Tuesday, 27 September 2011

TWOsday! My two gingers

When Jamie posted that she was doing a link up, I of course wanted to take part. But twos? I don't have so many twos other than the obvious - arms, legs, eyes etc. I have one beautiful baby boy, one ever expanding bump due in March and one wonderful, wonderful (so much so it deserves to be said twice - there's a two!) fiance.

But there it is, right there. My bump is (literally) an ever growing part of our lives but doesn't quite feature yet. So I am left with two. Two! My two boys. My big boy and my little boy. My two gingers I like to call them, the big ginger and the little ginger. The two people that make both my head and my heart spin upside down and inside out and ultimately keep my world turning.

And of all the men in my life it's their hair that makes them stand out as much as their fiery (see what I did there) personalities. So here they are, my TWO perfect gingers.


Big steps for a little boy

A while ago I told you a story that, I think, displayed the first signs of Will not only hearing and listening but understanding. Well, that turned out to be just one of a few that have occurred over the past few weeks. Hurrah!

The first is a similar story to the last, one of listening and understanding. Will is really into pretending to cook, both me and his Dad love to cook and do cook a lot so it's no surprise he thinks of it as a fun thing to do. So rather than any of his toys, his present favourite thing to play with is anything out of the kitchen. Pots, pans, utensils, cake tins, tupperware.

Our coffee tables look like this...

Because of our delightful, inquisitive son, we do not keep anything in them and recently Will has taken to pretending they are his very own little oven. So unbelievably cute. I love watching him taking things in and out of it and watching his mind working overtime.

The other day he was carrying a two handled pan with just one hand and because of the angle he was holding it at, it wouldn't fit into the gap. From a distance away, I called his name and said to him 'use two hands, hold it with two hands'. We try and sign alongside speech at all times but I couldn't think of a gesture to accompany this so I just continued to repeat the words. It only took about three times before he did it. He looked at me, looked back, used two hands and sure enough got the pan in the 'oven'. So. Very. Proud. 

The other steps forward are wanted to share with you are particularly exciting - SPEECH!!!

Over the past couple of weeks Will has begun to mimic sounds. When he waves bye bye it is now accompanied by a heartwarming 'buh buh'. When playing on the train in the playground and a friend of ours said 'choo choo', William repeated 'wooo wooo'. And then this week when we were playing with rubber ducks and making them quack he said 'ack ack'.

I cannot tell you how excited and proud all of this makes me. Wearing the hearing aids is making such a difference at such a fast rate. I am so very pleased with him and his progress and I have even turned my own little corner. I am, for the first time, much happier when Will has his hearing aids in and want him to wear them. There is such a distinct difference in his behaviour and mood, making it obvious that they are quite blatantly the best thing for him. And what's best for him is best for me and best for us.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Playground Parenting

Will has recently just started to really enjoy playgrounds. He loves to climb up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs, down the stairs. Occasionally the slide or the swing get a look in but at the moment it's mainly about the stairs.

And other kids. It's just me at home all day so Will doesn't get a whole heap of time with other children. Since going to the park on a regular basis we have both learnt about other kids. Will thinks they are all wonderful and is desperate to play, interact, talk and share. Me, on the other hand, I'm not so sure. I think they are all horrid. Well not all, but most, definitely the majority. Basically any that don't belong to my friends!

It's an experience all parents must go through and not one I have enjoyed. Seeing that kid get a little bit too close to yours. Seeing the moment their hand goes up to push them over, their face gets close to scream in their face. It invokes a protective feeling I had no idea could be so strong. I remember the first time I felt it. It was when I took Will for his 8 week immunisations. Watching that nurse stick those needles into my baby and seeing him cry because of it made my skin crawl with rage. Even though my head knew that it was better than him getting any of the nasty diseases they were protecting him from, my heart wanted me to jump over the desk, wrestle the nurse to the ground, pull out her hair and jab the needle in her eye. I had never worried that I didn't love my baby, but that experience made me sure that I did.

The park is like that. If a kid gets in his face, I want to push them over. If they dare to touch him, I want to knock them out. I thought I liked kids, all kids but ones that look like they might hurt mine make me not so friendly!

Of course most of them are polite and play nicely and have plenty of time to talk to and play with my Will. But there are ones that don't want to share, don't want to play and don't want to talk to a kid that grunts and signs rather than talks. Recently another wee boy shouted right in Will's face "I can't understand you!". Oh my, it took all my strength just to say to him, quietly "Please don't shout at him".

But all the while, Will was smiling. You see, he loves other children. If they kick bark at him, he things it's hilarious. If they scream in his face, he thinks they are communicating with him. If they try and pick him up to move him out of their way, he thinks they are just being affectionate. If they run away from him, he thinks they are playing chase. And that's what I've learned these past few weeks. It's all me. The tension, the fear, the anger, it's all me. I am so worried about Will being picked on and bullied about his hearing aids I go to these parks on the super defensive. But they are just parks. And they are just kids, doing what kids do. They aren't treating him any differently than any other baby that might happen to get in their way. And you know what? They don't even notice his hearing aids.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Pushing my luck. Or not, as the story goes.

Earlier this week I talked about compromising my principles since becoming a parent because of lessons learnt, or sometimes just to get through the day.

This week has been a really good week. Will and I have had fun, napped during the day and slept well in the night. There have been very few cross words and even fewer tantrums. I put this down to one thing. I have finally learned the biggest lesson of them all.

Do Not Push Your Luck.

I have always pushed my luck. I would work until I burned out. Party until I burned out harder. Expected more from my body, mind, emotional and mental health than any of them could give. And no matter how many times I found myself on the edge, I would always go back and do it again. And again.

Pregnancy was no different. I was determined that being pregnant wasn't going to change my life. I still went out late, away for weekends, worked, exercised, baked, hosted parties, pushed myself to my limits. And my mental health suffered. Big time.

And then when Will was born, I continued along the same path. I could have listened to my body, my mind, my emotional breakdowns. But I continued to push myself. And continued to suffer for it.

I don't know what changed. Or when it changed. Or how it changed. But I have finally cracked it. Well that is clearly actually a lie but I am on the way to cracking it.

Yesterday we went *into town to get my fringe cut. We arrived at 10 and the hairdressers were all on training until 11. So do you know what I did? I came home. Because 11.30 is nap time. So the hairdressers at 11 would have been pushing my luck. I did not push my luck. And even though I spent £8 on transport for NO reason, even though I got the wrong bus home and had to get off after one stop and walk back, even though we didn't get into bed for our nap until 12.30, I did not lose it. I did not get upset or stressed or short tempered. We had a fun morning travelling followed by a nap, followed by a lovely afternoon at home together. All because we made it home in time for our nap. All because I did not push my luck.

This is a very big deal for me. A very big deal indeed. And I hope you don't mind if I give myself just a little pat on the back.

*this in itself is pushing my luck really. The London transport system is not overly pushchair friendly and its a 45 minute trek. But alas, vanity prevailed.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The lonely life of a S A H M

I love being a Mum. But I don't love being a Stay At Home Mum. I know, shock horror! There are women desperate to have the opportunity to be a SAHM and here I am bitching about it. But I'm not, I'm just explaining it to you. Please don't be upset with me.

The days are long. It's lonely, And at times it's boring. And infuriating. And exhausting.

But it is the best thing for William. Within a week we have deaf playgroup one morning, an hour of speech and language therapy, an hour of sign language tuition and an hour with our Teacher of the Deaf. All on different days. So it doesn't leave a lot of time for me to work. Never mind trying to find child care that knows BSL and how to put hearing aids back in and spot them as they are coming out, not after when they are in a bush, a road, under a car etc. And I don't want his whole world to be about the fact he is deaf. I want him to see 'normal' children. I want him to go swimming. I want him to play in the park.

And so our decision is made. It's the right decision and one that I am happy with. But that doesn't mean that there aren't hard days, lonely days and boring days.

I recently read a post over at Chosen Chaos that made me swoon (yes swoon) with admiration. The post was about things going wrong but just the idea that Jamie would attempt to have all four kids by herself while her Husband is away (here with us drinking beer) makes me think she is a better woman than me.

Last time S went away with his friends for a long weekend I went and stayed with my parents. Because the time before that, by the time Sunday afternoon came around I was LIVID with him and for no real reason than I had been on my own for 3 days. THREE DAYS. I mean, pre baby I don't think I would have noticed he'd gone!

So this last time I thought I would go to my parents. I thought it would be easy. I thought I would get a rest, some naps, food cooked for me by my own Mummy. Alas, the very same Mummy broke her ankle a while back and so was somewhat physically impaired. My poor Dad had spent 2 weeks looking after her and cooking for them both (not his forte) and so was tired and stressed. So I spent the weekend (with a lot of help from my little sister) cooking everyone's dinner as well as entertaining and feeding Will. There was not a nap in sight and by the end of it I was exhausted. Much, much more exhausted than I would have been if I had stayed at home and solo parented. I thought I had made a mistake, that I had made life harder. But that Sunday evening, I could not have been happier to see Shaun. There was not one ounce of resentment or anger or bitterness that he had been away. All I felt was gratitude that he was home and that we were together again.

Because that's the key, for me anyway, to sanity. People. Friends. Family. Avoiding the beast that is loneliness. I can handle the exhaustion, boredom and frustration monsters but the big L is my downfall.

So who wants to go for a cup of tea?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The television. And other hypocrisies.

Before becoming a Mum, I had a lot of experience with children and babies. I have seven cousins much younger than me, have worked in schools, volunteered in orphanages. Alongside this experience I also had a lot of opinions. I could see what parents, carers and teachers were doing right and what they were doing wrong. I pretty much had parenting sorted.

And then I had a baby. HO-LY SHIZZLE.

People say that you don't know what it is like to have a child until you actually have one. And it's true. And it's true that you will never appreciate how true that sentence is until you have actually had one. No matter how many times I say it to you. No matter how many times it was said to me. Since having my own baby I have learnt a whole heap of lessons and consequently have a whole heap more understanding and a whole heap less opinions!

Since William has started wearing his hearing aids regularly, we have been watching a lot more TV. It is amazing to see how much more he gets out of it now he can hear it. It may sound obvious but when he was younger it was hard to tell what, if any, difference the aids actually made. But here I have clear cut scientific evidence. Without the aids he would have watched for 10 minutes before getting bored and wandering off to amuse himself. Now he will sit for an hour, probably more if I let him.

Watching TV is just one of the many things I had certainty about when it comes to parenting...so here's what changed...

  • My child was NEVER going to watch TV.
    • It's not like he watches it all day every day but we do enjoy an hour or so of CBeebies and since he has started dancing to the music, laughing at the laughter, hearing the shows it's harder to turn it off
  • My child will NEVER sleep in our bed.
    • I can blame it on the tongue tie but despite feeding all day he actually slept alright at night and he was still in our bed for the first 4 months of his life.
  • My child will NEVER eat crisps or cake or biscuits of chocolate.
    • Come on, if you're eating it, they're eating it. It's moderated but still, he gets his fair share of sugar.
  • My child will NEVER have a dummy.
    • Again I can make excuses about his tongue tie but at the end of the day it was my decision to give it to him because it makes MY life easier. Sometimes that's key.
There are still some things that I am trying to hold on to like
  • My child will not have any advanced technology like a mobile phone, iPod, iPad, laptop of his OWN until he is at least 10 (he can play on ours if the time is right).
  • My child will never have a TV in his room
  • My child will go to school every day, come rain or shine or cough or cold
But I have come to realise that you never know what parenting will throw at you and sometimes you do what you can just to get through another day. Or you compromise your principles because there are larger ones at stake. And, most importantly, that you never know what is 'right' until you are there, in that situation with your children and your partner and your level of exhaustion.

What, if any, of your principles have you compromised?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Our trip to the zoo

Last weekend we went to the zoo because they had a 'special children's day'. I hate that they called it special children's day and I hate whoever and whatever turned the word from special to special.

Anyway, we went. We got to go in a special entrance and that was enough to send me over the edge. I could not stop myself from having a little cry behind my sunglasses about how we shouldn't be here, how unfair it all was. But then we were in and I had pulled myself together.

And what a wonderful day we had. Here are some of the highlights:

  • All the displays we went to were accompanied by sign language.
  • We always got to sit in the front row
  • Will kept his hearing aidS (he wears both now, woohoo!) in ALL day.
  • It was so good to be around other special children. Seeing other children with hearing aids in makes it all feel a lot more normal which I appreciate massively
  • Spending time as a family
This last one I cherish the most. We are very, very busy people for some reason and so time as a threesome almost never happens. It was so wonderful to laugh and smile and sign and play and eat as our little family unit.  And that, my friends, is what I found truly, truly special about our day at the zoo.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

He understands!

Communication with children is tricky. You can never be sure if they can hear you or if they are ignoring you or if they just don't understand you. Communication with William is trickier. More often than not he cannot hear you and so is always 'ignoring' you and is a long way from understanding you, words at least (his communication through Sign Language is coming on wonderfully).

So this week we had a breakthrough. I had a friend visit with her 6 month old son. We had been home all day, Will was bored which turned into manic as soon as they arrived. He ran around, showing off, being loud and aggressive (you know the usual cabin fever score). Anyway, this culminated in him hitting the baby hard on the head with a toy. The poor baby cried very loudly and his Mummy picked him up and gave him a cuddle and he soon settled but William was obviously disturbed by the consequences of his actions. He looked over in mortification and I said to him 'go and give him a cuddle and say sorry'. And that's just what he did. He got up off of my lap, walked over to the baby and put his arms around him. Broke. My. Heart.

Now I'm not sure if he heard me - he has been wearing his hearing aids pretty much all day since we turned that corner recently - and understood my words.
Or if he understood the situation and transferred his knowledge that Mummy and Daddy cuddle him when he cries so that's what he had to do here.

Either way it shows that he is growing up, and he understood something and acted on it and that is a big step for us. Exciting!