Friday, 22 October 2010

One down, five to go - stumbling over the finish line

Twitter this week has been awash with parents tearing their hair out. Home life can best be described as "tears and tantrums" with a bit of hyperactive giddiness thrown in. Their children have been veering wildly between joy and sorrow, one minute laughing manically, the next in floods of tears over the slightest thing. The dawdlers of the world are dawdling more than ever, and even the placid even-tempered types are awkward and difficult to the point of driving their parents to near insanity. Sibling rivalry has descended into all-out war.

Parents in Scotland will recognise this episode in their lives from a week or two ago. Because the reason for all this is tiredness - half term starts tomorrow for most of the country and the children have had enough. They've been back in school for around 7 weeks now, with maybe some time off for good behaviour for the reception class newbies. Brains are overloaded with lots of new information, experiences and routines. We're all there, stumbling over the finish line, even though it's only the first leg of six.

Butter wouldn't melt, would it?
To top it all in our house, this week has been a busy one. Monday has so far been the only day where nothing was going on after school. On Tuesday, Monkey had golf after school - something he asked to do. On Wednesday, they both had swimming lessons and then went back to school. The school ran a workshop for parents about supporting your children with their reading. It was run by the county adviser on literacy and it was excellent, but it was on from 6.30 to 8.30. Both of us wanted to go so Monkey and Missy Woo went to the creche they put on, meaning they went to bed nearer to 9pm. And Thursday? Well, that was the Halloween Disco (you can tell it's not a church school) which they have been looking forward to for weeks. When I say "disco", I actually mean about an hour of them manically running around a darkened school hall with flashing lights and maybe a few games. Dancing has little to do with it, judging by the reports from the parents overseeing the event. After school tonight, I swear we are going nowhere. I may even suggest pyjamas are put on when they come home. I might join them.

They are shattered. Missy Woo is one of life's dawdlers and has perfected her dawdling skills this week. We're up to 5 mins per sock. Monkey is more highly strung and everything is a drama for him. He blows up at the smallest imagined slight - like asking him to eat his food. We've eased off on thins like reading this week, after we could see that Missy Woo just hadn't got the concentration for her new book. We've been letting them off if they say they don't want to.

And what is it with tired children that makes them wake up so early? They have often been awake an hour earlier than normal, sneaking in and out of each other's rooms, sometimes waking each other up and causing mischief. Don't they know that more sleep is good?!

Of course, coming to an end of the first half term where they are both in school is a time for reflection too.  We're enormously proud of both of them. Missy Woo has taken to school like the proverbial duck to water and has come on in leaps and bounds. She loves it all and has made some good friends already.

Monkey has also progressed really fast this term. In fact, it's been amazing. This has been because he's been part of a group working daily with the deputy headteacher on reading and writing for the last few weeks. If ever there was someone who you would want to teach your children to write, it is him - he has the most beautiful handwriting. Monkey has gained so much from this; his writing in particular has been transformed, but his reading has progressed quickly too. He worships the deputy head and it's a shame that this time is coming to an end, as he'll be working with another group after the holiday.

In addition, they have both been recognised for their efforts at school. Missy Woo came out of celebration assembly after a couple of weeks clutching a class award certificate for "super letter sounds and word building." Then, last week, Monkey ran out of school with the "Star Pupil" trophy in his hands, which was given for "good manners at all times, and for tackling tasks and challenges with enthusiasm". Perhaps not the child we know out of school sometimes but we were so pleased that he behaves so well at school. He was very proud and put the trophy in his bedroom. He earned himself a new kit for that - but unfortunately, it's a Blackpool one. I fear I have definitely lost him to the PNE cause for good now.

But for now, they need to have a well-earned break. Maybe they will get that sleep they need, to process all that extra stuff crammed into their brains these last few weeks. Maybe just having a different routine is going to be enough of a break. I hope so, because it is just going to be a family week at home. Missy Woo has some extra swimming lessons arranged and Monkey a couple of football sessions. We have some friends coming round to test some toys. And that's it.

We're almost there, mums and dads. We've survived the first half term. Hope your little devils turn back into little angels soon and don't drive you all to distraction over the next week.
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