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They Get That From Me

Do you partake in this activity regularly too? You know the one where you pick out things from your kids appearance or behaviour and attribute it to yourself of your partner? I think it’s a standard activity as a parent.

My husbands genes won out with our eldest three children. They all look like him and each other. Brown hair, brown eyes, they have some of my features but they  predominantly look like the husband and his family. Then the new one came along and she looks like me. It was a shock when her eyes didn’t turn to brown but stayed blue like mine and her hair is blonde and despite being the size of a mouse she has a double chin. All me. Continue reading

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A Plague Upon My House

Relatively speaking this is a healthy household. Last month, the flu struck in various strengths knocking out some of us but not all of us. Two weeks of illness through the house. It was long but we all recovered. I was optimistic that was our annual illness out-of-the-way.

Monday night, the baby was sick during the night. Nothing too bad. I didn’t  think too much off it and she was still a bit off on Tuesday but mostly fine. I went to bed on Tuesday night reassured she was better oblivious to the Armageddon like hell that would await me the next morning.  Continue reading

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Occupation: Washer Woman.

 

I was filling out a form the other day and I came very close to stating my occupation as being a washer woman. All I do is laundry. I wash the clothes, I dry the clothes and I put away the clothes. I don’t iron the clothes because I also have to feed the children, dress the children, drive the children to  places, collect the children from  places, spend considerable amounts of time and money in supermarkets and breathe; so I don’t have time to iron. Washer woman would be the most apt description of what I do at the minute. I am a sleep deprived washer woman.  Continue reading

The Homework Survival Guide

 

My brand new junior infant got her first homework this week. We sat together happily at the table tracing the letter S and making s sounds. I lovingly pointed out words beginning with S that we came across over the rest of the day. Taking memory snapshots of how lovely it all was and   enjoying the important role I was playing in her education. I even considered asking the husband to photograph us so we can have evidence of a time when we both enjoyed homework. It’s going to change very very soon. I am still relatively new to the homework lark. I know its only going to get worse as my children get older. Here is what I have learned after four years of it………..

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Your Own Academic  and Professional Achievements Mean Nothing Now

It doesn’t matter if you have a PHD in molecular physics, can speak four languages fluently or successfully manage a team of 345 people in work. You are wrong and your child’s teacher is always right. In your child’s eyes their teacher is the fountain of all knowledge and if you don’t explain a maths question or pronounce a word the same way they do, you are stupid. They lose faith in you immediately. They might even sneer. Take deep breaths, don’t be offended. Don’t burst into tears and tell them how many points you got in your Leaving Cert or about your thesis. They don’t care. It’s too late. Smile and nod. Apologise for making a mistake if you have to. Take the simple route.

Be Prepared

This year I have spare pencils and stationary for homework purposes. I mentioned before how my children had to take turns to do homework at the end of the last school year because we had one pencil between them. I wouldn’t recommend it. You want to stave off the meltdowns at least until you are halfway through the homework not at the start. I suggest you keep a discretionary budget of 10k per academic year for the amount of pencils, erasers, parers and rulers you will need to replace on a weekly basis.

You Will Worry About Your Child’s Ability

This starts early. You are practising letters. It is all going well. Your child recognises them. Then you have to blend them to form a word. You child is tired or toying with you. So you are there like somebody pissed slurring out the word said. “ssssssahhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiidddddddddddddd.. Said. You child who has correctly identified all four letters moments earlier will point to the word and decide it spells chair. You start all over again. Your child will see the desperation in your eyes. At this point they might feel sorry for you and will concentrate  or they might toy with you and continue shouting out random words and sit back and enjoy your tears of frustration.

 

Phone A Friend.

It is absolutely imperative you have the number of at least one other parent in the class for homework purposes. Last year my son had a homework copy for the first time. His homework was never dated though and was written down on random pages which gave no clue to what homework he was actually meant to be doing. My son also had a habit of telling me he had no homework and then remembering that he actually did at 8am the next morning. My poor neighbour ( and friend) not only has to deal with her childs homework she has to deal with regular texts from me verifying the homework.

In the case of my daughter, well over the years, texts about homework have substantially increased my phone bills. Some for the reasons above and some along the lines of “is their teacher on crack?”  A particular highlight was the night she had to make sentences out of the words hoe, hoar, blow and slow. ( hoar is an adjective to describe the colour greyish white by the way)

Having numbers of other parents in the class is essential for homework survival.

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Google Is Also Your Friend

 I got through school and college without the internet. Although we did have dial-up internet towards the end of my college years I think. I don’t know how we managed with just encyclopedias though. My eldest child is 8. I should be able to manage supervising her homework without resorting to google yet I have had to more times than I care to recall. The website More Words is one of my most visited sites with google translate being a close second. I was never good at Irish.

Always Read The Question

For you own sake and to prevent embarrassment. One evening last year my daughter was doing her maths homework. She didn’t understand it. I glanced at it and decided it called for fractions. She told me repeatedly she didn’t know what fractions were. I was tired. I just called out what I believed the answers were. The homework came home the next day circled in red with a note about how they hadn’t covered fractions yet and the answers didn’t call for fractions and even with that the answers were still wrong. The red marks were for me. The teacher had basically corrected my work. She knew it .I knew it. It was no good. I apologised profusely to my daughter.

Projects

This is where parents come into their own. Children at 5, 6,7 don’t know how to use google so parental involvement in projects is essential. It is too bloody easy to get sucked in. I could go on Mastermind with my specialist topics being Siberian Husky Dogs and the country of Mexico due to my daughter’s projects. We researched the topics together. We have spent ridiculous amounts of time on these projects. The key is not to get too involved. If your child doesn’t want to prepare a video style project go with it, don’t push them and don’t say to her I knew “we” should have gone down the multimedia route when she tells you about the other child in the class who prepared a video instead of pages stapled together. Do not get competitive about the projects. I often wonder what teachers think when they have to sift through 25+ projects clearly put together by parents not kids…….

My phone a friend came in handy for support a couple of months ago. I was able to text her when I was gluing mexican flags at 11.30pm knowing she was doing the same with Greek ones late at night made me feel a lot better about myself.

Character Building

Nothing tests your parenting skills like homework. I have had some pretty serious lows. There have been nights where there were tears and arguments. You need to find reserves of patience you didn’t even know existed and some days you fail and you feel like shit and it’s just awful.

Take solace new parents of school going kids though it’s mostly hard for every parent and you are not alone in the horror of homework and you can look forward to the occasional times when your child will say the magical words after school “My table won a homework pass” or “my teacher wasn’t in today so we have no homework” .  These will be great days. The momentary utter joy those words will deliver is sweeter than any academic or professional achievement you have ever mastered……….

 

Any and all tips to add to the above are very welcome 

Dublin Can Be Heaven……….Child Friendly Dublin

I read this piece on Office Mum this morning about whether Ireland is child friendly. Everyone experiences are different, for me, its a yes.

RTEmagicP_Dublin-DoorsI’m a true blue. Dublin, is my home, it always has been. I know Dublin. I had to rediscover Dublin as a parent and I have never been let down. Don’t get me wrong, I can bitch and moan as good as anyone, yes things can be expensive, yes house prices make my heart break, yes you can always find something to give out about but there is a whole lot of good here too.

From my house its a ten minute drive to the heart of the Dublin mountains, in twenty minutes we can be on the coast. The city centre is 30 minutes away. We live in a typical subarban estate but there are parks, there are libraries, there is good decent public transport, there are improving bike lanes. Is Dublin child friendly? I really think it is.

My Dublin ten years ago was where is a good place to drink, what restaurant first. where is the best spot to find a taxi at 4am? My Dublin, as a child, is still there and now I get to rediscover it as a parent and an improved Dublin from a child’s perspective because Dublin woke up and realised children are its citizens too.

The national museums and art galleries  all cater for the smaller visitor with activity packs, art supplies, workshops and more. The Science Gallery and Imma too. The three Dublin county councils run a host of activities and free events throughout the year – treasure hunts, outdoor movies, halloween events, Christmas markets, outdoor music and drama events and festivals. Libraries with huge children’s sections that also run regular events. All free. The parks across Dublin which boast upgraded and brilliant playgrounds.  Swimming pools, cinemas that now offer booster seats so small children can see the movie. Play centres the bane of your life when you have a toddler and have to squeeze up a tunneled slide to rescue a stuck 2-year-old ( happened me at 9 months pregnant) that become a place of loveliness when your kids are old enough to play without your help and you can sit and read a book, once you tune out the noise. Bowling, trampolining, the national aquatic centre,The Ark,  Zip Lining up the mountains, the zoo. If you want a day out with kids , your options are huge and varied with options for all budgets.

Then there are the constants, the Dublin I enjoyed as a child that my children enjoy now- Dun Laoghaire Pier, the seals at Howth, the dart along the coastline, the busker’s on Grafton street, the climb to the Hellfire Club,  the botanic gardens,watching the planes on the old airport road,the panto at Christmas,buying fruit on Moore Street,  chasing the tide on Sandymount Stand. Dublin that is steeped in history personal and national . The bullet marks that remain in the walls of the GPO, the crypts at St Michans , Kilmainham gaol, places I learned about Dublin’s history from my granddad’s as a child  on day’s out, all there waiting to be revisited and seen through my children’s eyes, now.

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Then there all the places of personal history too- my children can point out the bench in St Stephens Green where their Dad asked me to marry him and the one beside it where their Grandad asked their Nana to marry him. They know not to stand too close to the pond when feeding the ducks, because they know the story of my sister forgetting to let go of the bread and falling into the duck pond . They know the chapel in the centre of the city where  their Dad and I got married. All their history.

Everytime I went out with my Grandparents when I was child, they bought me a book. We spent hours in Waterstones, Easons on O’Connell St and Hodges and Figgis. Dubray Books on Grafton St is one of my favourite bookshops now. My eldest daughters too. She can’t pass it without asking to go in. It brings me right back to when I used to stroll around town with my Nana and Grandad as a small child. The bookshops were always the best bit.

My Grandad and I. St Stephen's Green. 1981 ish

My Grandad and I. St Stephen’s Green. 1981 ish

I have had never had a problem finding somewhere family friendly to eat in Dublin. There are too many restaurants to mention and restaurants too have copped that children are customers too. No longer do kids meals consist of just sausage and chips or chicken and chips. Of course there are many restaurants that aren’t child friendly but there is enough choice ,that is fine with me. There are places I wouldn’t bring my children to eat and there are places on the rare occasion, I get to eat out without them, that I don’t want to listen to other people’s kids. Some places are not buggy friendly but I have never had a restaurant refuse to store a buggy at the door for me. I have breast-fed all over Dublin and never had a rude remark. I know this is not the experience of everyone, but it is mine. I have always found Irish people to  be child friendly. Of course there are assholes who will tut or sigh at times but there are assholes everywhere whether you areout with children or without them. And for every asshole I have met, I have met 100 other people who have smiled at my kids, held open a door for me or picked up a dropped teddy bear or coat when my hands were full.

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We have had so many tourist at home days in Dublin. Getting the bus into town where you can’t get the correct change ready because it’s the bus fare for children depends on the driver and the ticket price is never the same on the return journey. We have done the Viking Splash and shouted at randomer’s on the street, we have taken boats on the Liffey and learned about the history under the bridges. Last Summer we took a boat trip around Dublin Bay. Dublin looks magnificent from the sea just as it always does when you come into land over Portmarnock on a clear day.

Am I  romanticising parts above? Perhaps. I love my city though. I forget that sometimes and need to fall in love with it again. Of course it’s not all good. My children don’t see people falling around drunk and vomiting in the streets at 3am but they do see the city’s  homeless every time we are in town and have seen people begging, children begging. You can’t hide the bad and the sad in the world from them.  There are lots of things that are wrong with Dublin but there are a whole lot of things that are right too. Businesses and amenities have adapted to become child friendly, we have the sea, we have the mountains and everything in between. The above is just a snapshot of Dublin and all that is good there.  If you have had a bad experience in one restaurant or one event please don’t write off Dublin as not for children, give it another try. Dublin is child friendly, you just have to go out and find it.

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photo credit: Cian Ginty via photopin cc

photo credit: Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits via photopin cc

photo credit: mirkuz via photopin cc

Gaza, The Troubles and Plane Crashes- Should Children Even Watch The News?

Do your children watch the news? Mine do, sporadically, if it is on and something catches their attention they will sit and watch or they occasionally will listen to the news when in the car. I am trying to get the balance right particularly with the six and eight year old. Half of me wants to just wrap them in blankets and tell them only about the nice things in the world, it’s not very realistic though is it? So we drip feed things to them I suppose, let them watch the news when they have an interest and try to answer their questions , reassure them and try to get the balance right. I don’t think I give them credit of how much they do take in and often they will surprise me my talking about current events happening around the world.

 

Like most weeks, there is so much tragedy nationally and internationally this week. Drowning, road deaths, planes falling out of the sky, Gaza. I will admit to an irrational crippling fear of flying and I have overdosed on news of the recent air disasters so naturally the children are aware of them. I would hate if they got my fear of flying, they have nothing to gain from watching media coverage of plane crashes. I have told them how it is the safest form of travelling and how road deaths are by far more common. Then I started to worry would they start to get worried about being passengers in cars but yet wanting them to always remain cautious when crossing roads. It’s a complete mindfuck, finding the balance.

The boy seems in particular to have a lot of questions about bombs and about war. He recently asked had there been in wars in Ireland. So we tried to explain about Northern Ireland. It is hard to do, can you give your children basic brief overviews without clouding them with personal opinion?  We taught them the words of Come Out Ye Black and Tans and got them a tiocfaidh ar la  tattoo………. No. Not really .Yes there was talk of British oppression but the atrocities carried out by the IRA were explained too and the work of all parties to achieve the peace process.  The kids eyes glazed over at this point I’m sure. I don’t want them to have the traditional anti-british stance that was so typical of Irish culture in the past but of course I want to them understand, appreciate and enjoy learning about the history of their nation and manage to form their own understanding and opinions.

I came downstairs this morning and found the boy  watching coverage of Gaza, this morning. There were questions. I was stuck between changing the channel and putting on cartoons to distract him or try to explain. I had seen this video online, it is a brief and easy to understand overview of Israel and Palestine, so I played it for him. If anybody else has children asking questions about what is going on, I would recommend it.

Via michaelxspeaks on Youtube

We watched it, he grasped some of it. He asked questions and I tried to answer them. We talked about protesting and why it is important.

Should I have changed the subject to dinosaurs or sharks straight away? I don’t know. How much information is too much information?They do have to know the world isn’t all good all of the time don’t they? I do think I would prefer, most of the time, to just talk about rainbows and dinosaurs and loom bands but I will try to answer the questions as they come and continue on our search to find unicorns too and keep on trucking blindly through parenting. It doesn’t get easier does it? I think I preferred toilet training and tantrums.

we were sucvessful in our unicorn search this week.......win

We were successful in our unicorn search this week…….

An Open Letter To Persil About My Eyeball Injury

Dear Persil,

I am writing to you about your non bio small and mighty washing detergent. See Exhibit A below.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Firstly, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am an Irish mother of four living in Dublin. I spend an awful lot of money on washing detergent because my children love dirt and I spend a significant proportion of my time washing clothes. I will admit to being fickle in my washing powder choices and will mostly purchase whatever is on offer but nonetheless I am a loyal enough Persil consumer over the years.

Dublin is currently in the middle of a heatwave. It is pretty disgustingly hot, truth be told, but the one advantage is that there is great drying out. Ireland in the sun means there are thousands of Irish people stipping beds, curtains, seat covers and washing them right now to get the full benefit of the great drying.  I digress……..

Let me tell me about my morning, Persil. My youngest daughter is two months old. She was due to get her first vaccinations earlier this month. Our GP runs a ridiculously busy  surgery so you can imagine my delight, when I phoned this morning to be told, that there was nobody there this morning and if I came down quickly, the doctor could administer the vaccinations then and there with no wait time. This is such a rare occurance and so much better than having to sit around waiting in a doctors waiting room with four children in the oppressive heat. I was delighted, then my luck changed.

I decided I would put a wash on before we ran out the door and took out my recently purchased bottle of Persil Small and Mighty whilst telling the kids to get their shoes on and hurry up. As you well know there is a top on the bottle which you need to remove before using. Please see exhibit B below.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Its a tricky little bugger and requires some force to get out but out it came and with it came a small dollop of the detergent. This dollop, which I can confirm , is indeed very small and very mighty, shot out of the bottle at great speed into my eyeball.  MY EYEBALL.

I cannot begin to explain the shocking excruciating pain. It was like a thousand burning forks being stabbed into my eyeball. Persil, I am not bad with pain. I recently gave birth at home with no medical assistance or pain relief. The pain of your small and mighty detergent shooting into my eye was more horrendous. I screamed. I wailed. I considered trying to remove my eye myself to make the pain stop. My eldest daughter got me some tissue and my boy offered to get me a plaster. Thankfully they were more amused than scared by my blood curdling screams. I am pretty lax about swearing around the kids but never use proper really foul language. Until today. Today they may have learned the c word.   I wanted to curl up into a ball and scream continously but the doctor was waiting…….

So I loaded my children into the car and off we went. It is only a short drive to our GP. Persil, have you ever noticed when your are concentrating on one sense, your other senses are compromised? For example if I am trying to read a road sign, I need to lower down the car radio. In this instance because I was concentrating so much on trying to see properly , my sense of smell failed me. I got to the doctor, my injured eye was now bright red, bloodshot and throbbing with pain and it was only when I took the baby out of her carseat did I notice she had  had a rather explosive poo. You know the type that soaks through a nappy and  clothes. The doctor took one look at me- Bedraggled, red eyed, surrounded by children, weary. Weary and it was only 9.45am. I had to change the baby on the doctors examination table. I then had to strip the table and the baby because they were destroyed. I too was covered in poo at this point but I didn’t have the option to strip, athough had I, it may have distracted from my hideous looking eye.

The baby then got her vaccinations. Did I mention she is my fourth baby? It doesn’t get any easier watching a needle being plunged into your tiny baby’s soft little thigh and the accompanying look of horror on her face when the pain hits her. She wailed. I cried. Then because of her wailing, my boobs started to leak, badly. The severe eye injury had distracted me and I had forgotten to put on breast bads. So baby screaming, other three children watching, me red eyed, still in pain, covered in poo and breast milk. You still with me? Good.

The doctor asked what was wrong with our eyes……. I looked around confused. My four year old daughter were wearing 3D glasses with the lens removed. I hadn’t noticed. I explained there was nothing wrong . He asked when she had gotten glasses. He asked what had happened my eye. I tried to explain  but it was all too much at this stage and I didn’t want him to touch my eye or explain about my four year old’s fashion statements. I don’t like anything or anybody touching my eyes,Persil. We got up to go. I was broken at this stage. The pain was getting worse.I considered giving in, telling the doctor what happened and getting a referral for the eye hospital and then like magic, the tiny drop of detergent, rolled out of my eye. Very small and very mighty. The pain eased. We came home. The 4 year old got out her doctors set and used the fake otoscope to check my “very sore fooking eye”. She has repeatedly banged this against my eye over the last hour.

Persil, it hasn’t been a very good morning. To be fair there is a warning on the bottle to say keep out of eyes. I did keep it away from eyes. It was a good two feet from my eyes, when it shot out and attacked my eyeball. Perhaps you would consider adding a warning or maybe a line under the kind to skin on the packinging. How about “kind next to skin, fucking horrible to eyeballs?”

Kind to skin, very unkind to eyeballs

Kind to skin, very unkind to eyeballs

Best regards,

From a broken person who thankfully still ,just about, has two functioning eyes.

 

More Shitty Parenting……

 

S is for Shameful Parenting

S is for Shitty Parenting

 

My parenting skills have slipped to an all time low. Its a combination of the summer holidays, readjusting to life with four children and general pure laziness……but we are living in anarchy at the minute.

 

I walked into the sitting room and they were stuck into Toddler’s and Tiara’s ( a really ridiculous programme about kids beauty pageants) . There was a 7-year-old on screen in full evening wear and make up crying. “Why is she crying?” I asked. “Her spray tan isn’t even” my 8-year-old replied. I questioned should they be watching this and told them I didn’t think it was appropriate. Their reply “but we watch it every morning when you and the baby are still in bed”. Right so. I sat down and watched it with them. It’s ridiculous but weirdly it sucks you in.

My kids new role models via tlc.com

My kids new role models
via tlc.com

There is a large green area outside our house. I allow the kids to go out as I can see them from the window. I was feeding the baby when they told me they were going out the other day. I let them at it. Five minutes later, I looked out and there was the four year old strutting around the green in her dressing gown and these fake glittery ugg boots. I  had foolishly assumed she was dressed.

 

The boy got his hair cut the other day. It’s lovely. Then I noticed a huge brown mark on his neck. My first thought was how I had not noticed he had such a big birth mark before then I realised ,no,it was just dirt. A big dirty mark all over his neck. I do wash him, obviously not properly anymore.

I was getting ready to go to bed one night last week. I assumed the children were asleep because it was 10.45pm. They weren’t, they were in the playroom,the only reason I went in there was to check on the dog.  I came close to going to bed without realising they were still up. I would like to think the husband may have noticed but I am not 100% confident.

I forgot to make lunch one day this week and breakfast a couple of weeks ago. I only realised about the lunch when the husband came home and I heard the kids telling him how hungry they were. In my defense, they snack all day and they hadn’t mentioned they were hungry or mentioned the lack of lunch until this point. This point was at 6pm.

Right now, the four year old has paint all over her stomach. The six year old still has the dirt on his neck and the 8 year old is dressed like someone who watches too much Toddlers and Tiara’s. All three of them have used the word asshole in the correct context at least once today. Asshole is a word I overuse. There is nobody to blame but myself.

I’m not proud by just how much my parenting skills have degenerated in the last couple of weeks. It needs to stop now. Any day now.

Please someone tell me your parenting skills slip in the school holidays? Please?