Friday, 28 March 2008

School -the best years of your life?

I have finished work for the spring break and now we have two glorious weeks away from school. I work in a local primary school as a Pupil Support Assistant and have been there for 7 years. I love my job and I loved going to school when I was young. Sadly DD#1 has not enjoyed school and finds it hard, she is bright but has difficulty with her attention and reading is a chore that she will avoid at all costs. She will be sitting her exams in May and will be glad when she does not have to go back to school. I really hope that college will offer her a different learning experience which will show her that education can be fun.
DD#2 is very intelligent and has been told by her school that she is one of the brightest pupils in her year, where it all goes wrong for her is the relationships she has with her teachers and peer group. She will be moving to a level 3 behaviour support school after the holidays and hopefully the small class sizes will allow her to fill in all the gaps in her education. If she sticks in there she will be able to leave next year with qualifications that people in the year above her will be doing.
It made me think that school is not always the fantastic thing that it is made out to be. I honestly was really lucky to be happy at school, and DD#3 seems to be happy too. We were talking in the staffroom the other lunchtime about discipline and what can be done in some situations that become difficult to deal with and our lovely classroom assistant spoke about how she had a tough time at primary school, and how the head had it in for her. We laughed, but she was serious and told us of some of the things that had happened to her like how she was targeted and given the belt, often for no reason, or even worse when someone else had done something. At one point her friend had said to the head that it was actually her that was talking and that S**** had only been asking her to stop so they didn't get into trouble and S still got the belt!
Many years later S had gone back to her old school for her own daughters parents night and although the staff had all changed, when approached by the new Head Master she recounted her time at school and broke down in tears, I am sure that she reverted back to that broken girl she was who had been mistreated by a person in power that should have known better.
I am so glad that that type of punishment is not allowed in schools today it has stopped many needless attacks on children.
As a parent I am lucky to work in the same school that DD#3 attends and she does not have any difficulty with it. In Scotland we used to have a fantastic educational system, but like most other places things change and new approaches are brought in to comply with current thinking. We are currently changing from the 5-14 curriculum to The Curriculum for Excellence. As a lowly PSA we do not have the luxury of staff meetings and training days and we rely on teachers and heads guiding us in the right direction. The new system is much more flexible and has the individual child at the heart and embraces new teaching methods and the teaching of skills for life as well as academics. I hope this new approach will enable many children to have the best years of their life at school and leave them with many fond memories, not nightmares.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Touched by Toy Story 2

On Saturday I was flicking through the channels on tv when I noticed Toy Story 2 was on. I just love Disney films and especially the Pixar animations.
We were due to pop out to the shop, but DD2 and me both sat down and started to watch one of our favourite films. I was chuckling at the humour and raving about the quality of the animation when she said " Mum, you are just a big kid" well I could not argue with her, there is something captivating about all these types of film that touches people of all ages for many reasons. It wasn't till we heard the cough on the stairs that I realised that OH was waiting for us to move to go to the shop. Mind you he was really getting into the film too.
It made me think of DD#3 when she was little, probably between 3-5 years old, she had a small woody soft toy who went everywhere with her. The boy next door who is a year older had all the toys from the movie and they played with them all day everyday. I remember laughing at him because he really thought he was Buzz Lightyear of star command! I also remember the tears if woody could not be found.
Now my OH's Grandad had died when my OH was only about 7, but he was a much loved man who is spoken of fondly within family circles, and his graveside is tended regularly by his family. DD#3 decided to write him a letter and draw a picture telling him how much she missed him. If I remember she was only about 5 at the time. She carefully drew a picture and wrote a letter of sorts which we carefully put in a plastic bag. She then decided she wanted to give her treasured Woody toy to him too.
Gran took her to the graveside and the letter was carefully put under the gravel, and Woody was placed at the base of the headstone. There Woody sat for almost 2 years, untouched till an Auntie thought he had been left by mistake and put him in the bin.
I often think of what a huge gesture from a small child that was.

I was busy making biscuits on Sunday morning as we were going to my parents for lunch. I then thought they would be lovely made with lemon curd, so I made that too!
Here is a picture, they were delicious.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Time and tide wait for no man

Time, what a precious comodity.

I was having a clear out, and as I am a compulsive hoarder it needs real commitment to see it through. I do not know why I feel the need to keep so many things that I feel are important to me, I just do. Some people believe if you have not used something in a year then it is time to get rid of it. I can understand why, I really can. It is the actual doing it that I find hard.

There is something warming about finding something precious that you have kept for a long time and the memories that it re-awakens. Today I found some old magazines that I had bought, but not had the time to read fully, one of the articles was about time and how all the so called gadgets that have been invented in the past 50 or so years have actually made us busier. If you stop to think about it it is really true. How many of us are glued to mobile phones, laptops or could not live without tv, if I am honest I do enjoy spending time on my pc, but what other things am I not doing with my time that would be more worthwhile? It really made me think about how precious time is and how my own children will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye. I do struggle as a parent, and I honestly would not want to be a teen today, but helping each other through this turbulent time needs commitment and understanding.

The other thing I found today when clearing out my sideboard was 3 of my grans old cookery books. My beloved Granny died almost 2 years ago when she was 96. She was an inspiration and I cherish all the time I was lucky enough to spend with her. My Grandad had worked for the Scottish Gas Board and 2 of the books are from 2 different kinds of Gas cooker. The recipes are from the 50's onwards and make interesting reading, there were gems hidden in each one as Granny had cut out articles of interest and recipes from papers and magzines. The 3rd book is Aunt Kates Household Book, it is old and battered with no binding, I can only imagine that this was my Grans as a young woman as the book dates from 1933. There is all the information a young woman would have needed to run an efficient house at that time, first aid, laundry, table setting, recipes, what is in season each month and a diary section with a saying for every day. Todays one from 1933 was:
Do everything at the proper time. Put everything to its proper use. Keep everything in its proper place.
I can't believe how relevant to my writing that was as I had written my post and added this later - Granny I get the message!
Imagine if my Gran had had a clear out and thrown this away! I would not have had the pleasure of imagining what she had cooked from these books. Some things are important to pass on to your family, so that is a good enough excuse for me to keep some of the things my OH thinks should be thrown away :-)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Weighty matters

Just to change the subject I thought it would be good to chart my journey to loose weight, ah ha I hear you say, another women banging on about her weight. Yup, that's right, I have never been your average slim person, mind you when I was a teenager I was so self conscious and thought I was huge....but looking back I was not really big, I just matured at a young age and gained hips and a chest before my peers did. What a waste of my teenage years.
Like most women out there I have had issue with my size throughout my adult life. My weight really crept up when I met my OH 11 yrs ago. He was a take out junkie and as he worked long hours he would often have take out late at night, it was too easy to just have a bit and slowly I got bigger and bigger.
I am a bit of a loner, but when we moved house about 9 years ago I was blessed with good neighbours, once we had got to know each other we all decided to go along to a slimming club held in the village. This was my first experience at 30 of the dreaded diet! It was a slimming world class and after my initial fears of weigh in, I found it wasn't too bad. I went faithfully and lost 3 stones, but for some reason, which now escapes me, I had to stop going. Of course that meant I stopped sticking to the plan and the weight crept back on. I have stayed at the same size for years, but it has been a big size. Earlier this year I decided that enough was enough, I was not happy with myself if I was completely honest, and my health was suffering. A colleague had started to go back to slimming world with her sister and had told me, I could not afford the £5 fee each week and she kindly gave me her book to look at along with a recipe book. I just felt the time was right to do this again, my cooking skills had improved over the years and for some reason I just felt ready to do it. So far since the end of January I have lost 29lbs. I have a long way to go but I am setting myself mini targets, usually to change the stones number, then get to 1/2 a stone, then a full stone and back to changing the initial number again. It has worked for me so far and we still have occasional take out and treats, but I know that I can have them again when I want so I don't feel I am missing out.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Grounded ;-(

I know most of you parents out there will agree with me, that when we ground our darling children we are really grounding ourselves!
DD#2 went a wandering on Wednesday, was over an hour late, and instead of being apologetic and coming in quietly, she decides to come in fighting....... shouting, swearing and banging repeatedly. I never understand this, but as control is a major issue with her I had to think quickly and re-direct the situation, which let us all get to sleep eventually. She is grounded for a week and no internet till Monday at this point.
Well things were ok till Friday. My OH is not working at the moment and my parents did a mercy shop for me and were kind enough to bring it over. My Dad picked DD#2 up from dancing (she only got to go because they have a show in a couple of weeks and need to perfect the dances), and she went to speak to a friend at the bottom of the road, yeah right! That really means, ha ha, my Mum is in the house so now I have my chance to escape from the prison I live in. ******* blows raspberry and gestures with 2 fingers**** you know what I mean!
Dinner was ready, DD#3 went to tell her and surprise surprise she was not at the end of the road. Parents were not happy, and I was left bracing myself for the night ahead.
I called our helpline to advise them of what she had done and social work policy is to give them a certain amount of time and then pass it over to the police. I nipped out to the shop and there were 4 teens out side, 2 girls 2 boys. One looked over and dug the other girl in the ribs saying its your Mum....... she had changed clothes and was trying to hide her face. I calmly called her over
to say her tea was ready and I would take her up the road, but no she was with her friend and was not coming with me, asked her the same thing again and she walked away. She knows the routine and when she was told that the police would be called she ran off swearing.
Now I can deal with the swearing, even the going out when she is not supposed to, where it goes wrong for us is that she has zero victim empathy. Her workers go through her anger management, social situation work, peer pressure and whatever else they do with her, but that is their big concern too. To cut this story short, she tried to tell her worker that she had gone to another town, (red herring) and that she was not going home. Police found her, but she refused to come home unless her big sister slept elsewhere and that no-one spoke to her.....control or what!
She came in eventually, but refused to do anything the next day so we were all grounded. Hopefully today will be better.
Good news this weekend was that DD#3 took part in a local Burns Competition she is 9 and read Winter a Dirge. I was really proud of her as most of the other children only read a short verse, whereas her one was 3 long verses and she had struggled with the last one all week. Her effort paid off and she came second in her age group for verse. She got a lovely book of Burns Poems and Songs, a pen and a certificate. I had to leave after she had read, but when I went back to pick her up I was surprised to see her stand up and sing - Up In The Morning Early. It was beautiful and such a surprise. Seemingly if you win or were a previous winner you are allowed to stand up and perform again. She is already planning what she will do next year!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

A week has passed in the blink of an eye!

After my posts the other week I had hoped it would all settle down at home, how wrong I was. Both of my eldest DD started physically fighting like animals. They were shouting , screaming and really hurting each other. At nearly 16 and 14 they are not so easy to get in between anymore as I often get hurt in the process. By the time I had DD#3 shut in her room crying her eyes out, I was able to get then to stop (this was after dragging each other by the hair along my upper landing while kicking and punching each other). The police have to be called in these situations as our family workers will not intervene when there is violence. By the time it calmed down enough to asses the damage, I was able to see that I had a broken bathroom door, hanging on 1 hinge, no handle on DD#3 door, and the bedroom door on the other room had a bent hinge and would not shut properly.....aagggggghhhhh. We had only fitted new doors in October !
The police came and spoke to the girls, eldest had to go and stay at a friends for the night and middle one kept up the cheek and destruction for the next day or so. I tried to get hold of my social worker as all this happened before 5pm, but she was not available and the duty worker said there was not anything she could do till the next day.
By this time my OH had arranged to go to his mothers and take our daughter with him. He said if he can't take it anymore he will take our daughter and move out completely- just what you need when you are down of course. I was distraught. His Mum is going to keep checking on DD#3 and has told her to phone anytime she feel scared and she will take her, I just felt like the big bad Mum, but I had done nothing wrong.
Thankfully over the next few days things calmed down and social work are trying to get me respite occasionally as I have no-one to watch the children other than my elderly parents.
DD#2 really wants to be put into care, but as a caring Mum I know that this will not be the best place for her.
On the educational side, we went for a visit to a level3 behaviour support centre yesterday. She was going to level 2 everyday for part of the school day as they struggle to cope with her at school, but started to refuse to go. The level 3 means that she will be there all day every school day with children just as, if not more volatile that her. I was worried that she would not be able to gain any qualifications there, but she would have the opportunity to get qualifications and even the chance to do 5/6 year work there before leaving in 4th year. Her own high school are as frustrated as me, and have said she is one of the brightest pupils in her year, nut is throwing it all away with her behaviour. Why do the young never realise that what they are doing impacts on the rest of their life?