Archive for the ‘Thursday Thirteen’ Category

I don’t want my kids to be nice

or good.  Definitely not.  You see ‘nice’ and ‘good’ are not actually nice and good things to be.  They’re about oppression, and definitely a feminist issue seeing most pressure to be nice is on, and comes from, women.

How can I say this?

‘Nice’ is the woman who is working herself into the ground because she can’t say no to another job.

‘Good’ is the little girl at the back of the class who’s being pinched, but won’t say anything because she’s been told to be quiet and taught not to make a fuss.

‘Nice’ is biting your lip while people say things that are rude or nasty.

‘Good’ is allowing other people to judge my behaviour, not myself.  It is living in a constant guessing game and being scared to do anything in case I get it wrong.

‘Nice’ is not standing up for yourself, and putting everyone else’s needs ahead of your own.

No.  I definitely don’t want my kids, and especially my daughters, to be nice.  And unfortunately they, and I, will almost certainly cop criticism for it.  But I’d rather be criticised than bully my own children.

There are other things far more important (in no particular order).

  1. Polite – especially when you are going to disagree with someone, it’s still important to be polite and give them the same rights you expect.
  2. Kind – being kind is completely different to ‘nice.’  Kind is telling someone (politely) when they’re hurting other people, ‘nice’ is letting them get away with it so you don’t upset them.  Of course it includes all the other types of kindness, being helpful but with limits.
  3. Assertive – very different to aggressive, but it seems to be so rare they get confused.  But we all need to be able to stand up for ourselves.  How can the world change if we allow injustice to continue?
  4. Assertive for others – I wasn’t sure what to label this, but sometimes we need to stand up for others too.
  5. Compassionate – An important one, but hard.  I can be compassionate and sympathetic, which means supporting someone and feeling for their situation.  But it also includes being kind and calling them on it if necessary, not letting them get away with things.  As an extreme example, we all know about the cycle of abuse.  A child who is abused definitely needs our compassion.  But if they grow up and abuse others, are they no longer worthy?  To me, it’s not compassion if it comes with limits.  It doesn’t change, they are still deserving of our support and our understanding, and still need us to call them out on what they are doing wrong.
  6. Questioning – I don’t want them to accept something purely because it comes from authority.  Of course, knowing when to question is the trick!
  7. Curious – This is a source of so much joy, and I want them to have a joyful life.  Discovering, investigating, noticing what is around them.
  8. Reflective – Know thyself!  So much of what we dislike in others is a reflection of ourselves, I want them to be constantly thinking about what they have done, and thought, and said, and how it impacts on others.  Be open to criticism and willing to change, if they think the criticism is right.
  9. Generous – How can we live together as a society if we don’t help each other?
  10. Persistent – Don’t give up, keep trying.  Whether it is to understand something, or finish, or find a new friend, or understand why on earth people do that.  And don’t retreat into your comfort zone.
  11. Independent – Be able to stand on your own.  It doesn’t mean you have to, but if you do you’ll be OK.
  12. Confident – This is about self-worth.  About knowing that your opinion and experiences are as valuable as other peoples’.
  13. Gracious – Pick your battles.  In spite of being confident and independent and assertive and reflective, you don’t have to have the last word.  There are times you will never convince others, even if it is hurting them or someone else.  So have the grace to withdraw and allow them to continue.

Of course, I would absolutely love them to have wisdom, which is how you know if you’re doing all the rest!  But I think that one will take a lot of time and experience to develop.

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13 ways in which I am priveleged

Thursday 13

  1. White
  2. Well-educated
  3. Middle – upper middle class
  4. Heterosexual
  5. Able
  6. Never been abused
  7. Cis (not transgender)
  8. Financially independent
  9. Accessible communications technology
  10. Married
  11. English speaker
  12. Healthy
  13. My immediate family are healthy

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13 Things I’ve Learnt From My Children


Thursday 13

1.  You aren’t going to walk straight away, so get really good at standing and the walking will happen.

2.  Take time to smell the roses, and the grass, and look at the ants, and the caterpillar, and oh look!  There’s a dead leaf!

3.  Sometimes you need a really good cry.

4.  Just because this part of the slide is hot doesn’t mean it all is, so check it all out.

5.  The world won’t collapse if you write your S backwards.

6.  When you’re happy to see someone, race out, give them a hug and tell them.

7.  When you’re throwing a tantrum you forget what you were originally after.

8.  When you’re pushing someone on a swing, you have to keep stepping back as they get higher.

9.  It’s a really different world when all you can see are knees and shoes.

10.  If someone tickles you on the stomach, giggle and tickle them back.

11.  Sometimes you need to tell the seeker where you’re hiding.

12.  Even if you copy someone completely you won’t be just like them.

13.  Forgive and forget – stewing over it only hurts you, not them.

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13 Things I Did While We Were Away!


Thursday 13

  1. Slept on a train going from Paris to Rome.
  2. Took water taxis and buses through Venice.
  3. Made a snowman and snow angels in Geneva.
  4. Saw the Mona Lisa.
  5. Went up the Eiffel Tower when it was -4!
  6. Met my brand-new baby niece when we got back to England.
  7. Learnt to use a satnav and drove on lots of twisty turny lanes through the English countryside then discovered they were actually A roads.
  8. Explored the still functional Roman bath at Bath.
  9. Stayed in the attic of a Victorian house in Bath.
  10. Went to Sherwood Forest and the man-made caves under Nottingham.
  11. Had family photos done in mediaeval costumes.
  12. Helped my girls do a pretend excavation at an archaeological museum.
  13. Ate chicken and leek suet pudding at a little pub in Oxford.  In fact we had many meals in great little pubs and I discovered a really nice alcoholic ginger beer in York!

Now aren’t you jealous?

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Steps to Making a Crown

My big girl wants a crown for Christmas.  It’s all she’s asked for, and she’s asked several times!  You could do this in less that 13 steps, but then how would I use it for this post?

1.

2. 

It’s made of felt.

3. 

4. 

I’ve never used a hot glue gun before, this cost about $5 from a $2 shop and was very easy, although the glue comes out really hot!

5. 

I used a darning/embroidery foot to sew them on just to see how it went.  You could easily hand sew them, especially if you wanted it neat.  I was after a more casual look.  The needle picked up a fair bit of glue as well.

6. 

I hand sewed the beads with bead thread which is far stronger than normal cotton, then glued them as well.  Probably paranoid, but I’ve seen the way my toddler treat things!

7. 

Another play with the hot glue gun, I had some glitter glue.

8. 

Cut out a large piece of material for a head band (remember the measurement?).  Make sure it is a few centimetres longer than your head measurement and double your elastic width plus a couple of centimetres.  This one is about 57cm long and7cm wide.

9. 

Sew along the long sides to make a tube and turn it right side out.

10. 

Sew the tube to the crown, leaving a couple of centimetres at one end.  I glued it first so I didn’t have to pin it.  This material has a bit of stretch so I stretched it out when I was gluing it down, so when it is being stretched around their heads it doesn’t pull the felt.

11. 

Sorry for the horrible composite photo.  It is trying to show that I have threaded the elastic into the long end of the headband up until the crown, then sewn it down at that end.

12. 

Stretch the elastic comfortably so it goes the length of the headband, then sew the end and cut off the spare elastic.

13. 

Fold it around to those spare couple of centimetres you left on the other side and attach.  I put it inside the other end of the tube and sewed over it lots of times.

Tahdah!  Little sister wouldn’t try it on, so no photos of it on until Christmas!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Little Luxuries

  1. A long, hot shower.
  2. Sweet, fresh grapes.
  3. Buying a block of the good Swiss chocolate.
  4. Wearing perfume.
  5. Sitting still and watching my children play together.
  6. Sleep for longer than a 3 hour stretch.
  7. Having the house all to myself for half an hour.
  8. A trip to the library.
  9. Not cooking dinner.
  10. Filing and painting my fingernails.
  11. Getting my family all dressed up to go out.
  12. Buying fabulous fabrics and imagining what to make with them.
  13. Slipping off baby girl’s mattress and sinking into my new mattress and feeling my whole body relax.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Reasons I Like Dora

I’m not into commercialisation, I really don’t like most of the kids shows and groups or at least the way they’re marketed.  However we have managed to amass an extremely extensive Dora the Explorer collection and I’m actually pretty impressed at how she stacks up as something I’m happy for my daughter to watch.  So here are 13 Reasons I Like Dora.

  1. She’s child shaped, not some distorted miniature model.
  2. She’s a girl doing all sorts of active, non-traditional things.
  3. She’s adventurous and goes all over the place, including the jungle and fantasy lands.
  4. She goes outside and gets lots of exercise, but it’s not just organised sport.
  5. She’s independent, confident and a problem solver.
  6. She’s dark skinned, not a cute little white angel.
  7. She’s imaginative and creative with a rich fantasy life.
  8. She has all sorts of friends, male, female, cows, monkeys, trolls, …
  9. Swiper isn’t purely evil, sometimes he’s good and sometimes he’s bad, which is realistic.
  10. They celebrate and acknowledge good things.
  11. I like iguanas, I just have a thing for reptiles.
  12. Her mother is an archaeologist, professional, female, scientist, how many great role models in one.
  13. She interacts with adults, it’s not just a Neverland full of children.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Practical Things That Would Make the World More Kid Friendly

They are our future.  They make up almost 30% of the population.  And yet we ignore them and make no provision for them.

1.  Children’s public toilets.

We manage to have disabled toilets, which is great, and there are more kids around than people with disabilities.  So how about a slightly larger stall so they can deal with their clothes or Mum or Dad can fit in with a lower toilet, toilet paper they can reach and a low, big, easily turnable lock. My husband has just informed me that men’s toilets usually have one lower urinal, which says some interesting things about women’s toilets and designers.

2.  Children’s cutlery and plastic cups at cafes.

It’s hard to eat with cutlery that’s too big, no wonder they drop it all the time!  It’s not that hard to give them teaspoons and dessert forks, or even get some actual kid’s cutlery. Even better than plastic cups, plastic cups with a narrow mouth.  Wide mouths just end up pouring out the side.  How would you like to eat your meal with salad servers and drink out of a bucket?

3.  Play equipment and feeding chairs in shopping centres.

I remember when shopping centres used to have little garden areas, before they realised they could stick stands in there and get more rent.  I know sometimes privacy is good, but then you have to entertain the older child while feeding the baby, or use a hard wooden bench.  So how about providing some comfortable chairs with basic play equipment, even simple things like floor mazes or moving pegs on boards if you’re worried about kids getting hurt and suing you.  A place where both kids and parents can have a break before heading into the next shop.  You may miss out on the rent for the floorspace but you would get a heck of a lot more customers, and ones who are more relaxed and can look around.

4.  Menus that include something other than chips.

Need I say more?  My kids like chips too, but it would be nice to have some choices!  They also like dips and crudites, or salad plates, or eggs, or risotto, you get the picture?

5.  Miniature shopping trolleys.

Sometimes I only want a few things, and why should kids be cooped up in a trolley?  It can be hazardous in a shop, getting hit by a full trolley is both likely and serious when you’re only 3 feet high.  I see this as a win/win – give them a little trolley with a flag sticking up so everyone can see them and they get to be included and have something to do, which means a whole lot less whining and tantrums!

6.  Steps they can stand on at counters that are meant for kids, like icecream shops or food courts!

I confess, if there is a bench at counter height I let them sit/stand on it and bad luck anyone who doesn’t like it.  It’s not fair that in a shop that allegedly caters to children they can’t even see what they are ordering, let alone gasp! order for themselves. Some of them might even like to hand over the money and pay for themselves.

7.  Matinees or afternoon shows, or ones late at night.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take kids to see something like Cats?  Or Starlight Express?  Cirque de Soleil?  I’m probably just showing my age here!  I’ve got nothing against the various kid groups, but my kids would love to see other shows too.  A show where people sing and dance and rollerskate – they’d sit through it.  What are tweens supposed to see – too old for the Wiggles but really too young for pop, they’re stuck with growing up too quickly or nothing.  But unless you live somewhere like London they’re always on at times that are no good, when they are winding down and tired.  Or as a parent I’m barred from going because they are right in the middle of bedtime.  If I could get them to bed first then go out later it would work much better.  Don’t complain that teenagers and young adults don’t appreciate ‘culture’ when they have never been given the opportunity.

8.  Roped off kid areas at places like cinemas or sporting venues

Notice how cinemas always have huge waiting areas?  How about roping a bit off so kids have a place they can jump, roll around on the floor, and generally do those things kids do when they’ve been waiting a long time.  They’re not in anyone else’s way, no-one is going to walk into them.  Sounds good to me.  Obviously parents would still have to keep an eye on them, but it would be a much more relaxing wait for everyone concerned.

9. Family/parent queues

Wouldn’t it be nice to move those kids through before they get to the stage of whingeing?  And seeing there aren’t that many adults who choose to do kid type activities if they don’t have kids, it’s not as if they will take anyone’s ticket by going through first.  But even if they do, I’d hope that the adult would be able to express their disappointment in an adult way.  Of course if there was a designated kids’ area that parents could see while they waited in queue, …

10. Playgroup for big kids

We have a brilliant play group, with amazing toys, dressups, play equipment and craft gear.  But it’s only accessible until they start school.  Once they are at school there are organised activities like sport, scouts, or music, or they are supposed to have friends over.  Now there’s a place for organisation and competition, but there’s also a place for creativity, imagination and co-operation.  It would be really nice to have access to the same range of gear and large groups of children so they can continue to play creatively.

11.  Flexible school hours.

Work with me on this one, it’s a bit harder.  Our school hours are a product of a society where kids went home in the afternoon to do chores or help out on the farm.  They needed summer off so they could work.  But is it the best distribution for a modern society?  What if teenagers could go to school from 11am – 5pm?  What if primary students could go from 7am-12pm then go home for lunch?  Or what if they did 9am-5pm but with a 2 hour break in the middle of the day when they could rest, play, do art, sport or something completely different?  It might be a great option for working parents.  What if school holidays were rearranged to have 4 blocks of 3 weeks?  In the NT we have 1 week at Easter, 4 weeks in the dry season, 1 week in October then 6 weeks in the Wet season.  Wouldn’t it be great if school districts could make these decisions?  It would be difficult logistically – if you had kids in different schools for example, but isn’t it worth exploring a bit creatively?

12.  Public transport

How about designated seats on public transport that had flip down booster seats? Not that hard to do, then kids don’t have their feet dangling and can see out the window, which automatically makes it more interesting. And they could even have harnesses attached!

13. Attitude!

Everything I’ve suggested so far is practical and do-able. But it will never really change the way society views children without a change of attitude. Children are human too, with exactly the same right to respect and dignity as adults. So adults need to be aware of this, respect them and allow them their dignity. Give them time to process questions and answer. Accept that they won’t walk as quickly as you do. Enjoy the fact that they have so much fun playing and smile at them. Assume that parents know a bit more about the context than you do and support them in their decisions. Understand that their sense of time is completely different to yours and they live at a much faster pace.

And if you can’t do that, remember what your mother said: If you can’t say something nice,don’t say anything!

How about some more suggestions?  And how do we take these to a higher level – lobby shopping centres? Councils?

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Things I Have Learnt This Week

  1. It’s not actually possible for your head to explode.  You may want it to, but that’s another story.
  2. I’m ridiculously in love with my big girl.  She has been so worried about me being sick and she’s been adorable, cleaning, playing with her little sister and a pleasure to be around.
  3. The little one can sleep for 5 hours straight.  Several other nights there’s been a lot of crying, but that one gives us hope.
  4. I’ve never had sinusitis before.  I thought I had, but a dull ache above and below the eyes is nothing to the drill/knife/jackhammer that’s been active this week.  My entire eye socket and even my teeth hurt.
  5. There are actually about 15 trains a day from Rome to Venice, but for some reason I can’t get tickets after the 12th of December.  Later ones had better become available in the next couple of weeks.
  6. There is a Charlie and Lola live show in London on the 23rd of December.  My girls are going to LOVE it.
  7. I’ve worked out how to put together a yoked jacket with a lined hood and bodice with minimal instructions.  Now I just need time to finish the hems and buttons and for baby girl to actually try it on.
  8. It’s ok to let something go.  I always over-commit myself ridiculously and stepping back from something has changed my stress levels enormously.
  9. There is a local woman who does clothing alterations/repairs who put a new zip in my favourite jeans.  Now I just need to lose the weight so they’re comfortable again.
  10. It’s much less painful if you don’t look at everything as you sort it.  Two big boxes of baby clothes ready to go to playgroup and be passed on.
  11. I should have left the corn on the cob for both girls.  They ended up hijacking ours and we ate the kernels I’d cut off for them.
  12. I love my husband.  He’s helping deal with baby girl at night, doing his normal job and painting our new investment property after work.  And he’s been looking after me while I was sick.
  13. Between 1 and 2 is such a happy, loving, exciting, adventurous age.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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13 Things We Did Today (well, yesterday, I’m writing this Wednesday night)

”thursday-13″

1. Played in the paddling pool – with warm water!

2. Pretended they were puppy dogs – fetching balls and bringing them back in their mouths.

3. Did the grocery shopping, sans underwear for baby girl because it took so long to get ready I forgot she’d taken them off.

4. Attempted to get baby girl to sleep while big girl was strapped in the highchair (her choice) with extra food and the remote control.

5. Got up to deal with big girl being stuck, gave up on bed and ended up getting baby girl to nap in my arms.

6. Big girl whispered ‘Fox in Socks’ to me and I did the long pages.

7. Collected and filled a million water bottles while both girls ferried them to the fridge and poked them in any gaps they could find.

8. Cooked chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with bright pink icing and sprinkles.

9. Sang nursery rhymes on my bed.

10. Daddy came home!

11. Chopped up chicken while big girl put it in the egg and flour and told me how much she loved having chicken for tea.

12. Counted each mouthful of salad for big girl and coaxed her to eat one tiny piece of chicken because she doesn’t like it.

13. Got out 50 pieces of ice because big girl ran into a pole while trying to sneak up on Daddy and split her lip and baby girl decided that sucking on ice sounded pretty good.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

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