Back to School

Schools went back, yesterday, after a fortnights holiday for Easter.  Gning went in to his class with a big smile on his face, happy to be with all of his classmates again.  Donut, on the other hand, wasn’t able to return to nursery, as he is having belly problems again.  The earliest he can go back is tomorrow, as schools & nursery settings have a 48hr no-return policy after a final bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.  It’s a shame, as he’s quite taken to another little boy in his nursery school, and all over the Easter break, he’s been “talking” on the phone to this boy…  Pretend, of course, as we don’t actually have his phone number.  I am starting to be concerned though, as I’m sure there must be an underlying problem with his stomach somewhere, due to the amount of times he suffers with diarrhoea.

Anyway…

A couple of months ago, I successfully completed both a teaching assistant, and an EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage – children ages 0 to 5) advanced teaching qualification.  It’s completely different to my experience in work, as I’ve always done some form of administration role – typist, receptionist, secretary, personal assistant, telephonist; and after departing my role of a telephonist of 8 and a half years, last July, I decided that I no longer wanted to be “the voice” of a company, and I wanted to work face-to-face with people.  Not any type of people though – children.

It was hubby, dearest, who gave me a push, by purchasing the two online courses for me.  He said that I should give it a go, as I’ve always had a bit of a knack for working with children and younger people (over 15 years experience in working with the aforementioned, teaching martial arts).  So, I sat down, when the boys were in bed, and I studied.  I completed a (super thick) journal with all of my notes, and then reviewed them the following day, before starting another module of the course.  The next thing you know, I’m “sitting” the exams, and I passed both with a Higher Distinction (97.5% on both exams).

The next question was, “what am I going to do with my new qualifications..?”

I immediately started job searching, for teaching assistant, nursery assistants, and EYFS teachers, however, all positions required a minimum amount of experience set within a learning environment.  None would accept my experience of teaching martial arts, as it’s not considered “academic”.

I had a thought.  I should push my luck, and send several emails off to local nurseries, asking if they would be interested in “hiring” me as a volunteer.  They wouldn’t have to pay me a penny – not even for expenses.  I explained my predicament, and asked if I could attend the setting for just a couple of hours per week, so I could gain the valuable experience that I required.  I only heard back from one nursery, and they stated that they wouldn’t be able to offer me any form of positions, as it wouldn’t be fair to the children…  They further mentioned that “children do get attached to staff members, it would be a shame if the children got attached to me, only for me to leave when I had the relevant experience, if they couldn’t offer me a paid job”.  I was a little disheartened, but not upset, as I completely understood where they were coming from.

So, I decided to try a job search again, and I stumbled upon a posting from a teaching supply agency, for a “Behavioural Support Assistant”.  It was temporary only, but did not require any school-based experience – only some experience in working with children.  Fantastic!  This was my chance…  And I applied for the job.

The following morning, I received a phone call from the agency, apologising that the posting had been offered to someone else that morning, but there was another post that I may be interest in.  He seemed really interested in me, however, the conversation ended when I confirmed that I have no experience in a school setting.  I thanked him for his time, and ended the call.  Not ten minutes later, I received a phone call from the same number…  I was expecting some sort of “survey”, but it was a female voice this time.

The voice explained that she had overheard my previous conversation (from the mans end), and said that I would be a perfect candidate to register with the agency, under the Extra Support category – which basically deals with students who have behavioural problems; and my martial arts and counselling background was more beneficial to me than my teaching qualifications…  For now.

The following week, I went in to the agency to register my details.  I met the female “voice”, and we were in the interview room for over an hour.  She was intrigued by my background, and said she would get to searching for an opening for me as soon as the Easter holidays were over.

Fast forward to yesterday.  It wasn’t just the boys who went back to school.

I received a phone call from a male voice, at about 10am, asking if I was free that afternoon.  He explained that a school, close to me, needs someone to supervise an exam, and if I would be interested to go in.  It didn’t take me long to accept the position, and he said it was a “simple” job, that would start my experience…  I was to be an “Exam Invigilator”; where I simply sit in the room of students, sitting the exam, and make sure there is no talking, cheating, etc., and to hand out any equipment necessary (rules, calculators, pens, etc.).  We finished the conversation, and ended the call.

For the first time in my life, going in to an unknown setting, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.  The students were all really lovely, and were all well behaved – raising their hands when they needed something, and all said please and thank you.  The only strange thing was, was that they all called me “Miss”!  That’s going to get a bit to get used to.  I came out of the school, yesterday afternoon, with a big smile on my face.

I had only been home from the school for half an hour, when I received another phone call, from the same male voice from that morning, stating that the school had asked for me to return this afternoon, to oversee another exam…  I was only in the school for 2 hours, and I’ve already made an impression.

What can I say?  I’ve currently only worked 2 hours, and I love my job.

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To the mum in the school playground…

Dear smelly-cloud mum in the school playground,

Hi!  You have probably noticed me, spluttering and sneezing as you walk past…

I’m not saying that you haven’t had a wash for a while, but my gosh, what on earth are you trying to cover up with the amount of perfume you have sprayed??  It seems like you just don’t know when to stop…  Or which perfume to use, as I get that many scents when you walk past me, that I think you must have attacked a perfume shop.  I hate to say it love, but have you ever heard the expression, “smells like a whores handbag..?”  Yeah.

Here’s an idea…  Have a shower to get rid of the amount of spray you’re wearing.  Then, next time you come to school, if you really want to wear some perfume – please do!  But you only need a quick spritz…  That way, I won’t come home smelling like you.


Dear MAC expert mum in the school playground,

I wonder why you feel like you have to use a trowel to apply your make-up?  I can see that your foundation would have to be removed with a shovel.

Why do you need your eyelashes to stick out further than your boobs?  Which, by the way, I can tell that you have tried to contour the bust-line, as you haven’t blended it properly.

Wow, that’s a really pretty lipstick colour…  I’ve seen a couple of girls in Amsterdam wear the same colour.

I have to admit that I’ve seen your look before.  It was a specific episode of The Simpsons, when Homer invented a make-up gun.  Have you seen it?

More importantly, I can see your daughter with make-up on too.  She’s only 5.  Why would you let her wear make-up to school?  There’s plenty of time for her to wear it on a weekend, or even when she’s older – why rush her out of childhood?

My advice to you is just to step back.  It’s not even 9am, and you look like you’re going out on the town.  Try googling “day time make-up looks”.


Dear “clique” mums in the school playground,

Hi, err, excuse me, mind if I cut in..?  Oops, I can see that you’re in deep conversation about what you got up to at the weekend, but I just want to say a couple of things.

It’s great that you have such good mum-friends.  Those are really hard to find – especially if they are as close to you as they seem to be.  No doubt that you all get together of a weekend, and during the school holidays for day-trips and the like.  I bet you’re all even that close that you sometimes leave the kids at home, and go for nights out.

Wow, I have to admit – I am a little envious.

I just have one thing to to say…  You see that woman, standing over there in the corner?  She doesn’t have any friends.  She feels like it’s just her and her child.  She’s a lovely woman, with a heart of gold.  If you talk to her, you’ll realise that she’ll fit in with your group perfectly…  She just doesn’t have the confidence to say hello, and you make it seem like you don’t mind other people (like me) talking to you, but really, you just want us to go away so you can continue your gossip.

Just open your eyes.  That’s all.  I know it’s great having friends, but other people aren’t so lucky.


Dear mum who lets her 9 year old daughter take her 6 year old brother to school,

Hi.  I’m a parent of one of your son’s classmates.  I have never met you – I have never even seen you.

I don’t know what is going on in your life, and I don’t want to interfere, but I must say just one thing.

Our sons both started at the schools’ nursery at the same time.  They’ve been friends – not close, but friends, through nursery, Reception class, and now in year 1.  That’s 3 years that I have never seen you.

Do you even exist?  Do these lovely children even have a mum?  Has something happened..?

Both of your children are lovely.  My son often talks about your son, and I am pleased they do sometimes play together.  Your daughter always stays with her younger brother until his teacher comes out to take his class inside.  She then has to run out of the playground, down the road a short distance, and cross a very busy road to get to her own class.  I think she is always late – maybe only by a couple of minutes, but late, never-the-less.  I have never heard her complain.  Not once.  She is such a lovely girl, and I have watched her “tidy-up” her little brother, so he doesn’t go in to school with his shirt hanging out.

Let me tell you, mum, you truly do have two amazing children, but I am concerned that you let them take themselves to school without adult supervision.  Is everything ok?  Do you need help..?


Dear worn-out looking mum in the school playground,

Psst!  I can see you…  Hiding in the corner, in the shade, hoping that no one can see you.  Hey, I get it – you have probably been chasing your kids around the house, making sure they have eaten all of their breakfast, washed their faces, brushed their teeth, and were getting dressed properly.  “What’s that, beloved child of mine, you have lost one of your shoes..?  Again..?”  Yeah.  I know what that’s like.

I can tell you are trying to hide your quickly tied up hair, and I can see the stain on your t-shirt…  Don’t worry mum, you got your son to school on time, and he looks good, in his freshly washed uniform.  You’ve only got to take your little one to nursery, then you can go home.

Now, do yourself a favour, and go and put the kettle on, and take an hour or two just for you.  You’re doing a great job, mum, and you may not feel it, but you are allowed to take a time out.


 

First day of school

Today is Gning’s first day of “real” school.

Today he starts the Reception class.

He’s been in the nursery in the school for the past fifteen months or so, but this is different.  It means he’s growing up, and I don’t know if I’m quite ready for it yet.  He’s still my baby.  Yes, I have Donut, who is my baby (age 1), but Gning…  He’s my miracle baby, and he always will be.

Here’s a poem I found online…

Dear Teacher

I know you’re rather busy
First day back, there’s just no time
A whole new class of little ones
And this one here is mine

I’m sure you have things covered
And have done this lots before
But my boy is very little
He is still only four

In his uniform this morning
He looked so tall and steady
But now beside your great big school
I’m not quite sure he’s ready

Do you help them eat their lunch?
Are you quick to soothe their fears?
And if he falls and hurts his knee
Will someone dry his tears?

And what if no-one plays with him?
What if someone’s mean?
What if two kids have a fight
And he’s caught in between?

You’re right, I have to leave now
It’s time for him to go
I’m sure he’ll learn so much from you
Things that I don’t know

Yes, I’m sure they settle quickly
That he’s fine now without me
I know he has to go to school
It’s just so fast, you see

It seems like just a blink ago
I first held him in my arms
It’s been my job to love, to teach
To keep him safe from harm

So, when I wave goodbye in a moment
And he turns to walk inside
Forgive me if I crumple
Into tears of loss and pride

I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.

From a scared parent…
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And here’s the reply I found…

Dear Parent,

I understand that you are scared
to wave your child goodbye
and leave him in a teacher’s hands
don’t worry if you cry!

I’m used to weeping parents
It’s hard to leave I know.
But it’s time to share him (just a bit)
To help him learn and grow.

Let me reassure you
That I’ll give your child my best
I’ll wipe his tears, soothe his fears
And change his dirty vest!

If your darling child is full of cold
I’ll blow their nose all day
Just like you, I’ll care for them
In a special way.

I’ll treat him like I would my own
I’ll catch him from a fall and
If there is ANY problem
I’ll be sure to tell you all.

It’s true he’ll grow to love us
They’ll talk of school a lot
It doesn’t mean they hate you
And that you should lose the plot!

I’ll tell you a secret..
That when your child is here
They talk to me as much of you
Of this please have no fear.

You’ll always be their mother
Whilst teachers come and go
To them you are their number one
This I truly know.

Soon you’ll see some changes
In your little girl or boy
They’ll become more independent
And to see this, it’s a joy!

I’ll teach them all I have to give
To share, climb and to write
But to you they safely will return
To tuck them in at night.

With love from a teacher…

10 reasons to LOVE bananas!

Bananas have so many health benefits, that I am sure that someone would get bored reading before even getting halfway through the list.  Here’s just 10 reasons why you should make a banana your favourite fruit.

  1. Eating two bananas can give you enough energy for a 90 minute workout session.

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2.  Bananas can help fight against depression.  This is because bananas contain a protein called tryptophan, which converts to serotonin. Serotonin helps you relax and can make you feel better too.

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3.  Bananas contain Vitamin B6, which regulates blood glucose levels.  This vitamin also puts you in a good mood!

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4.  The Vitamin B6 in bananas will also help fight nerves and stress.

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5.  Bananas can help battle high blood pressure, and prevent strokes!  The fruit is high in potassium, and low in sodium, which is the perfect combination to fight against both ailments.

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6.  To that effect, bananas can soothe heartburn because of the natural antacid effect it has on the body.

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7.  Bananas are high in fibre.  This can help regulate bowel movements without resorting to laxatives.

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8.  Having trouble passing your exams?  The potassium in a banana can help your stay focused and alert.

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9.  The inside of a banana peel can soothe mosquito bites, and even sun burn!  Simply peel, enjoy eating the banana for all its’ health benefits, and then run the inside of the skin on the affected area.

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10.  As if bananas couldn’t be any more magical, they can also help cure a hangover!

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10 back-to-school parenting behaviours that need to STOP!

I don’t know if it was just me, but this has been the longest. summer. ever. 

We ran out of things to do way back in July. The fact that my little man has just gone back to school – fan-freaking-tastic!

He’s only been back 5 days, and already, I have seen it begin. The comments. From the parents.

Listen, we’ve all gone through school decorum before, but before it really begins…  Let’s get some things out of the way.

1. Let’s start with the basics: If your kid is sick/has incurable lice/the plague …  For the love of all that’s holy, keep them at home. No one wants that nonsense.

2. Do not ask about my child’s medical history. At school. While we are dropping them off.

“OMG, does he have ADHD? Is he taking medicine? He looks kind of autistic. Did you vaccinate your kids? I have so many opinions on this I am going to tell you while we are trying to make sure our kids still have their backpacks / jackets / shoes / brains!”

3. Self validation bait questions. 

“I am told all the time I don’t look old enough to have a 5-year-old. Do you think I look that old?”

Yeah. Actually, you do look that old.  In fact, I probably would have said older.

4. Working mother’s vs. SAHM: Neither of you need to comment on the other.

Just shush.

5. Do not comment on what other parents are wearing. 

If it is before 9 am, and I have nowhere to go for the day besides dropping my son off at school, chances are I’m not finding my lipstick and heels. Or bra. Unless you’re about to tell me you love my quickly-thrown-on jogging bottoms, covered in the kids’ breakfasts, don’t speak.

6. You do not need to comment on what my child is or isn’t doing. 

“That’s too bad you don’t have your kids enrolled in advanced maths. I have my kids in advanced maths, and chess, and lacrosse, and drama, and . . .”

We get it. Your kids are friggin’ amazing.  I wouldn’t want my son on the same team(s) as your kids anyway.  Besides – he’s only 4.

7. You do not need to compare our kids.  

“Your kid doesn’t know Gaelic? Mine started doing that on his/her own two years ago.”

 Is é sin go hiontach, cares aon duine. (“That’s great. No one cares.”)

No one even speaks Gaelic anymore, dude.  Unless you live in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.  Which we don’t.

8. You do not need to compare our significant others, either.

“My wife/husband doesn’t work.  They stay at home to make sure they have so much time with the kids…”  Yeah, well…  Mine works bloody hard, out of the house, during the day to make sure that we are well looked after / clothed / fed…

9. You especially don’t need to comment on anyone’s relationship status. 

“Oh, you’re not married? I just assumed you were . . . ”

“OMG, my husband has been working for two nights in a row. Single mothers,amirite?”

NOPE.  You are NOT a single parent unless you do NOT have a partner…

10. Unless the person to whom you are speaking is a really, super-close friend, do not stand in the school parking lot and casually mention how much money you spent on your month long Mediterranean cruise while you were having your entire house redecorated with plated gold and landscaped with magical secret unicorn pampas grass you had imported from Nepal. 

Some of us commoners who couldn’t afford holiday at all this year might feel the desire to punch you in the face.

Have a great school year!

They grow up too fast…

Gning started nursery in May 2014.  I placed him in a private (paid for) nursery for a few reasons – Mainly because he was too young; but because I worked a full day, and the hubby was starting full-time work, other nurseries didn’t suit our requirements.

It all started brilliantly.  Over the first few weeks, he had come a long way.  His speech was improving, and the attempts at potty training were speeding up.  Within two months, he was out of nappies, and almost always getting to the toilet on time.

September 2014 came, and because he was turning 3, he had to move out of the baby room, and across the road to the “big kids” room.  At first everything went well.  He was happy as a few of the other kiddies had moved across with him, however it didn’t take long before I noticed little changes.

Gning had started to cry of a morning.  He didn’t want to go in to school.  He never gave a reason.  I also noticed that he was coming home covered in paint and / or pen marks – not just on his hands, but on his face, in his hair, on his clothes, on his back…  I started to worry, and I did bring it up with the nursery.  They always seemed to have a reason, and at the time it was annoying, but acceptable.

Things started to improve a little.  He was happy when I went to pick him up, and he was ‘cleaner’ (as a three year old boy could be).

About a month later, I noticed it again…  I was mid-pregnant with Donut now, and the fact that my little guy was so upset was really starting to get to me.

Gning was hysterical of a morning.  Sometimes I had to drag him out of bed, and then to the gates of the nursery.  He’d sob and cling on to me when we went in to the room.  I hated leaving him.  He’d also started coming home dirty, and covered in paint and allsorts.

In April, hubby went to pick Gning up, and I stayed at home.  When he walked through the door, to the front room where I was sitting, I smiled, and asked if he had had a good day…  But then I noticed it.  A red mark, and scratches on his forehead.  I asked if I could take a closer look, and I noticed that it was actually ‘bumping’.

I immediately brought it to the attention of the hubby, asking if he had fallen or bumped his head on the way home.  He replied with a “no…”  I immediately phoned the nursery, and I asked what had happened.  The response was unacceptable.  “Oh, I didn’t see anything.  I’ll ask around”. We kept our eyes on him for the rest of the day, and overnight.  Gning had said that he had a “little headache”, but he seemed ok.

The following day, the bump was in full effect – bruising too – so I had to ask the nursery again if they knew what had happened.  They shown no concern, and this infuriated me.  It was that incident that had literally added the final straw.  I tried to remain calm, but as soon as I got home, I snapped.

I need to point out by this time I was heavily pregnant.  My hormones were everywhere, and I was really struggling with my emotions.

I relayed the response to the hubby, and he was annoyed too.  I thought “enough is enough”, and I started to compose an email to the manager of the nursery.  I can only remember a few parts of what the email contained…  I expressed my concerns of the state that Gning was being sent home in.  I explained that I always sent him in with his backpack with spare clothes (in case of any accidents, dirt, etc.).  I explained about the cuts, bruises, scrapes and bumps.  I explained about the lack of concern when I brought up the incident with his head.  I also pointed out that I thought the nursery was a ‘joke’ by literally saying “the sessions seem to be an over-elaborate play group, with little to no structure, and minimal supervision – if at all.  If there would be any supervision, they would have noticed my sons’ latest injury“.

I don’t think they appreciated it, as I started getting phone calls…  Which I ignored the first few.  Eventually I told hubby to answer it.  It was the manager of the nursery, and they wanted to talk to me.  I refused to talk to them, so hubby organised a meeting – without me.  I didn’t want to go.  Either I would lose my temper in there, or I would sit there crying the whole time.

Anyway, it was the same day of the phone call that I called my local primary school.  I asked how I could register Gning for their nursery (as he was now old enough, and I had just left work for maternity leave).  They simply replied with “just pop on down to the school and complete a registration form.  We’ll then assess to see if there is any space in the nursery for the May intake”.

It was as simple as that.  I went to the school within the hour.  The form was completed, and as I handed it in, I asked when we were likely to find out.  The receptionist replied “we’re undergoing the intake assessments at the moment, so hopefully you’ll find out next week”.

That was all I needed.  When I got home, I decided that regardless of Gning being offered a place or not, I was going to pull him out of the private nursery.  I couldn’t face the heart-ache any more.

A couple of days passed, and hubby went for the meeting with the manager of the private nursery without me.  When we spoke afterwards, he said that the manageress seemed to have an answer for everything.  It seemed rehearsed, and very defensive.  It was like she couldn’t take any criticism, and she wasn’t prepared to listen to what he had to say.  Apparently, she seemed more concerned over my attitude.  Meh.

The following week came and went, and Gning continued to go to the private nursery.  I refused to go in to the hall, leaving him immediately when they opened the security door.

It was on the Tuesday – two weeks after I had applied for the place in the schools’ nursery – that I mentioned to hubby that I hadn’t heard from the school, so I phoned them.  They apologised for not contacting me, but announced that they would be pleased to have Gning from that Thursday!

He took to his new school like a duck to water.  He loved it.  He made lots of friends, and even had five ‘girlfriends’ at one point!  His attitude started to improve again, and he started to learn to recognise numbers, and to write his name.

Today is the 7th September 2015.

Even though Gning has been attending nursery for quite some time, I feel today is a big step.  It’s his first day (back) at school (nursery), but this time he enters it for the full school year.  No doubt the friends that he makes this school year will be the friends he will have when he moves up to the reception class next year.  Who knows?  He may even meet his “friend for life” in this school year.

I am so proud of my little man, and all that he has accomplished throughout the past 18 months (no – his whole life).  I love him to pieces, but they grow up too fast…

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30 Day Writing Challenge – DAY 2

Write something that someone has told you about yourself that you have never forgot

As most of you know, I am a martial artist.

When I was about 14 years old, the Kung Fu school where I trained was invited to a schools’ open day.  It was similar to a gala / fun day, as I remember there being a fair amount of activities and events going on throughout the day, and I remember the small travelling fair…

Our school were to perform several demonstrations throughout the day, and I can clearly remember one particular technique that I performed on someone twice my age.  The looks on peoples’ faces were that of shock and awe…  I had managed to deliver the perfect ‘Dragon’s Tooth’ which led to the rather bulky male hitting the floor like a ton of bricks…

It was that point when one of the instructors (whom I never actually got along with) had told me “you are a dangerous little girl to play with“.

It made me smile.  I don’t know why…  Maybe it gave me a sense of empowerment.  Maybe that was the reason I never got along with the coach…  Who knows?  But I liked it.