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Posts Tagged ‘childers’

Last week I promised I’d have updates for January by the end of the week. It’s now Monday, everywhere on the planet.

Here’s the first part of a (hopefully) 4 part series to catch you all up on the end of December and January. The other three will cover home & local area and work & future direction, and things that happened that were not Christmas.

Obviously I need to resolve to either follow through on promises, or not make promises in the first place. Gentle self-awareness suggests that the second option is probably more realistic.

We spent the week before Christmas at Jed’s parents place in Devon with all the family, including his sister. Overall it was quite a pleasant week . As I’d spent Easter and another weekend in Devon I felt much more comfortable with the routine of the family, and I suspect they felt more comfortable with me.

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So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.

This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.

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Mr Bunny's first tea partyI’m bubbling over with posts and thoughts at the moment (I’ve drafted another one, which I’ll polish up for later this week, plus the weekly update). This one was going to be part of the Postcards post but that one went in a different direction and I decided to do two.

The idea for the post was originally in response to my friend Molly’s recently created blog which I am really enjoying reading. She has previously been a nanny and is reflecting on how children interact with the world, and how we can frequently misunderstand why they ask specific questions. Molly is over at Mollybailasola

The specific article I am thinking of for this post has the following story in it:

When we were drinking pretend tea, she looked at me and she suddenly said, “what if I dropped the tea set and it broke?”

It’s the sort of question kids ask which is not really about what they say on the surface. It’s about, “what if I mess up, are you going to be angry?” My response was, “I would not be angry, but I would prefer if it didn’t happen.” She smiled and it made me think of Eve as well.

Molly is very wise. So often, it seems to me, the question that is being asked is “Do you love me? Am I OK and safe?”

L did this once, a month or two after I arrived. We were sitting on the floor, doing something together. She stopped and asked in a babyish and plaintive tone: “Do you like me?” I instinctively paused, looked at her for a couple of moments, smiled and quietly answered “Of course I do”. She smiled and we went back to what we were doing.

She was actually asking a much deeper question about whether she had a place in the life Jed and I are creating and whether she was going to be safe spending time with us. Considering I was anxious about the same thing, but from the opposite perspective, and I do happen to like her quite a bit, it was easier to give a heart-felt assurance.

I’ll probably always remember that moment. The connection between two humans who mean something to each other. It’s now in my head with the memory of the first time my Thai host-mother held my hand, letting me know she cared.

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Two other articles I came across today also fit into this overall theme of communicating with children. The end of Jen’s post, which was led to Postcards, reflects on how she’d like to instill the joy of writing in her children and how she might facilitate this.

The other is a post by Jen aka The Blogess, about a home-made zombie survival kit. While the concept is really amusing and has wide-spread applicability for my friends, the underlying theme of the post is about actually connecting with what children are interested in and providing a way to let them express themselves within a specific framework. Even if that framework is a potential zombie invasion.

BTW, the image has nothing specific to do with the post. It’s inclusion was inspired by the tea party story. And this blog has been devoid of images of late.

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Yesterday I drafted a long post about the major lesson from last week, and how it relates to the 6 months prior to this. It’s really deep and revealing and emotional, but after the last 24 hours (go, go gadget crisis divorce negotiation as it applies to the meaning of life – I want that on my CV!) I’m all out of ability to plumb emotional depths.

The Plough, St Johns

This is where we had dinner on our one night off, Tuesday. There’s an Australian bar tender there. Surprise! Well, she was when she found out I was from Newtown. She’s from Wollongong.

So last week:
Was the week of parenting.
We had L with us every night except Tuesday, and all of the weekend. Exhausting! There were a couple of melt-downs from everyone, including me. At one stage I found L curled, hiding, up IN THE BOOKCASE, because her lego wasn’t working. We survived, no-one died, in fact we’re all a bit stronger for it, although rather tired and wanting to never, ever, do that again. (Same as we will never, ever go to McDonald’s for breakfast, despite the secret hopes of a 10yr old girl).

Was the week of Australian friends.
I saw Bec-Juliana, Sharon-Aeron and Mikki and Justin on Saturday. To say goodbye to Mikki and Justin before they move to NZ (sneef!), to have a much needed vent and rant with Bec about life and work and cultural clashes (and visit Kew Gardens for the 3rd time ever, I need a membership), and to pick Sharon up from the airport for her week in England. I’m seeing her for dinner again tonight.

Was the week of flash games.
Jed and I escaped the child crazy in various flash games. I’m posting this from work, so I’ll chuck a list of URLs in the comments if anyone else wants to try them out. Beware, they are all time sucks. Except the duck game. That was fun.

Was the week of cleaning.
One of my reactions to the week of parenting was to clean. Lots. It was probably also a delayed reaction to the flat-mate drama last week. Our bedroom is now cleaned and decluttered, half the kitchen got a good scrub-down and we started packing for the move.

Was the week of money stress.
We need a better plan/system. We’re working on it. Nuff said.

(I’ll post the long emotional post later under a different heading. Which is actually a better idea, it fits the “On Flying” theme rather than a weekly update)

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I had this drafted in my head yesterday, but then work landed an URGENT!!! item on my desk in the morning which had me running around drawing lines on maps for the rest of the day. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you were waiting for this update.

NB: This post is ENTIRELY from my perspective. In reality it was a lot more nuanced than this. As all personal interactions are.

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DSCF7684

  1. Turning off the TV redirects attention
  2. Dinner eaten at the table creates better manners overall
  3. Don’t ever mention anything you own that you might not want to share on a continual basis. Like games on an ipod (which I’ve not mentioned, and never will).
  4. Learning the names of teddy bears creates a non-confrontational way of getting a small person to bed when at a BBQ. “Henry says goodnight, Horace says goodnight, incidentally so does L”.
  5. Kids don’t like being told that they’re behaving like they’re in a younger age group, and will assist with behaviour modification, if you do it the right way
  6. Food is more likely to be eaten if you assign to a broad category they know, rather than a specific foodie description along with “give it a try”
  7. Playing sharks and alligators while walking up the street is fun. As is playing wash-the-dishes while waiting for a bus
  8. “I’m bored” often means “I’m lonely, pay me attention”
  9. “I’m hungry” often means “I want crisps, or I’m bored (as per 8)”. Practical suggestions will not really help.
  10. “I can’t do this” often means “I want to check that you care about me enough to do it with me/for me”. See also no. 11
  11. It’s too easy to do everything for a child, but really, you shouldn’t. Particularly one that has learnt that everything gets done for her when she asks, and uses this as a proxy for checking that the adults around her care about her, or she’s not thought through how to do something. The more she does, the more confidence she’ll have to do things, and the more she’ll be at home here.
  12. There is a time for fun, a time for affection, a time to be strict and a time for quiet. While option 1 might be the preferred default for the child, options 2-4 also need to happen.
  13. Apparently I have a no nonsense voice and don’t-mess-with-me raised eyebrows. Works on 9 yr olds who get lazy about asking for stuff out of their reach on the table, and 5 yr olds who are behaving horridly.
  14. I am a responsible adult in her life, but not THE responsible adult, so can and should take a step back.
  15. However, part of my job is to act as a buffer and helper in the parenting duties and a re-assurer that this is normal and she’s a good girl, and he’s doing a great job.
  16. Ultimately it’s all about reassuring in many varied ways that she’s important and cared for and part of her Dad’s life.

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On Monday, I didn’t go to Windsor Races. Negotiating getting out there and back home to Surrey without a car was too much. It can take up to 1.5 hours to get home from London after peak hour on a weeknight, and I’m still not feeling proficient enough at navigating around England and organising myself and Jed to get to events on a school night.

However, I did decide to apply for a permanent position in the newly created Department of Energy and Climate Change (yes, that’s right, another DECC) as they had a general recruitment round closing on 6 July, one of which was a set of positions titled “policy adviser”. I rang their contact to see what the deal was, and it seems there are 70 positions going over 7 pay grades. I spent most of the week getting this application ready, which was sent off yesterday afternoon. Either I’m a shoe-in as I have the experience they’re after, or I completely misjudged the position description and they are after a middle manager. Doing a direct comparison of pay scales would lead me to believe the first, but there was a criterion about leading and developing a team which concerns me. Oh well, all will be revealed in time.

We had lovely tapas meal in Reigate on Wednesday night, to allow us both time to recover from a rather emotional Tuesday night. It was the predicted 3-month blow-up of reality hitting home. This has all been a bit tougher than I was letting myself acknowledge it would be before I left. This time round my move overseas is semi-permanent and I’m doing it without a support network. Dealing with my own slight panic at the lack of taken-for-granted security that comes with knowledge of a society and a wide network of people to interact with, while emotionally supporting a partner who aches for a different life but doesn’t quite see how to achieve it, nor really believes he (we) can do it, and also doesn’t ever seem to have had anyone tell him he’s doing a good job.

Work [1] has also been a bit slow of late, with many of my projects either waiting on feedback, being taken to meetings for approval without me being informed, or decisions being made without telling me so I can keep up. This was fixed later in the week, but it’s made me realise that this position is one of those that has lots of potential, but the working practices will eventually drive me batty. Perhaps I’m not cut out for local government work? The constituency is too close and too apparent, and hence upper management reacts more easily.

Friday night I cooked an experimental Japanese dinner, which was very tasty. Although, since a large plate of gyoza was the centrepiece of the meal it would have been hard to make it untasty. J

Saturday and Sunday Leylah was over after a week in France, and we mostly stayed around the house. It must be an odd space for her (and hence for us when she’s over) as she spends half her time there but I suspect it’s not really ‘home’. Partially there’s no space that is specifically hers, so at frequent intervals she will declare that she is ‘bored!’, but listening to the tone of voice I suspect that she is actually ‘lost’, not knowing what to do, and not feeling she has permission to make changes that would stop her being bored. Previously it was a house of two Bachelors where a girl child would come to visit, and mostly get waited on. Since I’ve arrived we’ve created a bit more structure, furniture and belongings have been moved around so the place is a bit nicer to be in and she can get to glasses and plates (and has been told she can use the microwave to reheat food!). It’s a work in progress, but will probably only improve in a big way when we move somewhere else, sometime in October.

Lastly, on Saturday night I saw my beloved Cat Empire in concert in London. Which made it the 7th concert of their’s I’ve been to in 2.5 years. They are that enjoyable and varied. I went with 4 of Jed’s friends (there was a last minute mix-up with Leylah so Jed stayed at home) who had not heard their music before and I’m glad to say they loved it. However, they also made me go to the Australian themed walkabout pub nearby (where I proceeded to have a rant that it wasn’t an actual Australian pub, there was no Cooper’s available, and there was no beetroot on the burgers), and then we had Australian themed meat pies afterwards. The pies were really good. The pub wasn’t.

[1] I know I’ve not actually said what I’m doing. Short story: it’s pick-up project work for a London Local Authority, initial 3 month contract, which will likely get extended unless I find permanent work.

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