Well, looking back, it’s fair to say that June has been pretty full on. It seems ages ago already but right back at the start of the month both boys were on their half term holiday. I was feeling very brave on the first day and merrily trotted off with them both for a day out. Despite having a good reserve of resilience and having picked somewhere they would both like to go, the day was an unmitigated disaster. Little Bear has several full-blown, very public meltdowns. Big Bear coped well to start with but by the end had had more than his fill of his brother and announced with all the might of his sizeable lungs that he HATED him and refused to even sit with us for an ice cream. Needless to say my confidence about managing the rest of the holiday quickly dwindled.
However, thankfully, the stars got back into alignment and the rest of the break was lovely. I suspected things might be ok when I heard this conversation on the second morning:
Little Bear: I love you
Big Bear: I love you too
Little Bear: Shall I give you a cuddle?
Big Bear: Yeah
For once the weather was actually good and dare I say it, warm. It meant we could be outside a lot. We spent an uncharacteristically chilled out afternoon in the park – me and Grizzly’s Mum sitting under a tree while the boys played and made new friends; we had a family BBQ at my parent’s house; went to several more parks; had tea outside pretty much every day and even got the paddling pool out a few times. One day I came home from the supermarket to find both bears with their feet in the paddling pool with their “pet” toad swimming around their feet!
We also had a fab, if not slightly crazy trip to the zoo with my friend and her two boys. It’s pretty full on trying to keep 4 active boys safe at a very busy zoo (I have no idea how people manage to have more than 2 children! I’m quite amazed by it). It was shortly after the boy-falling-into-Gorilla-pit incident had taken place so although Little Bear touched several bins, spat in a pond, climbed into a sand trough meant for fossil hunting and nearly tipped a fence over, I was just glad that we managed to leave with all the children we had come with and nobody had got too hands on with the animals!
On the very last day of the holiday we drove out to a castle where they were re-enacting a siege from the 12th century. There were loads of people dressed in full knight regalia with real swords and shields etc. Both boys absolutely loved it and I’ve never seen Little Bear sit still for so long as he did when we watched the tournament. It was one of our favourite family days out yet.
We recently had another fun day out thanks to our village fete. Grizzly was the compere (without compare he likes to think) and was in his element, mic in hand, saying whatever he fancied. Big Bear helped him with setting up then hung out with his friends so Little Bear and I explored the stalls together. We enjoyed watching the procession, going on the bouncy castle and Little Bear was very excited to have a go with a real bow and arrow. And after a soggy, unpromising morning, the sun shone and it was glorious.
Little Bear and I have continued to enjoy our ‘mummy days’, recently trying a trip to an aquarium. Little Bear loved it and couldn’t quite believe we had seen real sharks.
I feel that Little Bear and I have managed to reach somewhat of an equilibrium where hanging out is generally pretty relaxed and fun (we still have our moments obviously). We were sitting in a café having lunch this week and I realised that in September I’m very much going to have a Little Bear shaped hole in my days. I’m going to miss my little buddy when he starts school.
Little Bear has started swimming lessons. I thought Grizzly was bonkers when he suggested we ask for a trial session for him. Little Bear loves water but the problem (I thought) would be that he doesn’t like authority and generally tests boundaries very thoroughly whenever a new person is in charge. I didn’t imagine that they would accept him onto the programme after the trial, especially judging by the contempt he has shown towards his new teachers whenever we have bumped into them in the playground. However, sometimes it is very nice to be wrong. He was SO well behaved in the first session that they accepted him onto the programme even though they didn’t actually have any spaces left! He has been 3 times now and coped well each time. Little Bear is so proud to have joined his big brother, who is in the pool at the same time but in a harder class. I wonder if it is because he is so motivated to be there that he is managing to co-operate.
Little Bear has also been motivated enough to earn himself a big bed. I wrote all about it in Little Bear’s Big Bed
As I write this Big Bear is on his first school residential. He seems so little at 6 years! It is not so long ago that he would not have managed the trip without a good deal of anxiety beforehand and possibly changing his mind about going at the last minute. However, in the event, he has done brilliantly and bounced off with nary a backward glance. Little Bear has really missed him though, asking me every 20 minutes if we can pick him up yet!
A BIG adoption milestone took place this month too – we got The Adoption Order.
Little Bear has continued to do well at Pre-school. His keyworker said the other day that he is making lots more friends and doing well with developing his interactions. What she actually meant was that he and his buddies are now teaming up to get into even more mischief. She also said that they are really noticing the progress with his language as he is now more argumentative and cheeky! Very much a double-edged sword!
I have had to e-mail and meet with Big Bear’s teacher as he was frequently coming home upset. I don’t think she realised how sensitive he is and that keeping him in or making him start his work again was knocking his confidence. Positively she seems to have really listened and taken on board that praise, encouragement and setting him little challenges will work much better. He came home the other day telling me she had said his work was “fantastic” and had made him Star of the Day – little things but they made a huge difference to him.
I always have a bit of a debate with myself over whether or not I should be contacting school but so far I’ve found it has helped things and these little changes reassure me that I have done the right thing this time.
- Little Bear getting very upset at lunch time as he was misbehaving and we had followed through with a consequence. He was now very grumpy and refusing to eat. Without prompting Big Bear said “shall I feed you?” and made a fork aeroplane. Within seconds Little Bear was eating and laughing again. Sometimes I don’t know where Big Bear gets his emotional wisdom from.
Project Home Improvements:
Well, what was planned to be a 3 week fairly straight forward project is turning into something of a saga.
It all began one Saturday towards the end of May when our builder (who we know well and is lovely) appeared at our door with a bit of news. He was having some fairly significant symptoms from his longish term heart problem and needed a procedure to hopefully mend his stent. It was booked in and would mean delaying our work. It was only a day procedure and had a 10 day recovery period so would only lead to a couple of weeks delay for us. It couldn’t be helped and obviously we wanted him to be well so we lived in our bare living room a while longer. What really worried us though was that if the procedure didn’t work, maybe he wouldn’t be able to do the job at all…
The date for his appointment came and went and we didn’t hear anything. We took that as good news and worked towards the new date we had agreed with him. I was pretty shocked therefore, when he popped around a few days before starting work to measure up, that the procedure had not worked and he was now awaiting a quadruple heart bypass!!
Although he is adamant that he is ok to be working, I continue to be fairly perturbed by his health and this has been the most stressful aspect of the work to date. It wouldn’t be so bad if he seemed fine but he noticeably changes colour at points and one day I turned fully mother hen and sent him home.
One thing that has not helped his health is that the project itself has not exactly gone to plan either. The wall that we were having removed to create our open plan family room turned out not to be a stud wall at all (it sounded hollow) but did in fact have a structural role in supporting the floor joists above. Cue the unforeseen involvement of a structural engineer and a 12 foot steel lintel.
The room hasn’t ended up looking the same as we had imagined it either, so there have been various decisions to make and many an hour spent searching the internet for a specific light fitting or other and multiple trips to B and Q to find the right shade of paint (apparently I’m the only person that has brought a mug with them to colour match! In retrospect I see that they thought I was matching my whole room to one mug when actually the mug just happened to be the perfect shade of almost-mustard that I was looking for).
Considering the fact that we are all squashed into one tiny room with loads of furniture to do all our living and eating, we have very limited access to the rest of downstairs, everything (EVERYTHING) is covered in dust and there are several tradesmen in and out all day, so far it has been surprisingly ok.
On paper it should be a complete disaster for Little Bear: the environment is riddled with danger (Stanley knives, circular saws, you name it, it’s here) and the front door is permanently open (it is usually locked with the key out of reach due to Houdini tendencies). However, as long as I know exactly where Little Bear is and pretty much stay joined to his side, its fine. Thankfully he is not in any way unsettled by the huge changes and if anything he loves seeing what the men are up to. If I let him he would definitely volunteer for the role of builders apprentice. He has learned each of their names, knows which van goes with each person and also which equipment belongs to whom (I don’t).
At this point we are about 2 weeks in and I reckon we have about 3 more to go. Hopefully I might be able to share some photos of the finished project next month. I’m keeping everything crossed.