What to Write

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Last night I sat down with every good intention of writing and publishing a blog post.  I sat and looked at the blank screen for some time before giving up and going to bed.  My mind was devoid of inspiration.

Not a lot has changed in 24 hours but I have several ideas for blog posts now.  Tonight I want to share an editorial which I read this morning.  It is from a small local newsletter in Brisbane.  I do not normally read this publication but it was passed on to me for another reason and I happened to read this column which is a very thought-provoking piece of writing and is something that is worth passing on.

Personally SpeakingHere is the text of the article.

Our daughter is doing a gap year this year, and as part of that, is spending eight weeks in Nepal.  She had chosen Nepal way before the earthquakes hit,in fact, she bought her flights the day before the first earthquake in April.  You can imagine as parents, the prospect of her still going to Nepal after not one, but two significant disasters, was challenging to say the least!

Watching her walk under that ‘departure’ sign by herself was a very hard parenting moment.  But we did it!  Waiting to hear from her after the plane had landed that she was with staff and at the hotel was a very long two hours.  But we did it!

In the lead up to her trip, the various responses about it to us as parents has been interesting.  We’ve had people look at us like we are the most irresponsible parents in the world, others who just shake their heads heads and say they wouldn’t allow their child to do it, those who’ve just said they wouldn’t be able to do it, and those few who thought it was fantastic.

I chatted it over with a wise and wonderful friend of mine and worried that if something happened to her, and we knew we could have stopped her going, we would never forgive ourselves.  She said, “Stopping her from going would have been an abuse of your parental power.”

That gave me so much comfort in the days before her flight.  Although we probably could have talked her out of it (I think!), there is no way we should have.  Whenever we’re given the privilege of an invitation by our adult children to weigh in on their decision making, we need to be mindful that it is just that – a privilege.  We don’t have any right to say what they should do once grown.  We need to give them that unconditional love – regardless of whether that decision is going to make us uncomfortable by stressing us or causing us to worry.

We’ve already had a bit of practice with this, since our 24 year old son will never, ever have a nice safe job in an office and a house in the suburbs five doors down from us.  He has always sought a ‘unsafe’ life and has never shied away from doing ‘the hard thing’ either.  Not that he is reckless or risk-raking for the sake of it, quite the opposite.  His decisions are calculated and thoughtful.  But they are not ‘safe’ from a parental perspective.

Too often we view are children as possessions, something to be proud of and shown off to our friends.  And we are far too often worried about how their decisions affect us, rather than them.

We need to take a step back sometimes and check where we are coming from.  Are we advising them based on our fears or their best life, whatever that may look like?

Our children are not ‘ours’.  They are their own.  And the more we realise that, the more peace we will have, no matter what they decide to do or where they decide to go to do it.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your views and personal experiences.

Enjoy the Experience

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I have written before about the benefits of experiences versus stuff, particularly in relation to children’s gifts.

On the weekend I bought tickets to a show.  It is a musical called ‘Pete the Sheep’ and is based on a book of the same name by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley.

Pete the Sheep
It is being staged at a local venue at the end of April and is suitable for 4 – 9 year olds so I decided that this would be a perfect Easter ‘gift’ for our 2 granddaughters.  I do not think an overdose of chocolate is necessary nor over-the-top presents so this seemed like a perfect opportunity.  I am sure they will remember an evening of musical theatre long after the chocolate wrappers are in the rubbish.

It was not all about the grandchildren, though.  On Saturday afternoon, The Duke and I had an opportunity to see a screening of ‘Philomena’ by the Maleny Film Society.  Enjoyable is not a word I would use, however, it was challenging and thought-provoking.  It was perhaps not Judi Dench’s greatest role but I am glad I saw the film.  We took the opportunity to become members of the society and look forward to seeing many more of the really interesting films that they bring to our community.

Philomena
I have saved the best, or most exciting, till last.  We have booked our tickets to see ‘Les Miserables’ at Queen’s Theatre in London when we are there in August.  For years, The Duke has always said that he wanted to see Agatha Christie’s play, ‘The Moustrap’ if we ever went to London.  A couple of years ago it was staged here in Brisbane and naturally we went to see it.  So, he is now feeling a bit like ‘been there, done that’ about it.  We trawled the internet to see what else was going to be on while we were in London and the standout for us was ‘Les Miserables’.  We saw the Australian production back in the early 1990’s in Adelaide and of course, the recent movie with Russell Crowe’s cringeworthy performance.  I love the story and the music and am really excited to be seeing it again.

Les Miserables

I’m So Proud

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Today I want to share a story that my daughter told me.  The words, “I’m so proud of her” were what she said at the end of the story.

Miss O, now 6, has just started Year 1 at school after having completed Prep last year.  She is a bright little girl whom we all love dearly but she is very shy.

First day 2014

Talking has not been her forte and when she was at daycare there were times when the staff would bribe her to talk!  Social interactions were a real challenge so we were all concerned as to how she would cope at school.  She was lucky to have a brilliant and supportive Prep teacher who gently encouraged her.

As well as being at school Miss O goes to before and after school care and it was feedback from one of the co-ordinators that swelled her mother’s heart.  Miss O is not only settled and comfortable in her environment but she has taken a couple of the new Prep students under her wing and is teaching them a particular card game at after school care.

It may seem a small thing but it such an achievement for her.  I wonder if it is a bit of a case of ‘been there, done that’ and she knows how it feels and therefore has a real empathy for others who are feeling out of their depth?

We are all so proud of her.

Organised Kids

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On Friday afternoon The Duke and I picked up Miss O as she was coming to stay for the night and most of Saturday before meeting up with her Mum at a family BBQ late on Saturday afternoon.

Whenever either of the grandchildren come to stay something invariably gets forgotten and it is often a toothbrush so we reminded Miss O when we arrived.  This time it was spare underwear that was left behind and then when it was bedtime she announced, “Mum forgot to pack any toys”.  I pointed out to her that it was not actually her mother’s responsibility to pack toys – after all Miss O is nearly 6.

I decided to help Miss O to try to overcome things being forgotten so we made a packing list.

Packing list
This is what we created.  Miss O decided what needed to be on the list and with the aid of Google we found images to go with each item.  Naturally, there will be seasonal variations and not everything will be required each time she packs to go somewhere but I am hoping it will be a useful prompt.

We did not get it quite finished on Saturday but it is all done now, laminated and posted to Miss O as promised.

The picture prompts will also encourage her reading skills.

A Christmas List

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I have started to get my Christmas list which was in my head, down on paper.  It is not a list of what I want but a list of Christmas related activities and tasks.  I need to check that nothing gets forgotten.

Over the last few years it has become an unwritten rule that nothing overtly Christmassy happens until after 3rd December.  The significance of this is that it is Miss O’s birthday and I think that it is important to be able to focus on her special day and not let it become overwhelmed in the lead-up to Christmas.  Our darling turned 5 yesterday so has the adventure of starting Prep and the whole new world of school next year.

But back to the list…………

Plan menu for Christmas lunch
Put up Christmas tree
Finish Christmas letter
Write Christmas cards and post
Finish hand-made gifts
Check gifts complete for immediate family
Take granddaughters to see Christmas lights
Check for carol service appropriate for granddaughters

I am sure there will be other things to add to the list but that is the main focus for us.

Christmas lunch will be for 4 adults and 4 children (aged 6, 5, 5 and 3).  It will be gluten-free/ grain-free (in line with my eating plan).  I will write more about this in another post.

The Christmas tree will go up on Saturday afternoon when Miss O and Izz are here.

I need to get serious about finishing the Christmas letter which is half-written.  Many of our Christmas greeting are sent via email but I would like to get the cards in the mail by the middle of next week.

The gifts are an ongoing project which is coming along nicely.  I think I have planned gifts for everyone – just need to check the box in the spare room again.  Nothing is wrapped yet.  In fact, I will not be wrapping gifts this year as I have made re-useable gift bags in assorted sizes from Christmas fabric.  I won’t miss the piles of ripped wrapping paper all over the floor on Christmas morning.

We will be going the see the Christmas lights on Saturday evening when our granddaughters come to stay.  Once I find the time and date of the carol service I will organise to go with Miss O and Izz.

Writing everything down helps to clarify exactly what I need to do and when.  We have a fairly simple, low-key Christmas which is naturally focused on enjoying it with the children.

Over the next week or so I will post about each of the things on my list in more detail.

When do you start your Christmas preparations?  How are you going?  Please share your plans.