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Daphne

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Welcome to exam boot camp

Exam week is upon us, which only means one thing: much sorrow and weeping.

At the start of the year, I made Truett and Kirsten a deal – for the entire duration of the school term, they would only need to fulfil their basic academic requirements. As long as they paid attention in class, finished their homework, and learnt their spelling + 听写, any remaining free time were theirs to do as they wished. They could go to the playground, go for a swim, read a book, listen to music, create art.

2 weeks before their exams, we would embark on an exam boot camp where all of their free time would belong to me. On top of all their assignments/homework, they would have to complete assessment books and practice exam papers. It would be two weeks of getting whipped into shape before their final exams.

They were like “Ok! We get to relax for the whole year and only work hard for 2 weeks, sounds like a pretty good deal.” And all was well for the year (sort of).

Then two weeks before their exams came around and on day 1 of Mom’s Brutal Exam Boot Camp, I presented them with lovely presents made up of practice exam papers + a stack of assessment books from Popular. I don’t think I ever saw anyone so sad to receive such thoughtful gifts.

Here’s what I learnt from these past two weeks of suffering.

1. I’m so thankful I don’t homeschool. 

There is no universe in which I would be able to impart academic knowledge to my offspring without turning permanently into Deranged Mom. I die a little inside every time I have to explain fractions to the kids.

But 4/7 cannot minus 2/9, mom…

Yes it can. Remember what we just learnt about common denominators? What do we do if they’re not the same?

Ummmm just minus from the top?

What?? No. What minus from the top??? You can’t just make up your own rules in Math. Urgh, just breathe. To subtract fractions, the denominator has to be the same. How do we find a common denominator? We literally just did a similar question 10 minutes ago.

*long pause*

I think I need a snack. My brain needs energy.

No. No snacks. There will be no snacks until you’re done. During your exam, can you stop and ask the teacher for snacks? The answer is no.

But this is not the real thing and I’m like starving. How about just one glass of chocolate milk?

You’re not starving, we just had lunch. The sooner you finish this, the sooner you can have snacks. Just focus, how do we get a common denominator?

Uhhh…add them together?

Guys, I’m getting ulcers from this. I’ll go through this again and I need you to wake up your idea. Okay let’s take it from the top. First, you take both denominators and look at their multiples…

Clock wipe two hours later, my blood pressure is approaching 240/120 and I’m silently mourning the two hours of my life that I will never get back.

2. Problem sums are the story of my life

Every question is a variation of this: Amy has 20 candies. She gave 6 to John and 13 to Mary. They both gave her back half of what she gave them. Amy was like “Hey, you guys only gave me back half, it’s not fair. You need to give me back what I gave you” so John was like “But last week I gave you 8 candies and you didn’t give me back any” and Mary was like “Sorry I ate all already, I got no more,” and they spent the next 10 minutes going on and on about who ate more candies. How many candies did they have altogether?

Zero. The answer is zero candies because mom was sick and tired of listening to this nonsense so she took all the candies and ate them herself.

As it is, I have to deal with this in real life all day, every day and now I have to figure out who owes whom how many candies in a math paper. People with candies need to get it together and stop fighting over how many candies they have in the hand or a bush or in someone else’s mouth.

3. Hard work is hard but totally worth it

After 3 years of dealing with exams, I think the most important lesson I’m getting from this is that what I really want to see from the kids is genuine effort and a dedication to excellence. It’s rewarding to see the kids get good grades but there’s also a certain rush in watching them enjoy (okay maybe a little too much, let’s go with tolerate and occasionally delight in) the pursuit of learning.

I think they’re starting to get it too. In spite of all the bargaining and stalling techniques and general sense of sadness at having to work hard, they know that resistance is futile and it’s far easier for everyone involved if they just buckled down and did it. As I sent them off to school this morning, I told them that I was really proud of how hard they’ve worked and regardless of the results, I’d always be proud of them.

*Although if they end up doing poorly, it will be exam boot camp for everyone for the whole year instead of two weeks yayyyy!!

For now, I’m just glad this terrible ordeal is coming to an end.

Hayley

Girl babies are ❤️

I’ve forgotten how nice it is to have a girl baby. It’s been 8 years since I’ve had one of these sweet little things and having two boys back to back has ruined me. I’ve been conditioned to be in battle ready mode at all times, which is necessary when one has to react swiftly to avert calamitous situations daily but this intensity makes it hard to dial it back and just enjoy the process. Having a girl this time around is like being home after spending a considerable amount of time living in a war zone, and my brain is struggling to readjust to the ease of things.

My brain: It’s ok, you can relax a little now, everything is going to be ok. 

Also my brain: You can’t relax. What if she runs into the store and destroys the beautifully stacked pyramid of apples? What if she flying kicks a random person in the shin while simulating a zombie battle? What if she wriggles out of my grasp and suddenly sprints onto the road right onto the path of an incoming vehicle??

My brain: She won’t. She’s a girl baby. That part of her brain that makes her do insane compulsive things doesn’t exist. 

My other brain: Okay fine I can do this. Just act normal. Stop fidgeting involuntarily. Do you even know how to relax??

I suppose I don’t. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to relax while being in the presence of a small human that I’m responsible for.

All this is to say that Hayley as a toddler is such a dream to have. After almost 15 months of being all high maintenance diva as an infant, she has made the jump to the adorable toddler phase. This is unquestionably my favorite baby age – from just over one to about three years old.

For starters, they stop being so needy. I don’t have to hold her like a sack of rice and walk around all day. Sometimes I would try putting her on the baby mat and phone it in by being the sack of rice for a bit but she did not stand for it. Im glad to say that she can now entertain herself by trying to fix things that are not broken while I lie down beside her and say encouraging things like “Good job! Very nice fixing, sweetheart!!” every few minutes.

When she’s not busy fixing things with screwdrivers and other tools, she’s spending her time putting batteries into her shirt.

And you know what they say about communication being the key to a healthy relationship? It’s true. Having only 6 words in her vocabulary has not stopped her from becoming an effective communicator. In fact, she’s very good at nodding, pointing at stuff and making random sounds, which is the 3 things every person needs to communicate, really. It’s basically what I do with the husband when I’m all out of words at the end of a long day.

Like when she poops in her diaper, she points at it and says mmffff. If she sees a millipede in the house (she hates them), she points at the offending bug and shouts ERHHHHH. When she wants food that her siblings are eating, all she needs to do is point and it magically makes its way into her mouth.

Okay guess what’s baby Hayley’s favorite thing to do? Cuddle. Which also happens to be MY favorite thing to do. That right there is one of the biggest perks of having your very own baby, to have cuddle time whenever you feel like it (and I always feel like it!).

*Unless you have one of those boy babies who prefer sending you a karate chop to the face instead of cuddling, then your mileage may vary on this.

I mean, I love my boys but this last baby has been a breath of sweet, girly, baby air. Now to enjoy whatever’s left of her babyness for as long as I can.

Theo

And off to school he goes

Theo finally started school last week!

Alas, do not be fooled by this look of joyous delight because poor baby was not pleased about it at all. I suppose it’s to be expected considering that he spent his entire life not being apart from his favourite person in the world (uh huh, me). It’s a big change for him, having to spend half a day with strange new people at a strange new place.

I tried preparing him weeks in advance.

Me: Theo, you’ll be going to school soon! It’ll be super fun, you can play with toys, go to the playground, do crafts, eat snacks! Maybe there will be cake!!

Theo: No need, I’m full of cake already. I just want to stay with you. 

1. I should have known, this boy is sharp and he will not be bamboozled by my feeble distraction techniques. I’m going to have to do a lot better at selling this whole going to school nonsense and 2. This was unprecedented. Theo has never refused cake in his life and while I’m secretly pleased that my presence is clearly more important than cake, I knew this transition was going to be a rough one.

I had another go at it.

Me: You’re a big boy now right? And big boys go to school. Kor kor Finn goes to school and kor kor Truett goes to school…

Theo: But I’m still a baby. Remember, you said I will be your baby forever? 

Me: Well, yeah, but I didn’t mean that literally. You’ll always be a baby in my heart like kor kor is my baby, but you’re 3 now!! 

Theo: 3 years old means small tiny tiny baby. And babies means must stay with mommy. 

This wasn’t working either.

***

Me: Hey baby, school is not scary. I know it’s new and it seems scary but the teachers are very nice and you’re going to be ok. You’ll have so much fun there, just ask kor kor Finn. 

Theo: I cannot have fun because I’ll be so very sad. 

Me: The teachers will cheer you up ok? And there will be so many friends to play with!

Theo: Only you can cheer me up, mom. If I stay with you then I’ll be super happy. If I don’t have you, I’ll just be sad and sad and sad. 

😭😭😭

It’s been a whole week of school and also a whole week of big, sad tears. Just getting him into his uniform is an ordeal. He’ll be like “but my favourite colour is not yellow and blue. My favourite colour is green and this uniform got no green so I cannot go to school right?

Oh, but do you know what colour you get when you mix yellow and blue? GREEN!! Seriously, it’s like this school is made for you, except it’s in a secret code, isn’t that cool?” I try telling him.

No.

Mmmkay, so he didn’t buy that either.

All my boys had separation anxiety when they started school, and you’d think that I have some experience with this by now but it still breaks my heart when my baby is all “please mommy please please please can I follow you? I just want to go wherever you go…” with so much tears in his eyes while he tries to be brave and hold it all in.

To make up for all the extra sadness around here, we’re trying a new routine of leaving the house before the sun is up together with Tru and Kirsten. After dropping the big kids off, we get to have a leisurely morning breakfast picnic at the park for an hour before the boys head to school

Then when it’s time to go…

Please just 5 more minutes??

Okay fine. But we really have to go after that.

YAYYYY you’re the best, mom!!!

Okay boys, time’s really up, let’s go!!

Behold the face of tremendous sadness.