Disappointment

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Its been a tough week in the Sparkles household.  As much as you try to protect your children and wrap them in a hug of love and support, things happen which we can’t control and there can be disappointments in life.  This happened this week and my heart really broke for my daughter.  My daughter has experienced little disappointments before, not getting an invite to a party, missing an event because of a clash but we’ve always been able to offer a better alternative.

Unfortunately, this week wasn’t so easy as the disappointment centred around the one event that Little Miss and all of Year 6 have been eagerly anticipating all year and excitedly counting down the days, the school residential.  Little Miss is rarely ill, I can count two day’s sickness in all her years at primary school, she’s the pupil with all the 100% attendance certificates and awards yet she suddenly became very poorly on Sunday.  She was hot, clammy, dizzy and exhausted, sleeping from 3pm on Sunday afternoon to 7am on Monday.  As soon as I went in to wake her up, I knew that she wasn’t going to be able to do the residential.  She tried to get up and feigned excitement and enthusiasm in such a weak voice but she couldn’t even sit up in bed and her attempts to get dressed were slow and laboured.  She repeatedly tried to assert she was perfectly well and able to go to the residential, with tears in her voice she pleaded with us to let her go.  It was at this point that Mr S and I had to intervene and say no, it wasn’t fair on her, her friends or her teachers, she cried and I think it very nearly broke our hearts, sometimes making parental decisions is hard.

Monday became a day of cuddles and reassurance at home with the promise that if she slept and then ate some tea and breakfast that Mr S would drive her to the camp for the second day, meaning she would at least get one night with her friends and get up to the mischief they had planned.  She did manage this and as she hadn’t been sick just poorly we agreed for her to go on Tuesday.  I was worried, we didn’t think she was 100% but definitely much better than Monday. I just didn’t want her to be poorly without me there and I knew she would be devastated if she was sent home ill.  Fortunately her teachers kept us in contact and she perked up during the day and was soon back to her normal self.  She got her night of mischief with the highlights being the girls all sneaking into one of the bedrooms and only around 4 hours of sleep.  Sadly it was an extremely wet and windy camp and many activities were changed due to the weather, no barbecues or camp fires, in comparison to the adventures and stunning weather they enjoyed on the Year 5 PGL trip.  I suppose the lesson Little Miss learnt was that sometimes you have to change your expectations to meet the reality of the situation.  I wish she didn’t have to learn it as she did but hopefully its made her stronger and more resilient.

 

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Getting things done …

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Towards the end of my route, I ran down to this view, the colours of the sea and sky were a dusky grey and pink and it was beautiful


Today was one of those unremarkable days, a day to do chores and get organised on a pretty yucky day, weather wise.  We were all at home today, Mr S had lots of house admin and financial tasks to do (I leave this part of our life to him, he’s great at finding deals, managing finances etc.. although please be assured I’m just as savvy and know all that is going on)  I had housework to do and planning and packing for our break away later this week and two residential trips for the children in the next few weeks, June is going to be a very busy month.  

I started the day with a long (dry) run, it was good, one of those runs where your legs move smoothly and swiftly, you have a great playlist and the view to sea is mesmerising.  After breakfast, we started our jobs and much to their surprise and joy allowed the children to chill with the Wii U so we could get things done.  It was a wet and miserable morning by now, so everyone was keen to be inside.  I had such a useful morning deep cleaning and now I’m ridiculously satisfied with my clean and sparkling cutlery drawers, immaculate surfaces, tidy rooms, empty laundry basket etc.. enabling me to feel so much happier in my environment.  My recent extended work hours mean that the house has been neglected a little and it was great to get on top of it today.  I need a clean and tidy house to feel relaxed and comfortable in my surroundings, its just the person I am.

This afternoon, Little Man and I went over to ‘big town’ for some shopping.  I needed to go to Decathlon for my annual summer shop, UV rash vests, running gear and a sleeping mat for camp. I love the excitement of a Decathlon shop,  on school trips to France as a teacher, we always managed to find one for a quick stop! My son is not the most enthusiastic of shoppers but I felt that we hadn’t had much 1:1 time recently and I needed some time with him.  I let him choose the music and he was happy to chat along in the car, its nearly an hour’s journey so there was lots of time to talk about the important things in his life, Minecraft, cricket, army and as we passed the car garages why I need to get a cool car.  ( Honestly isn’t a C1 cool?) Although he was initially unimpressed by my shopping proposal, when we got to Decathlon he was in element trying so many sports on display, dressing up as a boxer, trying the SUP, it was such a funny trip and an unusual but great mummy / son time.  We popped into Home Bargains for some cheap toiletries as it was too wet and windy to walk the extra hundred metres to Boots and as luck would have it, I found the perfect accessories for Little Miss’ party later this summer.  I’m a bit early, but from experience, I’ve learnt that it is best to pick up something so perfect when you see it.  We are having a watermelon themed party and I’m excited by my new props.

Today was one of those days where everyone seemed to be down about the wet day and being pretty miserable.  My day was so simple but satisfying, life’s not about the big life events but those little things which make you smile.  I smiled today because of a great run, having a clean house, ticking lots off my to dos list and being able to laugh out loud with my son.

The little things… Cards and a Watermelon 🍉

In my last post, I did write how I dislike the SATS and the impact on our children.  However this week, Little Miss has sat the tests and its been my job to be her chief cheerleader and support (along with Mr S of course) On Monday morning, we gave her the ‘You Got This’ card and everyday she has opened her lunch box to a new little card from me, just a few words to let her know I have been thinking of her.  She’s collected them all and clipped them together in her bag, so I think they’ve been appreciated.

SATS week has been a pretty good week for Little Miss the Year 6 were invited into school early for breakfast and all took up the offer, so they’ve had sustenance, good company and a positive vibe to start the day.  Apart from the time in the tests, they have also enjoyed a lot of time outside in the sunshine playing and had a treat day on Friday, where they were all spoilt by their lovely teachers.  My memories of the final weeks of primary school were sunny afternoons on the school field and practising for the end of year show and I remember it as being one of my happiest school times.  I hope she gets to enjoy similar now.  Its strange that even with another half term left the SATS week seems like the beginning of the end of primary school.

On Thursday, I was excited that the SATS were over and expected Little Miss to be too, I had planned for us to go into town after school for a little treat.  However, she was exhausted after the week of tests and despite my offer of cake at one of the little cafes, an ice cream sundae or similar, all she asked for was a slice of watermelon!  This is not quite as easy when you live in a small town with none of the big supermarkets.  The best I could find was prepacked watermelon slices for the afternoon and on Friday I went to the weekly market before work to buy a watermelon.  Something as simple as a fresh watermelon has made her so happy.  I shared a photo with my  mum of her holding the watermelon with the biggest smile on her face, life is about the simple things.

I think we’re all relieved and happy that the SATS are now over, there’s no homework this weekend, simply two days to relax and enjoy.  I was really proud to receive the message from Little Miss’ teacher amd knowing that she has done her ‘absolute best’ is all that matters to me.

SATS Testing, another brick in the wall.

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Tomorrow, Year 6 children will be sitting formal SATS, 4 days of literacy and numeracy tests.  My daughter will be among them and having experienced this school year with her, I am against this formal testing.  My daughter is bright and talented in many areas, will the SATS measure this, no, but they will tell me if she can use the past progressive tense correctly, recognise a subordinating conjunction, calculate, do algebra and that really useful skill, use Roman numerals correctly ( As a parent I’ve used Google a lot this year for homework.) These aren’t the academic skills I want to know that my child can do, I want to know that she can read and understand, have a good range of vocabulary and do key sums and reasoning to help develop the numeracy skills we need in life.  How much of this year’s work will be ‘forgotten’ over the next few years as its been rote taught for tests and not for skills.   This year we should also be developing social and emotional skills to ensure the wellbeing of our children.

I feel the creative spark has gone this year, I like a little project for homework, yet every week its just been pages and pages of online practice.  On Bank Holiday Monday, when I was out with the children at the park, a message pinged through on DoJo (another pet hate) with a message congratulating those currently working online and the number of sums completed by the class on the day on a particular app.  It was a bank holiday and there was pressure to log on, it seemed so wrong.  How are we going to develop a love and interest for learning when we are boring our children with the content of the curriculum, we need a curriculum for our digital world, with practical activities and investigations, not formal testing.

Whilst the focus has been on the SATS at the school, with lots of homework, parent workshops, catch up clubs etc.. The staff are trying to be positive and supportive in these last few days, the children all received the letter above and have all been encouraged to relax and rest this weekend and do something fun. Little Man has been on cub camp this weekend, so Little Miss has had quality time with us, meeting up with her grandparents and enjoying a beach walk and ice cream this afternoon.  There are also great school plans for next week with special breakfast clubs, treats etc.. during the week.

When the results are published, I won’t be sharing my child’s results with others (despite some school mums’ ‘interest’)   I’ve always felt strongly about this as I have an academically able child and one with significant learning needs, I don’t want either to be judged on academic performance, they are both so much more than a number or grade.  I also know that the results have very little use in the future, yes secondary schools receive them but ours do their own testing for the subjects where there are ability groupings in the first half term of Year 7.  It does ask the question of why do we do SATS?

I can only hope that after this year’s heavy academic focus, in these final weeks of primary school, the formal curriculum is put aside and the children can spend their time being creative, sporty and arty, cherishing the last few weeks of primary school before the grand adventure of secondary school.

Date day

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Whilst we like to do lots as a family, Mr S and I do ‘dates’ with each of our children to give them special time with us individually.  Today was one such day and it was my turn to take Little Miss out whilst Mr S and Little Man went to their favourite museum, with lots of interactive exhibits.  The children get to choose where they would like to go and Little Miss knew exactly where she wanted to go, the cat cafe.

Last year we came upon the cat cafe by accident when we were in a neighbouring town, the only problem was that it was closed.  However I did a bit of research and found the cafe online.  It’s a really interesting project, a cat rescue centre for 12 cats with a cafe within run by volunteers, many with learning difficulties.  You pay an entry fee of £5 per person for the care of the cats and then order from the menu.  I’m not a cat person but Little Miss was in her element, she was so happy stroking and playing with the cats, chatting away to the volunteers learning the cats’ names and characteristics and just loving it.  The cafe was busy with customers all keen to do similar. The building has been beautifully prepared for the cats, lots of  beds, toys, stunning playgrounds, everything has been done to make the cats very well cared for.  Little Miss’ reaction to our trip was simply ‘amazing’ and she hasn’t stopped talking about the cafe.  Her reaction shows why we do these dates, to let them choose something to share with us and have a little treat.

Mother’s Day 2019

I think I’ve written before that Mother’s Day is a strange day of mixed emotions in our house. Mr S’ mum died when he was young so its a day he hasn’t celebrated for many, many years. For me it’s one of those days when I think of our little boy who died in my pregnancy and I also pause to think of the children’s birth mother. However it’s also a day which I wish to enjoy surrounded by my little family.

Today was a busy day, Mr S was working until 2pm and I had promised the children a trip to Laserquest. Normally, Lazerquest is really busy on the Sunday’s children club but the combination of the clocks springing forward and Mother’s Day meant there were only 6 children there instead of the usual 30, so the children had a brilliant time and got more games than normal. We had a picnic in the town gardens and then it was time to come home and do the Sunday jobs. There will always be Sunday ironing to be done and dinner and packed lunches to be made, even on Mother’s Day.

As we had an early start, I didn’t get my cards or presents until we got home. It took a fair while for the children to remember it was Mother’s Day this morning, the lost hour was definitely affecting us all. I’m afraid I have to specify if there’s anything I would really like, as present buying is not one of Mr S’ strengths. I had hoped to get Michelle Obama’s autobiography for Christmas so I decided to make it an explicit wish this Mother’s Day writing a note for Little Miss to help Mr S. I was delighted to receive it and can’t wait to read it, she’s a mum I can aspire to. I also got a beautiful flower arrangement. Yesterday afternoon Little Miss went to our neighbour who had bought all the flowers and materials and taught my daughter how to make it for me, such a wonderful and kind gesture. I loved my handmade weaved card from Little Man and the verse inside Little Miss’ made me laugh!

I know how difficult today can be for many and I thought I would just end with this beautiful quote on social media today.

To everything there is a season …

This passage has helped to guide me in difficult times and to appreciate and celebrate the good times and respect and understand the harder days.   In the last few weeks, I have through my circle of family and friends rejoiced at the most joyous news and been saddened by devastating news.  These are not my stories to share but I’ve cried both happy and sad tears and have reread this passage to give comfort and hope.

At present, our life is in a bit of a transition and we are having to make decisions in a period of uncertainty.  We can’t plan fully as each stage is dependent on a previous step, for someone like me who craves order and security its hard and I’m seriously out of my comfort zone.  However we can’t hide away and are trying to plan for the best outcome for all of our little family.  The reason for the changes is our son’s secondary education, we are seriously needing to consider more specialist schools to meet his needs but living in a small seaside town in a large rural county means that the schools we are looking at are a considerable distance from our home.  However, neither of us feel that it is fair to expect Little Man to travel more than an hour each way for school and are trying to come to a compromise which suits the whole family.  There is no easy solution but we are considering moving inland to a small market town, 30 minutes away which would facilitate the journey.  However, it means giving up our seaside idyll, a life we love and planned for our family, the beach as our playground and being part of a wonderful community.  Its a hard decision.  We are also subject to our son being given place at the school we think is right for him, we know that on average there are 14 applications for each place and having visited a number of other special schools this feels like our only option, it is the best fit.  The change would have less effect on our daughter, catchment areas for the secondary schools are big here and a move would not affect her place at the secondary school she will start in September.

There is so much to consider and it is a situation which cannot be resolved quickly, our timescale is a minimum of about 18 months.  It seems overwhelming and is dominating so much of our thoughts, trying to do the best for everyone.  I need to remember that as in the passage from Ecclesiastes that this time will pass, this is our time to plant the seeds for a safe, happy future for all of us, all that matters is that we are together, secure and loved, no matter where we are.