Embarrassing Kids

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All children, at some point in their life, cause embarrassment to their parents. There was a time when one of my kids was a new born and had an exploding nappy incident that shot ‘pumpkin soup’ like poo up to their shoulder blades as I was holding them whilst waiting in a queue. Needless to say I had to leave my place at the front of the queue to immediately deal with the explosion that ended up not only coating my child but also me in their excrement!

There were other embarrassing moments like when my son pointed to a man with an eye patch and yelled out at the top of his voice, ‘Look Mum, there’s a pirate over there,’ and another time when he spotted an elderly man with a white beard and again in full voice whilst pointing, drew my attention (and everyone in the whole vicinity), to ‘Santa’.

Whilst these cringe worthy moments are truly embarrassing, the time I felt was the worst was when my kids were just learning the art of walking. There is a period of a few months when your kid’s reach the age when they are pulling themselves up on furniture or just learning to walk and run independently when they are completely accident-prone. This period is marked by your child constantly being covered in bumps and bruises, from head to toe. Every time you step out of your house you are sure that every person is looking at your child wondering whether they need to alert child protection services to your neglectful parenting.

At the age of 13 months, one of my daughters split her lip when she slipped walking around the hob of the bath, another tumbled down a flight of stairs after a visitor didn’t close the gate and yet another split open her forehead when she tripped over her feet. The worst accident, not in pain but embarrassment, was when my daughter overbalanced when running and face planted on a tiled floor, chipping half of one of her front teeth. I took the fragment of tooth to the dentist and asked that they glue it back on. The dentist laughed and said as it was a baby tooth it wasn’t worth doing anything about it. My daughter had to go through the first few years of her life with only half a front tooth. I felt like we were a group of hillbillies who didn’t care about the fact she was missing half a tooth. Thankfully she lost her baby teeth very early; so that by the time she started school she had already lost what was left of her front tooth.

Now whenever I look at a toddler with bumps and bruises covering their body, I think back to that dreadful stage where even a flat and level surface is like an obstacle course for your child. Thankfully their co-ordination improves with practice and eventually you can show your face in public again without feeling the embarrassment of everyone judging your parenting skills.

Of course you can’t wrap your child up in cotton wool, but for the first few months of your child learning to walk, it would be great to be able to wrap them in bubble wrap!

What do you think is the most embarrassing age of kids?

(Photo courtesy of nenetus, freedigitalphotos.net)

New Parent

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Becoming a new parent is an exciting (and of course tiring) time in your life, however it can also be a time of feeling isolated.

I remember after my first child, once the frenzy of well-wishers had come to visit the baby, there was a lull in adult company. I knew people were respecting the fact that I needed to rest when the baby slept and that it was hard for them to know when that would be, but all the same I remember feeling very alone. I was also overwhelmed by the changes in my life – the responsibility for caring for a child 24 hours a day, a lack of sleep and the changes in hormones as my body adjusted from being pregnant into being a full-time milk bar.

Having moved house a few weeks prior to having the baby, I didn’t have any friends nearby and my old friends were not at the same stage in life, so they were busy with work commitments. I remember when my husband went back to work that I felt a bit lost. I could go all day without any adult conversation. Of course, I was besotted with our new baby, but I also felt that I had little purpose beyond caring for our daughter.

Being a first time parent, I was keen to ensure my baby was in a routine and so my life revolved around a strict regime that I inflicted upon myself. I also lacked the confidence to know that my baby would be okay unattended in her cot while I got on with chores – I would even take her into the bathroom with me when I showered, so I could keep an eye on her.

With experience came confidence to start going out and when I joined a mother’s group, I found a supportive network of new friends who were experiencing the same issues with their babies as I was with mine.

I laugh at the contrast of my first time parenting experience with that of my fourth child. My youngest child’s routine was to sleep in the car as I ferried his older sisters to and from school. He adapted to the family routine and I no longer feared leaving my baby unattended in the cot for a small amount of time to do chores. Furthermore, I no longer isolated myself at home, instead I continued with the social commitments for my other kids and to be frank I didn’t have time to feel lonely when surrounded by friends and our combined hoard of kids.

What did you find the hardest adjustment to being a new parent?

(Image courtesy of Danillo Razzuti, freedigitalphotos.net)

The plan vs reality

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I think parenting is a constant battle of coming to terms with the reality of a situation when it doesn’t live up to your plans.

In a perfect world we could predetermine our child’s behavior and the way in which we could deal with that behavior, but as with every aspect of life, we need to remain flexible and be willing to adjust the way in which we parent to suit the circumstances.

What works now, won’t always work and what works with one child won’t necessarily work with another.

The other day I met a new mother who said that before she had her baby she had decided that her bub would be fully breastfed and under no circumstances would she co-sleep or use a dummy. It turns out that to keep her sanity she now does all those things, but I think it shows resilience and flexibility to be able to change tact to find ways that work for you and your child.

I worry that too many people seem to shame parents for their way of parenting when we should support each other and understand that we don’t live in a perfect world with perfect children. We have to just do the best we can and not be too hard on ourselves if things deviate from our original plan.

There’s no right or wrong in parenting, there is what is just what is right for you at the time.

All parents are winging it and trying their best, so relax and don’t be so hard on yourself if things don’t turn out the way you originally planned.

(Photo courtesy of nenetus, freedigitalphotos.net)

Open Apology

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I have always laughed, but felt a tad annoyed, when people would ask me, ‘are ALL those children yours?’ – like having four children made me like the Duggars who have dozens of kids. The jokes of ‘haven’t you worked out how they are made?’ or ‘doesn’t your television work?’ or ‘are you trying to get a whole football team?’ all became old very quickly, so I’m usually sensitive to this with other parents.

However, the other day I bumped into a mother with whom I would sit when my oldest kids were learning to swim. She has a son my eldest daughter’s age, a son my second daughter’s age, a daughter a little younger than my son and the last time I saw her several years ago she had another baby son. So I was surprised when I saw her cradling a newborn baby. ‘Is that yours?’ I asked hesitantly, to which she replied yes. ‘How many kids do you have now?’ I asked insensitively. ‘Oh about fifteen,’ she joked then said this little boy was her fifth child.

‘Wow, a child finishing school and a newborn, that’s amazing,’ I went on, followed by, ‘you’ll probably have grandkids before your youngest kids finish school.’ This sentiment stems from my own thoughts that it is quite possible that my eldest could have a child before we are free from school commitments for our youngest.

After I walked away I was replaying our conversation over in my mind and came to the conclusion that I had acted in the exact way that I had always made a silence pact not to! What I should have said was what a blessing to have such a gorgeous child and what a lovely addition he would make to the family, instead in my shock at seeing this lady with another child I blurted out insensitive comments for which I openly apologise.

I know that when you give birth to any baby, you love them unconditionally and can’t imagine your family without them. This little boy is lucky to have been born into a family where he has many siblings to dote on him. I just don’t envy his mum having to sit through all those swimming lessons again!

(Photo courtesy of papaija2008, freedigitalphotos.net)

Kate’s not alone

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There has been a lot of conflicting opinions about whether Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left hospital too soon after giving birth to little Princess Charlotte.

With my second child I left hospital after 20 hours. I just wanted to sleep in my own bed without listening to other babies crying and without the nurses chatter disturbing me. What I hadn’t counted on was that people took that to mean there was endless visiting hours at our home.

The night after giving birth to our daughter I had 26 visitors at my house at dinner time. I was exhausted and wanted time to rest and bond with my new baby. Instead I was hosting a party and ordering in copious amounts of pizza to feed the hordes.

Returning home also signified to my husband that I was back on board to care for our toddler and resume cooking and cleaning. I was exhausted and didn’t give myself a chance to heal and rest after what was a stressful experience for my body.

For the birth of my subsequent children I stayed in hospital for 3 days which meant I had allotted rest times, scheduled visiting hours, had time to stare at my beautiful baby without worrying about chores and best of all just had to tick a box on a sheet to order my meals.

While I truly understand Kate’s motivation to leave hospital immediately, having done it myself I wouldn’t choose to do it again. Having said that I’m sure Kate has nannies, chefs and cleaners so maybe returning home so early won’t be quite as exhausting for her.

There’s one thing I can tell you for sure is that I certainly didn’t look as glamourous as Kate when I left hospital with my newborn babies!

ARTWORK ARCHIVING

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From early on in a child’s life, every parent is faced with the situation where their child proudly presents them with copious amounts of ‘artwork’ (by which I mean random scribbles on a page or paint splattered across cardboard) for them to admire and cherish.

You have a few options with the way you handle this artwork:

  • You can admire it and place it on the fridge with all the other ‘artwork’ you have received, which leaves to you having to timidly open and close your fridge to avoid dislodging the masterpieces.
  • You can file it away somewhere safe, such as an archive box for keepsakes. You just have to make sure you have enough storage room for at least 10 years of artwork.
  • You can frame and display the best work and then file the rest in that special round file (aka the bin).
  • You can photograph it and then eventually print a book of your child’s artwork. This leaves you free to share the love, by passing on the original artwork to those nice garbage men who come visit each week.
  • You can use the artwork as personally designed cards and wrapping for family gifts.
  • You can give them to proud grandparents, aunts and uncles so that if they choose to throw it away, at least it is on their conscience and not yours!

With my first born, I was so proud of her first attempts at artwork that I kept every little drawing, finger painting and craft item she made at home, pre-school, playgroup etc. My plan was to give her this box of keepsakes once she left home. After several years and several boxes of artwork, we moved house. Prior to the move I opened up the boxes to review the artwork and came to realization that she was no Picasso and that neither of us was ever going to do anything with the boxes other than let them sit on a shelf collecting dust. I made the executive decision to throw them away to de-clutter. The important thing was the excitement at the time and the attention I gave her for her achievement – not the actual physical ‘artworks’.

We are lucky that our children’s school does a lovely portfolio of their work throughout the year, so at the end of the year we get a sample of their work stored in a handy folder that the kids can keep and review in years to come. That frees us up to dispose of other artwork, unless it of a particularly high standard.

What do you do with your children’s artwork? Feel free to share, so I can let other parents know strategies for dealing with their budding artist’s catalogue of work.

(Image courtesy of hinnamsaisuy, freedigitalphotos.net)

TWENTY FOR TILLY

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My heart breaks as I share this story with you. Earlier this year, my friend Carmen and her husband Kyle had a beautiful daughter Tilly – a little sister for their gorgeous son Jock. At Tilly’s standard eight week check up they were shocked to find out Tilly has Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and in order to have a chance to survive she must undertake two years of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.

This family’s life has been turned upside down. Life as they knew it changed, as Carmen and Kyle took on a roster of one looking after their son, whilst the other stayed in the hospital with Tilly. Every time they leave the hospital they don’t know whether it will be the last time they will see their baby girl alive. With a depleted immune system there have been a few close calls but little Tilly is a brave and courageous fighter.

Most parents of small babies are focused on them reaching their milestones of sitting, rolling and crawling. Tilly has a different set of milestones. The next milestone for Tilly is a bone marrow transplant.

Imagine the stress of being utterly helpless to do anything to heal your daughter, other than sit by and watch as she undergoes multiple surgeries and is constantly pumped full of chemicals to kill off this insidious disease. Add to that the stress of day-to-day expenses and mounting medical bills, when neither you nor your husband can work for fear of possibly missing precious moments with your critically ill child. The Swains are proud people and have not asked anyone for help, but you don’t have to be in their shoes to know that although we can’t help eradicate Tilly’s cancer, we can help ease the stress of monetary concerns by assisting this family in need.

A fundraising page has been started to help the Swains where we ask you to donate $20 for Tilly. This small amount may not make much of an impact on your weekly budget, but will mean the world to a family dealing with unbearable stress. Please find it in your heart to help and to share this story.

I will keep you updated with Tilly’s progress and hope to report in the future that she has grown into a happy and healthy little girl, with no memory of her difficult start to life.