Look how far we’ve come!

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Just a few minutes spare, the two youngest are snuggled up in their beds and my husband is reading to the eldest. It’s a rare moment of peace at bedtime.
Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I find myself reflecting on how far we have come.
We’ve been parents for four years now. Our eldest will hit double figures this year (which makes me feel very old!), making this a rather special landmark year, this year we will pass the point when our eldest child has been home for more than half his life!
When we reached that landmark with our middle child, I felt a wonderful sense of ownership, I am really Mum now, more their Mum than anyone else is!
Together we have achieved so much. The children have worked hard and my husband and I can truly say that most days, most of the time, we have tried our best.
We have overcome some disgusting habits! My house rarely smells of urine anymore.
We have made amazing progress reducing violence and breakages are reducing. This year (for the first time!) more Christmas presents will make it would into the New Year in one piece than are lying in the bin.
More and more things remain where I left them. We have made wonderful progress!
The children are bigger, of course, and stronger and faster! They can play Scrabble by themselves and beat me at Uno. They swim and are beginning to pass when they play football. The eldest one has legible handwriting and the middle one can remember the months of the year in order.
Life isn’t perfect, of course, but we are making progress. And it is lovely to sit down this evening, take stock and conclude that – all be it slowly – we are moving forward together.
Here’s to remembering how far we’ve come and trying not to panic about how much there is left to do.
Happy New Year!

History

Obviously we do a lot of trips for history!
Cambridge is full of museums. St Albans has brilliant Roman museums. National Trust houses usually have trails, and occasionally hands on talks.

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We made butter in a Victorian dairy

We had one amazing trip to Kentwell Hall. Everyone dressed up and we had a wonderful time!

We also saw the very exciting Matthew Ward give a talk on Ruthless Romans and Gruesome Greeks. A great way of raising historical enthusiasm.
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We also use BBC and British Museum websites.

One of the hardest parts of teaching history (for me) has been trying to help the boys get a sense of how it all fits together. My eldest once came back from a trip to Mountfichet Castle and told us excitedly how he had seen ‘a real air raid shelter where the Normans hid’. We are working on this aspect using a fantastic new game called Chronology. All you have to do is guess whether a given event occurred before or after the cards you’re holding. The boys are (slowly) beginning to grasp how some key dates hang together. Games always work well in this house because we’re all absurdly competitive!
I am very excited for the future, however, because after Christmas we’re going to do the Montessori Great Lessons! So we’re going to cover all of history, from the Big Bang to Modern Mathematics. I have no idea how it’s going to go, but I am hoping it will help the boys develop big pictures of how the world is.

What are all those staring people thinking?

What are all those staring people thinking when they look at me restraining my tantruming child?
Do they think that I am hurting him? I can understand why people would think that, especially when he screeches at the top of his voice that I am killing him.
But, they don’t intervene, so I guess they must assume he is ok really.
Do they think that he’s badly behaved?
As my son swings off my arm, sinks his teeth into my shoulder, spits in my face, rakes his nails up and down my hands, are all those people tutting at how terrible his behaviour is?
They are almost right about that. His behaviour doesn’t help him or me right now. But this isn’t about behaviour, not exactly. This is about feelings, and he can’t control his feelings right now; right now those volcanic emotions are controlling him.
Do they think he has special needs?
Again, they are almost right. My son needs extra consideration sometimes and extra help with some things. But, he is able to understand speech perfectly well. He may tantrum like a toddler, but he doesn’t think like one.
Do they think that he’s been badly brought up, or that he doesn’t have enough boundaries?
I am always worrying that people are thinking that. Sometimes people – even friends who know some of the children’s struggles – have suggested that I ‘try’ consequences. Do they really think that I would prefer this behaviour to setting limits?
We have a routine. We have limits and boundaries. Later, after he’s calmed down, long after everyone had stopped staring at us, we will discuss consequences for this. But, now is not the time. Right now, we are just clinging on and staying alive through this storm.
Do those staring people think I am a fool?
While I’m ducking his fists and dodging his feet, when I reel back because he’s headbutted my face, are all the people around us shocked by my apparent lack of parenting ability?
Do they think I am too authoritative, too soft, too weak, too strong? Do they think I spend too much time with my son or not enough, that my standards for him are too high or my expectations too low? Do they think I have made my own bed and should lie in it, that I am making a rod for my own back? Do they think I can’t cope?
Is that what all those staring people are thinking, or is it just me?