This week’s edition of my new series, #ParentingWin vs #ParentingFail comes from the lovely Liz Deacle who blogs over at itsadrama. She’s an ex-pat homeschooling mama of teens, currently living in NZ.
I love Liz’s blog because she is so honest and so funny. Her posts always cheer me up whilst also dealing with important parenting issues. When she agreed to be featured on my new series I knew it was going to be an awesome post.
The point of my series is to try to have a platform where parents can share the highs (hoever small they might seem to others), and their lows (without fear of judgement and hopefully viewed with humour in hindsight). There are no perfect parents, only a bunch of perfect moments which when you add them together, form the basis of happy memories and well rounded kids. On to Liz’s stories:
I have been very kindly asked by Carly at MomOfTwoLittleGirls to write a post sharing a couple of stories, one celebrating my parenting win and the other, well, a parenting fail (so just write about your everyday life then liz.) I have two teenagers, a boy and a girl aged 16 and 13 respectively. We are all British but emigrated to New Zealand in 2009. we love it here, this is home now, it’s an amazing country.
I have been ‘attempting’ to homeschool both of my children for the past 7 years. In the early years when we first started, it was so blissfully easy. I would only have to announce: ‘let’s go to the beach and talk about the tidal pattern” and in return was met by a beautiful chorus of “yayyyy!! We love you, Mummy! You’re the best Mummy EVER!!” Now? Well. If I even hint at the suggestion that the vampires step outside into the sunshine, I’m faced with, ‘the look’. Followed by, ‘No.We’re fine. You go. We just need to stay at home and watch something crap about a cat and a rocket on YouTube.’ So, if I’m being honest here, homeschooling two teenagers is proving to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In.My. Life. I would send them back to school but I can’t face getting up at 7 am to get them on the bus.
Ok. I had to think long and hard about this one. There were probably loads when they were little, but I’m 46 now and going through perimenopause so my brain is like a bowl of jelly. I can only remember stuff that happened either when I was in the womb, or else last week. So it’s the last week option you’re going to get.
I have a friend who in my opinion, has cracked this parenting malarky. She’d modestly deny this but it’s true. Her son is the same age as mine but that’s where our parenting similarities end. Whereas I spend my days wailing like a banshee, she spends hers horizontally cruising. And you know why? Easy. Because she listens. Shuts her mouth. Remains silent when being spoken to by her son. Simple.
When he talks, she listens. When he brings his new girlfriend home, she welcomes them both with open arms.
In comparison (yes, I know it’s really bad to compare but this is the blog. So. ) In comparison.
When my son talks I can’t wait to butt in, making it almost impossible for the poor boy to get a word in edgeways. Already having decided in my jelly mind what it is he’s going to say. If he hints at bringing a girlfriend back to the house, I’m there, like a hyena, thinking of some witty derogatory remark that I can amuse myself with. (I don’t get out much)
“Just let him talk Liz” I hear my beautiful friend say, in her ever so lovely calm voice.
I try. I swear, I try so bloody hard. And guess what? Last week, I did it. I listened without prejudice, as my old hero George would say.
I don’t know if it was due to the fact that I was under the influence of medication. Maybe. I had a throat infection at the time so was on strong antibiotics. Whether it was that dulling my responses, who knows? Who cares? AlI I know is that he got into the car and started to speak. I mean really speak. I’m talking, ‘using other vocabularies other than good, ok and I don’t mind’, speak.
And all the while, my hands were gripping the steering wheel so hard I thought my knuckles would give me away. I had to put down the window to get some wind on my really flushed and boiling face. But. Hear this. I. Did. Not. Speak. I just listened.
It’s not as easy as you think. I won’t deny that my mouth gained a few more vertical lip lines around it due to the fact that my lips were pursed together so bloody hard but still. I did not speak. I continued to listen. And as I did so, we both started to relax and he told me some really really juicy stuff. (I’ll tell you in another blog when he’s not looking.)
By the time we arrived at our destination I could see that he’d appreciated being able to say the things that were on his mind without the constant gnawing rat interruptions. As he climbed out of the car and waved “Bye! Love you” I wanted to drag him back by his trouser leg and scream in his face like a lunatic “I love you, sweetheart! I love you so, so much. I’m sorry I’m a banshee. I’m trying so hard, I really am. Didn’t I do well? Aren’t I amazing for not talking for 8.5 minutes?”
But I didn’t.
I smiled and said, ” Love you too sweetheart”.
And that, my friends, is my #ParentingWin.
So how long do you have? I’m joking. I’m perfect, really. No, honestly.
As I mentioned, homeschooling your kids offers up plenty of fail hashtags, here’s one that happened a few weeks back.
Another homeschooling friend of mine has a daughter roughly the same age as mine. The two girls aren’t best friends as such, but they get along. The girl’s mum has a full-time job and so homeschooling can sometimes take a bit of a back seat. A few weeks ago I bumped into her outside the supermarket (it’s the only place I get to go to) I mentioned to her that we were doing a project on medieval England and she quickly asked if her daughter could come to my house and join in for one day a week. Now admittedly, I was bigging it up a bit.
Now admittedly, I was bigging it up a bit. We had been so slack with our learning due to various distractions, and the idea of the project sprung from guilt rather than from knowledge. Oh God, I thought. I struggle teaching my own kids, without the responsibility of someone else’s but, being a people pleaser, I said yes. How bad can it be? I’ll just do my research. It’ll be fine.
Monday morning rolled around all too quickly and before I knew it, I had a fresh-faced new student sitting at the kitchen table alongside my daughter. Usually, my Monday routine goes something like this “You get on with your online Maths, Science and English while I
check my phone and waste my life on Facebook clean up the kitchen and prepare dinner for tonight.”
I was on the spot. I was being put to the test. My daughter sat there silently but I could tell from the look in her eyes that she wanted to say “Show us what you’ve got then”.
Right young lady. Watch this. I will.
Not the right attitude Liz.
I had printed off tonnes of stuff the night before, using far too much ink on pictures that neither one of them wanted to look at. Let’s face it. If it’s not on youtube it ain’t real.
Abandoning that idea I started
preaching talking about the way that poor families in the middle ages lived. Blabbing on and on about how they had to have the livestock sleeping in the same room as them and how it must have smelled (not so different to your brothers’ bedroom really.) The foods they would have eaten back then and how these were prepared.
By now, I was in full flow. I had my bossy ‘teacher’ head on. A head that due to online learning, my daughter hasn’t been acquainted with for quite some time. I was into it. I swear, had either of them wanted to go to the toilet I would have made them do the T sign with their hands. Imagine, if you will, a caged up animal suddenly be allowed out of its cage for a bit of exercise. I just wouldn’t shut up. I was on a mission. If this girl was coming to my house to learn, then by God she was going to learn. There were facts and figures and accents (much to my daughters’ utter embarrassment). I stopped for a moment, just a moment I might add, to take a breath and the young visitor saw it as her chance to ask a question. (She didn’t even put her hand up. How rude.)
“Why didn’t they have a chimney and then the smoke wouldn’t have filled the room?”
Hmm. Got clever clogs on our hands have we? Big breath Liz, ready for round two.
” Because… They hadn’t been invented.” I smirked, filled with my own self-importance.
“Who in the class can tell me who invented the chimney?” Silence. Well, let’s face it, Liz. There’s only your daughter, her friend and the dog in the room, and I can’t see her putting her paw up.
“Nobody? Then I’ll tell you” (oh please do Miss!)
“The Normans. They came to Britain and built two storey houses and within them, put chimneys”. Smug, smug, smug. See my girl, I’ve still got it.
The friend looked impressed by this information;
“Wow! Who exactly were the Normans Liz?”
Now. Instead of just doing what any other normal homeschooling mother would do when she hasn’t got a clue what the answer to the question is, ie: grab the phone along with Mr Google and excuse herself to the the toilet for 12 minutes, I panicked. I was in the flow and I didn’t want to make myself look like a fool by saying “how the frig am I supposed to know?” So. I guessed. I bluffed it and I guessed. Wait for it. wait for it…
“The Normans” I huffed, “were from Norway. They’re the ones who came over in the longboats with the horns on their heads.”
Silence. Here was my chance to say ” I think?” But no. I stood my ground still I remained defiantly confident. Who cares?
“Who cares? I thought. Who cares if I’ve just filled an innocent girls head with utter bullsh*t”.
“Home time!” And off she went. Home to tell her mother and father about what she had learned at the school for half-wits.
So the next time you throw a log on the fire, think of me. In fact, no. Don’t. Think of the poor
Vikings Normans and how hard they worked at building that chimney.
By Liz Deacle.
Haha … I love this! Both of them are perfect win and fail stories. See what I mean? Funny! Thanks so much Liz. It’s been great having you – you’re welcome to share more stories any time you have more to share.
You can find Liz on the following Social Media platforms! Follow! Follow! Follow!
If you’d like to be featured, please email me at [email protected] This series goes out every Tuesday for as long as I get entries to share. It’s super chilled, I’m happy to share stories you may have shared before on your own blogs, provide backlinks, and I share it all over the place! It’s also open to any non-blogging mommies who want to share their stories.
If you want to see what I shared in last week’s edition, you can check it out here: #ParentingWin vs #ParentingFail ft. Me Yes, I’m the mom who’s three year old drank paint thinners – you can’t make this stuff up!
Don’t forget to share the love and share, share, share.
Raising awareness of non-perfect mom’s everywhere! #thisisreallife