Sunday, 25 July 2010

10 Things We Didn't Know About Me (Until Now..)

Having always been the last the be picked on the school basketball team (no surprise, I could never remember which end to shoot), I love being picked for things I can actually do! So when Catherine at Baby Genie picked me for this meme, I was pleased... no, honoured to oblige.

1. What is your earliest memory?
I've a terrible memory so a lot slips through the net.  But I do remember, when I was about 5 or 6, I had a Rupert the Bear toy, what had elastic on the hands and feet so I could attach it to my body and he could dance with me.  I was Strictly Ballroom every day in my back yard!

2. What is your idea of an ideal Saturday?
Because the OH works the weekends, Saturdays are pretty much normal days, so my ideal is up early with the lads and top to bottom housework.  I have this "thing" where I hate to do housework when there's no-one else in the house, so as a family we get it all done on Saturdays.  We chose music to listen to and hope that Joe The Emo doesn't get to play his selection.  Then we have lunch and veg the rest of the day.  I remember when Saturdays used to be shopping for a new outfit, lunch with friends then the whole evening spent getting ready for the night ahead.  I miss those days.... *sigh.

3. What did you have for dinner yesterday?
Marcaroni cheese... it was vile.  Normal meals take a sabbatical when the boys are away.

4. What is the one thing that really drives you up the wall?
Litter.  It infuriates me! I can't comprehend how anyone can just drop litter on the ground, chuck it out their car window, stub cigarettes and walk away.  Oh, now you've got me all riled up!!

5. What are your best and worst traits?
My best trait is my unreserved abandon, my ability to let go, to dance like no-one is watching.
My worst trait is my stubbornness.  When I think I'm right, I'll fight my corner to the bitter end.  
When I'm wrong but I think I'm right, I'll fight my corner to the bitter end.

6.  Favourite takeaway food?
At the moment, it's pizza.  Though that'll change the next time I have chinese...

7. What has been the most unexpected thing to happen as you’ve grown up?
That's a difficult one.  I'm not sure anything has been unexpected.  I think, maybe, the one thing that struck me since I've had kids has been how much me world revolves around them.  Not just when they are babies, when they need constant care but right into their teenage years and all the changes in their lives.  I worry about them as much today as I ever have.

8. What was your favourite subject at school?
Music.. I loved music.  I had the sweetest music teacher and she instilled a love of music that has remained with me all these years.  I would have loved to have gone on to be a music teacher myself, but alas it wasn't to be.

9. Favourite book?
The Stand by Stephen King.  I love reading horror, SK especially, and this is only my favourite because it's such an epic story, beautifully told.

10. What time is an early night for you?  Mine is 9pm so I am getting my skates on!
Early is about 10:30 but it doesn't happen much.  The lads are at an age now where they don't have such a strict bedtime, so sometimes we have to send them off just so we can get to bed!

Well, I hope I've answered each question adequately? I'm not going to tag anyone, as I think this meme has done the rounds already.  And I wish my son and heir would reply to the tag I already sent him!  

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

To Sir (and Miss!) With Love

Along with many other parents in the past few weeks, I found out that the secondary school that my boys go to has had it's Building Schools for the Future funding axed and will not be updated and renovated as hoped.  It was apparent that cuts would be harsh in the budget, but I do think this is one area where errors were made; this was the one project which desperately needed to go ahead.  Some school buildings and facilities are outdated and our children deserve every opportunity to succeed.  But that's not what this post is focusing on.

I have nothing but praise for the school my lads go to.  Anyone how's read my previous blogs, will know they both had an excellent Learning Review Day and I couldn't be prouder.  And I'm not naive enough to think this is just down to their individual abilities and my superb parenting (*bows).  It's the staff that are the key.  

In choosing a secondary school, my priorities were as any other parent - academia, facilities, proximity were all factors but, if I'm honest, my sons wanted to go to Garibaldi College because all their friends were.  I knew some mums who's children already attended and had heard nothing to make me choose anywhere else.  The moving process from year six was smooth and thoroughly involved, with the students being lead every step of the way.  There was already a bond between the primary school and Garibaldi College as it was a feeder school so there was never the "fear of the unknown".

And now three years on, I know I made the right decision.  And I also know why... it is, indeed, the teachers that make the school.  In every capacity I have dealt with the teachers, subject teachers, form tutors and parent liason, I have found them to be 100% commited to my children.  Each one had a personal knowledge of my son which I found heartening with such a big student body.  I had, during their primary years, found that my lads sometimes flew under the radar but this has never been the case in Garibaldi College.  Their grades we can all jointly take credit for, but their love of school, their day-to-day well-being and happiness is solely down to the staff at the college.  My boys like their teachers - they find them fun and friendly.  To us, as parents, they have always been obliging and courteous.  They are the role models I would pick for my children.

Another local school, who's BSF project has been completed and is hence in an up-to-date building, has been attempting to poach pupils from other schools who's funding has be stopped.  And I know of at least two parents who will be sending their children to the new school.  So on that note, I just want to say that a school in more than four walls and a roof.  It's the people, the dedicated staff, that make a school great.  And Garibaldi College is great.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

To Google or not to Google

This morning, no. 1 son had a Mufty day in school and being the quirky individual he is decided to wear a shirt and tie (neckties are cool, y'know..).  So he came down dressed, with his tie perfectly tied.  Now we don't go in much for formal dressing in the Harmon household, though Paul does wear suit, shirt and tie for work, and I wondered when Andy had learned to tie a tie, given that the opportunity had never really arisen.  

Me - "Where'd you learn to tie a tie?"
Andy - "The internet"
Me - "Oh.........."

I admit... we are a googling family.  There's always a device within hands reach and instead of remembering or figuring out, we google.  
"How old was he when he died?" - Google
"How do you finish this level?" - Google
"What will get this stain out?" - Google
"What's the weather like in Lanzarote?" - Google
It's allowed us to dodge many an argument, and has to be said, proved me right on many an occasion.  But this time, it just made me sad.  

This generation doesn't think they can learn anything from their parents that they can't learn on the internet quicker, simpler and more accurately.  And I'm sad to say, I partially agree.  But where's the tradition in that?  I remember when I started secondary school and my dad thought me how to tie my school tie.  And every time I tie a tie, it brings back that memory.  Andy won't have that.

I know that Andy's not quite the typical, he's been computer-savvy since a very young age and his Mac is his god.  It's just his "thing".  But I hope he realises that someone had to put the information there and that they probably learned how from their parents.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Smug Parent

I recently read a post by Paula at Battling On categorising parents according to different traits.  I found it funny and interesting and saw many characteristics of other parents I knew.  However I never commented nor tweeted what kind of parent I thought I was for one reason.... I didn't want to appear smug!  You see, despite being a Control Freak, as soon as I read the first definition, The Perfect Parent, I felt it was me!  See, now you think I'm conceited and smug too, don't you?  

Yesterday, we had Learning Review Day at the lads school.  Andy is in Year 9, heading into his GCSE year in September.  Joe is a year behind.  Learning Review Day is similar to Parent's Evening, but we only speak to their Form Mentor/Class Teacher.  Andy's mentor is a wonderfully quirky lady, very outspoken and honest, the kind of woman you want looking out for your kid in the playground and definitely not someone you'd have to square up to.  She said such admiring things about Andy, complimented him on his manners, his behaviour and his effort.  She said we should be proud of how well we'd brought him up.
Joe's mentor is almost a boy which may explain why Joe gets on so well with him.  Joe's results exceeded their targets in every subject... except P.E. (well, he IS his mother's son!).  His mentor said Joe was a pleasure to have in class and that his behaviour and attitude couldn't be any better.
So needless to say, I was beaming.  I almost cried I was so proud.  Proud of myself and Paul for the job we'd done bringing up the boys, but also proud of them for all the work they'd put in at school and growing in gentlemen.

So that's why I see myself as The Perfect Parent.... at the moment.  I know all good things come to an end. I know one day I'll be cleaning Joe's puke from the bathroom floor and one morning, I'll find Andy asleep outside the door after a late night and forgetting his key.  As they grow older, I don't doubt they'll break hearts, drink too much, skip classes, miss deadlines and slam many a door.  And on those days you'll find me sitting in a corner, with a glass of wine, looking back on old school reports and reminiscing.

But please, for now, let me bask in the glory of my smug Perfect Parent status.