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I’m a once-single mum of two boys (4 and 8) who was ‘attempting the ordinary’ after conceiving my second son by donor. I'm now married and pregnant and its complicated - again. These are my anonymous ramblings about life, love, parenting and the rest – emptying my head of the weird, the wonderful and the mundane. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

380zs, Clever kids, cleaning and a Michael Portillo cameo

Thanks for the memories
Googe Images
Hello again - feels like its been a while, but only a week I think. Perhaps that's not surprising as it's all been a bit crazy - another book festival last weekend, and I've been trying to keep up with DS1's desire for learning that his school aren't even coming close to meeting. What is it with state schools and clever kids? I remember when I was at school in the early 80s and they put me up a year, but I was still cleverer than everyone else and I hated it - used to get really badly bullied just for being different. My class teacher's solution was to stick me in the computer room - which at that time was one 380z, in what can only be described as a cupboard. I seem to remember being given a leaflet which had the basics of BASIC (which apparently stands for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code - not that there was Google around to tell me that at the time) and then left. (Heaven forbid that a teacher would actually try to teach me anything - or indeed engage in any form of conversation at all.) Mainly, I would sit there getting it to write my name over the whole screen:

10 PRINT "ATO MUM"
20 GO TO 10

Ring any bells anyone?
I seem to remember getting it to build a picture of a house as well, and something to do with $ strings, but nothing actually remotely educational. I think they just thought computers were for clever kids and somehow if they left me and the inanimate object alone in a room together I would miraculously become happy and educated. And obviously putting a bullied child in isolation for a large part of the day was really going to help that particular problem.

I sort of hoped it had moved on a bit since then, but a not dissimilar attitude seems to exist to DS1. Occasionally, they give him and the other clever kid something different to do in class, but it's not in anyway tailored to their ability or interest, its just a bit harder than what the others have to do. To put it in context, lots of the kids in his class are just learning about adding up, whereas he gets to add up numbers to 20, using a number line. He then comes home and pracitces his 12 times table and converts fractions to percentages for fun. See my point? It's not that I'm sitting down and teaching him to do that stuff - who has the time? -  its just he'll ask about it and so I'll explain, and then he wants to know more so I'll explain that.  This normally happens in the car, to be honest, as its often the only time I'm sitting still long enough to have a conversation with him. When I mentioned it to the teacher a couple of weeks ago she said, 'Well, we don't really do formal sums'. WTF?? It seems everything they do has to have a practical application - the education system seems obsessed with 'making maths fun' - which is fine if you don't find it fun already. However, if, like our strange little family, you love the sheer joy of manipulating numbers and seeing how they behave, then having to make everything about putting sweets in jars or counting fluffy animals just gets in the way of playing with the numbers, and therefore makes it dull. I know we might be in a small minority, (I have been known to do quadratic equations just for fun, but try not to share that to widely, don't want to up my weirdness rating too much) but surely it wouldn't be much to ask to just give the kid a few interesting multiplications or additions to play with? Maybe I'll post this as a Mumsnet AIBU (I had to Google it the first time too!), wonder if I'd get many takers?

We have Parents Evening next week, so I'm going to try broaching the subject again and see if anything has happened since I mentioned it. Our school completely sucks at communication - they told us when Parents Evening was but not that the sign up sheet had gone up for it. That meant me and another mum only found out this morning, when another mum from our class mentioned she'd noticed in when picking up her kid from after school club - I suspect there are still parents in our class who don't know. I get the sense there is a big resentment building about the lack of communication, but there's no forum to air it in, so we all just keep it to ourselves or chat about it in the playground. Unfortunately, nobody has the time to try and do the Marxist thing of getting us from being a group 'in itself' into a group 'for itself'. I can't remember the mechanism by which Marx thought that was naturally meant to happen, but I suspect he was thinking about people having much more time on their hands than us playground mums do - with other kids, work and running the household we barely have time to breathe let alone start a revolution - even if its only a small one. Perhaps I could've enlisted the spiders help, but they have left me now - thanks to the small bucket of conkers DS1 left by the back door.  I miss them, but not that much.

I took the kids with me to the book festival last Sunday. GN came with us to look after them while I did my sessions, and they had a great time celebrity spotting. DS1 saw his favourite kids TV celebrity - and got his book signed by him - so was very excited. He said to me 'If you watch someone on TV, do they know you're watching them?' - now that would be weird. I had to explain that while he may have seen said person several hundred times, and so felt he knew him, said celebrity did not, in fact, know DS1. DS1 was satisfied with this, I get the sense he suspected as much, but just wanted to check.

DS2 on the other hand just enjoyed climbing up and down the steps in the Green Room, during which activity he was acknowledged by Larry Lamb but ignored by Michael Portillo. Not a bad result really. He was suitably non-plussed by both of them, but it amused GN no end.

Obviously all this frenetic activity has not much helped DS1s tiredness, so he has now moved up from 'I don't like you, I want to punch you' to 'I hate you, I want to kill you' when asked to do something he doesn't want to, or for any other reason really. It seems the less I get angry with him, the more angry he gets. Which is probably a good thing, as it does suggest that I was channelling his anger, so at least he's dealing with it all himself now, rather than processing it through me. (Good for me in the short run, and probably good for him in the long run). It's still not pleasant though - he did it the other day about 5 mins after we'd come in the door from taking them both out for pizza, just because he'd been asked to get ready for a bath. I was quite hurt really, I know its just tiredness on  his part but I felt really gutted as I'd gone out of my way to do something nice and we'd had a lovely time, and somehow coming home to that afterwards just seemed to spoil it a bit for me. I have been trying to talk to him about other ways of processing his anger/tiredness, but it is, as usual, a long and uphill struggle.

DS2 is still progressing well towards his goal of winning the 'Most Wilful Child' award. As soon as any door is open, he wants to be outside, and not just outside but a good 50 feet along the pavement, examining drain covers and refusing to hold my hand. This is proving a particularly difficult challenge at the moment as we're getting up early to go to WHSmith and get the free lego with The Sun. Don't ask me why we are doing this, I have an undiagnosed addiction to free stuff, I'm working on it, but somehow I just can't quite kick the habit - and its Lego!! How can I be expected to resist?? It does mean however, that every morning involves a running battle to get DS2 to stay in the shop and not running out on to the road. He is frighteningly strong for a one year old and when I try to pick him up he wriggles and squirms to make it almost impossible to hold him - and there's no time to get a buggy out if we're still going to get to school on time. DS1 is fortunately able to get the papers and pay, while I herd DS2. Now if they'd just let 5 year olds drive cars too, my problems would be solved. Damn those pesky driving laws.

In other news, i've realised that me doing the cleaning means a/ my house is much cleaner and b/ I get a free workout into the bargain, from lugging the hoover around and trying to get it done in the hour I have spare while DS2 is at the childminders. I still hate cleaning, but I'll admit to a satisfaction in doing it myself - and on the positive side, I now have a shower that produces a reasonable amount of water - I thought the shower was knackered but apparently a quick wipe of the shower head and water actually comes out of the holes - who knew? It seems that neither of my cleaners knew the concept of elbow grease at all. There was a rust stain on my sink that has been there for about a year, and I kind of assumed it was unshiftable, because surely, two paid cleaners would've given it at least a little scrub to see? Apparently not.  What the hell were these women doing in my house for two hours every fortnight?? The cleaner, by the way, for those of you who were wondering if my previously blogged paranoia was justified, had just left her phone at work that time and was very understanding about me not being able to afford her anymore, so my concerns were entirely misplaced - as suspected. However my paranoia about then end of my blogs being mysteriously cut off is growing, as I wrote that on the blog after I mentioned it, and it wasn't there. Strange. I am saving this one in Word in case I have to post it again. Perhaps it is the spiders - they are definitely strong enough to press keys down, so who knows what they could be doing, perhaps they are exacting revenge for the foul-smelling-to-spiders conker tub. If I'm not here in a few days, give this photo fit to the police...

Yes, they really do look like this - scary huh?

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