0

Death and Questions

Last week we experienced loss in our family. My husband lost his father, my kids their Poppa. I lost my father in law.

It was a trying and emotionally wrecking week for us all, involving a lot of travel at very short notice. The kids were tired, we were tired. And, to add to it all, we were dealing with the grief that comes with such an immense loss. My father in law was an amazing man, not in the best health but healthy nonetheless, in his spirit and his happiness and attitude towards life.

Princess has a fair understanding of death – she has always been curious and empathetic to the feelings of others in a way that is beyond her seven years. BoyChild has an innocent and literal approach to most things. And BabyGirl lives in her own, three-year-old world.

Through the process of the week, from finding out about the death, to telling the kids, to deciding to drive through the night to get home, to seeing Grandparents and Aunties and Uncles that we hadn’t planned on seeing for some time, to the funeral itself, the kids came and went with their feelings and emotions.

Had it not been such a sad situation, it might have been interesting to observe how they dealt with things, in their own ways.

Princess was silly and over-hyped, from the moment I told her. I knew this was a defense mechanism and so watched her very closely, waiting for the inevitable crash.

BoyChild didn’t seem overly concerned or interested at all, until two or so hours before the funeral when the questions took on a more serious tone and he found comfort in cuddling his Grandad (my step dad).

And, the questions. Right off the bat I was certain I would answer them with confidence, honesty, and to the point. I knew the kids would ask some doozies, and I wasn’t wrong.

Why did he die? How did he die? What happened when he died? Did he know he was going to die? Has Poppa got a new family now? Does Nana need to find a new Poppa? How can I read a poem to Poppa at the funeral when he is dead and won’t be there? Did he die by zombies? Did he die by snakes? Is he in a new world? Is he a Dolphin now? Is Dad sad? Are you sad? Are you going to cry? What if I don’t want to cry? Do I have to say goodbye? Can I telephone him? How will he hear me? What will happen to Poppa now? What is cremation? Will he have a gravestone? Can I sprinkle his ashes?

What will happen now that Daddy doesn’t have a Daddy? When is Daddy going to die? When are you going to die? I don’t want you to die.

I don’t want to die.

I only hope that I was able to aid the kids enough in answering their questions that they are able to look back and think of their Poppa in the great light with which he deserves, and dwell on the good rather than the funeral and the sadness.

Princess did cry eventually – right at the very end of the funeral, as her Daddy carried her Poppa out, she finally gave in and let herself grieve. She sobbed and I held her and she whispered that she didn’t like this at all, and I said I didn’t like it either. And, once we were the last two people in the room, I asked her if she was ready to go outside. She stood up, wiped her eyes, smiled at me and ran from the room to chase her brother up a tree. Literally ten seconds later she was laughing and clowning around again.

The questions have slowed but they certainly haven’t stopped, and we will just keep on doing what we’ve been doing. Answering the questions as honestly as we can, and encouraging the kids to ask and talk about it as much as they need to.

I talk about parenting and the hardest parts – I would now add losing a loved one to that list. It was never going to be easy or fun, but as the kids get older I have realised that their grief requires a lot more energy than perhaps we feel like giving, but is also something that we, as parents, need to give them so as to ensure they learn the skills they will need as they grow and develop as individuals.

Rest well, Poppa – who is, apparently, a dolphin riding trains in the sky, alongside his pet unicorn.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
0

Do Not Open Until 25 December

Christmas is 9 sleeps away, and the courier parcels are arriving at our house like crazy town. The other day I had two separate companies pull up at the same time. They raced each other up the path, it was awesome.

A large amount of what is coming is either (a) online shopping for the kids from “Santa”, (b) online shopping for me disguised as online shopping for the kids from “Santa”, and (c) my usual work stuff that really isn’t particularly interesting at all.

And, then there is the presents. The Actual Presents, sent from various friends, family, Grandparents, Secret Santas and the like.

Now bears the questions – do you open the presents as they arrive, or do you wait until Christmas??

For me and my presents, I wait. And the reason I wait is because I don’t get to open many presents on Christmas day, so it’s fun. Now, I use the term “wait” loosely because let’s be honest, I have zero will power and 9 days is a loooooooong time to wait. But I will try, gosh darnit I’ll try.

But, for the kids. Do I make them wait, or allow them a couple of sneaky early pressies?

Reasons to Wait

  • The are intended to be opened on Christmas Day, so they should be opened on Christmas Day
  • It makes it all the more special to wait
  • It teaches them that they can’t have what they want, when they want it. They must wait.
  • It serves as a valuable bribery tool

Reasons to Let Them Let Rip (the wrapping paper, that is) 

  • It makes Christmas last for aaaaaaaages
  • It allows us to treasure each present separately, rather than them getting lost amidst the chaos of Christmas Day
  • It shuts them the heck up. School holidays, yo.

Like I said, many of our presents come from Grandparents and friends who live far away from us. We aren’t going to see them on Christmas Day (*sad face*) and by letting the kids open the presents early, we are able to give those presents sole focus. This is particularly special when they are gifts that require concentration and loads of little parts. If the kids opened them with all their other Christmas Day loot, it won’t be the same.

At the end of the day, whether or not the kids should be opening their presents before Christmas Day is entirely up to the parent. I’m a read-the-end-of-the-book-before-im-halfway-through kinda person, so you can probably guess where my preference lies. But, that being said, there is still a healthy-ish pile of gifts under our tree, stubbornly waiting for Christmas Day.

img_5427

Even my Secret Santa gift. Sitting there. Taunting me.

“open meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee you know you waaaaannntttt toooooooooo”

 

 

0

Kids, Social Media and Privacy

In today’s day and age, social media is a massive part of our lives, with the potential to be a massively intrusive part of our lives.

Anyone who follows this blog will know, I guard my children and their privacy very closely. The reason for doing so is not because I set out to shame them or ridicule them (well, not often) but rather to protect their integrity as they grow into teenagers and adults. I don’t want my kids to have their names google-able in relation to the time they shat all through their cot and smeared it up the walls. I mean, all kids do that, but most don’t have it blasted across the deep hole that is the interweb. We certainly didn’t when we were kids.

I make sure never to print my kids names (“what? Do you mean your kids aren’t called Princess, BoyChild and BabyGirl?!”). On one occasion I inadvertently printed a picture of another child (working so hard to crop my own kids faces that I forgot to crop another kid out) and was promptly called to account on it by one of my lovely readers. And, realising my error with shock and horror (I’m pretty sure I literally said “Oh, shit!” out loud), I immediately altered the picture.

But, why not their faces, I hear you ask? Because it’s a small world, after all. Thanks, Walt. (Disney, for those of you who are sitting there thinking, “who the bloody heck is Walt?”). To print their faces would be to link them to their names.

It’s a deep hole, I tell ya, this t’interweb.

Which brings me to today. Don’t get me wrong, there have been tons upon oodles of pictures that I’ve wanted to post on here and very nearly done so. Because my kids, the little weirdos, are fricken cute. But I haven’t, because it’s just the way I’ve always done it. It’s not to say that any parent blogger who does name their kids and print pictures is a bad parent. God no! I would never, ever judge someone like that. It’s just what *I* decided to do, and how I decided to play this game.

Right. Sorry, I got momentarily distracted by the offer of pavlova. Mmmmmm. Pavlova. Where was I?

Oh! Yes! Today!

Today little BabyGirl had her preschool Christmas performance. All the millions of parents were there to watch their little cherubs sing the songs we’ve been hearing them practice for weeks. I mean, how cute. How fucking adorable they all were, lined up against the wall, in their Christmas clothes (save for the random kid wearing a Spiderman costume. There is always one) belting out random Christmas songs like there was no tomorrow.

And my baby was right there, so tiny in the line up, bopping around and singing louder than any other kid. No idea where she gets that from.

Now, it’s 2016. So, I’m sure you can imagine, the audience was a sea of cell phones. Because who wouldn’t want to capture that?

Nobody.

Just before the performance started, the head teacher announced that there was to be no filming or photography at any stage, because some parents had requested that their children not feature on social media at all.

I mean.

Look, I get it, I do. I don’t want my kids being filmed by some random and blasted all over the internet. But, I also get that these weren’t random crazy people, these were the same proud parents that I was, simply wanting to capture it for future reference. For the Grandparents who don’t get to see the kids more than once a year. For them, the only way they get to know what the kids are up to, are thanks to social media and the likes of Facetime and Skype. T’interweb. For the parent who couldn’t be there. Mr T was there because it was his day off but on any given day he might have been working.

I don’t capture these things to put on youtube for all’n’sundry to watch. I capture them to put them on Apple TV Airplay so the kids can watch themselves again and again (and again and whoops sorry ran out of battery bye).

If I were to have taken a photo today, I might have taken one of the disappointed parents, the grandparents who had to put their phones away. Granted, it meant we were all actually watching the show, god forbid. But still. I think perhaps it might have been better dealt with by asking that no one upload to social media, as opposed to no one film at all.

I’m just sad that BabyGirl has no record of her first ever performance. That might be worth a fortune one day.

For today, I guess we just have the memory.

Ok. And the two sneaky photos I took. And the 7 second video. Shhhhh. Don’t tell.

 

 

0

The Hardest Part of Xmas

Christmas comes with many challenges.

What the heck do you (slash Santa) buy the kids? And, how do you even make sure it’s balanced? One kid was easy. I’m pretty sure when Princess was a baby she got a random mix of practical things and annoying toys.

Three kids are hard to shop for. Especially when two are girls and one is a boy. What do you even buy for a boy? Does anybody even know?????? The challenge isn’t so much is what you buy, but rather in how to make sure you have the same amount across all three kids. Obviously it is never going to be an exactly equal stash, but you desperately don’t want to fall into the trap of buying one kid six hundred things, and buying the other kid a book. Lest they grow up feeling less equal to their sibling.

But, it’s a blimmen snowball effect. And I already can see the same pattern emerging this year that I went through last year and the year before. It goes something like this:

Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Oh-shit-I’ve-got-so-much-stuff-for-her-and-nothing-for-the-others. Buy for BabyGirl. Buy for BoyChild. Buy for BabyGirl. Buy for BoyChild. Buy for Princess. Buy for Princess. Buy for Prin—oh-shit-I’m-doing-it-again. Buy for BabyGirl/Boychild/BabyGirl/Boychild/BabyGirl/Boychild …. crap. Now they have more stuff. Next year we do it differently! Write lists for a start. And stick to them.

Aaaaaaaand repeat next year.

But no. That inevitable hole that I dig for myself is not the hardest part of Xmas.

The hardest part is WHERE THE HELL DO I EVEN PUT ALL THE PRESENTS??!?!?!?

I mean, when they are little, you can put them in the middle of the freakin table and they would be none the wiser come Xmas morning. But as they get older, they get smarter. And they know there are presents hidden. Little sneaks.

At the moment I have them hidden in some very creative places, if I do say so myself. I have to say, it’s hard work staying ahead of a savvy 7 year old!

At first, I had the presents at the top of the laundry linen cupboard. Until I got a towel out and was showered by Thomas trains and a (very heavy) doll. I swore, Princess came a-sniffing.

img_5330

And then, I had the GENIUS idea to use a suitcase. I know, right?! Pure genius. Until husband has to go away for work.

I’m just grabbing my suitcase from the ——-
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DON’T OPEN THE SUITCASE THAT IS EMPTY AND NOTHING IS IN THERE BUT STILL JUST DON’T OPEN IT

Smooth. They didn’t suspect a damn thing.

I transferred the stuff to another suitcase. And when that was full, into another suitcase.

img_5332

And then I think, hey – I got this xmas thing sorted. Santa ain’t got nothin’ on me.

We got Princess a bike. And BabyGirl a giant stuffed Seahorse. I know. Sigh. I’m goin to be swearing at that on Boxing Day. For now, I was cursing because where on earth do you hide a damn bicycle??????

The answer? In plain view. Kids are smart, but they also can’t see things right under their noses. I mean, anyone who has ever tried to get a kid to find their shoes can attest to that.

In the corner of our house is a shelf. In front of that shelf, there is a mattress leaning against the wall. Behind that mattress, if you were to look closely, is a brand spanking new bike.

Genius.

See? I got this Xmas shit sorted.

Now to figure out how to wrap the lot.

Methinks there will be wine for that.

 

 

2

Be the bigger person

There are two things that stick around well into adult hood, that would horrify my fourteen year old self.

Pimples.

Yea, sorry to say it, dear teenagers – you will continue to get pimples well into your 30s and beyond. I know. I KNOW. What the actual. Stupid hormones.

The second thing?

Mean girls.

You know, those girls who just made your life hell when you were at school? That made your stomach knot up when you walked into a room that they were in? They still exist well into adulthood.

Of course, they don’t always fit the same aesthetic as they did in high school – back then, the mean girls were often the “popular” kids. The pretty ones with all the friends. Nowadays, they are often the ones who were picked on by these same girls when they were are high school. They are women who, for whatever reason, thrive on drama and survive by making themselves the victim. Or, they are simply women who don’t know the effect of their behaviour.

It’s natural to meet people in life who you don’t like. It’s natural that there will be people who don’t like you. It’s part and parcel with growing up – there will always be people who, for whatever reason, don’t gel with you. And that’s okay!

I make my kids well aware that they don’t have to like everyone. But what I also make clear is that they must be nice and kind to everyone.

Which is hard to do, when someone is being less than nice to you. It’s really hard to be the bigger person, when all you want to do it bow to their level and bitch about them to everyone. It’s hard to smile and be in the same room as them, knowing that every single time they walk past you, they will whisper, at a volume only you can hear, something horridly scathing that brings you and all of your anxieties right back to your fourteen year old self at high school. That they will complain and bitch about you to anyone who will listen, whenever you are around. That, despite your best intentions, they will make you cry every time you see them. Just like in high school.

And so, how to teach your kids to be the bigger person, to walk away no matter how shit you feel, to pick your battles and be prepared to raise your hands and say, “I’m done, I’m out. Whatever battle you are fighting, you win”? That, despite your differences, you are trying your darndest to put that aside, for the sake of everyone?

By simply doing. No matter how hard it is, no matter how many tears are shed, you will be the bigger person, for the sake of your kids.

Why?

So that, when they are in their 20s, their 30s, they too have the strength to walk away from toxic situations. That they too have the strength to be nice, kind people.

Because that is what makes it all worth it.

You wanna change the world? Raise your kids to be kind, respectful and compassionate. But don’t just tell them to be that way. Show them.

– anon

 

0

12 Questions About Life: Princess, BoyChild AND BabyGirl

It has been such a long time since I did these questions with the kids, and finally I sat down without enough time and patience to do so. I thought it was well time for BabyGirl to give the answers a crack, too. Such fun.

It has been nearly a year since we last did it, so it’s really cool to see how the answers have changed (and how some haven’t changed at all!). As always, previous answers are in brackets underneath the current answer for comparison.

12 Questions About Life – by Princess, 7 years, 2 months

1. What is the meaning of life? God

(Love)

2. What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher

(A vet and a zookeeper)

3. What makes you most happy? Mum and Dad

(Cuddling Mum )

4. When do you feel most loved? When I get cuddles

(When kissing Mum and Dad)

5. What are you afraid of? Mice and bats and spiders

(My imagination)

6. If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Puppies and a kitten

(Puppies)

7. What is the funniest word? Poo!

(*insert strange noise*)

8. What is the easiest thing to do? Tell my sister off

(Cartwheels and handstands)

9. What is the hardest thing to do? Maths worksheets

(Backflips)

10. What makes you mad? When someone wants to play with me but I’m already playing with someone else

(Babygirl biting me)

11. What is the meaning of love? Love

(God)

12. If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? I would give half of the money to the people with poor lives, and with the other half I would use it to get more and more money

(Buy lots and lots of toys).

 

12 Questions About Life – BoyChild, 5 years, 8 months

1. What is the meaning of life? I don’t know

(I dunno)

2. What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher

(A train)

3. What makes you most happy? Otis elevators

(Talking)

4. When do you feel most loved? When I go up to floor 10 [in a lift]

(Friends)

5. What are you afraid of? Dinosaurs

(Frozen Movie)

6. If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Skyscrapers

(A heart)

7. What is the funniest word? POOS!

(Fruit!)

8. What is the easiest thing to do? Hard work at school

(Playing with trains)

9. What is the hardest thing to do? Building a hard marble track at school

(Trying to get the car out of the box in the toy room because it’s stuck and I can’t get it out)

10. What makes you mad? Everybody being angry with me

(Crying)

11. What is the meaning of love? Nice people

(Hearts)

12. If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? Buy an elevator birthday cake

(Buy trains)

 

12 Questions About Life – BabyGirl, 3 years, 5 months

1. What is the meaning of life? Popsicles

2. What do you want to be when you grow up? Twilight Sparkle

3. What makes you most happy? You! 

4. When do you feel most loved? Playing with ponies

5. What are you afraid of? Tigers

6. If you had one wish, what would you wish for? Being a pony

7. What is the funniest word? Um … ponies? 

8. What is the easiest thing to do? Um … ponies? 

9. What is the hardest thing to do? Um … ponies? 

10. What makes you mad? When someone makes me sad

11. What is the meaning of love? Um … ponies? 

12. If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it? Um … chips? 

 

Hilarious. BabyGirl likes Ponies, I’m not sure if you got that. I must remember to do this more often, it’s so much fun. I highly recommend it!

And, as always, here are the links to the previous ones, if you want to have a look back!

12 Questions About Life – Princess, Take Six! BoyChild, Take Three!

12 Questions About Life – Princess, Take Five! BoyChild, Take Two

12 Questions About Life – Princess, Take Four. BoyChild, Take One.

12 Questions About Life – Princess, Take Three

12 Questions About Life – Princess, Take Two

12 Questions About Life – Princess, Take One

 

0

Please

Please don’t be mad at me

I’m sorry that I yelled 

I’m sorry for the tantrum and the tears 

I’m still learning; I’ve never been this age before. 

Please be patient with me

I don’t always understand what you want me to do, but I’ll do my best. 

I get tired some days, hungry some days. 

I need to be able to do things by myself, I appreciate your help but I need to be independent too. 

I know you rely on me, I am obsessed with you too. 

I do hear you even though it seems like I’m not listening sometimes

I know you are listening to me even though sometimes it feels like you can’t hear me 

I’m sorry for growling, for scowling 

Please don’t tell me to go away

I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon. You and me, we are a package deal. You, me and the others. 

I’m sorry I frightened you when you didn’t know where I was. I knew where I was! 

The world is so scary!  But we are a team.

Thank you for asking me if I was ok when I looked sad. Thank you for kissing me and saying you missed me when I was away. 

Thank you for loving me. 

As the years go by, our relationship will change as we grow older. 

We’ve never been this age before. 

Please remember that I am doing my best. I know you are doing yours. 

To my child. 

To my mum. 

Thank you xx