day of week

Life at 9 and 7

13 August 2012

Boys and Medals 2008

Four years ago, our family was hit by Olympic Fever. My boys were 5 years old and 3 years old then.

I couldn’t work out what they loved most about the Olympics – identifying all the flags, actually watching the sports, or just the fact that they got to stay up a bit later each night to watch TV with mum and dad.

Well. FOUR YEARS have come around again. Now my oldest child is 9, and my middle child is 7.

Looking back at this photo of my boys… makes me really miss their little-boy stage. Things seemed so much simpler then.

I don’t talk or blog about them much these days. But OH YOU CAN BE SURE they are a very big part of my every day life.

They are 16 zoo animals wrapped up into 2 human boys. A goat, a monkey, a sloth, a lion, a bull, a baboon, a crocodile, a hyena, a snake, a cockerel, a scorpion, a hippo, a chipmunk, a meerkat, a fox, a turtle, and hmm, maybe a teddy bear at times.

Every single day from 3pm when I pick them up from school… I get the relentless avalanche of questions… from BOTH BOYS, at the same time:

What are we having for dinner? Do we always have to eat that? Are we having visitors over for dinner? Why not? What day is it today? What day is it tomorrow? When will it be Thursday? Why are you answering his questions and not mine? Why are you ignoring me? Can I play on the computer? Can I play on the computer AFTER I do my homework? Can I go over to my friend’s house? Can I go to my friend’s house AFTER I do my homework? Are you listening to anything that I’m saying? What time is dad getting home? What time do you think the sun is going to set? Can I watch TV? Can I watch TV AFTER I do my homework? What time is it now? Can I have a snack? What are you making for afternoon tea? Why is it taking so long?

My patience simmers.

I juggle them, I juggle my responses, juggle dinner, juggle a 3 year old (who is also asking me questions)… until my blood boils and I totally lose my shit and scream CAN’T YOU SEE I’M TRYING TO MAKE YOUR GODDAMN SNACK RIGHT NOW AND CAN EVERYONE JUST SHUT THE HELL UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR 3 MINUTES!?!?!?!?

OK that may or may not have actually passed my lips.

But my eyes. Oh my hot, burning stare is enough to send them to their rooms to do their homework quietly while I put together a plate of cut fruit for afternoon tea.

At the ages of 9 and 7, I’ve had to deal with issues like poor attitude towards homework, disrespectful behaviour and tone, talking back, rudeness, laziness, lack of self-discipline, sibling rivalry, constant bickering, stirring each other, stupid childishness… and just being unmotivated time wasters.

I do talk to them a lot. And I listen to them too. When we sit down for a chat, we’ve had talks about careers, the kind of cars they want when they grow up, where they want to live, where they would like to travel, what kind of part time jobs they are going to get. We’ve talked about girls, tampons (oh yes), what makes a good teacher, what makes a great leader, what makes a happy person, what kind of people they like to hang around with… and soooo much more.

My kids are very blessed in that they haven’t had many stresses or struggles in their life. And when little problems, or issues occur, they seem to act very maturely, which I have to admit, surprises me.

Maybe because I’m female? Shouldn’t there be more drama? Somebody said WHAT to you? You’re not upset about it? Exactly what tone did they use? Did anyone else hear it? What did you say back to them? I dig and dig and dig for more info. But nada. I get nothing. They are upfront. What you see is what you get.

They really just don’t DWELL on stuff like girls do. Haha!

For example, one was not invited to friend’s a birthday party, but he was so gracious and understanding about it. He just shrugged his shoulders and said “Eh, they’ll be more parties.”

One put his name down to join the school cross country team. He knew it’d be a lot of hard work to train for it, he was keen and up for the challenge, but at the same time he was kinda cool if he doesn’t make the team. He said, “It’s not the end of the world, mum. I’ll just try my best.”

Disputes with friends are easily solved. They like their teachers. They like school. They do well.

In fact they just seem a little too cool and relaxed about everything.

Is there anything that they are deeply passionate about? Yep. Two things.

Computer games and reading. Isn’t that funny!

Sure one boy likes drawing. One likes cooking. Both LOVE playing sports and playing with their friends. They love their play dates and outings and movies and toys and guns and Lego and pocket money. But the book and the screen are their true loves.

However I’m not very equal with the 2 things. And they know it. I will buy them any book they want. Take them to the library once a week. Allow special time allocations for reading. Hunt for new stories. Engage in long conversations about stories, characters, plots and subplots.

But for screen time (computer games, console games, ipad games), they have to work hard for it and earn it. They get rewarded blocks of time in order to have 30 minutes of screen per week. Yes only 30 minutes per week! I’m such a meanie! If they misbehave, they get blocks of time removed from their weekly quota. Screen time is the currency in our house.

I don’t know if that’s the right way to do things, this day and age.

I sometimes get worried that they won’t know how to type properly, or format a word document, or research for information on the internet… and that will put them behind the other kids. But I tell myself that I was 16 when I discovered there was such a thing as “e-mail”!

Anyway, I am so deeply proud that both my big boys have developed a love for reading.

And by love of reading, I mean, they change into their comfy tracksuit pants, find a quiet spot in the house, snuggle up under a blanket and read a novel for an hour. Each day. It makes me very happy.

So despite the 16 zoo animals thing, they’re pretty good kids. I’m real proud of them. And I love them to bits.