Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tantrums in 6 year olds - how to play it?

As the children grow, I enjoy that they are more open to reason and the days of irrational strops are over. And then, one of them blindsides me with a nuclear tantrum and I am left questioning whether I do, in fact, meet the essential criteria for being an adult.

Yesterday, Hugh and I had a fight over 'the wrong apricot' that became a nerve-jangling battle of wills, where I stuck to the received mantra of,  don't back down, you can never back down, you will look weak, they will win and behave abominably, whenever they feel like it.

We were locked down in a stalemate of misery, much like most of world politics. He wailed and screamed and sobbed because I stopped him grabbing a 'different' dried apricot from the communal tub, while shoving the one he had already pawed (with playground hands), back in. He had several on his plate, plus other after-school snacks.

I tried to stick to plan A and put the apricot tub in a high cupboard. Did I have any idea this would lead to an hour of white rage? 'Course not. But half an hour in, I couldn't lose ground, could I?! Super Nanny and orthodox wisdom were yelling, 'hold firm, woman!'

Yet he was distraught - refusing to eat anything, sobbing on the floor. Crying. Kicking. In and out of 'The Naughty Porch'.  I offered stop-gap compromises (cashews or pistachios?) but he was locked in to his position, almost helpless, exhausted after school. My own nerves were jangled and I was desperate to help him, without 'giving in' to 'bad' behavior.

So, next time - for there will be one - I wondered about unilateral disarmament. Saying, okay, I know you are doing an expert Horrid Henry impersonation, but I'll give you one chance. IF I let you swap apricots, then you must start to behave. Because behave-and-*then*-we-will-consider- apricot-swapping was failing spectacularly.
It reminded me of the years when I shared a room with my sister. I was always the one who got out of bed to turn out 'the big light' after reading. One night I refused, and asked her to do it. She's not a Taurean for nothing. An hour later, I stumbled over to the light switch, defeated, crying. We laugh at it now.

A battle-of -wills eats up time. Maybe I'll try allowing the 'right' apricots and then set up some other part 2 sanction. If you don't behave post-apricot swap, I swear I will..., have to think of something. Dear readers, I will let you know.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Love Letter to Your Local Library via The Scottish Book Trust

Dear Hillhead Library,

The Scottish Book Trust may have prompted my letter of appreciation to you, and they are right to do so - like a good parent reminding a child to say please and thank you.

I do thank you, Hillhead Library for all that you give. You are the big, rectangular heart of Byres Road. I feel an instant physical relief when I  sweep through your automatic doors into the vault of books and quiet people and 70’s geometric carpet. Ah, the warm community air, the space to think and explore. An egalitarian place, free of commercial exploitation. What a rare and precious thing.

Books are free to read for those who can’t afford them. They can be requested, ordered, or just browsed. What a liberating and reassuring feeling this is. Indeed, what a relief.

And your staff are friendly and helpful. The ‘man with the curly hair’ is a true librarian. Nothing is too much trouble and he has time for the children and is patient when books are renewed until we find them again at the bottom of a toy box.

When I attended the excellent, ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ with my baby son, it became the social highlight of the week, (new mum-pals all going for coffee and chat afterwards). As we sat in the library singing, ‘If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands’, I clapped my son's chubby hands together and, yes, I was happy to the point of tears.

Hillhead Library, let us cherish you, celebrate you and, -most of all - never forget your true value to society.

Yours Sincerely,  

Ciara MacLaverty.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The unimaginable suffering of Ebola

I usually try to keep this blog 'light', but I have to write at my slow horror at the Ebola tragedy unfolding in the news. It is more uniquely awful than  anything I have seen. I almost feel there should be no other news until we get serious, world-wide help for this. I don't know what else to say or do, but I will donate some money here. I am in awe of the people who risk their lives by volunteering to help.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Teachers DO change lives

Recently, I was doing some classroom volunteering in a new school, and one of the teachers in the staff room said to me, 'just don't go into teaching thinking you'll change lives.' I didn't feel it was my place to argue with her, so I kept quiet.
Tonight I went to a maths workshop for parents of P1-P3's in Hugh's school, initially thinking, maths schmaths; how can I just 'get by' until he turns into an adult and uses a calculator like the rest of us?
Yet his teacher was so inspiring, she made me want to relearn maths all over again - which was some feat, considering I had to be dragged by the hair through quadratic equations the first time.
But how things are taught is almost as important as what is taught, and she had me enthused and believing that there's probably an innate poetry to maths, if I  can just find it. It was nearly all Brian Cox - Maths can be beautiful too.
And on my walk home, I thought how lucky my boy is to have a great teacher and I thought of how I loved some of my teachers in Islay High School. Yes, Mr. Warren, we were in awe of you and your casual, almost nonchalant, dispersing of Shakespeare, the way you sat on your desk with your floppy hair (and Converse basketball sneakers?); your effortless command of the class.
French and German from Miss Cuthbert, who was always up, positive and shiny with a new outfit each day (how was that even possible?). A poster of Schloss Neuschwanstein on the wall! Oh, the possibilities. She offered us a packet of Smarties to the first person who could spontaneously use the German word, 'doch!' in the correct context. No one ever won one it. Doch! That's me winning it now. It's only taken a few decades to sink in, but hey, it's better than Smarties.
Good teachers, man. Let them rule the world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

And this is what I mean...

Only a few days after the referendum, and it looks like Britain is creeping towards a war with ISIS in Syria. Now 'we', in Scotland, will be joining in, by default.

The three things I had wanted most from the Yes vote were

1) No nuclear weapons and a movement towards being a pacifist country. The day Tony Blair bombed Iraq without a second UN resolution was the day I lost all faith. I wanted Scotland to have no part of this kind of war-mongering. When will they understand that modern wars are never won? Peace only follows dialogue, not bombs.

2) I wanted the NHS to be free from the threat of the new TTIP bill. No chance now. Most people haven't even heard of TTIP. Here's a short but important explanation.

3) Green, green, and more green. I want Scotland to invest in renewables and take the lead in Green policies. The least I can do now is join the Green party.

Anyway, it feels like 'business as usual' with a deep frustration that 'we' may be headed to war again, dropping bombs in the middle east, encouraging generations of radicals to join up and try to bomb us back.

Am I the only one who thinks this is near insanity?

Monday, September 08, 2014

Yes and No and thoughts of bitter-sweetness

When I told you of my journey from No to Yes, I wanted to add that I am still a Nervous, Hopeful Yes, and nowhere near being a Triumphal, Tribal Yes.

Already, I am feeling for the losers. If this is as close as the polls suggest, then somebody's going to walk off the pitch, feeling like they just lost the World Cup on a penalty shoot out; times a million, for the rest of their life.
An old  friend got in touch on Facebook and told me she'd be so sad at 'breaking up with England' that her family would move away from Scotland, 'eventually.' It's sad to think that either side can feel so bereft.
I know Yes-ers who would react with self-righteous mockery to that, but I can really imagine the No's will indeed feel such isolated, lonely frustration if Yes wins; ironically, just the feeling that led Yes to fight for independence in the first place.
Ah, well, life is a series of see-saws and roundabouts; snakes and ladders and whatever other clich├ęs you wish to dig out. The best we can do is to keep true to wer'sels and civil to each other. Golly, it's hotting up.