Tag Archives: parenting teenagers

The teens have got this

Teenagers get a bad press. 

Have had since the dawn of time. 

Thugs , hooded louts who roam the streets terrorising us in their packs, off their faces on legal highs???

I don’t recognise those ones though . I’m the mum of 3 teenagers and I’m offended on their behalves by lazy stereotypes and negativity. Course there will be horrid teens ….but there are horrid people my age too but I don’t think I can be judged by their behaviours! I’m a single mum so pigeon holes rub me up the wrong way as it is but I certainly think our teenagers deserve much more credit.

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen a wave of teen activism which is way more familiar to me as the kind of teenagers I know . The bravery of young women speaking out against sexual harassment as part of the #metoo movement. Reclaim the Night here in Manchester hugely driven by the Student Union. These I can identify with as the work of teenagers rather than those anti social grunters , succumbing to rickets due to lack of daylight and screen addiction (though even I had to admit to being at least on nodding terms with those guys too on occasion!)

On the wake of yet another school shooting in the US we have seen a group of people rise. To take on the NRA and the gun entitled of America. A group of people so very passionate about protecting kids in school. A group not wanting to fight gun crime with more guns but less.

This group are not the parents of children fighting to keep them safe , not the grandparents saying enough is enough , too many children have gone to school never to come home. This group , being loud , being vocal , being heard are the kids themselves . The ones who have seen their friends gunned down ,who have been wounded themselves.

Emma Gonzalez has become the face of these people. An intelligent , articulate,passionate  young woman  . Watching her speech gave me hope ,it’s here if you missed it.

This woman is taking on a president who wants to arm teachers , she’s taking on a mindset that puts the right to own a gun over the right for people not to be shot. The movement “We call BS” is formed and these young people want to be heard.

They’re belittled of course , you can’t stop these shootings .You’ll never see gun control in the US , hush with the youthful optimism and just accept the status quo.

Thankfully they’re not listening .

Femi Oluwole is a UK activist , co founder of the ‘Our future , Our choice ‘ movement. An anti Brexit group passionate about the fact that young people voted heavily to remain , the thinking behind the campaign being that in the 20 , 30 years it’ll take to fully see Brexit , make our own laws ,secure trade deals that Brexit will no longer represent the will of the people.

I won’t get into the argument behind this or Brexit at all here . What does make me happy is young people sticking their head above the parapet and demanding to be listened to.

Teenagers are hushed often , told their views are invalid as they don’t know much. The young people in America standing up against the NRA have been mocked , have been accused of being actors in a bid to silence them . Femi Oluwole has been shouted down by middle aged presenters who are supposedly interviewing him. I just hear a big hush , a ‘sit down and shut up ‘ when young people articulate themselves.

The thing is though. You can’t silence young people in 2018. Our teenagers use social media like we do oxygen. They can mobilise an army of like minded individuals with one tweet. They can and they will make themselves heard and I for one want to listen. I want to hear their thoughts on their futures , I want passionate people involved in the shaping of our world. We , as older people , expect to be listened to simply because we’ve been on the planet longer. Though looking at it from a young person’s eyes we picked Trump , we voted Brexit based on a promise on a bus , we haven’t stood up and spoken out. No wonder they are frustrated.

I saw a tweet from Barack Obama in the wake of the Florida shooting which resonated with me 

Teens – we’ve got your backs .
You’ve got this.


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The sweetest sixteen…

Once upon a time there was a baby. 

He was ever so beautiful , ever so cuddly and ever so hungry. His favourite hobbies were waking up every hour to be fed , cuddles , soft fleecy blankets ,being held and the occasional nap between meals. He had a big brother who loved to slobber all over him (kiss him he would say) and show him off like he was the crown jewels.The baby had little choice in this whole ‘brother’ thing bit he never seemed to mind too much .

The baby grew bigger , unsurprisingly given his milk intake and discovered food was a thing. It was a revelation !! It got better than milk!!! I mean porridge – whoever invented that bad boy was a genius according to our baby!

He carried on growing,much like the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar only instead of becoming a beautiful butterfly he became the world’s cutest toddler ! Seriously I only have to think of his blonde hair and huge eyes and my womb starts having funny ideas. He was a bit clumsy and fell over his own feet a lot . His mummy just assumed that was genetic as she did too….turned out years and years of doctors and A and E trips and podiatrist appointments down the line he had a bend in a bone in his leg that noone picked up on and that’s why he fell. His mummy felt pretty bad about that but wondered if she could get in on some of this bent leg action to account for her clumsiness. 

Our world’s cutest toddler also struggled with his speech a bit. Again his mummy would insist to anyone who dare mention this that she could understand him as could his auntie and grandma so if you couldn’t that’s your problem. Much to mummy’s dismay a speech therapist fixed our hero and ‘doos’ became shoes and ‘nunny’ became dummy and mummy cursed that speech therapist as his mispronunciation was just adorable .

Pre schooler boy loved collecting. Really loved collecting. Wooden Thomas trains , Bob the Builder toys , Engie Benjy vehicles! What do you mean what’s Engie Benjy??It was kind of a Bob rival but voiced by Ant and Dec , it was pretty cool!! He’d spend hours racing these toys all separated into teams and leagues . He’d never grow out of liking a good league . 

Seriously I could just squish that little face !!!




He also loved setting ridiculous challenges for the adults in his life requesting green dummies and elephant shaped biscuits and other bizarre items. The grown ups in his life of course would take on these challenges because if you succeeded you’d be his hero!!

Through primary school at some point our boy discovered football . His elder brother had always been a sports nut but younger boy wasn’t keen. Until he was obsessed ….a character trait from his mum being he is either obsessed by something or has zero interest. We don’t really do in between. The boy breathes football. He has his precious Hull City and beloved Stockport County but it goes deeper than that. One night he and I sat and he was looking at obscure Greek football tables and results for hours .

He also became an author ! His Dusty Rusty series were a triumph! Well we all thought so anyway, I can still imagine they’ll be published one day!

The dreaded teen years came …. but they were …well great actually!!! When you’ve had 3 babies under 3 – teenagers who can feed themselves and toilet alone bring not a lot to fear really. 

He also bloody loves an evening with a rom com

So today that hungry ,cute,  cuddly baby is now – well a hungry, cute ,  cuddly 16 year old actually. An amazing young man who thinks a lot and questions a lot. Who is creative and thoughtful and kind and caring. Who would still wake to eat hourly if he could get away with it . Who does the best Garth Crooks impression and who is going to go on Pointless with me as his knowledge is pretty widespread and impressive. Whose personality I can see reflecting back at me like a mirror which is weird . …and frustrating as hell should we disagree and both dig our heels in as far as they can possibly go!!

Happy Birthday gorgeous one ! I’m so lucky to get to be the one you call mum , you’re a delight and I am so proud of the person you are . I can’t wait to watch you change the world in your own thoughtful , considered way . The universe is made infinitely better by having you in it!
Xxxxx

JakiJellz

After The Playground

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Burnished Chaos

         



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When 4 become 1…

You’re thinking of the Spice Girls now aren’t you?? ….yeah me too,  but this post is kid related not a 90s throwback. Although I might start giving them Spice-esque nicknames : Grumpy kid , Stroppy kid , gob almighty kid , perma-hungry kid ??Might catch on!! 

Anyway , I digress….(that’s going to be the title of my autobiography by the way)

When you have a whole tribe of kids and only 1 of you the all important one on one time can be tricky. Well when I say tricky , 1 into 4 simply does not go. It can be impossible.

Now the children are older it has become easier. I’m now able to do something with one child without everyone else wanting in! In fact these days they generally like being left alone to rot in front of a screen.

Recently there have been a few occasions though where indulging the individual children’s interests and passions has made me appreciate even more just how good it is to have those one on one times. 

My children all have very different interests. The one thing they have in common though is that when they love , they love hard. Much like their mother when they have a passion they are very enthusiastic about it!

This is how I found myself joining hundreds of people in a queue at 9 am in a Waterstones in Manchester. 

Eldest child has been into F1 since he could point and make zoomy noises on the TV whilst men in cars drove super fast (look I’m not the expert here!)

As with many things (Doctor Who , Hull City…) I got sucked in by my children’s enthusiasm and ended up being way more interested in it than I would have been. So I have found myself getting up at stupid o clock to watch races with him , I was happy to see Lewis Hamilton win the world title again and I do have a basic understanding of the rules (well except they seem to change every season!)

Anyway eager to please mum here saw Jenson Button was doing a book signing in Manchester so I told him about it. I’ve been to a few book events and signings here myself. Always very civilised affairs you buy your ticket, arrive 10 mins before the event and have a lovely time. 

This was different. I didn’t realise this was different until I had passed on the info and accepted his invitation to go with him (I’m a bit needy and they rarely want to hang out with me these days) 

This event though , involved queuing. 

Lots of queuing.

4 hours of queuing.

We were total amateurs though, the guy in front of us had travelled all the way from Northern Ireland and the man at the front of the queue had been camped outside all night! Our 15 min train ride and 4 HOURS OF QUEUING was pretty minor relatively speaking.

Despite the queuing. It really was a lovely thing to do together. I learnt a few things about my son that morning. Mainly that his F1 knowledge is almost encyclopaedic. Also though that he is a lovely ,polite , funny , chatty ,  young man (of course I knew this already but it’s quite a special insight into the kind of human he is and I just felt proud )

So the boy met one of his heroes , I know they say not to do that but Jenson was lovely and chatty and unrushed and just look at the boys face? He may be 17 but that is a look of joy … they’re rarer those moments as they get older , you’ve got to work harder for them. So what’s 4 hours between friends!!!



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Teenagers Rock! (most of the time)

When my elder 3 were babies, with just 2 and a half years between them, strangers were united in one common statement.

“ooo they’re cute now but wait until they’re all teenagers at once! Your house will be a nightmare ”

Even at the time, having not slept in three years, not being able to remember how it felt to go out without baby sick on my shoulder and just sleepwalking through a life of nappies and feeding and sick and colic and that sheer exhaustion that early parenting rewards you with. I thought it unlikely that it could get any harder. I had a newborn in a sling and a double pram resembling a tank containing a 1 and 2 year old. Teenagers can walk unaided right?

Now here we are. The babies are now teenagers and nosy strangers? You were wrong. This is not harder than babies. Nothing I have ever done in my life has been harder than 3 babies. Call me a wimp but when I think back I just have no idea how I survived the first 4 years of motherhood.

Parenting teenagers isn’t easy of course, I’m not claiming that. There are just advantages to having almost fully formed humans about the place. Do you mind if I blow the trumpet of teenagers for a second? Here’s the great things about parenting teens:

1) They’re almost self sufficient.
They can make themselves food. Fair enough it’s usually a bowl of cereal and you often have to do scary crockery retrieval missions in their rooms *shudder* but at least now the response to “I’m huuunnnggrryy” can be “make yourself something to eat then”
You can’t do that with a toddler.

2) You don’t have to entertain them.
In fact they really prefer it if you don’t try. When my boys ask of a Sunday what we are doing today I know they’re crossing their fingers whispering ‘please nothing’ under their breath.
My youngest, at 10, still requires entertainment. A weekend isn’t a weekend if we haven’t baked, painted, sewed, jigsawed , visited the park, been swimming and put together a dance show!! On the weekends that she is at her daddy’s, the elder 3 and I can whack on a movie marathon and stay in our pj’s eating popcorn. I’m not going to pretend I don’t enjoy those weekends.

3) You can get them do jobs you don’t like.
There are some parenting jobs that I just can’t stand. Top of the list:making packed lunches. Delegation is key.
All the jobs I hate done by other people -fantastic!
Obviously, the kids don’t exactly revel in their duties and sometimes computer confiscation gentle cajoling is necessary. They generally get done eventually though.

4)They’re good company
Now they’re older you can actually sit and have a real conversation with them. This is one of my favourite things about having teens. The boys have interests in politics which means we can chat about that sometimes. Mostly though, they’re very good company… as long as it’s on their terms. Be that doing football score predictions, debating the best Doctor Who episode or having to read a book they’ve just finished as they NEED to talk to someone about it. I don’t mind chatting on their terms, I just enjoy spending time with them before they’re off playing computer games and can barely answer a yes or no question let alone chat.

5) They can still be bribed /blackmailed
In the baby days there was nothing these guys wouldn’t do for a bag of milky way stars (do they even still make those?) Now the stakes are a little higher. All about carrot versus stick. I can offer Domino’s for tea if they get their project finished if we’re doing the carrot. As for the stick, I may have threatened to become friends with all their mates on Facebook or put baby pics on Instagram if they’re being awkward..
I must state I would never actually do these things, they are just effective threats.

6)Years of training is beginning to pay off.
Parenting is really just an attempt to raise good humans isn’t it? Send adults into the world who care and are polite and who want to do good. This really does take some doing I’m willing to guess. When the eldest asks how my day as been though, or small girl and I get from a rainy school run to find some thoughtful soul has put our pjs on the radiator that’s a pretty nice feeling.

I’m not trying to make out we’re The Waltons or that raising teenagers is a dream. Come to my house on the days they all hate each other and Bickerfest is happening and you’d likely take the cute babies and no sleep any day.

It’s just that strangers telling an exhausted mum of 3 kids under 3 that it was only going to get worse,  was scary to me in my sleep deprived state. If you’re that woman right now, it’ll be fine. I can’t see a point parenting will ever be easy, but at least teenagers generally enjoy sleep and incontinence isn’t such an issue.

 

 

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