Friday, 11 December 2015

15 #12 The sceptic

Last year I posted at Christmas time about your innocence and how lovely it was in respect of not expecting presents. This year you have become a sceptic.  You fully understand Christmas now and who Father Christmas (or Santa as you have chosen to call him) is but you have already said you don't believe he's real!  I expected that at 8 or 9 years old but not at 3.5!  We've written him a letter asking for the presents you would like and afterwards you said "I don't think he will bring me the things I've asked for. I think he'll bring me different things." And at our Christmas party last week you blurted out in front of everyone "I don't believe in Father Christmas!"
I have no idea where you have even come across the notion that he's not real, certainly not at home. Perhaps at kindy from children with other siblings. 
You are really excited for Christmas though, but it's a long month of waiting and I think perhaps you are even beginning to doubt it will happen at all. For the first few days of December you asked me "is today Christmas?" But after several no's you've stopped asking.  I just hope you'll be pleasantly surprised come Christmas morning and that will wash away your inner sceptic.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

15 #7 "I need you"

"I need you" is what you have started to say to me several times a day.  At times when you are tired, sad, bored, unsure and you want me to sit with you and spend some time with you.  Not necessarily playing, just sitting next to you as you watch tv or sit on your bed with Bertie.

You often ask me to sit with you whilst you watch tv, I usually say no because I use your tv time to start dinner preparations or wash up or get any other jobs done.

You often ask "Play with me" when I have spent too much time leaving you by yourself to play so that I can get the washing done etc.

"I need you" is such a heart wrenching request. It's harder to wriggle away from than "play with me" and yet I still do and I feel incredibly guilty about that. My response tends to be "Only for a minute" or "I just need to" or " I have to get this done".  But in reality how important are all those things I have to do? Important to get them done during the day so that I get to have some relaxation time to myself in the evening. Which is important to an extent, but not vital every day.  The reality is you will only need me for such a short amount of time. Soon you won't want me to watch tv with you, sit next to you, or even be in the same room as you. You'll discover that closing the door on your bedroom gives you the privacy you crave and I will only be grudgingly allowed admittance.  Soon it will be me thinking "I need you" and craving time with you and you'll be telling me that you have better things to do with your time than hanging out with Mum.

I have to stop, and I will stop giving excuses and cradle you close when you need me, spend those extra few minutes in the afternoon or at bedtime and stop rushing to do jobs that I really don't want to do anyway.

I need you too, more than you will ever be able to comprehend. (Until you have your own baby I guess).

"-So, quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep. / I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep."

So I am resolving to treasure every single moment that my sweet baby girl keeps ... An easy resolution to follow when you are snuggling close into me. A harder one to follow when there's a list of jobs to do and you are in a grump. But I'll try my best.

Monday, 9 November 2015

15 #9 End of the daytime naps

About 3 weeks ago we mutually decided your daytime naps need to end. It's becoming harder and harder to get you to go to sleep at night, you fight it so much and it could take up to 3 hours for you to drop off.
I have dreaded this day, purely for selfish reasons. Those 3 hours a day that dwindled gradually down to an hour a day, was still my time, my sanctuary in the middle of the day to recoup, sleep, relax, read or get jobs done.
Not having a nap in the middle of the day means going out for the day or getting things done in general is easier as there's no rush to get back for nap time. So life in that respect gets easier. However if you fall asleep in the car on the way home from somewhere, even for just 15 mins, it means bedtime is a struggle as you won't go to bed at your normal time.
Now the big question is, what do I do with you for a WHOLE day? How do I keep you occupied, entertained? It used to be easy. We'd go out in the morning to an activity or play date or to run errands. Then lunch, nap and then there was only a couple of hours until dinner which we filled by playing and watching tv. An extra hour or so each day doesn't sound like much time to fill but it really makes the whole day stretch out in front of us seemingly never ending. And as your attention span for each activity is still only roughly 10 minutes, that's a lot of activities I have to find to entertain you!
I'm sure after time it will become normal though, and we will just naturally fill our days. It's still a daunting prospect though.
Another sign you are growing so fast.

15 #8 Kiwi accent

Your little accent is starting to change. It's the influence of kindy I guess. Your kiwi inflections are always strongest she you get home from a day at kindy.
Your 'e''s are becoming 'u''s; your 'i''s are becoming 'e''s; and the other day you even finished a sentence with "Ay"!
My little kiwi kid is really becoming a kiwi!

Friday, 16 October 2015

15 #10 Habits, rituals and general obsessive behaviour

You are such a funny little thing. Everything has to be done in a particular way. Things have to follow a certain pattern, the way we've always done it, or there's hell to pay. You like predictability. You need a set routine. But you are very cute with it!

Just some of your little rituals are:

We have to have a story, then you brush your teeth. Then more paste is required, then a second brush. Now it's my turn to brush your teeth. After that you go out to the dining room and say goodnight to Daddy. We then sing Twinkle Twinkle and you climb into bed to drink your milk. A kiss, a cuddle, a handshake is then required, and usually lots of repetition of these before you'll let me say goodnight and leave the room.

Porridge and 100 & 1000's is your staple breakfast.  You require 100 & 1000's in a cup with a spoon whilst I cook the porridge.  The tub of sprinkles has to be left in an exact position on the side, which you will then carry over to the table when your bowl of porridge is on the table.  You save some of the 100 & 100's in your cup to sprinkle over your porridge. The tub gets sprinkled first, then you tip the remainders from your cup. Then you can FINALLY eat your porridge. Heaven help me if I forget a step or get it wrong at any stage!

At kindy
When we arrive you find your name on the wall and choose your locker.  Then you lead me around the garden and go down the zoom slide, then you lead me to the gate. You give me kisses, licky kisses, cuddles, say you love me, wave, go off to play.  I like this little ritual because you are so happy to be at kindy and proud of it you want to show it off to me before running off to have a great day.

15 #11 Living with a Threenager

The Troublesome Three's are definitely harder than the Terrible Two's. I thought we had gotten away quite lightly with the Tertible Two's but you are paying us back 100 fold with your Troublesome Three's!
You can articulate what you want and what your feeling much much better now you are three. You feel injustices (or perceived injustices) much deeper. And you yell a whole lot louder too!! You stamp your feet, throw your arms, throw anything to hand across the room, shout, scream and cry really loudly. Quite a few times a day!
You are testing out your bossiness - which sometimes is cute - but sometimes is downright rude. Take today for example, you were tired and Cooper was over to play but you didn't want to play and you started being stroppy and shouting so I sent you to your room to calm down. I went in to check on you and you shouted "Go away!". So you spent a few minutes in timeout.
You are argumentative, defiant and stubborn to the core. When you have decided you don't want to do something there is absolutely no persuading you otherwise. You are so like me it's scary!!

15 #6 Kindy: an update

Kindy has been nothing short of revolutionary for you!
We have been through a period of you crying as I left after the initial novelty wore off, but you loved being there after a few minutes.
We then went through a longer period of you crying when I collected you.  One of your teachers thought this was relief and a release of tension, that I had come back to get you.  You must have been really worried subconsciously that I wouldn't come back.
You ask fairly regularly why mummies don't stay at kindy. Even though now you are totally happy to be there. You would still prefer it if I stayed.
Now you cry when I collect you because you don't want to go home!  You get so upset at collection time that today we extended your hours on a Wednesday so you now stay until the very end at 4:30. That means you are doing 8 hours there. Feedback from our teacher this afternoon was that you have had a fantastic day, you were happy all day and you absolutely loved staying late.  At 2:30 when most of the children go home, your teacher Rosie said to everyone "that's the end now, but Elise & Joni are staying late" and your reaction was to yell "woo hoo!" And you ran outside cheering! And you still cried when I collected you as you wanted to stay even longer. Bedtime was easy tonight! No protest and asleep within minutes!!

When you first started a little girl called Norah took you under her wing. You took a real shine to Norah and she became your best friend. Norah was older, coming up to 5, so she has now left kindy to go to school.  She left quite a gap in your life and your time at kindy and it's taken a couple of months for you to stop missing her. In that time you have become friendly with Aliyah, but she is more friendly with some of the other girls. Joni has tried hard to be your friend, but this was met initially with annoyance from you. Joni is very full on, wanting to cuddle you, wanting to be next to you, and generally wanting your full undivided attention.  You would often tell me that Joni had annoyed you that day. But Joni's persistence has paid off and you now spend the majority of your time at kindy with her.

You have a little ritual when I drop you off. Once we've found your name and chosen a locker you lead me around the garden to show me all the things there - trampoline, pirate ship, tree house, zoom slide. You show me how to go down the zoom slide, then you lead me to the gate, give me licky kisses and wave goodbye.  You've been doing this for a few months, but today after leading he round and going down the zoom slide Joni arrived so you said "you can go by yourself now mummy" and you jumped not the trampoline with her and that was that. No goodbye, no kisses, nothing!

I am so pleased you love it there. You have settled in amazingly well, you love all the teachers and you are developing in confidence so much.  You and all the children are going to put on a Christmas show and I can't wait to see you in it!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

15 #4 Princess obsessions

To say you are obsessed with princesses would be an understatement!  Every day without fail you ask to wear a "Glittery dress".  You plead to wear a glittery dress and then you stamp your feet and whine/scream if I say no.  You see, you can't wear a glittery dress (a dress up costume) everywhere we go, it's not always practical. But you ask every day anyway.  Usually our compromise is that you get to put your glittery dress on when we get home.

You absolutely love your Elsa dress. That's the one you usually choose.  You are starting to know the movie script by heart and you swish around the house reciting Elsa's lines and singing the songs.  A close second is your ballerina tutu/Angelina Ballerina outfit which you wear with your "proper ballet shoes" and you twirl and leap, and pliĆ© and jete, around the house with a huge smile.

For your birthday you got a collection of Disney Princess figures and a couple of princess dolls.  These are the first dolls you have had and you love them. Sparkle Fairy is your favourite, followed by Aerial.  These two have shoes and crowns and wands, which I am terrified are going to be lost as they are so small, and you love them so much.  The disney dolls can all swap dresses and have become a firm favourite too.  You are always asking us to build Lego castles for the princesses to live in.

I think it's safe to say you are going to be a real girly girl!

15 #3: Caterpillars, Chrysalis and Butterflies

Grandad gave you two Swan Plants for Christmas this year.  Swan plants are the plant that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on and as Monarchs are in decline in NZ people are encouraged to have the plants in their gardens.  We planted them in a sunny spot in the front garden, you helped, and we explained what would happen. And then we waited, and waited.

It was quite a slow start to be honest but after a while we started to see little white dots on the leaves - eggs.  Then the eggs became tiny little caterpillars which grew very quickly into big fat caterpillars. (Something I didn't k is before - caterpillars poo a lot!).  After a while these fat caterpillars hung themselves upside down in a J shape and went into a suspended animation before becoming a Chrysalis.  We were never lucky enough to see this transformation though.

After a few weeks the butterflies emerged. Everyday you would run outside to check on them and see if anything was happening.  At the height we had 18 chrysalises.  We managed to catch 2 butterflies emerging which for me was amazing.  You were more amazed once the butterfly was out and drying it's wings.  You would stay a safe distance back so you didn't frighten them and you chatted to them, asking if they were ok.   I was a little worried you would be upset once they flew away but you weren't at all. You were happy they were flying off "to find their friends" as you put it.

Having these plants has been a wonderful experience for us all. I can't wait until next spring!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

15 #5 Letting go (just a little)

I feel today we (I) have reached a turning point.

People keep asking me if you go to kindy yet. I feel like I've been pressured and judged since you turned 2 because you don't go to kindy yet.  It seems to be expected that you should put your child into someone else's care as soon as possible to ... free yourself from the burden ... enable you to go back to work ... I'm not exactly sure what people expect but it's been quite clear I haven't been following expectations.

In reality you haven't been ready to go to kindy.  If I had tried to leave you at a kindy you wouldn't have cried for a while then gotten over it and enjoyed yourself.  You would have cried like you'd been abandoned, and cried and cried until I returned.  You would have felt abandoned and you wouldn't have gotten over it. You would never have let me take you back.  A mother knows this.  Only a mother.

Another reason is that I haven't been ready.  I haven't been ready to let you go.  I wanted to keep you all to myself. You're my little person.  My life. My reason for living.  I couldn't hand you over to someone else when we both weren't ready for it.

But now I think We are.

I've had a feeling for a few weeks that you need more now.  More than I can give you 7 days a week. You need outside influences, you need to interact with boys and girls your own age, without me hovering in the background.  You've grown up so much over the last few months and I think you need a little push to fulfil your potential. And this means I'm now ready to let you go, just a little.

It doesn't mean I won't cry a flood of tears though when the day comes.

Tomorrow we are going to visit a kindy. Let's see what happens ...

We visited kindy, you liked it, we signed up. Today was your first settling in session, we went for 2 hours. As soon as we arrived you ran off and didn't look back.  I hid in the kitchen and watched what was happening and you didn't ask for me once.  You did painting, jumped on the trampoline, climbed the climbing frame, played with dolls.  You sat in a circle with the other children at mat time, you stood up when asked if you have any news and said "I have princess news! I like Sparkle and Aerial!".  You listened to the story, then asked the teacher to read it again!  At morning tea you didn't eat anything but that was to be expected.  And when it was time to go you cried and hung on to the gate pleading "Please let me stay!".
So we go back on Friday and I will leave you for a while and see how that goes.  I am so proud of you, but a little sad too!

Addendum #2:
I left you for 2 hours at our next visit, you were fine, no tears, no worries. You had a wonderful time playing dress ups with a little girl called Norah.  You cried when I said I had to take you home!
Today (17/6/15) is your first full day.  You were so excited to get there and spend all day there, and you were very sweet saying before we left that you are worried about me being at home all day by myself.  When we arrived you gave me a kiss and a cuddle, said "Bye, bye Mummy", then you were off to dress up in a Princess dress and play dolls with Norah.
I feel a little sad, but mostly I feel very, very proud of the person you are growing up into, and happy that you are happy to be there.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

15 #1: 2 years n New Zealand

Well we've been here for 2 years now so I thought I should talk a little bit about how we are getting on. The obvious bit - we've bought a house so we are here to stay. That decision was probably the easiest one out of all the decisions we have had to make in the last 4 years to get to where we are now. Because, yes, we started thinking, planning, decision making before you were born to bring us to NZ. A few events delayed the process, one major one being you! But we got here in the end.  Once we were here and in our rented house I felt very quickly that really there was no going back for me. This is where I can imagine our future.  If I try to imagine what life would be had we stayed, or if we went back, I draw a complete blank. A black image. I just can't picture it.

Of course there is still the guilt. I don't think that will ever go away. And it doesn't get easier. But I've made my decision and I have to live with that guilt, it's just part of it. Penance I guess for everything else being so good here.

I've made friends. Have a good social life. I'm not sure yet if they are "real" friends or "mummy" friends, only time will tell. But at least I know people, I'm getting out and about, I'm enjoying myself, and I know there's people I can call on if I need to.  We live in a fantastic area, you will have a great education in the local schools, and you'll have all the benefits of living in a village whilst also being so close to the city.  

Our house is beyond my wildest dreams (nothing fancy or over the top, just more than I could have ever hoped for), the plans we have for renovations will make it even better.  And unless we fall on hard times it looks like you are going to have a pretty privileged childhood being here.  Materially, culturally, socially, environmentally - being here is everything I could hope for and more, for my daughter.

I know you are British, but as you were so young when we left you will never truly be British. Your home is here now. I know if we went back now you would adjust quickly and never remember being here at all, but I think being a Kiwi kid suits you!   Even if you will lose your English accent fairly soon!

15 #2: There's a big scary monster in the house (aka a small black &white kitten)

We have a new member of the Barker family - Roman.  
When we got him he was about 3.5 months old and he's a real live wire kitten.  He runs, jumps, pounces, grabs and bites but he is also incredibly friendly and loving.  However, when he's in his 'wild times' he's too much for you (and I don't blame you at all, he's too much for me too!).  You squeal whenever he comes into the room you are in, and you scream if he comes near you.  
Your summation is "I like Roman when he's sleeping!".  
We're working on it, but he doesn't do himself many favours.  This morning, he jumped on the bed and grabbed hold either side of your head.  He isn't viscous and doesn't really bite but it's a big shock to all of us to suddenly be "attacked" by the cat!  
We're hoping with time he calms down and you grow to accept him, and maybe even like him a little!