22 Jun 2016

Thank you Teacher!

There's only a few weeks left, and Becky's first year at school will be coming to an end. A whole year and Reception stage all ticked off! And whilst I'm once again baffled by how fast time has flown by, I also can't help and reflect on the journey Becky starting school has been - for her, and for me.

One of the things that strike me most is just how naive I was about the impact school would have on my little girl. I mentioned it before, but in Germany primary school doesn't start until later - kids are usually seven, six at the youngest - so my daughter going to school at the tender age of four seemed awfully premature. And it took me a while to accept it and get my head around it. But more importanty, I completely under estimated the role of the teacher in all this.

I hold my hands up - and apologies in advance to any primary school teachers reading this - when  I say that I didn't think reception was "real" school. Naively or ignorantly, I thought that all the kids would be doing is play all day, albeit in pretty school uniforms,  and learn the odd letter or number now and again, but that in essence it was just pre-school in a different setting.

How wrong I was! As the weeks went on and Becky picked up more and more letters and phonics, started to write her own name and by now whole sentences, read actual stories and books by herself and added and subtracted number constellations that I certainly can't remember doing until I was about 8, I have been completely and utterly converted.

How stupid I was! Becky's progress has been staggering, despite the fact that both John and I work full time and really only have the weekends to properly go through her reading records and homework with her. Thankfully she is bright as a button and seems to be picking up things independently and soak up knowledge like a sponge.

I have realised just how important Becky's teacher has been in all this. What an amazing and important job she's done. And I take my hat off to her.

It's not just the academic side that has truly impressed me. After all, Miss R has had to teach twenty-odd young children between the ages of four and five  - and often at completely different spectrums in terms of their emotional and intellectual development - the same curriculum. She's had to progress a whole class while treating each child as an individual, which in my book is truly heroic. And thanks to the wonders of Tapestry (the online school diary where teacher document each child's progress), I have been able to get a great insight into everything she has done and her lovely relationship with Becky, who adores and idolises Miss R.

More importantly, she has been a great role model for my daughter, my little, innocent, impressionable and sensitive Becky, and that's even more significant to me.

She's been kind, she's been patient, she's been lovely, funny and warm, and she is the person that has shaped my daughter's perception of school; that crucial first impression that will coin her whole academic career from here on and define whether she loves going to school - which she does - or not, and for that I am very grateful.

School takes up such a huge chunk of our formative years and I am glad that Becky's first experience of it has been a positive one, with lots of academic achievements, but also lots of fun, friendships and laughter.

I have always loved school; I was a very acasdemic child, and some of my best memories (and friendships) date back to my school years, and I always wanted this for my children.

So thank you Miss R for being a great teacher and for guiding my daughter (and in many ways me, too) through our first year of school. We've certainly learned a lot!

*Linking up with Mummy Fever and #ShareWithMe

17 Jun 2016

The Fear

This week has been once again filled with more tragic news of horrible acts of hatred, mass killings and pointless violence, here in the UK and across the globe. Not a day goes by without wars, killings, acts of terrorism, racism or other heinous crimes dominating our TV screens or making headline news in the papers. It seems like our world has gone bonkers. And it worries me. A lot.

Since I've become a mother, these kinds of things really affect me. A lot more than they used to. I've always been a bit of a worrier and overthinker, but now, even more so than ever, I feel a level of fear that I have rarely felt before.

I worry about the kind of world my two precious little kids are going to grow up in. What kind of future lies ahead. And what I can do to protect them from the evils and dangers out there. How little I can realistically do to protect them. And sometimes the fear can be overwhelming.

It's not the kind of world I want for them.

It's not the kind of world I grew up in.

And it's not the kind of world I understand.

So how can I guide Alex and Becky through it? How can I ever explain it to them?

Luckily they are too small yet to process or make any kind of sense of what they might pick up here or there. But at some point they will start to ask questions, and I don't think I will have the answers.

Since I've become a Mum, life seems so much more precious - my kids' lives, but also my own and John's. And I worry that something could ever happen to either of us. Because what would happen to my kids? I have to be there for them, therefore I have to keep myself safe as much as them. Because when you become a parent, it's no longer just about you. It's about the little people you've created. And you suddenly have so much more to lose than ever before.

I worry as much about the little and silly things as over big things. I worry about the what if-s and the what if not-s.

I panic when I lose sight of Becky for a second in the park, paralysed by fear that something could have happened to her, that someone could have hurt her and I missed it and failed to protect her.

I worry about things like flying or traveling, about being in crowded places and I hold my breath every time I go into London, a city I've always utterly adored, or use the tube and thank the heavens every time I make it back into my little village, safe and sound and into the arms of my kids.

If I could, I would never leave them out of my sight, I would never part from them and cocoon us all into a little bubble. But of course that's not possible.

But how do you handle The Fear?

I guess the best we can do is try to live the most normal life we can, a life full of love and laughter, as much as this sounds like a cliche.

So I have to try and not let The Fear take over, as hard as it sometimes feels, and instead live a more conscious life, enjoy it and love, hold and cuddle my babies more than ever before, and raise them with a strong sense of love, safety and respect instead of hatred, fear and intolerance.

Because you never know what the next day will bring. Because life is precious, and it can be over in seconds.

* Linking up with Mummy Fever and #ShareWithMe


15 Jun 2016

Siblings June 2016

By now I have given up on trying to pose my two lovely kiddies for the monthly #Siblings entries, because it's just impossible to get these two monkeys - and in particular one extra little monkey - to stand still long enough. So instead, I'm rolling with these candid shots, taken a few days ago during a nice summer day's walk through our village.

Becky insisted on holding Alex's harness backpack and walking with him, though it actually looks like she is walking a doggy, which makes me chuckle, only that this doggy was less than cooperative and just didn't want to listen.

Both continue to be close, and they've started to have little "insider jokes", if you can call it that and ganging up against Mummy and Daddy. It's quite funny, and they are thick as thieves most of the time.

With Alex being so physical and bashful, he has started to initiate a lot of play fights and rugby tackles Becky lots, which they both love - until Alex goes a bit overboard and ends up being too rough and hurts Becky, which then ends in big drama. That is usually the pattern - Becky, even though she's the bigger one, ends up crying because Alex has hurt her, which is quite ironic.
They also think it's hilarious to chase each other around the house, which always has me close to a heart attack, because I always expect one of them to bump themselves badly, but they are almost unstoppable when they are in fits of giggles.

On the other hand, Becky is really tender with Alex; she'll help him put his shoes on or take them off, she'll make sure his food is in reach and even cuts things down for him now and again, and she is generally very good at sharing, most of the time anyway.

They are really quite alike in so many ways, least in their looks, and yet so different in others - I am forever fascinated with the sibling dynamic. And I couldn't love them more if I tried.

* Linking up with the Siblings Project
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