For the past two weeks it feels like we had been sucked back into a time warp; like we stepped back into my childhood where each sound, each smell reminded me of times gone by.
We spent a couple of weeks on the NSW South Coast exploring beaches we hadn’t been to, wading through the water to catch hermit crabs, learning to body surf in the waves (them not me), climbing the breakwater, eating fish ‘n’ chips by the beach, throwing frisbees at sunset, fishing off our friend’s jetty and there was ice-cream – lots of ice-cream. Here is one of the occasions we went for ice-cream. Apparently it’s a very serious business… especially when there’s a little wind about!
During the last week of the school holidays I decided to take my four kids away to the beach for a few days on my own.
Taking four kids anywhere on my own is a bit of a task. Just like dinnertime, they don’t all agree on what’s fun & what they’d like to do. With their age range spanning just over 6 years, it’s not all that surprising. Lucas no longer thinks it’s awesome to ride the carousel; Charli loves it. But they unanimously agree that going to the beach & hanging out is pretty cool. So we did that. In the cold, windy chill of winter, we hung out at the beach. Despite enjoying watching them willingly play with each other it was probably too cold for me (I’m getting old) but the kids didn’t seem to notice.
Not long after that, Evie & her sisters were hanging their feet over the edge of a climbing wall at the local park chatting away. I looked away for just a moment, & in that instant Evie was on the ground clutching her ankle. Later, after a messy doctor’s appointment, X-rays & a trip to emergency, we discovered she’d broken her ankle. She needed to have surgery & we were in hospital for almost 3 days & now a cast for 6 weeks.
As I watched her in pain, being wheeled into surgery – asking me what was happening & sobbing with fear, I was torn between staying strong & completely losing it myself. No one wants to see their child in pain.
So why am I grateful?
On the day my 7 year old broke her ankle, a little boy drowned on a beach not far from where we were. He was 5. Such an unexpected tragedy. These parents had lost their son.
Then late last week, only a week after Evie’s accident, I listened to reports of a plane shot down over the Ukraine. ‘Shot down‘. How can I even comprehend that? Again, parents have lost their children. Lost their own lives. Innocent people died for no reason.
I cannot even begin to imagine their pain & those of others who have experienced this kind of loss. I am grateful because Evie will heal. She is no longer in pain. She is here.
So hospital was a good thing. She’s all fixed. Science is amazing. Surgeons are gifted. And any inconvenience is just that – an inconvenience that will be over soon. I’m grateful for all of that.
Evie is completely oblivious to all the other events that have been happening around here. Rather she indulged in fairy bread, ice-cream, jelly & chocolate milk. And that’s ok. She’s a kid.
Name calling is a no no. We don’t approve of it in this house. If done on a consistent basis it can turn into that other word – bullying.
This week my big kids both got braces. Soph, having just turned 9, was kinda excited to show off her new mouth jewellery. One of my mum friends said that “she was smiling like a Cheshire Cat” during Physie only hours after getting them on. But as we travelled to school this morning on her first day back, she said “What if people pick on me mum?”.
I myself had braces but I was older (about 14) and was significantly more self conscious. I was concerned what my friends would think & particularly worried about being made fun of – especially by the boys. Turns out I had nothing to worry about & despite a few taunts, I came through it unscathed with brilliantly straight teeth. I’m hoping Soph will sail through it too but she’s so much younger than I was.
It made me think about name calling & my youngest. How do I tell my 4 year old that name calling is not appropriate; that it is hurtful & mean?
She’s my number four child. She has been calling her brother & sisters names for as long as I can remember. She’s actually quite eloquent (usually). She’s also quite talented at getting her own way. She has mastered the ‘dying cockroach’ tantrum which I wrote about here. The aforementioned brother & sisters have taught her all she knows and pandered to her every need.*
Some of the taunts we’ve heard her say include:
– “You giant!” – to which I would say “Oh Charli, you can’t say that!” (in the hope that she would accept that this was such an awful way to speak that she wouldn’t escalate to anything that actually was inappropriate.)
After a few weeks it became “You big giant!” Adjectives. Yep. Learning.
Then the new word “idiot” – which I later discovered came from her big sister who was calling her other sister this. Yep, she’s definitely having this behaviour modelled by the best.
Then again adding the adjective – “You stupid idiot!”
And then came – “Bum.” She thought this was hilarious. She would giggle every time she said it. Sometimes it was hard not to giggle too (with hand slapped over mouth).
But then came the ultimate insult – “You bumcrack!”
Out of the mouths of babes. It just doesn’t sound right coming from one so petite. And like before, she was sent to her room & told to apologise (reminding her that sorry meant she won’t say it again. We’d already explained why – she knows why – no need to go there again).
And I know it’s all attention seeking. After all she is my baby. She has to do a lot of waiting. My time is split between the four of them + a husband who is more like my 5th child. When she gets frustrated – usually when I say “Just a minute…” she grunts at me. In the past she used to say “Cowabunga”. Lately, it’s “Fiddlesticks” preceded by the biggest sigh a 4 year old can muster. Just quietly, I love it.**
But I don’t want her to become one of these name calling kids that my Soph is fearful of. She starts Kindy next year. Hopefully she is doing it for the giggles she gets from her siblings rather than being a ‘meanie’ (although the deathly scowl on her face often says otherwise). I am hopeful. In the meantime, I’ll be ignoring the ‘dying cockroaches’ every time she gets sent to her room & reassuring my 9 year old who has had braces for less than 48 hours, that I’m always here to talk if those ‘meanies’ surface at school.***
She really does love her brother & sisters.
* I may also be guilty of ‘quieting’ her by giving into her wants from time to time. It keeps me sane.
** Waiting ‘just a minute’ is essential in circumstances where I’m holding something hot, on the toilet, finishing a train of thought, brushing my teeth or other such occasions. I do try to get to her asap as all mums do. On occasion I also find myself saying ‘Fiddlesticks’ – just less appropriate & always in my head – more like FFS.
*** And I must say I’ve got some pretty awesome comebacks.
I hate using the word ‘busy’. I have an aversion to it. It’s an adjective that really doesn’t say much & it often feels like an excuse for not getting stuff done. But I feel exhausted. I’ve been cramming a fair bit of photography in over the last couple of weeks – a wedding, a christening, a newborn session… on top of the every day stuff – you know – the kid kind.
So yesterday I took two of my kids to a private lesson with me to be models for my student. Gosh it was nice to just play with my camera. To share some knowledge & enjoy the moment. The kids picked flowers (& fought a little) & loved the sun. Win. Win.