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It’s over – week 60

It’s over. Seven years of primary (junior) school ended on a bright sunny Wednesday afternoon.

On the way out the school gate, the Tween got to say goodbye to one of the most influential teachers in his 12 years of learning. MrsQ stepped into the Tweens life when he was five, entering prep year (kindergarten). She taught him so many life long skills – from the obvious (counting, reading, social) but importantly a connectivity to a community beyond his family.

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MrsQ with the Tween

It’s these outside family influences that will leave our tweens, teens and young adults in good stead as they face the world.

Having hung around the same primary school for seven years – there’s been tears and laughter, with way too much time in the principals office – moving on from this community has made me reflect on the dimensions that have become so important.  Most parents recognise that no schooling is perfect; that often the battles seem pointless and primitive – however what we do see is the stretching and growing of young children in small safe ponds. By pushing boundaries and making mistakes, not only do our children gain the gift of resilience we too as parent learn to trust in our child’s ability to bounce back and become the amazing tweens they are.

As we head into the week of Christmas and New Year, I wish you all a safe and prosperous time. Families and tweens can be challenging however by sticking together as a community that shares kindness, thoughts and a pathway beyond the drowning of everyday, we can make it through. I leave this year knowing that we can all go beyond being kind to show great kindness to others.

All love from my family to yours.

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From my family to yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica

20 December 2014

PS. As we head into 2015 and all the fun that the first year of high school will bring the Tween, I have placed a “jar of joy” on the shelf; I hope you do too.

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The last times – week 59

I busted my ankle. Frankly what a shocker but every cloud is lined with silver. This (painful) downtime has allowed me to reflect on the seven years of primary (junior) school that is coming to an end.

I’ve been thinking about my involvement in the school life – from the school board to the playground antics – and how over that time there has been some real hot highs with the Tween and gut wrenching lows.

The beginning of life at school with so much learning and stretching – the desire to read so he could work out what our local graffiti artists were writing across our laneways (some classy stuff for sure!) – through to the top end of school frustrations at having to re-do work that the teacher rightfully said was “not good enough”.

The Tween has always had a fractious relationship with the Principal – a mutual feeling I think! – that I believe has been healthy in allowing him to work through the dynamics that as adults we deal with so frequently. By figuring out for himself, the Tween has developed a healthy attitude to responsibility for the good things and the times that he makes the wrong decisions –”the consequences of actions”.

As we enter the countdown of the last weeks of school, its been a challenge to keep up the motivation of learning and purpose. I so get it! I grew out of my primary school a whole year before secondary, which lead to frustrations and boredom.

For our Tween, he see’s the glitter of his new school – the gold tassels and bling of a bigger environment, new friends, on-site swimming pools, space, sport, language… and on it goes. There is no way the interest of primary school can keep up with that!

However until that final school bell at 1pm on Wednesday 17 December (which co-insides with Coco the Corgis – the Tweens dog – first birthday. What a birthday present for Coco!) it’s vital to keep him connected to the remaining days.

The main focus for us has been responsibility. Whilst he gets himself to and from school, we have looked to extend that into other areas; including coming up with ideas of how he will get to his new school next year (which will involve travelling in part with his younger brother).

And really, I would simply like the Tween to savour the moment – be present in the excitement of today.

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica

19 November 2014

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Filling up the tween – week 58

There’s been more than the usual amount of basketball played in our house.

With the annual representative clubs working their way through 100’s of avid tweens and teens desperately wanting team selection – our tween has made the cut and is placed in a team for the third year in a row. It’s great news for him and as parents we brace ourselves for another 48 weeks of hectic friday night games plus 2 x a week practice.

And like most parents out there, this extra is added to the current schedule of school, sport, friendships and downtime, and of course some children-free time for the adults.

However it’s wonderful. As parents we want our children to extend themselves, have fun with life and generally be happy. And that’s what we have seen in our tween this week. The happiness as the tween settles into his new basketball team, the relish of coaching a group of nine year olds, and the refereeing he adds to the end of his Saturday line-up.

But somewhere along this crazy routine we need to ensure the tween is eating right. His growing body is being pushed and getting the balance right can be tricky. Whilst we have the “three meals a day” stacked with fresh fruit and vegetables, calcium and other nutrients for growing bodies, it’s the snacks in between that can be tricky.

The barrage of commercially packed snacks that are stacked with sugar, salt and a heap of numbers are tempting to snatch and grab during a busy week down the supermarket aisle. Keeping this at bay (yes, we have the odd slip-up here) is tricky and I’ve been playing around with a few tasty and better-for-everyone treats.

My latest not-too-shabby from the kitchen is a dark chocolate topped grain and seed slice. Using some locally made raw muesli that is packed with ancient grains, seeds and dried fruits, I have added some quinoa flakes and shredded coconut. Binding this together with honey, coconut oil and butter, and baking for about 30 minutes, I then top with melted 90% dark chocolate.

The result is a delicious packed-with-energy slice that the tween (and myself) love. It’s uber filling and as nut free can be taken to school.

Ancient grain and seed slice topped with dark chocolate

Ancient grain and seed slice topped with dark chocolate

Whilst the grain and seed slice currently has a “made in my kitchen” look, I’m sure with some refinement it will look more “commercially pre-packed”.

As baking, cooking and generally sharing recipes is really not my thing, I do highly recommend my friend and awesome journalist Carole Beck in her quest to feed her family and explore the parenting journey at Healthier Mummy.

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica

28 October 2014

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Some distance — week 57

I’m in Berlin and my tween is in Melbourne.

After two weeks of family holidays in Asia, it’s probably a good thing to put some miles between us. That sounds tougher than I mean — I miss him, his brother and their father terribly. The airport farewell pulled my heart vigorously and I wondered what I was doing…

Back in Melbourne the tween has settled into the school routine with the added excitement of being in his last term of junior school, and more immediately, getting back into the basketball season.

Basketball is the tweens’ number one love.

It’s what he lives and breaths everyday.

The swish of a goal; the handling, the flip, the blocks and the “and ones”. There’s a life and a lingo that I didn’t know existed until four years ago.

As a player, a coach and a referee, the tween fills his Friday nights and Saturday’s with the resounding bounce of a ball.

It can be a wonder to watch when his head is up, a smile creases his eyes and the move maps across his face.

And afterwards, the flop on the sofa to recount his game plan, talk about his under 9 team he coaches and the calls he made as a referee. The excitement in the recount, the glow of a win, or the shadow of a loss.

What this love of basketball has really brought to my tween is a growing sense of who he is.

He spends many Saturday afternoons and early evenings hanging out with older kids (teenagers) at the courts between his refereeing games.

At first I was wary of what this meant but soon realised that these boys and girls are awesome; funny cool dudes that don’t fit the stereotype. They are great at being themselves and have unknowingly shown the tween that too.

And the vocab is a world to behold!

Who knew the poly-clad group would be our saviour?

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica

7 October 2014

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Taking off – week 56

We are in Hanoi, having taken off for the spring break holidays to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore.

The tween – having just turned 12 has flourished in our ever-changing daily environ. English by birth and a well travelled explorer he loves testing new food, catching the smells of the laneways and trying his luck (and bargaining skills) at the markets.

Whilst I am an a adamant “made locally and sustainable” shopper, I have to accept that the tween is working his way around a world that is not always congruent with his mothers’ purpose. He does well to balance the “cha cha” from the markets and paying a respectful price to the stallholders.

Hong Kong has found the tween smiling deeply at his new found centre of attention with mainland Chinese tourists loving his red hair and brown eye combination. Unusual in Australia, it is positively freakish in China. I’m thinking there will be many a family slide-show featuring the tween in his Rutgers t-shirt and Nike freeruns! It’s a small price for the kindness and happiness of others.

With this relaxed and uncomplicated mode, I have found the tween holding my hand (in public) and being affectionate.

Perhaps the release of being away from his “coolness” of the basketball court and the school playground has allowed this freedom of emotion to happen. It’s the change in environment that has brought out these wonderful secure traits and the connection with family that brings in the closeness.

Week one into the family trip has been awesome!

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica

22 September 2014

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Turning around – week 55

It’s been such a joyful and funny week.

With husband away the pattern of the week has taken a different tune and the tween has relished the rejigging of roles.

We’ve had the luxury of spending time alone in the car between school drop-offs (with a change in my workplace, I am now taking the tween to school most mornings). This car time has become an invaluable nub of words. Some mornings has seen the tween spill with laughter at the antics of the school yard or floods of tears over some wrongdoing in the classroom.

Who knew traffic clogged streets would provide the creative line for mother – tween conversations! I now look out for other cars with kids – especially the older ones sitting in the front seat… I wonder what words are said; what heart felt story is being spilled or recounted.

The week has culminated in a birthday party for the tween. Whilst he will turn 12 next Friday, he choose today to spend the afternoon with some friends from school – girls and boys.

Trusting them, they took themselves off to lunch and a movie for a few hours. Giving the tween this freedom is as important to me as it is to him. I wasn’t disappointed! The party arrived home laughing and telling stories of popcorn throwing in the cinema and general 11 year old behaviour.

Whilst I don’t want to be the person to clean up the movie theatre, I do think that their fun shows the innocence and charm of my childhood.

And I think that makes it ok! Our house is at peace.

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica 7 September 2014

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September spring – week 54

I’ve been reading up on tweens this week and what I am learning is there is so much “advice” about hiding, spying and generally looking from behind bushes at what our tweens might be doing. Be it time on the internet (put in locks, passwords, firewalls), or hanging out on the way home from school (network of parents who sms tween sightings). Even worse is the prescriptive parenting guide (do 1,2,3 to be your tweens best friend)!

Me? There’s no prescription in our house. As the parent of a tween, I relish in the haphazardness of our craziness – of finding our pathway through the sometime blinding fog to glorious sunshine. We work off trust (that is often broken), independence (that can be disappointing) or love (that never wavers).

This week I have watched my son push and stretch his way through the days. I have taken delight in his confidence some days and then felt heart-aching pain at his down self-talk. Of the nights when he yells and screams at me and then wants to hug his way back into my uterus…

The fluctuating emotions are difficult to handle. The ups and downs seem so unpredictable – walking in the door may open a delicious end of the day conversation or a thunderstorm of gloom.

But this is our journey of love, hope, laughter and a few hidden tears from me. It is a journey of survival and stories of the future.

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica

1 September 2014

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It’s August – week 53

It began over a year ago, although the exact moment is hard to pinpoint. There were the looks, the anger, the sudden tears. 

I was taken by surprise. Who or what is this person? How did our little boy become this pin cushion of prickles?

A year later, I am no better off understanding what is happening to our son. All I know is that from 9 – 13 there is this new phase, something that didn’t exist in the 1980’s. 

Known as the tweens, its the growing phase from child to teenager. It is hard for parents to understand and I can only imagine how hard it is for our children.

This is my story, my pathway and adventure, about my son and his journey that at times appears to take us down.

Each week I plan to learn and write about what worked and what failed – and perhaps this just might provide other parents with some hope and light in a dark tunnel that is not a train coming towards them but their amazing incredible children returning.

All love

JPH_Mar2014_smiling

Jessica 

August 2014

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