The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

What happened to Birthday Eve? 

As Mrs Cake Pops pointed out eight days ago, I demonstrated little fanfare on Birthday Eve this year. 

How out of character you may think. Unless you saw my Facebook post at the start of August declaring that it was Birthday month. Indeed.

Truth is, I was just too busy to dedicate much time to Birthday Eve having just come back from a week away in Thailand. You sort of think that a two hour flight with #1, 2 and 3 should be a breeze these days and on the whole it is but the whole travelling thing is still quite exhausting. Especially as I’ve mentioned before that as the years roll by my exuberance for air travel wavers somewhat. The mere mention of turbulence has me in a silent panic. As the plane jolted around for a few minutes I could hear #1 and 2 whooping like we’re on a roller coaster as I grip the arm rests.

Birthday Eve is significant in that it marks the end of your own personal year. The last day of an age you’ll never be again. As far as being 41 goes, on the whole I can definitely leave that one behind as a year that ranked lower than some other years but also contained some good stuff too.
It was a year of huge change with the return to Gainful Employment and #1 and 2 starting Big School. There has been sadness as well but also joy with new family members to meet. World events also played a part. All these things combined is tiring. Exhausting even. 
As Birthday Eve and even Birthday passed, I looked over my shoulder and acknowledged some of the challenges that 41 came with and realised that whilst some of them were rather rubbish, they wouldn’t define the whole year. There were learnings definitely and to take something away from such experiences can only add to yourself and not detract. 

After all in a few more years what happened at 41 will become distant memory. Think back to all the years where it hasn’t felt so amazing and then suddenly it is amazing. Nothing truly lasts forever and in the great scheme of things, can you really expect every year to be amazing. You would never learn anything new. About yourself and others.

But already 42 (42!!) has started off pleasingly. I realised what needs to happen more often is quite simple. I need to spend more time with friends and family. I really do. Get back to doing things that I enjoy. Be it running, cooking, crafting, pottering around, laughing. 

It is as simple as that. 

So Birthday was spent trying out a bar I’d heard plenty about. It’s one of those ‘hidden bar, secret password’ places with drinks menus in font size not designed with the elderly in mind. Followed by dinner at a place that has a six week waiting list. But for once I ‘know’ people who can get you in within three weeks. I am what they call connected.

Birthday Plus One was spent with Twin 1 and Twin 2 who generously hosted belated birthday celebrations for anyone who happened to have had a birthday in the past 12 months. If you greet most people with a ‘it’s been too long since…’ then it’s time to change that. 

Good conversation and company makes for an enjoyable evening but lob in a good party game with highly covetable prizes to be had leaves you going home decidedly satisfied. 

On it’s own a solar powered inflatable light may not seem like much but if you know you’re taking it off someone who highly desires it, well then it becomes much more enjoyable to drink a jumbo tumbler of whiskey with your newly acquired jumbo ice cubes by solar powered inflatable light. 

The reflection of Birthday Eve this year is that I didn’t spend the time doing anywhere near as much as I should have done of things that make you say that was a good Birthday year.
And so for this year of 42 I’m going to tip the balance the other way. 
Do more of what you love the most too. 

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The end of the first Big School year.

As we languish by our holiday pool five weeks into the long school summer holidays, I catch myself marvelling how it was almost a year ago since Husband and I waved off #1 and 2 onto the school bus for their first day at Big School.

Whilst the academic year is only a little over ten months long, at the start of it, it feels like a big a long stretch ahead. But at the end of it, it seemed to come by all too soon and I never felt I was totally on top of things. You know, the right kit for the day (swimming or PE?), signed consent forms, reading books, library books, rehearsing lines for school assemblies, missing the different tabs on the class blog because you can’t see them properly on a mobile phone and hence missing out on a whole terms of notices. Yep. 

Call me a Big School rookie. I think that’s why Class Parent Reps were assigned. They say it’s to support the Teachers but really it’s to let someone else kick parents like me into action. I love, and dearly need, those reminders about what kind of dress up day it is this week because there is always something going on that I’m not keeping track of. I am forever grateful to the Class Parent Reps for taking on this role, so much so that I feel like I may weep whenever I see them. 

I’ve promised myself that next year I will be READY for the end of the school year. In a flurry of end of year Parent Teacher meetings, swim galas and sports day; a class party marked the end of Year 2 for #1 and Year 1 for #2. The shock of how quickly this came about took me by surprise. On this last day, as I flitted between the two class parties barely able to put names to many of the children’s faces, I felt pangs of guilt that I didn’t know who they all were. Barely a year ago I knew all the names of every child in their class. To be fair though, it was a very small class. 

Whilst I fretted over #1 and #2 adjusting to Big School, guess who needed to adjust the most? Of course. You probably already know this and I was naive not to. I was not prepared for all the expectations that Big School brings. In my school days, there was very little parental involvement, take it not as a sign there was no interest but simply because they couldn’t help. So how would my parents fair in today’s academic world? Even for those in Infant school it’s all about using computers and coding (when did this change from being called computer studies?) as well as practicing handwriting, reading, maths and remembering stuff. 

I often wonder about the remembering stuff side of things. Like now that we can store all phones numbers in handy gadgets having only  to input the number once, what is happening to our brains? Surely less and less is being used up. I have more memory space in my brain than on my phone right now.

Then there’s the Work at Home stuff. This is the stuff that I completely wasn’t aware of for the whole first term. I will carry this shame for the rest of my days. Work at Home is like a multiple choice of project based activities to do together. Research about a shark’s life cycle. A video of a science project. Put together your time line. The research stuff I can do with the help of Google. Don’t you miss those trips to the reference section of the library? I remember aged nine having to go to the local libary to find out what the Magna Carter was all about. You could find out right now if you like. These Work at Home projects are an education for me as well as #1 and #2. Like having to work out how to make videos using iMovies. In fact, I should be given a report card on what new learnings I’ve achieved throughout the year. 

Provision of interesting and nutritious packed lunches every day? Satisfactory effort. Could do better though with variety. 

Attendance of all class activities? Excellent effort. Missed just one swim gala but said child did not particupate so it doesn’t count.

Attendance of Parent Social Activities? Poor effort. Try harder next year.

Competent understanding of the Work at Home requirements? Satisfactory effort once realised the Work at Home aspect.

The last day of school for the year is always going to be a nostalgic one. Just as you get used to the routine, the teacher, the challenges that have arisen for your child during that year and the discussions on how to overcome them addressed, it’s time for change again. And who is most resistant to that change? A new teacher, new class, new expectations. How will #1 and #2 rise to this? Will their teacher know that last year we had this to work on and that in class this one needs a bit more encouragement than other. Will #1 and 2 come back from school each day having absorbed all that you’ve said so that opinions are led not by what Husband and I have really told them but from what their teacher has said. 

It’s funny how there is another person in your child’s life who they will believe in without question. This is how I know that both #1 and 2 enjoy being at Big School and their minds are ready to absorb all sorts of new stuff. In both their Parent Teacher meetings, the eact same phrase was to said to me. They are ready for the next level. Am I? 

My babies are all growing up. And all is how it should be. The new academic year is almost upon us and I need to get myself organised with new kit, new haircuts, new marker pens for the calendar. 
With my marker pens I am ready. Well at least I’ll be ready with getting  the right kit ready on the right school day. 
Which is a start at least. 

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