Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For the moment, he's mine.

Charlie has been sleeping in our bed for nearly two years now. I mean, he has his own bed, and starts out in it every night, but by morning he's in with us. (And it all started at 18 months, when he would cry and Marcus would get him out of his cot and bring him into our bed. So Marcus is to blame, really).

Some people say you should be firm and take the child back to his own room, straightaway. The problem is you have to be awake -- I hardly ever wake up when Charlie gets into our bed. I wake up and there he is, kicking me and flailing about and stealing the blanket and complaining he doesn't have enough space. Well, no kidding. But your empty twin bed in the room next door has lots of space, little man...

He's grown over the summer, so it is getting more crowded. Sometimes when I'm half asleep and he's sleeping next to me (looking like a baby, you know the way kids look so little when they sleep) I get confused. What child is this? Caitlyn? No, it's Charlie, I can tell because he's taking up half the bed.

But it is also very sweet and warm and snuggly to be together, to see his eyes flutter open and hear the first thought that pops into his head in the morning. Which might be about his stuffed dog, or might be a song about bananas, or might be a dream-fight he's having with his sister.

This evening I had a little chat with him: 'Charlie, why don't you stay in your own bed? Why do you get into mine? Are you scared, or cold?'

'I like your bed and I like you Mommy. And when the sun starts to be shiny in the sky I want to be with you.'

Let me write that down for you, Son. Because (with a little tweaking) that could make a great proposal one day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm just sayin'

SOMEBODY I know needs to learn:

The bathroom contains the only toilet in the house, a facility 3 other members of the family need to use on occasion, including before we leave the house in the morning.

The bathroom has all the toothbrushes and toothpaste, which 4 other members of the house need to use every morning before we leave.

The bathroom is where I keep my contact lenses, which I like to put in my eyes before I drive the kids to school/nursery, so I can see the other cars and traffic lights and stuff.

The bathroom has the best mirror in the house to put on make-up in the morning, so I don't frighten small children/other mothers/innocent passers-by on the way to school.

The bathroom...

is not your personal reading library. Please find another location for pondering deep thoughts.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dul ar scoil

We have been in Ireland for 6 1/2 years now, and a lot of the culture shock has worn off. I've gotten used to the currency, the driving on the other side of the road, the bits of Irish language scattered here and there. I've gotten used to different attitudes towards drinking, healthcare, and hospitality. I've even gotten used to the bells that ring at 12 and 6 pm every day urging us to stop and think of Mary.

So I'm feeling less like a 'non-national' now (although I still am one, I guess) and more like just part of the community. I can navigate Irish life all right, and can (and have) give advice to others who have just moved here.

But then, things change, new challenge: school.

It's hard enough to send your child to school the first time. At least if we were in the US I could picture what it would be like, would have fuzzy feelings towards school buses and red playground balls and kindergarten. But I've never experienced Irish primary school before, so I'm learning along with my daughter. Some things are the same -- lining up, toilet breaks, school milk and sticker charts. Some things are different. Here's what I've learned, so far:

  • There are no state-run schools (although the government gives them some money), all schools are run by churches. Most are Catholic. Alannah goes to a Methodist school, partly because it's small and close by, but also to avoid the overboard First Holy Communion that happens at 7 years old (so she isn't surrounded by kids getting a white dress and a big party and lots of money while she gets nothing).
  • You have to sign up for schools, you don't automatically get assigned a local one. Most people put their child's name down when he/she is just a baby.
  • There are no hot meals in Irish schools (except some pricey private schools). Everyone takes a packed lunch and eats at their desk.
  • The subjects are pretty typical, reading and 'maths' (I don't know why there's an s on it) science, etc. Also Irish, which is non-comprehensible to me and I don't think I will ever be able to help her with it.
  • The first year is called Junior Infants, or JI, or sometimes low babies. Next is Senior Infants, followed by 1st class, 2nd class, etc. to 6th class. Then they move on to secondary school, which is 1st year, etc. At 3rd year (15 years old, usually) they take a national test called the Junior certificate. 4th year is Transition year, with lots of field trips, service projects, job internships, trying out different subjects, and the like. At 6th year (18) they take the national Leaving Certificate test.
  • Children generally start school at 4, but can wait until they are five or even six. This is largely up to the parent's decision. Some schools have a cut-off date earlier in summer, but ours was just 'four by the first day of school'. Alannah has an August birthday, so we kept her out until she was five. I think about half of her class (of only 12 kids!) are already five, and some were spring, not summer birthdays.
  • For the first TWO years they finish at 1 pm. Then for the next 6 years they finish at 2 pm. (School starts at 8:30) What am I supposed to do with them the rest of the afternoon...

So that's what I've learned so far. Oh, and they are already asking us for money left right and center. Books and uniform and milk subscription and swimming and 'voluntary contribution' (which isn't really voluntary).

It's the start of the fourth week tomorrow, and still every day when I drop her off (oh, there are no school buses. Most of us walk, a few scooter/cycle, and a handful drive) I want to stay and peer in through the window. I'm not worried about her. I just want to know what's going on!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Summer just gone

I looked at the date of my last blog entry.....July??? Someone has gotten laaaaazy.....

But hmm, why didn't I write anything in July and August? Oh I remember now. Nursery finished for the summer and I had three kids who TALKED to ME NON-STOP (even the one who can't talk yet!) all day every day.

So during the days I tried to do the bare mimimum of housework and encourage the kids to go play without me, while hearing constantly : When are you finished? Will you play with me? What can I play? What are you doing? Will you play with me? Can we watch TV? Will you play with me? What can I do then?

Or sometimes the talking would progress to telling me about what the imaginary friends were doing, prompting me to say 'Go PLAY with your imaginary friends instead of talking about them to ME!' Because who cares about what decorations Angelina Ballerina is having at her birthday party and whether or not FiFi and Lily and Lucy are invited and if they are going to dress up and play pass the parcel and eat fairy cakes and open presents? Not me, that's who.

Then at night I tired to do work-work. But mostly ended up reading other people's blogs, how they went on great adventures or built teepees or taught their children lowercase letters or made homemade perfume or sewed play clothes out of old curtains. And I would get all tense and project-y and declare that i would do something worthwhile with the children the next day. Then the next day it would take me all morning to load the dishwasher while answering questions, and then I didn't feel like making teepees with anyone.

But now. September. School. I love you school.

There is still a fair amount of talking in the afternoons, and we are still getting used to the new schedule and the to-ing and fro-ing of it all. But by next week I will have 3 mornings a week with just one child.

Who is threatening to give up her morning nap. But I'm not giving up that hour of quiet without a fight. I've been dreaming of it all summer!

About This Blog

About This Blog

  © Blogger template 'Sunshine' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP