The Challenge of School

Ah, yes. Today is the first day of my period. I am tired, my thighs and shins feels like the muscles within them have been replaced with led. The Block woke up at 4.47 in the greatest mood, the mood was ace, the time was not. I asked him to fetch himself some breakfast, he did and ate it in my bedroom on the floor as he didn’t want to sit on his own. Husband is on camp and The Bean told me that he would stab me in the leg with a sword if he had one. When I pointed out it wasn’t nice, he said; ‘Sorry, I won’t do it again!’ AGAIN? How about not doing it?

Tuesday afternoon I had a chat with Blockie’s teacher. He is being disruptive in class and proclaiming that the tasks are boring. Furthermore, he is pronouncing, that he doesn’t need to learn, as he knows it all anyway. He’s a smartass, no one likes a smartass. Also, I mean, he doesn’t know it all. Obvs!

The boy has got so much energy. He can’t sit still. He can’t follow instructions, but he is smart, loving and has got such an amazing imagination. I want him to love to learn, his teacher wants him to love learning, so why doesn’t he? Whenever I look at him and/or the students at our school it makes me think of a TedTalk I watched, Sir Ken Robinson talking about how “schools killing creativity”. Are we? He believes that “our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability” – which is true. Especially in Asia. Here the tops subjects are Science and Maths because the most prestigious surely must be law, medicine, science or any job really where you earn money. Being rich is being successful, which is prestigious. Ken Robinson talks about how ‘academic ability’ has really come to dominate our view of intelligence because the universities designed the system in their image. This makes me so incredibly sad and not how one measures intelligence, but instead diligence – “If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatised”. I am currently sitting in a classroom, observing the year 12’s while they are researching universities. They are looking to study the before mentioned, law, science, and medicine. It’s a group of 10. They dedicate so much work to their studies and goals, which comes from where? Themselves? I doubt it! I know that there are some strong parent forces behind their choices.

Blockie wants to be an adventurer.  He also wants to be a scientist. He want’s to be so many things. I just want him to be happy and love learning. And I want him to be a child.

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The wave of Mumpreneurs (and how I am feeling inadequate not riding it…)

One of my best friends lives in Rwanda and works for an all female university. How awesome is that? I particularly envied her when I was sitting at home with the Block, feeling like I had accomplished nothing, but give birth, a big deal, granted, but not really changing the lives of thousands of women! I always thought, well she doesn’t have children yet… She’s had time to do this, my time will come.

This morning I was looking through my Humans of New York book and there was a guy who said: “I’ve been feeling a bit unaccomplished lately. I recently met a kid in his twenties who figured out a way to power lights in rural India by generating electricity from human shit!” And was I like: “Mate, I get you!” That is how I feel… I don’t know why I’ve always had this dream/idea that I would accomplish something bigger than me or do something, which felt bigger than me. No idea what it would be, scrap that, I have had MANY ideas, but not the time or power to do it and especially not now that I am working full time.

As I look through my Instagram, I see all of these spectacular mums. They are literally nailing it. Some old school friends of mine started their own business in Denmark focusing on beautiful table settings, I remember thinking: “That is so awesome, they have taken their skills and utilised them in the most effective way!” A friend from London started designing changing bags, which took off in such an impressive way. Another friend of mine has just started her own coffee grinding business. Not only are they all female businesses, they are all mums. I guess, the thing is that they have all found their niche and calling (something I haven’t found – although I do bloody love coffee) – something they are great at and what has amazed me is the community surrounding this, how all these amazing ‘mumpreneurs’ support each other, but also how quickly they business became “well-known” using Instagram (because of, of course, their super hard work.)

My Instagram feed is now full of these fantastic women, from mum bloggers to mum designers to journalists fighting for flexible working hours for parents. All strong, all accomplished. And then there’s me. Probably feeling a little bit envious of their drive and commitment. With my feeling of being unaccomplished, working full time from 7.40am to 4pm, feeling tired and not always the mum I strive to be. With ideas and dreams that are probably already been done and a feeling of wanting to be part of something bigger. This post is not meant to sound as depressing as I have just described myself… I suppose, I wonder if other mums ever feel this way?

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

Another half term is slowly passing – it is Sunday, it’s 10.19am and both boys are dressed in Kylo Ren & Luke Skywalker outfits fighting for total control of the universe. Weirdly Kylo Ren is only wearing his mask and underpants.
We’re in Langkawi – I am sipping my coffee and contemplating on another holiday passed. How extremely fortunate we are to be able to travel the way we do. Here at Foxhill we have full relaxation and amazing food. The surroundings are green and serene. This is indeed the definition of a home stay.

I am covered in bruises after a trip to Japan with 26 students. Skiing for the first time in 12 years, I was slightly worried, however it was a bit like riding a bike (rolled into a ball!) I clearly haven’t lost my need for speed, which did result in many, many falls. As a nonchalant French student (and awesome skier) pointed out in a thick French accent with no movements in his face “it was like you were skiing on your head!” – I’ll take that. Students, do as I say, not as I do…

Just waiting for the sun cream to sink in to the pasty white boys and then we’ll enjoy our last bit of pool time here before heading back to the City of KL. I have been mildly organised and ordered groceries to arrive at our arrival at home. I love myself some online shopping. Groceries do not give me the same kick as clothes shopping though….

It is grow or be left behind.

Dear Block,

Today I felt sad. My heart has been aching for the majority of the day.

The other day my friend told me that boys often become much more dad-centric when they turn 6. In 5 days that will be you and I feel it. I feel the winds are changing course and I am slowly demoted to second fiddle.

This morning you asked your dad “why he did everything?”. My heart felt heavy. Your dad was applying mosquito spray on you (a tactile action) while I was making your lunchbox. The ‘behind the scenes’-things are not seen by a six year old. It is not noticed when your school uniform have been put out, the clothes just appear, right? When I pack and organise your things, your room. When I am cooking your dinner. The things I would and will always do for you, with no question asked. I shouldn’t have felt offended, but I did. I felt jealous, why would you think he does everything, that is my job. I do everything. For you. It is silly really. Because we both do. But I can’t shake the feeling of wanting to be you main go-to-person. As always. 

I suppose, I feel the signs of you growing up creeping in and I don’t know how to deal with it. You are getting older – you are growing up, slowly, yet so fast.

You will roll your eyes at me and you already answer back now and then. I feel all the worlds cliches about having children are rolling over me like tidal waves. I can’t seem to find words of my own, which describe my feelings accurately enough. The love I feel for for you is beyond words.

But for now I shall stop wallowing in my own selfish misery, because seeing you grow into the magnificent human you are, fills me with more pride than anything. You definitely seem committed to this growing up and there’s no stopping it – you will grow. And I shall grow with you. I have no choice. It is grow or be left behind. I don’t want to be left behind.

 

(Tonight, I shall tuck you in. And treasure that you still sneak into my bed at night and twirl my hair.)

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Sri Lanka part two

Day 22 – Kandy in the tea plantations

We have retreated. To the tea plantations outside Kandy. The mountain range where taxi drivers fear for the bottom of their cars. It is divine. Blockie and Beano are very excited by the green and running around outside.

The other we took the local bus down to Kandy town for lunch. The beauty of public transport on a mountain range is an activity in itself. We’d managed to sit right next to the driver looking out the front window, feeling the breeze in our faces, being smiled at by the locals on the bus. We grabbed two friends who came i with the train and dragged them them to the local bus for the epic journey. The bus was totally full and the people in the bus thought we were hilarious. 6 white peoples with suitcases singing ‘It’s the final countdown!’ – it was awesome to have S and V here, Blockie especially was enjoying their company and whilst waiting for them at the train exclaimed his excitement to the train conductor, who wanted to know who had sparked this – ‘My teachers!!’

Kandy is great, actually Mount Royal outside Kandy is great, with the boys. Everywhere is green and both the boys have been enjoying walks, playing, making dens and going on adventures. We are fortunate to have a jacuzzi in the room, which is also an activity (having a bath). The food is good and easy and if it hadn’t been for the fact that the Bean has been under the weather (diarrhoea and some vomiting) it would have been close to perfect.

We were meant to go to Nuwari Elliya today, but Husband had accidentally booked the hotel for tomorrow, which was totally a blessing in disguise considering how Beano was feeling yesterday. Today he is fit for fight, eating loads (something hasn’t done for a few days) and generally happy, which means he will be ready for the next leg of the journey tomorrow. A two hours bus journey.

Blockie told Husband yesterday that the best thing about travelling was all the time he got to spend with us, which makes me so happy. I know that is has been hectic at times, backpacking is, stayinn12 different places so far, seeing so many different cities, villages and towns, but is shows that he really is enjoying the adventure he is on. The first week or so, it was a little hard and he was difficult, but for all good travellers, it takes a bit of time to get into an epic trip!

Sri Lanka part 1

Day 19 – Sri Lanka Adventure begins – Negombo and Colombo – a short stop over, it two great train journeys!

We have just arrived in Colombo after a night in Negombo, where we had some amazing red snapper and the boys got to run free on a beach less dirty than the one in Arambol. Negombo is not in season either, however, it was lovely there. Hot though.

Beano is sleeping (he has got diarrhoea, poor thing, but handling it really well), Viggo is playing Scooby Do, Husband is out getting antihistamines and more mosquito repellent. It is not great here for dengue, just the opposite, which is not ideal. but neither is KL, so we’re hoping for the best.

Colombo has a lot to offer a family, the green with shops on the shore and kites flying around, a postal museum and an amazing park. We went to the Barefoot cafe for lunch, which had delicious food and a turtle to talk to.

And there’s the train journey. My favourite thing the world. The train to Kandy was awesome. We go to Colombo Fort train station with jam, bread and biscuits as our provision and waited for the train. The train arrived and we got all our bags in, and the epic trip began. Beano and I spent the whole journey looking out the window and the amazing scenery and Blockie had a much needed sleep, the swaying and slight bumping of the train can do that.

 

 

Indian adventure – part 3

Day 14 – my birthday in Ooty and  en route to Mysore for one night in luxury

I had a brilliant birthday yesterday and what a great day in Ooty with kid a it was.
We started out with a little present hunt, Blockie and daddy had prepared for me. A bracelet from Hampi! Then we had breakfast – masala tea and masala omelet, with a side dosa and with a bit of Spider-Man, which meant it  was quiet and calm. Our taxi arrived and then we went to the Tea Factory – seeing how all the machines worked was amazing and at the end of the tour we had a little cup of tea to warm ourselves on. Have I said that that it is cold here in Ooty in July?
When then went to the Botanical Garden and ran around, saw ducklings and just enjoyed the greenery and flowers – highly recommend this to people with active children!
We were then taken to Ooty Lake and I had what was the most scary rollercoaster ride, not in a good way, but mostly because I generally thought that the wagon could fall off at any point. Not a pleasant experience and slightly ironic that we are so strict with seat belts and then take the boys on a ride like that (for the record, it just went around and was only 5 metres high, but still…..)
After that we went for thoroughly delicious thali before venturing to the rose garden, where Husband had a very unpleasant experience in the toilet. The boys and I enjoyed the roses.
We then drove to Coonoor, where we took a steam train back to Ooty (also highly recommend!), spoke to a Belgian family who where backpacking with their 5 and 9 year old. We invited them back to our hotel for birthday cake, which our lovely hotel guy had arranged for me.

We arrived at Radisson Blu and had a super chilled day with swimming, playing and eating McDonalds. Yes, we had McDonalds. But after 14 days of Indian spices, rice etc – the boys (very much Husband included) were craving burger and reliable chicken. I had a McSpicy Paneer – only in India. The boys each ate two burgers and fries – that says a lot!

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Tomorrow we head of to Chennai and then the Sri Lankan adventure awaits!

I never thought I was a shouter……

….then I had kids!

Inspired by Our Tribe Travels and the Instagram perfect way of travelling.

I am currently sitting in a pretty cold hotel room, Ooty is cold. My nose is cold. But I am happy. I have had both the moment of pure happiness and ‘we-are-nailing-this-travelling-with-kids-thing’ as well as the ‘what-the-fuck-are-we-doing-this-is-not-relaxing!’
Travelling with a five year old with sensory needs (who needs to touch everything, earth and sand, dirt and buildings) and with a hearing, which is so selective, that I almost admire it and a stubborn parrot two year old who copies every single thing his older brother does, can be fucking relentless and hard. But this morning when they were exploring a vegetable garden and enjoying the light rain, eating plums and getting muddy, I felt so happy! When they are playing with two cheap cars in a restaurant and chatting sweetly. I’m thinking: “This is why we travel!”
And then there’s the moment where two year old has a massive tantrum on a busy street in Ooty, because he doesn’t want to wear a rain coat or warm jumper, when the five year old for the hundred and fifty five time is asked to hold our hand and then suddenly needs a poo, then the two year needs a poo, exactly 5 minutes later. Or when they a fighting over car, begging to watch TV/play in the iPad – I’m thinking: “What the f*#k!?”

Looking at Instagram as a parent can be both inspiring and deflating. You look at all these people who seem to have nailed parenthood. Talking about Home Education, their vegan life style, travelling around with no problems, no iPads, playing with fucking wooden toys and I could go on. And it stings. If you are there. There. Where you look at your kids and think – “What the devil am I doing, since they are behaving like such little dicks and why does everyone else have angels?!”
Sometimes I can easily filtrate through it, sometimes I am really fucking shit at it. And it is important to keep this in mind. That it is a virtual window. Not into real life, but into what people would like us to see. What I want people to see. What they want me to see. The iPhone has enabled us to show off! And it does make me miss the days before then. But I also love following other people, getting inspired, seeking advice and just seeing what everyone is up to. Ah, the ambivalence!

An Indian adventure – part deux

Day 11 – at a neck breaking pace

I packed, for everyone. For Husband, Beano, Blockie and myself. I was the least successful when it came to my own packing. Seems like I am a little bit too good at packing minimalistic for myself. We’re in Ooty now and it is cold and raining. I’m have not got a jumper or any long sleeved items. Neither do I have any jeans or trousers, only two pairs of leggings. Not wise. The boys do. So that’s good. I don’t actually like to be unprepared, but I am here in Ooty. At the moment, the weather is like a typical English autumn and all I want to do is curl up in front of a fire with a cup of tea and watch Game of Thrones. Alas the wifi is not amazing, the TV package is minimal and there is definitely no roaring fire. This is India.

We took the sleeper train from Hampi to Mysore and what an experience. Blockie was ecstatic. So happy to be sleeping on the train. Beano felll asleep in the rickshaw there and didn’t even acknowledge the train till the next morning. Husband and I watched Indiana Jones – Temple of Doom (when in Rome…). The sleeper train was actually not a bad experience – I love train journeys, we went in 2A/C, booked three beds and didn’t even notice a guy coming in, sleeping and then leaving again. The only thing was sharing a little bed with the boys, letting them sleep on their own just didn’t feel that safe.

Mysore did not impress me that much. We stayed at a hotel with little to no wifi. The boys were knackered and my shits had gotten worse. It did however become a very practical stay. We had some amazing pizzza, relaxed in the hotel room and watched Harry Potter, I read a reasonably good book, sorted out our visas fro Sri Lanka and Beano had his vaccination.

Today we embarked on our trip for Ooty. As it is India, we waited quite a while for our taxi to arrive. The journey included seriously worrying about being in a car crash, the taxi driver leaving us for a while to have lunch, banana vomit in the car, being cursed by Indian transvestites at the petrol station, driving through sunflower fields and tiger reserves and now we have arrived to beautiful cool Ooty at Hotel Abode with the friendliest man and his son. All is well. My nose might be cold, but I am wearing Husband’s jumper and some trousers bought in Hampi and Husband has been sent down on the hotel owner’s scooter to get woolly jumpers, snacks and beers.

Ps It my birthday in two days. I’ll be 32.
Pps my diarrhoea is getting better….

An Indian adventure

Day 9 – Hampi, India

Oh my goodness, I love Hampi in the off-season. It is cool, beautiful and so so magical! This morning we ate breakfast looking out on the river, while the temple elephant was having her morning bath. I am not quite ready to leave, however tonight we go on our sleeper train to Mysore. Blockie is particularly excited about the prospect of sleeping on the train. Especially after our train ride from Magato to Hospet, which went surprisingly well! We played ‘I spy’, wannabe duplo, watched a film, looked out the window, read Harry Book, read Where’s Wally, made a necklace with cheerios and dental floss and watched some more iPad. I fucking love the iPad! I am sorry, but it is a life saver, when you want to talk to your spouse in peace!

In Hampi, the iPad has been superfluous. There are dogs, chicken, cows and cats everywhere to look at. Beautiful temples, stones to jump on, no cars (just rickshaws and motorcycles), so more freedom for the kids to walk around without our tight grip!

On another note, I must admit though, I might have packed a little bit too minimalistic for myself and I am slightly reluctant to embrace all the Indian outfits that you see 20 something backpackers wear (including myself 11 years ago). I haven’t even brought a jumper and it is actually needed here in the evening. But the boys are good and Husband has got his suit and work shoes, so we’re good!? Will have to go out and get a shawl today as well as more jewellery, I definitely need more jewellery!!!?

 

(Ps still not over the diarrhoea!)