This makes me sad
I’ve found the last few months really hard. I’m not good at staying in, less so when I have a 2 and a 3 year old to entertain at the same time. I hear other parents (admittedly usually of older children) talking about things they’re doing with their children all day, having a lovely time painting, making things and generally creating an image of parent-child harmony which, frankly, doesn’t exist in hour house. My two a) don’t sit still for a minute and b) would actually rather be pushing tractors around the floor, mooing at each other.
I’d love to say we all sit at the kitchen table enjoying arts & crafts and doing jigsaws but we don’t. I’ve attempted painting once with the 2 of them and after Max ate a sponge and drank the red paint I decided to call it a day. I frequently feel guilty that I don’t sit with my kids and enjoy this bonding time but it is just. Too. Stressful. No, we prefer to dance like idiots, play hide & seek and see who can make the tallest tower out of giant Lego.
Finn came home from pre-school today with a piece of paper with the alphabet on, with tracing paper stapled over the top. They’ve been spending some time today tracing the letters and one of the staff had written ‘writing free hand needed alot of support’. Cue massive attack of Mum guilt. Are the other kids confidently holding a pencil and writing letters? Writing their name? Reading ‘War and Peace’?
Should I be spending more time with him working on his reading and writing? Will it hold him back when he starts school in September? When I was pregnant I had grand plans of sitting next to my son, teaching him to read and write before he starts school, giving him a good head start, getting ready to receive a scholarship for academic excellence. Well, life ain’t like that. I’d love nothing more than to sit with him and do the above but I have another (very demanding) child who also needs my attention and has NO interest in sitting amusing himself and just wants to play cars with his brother (who would actually rather be playing with his brother than repeating ‘esss for snake, esss for snake’ again and again).
Our idea of fun is being outside. In the summer we play in the garden, we go for long walks with the dog, we go and see the trains at our local steam railway, we go to the park, out on our bikes. This is how we spend our parent/child time and to me, is just as important as the other stuff. They know the names of some species of butterfly, different birds, breeds of dog. They know that the leaves fall off the trees in Autumn and grow back in the spring. They pick blackberries and help me make pies with them. They know to stop, look and listen when crossing a road. They imagine shapes in clouds. They play with shadows. These are as important as tracing an ‘a’, no?
So, I realised this week that this is why I’ve been struggling. It’s been too cold, wet and miserable for us to go out and do our things. We’ve had to learn to rein in the energy and use it for other purposes. Yes, we’ve been totally stir crazy. We’ve shouted, squabbled and tried our best to harness the energy into other activities but I just think we’re made for the outdoors. Next winter will be different, Finn will be at school and more attuned to quieter activities, Max will (please, God) have calmed down and I’d love to think we can sit and get crafty without fighting, stress or, uh, toxic poisoning.
In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for spring and heading off to this (thanks to Jess) so we can make as much mess as we like with full protective gear, more structure and someone else to clear up at the end. And I’ll make sure the red paint stays firmly in the pot, thanks Max.