is still my baby) was feeling very left out and exceptionally sad about the whole thing. She smiled again of course, and we carried on as usual, and I made a promise to myself that from that day on, I would stop protecting him and his silly games he plays and always, always make an effort to be honest with L about everything. And I have.

Fast forward to this year, L is now in year 4 at school (in my terms, she is in second year juniors), and it’s getting to that time of year when parents start organising holidays. It was during a routine fortnightly pick-up that I asked EX what his holiday plans are this year………wait for it………….he informed me that he cannot afford to take a 2 week holiday during the school holidays (who can at the moment seriously?!) so he is planning on taking a 2 week holiday DURING TERM TIME and wants to take L with him!!!!!

Again, I am completely blown away, for a number of reasons:

1. In my eyes, if you can’t afford a 2 week holiday during school holidays: either go for 1 week or not at all or maybe just maybe find a holiday in the UK which isn’t as expensive.

2. This is the parent who complained about L‘s “standard of education” following the last Parents’ Consultation (formally known to me as Parents’ Evening) and how badly she was doing! But he is still happy enough to take her out of school for 2 weeks when its suits him.

3. He is happy to risk his name and mine, for this holiday: our Education Authority is very strict. If permission is refused by the school for the absence and the holiday is taken anyway; we each get fined £120!

But the main reason I am in silenced (not an easy thing to do to me!) and knocked sideways; he asks me in front of L if I would allow her to go. So immediately I am in a no win situation. If I say “no” I not only run the risk of having a repeat of the emotional turmoil L went through last year, but also being the ‘horrible bad parent’ for not letting her have a holiday. If I say “yes” I go against everything I believe in. I, personally, do not believe in taking children out of school for a holiday. I have never done it and never even thought about doing it. I believe that school is important and that any missed days are time they never get back. I am not referring to the ‘odd day’ here remember, I am talking about 2 whole weeks. To a child 10 days away from friends is difficult. At the age L is at now, so much can change within a friendship circle in such a short amount of time.

So I did the only thing I thought the best at the time; I told him that he should request permission from the school directly and then we could sort it out. Knowing L‘s school as I do, I thought my position would be fairly safe, as they would refuse permission. How wrong I was!

Yes, they consulted with me: Was I aware that EX had put in this request? The Office Manager talked me through the procedure, how it all worked, what happened if the request was refused and she was still taken out of school, how long it takes, on what basis permission is granted, etc.

To cut a long story a bit short….they GRANTED permission! For 11 days!! That’s right ELEVEN!! Not the ten I had been told about…..!!

Now I really was gobsmacked. Now I had no choice really did I? Although you may say that actually I did. I could have stood my ground and refused to let her go. But could you honestly break your child’s heart by refusing a holiday with her dad? Especially in light of the fact that she had been so completely and utterly upset by last years events. No and that’s why she is going on this years holiday with her dad.

I have laid the law to him however, and told him that next year she will not be going on any holiday during term time; she will be in year 5 and working towards the end of her primary education.

And if I’m honest I love seeing her face light up when she talks about the holiday. It’s a real joy to see her so happy.

Am I jealous, cross, angry, frustrated, sad? Yes I am all those things and more. But her smile is so worth it.