Friday, 16 April 2010

Making daisy chains

The other day in work, I made daisy chains. Sometimes I skip, sometimes I practice Miley Cyrus dances. I knew I'd never work in an office. I'd feel confined and stilted. But I kinda fell into being a dinner lady. Ever the worrier, I figured it would a be a good way to find out how my lads were REALLY getting on in school. But now it's two years since they've left and I'm still there. It has it's moments.. some days are bad, some frustrating and now and again there are tears, and not just from the kids! It amazes me how badly behaved some children are and I wonder about their parents, but this isn't about them.

This is about the silent majority. Far too much time is taken up in education, discussing how to improve bad behaviour, tackling bullying and anti-social activities. Not enough people talk about the rest, the great unappreciated.

Most kids are wonderful. They're sweet, kind and caring. They're witty, cheeky and fun. They're understanding, forgiving and generous. Though it sometimes doesn't seem like it, we as parents are doing a great job! It sometimes feels like painting the front of your house - all those hours spent ensuring perfection, cleaning up the mess afterward. But we hardly ever see the fruits of our labour. What we forget is that all the neighbours see it, our friends see it... even passers-by see it. And I feel that in my job, I'm lucky enough to see the other side. To catch your kids off guard and find that you'd be so proud. We all want our children to behave, but sometimes we worry that we're stilting them. We want them to stand up for themselves, but we hope they won't start a fight. We want them to be liked, but like other kids too. And while we've been worrying whether we're doing a good enough job, they've been learning how to take what we've taught them and turned themselves into the person we'd love them to be.

So this afternoon, when your kids come home from school and you ask, like you always do, "How was school today? What did you do?" and they reply, like they always do, "Fine. Nothing. What's for dinner?", just remember.... they were magnificent, they were funny, they were friendly, they were cheeky, they were confident and most of all they were a credit to you! And I know, coz I was there!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Baby steps...

Ok… deep breath… and relax. So I’ve never blogged before, not I might add because I have nothing to say. Those who know me will know that the opposite is true (hmmm.. spell-check.. will this thing spell-check, or do I have to check my spelling as well as trying to be intellectual AND entertaining?? And while we’re on the subject, why do words we know perfectly well how to spell, look distorted and alien the more we analyse them? Is it a trick of the mind or is it a deeper psychosis relating to our own self-analysis? Alas, I digress… baby steps, remember?). My son has been blogging since he could write/type. He’s a true child of the 21st century. He speaks in internet talk, he has far flung friends on all corners of the globe and he spends his time on creations (pictures, stories, videos) he wishes to the world to see. I know some would say that they way I’ve allowed him to grow up is damaging to him, but are things really that different to the way they were when I or his dad were children? When I was his age, I was just as precocious. I was the youngest of 9 siblings (which is another blog in itself) and so grew up fast. It also meant I spent a lot of time with older people. Don’t get me wrong, I had toys and child friends, but they lost their appeal early on. I wanted cups of tea and conversation. I had quite a sophisticated sense of humour brought about by years of living with my witty and sarcastic Irish Catholic family! I didn’t have penpals but I really should have. I wanted to world to know everything about me because I felt I had something to say. And so Andy isn’t any different. Sure, the rules have changed… everything is so much more accessible nowadays and nothing is impossible anymore. My kids can’t imagine a world where they can think of something which doesn’t exist and they take it for granted, unlike anyone a generation apart who still find it amazing that anything is possible. I still find it hard to believe that we can watch tv again… there’s no such thing as missing your favourite programme. You can listen to any song, at any time from almost any medium and while you’re listening to can find the lyrics, the artists birthdate and possibly even what they had for breakfast. When I was a kid, I loved the theme song to The Greatest American Hero (yeah, you remember it!). But it wasn’t until the invention of the internet that I could find out who sung it and download a copy. But I waited… maybe I knew what was to come. Nowadays we’re all contactable, all the time. In our house, we all have mobile devices that we can text, email, facebook and tweet from. We never talk on the phone, in fact I never really got to grips with phone conversations - I’ve always been better with the written word, whether with actual pen and paper or in type. So you get the picture. My son is a child of his generation just like I was and things will change during his lifetime like they did during mine. And like me, he’ll find it hard to accept that one day his child will know more about the world than he does. And he’s probably say that things were different in his day. But really we’re all pretty much the same as children, it’s the rest of the world that’s changing and we adapt as we were created to do. Andy doesn’t hang round street corners with his mates, but he does gab endlessly online with kids that he has more in common with. Andy doesn’t play football but he’s happy to go for a walk so long as he can tweet on the move. Andy spends a lot of time on facebook but he’s swapping stories and photos with friends he’s met through St. John’s Ambulance. Our childhood worlds are poles apart and although some would say that the old way was better and some would say the new way is safer, I reckon we’ll not turn out that much differently.