Saturday morning, now that Mr is five, means a parental sleep in, while Squish spends time with his beloved iPad. During the week, he’s only allowed limited access to educational screen time (study ladder, reading eggs, etc). But on the weekends, he can play Mr Crab to his hearts content.
Oh, happy day!
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Inigo’s school has below average literacy, and they are working hard to improve it. One of the initiatives is building a lending library of great children’s books that come with activities. They were going to put them in plastic bags, but I wondered out loud if they might look better in cool fabric, and was invited to have a go.
This is my “proof of concept” bag. The book is “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, and I have included a few games and activities I found on a homeschooling website – but no doubt the teachers will have something awesome worked out.
Now I just need to see if the teachers (and the kids) like it, and find a way to make about 30 more!
Inigo adores these. I have to fight him off to stop him from eating them before he gets to school. These are mushroom and fetta, chopped into a mini muffin pan, then I pour over a mix of egg and gream and bake. Super simple, but they do require a bit of forward planning. They also freeze relatively well, so if I get organised I can do a few different types to keep in the freezer for days when I can’t get creative.
The dip today is yoghurt with grain mustard.
And now I am off to research school junk food policy, after finding out that the crappy canteen food menu is now even crappier. Met another mum in the school yard who is really angry about it, so we’re going to team up and see what we can do.
When I worked in a Japanese nightclub, the chef taught me how to make Japanese rice balls (onigiri – translates to “housewife obligation). In their most simple form, they are a triangular wedge of leftover rice. My favourite was yaki-onigiri, which are grilled with a special sauce, and I never learned how to make them. There are many variations, with things like grilled salmon or pickled plum inside, or made from rice seasoned with furikake.
There are loads of different furikake, and most of them contain bonito (dried fish) so they aren’t suitable for vegetarians, but this purple one (my favourite) is. Perilla is a glorious herb that is largely unknown in Australia, though you can find it in places like Cabramatta, and it dos crop up in Vietnamese restaurants. The flavour is indescribable, and not really a lot like the furikake. I also doubt that the colouring is natural, and the list of ingredients does go a little bit beyond what I consider to be real food, but as a treat, I don’t mind now and then.
Inigo has had his social life at school pick up a bit, so he has been saying that he “doesn’t have time” at lunch to eat, and he’s been coming home with uneaten lunches. Oh, to be so popular
This one has apple slices with sunflower nut butter, which does taste a lot like peanut butter (and is yummy with apple slices!), but it isn’t dangerous for kids with allergies. So glad I tried it, we can’t give Inigo anything including nuts for school because there is a kid in kindy (not his class) with anaphylaxis. So that rules out most of my favourite baked goods, and a few treats as well.
This is a good way to get a bit of protein into his lunch when I don’t have a “main” with protein, and he loves it!
Some mornings I wake up and think “thank goodness I thought about lunch last night, I’ve got a plan”. But many mornings run more like – “holy cow, what am I going to feed the kid today? I really should have gone shopping yesterday”. This was one of those days.
I had some mini pizza bases in the fridge, and my friend Marion had given me a small jar of zatar to keep in the freezer, so I got out of bed a little early, mixed the zatar with olive oil, smeared it on a pizza base, and popped it in the oven for 20 mins.
I put plain yoghurt in the mini dipper, and the treat was leftover Indian fudge from my dinner the night before
My Squishy is about five and a half now, and the conversations just get more and more interesting. My grief journey has taken me on some twists and turns, and I am ashamed to say that I haven’t always be the parent I want to be to this amazing kid. I absolutely recognise that I am doing my best, and that my best has to be “good enough”. But I am also so passionately in love with His Squishyness that I think he deserves the best.
A week or so ago he told me that his favourite place in the world was “wherever you are, mama”. High praise indeed for a kid that likes to play me off against his grandparents for “my favourite person this week”. I think I got lucky because both sets of grandparents are in Europe for a month, but I’ll take it.
Then on Sunday night, as I was trying to get him to go to sleep so we could watch Dr Who, he told me that he likes me, but he doesn’t love me. It took a while to get from him what he meant, but apparently it’s because I yell.
Yelling seems to be an easy rut for parents to fall into, and while I am usually pretty good about not yelling, stress does bring the yelling a lot closer to the top of my parenting toolbox. And it spent a long while there in the early days of losing Archimedes and Aubrey. This kid has had way too much crappy parenting, and I am making a public declaration right now that it has to stop. Two days in and I haven’t raised my voice once.
Today Mrs D. did some more reading assessments with him, and he’s gone up a few more levels in reading. But apparently she hasn’t finished, so there might be more progress once she gets to do more testing. He’s started to do some year 1 number work, and and was given another commendation today – only three more and he’ll get his second bronze certificate!
At bedtime, I am reading Heidi to him. At first I thought that he only liked the story because the sound of my voice lulled him to sleep, but as we got further in to the story he told me that he was sad that Heidi had to leave her Grandfather, and there were tears in his eyes. I explained to him what empathy was, and how seeing how someone else was feeling sometimes hurts us, but it also helps us to be a good friend, and helps us to support others and to be kind.
I downloaded the book from the Amazon Kindle site. It was free, volunteers take old texts and convert them to ebooks, which is great, but you do get the odd typo. And one quirk – the chapters are numbered in Roman Numerals, which of course, Inigo demanded an explanation for.
And tonight, he needed me to teach him how Roman Numerals worked before I was allowed to read the book.
Nanna and Gonad are in Europe, today they are on foot in France discovering castles. Inigo requested a picture, as he has only ever seen them in picture books, and wanted to be sure they are real.
So Nanna sent a picture of her at a castle.
And tonight I was chatting with one of his Fairly Odd Parents on the phone. Paula and Jason moved to Melbourne when Jason got a job as a beamline scientist at the synchrotron. Jason’s job has been explained to Inigo in very broad terms, and he gets the impression that Jason is the go-to guy for science matters.
Recently he’s been asking me what air looks like. Since he understand the difference between invisibility, and things just being too small to see, but beyond that I am not much use, he decided to ask Uncle Jason. And less than two hours after the question was posed comes a beautifully constructed email, with age appropriate language that isn’t patronising, and some beautiful images to illustrate the concepts.
Every kid should have an uncle with a PhD in inorganic chemistry.
Sorry for the amount of radio silence on the blog at the moment – uni is a bit crazy at the moment, but after my perception exam tomorrow I hope I will have a bit more time.
We leave for Vietnam in less than 2 months, and I still have the bulk of the trip to plan (and pay for!). I have changed my name, but I haven’t got my passport yet, or arranged visas. Nor do we have a house sitter or pet care organised. I’m not too worried, it will work out, because it HAS to!
Once in a while I (amongst all the feelings of guilt and blame), I get the feeling that we aren’t doing such a bad job of this parenting gig.
On weekends, so that Mark and I can get a lie in, Inigo is allowed to play on the iPad for a while.
This morning, I walked in to find him listening to music.
“It’s one of my favourite songs”, he said,as my heart swelled with pride.
Just as Mark’s did when he said earlier in the week, “Daddy, I love Star Wars, but I don’t like Star Wars Episode I very much”.
Inigo’s piano teacher has a busking license for Parramatta, and today we had an opportunity to join her and her daughter and some of her other students. I explained what busking was to him, and he was mad keen to do it – to the extent that we did a marathon practice before we went out this afternoon.
Unfortunately we haven’t been practicing much over the holidays, and he was a bit rusty, but he had a ball! He played three times, for a total of about 10 minutes, and he made $17.20. Most of what he needs to buy this – The soundtrack of Star Wars V, The Empire Strikes Back. Which right now, is what his little heart desires most.
Inigo is in the bath with a vegemite sandwich. And I fully intend to deliver him some ice cream when that is finished.
That is what school holidays are all about, right?
A few months ago we instituted a new family ritual, the blue plate.
When one of us has a significant achievement, an award, a promotion, a triumph over a difficulty, that person gets to choose dinner, and eat off the blue plate.
Tonight, he went to mums to spend the night, but he was “owed” a blue plate after getting his award tonight. I rang mum to see if she had a special plate that could stand in, and loo and behold, she did.
All hail the silver salver
Yesterday Mrs D told me that she was going to move him up to Fairy Penguin numeracy level after the holidays. Apparently, as well as showing her how well he can read, now he is also starting to show her what he can do with numbers, and comprehension, and vocabulary, and all sorts of other domains as well. Which is a HUGE relief.
Once he finds his level at school, I know he will be happier and more engaged with is learning, and (hopefully) that will set the pattern for the rest of his educational life. I feel (still) so amazingly lucky that we found Mrs D, and that she is working so hard to bring out his best.
She mentioned that she thinks he may be “gifted”. That label leaves a very bad taste in my mouth for several reasons. Mostly because it is used by parents to brag about how special their kid is. Every kid is the most special kid in the world, and labeling them can be really destructive. The only label a kid needs is “loved”. The other worry I have is that children labelled as gifted are sometimes difficult for schools to handle, and difficult for other kids to relate to. I’d welcome input from other parents (or teachers!) on this, but as long as Squish has a teacher that is able to keep him engaged, I don’t see the need to define him.
Of course I have always thought he was gifted – I thought it was a miracle the first time he smiled (almost a week after the books said it should happen), when he crawled for the first time most of his cohort were already walking, and when he walked they were already climbing fences. But I saw what he put into each step, I watched his little face as he concentrated on balancing, and I celebrated his effort. I never felt sad that his milestones were “behind” others, because they were his, and he is perfect to me. Every little milestone, every achievement has been amazing in my eyes, because I am his mother, because we made him, because the sun shines when he smiles and the world cracks when he is hurt.
Yesterday we had some great car conversations. We’ve been talking about viruses, and why you need to cover your mouth when you cough, so you don’t share the germs and make others sick. He asked, “mama, how did the first person get sick?”. Between us, we decided that mutation of viruses was probably the culprit, but I had to think on my feet.
He also asked about “the bit of you that isn’t your body”, and what happens to that after you die. I said that there were many different theories. He said, “maybe you go into another body and become a different person”. He discovered reincarnation!
And then – “mama, I know how you turn left and right, but I’m going to need to know how you make the car go backwards and forwards”. So he can complete world domination ahead of schedule
I should be working on my essay (1500 words on why health intentions don’t always translate into health behaviours – I could write the book on that one!), but a friend tweeted this to me. What’s the big deal about boys with long hair?
We were told endlessly that we would “have” to cut his hair before he started school. People worried about teasing and bullying. I worried about teasing and bullying. But not because of his hair, because of his sweet and gentle nature, and because of his preference for narrative play over active play, because of his quirky interests, because of who he is. The hair issue didn’t raise a blip on my radar.
A few weeks into school, he told me that another boy with long hair in an older class had approached him and told him how cool he is for having long hair. And until yesterday, that was the only time it had come up.
Yesterday, he said he wanted to cut his hair because he doesn’t like it when people call him a girl. There are people who make honest mistakes, and there are people who do it deliberately. There is one boy in his class who we have known since they were babies. He’s a nice kid, and I like his parents (and his older brother), but he continually refers to Inigo as “she”, despite knowing that he is a boy.
This was one of those days when I was glad Inigo and I have practiced talking about feelings. It transpired that this kid is the one who is upsetting Squish, and we talked about how to deal with it. On Monday, Inigo is going to say to him, “Please don’t call me a girl, because it upsets me”.
He also said that he doesn’t want to cut his hair because it might hurt, so that is a whole ‘nother conversation