Tag Archives: growing up

The Last Day of School

Today was Big Brother’s last day of school for the year. Amazingly, it’s summer holidays. And I find myself asking: How did this happen? Where did the year go?

First and Last Day of School 2012

Big Brother on the first and last day of school.

It’s hard to believe my boy will be at school full-time next year. Already. It feels like only yesterday I was dropping him off for his first day, wondering whether he was going to be happy or sad, wondering whether he’d cry and latch on to me or if he’d walk away without a backward glance. And here we are at the end of the year, with him chattering on excitedly about everything he’s going to do next year and how much he’s going to look after the little kids.

In many ways, he’s still the same little boy he was at the start of the year. I feel like he hasn’t changed at all.

But he has.

He’s more confident. He’s more imaginative. He’s more inclined to do craft and tell stories and sing songs. He’s more eager to help around the house, and to ask if he can do jobs for me.

He’s more grown up.

At the end of year Festival this morning, we were given a bundle of his drawings, paintings, and craft work that he did throughout the year. (The teachers hold on to it rather than sending it home piecemeal.) We sat down as a family and looked through his pictures, starting with the ones he did in February and working through to the more complicated pictures done over the last couple of months. The progression is striking.

And then there’s the knitted turtle he made — he did the finger-knitting and his teacher attached it to the turtle shaped body. And the beautiful sewing project — he did all the stitching on a lovely little heart-shaped pillow. He’s so very, very proud of them. And I’m so very, very proud of him.

121206 - Tristan's Artwork

Do you get all gushy at the end of a school year, or is it just me?

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Parenting is a Battlefield

My husband and I faced each other across the lounge room. My muscles were tense and I could feel the burn in my cheeks. “Well, what do you think we should do?” I demanded.

“Look,” my husband began. His voice was raised, but he was holding himself back from shouting. “It’s his end of school trip. I’ll just give him the money.”

“What do you mean you’ll ‘just give him the money’?” My temperature was rising by the moment. “He had the money. He chose to spend it on other things. If you give him more, what does it teach him?”

“It teaches him that he can come to me when he has problems!”

I huffed in frustration. “No, it teaches him that he can act irresponsibly and you’ll bail him out! What are you going to do when he spends all his money on beer? Are you going to pay his rent for him, too?”

“Of course!” He was almost yelling now. “Wouldn’t you?”

My hands were shaking. So was the rest of my body. I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. My husband did the same. Once we’d both composed ourselves, I spoke up. “Look, the point is that we have a responsibility to teach him how to handle money. If we tell him he needs to save his money for his high school graduation trip and he spends it on other things, we can’t just give him more money. Yes, it sucks that he’ll miss out. But he needs to learn to be responsible.”

My husband was speaking calmly; reasonably. “It’s his end of school trip. It’s a big deal. If he misses out on it, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life. We can’t tell him he’s not allowed to go just because we don’t want to give him the money.”

“It’s not about whether we want to give him the money,” I answered. My new-found calm was rapidly deteriorating. “It’s about teaching him to be responsible.” I forced myself to take a deep breath. “Look, the situation probably won’t even come up. I’m sure he won’t spend his money on other things anyway.”

We stared at each other for a minute. Maybe two. Then my husband said, “Let’s just… drop it. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

And we went our separate ways for a time. We could afford to do that. It’s not like our son was graduating high school the next day. In fact, he wasn’t graduating from anything any time soon. He was barely a year old, and happily sleeping the sleep of a contented toddler in his bedroom.

If you’re not a parent, you may be wondering at this point why we were even arguing.

But if you are a parent, you understand. When you’re co-parenting children, you argue about everything. All the time. Even the hypothetical stuff. Especially the hypothetical stuff.

No one tells you that before you sign on the dotted line. No one warns you. No one says, “Now that the two of you are solely responsible for the health, happiness and wellbeing of this little person, you will discover that you have differing opinions on almost every aspect of child-rearing and family life. Be prepared to argue your point of view with a passion and intensity you didn’t even know you could feel.”

Let me just clarify that.

You probably don’t have differing opinions on the big stuff. (At least, my husband and I don’t.) When it’s a question of values and beliefs, you’re probably pretty well aligned — or, at the very least, you’ve discussed how your differences will be managed. No, the differing opinions are with the “little” things. The everyday things. The things that, it turns out, are much bigger than the big stuff.

Do the children have to stay at the dinner table until everyone’s finished eating, or can they be excused when they’re finished? Do the children have a set bedtime or do they go to bed when they’re tired? How is pocket money handled? How old do they have to be before they can play outside by themselves? Or cross the road alone? Or travel on public transport?

Sometimes you won’t argue. Sometimes you’ll be astonished to find you share the same opinion. But those times will feel rarer than hens’ teeth. Embrace them when you can. And when you don’t agree? Find a way to compromise. Just remember that you’re both arguing from a point of love. You’re all on the journey of life together, and somehow you will find a way to make it work.

And that’s what really matters.

Hand in Hand

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A Letter to my Son

Dear Little Brother, 

On the day you were born, you were so warm and small and sweet. I held you close and thought about the many ‘firsts’ you had before you.

Your first baths…

Your first smiles…

Your first full-body belly laughs…

Before I knew it you were mobile, disappearing around corners quicker than I could catch you.

You explored the house. (And made a mess!)

You ate sand at the beach.

And dirt in the garden.

And you did it all with a happy (and cheeky) smile on your face.

And then one day, you found your feet and stood up.

(Although sometimes staying on your feet is still tricky.)

And suddenly you’re not a baby anymore — you’re a little boy. 

But you’ve got plenty more ‘firsts’ to come. So keep on smiling!

Lots of love,

Mum
xxx

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Goodbye Baby, Hello Little Brother

The day Big Brother started school was a momentous day for another reason. It was also Baby’s first birthday.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since he was born. It seems like such a short time has passed, certainly not a full year, but I can’t even begin to imagine life without him.

To celebrate his graduation from Baby to Little Brother, I give you this pictorial tribute to his first year.

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