Saturday, May 26, 2007

lightbulb moments

Ok, so it'll be obvious already to any parents out there but for me it's a recent revelation. Children's TV programmes on a lunchtime and when you get home from school, they're for kids right?

Well, they may be in terms of content but in terms of scheduling they are most definately there for the benefit of whoever is trying to get a meal ready! Obvious really when you think about it but until I was actually the one trying to prepare said meal it's a concept that had never even occurred to me...

I've spent a hefty chunk of most weekends lately looking after an assortment of boys on my own, sometimes just one at a time or up to three (and once four...) together. I've never really had to be the one responsible for so long on my own before, babysitting for a few hours or being with others (be they parents or other relatives) with whom the buck stopped I've done plenty of, but overnight stays and whole days on my own? New territory for me.

Must admit the first time I was faced with three of them overnight I was a bit apprehensive, great as they are and much as I love them to bits I do know that angels they most definately are not - would we all survive intact? Well we did, and the WWIII that errupted over who got to sleep in the 'lego room' ended up with the two opponents curled up in my bed and me in the lego room (having politely but firmly declined the offer to climb in with them! There are only so many sharp elbows and knees I'm prepared to put up with in a confined space...)

The house always feels a bit too quiet and empty once they've left, although the quiet when they've gone to bed is usally far more welcome!

I'm realising just how much 'parenting' skills I've picked up from my friends, the little tricks of the trade and ways of dealing with the thornier situations - the is that your grumpy face? routine works a treat on four year olds this side of the globe too! I'm also realising how lucky these boys and various other children I know are who have very close loving relationships with non-grand/parental adults in their lives. People they know they can got to for a cuddle, to talk to if they are upset, to go and stay with without parents.

I remember someone back in Edinburgh telling me how she used to have that kind of relationship with various children (my peers as it happens) from Meeting but that these days she wouldn't dare have that kind of warm, huggy relationship and to have F/friends children and teenagers over to stay. What would it look like - a single woman having all these children who she wasn't related to around all the time? Times are changing she said, it just can't be done anymore. It felt sad at the time to hear it, and we're talking well over five years ago now. It feels even sadder now having really experienced for myself the joys of doing just that. I know where she's coming from though and I'd probably think a bit differently about it in the UK too. Yet another reason to thank the heavens I'm here...

I've been 'borrowing' other people's children for years now, it used to be adopting little 'brothers and sisters' at Summer School and later becoming a Summer School 'mum' and a (fairy - allegedly) godmother. I've sat through more pregnancy/breastfeeding/nappy conversations than I'd even want to contemplate counting and can hold my own in discussions about the benefits of raspberry leaf tea and the wonders of cabbage leaves - which came in handy yesterday when chatting with three mums at football (sorry - I mean soccer...), two of whom are heavily pregnant again. Someone referred to me yesterday as 'your aunty' when talking to Ryan - a term used here as much as in Yorkshire to mean any adult female in your life, whether it's the nextdoor neighbour, a friend of the parents or a relative (or all three in one!), but in many ways it feels an appropriate term in the family sense. It's very much what my relationship with these three boys has become over the years, as with Summer School kids it's a direct relationship rather than because of their parents yet with the closeness I have say with my godson (or at least did before I abandoned him to move here - I'm sorry Morgan...). And surely not even in Britain could it be frowned on to go and stay at your aunty's?

So where is all this taking me? Dunno; I'm not likely to become a mum in a hurry (let alone the usual 9 months...) and if I did become an actual aunty a small matter of 10,000 or so miles would get in the way somewhat! But it has certainly taken some of the scariness out of the parenting concept, altho I'm still awaiting convincement on the pregnancy front - despite Leith and Avon both positively glowing at YF Camp! So I think I'll just continue to live in the moment, enjoy being the doting 'aunty' for as long as I can and welcome the learning curve as no doubt it'll come in handy one day for something - life's like that.

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