Disconnected snippets (again)

– Dear advertisers on the TV, radio, billboards, via email, all telling me to treat my dad on Father’s Day: Shut the **** up and go away. And don’t come back next year. No love, me.

– Still absolutely loving my job. I love the child I work with; I love the school; I love the staff; I love shrieking with laughter in the staffroom at lunchtime. I still can’t believe I’m actually employed. I still can’t believe I’m in such a perfect situation for myself. I still don’t take going to work every day even one tiny bit slightly for granted. Doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated, exhausted and look forward to weekends and holidays – but even with the knackeredness and the inevitable flies in the ointment here and there, I am just so bloody, bloody lucky to be there and I love it.

– It was parents evening this week for Three. I noticed the usual facebook status updates among local parents lauding their amazing children with their wonderful reports and excellent work and behaviour. That’s brilliant (and I know it’s been me in the past!). This year I’m heading up the army of parents who didn’t post their children’s achievements on facebook. My child: has great potential but worries too much, is distracted and not concentrating much of the time; we’re really quite worried about her, oh and by the way did you get the letter about headlice? We think she’s got them…. (It’s ok: I’m now very much on the case on both counts!).

– It’s the weekend! Hurrah. I planned a barbecue for today’s main meal, and am now looking rather skeptically at the weather. (sceptic or skeptic?) skeptic looks wrong to me, but sceptic has a red wiggly line under it.

– The house is a total tip again and once I’ve finished this blog post (which many would say is clearly displacement activity – they would be quite right) I’m going to get off my backside and do something about it so we’re not living in squalor for the whole weekend (squalor? squalour? The curse of the red wiggly line again – I was sure I could spell! Is the spellchecker American or am I losing the plot?)

– Two came home from school on Wednesday with curry from lunchtime all down his uniform polo top. I spent ages attacking it to get the lovely yellow stains out and was very proud of my efforts. Sent him off to school the next day in his (almost dry) beautifully clean shirt. He returned that afternoon having had a leaky pen thrown at him. The dark blue mess was incredible. I cried. (It’s almost all come out but there is a small blue stain right in the middle which I think is there for ever). Wouldn’t be so bad but this is a replacement shirt given to him by the pastoral manager because his previous one was so full of unwashable pen stains that he got into trouble for looking scruffy.

– I’m not likely to win any Mother of the Year awards any time soon from either of my kids’ schools, am I? 😉

– I’m so busy and tired at the moment that I’m finding real life social interaction quite difficult. I’ve stopped answering the phone altogether, even to my mum. Texting, email and instant messaging is all I can manage right now. I’m ok during work and can chatter away to everyone at breaktimes, but at home I’m finding being a parent is taking up every single ounce of the energy I possess and I just have no resources left for anyone else. This is normal for a single parent, right? It won’t last for ever? And how come everyone else seems to have it all together and be able to do amazing things like go out to meetings in the evening or volunteer with guides/scouts/at church etc? (on reflection, maybe I need to stop reading facebook status updates altogether for a while…!)

– This blog post is brought to you by honesty and imperfection. None of it is meant as a moan. I’m really happy and content with life at the moment. But I think it’s really important to keep it real. No picture perfect snapshots here. Just life, warts and all.

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Full Thursday

Yesterday: steep learning curve at work and a different sort of a day. Felt challenged, a bit daunted, but glad to witness the most difficult part of the job first hand and observe experts at work. Christmas chaos at school and a change of staff all at once are very tricky for children with ASD. I feel very much for X and just hope that I can learn to do everything I can for him to help him cope with school life and move his learning on. And the staff at the school are amazing. Patient, tolerant and supportive. I’m a very lucky newbie indeed. 🙂

Last night was Taxi Service Wednesday again. Big drawings and glitter glue were on the menu at youth club. When I collected Three from the junior session, as we were getting out of the car at home and I was gathering up her pictures, I uttered words I have never uttered before and probably never will again: ‘Oops, I just put my finger in Rudolf’s eye’. (The purple glitter glue came off under the tap but probably still hasn’t set solid on the actual picture even 24 hours later!).

Also coming out of youth club with Three, we heard the Rotary Santa sleigh in the distance. We went on a Santa hunt and followed him slowly down the road for a few hundred yards – Three was too shy to get out of the car but we enjoyed watching!

As for today, I had the day off work – us new starters were allowed to be a bit flexible about our hours for the first couple of weeks, and I needed to get the car MOTed and watch Three in her school Christmas performance, among other things on a list as long as my arm!

The Christmas performance was fabulous; years 4, 5 and 6 did themselves proud and Three was amazing in her role as an African mum – she had been terrified before she went on stage but you’d never have guessed and she sounded clear, loud and confident. When I think back to last year when she was a narrator, and mumbled her short line at her feet, she was like a different child today. So proud of her!

After the play I nipped in to school itself to see the 2 teachers I’ve been volunteering with for the past two and a bit years. The year 5 class said goodbye to me and gave me three cheers, which almost made me cry – I’ve known these fabulous children since they were six and have watched them all grow up into the strapping 9 and 10 year olds they are now. I’m going to miss them so much! The year 2 class had gone home by the time I got to their classroom but I had a good chat with the teacher who is one of my favourite people in the world.

As for the MOT: it is never good news when the garage phone you and ask you if you are sitting down! The ABS system is broken and the parts are not cheap. It’s lucky I now have a job, plus a little bit in the savings account which will help. I can have the car back tomorrow afternoon but need to take it in again on Monday after work to be finished off and retested. In order to get to work tomorrow I’ve nipped to the hire centre up the road and hired a little car for 24 hours – slightly amusing being given the keys and then driving about 50 yards with it then stopping outside my house!

Intersperse the above with school runs, visits to the GP surgery to try to organise a prescription for One, phoning the surgery late afternoon to see if it’s sorted (answer: no; try again tomorrow), wrapping all the presents ready for our family ‘Christmas Day’ a week tomorrow, working through a long list remembering everything I needed to ask / tell my mum, doing a supermarket nip in the unfamiliar car, cooking and feeding everyone at teatime, being a diplomat… truly I am five times as tired tonight after a ‘day off’ as I have been after a day at work the past couple of days! I used to joke about ‘going to work for a rest’ – now I am discovering the full truth of that statement!

Joking apart, there is something very good about the 40 minute commute twice a day – having that enforced space between home and work, both time and distance, helps me to fully distinguish the difference between my home self and my professional self. I would find it more difficult to separate the two, I think, if I was working on the doorstep.

My eyes keep closing as I’m typing, and I need to wash up and make a packed lunch. Must move myself before I fall asleep here and wake up at 3am with a messy kitchen and a guilty conscience!

140 characters

– Busy week. Tough in places. Fabulous in other places. Blog suffering. Facebook suffering. Twitter not suffering as 140 characters achievable

– Have felt like a terrible parent and a wonderful parent at times this week in approx. equal measure. Shouting and hugging have both featured

– Went to GCSE ‘Raising Aspirations’ evening at high school. Motivational speaker superb but maybe not best for child already ill with anxiety

– Fell fast asleep on sofa by accident on Tuesday and Two cooked and served up the entirety of our evening meal for us all. What a total star.

– Tuesday & Wednesday volunteering in year 2 and year 5 were excellent & a great boost to my self esteem. I needed that this week! Want a JOB!

– Went to bed last night knowing I was knackered but not expecting to end up staying in bed till 10 to 2 this afternoon. Must have needed that

– Put a loaf of bread in the freezer & sliced my middle finger on a packet of frozen beef mince, making it bleed (the finger, not the mince).

– Life is so much calmer than this time last year. Doesn’t say much for this time last year! Situation’s not changed much but my attitude has.

– Blogging alongside all my parenting roles seems impossible at the moment. Follow me on Twitter for life’s minutiae 140 characters at a time!

Enough!

I am so over today now.

I’ll list the reasons why and then move on to positives to cheer me up and send me off to bed on a brighter note.

– I had a job interview today for a job I really, really wanted, and I didn’t get it. Among the other people being interviewed were three trained teachers, one of whom got the post. Selfishly, I am ashamed to say I feel resentful that people trained as teachers are applying for Teaching Assistant roles and getting them. However, I’m accepting that it wasn’t meant to be this time.

– It is a year since I last had an interview. That interview came a year after my first one. I am now wondering if it will be another year before I’m lucky enough to secure another one.

– I collected Three from school, got home, sat down and curled up with a long awaited cup of tea and immediately received a phone call from the secondary school asking me to collect One as she was feeling poorly. Up I got and did the same car journey all over again.

– Finally managed to drink my not-quite-as-hot-as-I’d-have-liked cuppa, and fell asleep without meaning to, meaning the supermarket shop, and therefore our tea, was rather later than I’d planned.

– Halfway round the supermarket I fielded a call from one child who was complaining (with very good cause) about the behaviour of one of the others. While choosing a chicken for Sunday dinner and crossing ‘chicken’ off the list with one hand, pushing the trolley with the other hand, and balancing the phone in between my shoulder and my ear, I attempted to calm down the situation. I heard shouting and slamming doors.

– I had the overwhelming urge to sit down in the middle of Tesco next to my trolley and burst into tears. I did not do this. I applauded my own self control.

OK, here are the positives:

– I enjoyed the interview, and loved seeing round the school and meeting the children and some of the staff. I got good feedback from the head when he phoned to tell me I hadn’t got the job, and he said ‘you’ve got the process nailed so just keep at it and I’m sure you’ll get something soon’. I hope he’s right!

– I managed to diffuse the family war zone situation by threatening one of the children with no egg custard for dessert (they were on the reduced shelf) unless he calmed down. Funnily enough, he calmed down… 😉

– At least I got the shopping done so we have another week’s worth of food in the house!

– Not getting this job means I can continue volunteering in year 2 and year 5 at Three’s school for a little longer. This is something I love and and has been keeping me sane over the past few years.

– I have been communing with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream which fell ‘accidentally’ into my trolley at the supermarket earlier. At that point I crossed ‘chocolate’ off the shopping list as I’d decided to buy ice cream instead… and then some Green & Black’s accidentally fell into the trolley later on as well… oops.

– I know how to be kind to myself when it’s been a difficult day! (See above)

Right. A bit more ice cream, then the washing up, then bed. Tomorrow is another day. This one has worn rather thin!

Two conversations

I’ve been in Year 5 for the first time this morning. These are children I know very well indeed. I am absolutely delighted to see them all again.

Child 1 skipped out of her classroom to read with me, all smiles.

Me: Hello! I am so pleased to see you! How’s year 5 treating you?

C1: It’s ok…..

Me: Just ‘ok’?

C1: Well…. I wish I was still in year 4.

Me: Do you? Why?

C1: I don’t want to grow up. Because I don’t want to die…

I assured this morbid nine year old that it was unlikely she was going to die today, and all smiles again she read to me beautifully.

 

Child 2 had just washed her hands with soap before lunch:

C1: Owwwwww! Mrs P! My paaaaaaaper cut is stiiiiiiingiiiiing….. oooowwwwwwww!

Me: Oh no! How absolutely dreadful! You poor poor child. Paper cuts are horrendous. Do you know, I would rather have my finger chopped off than have a paper cut!

C1: Oooooh, I’d rather have a paper cut!

Me: There you go then. Your day just got a lot better.

 

Just call me Teaching Assistant of the year. I’m sure someone will want to give me a job soon….

A week in highlights

“You can’t argue with grammar. You actually can’t. It’s physically impossible.” – Son, just now…

So what can I tell you about the past week? It has gone by in a bit of a blur.

Last Saturday: An unexpected visitor arrived in the form of J needing some TLC and a place to escape to for a few days. We were happy to oblige (though I would be the first to admit that though we welcome visitors, our house is anything but a quiet retreat!). His imminent advent forced me to tidy my bedroom which hardly had room for me in it among all the mess, let alone someone else as well. I was delighted to have done that, and it is still nice and tidy today. 🙂

Sunday: We took J National Trusting to Little Moreton Hall, complete with sandwiches, fruit and a flask of tea. How middle class can you get? We had a great time though a certain child got rather overstimulated and containing him was rather hard work. Also I’m not sure the lady supervising the dressing up really appreciated my children’s particular style of play – she is clearly used to calm quiet dressed up children admiring themselves in the mirror, rather than excited noisy children pretending to assassinate each other…

 

Made me giggle though…

 

Tuesday: I went back into school for my first volunteering day of this academic year, and J went to spend the day with my mum. It’s a long time since I was helping in Key Stage 1 (year 2) and I was really nervous, but I was working with two of my very favourite ladies in the whole wide world, which made it much easier. The classroom looks lots more spacious when the children are smaller! I managed to learn about three or four names, all of which I will have forgotten by next week, but I’ll get there in the end. I heard lots of very awesome children read and generally had a fabulous day. I know that I am going to LOVE Tuesdays. 🙂

J went home on Tuesday evening. We both cried.

Wednesday: I would have been volunteering in year 5 with my lovely year 4s from last year, but had to send my apologies as it was Review Day at the secondary school. Two children, two appointments with form tutors; one in the morning, the other in the afternoon. I spent a lot of time there on Wednesday! Both meetings were positive and I came away feeling that school are committed to doing everything they can to support the needs of my two rather complicated, fabulous children. I spent the whole evening as a taxi service for all three children’s social lives. Wednesdays are going to become the new Thursdays, this year…

Thursday: Signed on. Mused to myself on the fact that I seem to have lost all my self confidence again when it comes to jobseeking. I have found five jobs to apply for this week. A few months ago I would have thought ‘I can totally do that job!’ and filled in the application form with confidence. Now all I think is ‘why on earth would they want to employ me?’ and avoid the application form until the last minute. Meh.

Friday: Took my mum to B&Q, Wickes and Dunelm Mill in search of a curtain track she needed, and to Tesco for her shopping. In return, she took me for a carvery for lunch. It was a lovely day! After school I put Son on a train for his first solo journey to Manchester where his dad was waiting at Piccadilly to get him off at the other end. One and I spent the evening watching comedy on the TV.

Honourable mention for the whole week: Ever since Three went back to school, we have done every single school run by bicycle. She cycles on the pavement, I cycle on the road next to her, and then cycle home again. We love it; we get there much more quickly than walking, it is good exercise and I’m not using petrol (which is absolutely extortionate these days!) It also means I am cycling three miles a day which has to be a good thing.

Saturday: We made Turd Biscuits (see previous blog post). I fell asleep on the sofa for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Again, One and I spent several hours in front of the TV in the evening.

Another busy week ahead, so today is a day of rest (ish). No such thing as actual rest when there are three children here and a chaotic house to run!

 

Another day, another set of logistics

Giving myself a few minutes to sit and blog in the middle of a busy day. I feel like I’m just running constantly to catch up with myself at the moment and that is not likely to change for a week or two yet!

Part One: The Past Week Or So In The Prev Household

I’ve been continuing my mission to get and keep the house safe, hygienic and pleasant to live in, with varying levels of success. The bad weather has led to an enormous backlog of laundry, which has been lying around the house in piles (huge pile in the kitchen: dirty washing in a queue for the machine; huge pile on the dining table: clean washing in a pile for the iron; huge pile in basket in living room: clean washing a little nearer to the actual ironing process: little piles on sofa: ironed clothes waiting to be put away).

However, Two and his dad did such an amazing job on his room last Saturday that it inspired One and I to make a start under her bed last Sunday. This continued across the floor this past Saturday, and then, six binbags later, on Sunday I moved a bit of furniture around to give both girls a dedicated section of room each. We are very proud of ourselves. All the children now have real bedrooms to relax in, instead of rubbish heaps with no visible floor. Their rooms were the final frontier of the Great House Sort Out and so everywhere now is reasonable and being kept on top of. This is major progress (as long as you ignore the laundry piles…).

Part Two: Saying Goodbye To A Special Lady Yesterday

Yesterday morning, my wonderful mum arrived early to take over the school run so I could get in the car and drive for over 2 hours to Doncaster in order to attend a celebration service for the life of ‘Auntie’ Pat Willimott who has been a friend both online and in real life for seven years now.

I was so glad to be there along with 17 other people from our corner of the internet, all wearing touches of lime green and representing many many more who weren’t able to make the journey. I think Pat’s friends and family were surprised and pleased to see how many lives she had touched across the country, and how very loved she was by us all. (Her husband was less surprised as he knows many of us well and was in fact wearing a lime green tie for the occasion!).

It was a wonderful service; the hymns were sung with gusto even through our tears (you’ve got to love Methodists for a good sing in all circumstances!); the eulogy, written by her husband Steve and read by a friend, was full, apt and had everyone nodding and smiling throughout, and the photos which were projected onto a screen gave us all a flavour of Pat through the years – and her enormous smile which shone out of every photo from the earliest baby picture to the most recent.

I was reflecting as I drove home just how lucky I am to be a part of this special community of people, drawn together initially by our love of a series of children’s books, but so many close, loving, supportive friendships have developed over the years. I watched during the service as people held onto others for support as they cried, and so many hugs, love and laughter afterwards as we gathered together to share food and memories of Pat. These are people I can be completely honest with about what is happening in my life, and not feel I have to put any sort of ‘face’ on. We are an amazing, caring bunch of people and Pat had a lot to do with that ethos developing. She will not be forgotten, and will be very much missed in so many ways.

I arrived at Mum’s house at 4pm, where two of my children were waiting for me, having driven home, exhausted, drained but so glad to have gone. Sank onto her sofa with a welcome cup of tea and then suddenly remembered that I had to take Three back to school for 5pm for a performance, and she would need feeding first! Lots more rushing around ensued, including collecting One from an appointment along the way. I eventually collapsed into bed about quarter to ten, having abandoned the washing up for the morning!

Part Three: Today’s Complicated Itinerary

Today is Graduation Day for me at the Bridgwater Hall in Manchester! Very exciting, but ridiculously complicated as my mum and the children are coming to watch, but we have to travel separately so that they can finish school and I can still get there in time to don my cap and gown.

Various stresses surrounding today:

a) (This is leading the field at the moment for some reason!) Will my hat fit? Did I measure my head accurately when I had to type the numbers into the website? Will it be too tight and give me a migraine? Will it be too loose and fall over my eyes? Will it be far too small and just fall off when I ascend the stairs to collect my certificate? Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to this dilemma…

b) I looked at someone else’s graduation pictures from the same venue, on facebook, the other day. The place was totally packed. One child isn’t dealing well with crowds of people at the moment and became quite anxious at the sight of them all on the photo.

c) Another photo depicted a huge pipe organ which appeared to dominate the entire hall (Mum assures me it really isn’t as huge as all that!). Two, who is almost certainly on the autistic spectrum, is absolutely terrified of organ pipes. To the point where he has had to stay outside, out of sight of them, on a number of occasions when we’ve visited churches or cathedrals. I am now having visions of my mum having to cope with two children both having panic attacks for unrelated reasons…! Though I have warned Two about the organ pipes and so it won’t be a terrible shock. I might lend him the ipod touch for (silent) distraction therapy.

d) We have a 15 minute window between mum and the children arriving in Manchester and me having to be seated in my place with all the other students. During this time I need to find them and hand over their guest tickets so they can get in. Late trains could jeopardise this somewhat. I probably should be more anxious about this than about the hat, but the subconscious is a peculiar thing. 😉

Part Four: The Rest Of The Week

Tomorrow morning: volunteering in year 4. Tomorrow afternoon: attending school musical extravaganza performance with mum (watching Three singing songs from the musicals with the rest of year 3, among other musical delights). Tomorrow evening: helping at Cubs (I think, must check). Thursday morning: sign on. Thursday afternoon: housework especially laundry sorting. Thursday evening: take and collect Three from school again for evening performance. Friday morning: volunteering in year 4. Friday afternoon: One and Two break up for their summer holidays! Saturday morning: One’s Grade Three violin exam. Saturday evening: Meal out at the Chinese buffet with Mum, J and the children for my 40th birthday. 🙂 Sunday: Aaaaaand relax (I hope).

I’ll say one thing about life – it’s certainly not dull at the moment! And I have wonderful friends and family to share it with.