I am She asks the Best Questions Mum

When a 6 year old asks you a question, sometimes, it makes us think. We begin by explaining it to her in the simplest terms possible, and in doing so, sometimes we realise that what we’re explaining, ISN’T as complicated as we grownups like to think it is...

“What is a Bully Mammy?”

“Erm…A bully is someone who needs to make others feel bad to feel good.”

“That’s not very nice Mammy.”

“No it isn’t.”

“Are bullies not very nice?”

“Well some bullies are nice but they’re just a wee bit sad.”

“Why are they sad?”

“I don’t know pet. Some Bullies don’t even know that they’re sad or angry. But they are and so if you are happy or excited, they don’t like it because it makes them feel more angry and sad. And so they think they should stop you from being happy so that they can feel happy.”

“That sounds silly Mammy.”

“Yes. Yes it does.” (Actually Darling. It sounds utterly ridiculous…)

“Why can’t they just be nice?”

“I don’t know Honey. Sometimes they can be nice, they can even pretend to be nice when they’re not really.” (And they’re the ones you need to watch…)

“Why?”

“Because it makes them feel better about themselves.”

“That’s just stupid.”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

“What’s their problem like?”

“I don’t know pet. But remember that if someone doesn’t like you or is being mean to you, it’s not your problem. It’s their problem…”

And there, just like that, I have turned into my father.

bullying1

“Remember who has the problem Darling” he has always said. And do you know what? As usual, he was and is right.

Whether you’re 5 years old in a playground, or 16 years old in a locker room, or 23 years old in a flat-share, or 32 years old in a staffroom, or 43 years old in an office, or 56 years old in a committee meeting, or 67 years old in a group or club… or 87 years old at the bingo, other people will sometimes have issues with you.

Other people will always have problems. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You don’t have to be.

But remembering that the issue or problem is THEIRS, not yours, helps.

I hate that I can’t protect her or her sister from Bullies. I hate that I won’t be beside her everywhere to show her the false smiles or to point out the ulterior motives of some people. It makes me sick that she might ever feel how I did for many many years in secondary school.

But while I can’t be there and she will of course have to deal with other people’s “problems”, I CAN and I will arm her with the understanding that she is in control of one thing.

girldog

She is in control of HER. Of HER feelings and HER self-worth and HER behaviour. And while she will make mistakes and poor judgement and absolute feck-ups, by God I hope that she will always be kind to others.

She will applaud them for their achievements rather than resent them for her failures.

She will congratulate her teammates even if she lost the game.

She will not put people down for being different.

She will not allow others to put someone else down in her company.

She will recognise that if someone else’s success annoys her, that it’s HER who has the problem, not them and by being bitter, she is gaining nothing but her own downfall.

Other people hold up a big mirror to us.

mirror.jpg

The person who gets to go on 3 holidays a year, reminds us that we don’t.

The person who wins, reminds us that we haven’t.

The person who has lost weight/bought a car/gotten married/been promoted/changed jobs etc., often highlights to us that we want something and haven’t yet got it.

Rather than belittling them for it or being angry at them, try realising that if you really wanted it, you would have it. If you really want to make something happen, who’s stopping you? Because surprisingly enough, it isn’t THEM who has the problem is it?

Bullies are to be pitied. Many don’t even realize that they do it. Many would be broke to the bone to think that their behaviour or comments have upset you.

But then, there are others who wouldn’t give a shit. And they are not worth your energy.

Remember who has the problem. If it’s you, that’s your problem. If it’s not you, why are you wasting your energy worrying about it?

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I am Starting Pre-School Mum

back to school

Tonight, I’m a little bit more emotional than usual.

Tomorrow, my little Mini Me will be taking her first steps into the big bad world without Mammy or Daddy.

Now I am fully aware that starting Pre-school is not quite the same as starting School School, but for the first time ever, I can empathise with all of the “Starting school” parents.  I can’t even begin to fathom how I’m going to feel this time next year when I’m packing her school bag for Baby infants.

It’s a typical last Sunday night in August.  For 30 years, it’s been a dreaded Sunday night because it marks the first day back at school for this Teacher Mum.  I never actually left the education system, so it’s routine by now.   Every year, I insist on going out somewhere for the day. I refuse to cook dinner.  I try to get an early night.  But this year, it’s not about me.  It’s about Mini-Me.

Her new outfit is perfectly pressed and hanging in the bedroom.  I have everything that she needs laid out for the morning. The table is already set for breakfast. She’s been read a special storybook that Daddy found online about her first day at pre-school and has been tucked in to dream of fairies and muddy puddles.

And I’m trying not to think about the fact that tomorrow is yet another first in my baby’s life.

I’m leaving her to the same childcare place that she usually goes to, but she’s going into her Big Girl classroom.  And she’s going to be going 5 days a week, instead of 2. It’s really no big change.  She’s more than ready for it and she’s so excited about starting Naoínra that it’s quite contagious.  It’s all good.  She could be terrified and refusing to go, but she isn’t.

And I wonder if that is helping Mammy or making me feel worse.

As parents, we have to let our babies grow up.  We mark every milestone.  We remember every achievement. We let them go into the world, little by little, and just hope that what they receive from us at home is enough to arm them for what the world holds for them.  Every little step is essential, and indeed we are very aware of how blessed we are that our mini-Me’s are healthy and able to step into the world.  But it doesn’t mean we have to be absolutely happy about it, all the time!

As parents, we also have to trust…To trust the people who will be responsible for looking after our little darlings.  We have to trust that their teachers will care for them; that they will be kind to them; that they will give their all to make them who they can be.

teaching

So while I feel that I need at least an hour with her new teacher tomorrow morning to go through a crash course, with power point presentation if I could, on what my Little Darling likes, what she’s afraid of, her habits, what upsets her, how she needs help with some things, how brilliant she is at other things and basically, everything about her, I know that I’ll drop her at the door with a smile, tell her to be a good girl and to have fun, and get into the car.

Then I’ll probably bawl my way to work.

But it’ll be fine, because I’ve realised that while I’m entrusting a teacher with the single most important thing in my world, I get to return the favour to other Starting-School Mums.  Because for the first time, I truly understand the angst and terror of the Mammies and Daddies who drop their kiddies off at our school’s big blue door every September.  I finally understand that I’m not just there to teach them English.  I’m there to care for them; to be kind to them; and to give my all to help mould them into who they can be.  And it’s the second best job in the world.

And while tomorrow she is only starting Pre-school, it is indeed a big deal for our little family and for my little Princess.  Yes, it might be just another day, but it’s one that we’ll remember forever.  Yes, it’s going to be emotional, but it’s good emotion.

And to all of the Mammies and Daddies whose little Darlings are taking their first steps into Pre-school, School School, Secondary School or indeed third level,  I send all of my S-mum love and good wishes, because tomorrow is most likely going to be harder on you than it is on our kids.

So we’ll put on our big girl (or boy) pants and we’ll suck it up.

Because we are Starting School Mums (and Dads).  🙂

PS.  This has been going around in my head all day.

Wee Hughie  
Author: Elizabeth Shane

He’s gone to school, wee Hughie,
An’ him not four,
Sure I saw the fright was in him
When he left the door.

But he took a hand o’ Denny,
An’ a hand o’ Dan,
Wi’ Joe’s owld coat upon him –
Och the poor wee man!

He cut the quarest figure,
More stout not thin:
An’ trotting right and steady
Wi’ his toes turned in.

I watched him to the corner
O’ the big turf stack,
An’ the more his feet went forrit,
Still his head turned back.

I followed to the turnin’
When they passed it by,
God help him he was cryin’,
An’, maybe, so was I.

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