Aside from the job and house work stuff which seems to occupy a fair bit of our mental energy, there are a couple of things, to do with Jamie, which are really causing some stress. The first is his teeth, the second is the whole playgroup/school thing.
So, dentist was meant to be on Monday (depending on a couple of other things, but has now not happened), to look at his front teeth and a possible new hole. We’re cleaning teeth last thing at night and after breakfast now but I just hope his front teeth remain ok. There’s a long story attached to this, but there’s only room in this post for a single massive story!
The other main thing right now is the playgroup thing. Jamie has been coming home for a while and saying there have been various incidents in the class. It’s the last 5 times something has happened. There are a range of things…
shoved by girl by coats
blocked by boy on bike
boy ‘roared’ in his face
some of the children are rude
boy was mean to him
Part of the problem is just settling back down with new younger children in class, as he was doing the PM slot on Tuesday, rather than the AM slot. Also, some of them really want to play with Jamie but sometimes he just wants to play by himself. He can get a bit frustrated at these times. This is also to do with feeling the same emotions as he feels with Jac, like not wanting to share toys etc.
They also shift around the activities during the playgroup and if he’s into doing something, he doesn’t want to change things.
I don’t actually think for 1 minute that there is an issue of bullying here. We have been in contact with his teacher (1 of 4 there) who has been checking on him. She has explained a number of the incidents and they all seem to be fairly innocuous. For example, when he was ‘blocked’ by a boy with his bike, this was actually when a boy went the wrong way around the play shed, then bumped into Jamie.
Our lack of interaction or contact with the teachers also feels quite weird to me, but they all seem to know what they’re doing.
Also, Jamie has said a couple of times that a boy has been mean to him, but when a friend came over the other day to play with him, Jamie also said he was mean to him. What actually happened was that this boy kept wanting to play with Jamie, but Jamie just didn’t feel like playing with him + there is sometimes a toy issue, in that he doesn’t want to share things. Hardly the end of the world.
I can explain away all the incidents but at the end of the day, it is making him unhappy and he doesn’t want to be there.
I was in Bristol the other day on a training course and was talking to Claire on the phone about Jamie and the playgroup thing. It was last Thursday and he really didn’t want to go to the group. In the end, Claire didn’t make him and said he didn’t have to go, but as soon as she said that, she said it was like he was a different person – very happy and chatty the rest of the day and she said it seemed like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
I mentioned some of the things to my colleague who was on the course with me and he thought the fact that he was really happy that he didn’t have to go was the most shocking thing about it. I have to say I agree.
The whole school issue is also coming up. 30 kids to a class, with 1 support teacher? The various research that has been done on child development, particularly in boys, which basically concludes that boys only start to tune in to academic learning from age 7. The physical side to their development is much more significant and this can be seen in boys of any age, not just the very young ones. I don’t want to stereotype unnecessarily but there are fairly strong patterns to the different ages and genders. For these two reasons, at least from my point of view, we have decided to only send him to playgroup if he wants to go and also to not send him to school until age 7.
We’ve been intensely thinking about this for over a year and it’s got to the point where I feel we are over-thinking about it, to a significant degree. This relates to my deeply held belief that over-analysis and over-thinking can lead to inaction and indecisiveness. There is obviously an essential thinking / consideration element to life which is fundamental to a progressive society, but you also have to just make a decision and get on with your life.
DON’T: consider, consider, research, consider, analyse, research, consider, think, consider x 10…
DO: research, consider, think, research, consider, act.
I can’t highlight enough the importance of researching a problem, then considering that research, but there is a point when you have done that, but because it’s a hard decision (which might take some effort or money or stress or time) you put it off. Putting off that sort of important decision is not good. We’ve fallen into the trap. Anything to do with kids is significant. This is why we’ve been considering things for so long.
But, today, I had a kind of realisation moment. We were walking back from town and I just said to Claire, ‘I’m actually starting to think this whole issue is less significant than I first thought.’
The whole raising kids thing is so full of pressure and work that everything seems to be so important. Every day there are new challenges and it stretches you in ways you’ve never imagined. It tests your mental and physical resolve. It makes you a stronger and more capable person, but it is also draining.
But… everyday you just have to get on with it. You just become ‘a parent’. There’s a point where you stop freaking out about things and just read them a book, change a nappy, go to the park… whatever. I used to freak out about the rough age when kids would be able to remember the things which you said (maybe age 3). Now, I look at it as a good thing – now I can teach them things which I wish I had been taught.
*slight off-subject alert* – I signed up to ‘Reading Buddies’ with a kid at our local school (also called Matt) for 2 years. One day, we were choosing a book to read and he was trying to worm his way out of doing anything which could be called reading. I noticed a book about Volcanoes. I said to him that i’d actually stood at the top of that volcano on that page – referring to Mauna Kea on Hawaii. I said that you stand so high that you are way above the clouds and it’s hard to breath. I also said it’s the 3rd tallest volcano in the entire solar system, Olypus Mons on Mars being the highest. I talked about the massive observatory domes up there and the strange black landscapes.
He looked at me in total awe. I’m not joking. I’ll always remember that moment. The scale and insight of the information must have really affected him.
Well, it’s easy to get caught up in all this stuff. But we are now fully functional parents and it doesn’t all seem so new or strange. So, what if he doesn’t go to school, to sit in class of 30 other kids, all competing for attention and space? My normal logical self seems to be finally kicking in. We’ve been very ‘not bothered either way for a while’ but it’s starting to clear a bit. The crux of the matter is the 30 per class thing and my experience during Reading Buddies.
We’re going to see what happens but just wanted to get some things on here, partly for posterity but partly to lay it out to see if it made any sense!
So, busy week at home coming up… Surveyor in on Monday to do a full check, relating to the 2050 grant scheme for eco home improvements, same day dentist for Jamie, on Tuesday it’s playgroup D-Day. Wish us luck!