Sunday, June 29, 2014

Noise: noun; A sound of any kind...

If there's one thing that is non-negotiable when living in a large family, it's the noise. You just have to get used to it. When picking your battles - this is not one you want to go up against.

It doesn't matter how good & well behaved the kids are, when you have five voices speaking all at once (or six, as Clay begins to explore his vocal range) it is not going to be a quiet affair. It's more a matter of where the noise levels register on a scale ranging from ear piercing, ear splitting, ear bleeding or right up to brain matter oozing from the ears.

I'd say that 90% of the time we sit between ear bleeding & brain matter.

Add in the fact that the majority of our house is tiled with high ceilings, so plenty of space for that noise to bounce around & amplify, it's no wonder I have no idea of my own voice levels. Unless I'm whispering I just can't tell how loud I'm talking. Probably explains the wide eyed, startled looks I get from other parents when greeting each other in the mornings. 
Not many people talk like they've just walked out of a rock concert at 9am in the morning...from their own house. 

So how is one heard in all those voices? Why being louder of course. 

Jack was so loud, all the time, that we went & got his hearing checked, just in case he was partially deaf in one ear & couldn't acclimatize his own voice levels. Nope, his hearing is just fine, both ears work perfectly normal. He just had four (& now five) other siblings.

Honestly, it's embarrassing just how loud I have to talk yell, to get the attention of one of the kids sometimes, & it's even more awkward when we are out in public. It's hard enough getting the attention of a child when they are already talking, let alone when five other children are also talking at the same time. I tend to try & stick to a short, sharp & sweet approach. A quick, if a little loud, "Ben" is easier at getting his attention, then a loud but drawn out "Beeeennnn". When you hear a voice shouting you look to find why, usually expecting to see a little bit of drama going on. Maybe a dispute or argument, or a child running through the carpark. Not here folks. If you look around & find us, you'll just see a group of kids walking, a toddler & preschooler holding Mum's hand, & a baby sitting comfortably from his look out in a sling on my chest. No drama, just us going about our day.

One bonus to learning to live with, & trying to control, all this noise - I have mastered the art of loudly Ssssshhhhhh'ing without spitting an entire mouthful of saliva in a five meter radius. Trust me, you'll be thankful if you ever come over during dinner time.

I love our family, & the life we have, but sometimes I really love 8pm more. 

I'm used to the loudness our minions create when we're all together, but some days just manage to be louder than others. My ears are acclimatized to the many voices surrounding me, but when I feel like the entire afternoon has made my brain leak from my ears, the kids often find themselves tucked up into bed & kissed good night by 7pm. Then I turn off every sound-making device in the house & just relish in the bliss I feel at the silence surrounding me. Sometimes it's so good I get the kind of goose bumps you experience when sliding into a deep hot bath on a winter's night.

With school holidays fast approaching, I think I might give our neighbours & any guests coming over an early Christmas present - a years supply of ear plugs.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Passing days...

It was around this time last year that we found out I had a little minion on board. 
Today that little cluster of cells turned 4 months old.

I need time to slow down. 

I miss his unfocused newborn eyes.

I miss his delicate newborn face.

I miss his fuzzy newborn hair.

I miss his newborn smell.

I miss the way he would simply doze off on my chest. How just being close to my heartbeat could instantly soothe & settle.

I miss his little curled up limbs, reminiscent of the months spent curled up in the womb.

I miss his little spindly limbs & their instinctive reflexes.

I miss those special, dreamlike feeds in the middle of the night, when we were the only ones awake in those quiet hours. 

I miss gazing at all his mesmerizing newborn details.

I miss anticipating the precious first smile.

But time never stops.

Now I look forward to seeing his gorgeous smile when he wakes in the morning.

I look forward to seeing his face fill out & change week by week, month by month.

I look forward to seeing his little legs grow chubby & strong.

I look forward to hearing his soft voice cooing to tell us all sorts of stories.

I look forward to seeing his eyes light up when his siblings walk into the room.

I look forward to seeing his personality shine brighter each day.

I look forward to watching each skill develop, the first precious giggles, rolling over to reach an elusive toy, those wobbly first steps.

I look forward to seeing Doug's eyes in his.

I look forward to discovering his favorite foods, favorite toy, favorite blankie.

I look forward to watching the little boy hiding in this little baby emerge.

I look forward to reminiscing on these fleeting days.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A bit of perspective

I stayed up late the other night reading. I am glad I did, as I caught a show on abc2, which just about broke my heart. About children who were born to prostitutes.

We all know there is a large portion of humanity who suffer incredibly. Who live day in & day out in atrocious conditions. We see the riots & wars on the news, third world countries swallowed up in poverty, hear about human trafficking, child soldiers, babies dying from dehydration & hunger, children used as drug runners. Sometimes we become, not quite immune to it, but perhaps a little 'accustomed' to it. We know it happens, just not to us. We go about our days, wrapped up in our own 'first world problems' (both the inconsequential & the life-altering). Then re-awakened to it all, to the many less fortunate than us, when another tragedy is broadcast.

Not everyone is guilty of the above. There are many wonderful people, saints, who are making a small yet consequential difference in our world, in the lives of many. 
But I am guilty. 
I'm aware that there is so much suffering going on, both on our own door step right here in Australia, & thousands of miles away all over the world. I'll have tears running down my face, ranting in my own head about the injustice of it all watching a news footage. Then within the week I forget about it again, wrapped up in caring for our own children. Putting food in their bowls, clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet. While there are other children who have no food, no clothes, no shoes. Sometimes no one.

This program, 'Born into Brothels' followed the lives of half a dozen or so children in India, just a handful of what would be hundreds in similar conditions, who broke my heart. 

"One has to accept life as being sad & painful...That's all." This matter of fact statement came from an eight year old boy.

A generation of prostitutes. A great grandmother, grandmother & mother who all work, or worked, 'In the Line', as it is called. It was an inescapable fact that soon the pre-teen daughter would join them. The girl did not want to follow in their footsteps, my god who would, but she could not see any way out. Depressingly resigned to the life ahead of her.

There was no chance of stopping the tears when it cut to the scene of a two or three year old boy who lived with his 
grandmother & his slightly older sister. His mother also a sex-worker, who had tried to commit suicide & could no longer care for them. This toddler naked but for a threadbare red t-shirt, chained (yes you read that right, chained) by his left ankle to a wooden horizontal post across an open aired window really hit me, as I compared this to Will or Blake who are within the same age range. Witnessing that scene undone me. I wanted to change the channel thinking I couldn't deal with seeing any more. But I didn't. If they can live in those circumstances, the least I could do was become aware of their world, rather than try to ignore the reality they live in because it is too emotional for me to merely witness.

Children working from 4am in the morning, helping to clean, cook, or carry buckets of water up several flights of stairs, & still going at 11pm at night. My hardworking husband, who works long hours, still doesn't come close to the labour these children do.

Going to play up on the rooftop of the dilapidated apartment block because mother was "working" with the man in the curtained off room in their two roomed 'apartment'.
Playing in the streets filled with mud & who knows what else,
 as their high, drug addicted father lies near comatose in the gutter.
One young boy told of how his mother would say to him, "I'm going to send you to London to study", desperately dreaming she could give her son a better life. He knew though, that this would never happen & simply accepted this stating "We don't have the money to live let alone for studies."

Yet here we are, thinking about getting foxtel. As if the free & readily available channels are not enough. Debating whether to buy the kids all new bikes now, or to wait until Christmas time, because if we buy them now, we need to try & think of something else that they 'want' & don't already have. Buying tabs because the screen of an ipod touch is too small. A little bit of perspective was thrown over me like a bucket of cold water. 

We do try to explain & show our kids, especially the older three, to understand just how incredibly fortunate they are, that we are. We frequently go through all their toys, donating those that aren't played with regularly, have surplus of, or have out grown. I sort through their clothes, donating what is outgrown or been replaced. The kids understand that these items are going to other children who don't have any toys, or very many clothes. Whose parents don't have a lot of money, or children who do not even have parents. We can see this has made an impact on their awareness, as on a somewhat regular basis one of them will ask if we can give a toy they don't want anymore to the kids who don't have any. They see on the news children crying in a country in turmoil from a natural disaster or conflict & ask if we can give them their clothes.

But after watching this documentary I feel like it's just not enough. How do we make a big enough impact & change for those in need when we are only but one person. What can I do to protect that little girl, the same age as Rianan, from becoming just another face in a long line of vulnerable & abused women. What can we do to provide the 10 year old boy with a basic education, an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty he was born into. 

It's devastating that these children believe their way of life is normal. What is beyond atrocious to us is an accepted reality for them. 

I don't know where I'm going with this. 

What I do know though is that I'll be taking more opportunities to try make a difference somehow. Beyond just donating what we have an excess of or no longer need. To include the kids on becoming more aware of the greater world around us. Even if a small contribution is made, a small effort, it is better than nothing at all. I want to ensure our minions understand just how loved, how lucky & privileged they are, even by Australian standards, & to share some of that love around to those who need it.

**You can watch 'Born into Brothels' on ABCiview

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Earning your stripes

I remember a few weeks after Ben's birth that the scales showed I was back to my normal weight. What I remember the most is how my body had changed. For the better.

The flat, taut stomach was upgraded to a soft, nurturing belly. The pale breasts evolved to provide nourishment & comfort. The bright & bag less eyes softened to a more tired yet life filled gentle glow.

Six times over. 

I have looked in the mirror many times in the days, weeks & months after each of our babies have been born, & been thankful for the changes I can see. In awe of all that my body has achieved.

There is no way I would trade all the little signs that give proof to the lives this body helped to create, to have back the body of my 17 year old self.

My arms may not be slender & graceful, but they are more than capable of calming a distressed child, carrying a gurgling little baby, providing a safe haven for an emotional daughter & a sense of security of an insecure son.

My legs may not be slender & toned, but they are more than capable of chasing a toddler before he reaches the road, kicking around a soccer ball with a soccer-crazy boy, playing hide & seek with an energetic four year old.

My belly may be a mere glory of its former self. But there is nowhere more comfortable for my husband to rest his head at night together on the couch. There is no where more ideal for a greatly anticipated baby to grow healthy & strong.

I have gained silvery stretch marks. I have gained spider veins. I have replaced muscle for curves. I have gained an incredible amount of self awareness & self confidence. I have gained more emotion than I know what to do with at times. I have gained more love than my heart feels like it can contain, yet it doesn't burst but just grows & grows. I have gained six little bodies to tuck into bed at night.

There is nothing I have lost, as I have gained so much more than I could have ever wished for or dreamed possible.

I love my silver stripes, even if my hair is falling out

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Murphy's Law keeping me on my toes

I had started a post regarding how I had noticed that much of what I have read over the last few weeks about being a stay at home mother is mostly negative based. How inane & mind numbing staying at home with a baby is, how spending the day with a toddler is an exercise is frustration & give them a day in the office...PLEASE! 

It seemed that everywhere I looked, every one I spoke too, every blog I read, every meme posted on facebook, was having a dig at staying home with children.

I love & am so grateful that we are in a position that I can stay at home to (help) raise our many minions. I've been a sahm since late 2004 when I was in the last weeks of our first pregnancy (with Ben). Doug & I always planned that when we had children I would stay home with them unless extreme financial circumstances required us both to work.

I enjoy the rhythm of our days, both the predictable & the unpredictable moments each day holds. Most of the time our days are great, in fact I would have gone as far as to say that every day is awesome, with just a few hard moments here & there. However, almost without fail, when I'm starting to get comfortable, maybe a little confident that I've got this gig down pat, Murphy's law pays me a visit.

Just when I'm thinking what an amazing young man Ben is growing into, that Rianan is such a brilliant sister & incredible young girl, how sweet & caring Jack can be with his younger brothers. That Blake is just too funny sometimes with his sense of humour. How happy & easy going Will is - even more so for a two year old, or how Clay is just the ideal little 3 month old - no colic, no reflux, no inconsolable crying, sleeps for two to three hour stretches during the day & then goes to bed for the night by 6:30pm, waking bright eyed & chatty at 7am the next morning. When I think how easy I've got it, & that it could be from having more practice than standard over the years that I've got a handle on this. Silly me.

Yesterday...I have no words for how shitty & stressful frustrating & draining yesterday was. 

Blake wanted rice bubbles for breakfast - he repeated it several times as loud as possible, to make sure I knew. No problem, filled his bowl with rice bubbles & put it on the table in front of him. Cue breakdown. Blake dissolves into tears, face buried into his hands, dribble & snot dripping between his fingers. 
"What's wrong Blakey?" I ask, thinking Will had taken his spoon or Jack has changed the tv channel.
"I didn't want rice bubbles" he cries.

Calmly & firmly I say to him that he told me many times he wanted rice bubbles, so that is what I've given him. 
"No I didn't, I said weet-bix. I don't want rice bubbles I want weet-bix". Still in tears & completely distraught over the fact that he has rice bubbles in his bowl. 

By now the rice bubbles have gone soggy & I'm just not in the mood to argue about it, so another bowl, this time with weet-bix, is put on the table. The tears stop, face wiped up & breakfast is eaten. On the plus side, Sumo (our little Jack Russell) gets rice bubbles for breakfast.

Then Jack did not want to wear pants. It was 13 degrees yesterday, colder than that in the morning. 

"Fine, wear your school shorts, but you must keep your jacket on at recess & lunch" I say, knowing full well that he won't. Whatever. 13 degrees isn't so bad, especially when it's a sunny day with little wind.
"I don't want this t-shirt Mum, I want the other one" Jack complains next. 

I have no idea which tee he's talking about, given that his shirts are all the same.
"Nope, you have to wear that one, I do not have time to sort through the clean washing trying to find you whatever t-shirt it is you're after. There's nothing wrong with that one so put it on please & start getting ready for school"

(the clean washing pile is always ridiculous here. Yesterday morning there was a pool table covered with clean & folded washing, plus 2 loads of clean unfolded washing  in what was the only spare corner on the pool table, in the second lounge room another 2 loads of clean & unfolded washing, plus another 3 loads of clean & unfolded washing in our room. Getting it cleaned & dried isn't the issue. Folding & putting away however is just a constant job & I struggle to keep on top of it all. Hey, at least it is clean, if a little creased)

Ben, for whatever reason yesterday, took forever to get ready for school. Ten minutes before we have to leave & he was still yet to get his shoes on, pack his recess, lunch & fruit. (The food is all out, ready for each child, on the bench. They just have to put it into their lunch packs) Brush his teeth & finish packing his school bag.
Most mornings I have to regularly remind Jack to keep getting ready, do whatever the next task is. He gets distracted very easily - it can easily take over twenty minutes for Jack to put on his socks & shoes - seriously. Yesterday was no exception.
Will fought tooth & nail to try & get away with wearing just his jeans & singlet. Wrestling a two year old to put on a long sleeve top & a jumper is not easy or fun at any time of the day. Trying to put a jumper on while they are simultaneously trying to take a long sleeve top off is near impossible. 

By this stage it was taking all my patience & concentration not to turn into a screaming banshee while trying to get these little people fed & publicly presentable, while keeping tabs on the bigger minions on how ready (or not ready as the case was) they are for school.   

We managed to get out the door, with everyone fully dressed in weather appropriate clothes, to school on time. 

Blake, Will, Clay & I get back home, & the frustrations just continue. As I'm in one room cleaning/tidying/sorting, Blake & Will are creating their own unique sense of fun in another.

Me : In the kitchen emptying the dishwasher 
Blake & Will : In Ben's room tipping out all the Lego then spreading it over the entire floor space

Me : Picking up millions of Lego pieces (with all of two minutes help from the little turds)

Blake & Will : Pulling all the (nicely folded & put away!) clothes from Jack's cupboard & Blake's drawers then jumping onto the clothes mountains they created

Me : Wishing I could be squirrelled away in a nice hotel room, many stories up, over looking a gorgeous beach view, with a hot chocolate & room service at my disposal, curled up in a big lush arm chair with a good book. Instead I'm folding & putting away clothes (that have already been folded & put away once already!) While I'm at it I put away all the other folded clothes that have been living on the pool table for the last week.

Blake & Will : In the pantry taking a bite each out of the few apples left & putting them back on the shelves

Me : Feeding Clay on the couch, thinking I am finally enjoying a quiet moment of serenity while the boys are playing with toys in Blake's room
Blake & Will : In Rianan's room tipping out thousands of tiny little Rainbow Loom rubber bands & running through them.

I'm certain many mum's know how ridiculous it is trying to pick up hundreds of the tiny, fiddly little bands.

When Blake & Will team up like this, as they do once in a while, I am reminded how glad I am that they are normally sweet little boys & not the mischievous little imps they had temporarily turned into. I imagine this is just a small taste of what it would be like to have twins keeping you on your toes. No twins here, just a 17 month age gap.

That was pretty much how the rest of the day went. The little monsters conspired against me & got up to mischief every waking minute. Just to make sure that Clay didn't get lost in the mix & start feeling left out, he decided to do a 180 on his sleep patterns & mix it up for the last two days. He's decided that half an hour of sleep twice a day is enough & that he would much rather be watching the exasperating antics of his brothers from the safety of my shoulder. Breastfeeds have also turned into a two hourly occasion filled with head turning & neck craning attempts to see what else is going on.

When it came to school pick up time, there was no way I was going to meet Ben, Rianan & Jack at their class rooms. Instead I waited in the car next to the school gates for the older three to come out together, giving me a chance of keeping the two little hurricanes contained & the rest of my sanity intact. I was going to need what was left of it to get through the next four hours.

Not even yet home from school (you'll remember it is only a two minute drive) & the arguing started. Just petty, silly little reasons. Jack's leg was touching Rianan's. Ben had laughed at Jack tripping over. Rianan was looking out Jack's window. You get the idea.

I figured we'd get home, get some food into their bellies, then separate them all if the niggling at each other continued. Discouragingly it did not get much better. Within the hour there was a blanket rule of if you could not be nice you could not be around any one & had to find something to do in your own room.

In the end we got through the day in one piece, even if I lost a little more hair from stress instead of postnatal hair loss. (yep it's as lovely as it sounds. I think Doug & I both are a little sick of constantly finding my hair everywhere)

Just to make sure that I would not forget this lesson about getting too comfortable, thinking I have my parenting skills somewhat up to par, today was another day I would rather not repeat. Especially the mess Will left trialing from the kitchen through the hallway into the toilet & bathroom as we had an unsuccessful attempt to get a poo scored in the potty. Let's just say that kiwi fruit is currently on the banned food list for Will & I'm down half a packet of wipes. 

Don't worry, I'm aware that I am far from having it down pat with this parenting gig, but I think that we're doing alright, at least most of the time. The kids are usually great, well behaved, all round sweet natured little people, so we must be doing something right.

When days like yesterday & today roll around, I am reminded that raising little people is not meant to be easy, whether it's one, two, three or six. Furthermore, when you are going through a nice easy phase, whatever you do, do not think about how you have everything down pat & running smoothly, let alone speak it out loud. Guaranteed you will be eating your words within the next 24 hours. 

Welcome back Murphy, thank you for bringing me back to my senses.

**As a side note, Will has been doing brilliantly with wearing undies at home. We're now braving small trips out of the house sans nappy. However after today's nasty mess, I'm remaining cautious about claiming success just yet...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Toilet training....again

So we're toilet training, again. That's one thing with having had more than the average child:parent ratio, it seems like you're constantly toilet training.

It was almost a year ago that Blake graduated from nappies, & with Jack, from when he came out of nappies at two & a half years old we've never really stopped (due to his bladder issues, that are still on going). Then there's Ben & Rianan who are only 20 months apart, & with Ben being nearly two & a half when we toilet trained, then Rianan was only 17 months when she was ready to go to big girl undies - it feels like I've been constantly thinking about potties, undies, accidents & packing enough spare clothes to dress a small nation for the last 7 years.

We briefly tried toilet training with Will back in January, during summer, but he just didn't 'get' it & through many little puddles outside, showed us he wasn't ready yet. However over the last month or so, Will has been a lot more aware of what's going on in his nappy - so I've decided it's time to try again. If we have success - awesome! If not, then we'll leave it for another few months & try again. It may seem like a longer process doing it this way, stopping after a few days if there doesn't seem to be much success, then re-starting a few months later. This way works for us though & takes away any stress or anxiety. I don't have the determination to stay home every day for a week, two weeks, three weeks - however long it takes until they are finally accident free. Also, we don't have time, or the weekly routine, to put the rest of our life on hold to get through that method. So instead, I wait until I know that we have two or three consecutive days that are quiet with no plans & we can just chill at home while making toilet runs every twenty minutes.

There's one spanner in all this that doesn't help make it easier for me, & that is breastfeeding. Murphy's law dictates that every time you sit down to feed a ravenously hungry three month old, a toilet training two year old will yell "wee-wee Mummy, quick toilet". Because we're in the early stages, half of these dash-to-the-toilet events will be false alarms. So poor Clay has no idea what's going on, when he gets three minutes into a feed & then suddenly finds himself on his play mat while I dash down the hallway following Will as we attempt to keep his undies dry. Though I should probably be used to it, given that I'm pretty sure I've been toilet training one toddler while we've had a new baby in the house for 90% of our toilet training days.

So far, this morning has been accident free, although that's not including the school run when Will had a nappy on as we took Ben, Rianan & Jack in to school then Blake to kindy. I'm so glad he didn't have undies on at that time, otherwise five minutes after getting home & when I was tied to the couch feeding Clay, there would have been a massive clean up that no one wants to face at 9:15 in the morning & still pre-coffee. 

Fingers crossed the next couple of days go well & we can say good bye to having two in nappies & hello to constantly scanning road sides for somewhere safe & out of view to pull over, in case of immediately required toilet stops. Cleaning car seats when we couldn't pull over in time, & high fives when a wee was kept in until we could pull over.

Then we get to do it all over again in another two years.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Small decisions...& winging it

So this morning started just like any other school morning.

Get myself showered & ready, feed the bigger minions, sort out school uniforms, help Will dress & make sure Blake has put on weather appropriate clothes, superhero mask optional. Change & feed Clay, ensure everyone has brushed their teeth, have matching socks, that Ben, Rianan & Jack have packed their school bags - from their diaries to their lunchboxes.

Then it's out to the car. Please be quiet, our entire street does not need to hear us first thing in the morning while enjoying their coffee.
It's incredible how one voice does not carry far, but five voices all at once sound like a rock concert - but noise levels are another post, another day.

So far everything is right on track & normal. The weather is looking decidedly grey & potentially wet so I scrap the decision to walk - thankfully, as 1 minute into our 2 minute drive to school it begins to rain. This is what changes the morning. Instead of getting us all (read Blake, Will & Clay plus myself) out to walk Ben, Rianan & Jack to their classrooms & say good-bye there, I drop them off & say good-bye to them at the footpath at the front of school, staying a few moments to watch them walk into the school gates.

Half way up Rianan trips over, not a big stumble but she does fall down to her knees. This triggers her anxiety that has become a bigger part of her personality over the last month or so. She runs back to the car with tears in her eyes, her face crumbling & her thoughts visible for me to see, that she wants to come home & stay with me. In those couple seconds from when she's running back to the car, to when she is in front of me, I have to decide what to do.

This part of parenting, those split second decisions, where you don't have time to deliberate all the pros & cons, to really think through all the potential out comes the various decision options will have for your child, for you & any other siblings. I underestimated this part of parenting & rarely gave any forethought to it, until I was a few months into parenthood.

Giving in now versus staying strong & setting a better precedent for the next time. Opting for being gentle & shielding them from the **big bad scary situation versus knowing that this is something small & relatively inconsequential so a good time to stand firm & show them through their own experience that moving forwards was not as bad as they had worried. 
(**even if it is not all that  big, bad & scary compared to what we would really put into that category. Those terrifying scenerios that your mind runs away with when you think of all the horrible, gut wrenching, nausea inducing fears that you hope you & your family never have to experience) 

Winging it is a big part of parenting. But is it really winging it when you have a good idea of what you would like you children to be as they grow & are grown? I don't mean their career choice here, I mean are they confident individuals, who make the best of a situation, are considerate of others around them while not sacrificing their own integrity, needs & dreams. Will they speak up for themselves or be vulnerable to the arrogant & selfish. Will they be the selfish ones, & expect others to clean up their mess as they carelessly go after what they want to the detriment of anyone else. Will they be 'good' people - kind, generous, confident without being disdainful, have a good work ethic & be a team player. Or a 'bad' person - stealing from others rather than work for what they want, bullies those they see as beneath them to make themselves fell 'better'. Is only there for themselves.

I (we, as this is a two person gig, with Doug & I) know 'who' we want our children to be, & I think it is all these 'little' decisions, these moments of winging it, that make up a large sum of what helps a child to form their sense of identity. Along with modelling the very same behaviour we 'expect' of our children ourselves. How can a child learn generosity if all they see at home & from the important people in their lives is selfish & arrogant behaviour?

So this morning, in that moment of crisis for Rianan, I made the decision to reassure her she was ok, her knee was not bleeding & she would be fine. To go in & tell her (fantastic) teacher what happened (so her teacher knew the reason why Rianan might be a bit more sensitive than usual through the morning. Miss P & I have spoken about the changes in Rianan recently & the anxiety that has cropped up, so knowing Rianan had a safe adult to confide in & that she wasn't alone to deal with her uncertainty was a big factor in feeling secure in the decision I made)
I did want to comfort her in a different way, to say "come on then, hop in the car & you can have a day at home with me". I have done that a few times, changed plans & allowed the easier & gentler option. We don't want to dismiss or belittle Rianan's anxiety & worries. She needs to be confident to express how she is feeling without worrying that it would be ignored or dismissed, then left to try & deal with it herself, without the tools to know how. She is only 7 (very nearly 8) not 27. But in amongst all the gentler days & reassurance that we will be her safe sanctuary, we won't be giving her any tools if every time she is allowed to back off from the scary situation & retreat, rather than have some comfort & reassurance that it is ok, & she is ok. She can go into school, tell her teacher she tripped over (& hasn't had the perfect start to her morning) then slowly become more certain & confident that the rest of her day will be fine.

It was hard, essentially turning her away from the warmth & comfort of my arms, to send her back onto her path for the day. Seeing her worried & tear filled eyes when she glanced back every now & again as she made the 30 meter walk into the school gates. It hurts my heart to see our children upset regardless the reason. Knowing that it is a small step in the right direction is the biggest consolation I can take, that it is so much more than just this small incident, but rather a small step to a bigger journey of helping her to grow. To gain confidence, to know days aren't perfect, but they often get better.

So this afternoon, when I get to see her again & pick them all up from school. I'll be certain to ask how the rest of her day went, that she had a good morning & enjoyed seeing all her friends after a 3 day break. Hearing that she (may have) jumped up from the final level in classroom readers to the next step with library lexiles. Hearing that she got all her clock times right in Maths, & loved the celery, carrot & cucumber that was packed for fruit time instead of a pear.
I'll reassure her that despite tripping over this morning, she had a great day. She will smile & giggle, giving me a big hug as she feels good about herself & realises that she can do it, even when the beginning was hard. This little incident will be filed away subconsciously, but I'm certain that she will draw strength from this step, & all the other small steps that have occurred & are yet to occur. Whether it is next week after another 3 day long weekend, or next month when she goes off for a sleep over, or next decade when she walks into her first job interview. 

All these little moments that may seem inconsequential, the moments of winging it hoping your decision that didn't have time to be thought through at length & in depth, comes with a good outcome both consciously short term & subconsciously in the long term. These all lead into big contributors in shaping 'who' they are, & just what type of person they may become. When I look back at my childhood, i have memories of big events, but so many memories are filled with small moments that each have all left a big imprint on who I am & how I identify myself - as a friend, as a wife, as a mother, as me.