What a difference a tweak makes

30 Sep

Life as a parent is one crap decision followed by another until they leave home. Speaking optimistically.

The 19 month gap between my first two children doesn’t leave me much time to learn from any poor choices as the consequences tend to take time to make themselves known. I find that the eight year gap between two and three has furnished me with more confidence to act, to change things that don’t suit us without pontificating over the choices for, well years if I’m totally honest.

Nothing has thrown more choices and difficult decisions my way than education. The where, when, how and by whom of it all can be overwhelming. Negotiating a route through the bits I agree with and the bits I am fundamentally opposed to with no power to change is sometimes simply exhausting.

Unfortunately some decisions cannot be undone. Starting my first son at pre-school aged 3 was a mistake followed quickly by the mistake of starting him at school aged 4. He’s bucking the trend so far and performing at the top of his year group academically speaking, but he will only be 15 when his compulsory schooling concludes at the end of S4, and only 17 when most of his contemporaries are starting university. And some universities won’t admit students under 18.

This is not a mistake I am able to make with Paul. He is a July baby so will be pretty much in the middle range of his school year group (which basically runs from January to December with children born between mid December and mid February having a choice of starting school in the August they are aged 4 or the August they are aged 5). Paul will be just over 5 when he starts which is probably going to be perfect. Things outwith my control usually are.

It’s when I get a choice things go awry. Pre-school has already thrown me a wobbly. Morning sessions are always oversubscribed and result in a lottery for places. The decision to apply for a morning place is a no-brainer. You decide when and if you are offered a morning place whether to take it or not. I got a morning place for Paul so was presented with a real choice rather than a stated preference, so we took the morning place. It made sense. I’m up anyway throwing everyone else out the door and it leaves the afternoon free for us to do “stuff”.

I think we lasted 3 weeks me and the boy. Three weeks of belting up the hill to school only for me to return to a house looking like Beirut circa 1980 … breakfast dishes, piles of laundry (how much can 3 children wear in one day? about a 50cm pile apparently)… just mess. I cannot study in a mess. All the tips and advice I’ve read over the years from fellow Open University students tell me to ignore the housework and concentrate on me and my study time. My house screams “NOOOOOOOO! CLEAN ME NOW YOU LAZY COW!” I listen to the house for no other reason than it won’t shut up, much as I would like to blank it all out I can’t.

So I spend the morning running around like a blue arsed fly not so much cleaning as hiding the mess…. I need another me to study…

And just when I think I could suffer sitting down it’s time to belt up the hill to school and pickup the muck-bucket, who comes home and hauls it all out again.

This wasn’t working for me.

So I raised the possibility of changing to afternoon sessions. I discussed it with my OH and we came to a decision over a weekend to request a move on Monday. We are the same two people who took three years to move our elder boy to another primary school. We can’t be crap and dithery like that again.

So now we are afternoon pre-school peeps. Paul and I both tidy the house up after the morning rush, we then have a leisurely lunch and wander up to school for 12:45. I come home to a tidy house and I study. I absolutely do not come home, eat Kit-Kats and play FarmVille on Facebook.

I don’t…


This boy who has a fit if we pour his milk in at the side of his Coco Pops rather than the middle has had his coat peg, tray, shoe cage, key-worker, group (now a duckling, was a very non-macho kitten before) and all the children he goes to school with changed overnight without batting an eye-lid.

I swear, having two boys I am further from understanding how they work than I ever was with one.


2 Responses to “What a difference a tweak makes”

  1. Gillian Powrie October 1, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    My little treasure goes to the afternoon nursery session giving us time to play with Plasticene at 9am (groan), watch telly, go to the park and dig out the vinyl for a rave all before lunchtime. I don’t like having to get up at a civilised time in the morning anymore. What I mean is I CAN’T. I asked for pm preschool cos I work from 1 til 4.30….so that was a no-brainer for me. However, a fair number of the wee tots he befriended in the Easter term moved to the morning slot leaving me feeling like the villain of the piece. I sincerely will not know what to do when P1 comes around and he’s out the door after breakfast. Can’t even think of a funny angle to look at it. I’ll just need to suck it up. Sounds like you’ve got it sussed tho, which is good. xx

  2. Barbara October 2, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    Like the photo of all of you – very clever and I’m scratching my head trying to work out how to do that. Over to DPS I go!

    I’ve worked boys out – whatever you expect them to do, they’ll do the opposite unless that’s what you expect, then they won’t. See? Easy.

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