Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hurts and Hugs

This month, Little A's teacher has given me two notes. These notes are the school's form of calling parents' attention to disciplinary problems involving at least two children. The report is called "Hurts and Hugs."

In the first instance, Little A was excited about some music being played and in his delight he yanked at his classmate's hair. Twice. The second time, he was again overjoyed at a movement activity going on which had the whole class in a frenzy, and apart from a powerful hug, he bit the same classmate, a quiet little boy, on the ear.

Making Like Mike
Little A's teeth HURT. I have been bitten more than once, sometimes because he was angry, other times because he was excited. My nose has suffered, as has my shoulder and both upper arms.

Each time, we tell him not to do so, and lately he has been biting less. But I guess that day he really was happy. We have also noticed that he is rougher with people he is fond of - his dad, myself, other children he likes.

After the biting incident, when I re-entered the school and saw the other little boy in tears, two other mothers who had witnessed it said it really wasn't meant maliciously. Little A, and the other boys, were just very, very excited.

Still, I am glad these reports are provided. What I do wonder though, is why I was never given a single Hurts and Hugs slip between November and May, when Little A was pushed regularly and deliberately by a big bully of a boy who is thankfully no longer in his class. The first couple of incidents I was prepared to overlook, but it would get such that the boy would go out of his way to seek out my son just to give him a strong shove that always sent him tumbling to the floor.

Last year's teachers, huge disappointments both, never did a thing about it. I knew it wasn't just me making something out of nothing because another student's father called the teacher's attention to it one time when it happened in front of the entire school. I am thankful that my son, at least, does not hurt deliberately. He may not be many things yet, but one thing he is not is a bully.

Busy Days

This is the second crazy month for me, with little time for anything other than work. Still, here we are, doing the best we can. Little A has been unpacking cupboards and leaving trails all over our flat. Where it used to just be mess, now it's often organised mess. Certainly an improvement, and something to smile about as he is very careful, particularly with the Noritake china.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Burn, Baby, Burn

Big A rarely falls ill. This is a very good thing because, like many men, he acts like he is at death's door every time he catches the common cold. This time though, he's pretty sick.

Since Little A has moved himself back onto our bed after a few months of sleeping on his own on the floor, his preferred sleeping spot is nestled next to his father. So naturally, he is now suffering from the same cold and cough combo as his dad.

Last night I wanted to ease both of their breathing difficulties and brought out the steam vaporiser, set it up and got it going. All was well until at about 430am, when Little A woke up, got down from the bed to get a drink, and decided he wanted to touch the vent from where the steam as issuing.

Of course he burned his hand. Of course there was screaming and crying. Of course it was not yet 5 am. He even tried to get into the sleeping au pair's room to show her his injury. I knew it was bad because he actually held on to the ice pack, something he normally never allows to come into contact with any part of his body.

After an hour, he fell asleep. Later that morning he woke up and didn't seem too bothered by the red and juicy blister covering part of his little hand. I told his teachers about the burn in case he didn't feel up to holding crayons or paintbrushes or his spoon, but when I peeked into his classroom midway through the class, he was seated at the little table, colouring away with no apparent discomfort.

For the rest of the day, he used his hand as usual. I hope the burn heals without the blister opening up, so that I don't have to worry about him touching dirty things with an open would, which he enjoys doing. Fingers crossed!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Move Over, Martha

Stepford Mum is in the house. The month of August is the turn of Little A's class to be featured on the school's notice board. A blank patch of wall is decorated in turn, month at a time, by each of the ten classes. More accurately, it is decorated by certain mothers in each of the ten classes.

As I am the only mother who regularly stays at school during Little A's classes, (a few come to drop off and pick up their kids, but most just leave their nannies in charge of the school run) I ended up in charge of this month's decoration. A meeting was held to discuss the theme and how we would execute it, but only three out of twelve mothers turned up.

Wanting to be democratic, we three held a little discussion and then the rest was left in my hands. I sent a letter out to the other parents explaining what was discussed and asking for feedback, assistance and financing for the materials needed to put this grand scheme together.

Running with Scissors
Most of the parents, save one set, sent their "payments" within the next few days. That week, I was busy with my trusty pair of 15-year old, still-sharp scissors as I cut out, one by one, letters to the words "I am the world's greatest," a dozen balloon-shaped sheets for each child's parents to decorate, five sets of colourful party buntings, and, at the last minute painstakingly put together what turned out to be a bonus art activity for the children - little paper "cakes" with their names on to adorn the matching balloons.

Serendipitously, Little A's classroom theme is "Party," and since the shop I run sells gift packaging materials, it was easy to get most of what we needed at great prices. An exhausting round of bookstores and a scrapbooking shop provided the rest of what was needed.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the work, despite being a total amateur in the crafting department compared to my highly artistic graphic designer of a sister. Putting it all together in one morning, on the other hand, would require more than one set of hands and I really wasn't sure any of the other parents would turn up to take part in this activity. So I recruited the help at hand.

Army of Nannies
On D-Day, I walked into the school with both arms full of bags, dropped off Little A at his classroom, then stood in the middle of the waiting area and called out, "Nannies of the Pink Room!" like a drill sergeant.

They responded immediately, and I set them to work. Anyone who has ever employed a good one will know that a capable nanny is second to mum only because she didn't actually birth or nurse the child she is in charge of (though some mums don't even do the latter.) If there were less-than-capable nannies present, the efficient ones quickly took them in hand.

While I gathered and put together the "cake slices" and balloons, the nanny battalion put the backing paper together, assembled the paper streamers and stuck the balloons on the sides of the sheets. They then assisted me with the placement of the lettering and the balloons and cake slices. We finished in plenty of time, and when Little A's class came out to see it, his teachers were very pleased.

Parents are competitive. Nannies are too. If there was a prize for the best decorated notice board at Little A's school, we'd be a shoo-in for first place. Already, the mothers of the next class to take their turn have asked me to help put their design together. Crafty mum, that's me.