I’m Still Here!

I know, I know.

For those of you who missed me – I’m so sorry!

I don’t even know where to begin…

So, we spent the summer in Dubai with my parents. My kids were so happy – we swam every morning (it was too hot in the afternoons) and spent most of the day in various play areas.

The kids hadn’t met my parents or sister for over a year, and my brother, sister and I hadn’t been together for four years – so it was lovely to all spend time together.

School started at the beginning of August.

I’m loving being back at work. But I’m also feeling a bit like a headless chicken. I’m trying to balance time with the children and time at work, as well as time with LagosDad and fitting in other stuff. I’m not managing too well, actually. School seems to be winning!

I feel guilty that I’m not always home when my kids might need me. I feel guilty that they might not be getting enough attention from me. And I feel guilty that I’m not spending much time with them. On the other hand, it’s great to be able to be doing something for¬†me.

Anyway… More soon.

ūüôā

Purple Reign

I was a huge Prince fan while growing up. Not as huge a fan as my sister – but still… Pretty big. 

I was lucky enough to see him in concert 3 or 4 times. That man, as small as he was – was electrifying on stage.

When I heard the news yesterday, I was in denial. It couldn’t be him. How was it possible? Once the TV was working again (don’t ask), I glued myself to CNN. Crying.

This morning I watched a few of his videos on YouTube and I got teary again.

This afternoon, after the children’s swimming lesson, we all piled into the car. The iPod came on and Billie Jean was playing. Vins said, “It’s Michael Jackson!” I recently introduced him to the wonder of MJ (another legend gone too soon).

I told him he was right. And said, “But we’re going to listen to Prince now. He was as wonderful as Michael, but he sadly died yesterday.”

We listened to When Doves Cry in silence for a few moments and then Vins said, “You know, mama… He’s died. But his music hasn’t.”

He was so right. And I started crying again. 

A Catch Up

I have neglected you all, haven’t I?

It’s ok – don’t feel bad.

I’ve neglected everyone over the last few weeks.

My home, my friends, my dog, LagosDad and yes, even my kids.

Why?

Because I’m back at school!

Since last September, I’ve been feeling a bit restless and discontent. As though there had to be more to life than playgroup, school runs and managing my home. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my children (mostly), but there’s more. Right?

Then I realised that I wanted to go back to school. I missed being in the classroom (And being surrounded by other people’s children!).

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be back full-time, so I applied for a job as a substitute teacher. I had an interview. And I didn’t hear anything for weeks.

Suddenly I got an email asking if I’d be interested in covering someone’s maternity leave in January for twelve weeks. EH? Really? Me? Which grade? Full-time?

I got in touch with the school immediately to say yes, I was interested. But I still didn’t get any more information. I had to come in the following week to meet with the middle school principal. Middle school? That sounded like quite big kids. And didn’t they have different teachers for each subject? Which subject would I have to teach? What if it was science? What if it was *gulp* math?

I Googled ‘middle school’ and found out the age of the students – yes, they were a bit older than the five to seven year olds I was used to. It was only the following week, when I had the meeting that all was revealed.

7th grade. Geography. Errr. Not my age range and not my subject. But I could do it.

So since November, I’ve been in and out of school. Sometimes they ring me in advance to cover for someone. But mostly they ring me at 6 am and ask me if I can come in that day. Since my aim is to get a full-time job, I’ve had to accept more often than I wanted to. I mean… SIX AM!

And since January 11th, I’ve been in full-time teaching geography to 7th graders. The hours are long – 7 am to 3.15 pm (but usually I get home at about 4 pm). I don’t see my children much (is it a terrible thing that although I feel guilty about it, I don’t mind that much?).¬†It’s taken a lot of preparation and a lot of reading up and researching stuff – but I LOVE IT!

Toddlers & Tiaras

I never get the TV to myself these days. Usually we’re watching Andy and his Dinosaur Adventures or Nina and the Neurons. Actually – anything ¬†on CBeebies is what’s usually on!

Pair that with the fact that LagosDad has been home with a trapped nerve for three days (God help me) – and I’ve had no time to myself.

I don’t know how it happened, but I was lucky enough to be able to choose what I wanted to watch yesterday.

I flicked through the channels and saw that Say Yes To The Dress was on soon. I won’t rave about the show – many think I’m very sad for watching it!

Anyway so before the show started, Toddlers and Tiaras was on.

Have you ever seen it?

I know the show has caused a lot of controversy. I can understand people think it’s an appalling extra-curricular activity for children to partake in. And I think I can see how some parents might enjoy dressing up their daughters every weekend. Like they’re dolls or something. I realise that some mums have other reasons for entering their children in beauty pageants – I just can’t think of any.

So in the episode I watched yesterday there was an eighteen month old who didn’t really know what was going on around her. By the end of the episode her dad was saying, “I think she’s probably a bit tired now. It’s been a long day.” ¬†You think?!

There was a three-year-old who, according to one of the judges, “didn’t make enough eye contact”.

And there was a six-year-old who, according to another judge, “had a fake smile”.

At one point, the three-year-old came on stage for her swimwear bit and got distracted by one of her fake nails which was falling off. It bothered her and she didn’t know what to do about it. ¬†A judge commented saying the toddler would get marked down for ‘personality’ because of that and the eye contact issue.

The child is THREE Ffs!

I was quite horrified by it all. You can think whatever you want about your own child – but to have people on television saying your child has no personality, moves stiffly, has a fake smile, etc has to be an absolute no-no. No?

I think the worst part for me was watching the awards at the end. The categories were things like “prettiest eyes” and “most beautiful”. ¬†Who the f*ck are they to judge on what’s pretty or beautiful? ¬†Aren’t all children beautiful?

Is it any wonder that girls are growing up with major body image issues? If you’re exposing your daughters to being judged from the age of eighteen months, what will happen to them when they’re eighteen? How will they see themselves? Is it fair to do that to them?

I did a little more reading about the show, the contestants and their parents.  I have to say I was quite shocked by some of what I read.

Some of the things that these kids have to endure: spray tanning, hours of hair and make-up application, eyebrow plucking, eyelash tinting and curling, fake teeth and fake nail applications. ¬†And they’re not usually happy about it.

Then I read about one mum who dressed up her toddler as Dolly Parton. Complete with fake boobs and backside.

Another child has a special ‘Go-Go Juice’. It’s part Mountain Dew and part Red Bull. ¬†According to the girl’s mother, ‘everybody on the circuit does it’. ¬†Well that’s ok then, isn’t it?

One mum made her four-year-old smoke a fake cigarette on stage and another dressed her daughter up like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. You know, like a hooker.

There’s also the mum who waxed her five-year-old’s eyebrows. That’s bloody painful for me as an adult. How would a child cope with pain like that .

I wish people would let their children just be children. Aren’t they growing up too fast as it is?

 

Confused

I’m a bit confused as to what to do.

It’s V, you see.

Ok – let me explain first… ¬†He goes to nursery every day for four hours. ¬†He loves it. ¬†It’s taken him a little while, but he now participates fully (almost) in all activities and, according to his teacher, is doing well.

His school day finishes at 12.30pm and then we have a looooong afternoon ahead of us. ¬†What to do? ¬†Let’s keep in mind that just chilling at home isn’t always the best option as we’re often without power and it’s hot!

So what to do with him? ¬†How to keep him entertained in ways that don’t involve the television or the iPad?

What most parents do here is get a group of kids together (3 or 4 of them) and organise afternoon classes for them.  Gymnastics, swimming, hip hop dance, art and craft, cooking.  There is a lot going on.

At the moment V does Hip Hop on a Monday (he’s been twice and has only watched so far), gymnastics on a Tuesday (his participation level depends on his mood), on a Wednesday he does cooking. ¬†He loves this class, but his teacher travels often. ¬†She’s been away since December and won’t be back until May. ¬†So Wednesdays are open at the moment. ¬†He also won’t eat anything he’s made unless it’s chocolatey. ¬†On Thursdays he does Art and Craft – he loves these classes too. ¬†And on Fridays he stays home.

I know some of you must be wondering why I keep him so busy. ¬†And when does he get a chance to do ‘children’s things’. ¬†And why don’t I do things with him? ¬†Why don’t I just take him to the park? ¬†Why not organise play dates for him?

So here’s the thing.

First of all, the classes are only for an hour. ¬†Secondly, even though he goes to nursery every day – the children he does these classes with all go to different schools. ¬†He’s still quiet and a bit reserved and I want him to spend more time with other children. ¬†I could do stuff with him, of course I can – but I’m tutoring twice a week, he misses out on being with other children, and I’m struggling a bit with this pregnancy. ¬†As for the park or other places to go… ¬†We’re a bit limited here. ¬†Playdates? ¬†That could work. ¬†But most of the children he would meet are in all the classes he does!

So, just to be clear – I’m not confused about his classes – as you read, that’s all sorted.

My problem is… ¬†V.

He loves art and craft.  He loves cooking class.  A friend of mine is homeschooling her son this year and V sometimes joins in their lessons Рand he loves them.

He does not, however, like dance or gymnastics. ¬†I thought about trying football – but he’s not interested in that.

So what do I do? ¬†Do I pull him out of those classes? ¬†Even though I know he would benefit greatly from taking part. ¬†But he doesn’t enjoy them.

At the moment there are no other options for him on a Monday or Tuesday. ¬†And there’s no cooking classes until May – so that means he’s home on Wednesdays too. ¬†Don’t get me wrong – he LIKES being at home. ¬†And he likes being alone.

But I feel that he should be with other children more often.

I’ve realised that he’s one of those children that enjoys doing ‘learning things’, rather than ‘active things’. ¬†And maybe he probably won’t be an ‘all-rounder’. ¬†And that’s fine with me. ¬†He is who he is.

 

So what should I do? ¬†Force him to go and hope that he might eventually want to take part? ¬†I feel so silly stressing about it when he’s only three-and-a-half.

Mind Your Own Business

I was chatting with a friend (via BB) on Friday evening – it was his last night as a single man and he was feeling a bit excited and nervous about the ‘Big Day’.

I can’t remember how it came up, but I told him that once the wedding is over, everyone will start bothering him and his wife (his wife more) about when they’re going to have a baby.  He is expecting this and is kind of (I think) mentally prepared to fend people off.  Although this is difficult when it’s an ‘elder’ in your family.

(One of Hub’s aunts told me that she hoped to hear ‘good news’ after our honeymoon!)

Soon-to-be-married-friend asked me if that line of questioning and badgering continues even after you have your first child.  

My response: Fecking hell – YES.

People were asking me after three months if we were planning a second child!

An aunt has said (on more than one occasion), ‘Well, if you’re not working – you may as well get it over and done with.’  I smiled politely and muttered something about not being ready yet.  But what I WANTED to say shout was, ‘F*ck off!  It’s really none of your business!  Go and worry about whether your own children are having babies.’  (Yes, I was angry)

Insensitive ‘friend’ has said (more than once), ‘Don’t you think it’s time for a second?’  With the sole intention of winding me up (I’m sorry to say he succeeded).

Yes, yes – We *will* have another child (God willing).  Maybe even two (Hub doesn’t know that yet)!  I realise I’m not getting any younger (34 next year), and we kind of have to start thinking/talking about it…

So what’s bothering me?  

IS IT ANYONE’S BUSINESS?  

Do they seriously have nothing else to talk to me about?  Or do they think I have nothing else to talk about?  Shouldn’t they think before asking such insensitive questions?  What if we are trying (we’re not) and having difficulty?  

What’s wrong with enjoying every second I can with the child I already have?  

And does it really matter if there’s two or three or more years between the children?  There’s five between my sister and I and six between me and my brother.  It wasn’t planned that way, but I think it’s worked rather well…  Only my parents could tell you.

Anyway, rant over.  

What do you think?  Should friends and family members be more sensitive when asking such ridiculous questions?  Should they be able to ask what they want since they *are* friends and family?

 

 

 

Floopsies (Children Say the Funniest Things)

This is another one the ‘Children Say the Funniest Things’ that I had written in my log.  I hope you find it as funny as I did/do!

Three of the children were sitting together at a table.  The first child looked out of the window and said, ‘God’s crying again’.  (It was raining).

Child number two said, ‘Yep!  It’s the third time he’s crying today, isn’t it?’

The third child looked up from her work, looked out the window and said, ‘Yes, but you know when there’s thunder it’s God’s floopsies (farts)!  At least there’s no poo falling from the sky!’

Of course all three of them collapsed with laughter.  And I wanted to also – but I just had to stop them!

Yes, I put on weight. I had a baby!

I taught at an international primary school here for 6 years before I gave up my Year 2 class to become a full-time mummy. I have gone back once or twice to see my kids and so that they can see Vinay. They were quite obsessed with him when he was still inside and always asked all sorts of questions. One child asked me every day (for 7 months) if he was still in my tummy. Two weeks ago the school had their Summer Fiesta and I decided to take V for a little while in the morning. I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, children and parents. I saw a boy that I used to teach when he was in year 1. He’s in year 6 now. He is also autistic (but very high functioning). I stopped him and said hello and asked him if he remembered me. He did. I looked him and said, ‘My goodness K, I can’t believe how much you have grown! You’re taller than me!’ He made eye contact (for the first time during that meeting) for a split second and replied, ‘And I can’t believe how much weight you’ve put on!’ I showed him Vinay and tried to explain – but he had lost interest and started making his way towards a games stall. It was funny. I laughed. But his brutal honesty also hurt. Obviously not his fault. He wasn’t to know that I had started exercising regularly. Or that I was only drinking Coke once (ok twice) at the weekends. And that I was generally feeling pretty good about myself. I had fit into size 14 shorts for the first time. And they weren’t tight (but now I have a feeling that BHS clothes are a bit bigger. Anyone?)!

It was disheartening. But it’s made me more determined. My will power is non-existent – but I’ll just stay positive and keep at it. ūüôā

Children Say the Funniest Things

I am *howling* with laughter! I just found (on my laptop) a kind of log that i kept during my first year teaching in Lagos (after teaching in London for 4 years). It’s just about the funny things my kids in class said- and I just have to share some of them!

The children were 5-6 years old then (and me in my mid-twenties).
So here’s the first one: 

I took in some games and puzzles for the kids to play with during playtimes. They belonged to me  when i was little and to my sister before that. I showed them to the children and asked them to please be careful as they were mine, etc. One of the boys said, ‘They must be really old!’ I just smiled and said nothing. 

amongst the games there were two wooden puzzles that came without boxes. The same boy asked where the boxes were. I told him they didnt have boxes. He (darling boy that he is/was) said, ‘I guess they didnt make boxes in the olden days…’

I didnt know what to say! There was plenty I wanted to say though!