I really struggled to write this post. I knew I wanted to post the picture, but explaining it seemed really complicated. So I’ve gone the opposite way and decided to keep it really simple.
This is Ellie and her step Dad.
Joining two families together really can be challenging and hard, but it also can really work.
There are lots of things in the world that I would describe as beautiful but this picture is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
I’ve decided that being 7 must be quite confusing for Ellie and it’s definitely confusing for me as her mum. Let me explain.
At 7 Ellie is old enough to:
Ask to earn pocket money by doing jobs … but expect to get paid if she stops half way through.
Know best and answer back because she knows best … but still cry if I tell her off.
Bring all her toys and general crap downstairs … but is too tired to take it back up later.
Choose her own clothes and style at the weekend … but need me to help her get dressed when she can’t be bothered on a school morning.
Bath herself without any help … but use half the bottle of conditioner because it ‘feels nice’.
Have her first few adult teeth … but still want me to clean her teeth for her when she can’t be bothered.
Talk about Anne Frank at school … but watch cbeebies over any other tv at home.
Of course, I’m not complaining because at 7 Ellie is still young enough to give me kisses and cuddles, to tell me she loves me every night, to want to snuggle on the sofa with me and to mostly sleep 11 to 12 hour nights.
It’s a confusing age really isn’t it.
I often berate myself for not spending enough time just playing with Ellie – I all too often let life get in the way. That email won’t get typed, that floor won’t get cleaned and that meal certainly won’t get cooked if I’m playing! I’m pretty sure this is something other parents can relate to, isn’t it?
What I find even more interesting is that when I do play with Ellie it tends to be doing jigsaws, arts and crafts, writing and very ‘practical’ things. It’s that moment when I hear ‘oh mummy, let’s pretend to be…’ that I can honestly say makes me wonder what jobs I should be finding to do. I’m aware this is a terrible confession, but it’s true.
So the other day when Ellie asked me to ‘pretend to be vets’, I decided this was something I could definitely do and that I really should give it a go. She also followed her invite with ‘you don’t have to do anything really’ in order to encourage me to get involved – proof if ever that I don’t always find enough time to just play and a definite challenge!
We ended up with phones to call each other and some very funny conversations, six animal customers with multitudes of problems and a whole lot of laughter and fun. We probably played the game for 20 minutes or so at most but it was a this was a successful play time together and I am officially chuffed. I even managed to take some photos!
So whilst I might not be great at playing let’s pretend games, and I might choose colouring over them in a heartbeat, this post is proof that I can do it and that when I do, it’s actually rather fun.
Last September Ellie started swimming lessons. For a variety of reasons I hadn’t been able to start her in lessons sooner but I’m incredibly proud to say that she’s really taken to it and enjoys it alot. This week Ellie successfully got her 50m badge – I am so excited and so proud. Unfortunately however, due to a combination of knowing what badges some of her friends have already got, and having very high expectations of herself, Ellie isn’t nearly so excited or proud.
It didn’t help much that at the end of the lesson the teacher was encouraging Ellie by saying that she’d done well and her strokes were good, so she should definitely go for her 100m badge next week. On the car journey home I repeated this saying how well she’d done and that ‘you should try for your 100m, your teacher knows you can do it’. What was meant to be encouraging and positive turned out to be quite the opposite for Ellie – who promptly burst in to tears and said ‘I can’t do it, I’m not very good at swimming!’
In trying to be encouraging about next week I had clearly failed to express strongly enough how proud I was of her achievement this week and that it doesn’t matter if she tries for her 100m badge next week or not. Although I had said both of these things, Ellie clearly was focussed upon what in her view she couldn’t do. I quickly repeated to Ellie that it was amazing that she had her 50m badge, that she should be proud and that I was very very proud. We soon agreed a treat she could have for getting her 50m badge, and I repeated with some force how proud she made me.
Unfortunately, even after that she only reluctantly agreed for me to text her Dad to tell him and has point blank refused to take her badge into the ‘celebration assembly’ at school because ‘the others will laugh’.
All in all – it seems to me that Ellie isn’t very proud of herself, when she really should be. This is a clear reminder of something I already know about my little girl – she has incredibly high expectations of herself and puts herself under pressure in everything. Funnily enough her school parents evening highlighted this exact same point with the teacher commenting that Ellie doesn’t like to get things wrong and never needs motivating.
I can only hope that if I keep telling her how wonderful she is and how proud of her i am that she might, eventually, believe me.