Friday, March 06, 2015

A Glimpse of the Future?

For posterity, I'm writing this story down, so one day we can all say, "We knew it! We knew that boy would go far!"

This is a Scrag story, a wee glimpse into his future and the man he might become.
Bear with me while I paint the picture...

Scrag is the youngest, and has only recently started getting pocket money, which we noticed him saving diligently and counting regularly.
When before our aunty and uncle from England returned home last month, they gave each of the kids $50, which Scrag raced to add to his growing stash.

He now had $80 saved - a lot of money for a six year old. We went shopping for a toy he really wanted, but he only spent $30, saying "I'm saving the rest."
(All this so you know that Scrag is a diligent saver who is careful with his money.)

[Scrag with Grandad on father's Day last year]

Scrag is amazing at maths. He is two maths stages ahead of where he needs to be, so although he has to work super hard at reading and writing (which leads me to suspect he may have my dyslexia) he is amazingly bright, intuitive, canny and insightful as well as "a maths genius". The questions he asks and the things he intuits are really beyond what is usual for his age, and numbers just seem to make sense to him in a way that is a complete mystery to me!

The other day we were driving somewhere and out of the blue Scrag announced:

"When I grow up I'm not going to have a job working for someone else. I'm going to make my own job and be my own boss."

Wow. What six year old says things like that??? The thing is, when he said it his words had a ring of truth to them.
Scrag, I reckon you just made a true prediction. With your maths genius and canny brain, I can totally see you being an amazingly successful businessman, with your own company, being your own boss.

[Playing cards at Lake Taupo with our Aunty Irene from England - using the Hobbiton playing cards]

Now comes the bit that melts my mother-heart.
Last night my parents were over for our Thursday Night Grandparents Dinner (woop) and they told me the story of a conversation they had with Scrag.

They were playing cards using our Hobbiton card pack, and my mum said something about how she wanted to go to see Hobbiton but it is so expensive so she's been saving her pennies, and her birthday money but her birthday money got all used up paying to get things fixed on the car, doctors etc so now it's all gone and she didn't get to buy anything for her birthday.

Scrag says to her, "Nan, wait here. I've got a birthday present for you."
He runs out of the room and comes back a moment later with his hands behind his back.
"Close your eyes, Nan, and hold out your hands..." he says. "Now open them!"
My mum opens her eyes, and there is Scrag's treasured $50 note, lying in her hands.

Just like that, he had run and gotten the money he had diligently saved and gave it away without a second thought.

(Mum went on to tell how after she gave him back his $50 and insisted he keep it, he said, "OK well I have another present for you. Close your eyes again..."
Then she felt his warm little arms thrown around her middle, with a "Love you Nan, Happy Birthday! And one for Grandad too!")

[We are loving our Thursday Dinners  with Nan and Grandad. NOTE TO SELF: Take more photos!]

So there we go.
A glimpse into my youngest son's generous heart, and I think a glimpse into his future.
I believe he will be a man who is good with money, but who gives generously of his resources.
A businessman philanthropist. That's my prediction. And now I've written it down.
Let's see if I'm right.

Monday, March 02, 2015

"The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil" (finding my voice)

Something's changed in me over the past year or so.  I've always been a scaredy cat, never one to rock the boat, speak up or make waves. Ask anyone who knows me. Unlike so many other Lioness Mothers who would roar if anyone stepped out of line round her cubs, I was always more of a Mouse.

If I had to speak up, whether to a teacher, a bully or a fellow parent I'd be shaking so bad I'd lose my words and feel like I was going to vomit. I just hated "confrontation".

But over the past year or so I've noticed that I no longer procrastinate and avoid confrontation. I've become better at speaking up with teachers, family and coaches (it doesn't even make me want to vomit anymore).

Instead of staying silent and hoping for the best, I've begun asking for what I want, because I've realised this earth shattering truth: The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil.

It started when one of my kids was struggling at school, miserable. At first I felt powerless and overwhelmed; I didn't know what to do but I knew I had to do something, talk to someone, so I gathered my courage and headed to school.

I remember sitting in the office of the department head stammering out my concerns about my child's anxiety and bursting into tears. Right there in her office.

This lovely H.O.D. gave me an hour of her time, listened to my concerns, handed me tissues and reassured me that they would work to support my child in a number of new ways.
It wasn't so hard, this talking thing.

A week later I met with her and the child's teacher again and she presented me with two charts, depicting my child's progress so he could see in colour just how far he'd come. When I told the H.O.D. later that he was calling those charts "my treasures" and sleeping with them under his pillow, tears sprang into her eyes.

I was learning that a little bit of squeaking will get your wheel oiled.
A little bit of asking will get results. It's not that hard, once I get over myself.
And if I don't squeak for them, nobody else will.

After all, the H.O.D. has hundreds of kids to think about; the teacher has thirty. I'm the only one with just my own kids' interests at heart.

In the sea of faces my child's struggle might not be apparent to the teacher he/she is trying so hard to please. The teacher doesn't see my child fall apart at the end of the day, after using all their energy working so hard to stay on task and just keep up. The teacher doesn't have to drag my child out of bed as they wail, "I don't wanna go! I hate school!" The teacher doesn't have to wipe their tears of frustration and talk them down from the bridge of self-doubt, patch up their shattered self-esteem and send them out to face the world again... I DO.

I have to live with these children, so it's worth being a squeaky wheel if it means happier kids who know their mama has got their back.

I may not like "confrontation" or "making waves" but there's a nice way to do things.
Being a squeaky wheel doesn't mean becoming demanding or difficult. It just means becoming my child's advocate and speaking up on their behalf, which I can do with a smile on my face. Being pleasant and reasonable-but-determined will probably get me further than being antagonistic and bolshy anyway!

I've now lost count of how many times I've been up to school in the past year. I rarely used to go up there, relying on school reports, and the inadequate twice-yearly parent teacher interviews.

No longer.
Now as soon as there's a ripple I'm there. Talking to the teacher, clarifying the situation, getting information, helping them to know my children and understand their needs,
I'm now one of "those" parents... in the nicest possible way.

The more I talk to my kids' teachers, the better the relationships with the teachers become and the easier it gets to talk to them. (And the more positively they'll work with my kids too).

This worked to the point last year where I knew Miss Fab's teacher well enough to invite him to come watch her perform in the church Christmas production - and he came.

It's so freeing, not being scared anymore. Having found my voice I don't just use it to advocate for my kids at school, oh no.

It translates into other areas of life as well.
Like I noticed that with life being so busy, we were hardly ever getting to see my parents. There was just not enough grandparent-time and I worried that if we didn't set aside some regular time to connect, one day I'd look back and regret that my kids never got to know my parents before they were gone.

I could sit around feeling sad and resentful or I could ask for what I wanted for my kids and take the risk that I might get knocked back...

So I baked some muffins, took my coffee machine with me and went to my folks to ask for what I wanted: dinner with them once a week. Regular time for my kids to spend with them hanging out, getting to know them.

...I wasn't knocked back. As of last week, every Thursday night Nan and Grandad will come for dinner. I cook, they play. Last week it was Monopoly Empire, homemade spaghetti and stories after dinner. There are plans for bike rides with Grandad, card games and more.
We all said goodbye at the end of our first night with a warm fuzzy glow, with the kids agreeing "This was fun!"; I believe it's the start of a beautiful thing.

I'm so thankful that I've learned to speak up.
After all those timid years of being afraid of knock-backs or angry confrontations, it's a pleasant surprise to learn that I can still be me, but a bolder Squeakier version of myself.
After all, what have I got to lose really, by speaking up? If I ask for something and the answer is no, have I lost anything apart from a bit of pride?
No I haven't.
But I stand to gain so much for my kids when I lose my fear and find my voice.

I may not ever be a roaring Lioness Mother but I can be a Squeaky Wheel.


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