Winter is well and truly here. Along with the usual festivities in the build up to Christmas, it has brought to this house a dose that strikes fear into the heart of any parent of boys. Man flu has arrived with a bang.
Man-flu is making its presence felt with a vengeance. Much as I love my darling sons, Iâ€™m afraid there are no warriors among them.Â My daughter managed to catch, just a cold – lucky her, but the boys have been struck down so badly with this cursed dose, that any attempts to encourage movement from their slumped position on the couch brings about the sort of whines and moans that are associated with this terrible, prohibitive illness.
According to the six year old, itâ€™s my fault that heâ€™s sneezing because I gave him peas instead of beans yesterday.Â Iâ€™m also responsible for his teacher having caught his sneezes because of my insistence that he bring a tissue to school â€“ apparently the mere sight of it set her off â€œastishoo-ingâ€.
Iâ€™m trying not to take any of this to heart.Â Confusion is one of the side effects of this illness. The three year old, also suffering â€“ and definitely not in silence, has become confused as to how the sponge ended up down the toilet.Â The ten year old has no idea why his dirty socks keep piling up on the floor of his bedroom, even though he DEFINITELY put them into the wash basket. The seven year old is confused as to how he has managed to come home in a pair of school shoes that are three sizes too big for him and have laces â€“ which he canâ€™t even tie! The twelve year old is confused as to why he must go to the school having sneezed twice at this stage and so obviously therefore, very much in the throes of it. The one year old is blowing snot bubbles from his gorgeous button nose at a very impressive rate.Â Heâ€™s not confused at all â€“ he knows heâ€™s miserable and heâ€™s letting us know all about it.
Begone man-fluâ€“ leave my poor boys alone. Iâ€™m not sure how much more of their â€œsufferingâ€ my female self can endure!
This week sees the annual occurrence that is sports day at my boysâ€™ school. I had a vague recollection of itâ€™s mention in the school newsletter a few weeks ago but watching my older lads running laps of the back garden while passing the dogâ€™s toy to each other this weekend, in preparation for the relay and discovering my seven year old going through my husbandâ€™s tie drawer for a â€œnice colourâ€ tie confirmed my suspicions that it was drawing ever closer. The countdown has begun and everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that the weather will stay fine.
Experienced parents have booked their time off work and one first time Junior Infant parent asked me earlier â€œis it that big a deal?â€ My reply was â€œOh yes â€“ sports day is a huge dealâ€
Love it or loathe is, and Iâ€™m really not sure what camp Iâ€™m in, sports day is a huge deal for the kids and for several of the parents too. Yes itâ€™s great to see our children having fun with their friends and, if your child is any way sporty, maybe even win a medal or two. The â€œitâ€™s all about taking partâ€ line, however, does not wash with all of the children, particularly those past Senior Infants for whom a medal is no longer guaranteed, just for taking part.Â In this house, with children of extremely mixed sporting ability I know there will be tears and sadness on the day for some of them, when best efforts will still leave zero chance of coming anywhere.
I know it could be viewed as a life lesson but, as an adult, Iâ€™m not likely to put myself in a competitive environment for something I know I am absolutely brutal at, and I can handle disappointment slightly better than a child.
And speaking of competitive environments, the highlight of the day for many there will be the parentâ€™s race! You will see some, kitted out in their top notch sports gear and expensive running shoes, laughing off suggestions that itâ€™s anything but a â€œbit of craicâ€ but discreetly warming up on the sidelines as they cheer on their sons in their races.Â Toned and tanned limbs give away any misconception that these parents are anything other than seasoned runners, and they mean business. Elsewhere, the more reluctant sportsmen and sportwomen among us will panickedly try to think of excuses not to take part. I already, am lamenting an absent pregnancy bump for different reasons to usual. It has crossed my mind to just stick a cushion up my dress, after all Iâ€™m always pregnant and I think most of the parents from the school have lost count at this stage.Â Would anyone even be suspicious?
Failing that Iâ€™ll just have to hope the organisers turn the tables on those magnificent sporty parents and that the parentâ€™s race involves an egg and spoon!
By the time youâ€™re reading this I will be drowning in a sea of 9 and 10 year old boys as the first birthday party of the weekend takes place.Â The banners have been purchased and blu-tacked to the wall.Â The party bags are filled and waiting for distribution and there are enough chicken nuggets and pizza in the freezer to feed an army. The only thing still proving quite a challenge are the age 10 balloons which are still sitting on the mantelpiece, refusing to expand no matter how hard I blow into them and may quite possibly result in me having several burst blood vessels in my eyes if I persist.
No amount of gentle persuasion or, out and out bribery, could convince my two birthday boys to share a party so the house will most likely, over two days instead of one, resonate noise levels not heard in these partsâ€¦. since last year anyway. My own personal saving grace is that tomorrowâ€™s party also entails a trip to see Captain America, Civil War. As my baby still requires frequent access to my bosoms, I can bow out of this part completely guilt free.Â Never have I felt so glad to be restricted!
I can dawdle and ponder my good fortune no longer, as the first lot of party attendees arrive shortly and the balloons still need to be wrestled with. Time to batten down the hatches and get ready for a boy invasion. May the force be with me!
I am from a family of all girls. Not quite sugar and spice and all things nice but it was as youâ€™d expect quite a girly household and the world of boys was pretty alien to us. I was quite the football nut growing up (Iâ€™m sure to my fatherâ€™s relief a little bit and certainly my motherâ€™s amazement) but asides from that our house was full of make-up, clothes, perfume, dolls, and girly bits and pieces. The fact I played and loved football meant I was categorised as somewhat of a tomboy but that was ok because that was acceptable.
Fast forward a few years and while we all look quite alike, we have grown up to be four very different women, four very different types of mother and we have four very different personalities and interests. Again, not surprising because we are four different people. My sisters are fantastic and different. I went on to have my own children, and I have, you might say, a fair few boys. Raising sons has been quite the eye opening experience for me. Having no brothers, I had no experience of little boys to draw upon. Iâ€™ve learned clothes arenâ€™t considered a necessity – nor are underpants. Farts are something to be proud of (I think this continues into later life), snot isnâ€™t gross and â€œrudeâ€ words are just hilarious. I have also learned boys are so, so full of love. Boys are as different from each other as the genders are. Some are soft. Some are sensitive. Some are physically gentle. Some are definitely not! Some like sport. Some like drama. Some like art. I even have a son who likes clothes, and by this I mean style rather than actually wearing them!
My boys are all so different and I love this fact. Variety is definitely the spice of life and the world would certainly be a very boring place if we were all the same. I do worry however, that life has very set expectations from boys and that can prove very difficult and isolating if they donâ€™t meet them. Differences which are embraced or at worst accepted in girls are often discouraged in boys. There is sometimes a failure to recognise in our society that different boys have different needs and even just within the confines of the family, school environment, or on the sports field different boys need different parenting, teaching, coaching. It is personality rather than gender determines a childâ€™s needs. My lads keep me on my toes and theyâ€™re great. Itâ€™s a lot of responsibility for us mums (and dads of course) shaping the men of the future and encouraging them to wear underwear!
My boys are all so different and I love this fact. Variety is definitely the spice of life and the world would certainly be a very boring place if we were all the same. I do worry however, that life has very set expectations from boys and that can prove very difficult and isolating if they donâ€™t meet them. Differences which are embraced or at worst accepted in girls are often discouraged in boys. There is sometimes a failure to recognise in our society that different boys have different needs and even just within the confines of the family, school environment, or on the sports field different boys need different parenting, teaching, coaching. It is personality rather than gender determines a childâ€™s needs. My lads keep me on my toes and theyâ€™re great. Itâ€™s a lot of responsibility for us mums (and dads of course) shaping the men of the future and encouraging them to wear underwear! ~ Jen