Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Does it ever change?

Exams, girlfriend, social life and being 15 don't exactly fall at the right time together.

Mother - "Revision and school work have to be just as much a priority as the other more exciting aspects of being 15"
Teenager - "Yeah I know" (thinks maybe if I just shut my eyes she will disappear)

Mother - "You need to revise properly"
Teenager - "yes mum I know, I am" (still closing eyes in the hope of mother vanishing)

Mother - "That's it ! I'm not happy with this - Rant Rant Rant Rant"
Teenager - "You don't understand, its not the same as when you were at school you know " (eyes now open and mother is still very much in his face and ears now)

Threats about grounding, social time, etc etc etc follow with much upset on both sides. 
It is, once again,  the day before a major exam and who is more panicked,  mother or teenager one asks?

So what is the answer?
Actually, as parents we know exactly how it feels to be 15 (we weren't born looking like this you know), and how it feels so hard to find the time, energy or willpower to work all day at school and then come home and be expected to work again for a few more hours.
Unfortunately, we also know how it feels to be struggling with life and choices after leaving school, and we know that these struggles make school days feel like a walk in the park.

How do we help, encourage and motivate our precious children without making them feel like they are drowning in orders from others? How do we help them to make the right choices willingly? Is it even possible?
Can they ever realise that we want them to do the best they can, that's all, nothing more, just to try their hardest at whatever they choose to do in life and then they will succeed.

I for one, believe in helping in whatever way I can. I will give up my time to revise with my child, I will help him to manage his time effectively so he can fit in the just as important social life as well as the schoolwork, and I will do whatever I can to encourage self motivation.
But, this comes with a challenge.
The challenge is finding the way to do all this while maintaining a relationship which doesn't feel like a war zone.
Finding a way to make our children feel supported and encouraged without feeling battered and nagged to death.
Finding a way to help them fit in their social relationships without it being at the expense of schoolwork and revision, because we know that their personal relationships are just as important to them and to their maturing.
Finding the way to let them know and believe that we actualy do understand, and we do remember the feelings they are having now and that we can be more than just a nagging in their ears.
Finding a way to accept that they don't want us to do these things now, but hopefully will be grateful that we did, at some point in their future.

I have no idea if what I do is the right thing or not. I do know that I try to listen to my son and I feel very lucky that we actually do talk a lot about most stuff. I know I can't just sit back and let him fail by not even trying, and I hope that one day, when he is doing something great in life which makes him happy, he will remember how it was and smile.
Smile, when he is a parent and my grandchildren are saying "you dont understand Dad, its different today than when you were at school".

Same Stuff, Different Day ---- many years on.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I can do spontaneous ........

Bank holiday weekend, weather man says its going to rain in Verwood (now there's a surprise), so I decided to take the bull by the horns and suggest to Steve (M Man) that we do something a little different and just jump in the car and go somewhere different with the kids. After much discussion, and shock of the price of the original ideas we had, it was decided that we should hop in the car and go to London, stay overnight somewhere cheap and be complete tourists for the weekend.
Now I don't do spontaneous very readily, cos I am an organised kinda gal, and usually I preplan and pre-preplan everything with lists, many lists which must be ticked as we go. So for me, this is going off-road in quite a big way. Steve was a little worried I think, but he likes to fly by the seat of his pants so all good for him. The kids were very excited and of course it was suggested that Jamie (The Dodga) ask his girlfriend Alice (Squeak) to come with us too.
Car packed, hotel (I use the word very loosely) booked and off we go. Just over an hour on the road and we are in London which was very good time. Sat nav took us easily to the hotel which looked really quite nice on first opinion. Anyway, girls in one room, me, Tiddles (Gemma) and Alice, and then boys (Steve and Jamie) in the other ---- no nonsense going on here you know (thats you, Dodga and Squeak by the way). I know Im a fun spoiler, but hey, ITS MY JOB xxxx
If I tell you the rooms were basic it would be being kind. Very hot with fans that sounded like a plane taking off and not even room to swing half a cat.
DO NOT KEEP COMPLAINING ---- the conversation I am having with myself is not working but I remind myself it really doesn't matter as we are here to have fun.

Quick check in and its decided to hop on the tube and go to Piccadilly circus to find some dinner. Now Alice hasn't been on the tube before so its a real eye-opener for her but by the time we head back she is a pro.

Alice and Jamie

Really nice dinner in a little Italian place, Tiddles orders a pizza from the kids menu which is the size of an adult dinner plate - no arguments from Jamie about helping her to finish though. Hustle and bustle of the city, the lights are coming on now and its quite spectacular especially for the kids who haven't done this often.

Piccadilly Circus

No more shops Tiddles xxxx

After restraining Tiddles at every souvenir shop and reminding her that we have all of the next day to spend her pocket money, we decide to head back to the hotel and decide on a plan for the next day. Sometimes a little planning is required (honestly...)
Alice and I slept almost not at all in our sauna room, Tiddles on the other hand woke up with "morning mum, what a great sleep I had". Yes, Gemma, I got that as you were kicking me in the bed all night and talking in your sleep and snoring like a train. GGGGRRRRRRRRR. Not really, I am glad she slept , she is not good when tired (don't know where she inherited that from!!!)
The boys seemed to have had an ok night too, so that's good. Alice reckons she runs on fresh air and she obviously does as she was her usual giggly happy self all day. I want whatever she had.......
Good breakfast and we are off. First stop Science museum. Loads to see, not enough time, decided on the IMAX 3D short movie - absolutely brilliant well worth the visit. Wander round a few more things then off to Harrods. None of us had ever been there except Steve so it was purely for the new experience.

Of course the purchase of a bear was statutory requirement by both the girls, and some Harrods chocolate for Jamie, (don't remember that being shared out now that I think about it...???) 

Next stop Hamleys Toy shop. Tiddles has died and gone to heaven at this point - cuddly toys and bears everywhere. Even a live one to greet you at the entrance, how amazing is that when you are Gemma xxxxxx

Even The Dodga was impressed especially on the floor which was gadgets and RC toys.
Must have purchase - RC Helicopter. Really good buy as it turns out. Much fun will be had.
Steve on the other hand was losing the will to live at this point, so after what seemed like hours of purchasing yet another bear by Tiddles (build-a-bear is not the same as a regular bear mum), and her finally spending every last penny of her pocket money, we decide to find some dinner.
Quick detour into an amusement arcade (cant actually remember what possessed us to go there..!!!) but we had fun anyway.


Meal over, its back on the tube to go to Westminster to see Big Ben. Actually it was quite late by this point but getting dark so again the lights were coming on and it was fabulous.  



Home by midnight with a very tired brood but what a fantastic adventure.

Would we do it again? Absolutely, in a heartbeat.
Would I do it differently? Well, spontaneity has its excitement, but planning beforehand means getting the best deals, spending more efficiently and seeing more of what you want. Boring you say? Maybe but sometimes its the only way to go.

Cant wait for next time to show the kids the many other things our city has to offer - and it needn't break the bank either. -- HOPEFULLY.xxxx