I have just completed my second night of Grade Information nights which are designed to teach parents about what the kids will learn during the year. This is something my kid’s school does an outstanding job on. I always feel like I’m becoming more intellectually superior after these nights, after all, this was my third briefing on a unit they study about Thailand. My third child is studying Thaliand this year and I feel like I’m practically a tourism expert given how much I now know about the country.
As I sat, I was making endless notes to self about library days, readers – when they’re dished out and when they’re to be returned, maths websites, apps, sports days, homework, upcoming speeches that need to be written….the list went on
A pity party ensued.
“Why on EARTH did I have so many kids? I can’t remember all this? What was I thinking? How can I be a good mother and help them learn stuff when I can’t even get my own shit together and return their excursion notes on time and RSVP to birthday parties? They can’t even multiply basic numbers, maybe they have your maths brain – you idiot, of all the things to pass onto your kids, you give them your inability to multiply” and finally I thought, “It’s no bloody wonder people say – ‘I don’t know how you do it’. Because I can’t”
You see, I had an Oprah “Uh Ha” moment earlier tonight.
I briefly mentioned the very tragic death of 11 year old Luke Batty to the bigger boys. It struck a tremendous chord with all of us today and I just wanted my boys to know how much I love them. Questions followed and then I turned on the news. They were fascinated but not in a morbid way. They showed great empathy and compassion as they sat quietly watching the tragic story unfold. Luke’s story was followed by a report about missing 12 year old Fatima Al-Shara. The kids again were fascinated and asked me some very mature questions about how she could have gone missing and how people and police were helping to find her (another life lesson about being aware of strangers). Finally a story about a family who are expecting their 16th child was reported. I mentioned that their Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather had 17 children, their Nanna was one of 10 kids, their Great Grandfather was one of 13 kids, that one of my Aunties had 12, my two other Aunties had 5 kids and my cousin has 6. THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY!
Somewhere between baby number 3 and baby number 5 I realized I stopped talking to my big kids. Sure I’ve been talking AT them but not TO them. I stopped teaching them about the world and focused too much on please, thank you, excuse me and may I have some more food please.
How did I get to this point where a 6pm News Bulletin that we were subjected to nightly as kids was the best talking point I’d had with my kids for about a year? How on earth didn’t they know they came from good breeding stock? Because I stopped talking to them. Spending all day organising them made me too frigging tired at the end of the day to want to spend any quality time just talking with them. I should no longer cop out and let the big guy have those discussions ‘because he’s better at it than me’.
My Oprah “UH HA!!” moment reached an epic climax when I realized that I don’t need to do all the things on the list above. BUT if I talked to them about the importance of WHY they need to remember their readers and sports days and take responsibility for their own lives, they may just do it so that I have more time to talk about important life lessons and things that are on the news or that happen in every day life. History, News, Olympics, Social Change, Climate Change and Political Change whatever!It’s the knowledge that we know and take for granted. Maybe I thought Google would teach them?
This may seem like common sense to most but five children, whilst having enormous benefits and none that I would change at all, is bloody busy. It’s easy to focus on the little people who need you more in a physical capacity but not on the big ones who are happy to veg out in front of the tele when it’s actually the big ones who need you more. So if you’re thinking about having a big family (or a smaller one for that matter, this applies to all) remember that during the morning routine, the nightly homework routine, dinner, baths, reading and bed, take 10 minutes a day and talk to them about STUFF. It’s so easy to get lost in the day to day, I’ve just done it myself.