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Raising little Westies, and life as parent of a special needs son
After somewhat of a break, I find myself back in Canberra.
My work here resumed part way through last week. My break was longer than I had hoped for, but not quite excessively so.
My kids have returned to school.
My wife is looking to broader opportunities at work.
My work… well, it’s mayhem.
I’m at a bit of a stage where I am rethinking the frequency of my blogging. There was a definite stage there where it felt a chore not a means of reaching out, communicating or expression of my thoughts and feelings.
I’ve been very interesting in following #Auspol on twitter since Julia Gillard announced the impending Australian Federal election which is due in September this year. This seems directly related to the mayhem at work. I’m a bit sick of hearing about Modern Families. Great TV show, I’m hoping it disappears as a slogan, though.
So, while I’m back… I dunno if it’s “blog a day” back, but yep… I’m back.
Something happened right at school last year: Princess P finally has a fried close enough that it’s a long walk to her house. Far enough that a sleepover makes sense. So we’ve had a few back-to-back sleepover sessions these school holidays.
They have come with a few challenges. The concepts of “ambush mum and dad while you’re on the phone to your friend” or “ask if a reciprocal sleepover is ok when mum comes to pick you up” have both raised their head. Some extremely loud play has ensued and questions have been asked about if the accomodation (Princess P’s bedroom) is in a fit state for guests.
We have also, given the weather, had some issues with sunburn. Given our daughters age, that’s as much her own problem as it is the mother of her friend. But if it continues it will be yet another nail in the coffin of sleepovers till at least Easter.
I would love to think these two-way sleepovers achieve two things: both an “escape to normality” for a girl growing up with disabled brother, and a “window to her life” for Princess P’s friend – some of both Magpie and BTB Fan’s behaviour have been eye-opening it seems.
On an unrelated note. Damn it was hot today. But at least unlike Tasmania, there don’t seem to be any terrible fires throughout New South Wales.
Compared to what other parts of Australia are going through right now, 34 C is pretty easy.
Today was a bit of a big one at Westie Central. For the first day since I came home from working in Canberra, Bec had to work, leaving me with all three kids all at once. Which of course is a Big Deal for a dad, even though I’m one of the first to say if they are my kids it’s parenting not babysitting.
There has been far too much electronic time happening in our place since Christmas (or even since Magpie’s birthday). Yesterday I thought that Bec’s return to work was a perfect opportunity to do something about that. So the kids were put on notice that once I returned from my own run, they would be coming with me for a run. So I ran my lap of the suburb, did a few chores and we hit the pavement.
There is a very convenient landmark which is almost exactly 1km from our front gate, which is right on the path of a running track. So all of us headed for that landmark (it’s a bridge), me leading he way with BTB Fan and the dogs. Given the dogs had already finished about 8km, Howie was still eager to go while Lizzie was a bit over it. Yet in only a small fraction longer a time than my standard time, there I was at that bridge with BTB Fan and two dogs.
About a minute later up came Princess P.
Several minutes later again… Magpie finally staggered up. Grumbling about not being at home.
My understanding is the run home was quicker by all parties – except me, who at this point was pushing 10km for the day, and had mown the lawn as well…
Later we headed off to the pool. Both Magpie and Princess P had been told point blank that they would be requried to swim a lap of the full size outdoor pool, because with all the pool time they have had they have spent none of it improving their swimming. I take responsibility for that, but I will reqiure them to put some effort into improving the situation in my own way, if they don’t fix it themselves.
This was accomodated quite readily by Princess P. But somewhere it seems the message had not filtered all the way into Magpie’s head.
As a result… he was less prepared than I had thought he was.
So I had my first in-pool meltdown. In front of some of his school friends, as well as a lifeguard…. Which ended with him swimming his first ever lap of the Olympic pool, back-stroke. Well done mate! At which point I told him that he needed to do it “freestyle” (meaing “front crawl“), and we had another meltdown. In the pool. But again, I perservered, and he swum the lap in the stroke I expected him to use, albeit freaking out and grabbing the lane rope every three to ten strokes.
At the end of it all, he was glad he’d done it, though.
Later, I went through much the same with my littlest Westie, “swimming” (with me supporting his hips) two lengths of the outdoor childrens pool.
Not the best trip to the pool for us. We had been going so well before Christmas, too, but with our routine broken… it was as good an opportunity to establish the routine I need these kids to follow, if they want me to take them to the pool every day while it’s hot and I’m not working.
Stretching our boundaries will bring some growth. One way or another.
Yesterday, my family went out to dinner to both celebrate Magpie’s birthday, and because after being away for so long I just wanted to.
We came home to a message that my nephew is in town and would like to catch up with his cousins. So today for the first time in a long time I went to a Sydney beach – at Coogee – in fact it was the first time I have been to a Sydney beach with my wife or kids!
We had a great day. Well, I did, and BTB Fan seemed to.
My nephew is having the type of career I was worried I may have when I was very young – driving agricultural equipment – but unlike me he is enjoying it and earning a pretty ok living (I drive plenty on my fathers farm).
It was really great to spend the day with him, and his girlfriend. I hope he left knowing how much his offer to spend his time with my family meant to me.
Sundays are a dichotomy here at Westie Central. They always start late, peaceful and relaxed. But soon after they become chaos and mayhem.Early on, I set my goals for the day: to go to the pool and swim laps. To ensure my laundry was done for the week, and my bag packed. That I spent some time relaxing.
Simple goals. Yet children, especially it seems my children, seem to be able to complicate such simple endeavours.
It started simply enough, with breakfast. Then “a chat” about “household chores“. One of those chats that people have with their kids about a job that it would be quicker to just do the job yourself – but that is not how to teach a person anything. So we haf a similat discussion to one we have most weeks, about who washed up how many times this week and how we all need to work together if we want to do anything with our weekend like “go for a swim.” While that sorted itself out, I attended to some other chores that are not so readily delegated.
Those done, I asked who was coming to swim laps with me. I handed out another job to someone who said they would rather stay home, when @Westybec said she was going to come, too. This ended up triggering a mini meltdown and not from Bob the Builder Fan but from one of the other two, who didn’t respond well to the change in plan.
But we walked to the pool. Part way there, Bob the Builder Fan stopped with me to read a “christmas letter” sign in some random person’s front yard. While his “elastic band” is becoming quite long, he does not appreciate being left behind – ever – and he was quite upset that his mother and siblings continued on. His brother and sister are “stepping up” when it comes to helping to keep him out of harms way in public. So today, his brother and sister took turns making sure he was going through the motions of using a water slide then lining up to do it all again, while I – and Bec – swam some laps. I’m not that great a swimmer, but it felt good to do some “serious” swimming rather than just “play in the pool.” Princess P and Magpie also had a bit of a go at swimming. They are both almost pool safe…but a long way from 100m “drownproof“, and they would really like to stop swimming every third stroke while they breath.
When I had quite enough of attempting to not drown – I’m a far from elegant swimmer – I bought the youngest one home. We stopped part way to gossip about gardening, which was a welcome distraction. My son and I made it home in time to chill out, and have a post-chlorinated-pool shower, before the caphony of Princess P and Magpie returned home with their mum.
My afternoon was a pleasant relaxation, before being under the pump to get ready for my week at work.
That’s a pretty typical Westie Sunday in Sydney. I hope yours was fantastic, too.
Some days are stones.
Today was more of a stone than a diamond, and if I could drop it and I’ve on as though it had never happened I think I would.
Here in New South Wales, we celebrate the success of the labour movement each year with a public holiday on the first Monday in October. That makes today the Friday of a long weekend, a great reason for a road trip in a brand new car. Which it just so happens I have – a cool looking red family wagon.
So Bec and I load up the wagon with the kids and luggage and hit the road North to her parents place. At about the se time that 40% of Sydneysiders are all also hitting the same road heading North out of Sydney, for the one long weekend of the school holidays, smack bang in the middle of the holiday.
A long road trip isn’t too bad.
A kid having a meltdown isn’t too bad.
Both at the same time though really pushes my buttons. I’m really glad Bec’s mum is the type of person we can leave these kids with for a week, and that on Sunday I won’t have the kids with me for the trip home to Sydney.
I am looking forward to being at the beach with my kids tomorrow though!