Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Guilt

Since we made the decision that I would not be returning to work, I've felt The Guilt. The Guilt is a mysterious beast, cropping up when I least expect it and playing on my thoughts. I can move past t, talk about it, turn my back on it, but there it lingers, a small silhouette behind my shoulder. And it relates to so much.

I have The Guilt of not doing this for The Bear. Silly guilt, because never has a child thrived more in nursery and pre-school than The Bear. He was one of those children who really, genuinely loved each day he spent there. In Hull, we were lucky to have some wonderful staff working with him, who treasured his progress almost as much as we did. He wasn't just A Child, he was The Bear.

And yet, I feel The Guilt. I went back to work when he was 10 months old, working 4 days a week. A year later I went up to fulltime hours in a different role, but with the benefit of working term time only. The Bear has always been a child who loves, needs socialisation - he is far more of a social butterfly than I could ever be - one of those individuals who enters a room with a presence and slots straight in. I love this characteristic because it's one I always wished I possessed myself, but The Guilt questions if, perhaps, just maybe I have forced this characteristic upon him because he spent so much time in the care of others?

And if I see it as A Good Thing, this characteristic, then is my decision to stay at home with The Rooster a selfish one? Don't I want him to have the same love of everybody, of people and places and experiences that The Bear possesses? It's really a nature or nurture question, and I suppose I will never have the answer.

One way that I hope to assuage The Guilt is by, 10 months into The Rooster's life, braving parent groups. I have tried so hard to avoid these, but, for the good of my son, and knowing the importance of socialisation, I need to do this. I have promised myself that, after half term is over, I will seek out groups for us to attend. At least 3 a week. This may be the hardest thing that I have ever done.

Since moving to the South West, I have become more of a recluse than ever. I can now smile, and occasionally do small talk with the other parents at the dreaded school gate, but I lack a feeling of comfort. I lack a friend. Not a day goes by when I don't miss my best friend, and it's rare that 2 days pass without us texting, but I owe it to The Rooster and to myself to see if we can put down roots here too.

The Guilt moves over on the bench, peering at me. Next to it sits The Fear. They join hands, nod in acknowledgement toward my gaze.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Make believe

He dresses up like Dr. Who, a style all of his own, a conglomeration of the outfits he has seen on TV, through however many Doctors he has witnessed on-screen. A hat, bought when he was 2 (which still fits 2 years later - just - thanks to us buying very large to fit his enormous head), a tweed jacket, much adored, which was a present from Grandma, hastily purchased in Next as soon as she set eyes upon it, and a long, long scarf from Chrissy. He flicks the scarf around his neck, confident in the fact that it will hang just right, sets his hat on the back of his head, and is ready to go.

He has far more style - and confidence - than I ever hope to have. He likes the attention his outfit brings ("that girl said I'm cute!"), and lives to imagine. Dressing up has always been his thing - spiderman at his first nursery (we have treasured pictures of them hanging him upside down, costumed up, to kiss his best friend), Darth Vadar as soon as we moved, princesses at school.

He loves hats. His much adored monkey hat, now approaching its fourth winter, a gift from Grandad, came free with PG Tips, and started the craze. He would happily spend hours in shops putting them on, pulling faces in the mirror. Too often I am in a rush and I think, now, with him starting school and his childhood accelerating at an impossible race, maybe we should do this - spend as long as he wants, with endless hats. Sod the glares of the shop assistants, and make the most of his simple pleasures whilst we still can. He looks bloody good in a hat.

Spotlight off The Bear, I can't help but look at The Rooster and wonder what will spark his desires. At the moment, he despises socks, unless he can take them off. He squeals loudly at anything red. What will fuel his interests? As I write this, he has just pulled himself up on the footstool. I don't want his desires to be climbing. Argh.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Phun with Fonics

I don't remember learning to read. I have vague recollections of the Ginn books from school, in a "run, spot, run. Spot runs" sense. I remember I liked the purple books (because they were purple) and having to read

Dirty British coaster
With a salt-stained smokestack
Pushing through the channel
In the mad March days
With a cargo of roadrail
Iron ware and pigs lead...


I also remember that other children who were struggling had the Bangers and Mash series. They always looked more appealing because they were full of monkeys.

When The Bear started school, I wasn't sure what to expect. He had learnt, in true Bear form, his letters that very week. The Bear acquires skills in a very systematic way - he can't do something, won't do something, and then will do it with near-accuracy seemingly at random. It's like his brain doesn't process something until it can do it properly. He walked late, at 16 months, on holiday visiting some of my family. They made(!) him walk that first night, and then he could do it. No awkward, wobbly toddler - he was walking. He potty trained in 3 days. The second of those three I took him to Leeds. Yes, we had the occasional accident in the first 3 months, but they weren't often.

So, I realised that learning to read would be something of a novelty - that he would have to work at it, slowly, regularly. It was to be a learning curve for me, too - I am not a natural teacher. I lack patience. Whilst the primary schools I had worked in Up North did active teaching (because reading at home, in many cases, didnt't happen), it was clear from the offset that The Bear's school very much believed that home paved the way for learning. A great sentiment, but...eek.

The approach seems a bit slapdash at the moment. We get 2 new books  every other day to read at home. They've been a mixture of picture-only books, parent-led reading (where the child reads a repeated sentence throughout the story) and, in one instance, the sort of book I vaguely remember - simple words, mainly phonetic, that (almost) tell a story.

I'm also thinking about joining one of the Reading Eggs online learning schemes. We had a free trial a few months ago and he loved it. There just seems so much to do at home, and the little voice in my head keeps asking what would have happened had I returned to work - where would I have found the time for all of this?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Obligatory Introduction

I used to write, therefore I was. Then I got a job, had a child, and suddenly the only words I put on a page were assessments and meeting records. The assessments, of course, couldn't be creative and, whilst meeting records sometimes were, I'm sure that they too were not meant to be anything other than dry, accurate accounts.

So what changed?

First, I suppose, came a message from a friend who had read an old blog of mine that shall remain in the ethers of internet past. She suggested I write more, and yes, it was a much-needed confidence boost.

Second came the reviewing. I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to write reviews of prams, travel cots, cookery products and toys over this last year, and I've enjoyed it. Words on a screen have become, once more, my Thing, and I would love to continue.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, has been my lifestyle change. When The Bear (more on him later) was nine months old, I returned to work. I had always wanted to keep a written record, but aside from a few (lost) posts I hadn't done it. Fulltime work proved more prohibitive still. This time, post Roosterbirth, I am lucky enough not to have to return to work, to undertake the childcare myself - and I want to write down memories for the sake of both of my children. So much gets forgotten aside from Those Firsts, and I would like to remember them all, from now - for as long as I can.

So, me. I'm a 30 year old Northerner living in the South West of England. Moving here has been a massive lifestyle and culture shock for me - going from a job I loved, living near people I loved, liked, tolerated, to - well, the opposite. Pre-maternity I had a job, but the less said about that in an open blog format the better. I know very few people, and don't tolerate new introductions well. School gates scare me, and the twice daily trip to drop The Bear has been fraught with tension. For me, anyway. Life and change is water off a duck's back to The Bear.

The Bear is 4-going-on-14. He is a 2012 reception starter with a love of superheroes, and a knowledge of Geek that is second only to The Husband. He has an amazing sense of humour, a need for style, and a thirst for knowledge. Oh, and the stroppiness of a teenage girl, at times.

The Rooster is an amazing ten months old. It's like living with a small Father Jack at times with, fortunately, less swearing. He points, commando crawls, and likes to pretend things are phones: "'IYA!"

We also have 3 cats, Gingercat, Failcat and Kitten, and 2 dogs, Olddog and Baddog.

My underrated pleasure would be 5 minutes of silence with my Kindle.