When to correct….

Recently I’ve found myself in a bit of a dilemma over the information that my husband tells the children. 

When it comes to stuff about animals or birds or wildlife etc., or how to build something, make something, get something working – he knows a hell of a lot.  He talks to the girls about this stuff and they drink it in, really learning things and remembering stuff and they are endlessly fascinated by it.

I on the other hand am the person they come to when they want to know about the computer, the world, other countries, languages, science, the “why does this happen” questions and we talk about a whole host of “general knowledge” stuff.

There is however a fundamental difference between the two of us that has me in a dilemma.

If I’m asked a question which is outside my sphere of knowledge – or even one that is within my knowledge but I just don’t know how to explain it at that time – then I use the immortal words “I don’t know”.  This is usually followed by GorgeousGirl saying:

“Can we ask the internet Mummy?” 

which is great…as long as I’m not driving or cooking dinner or something at the time – but eventually we’ll find out the answer and I’ll do my best to explain it to little minds.

However my husband is the kind of guy who thinks that sweeping generalisations – especially on subjects that he knows nothing about – are as good as facts when it comes to answering their questions.  (Or even when they aren’t asking questions).

I have learnt over the years to let a lot of this stuff go by – lets face it who wants to have dinner with someone who’s always correcting your vocabulary or explaining that you’ve got your facts wrong.

However, when he’s making these grand generalisations / talking nonsense to our daughters what do you do?

The example that caught me up short recently was this conversation with GorgeousGirl.

GG “when I’m 20 will I still be in school?”

DH “maybe”

GG “well when I’m 21 will I still be in school?”

DH “maybe – but I expect you’ll be married with a baby  (<<cue strangulated WTF noises from me>>) most girls have babies before they’re 24 or 25

Now at this point – rightly or wrongly – and in front of GG – I intervened – gently at first,

“I’m not sure that’s right you know – I think its a lot later than that”

DH “no its not – almost everyone has babies before they are 25”

Now I didn’t actually know the correct answer but – given my fairly large experience of mothers (some personally, 100s through blogs and forums) – I was pretty sure that this generalisation was wrong, and what was worse, was that I knew his statement had been made from a position of absolutely no knowledge, research or experience about the subject.  What’s more his insistance that he knew a great deal about a subject which I’ve never heard him take the slightest bit of interest in before …had got my back up!

I was straight onto Google – which confirmed that as I suspected the average age in the UK for first-time mothers is around 29 to 30. 

I did tell him the answer – I tried to keep the note of “I told you so” out of my voice but I couldn’t guarantee that I was successful.

I suppose that I could have waited till GG went to bed (head filled with mis-information?) and then tell him that he was in fact wrong – but frankly he just wouldn’t have been interested at the time.  And actually what he thinks he knows is not really the issue – its what he’s teaching them that matters. 

In front of the girls its clearly not ideal to have to tell their Daddy that he is talking complete and utter nonsense – but on the other hand when he IS talking complete and utter nonsense and passing it off as facts – what do you do?

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Making yourself indispensable is not a good thing

Ok first I’ll start with the disclaimers => “Nobody’s indispensible”, “The world turns without you” etc. etc.  However I seem to be doing a lot of things wrong – I’ve turned myself into someone that everyone else thinks is indispensible.

I’m not SuperWoman but I am a relatively organised person…..well perhaps it would be true to say I live in a well organised chaotic way.

I can do numerous things at the same time – multi-tasking holds no fears (I’m the sort of person who has 5 sessions of internet explorer open at once and several tabs going on each session.  In fact I’ve been known to have my facebook account open in two different tabs, carry on a chat on one and play games on the other…. but I digress). 

However my efficiency in all areas is decreasing because I seem to be everyone elses fall back position.  You know the thing..

“I can’t find my shoes”

“Where are the girls swimming things”

“There’s no more milk”

“Who do I send the invoice to”

“What do I do about this”

And the point is – I just do it.  I answer the questions, find the socks, tell them what to do, buy the milk and probably send the bloody invoice myself.  I justify it to myself by saying that in an incredibly busy day its just quicker and easier to do it myself, rather than explain (possibly for the 8th time) how it should be done, where to find it etc.

And everyone thinks I’m indispensable.

And the thing is, its not doing me – or them – any good.  My life gets more and more chaotic as I try to fit more and more stuff in and frankly somethings got to give……

So I need to learn to teach the people in my life – husband, family, colleagues, friends – to be more self sufficient.  To stand on their own two feet and not just assume that I will do things.  To do that I need to take time to explain things to them (again!) and then I think I just need to assume that they have listened to me (*) and let them get on with it.

I wonder where the greatest chaos will ensue….. home…. or work?

* – this is an ongoing bone of contention particularly in the Chaotic Household where things have to be repeated sometimes up to 3 times a day, daily for several days and written on the Family Weekly Whereabouts sheet (pinned to the fridge!) before sometimes it goes in.  This has nothing to do with Mr Bs mental abilities or even his hearing abilities – but everything to do with his listening ability.

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Peace on earth …

…and goodwill to all small children.

Weekday evenings in the Chaotic Household are often fraught with peril – not for nothing is that time between 5pm and 7.30pm known as the “witching hour” (or witching 2.5 hours!).  Often I return to my happy home after a long day at the coal face to find one screaming, one crying and one dispairing (take your pick from husband, gorgeous girl and cheeky girl).  And I then have to wade in with sympathy, discipline, dinner, washing, PE kits and all the other paraphenalia of a typical school-day evening.

However this evening when I came through the door at 6.30pm all was calm and serene. 

Gorgeous girl – who has been desperately upset this last week over some issues at school (a falling out with a friend that resulted in her (and only her) being moved from one table to another) – was clearly pleased that B and I had been into school to talk directly to the teacher.  (Almost a status symbol in her class…”so-and-so’s mum came in to see Mrs X to tell her that so-and-so was upset”).  Mrs X, while not completely convincing B and I of her reasonings, had nonetheless promised to have a talk with Gorgeous Girl and explain that the table moving was not a punishment but really a way of helping Mrs X out with some other children on the new table.  I’m not entirely sure that this sort of waffle is going to pacify GG – she’s a bit quick on the uptake for that and is still disappointed that she’s on another table – however she’s prepared to wait a couple of weeks till after half term and see how things are going.

However much she did or didn’t see through the teachers explanations she was clearly a much happier girl tonight – not so sentitive, touchy and liable to fly off the handle at the slightest thing which is what we’ve had for nearly a week now. 

It never ceases to amaze me how much little things in their lives assume such massive importance.  I always try to find time to talk to each of the girls individually every evening, to find out how their day went (what they had for school dinners, who they played with) but in the midst of cooking dinner, doing reading practice and trying to iron a school shirt for the next day etc. etc. it’s all too easy to fall back into “half listening half doing what I’m doing”.  But today showed me again how important it is to find time to really talk and listen to the girls and their concerns.

Cheeky Girl – who would win gold medals for tantruming and wanting her own way – was also calm and joyful.  What had caused this (rare) moment of peace and tranquillity…….Barnaby.

Barnaby is the class bear.

Those of you with children in infant school will have immediately cottoned on to the joy that was in Cheeky Girls heart tonight.  SHE had been selected to take home the Class Bear for the evening.  Never has a such a scruffy, unwashed soft toy been coveted by so many small children.  This bloomin’ bear is the bane of every mother in the class I’m sure – as when it comes home you have to “do stuff” with the bear and then write about it in Barnaby’s book and then draw a picture / take a photograph.

This is all very well but in the Chaotic Household – those hours between 5 and 7.30 are pretty well filled – to the minute!  For a start B usually collects the girls around 5.10 from the after school club so by the time he gets them (and all their bags etc.) together out to the car and home here its often closer to 5.45.  He then runs around preparing snacks / tea depending on what they’ve already eaten.

I get through the door anytime from 6pm onwards – and from then on we’re on the downward slope through reading practice, homework, play, talking about the day, bath, story and bed.  The insertion of Barnaby into the mix is enough to throw what is a barely balanced system completely off kilter.

And I have to admit….. I don’t always have the enthusiasm or energy for these extra curricular events at the end of a long day.

However tonight, CG was full of excitement – she wanted to write her words herself because they are starting to put together simple words in class now.  So I sat down (after the chat with GG) and we started the write up… slowly very slowly… but you know she was so chuffed with herself doing it all, even spelling some simple words herself – the spark in her eyes when she was writing it all down she was loving it.

And again I was struck by the fact that sometimes it feels like I just don’t have enough time to do all this and enjoy these moments.

So I must strive to do better at this … to stop the “listening with half an ear while keeping the whole shebang on the road” process and take more time just to be with them and with them wholeheartedly.

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Hello World!

Well, the first post…….hmm no pressure then.  A number of years ago, when I first thought about writing down my thoughts for the world to share, the “first post” wasn’t something I worried about.  But much later, now that I’ve actually stopped procrastinating and started a blog – well now the pressure’s much greater.  Now you can win awards for “first posts”, now there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, all vying for our attention with witty and pithy comments.

So what should a first post be?  Shall we get the introductions and life history out-of-the-way or should we dive straight into something more controversial?  Why am I writing this blog anyway?  That is an interesting question – why does anyone blog?  A desire to write? To tell our life story? To make friends? Ease the loneliness? Just simply to have fun?

So why am I writing this….well for some time I’ve been finding myself having long – and quite complicated – conversations with myself in my head.  They are usually driven by events in “my chaotic life” and often driven by the people that co-exist in my chaotic life.  I find it therapeutic to talk through what I want to or should have said to people or in particular situations and I cling to the hope (?) that talking them through in this way (even though its only with myself) will make things clearer.  (Or make me less mad at events – or people!).

So who am I and why is my life chaotic.  Well I’m a forty-something married mother of two small girls, with a demanding full-time job (which I squeeze into 4 days) and a husband about whom I’m ambivalent at the moment (more later perhaps).  I eat too much, talk too much, worry too much, stress too much and probably drink too much but I don’t smoke – so that’s one vice less!

My life often feels like an incredibly fast treadmill on which I must keep running, interesting and beautiful things pass by me while I’m on there but I daren’t stop running long enough to look or enjoy them in case the treadmill keeps going without me and I’m flung flat on my face.  There are so many things I would like to do and several that I should do – but keeping my head above water maternally, professionally and socially is just about all I can manage at the moment.

So there we are…..first post completed….didn’t feel too bad, in fact I quite like it here…..think I’ll return sometime.

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