Useless advice from the frontline

One of the struggles I'm facing as my kids get older is to be empathetic to people who have younger kids than mine.  I know it's hard, I remember that it was hard, but NOW also has its challenges, and they often feel just as overwhelming as those early years.  It can be tempting, at times, to go, 'you thought that was bad - wait until they're 13'.

Which is not actually true in my case.  And is immensely annoying to hear when you are sleep deprived with tiny kids (so I don't say it).  I actually much prefer 13 to the psycho toddler years when complete irrationality reigned at every point.  It's just that there are always aspects of the 'now' that are stressful and scary too.

The tendency though, is for me to be slightly vague and fairly unhelpful at answering parenting questions.  I've been mentally developing a list of questions that I don't think I'm helpful at answering.  But probably should be.  I'm often your 'go-to' girl when someone has a question about anything to do with children younger than my eldest.  Fair enough.  I've done it all a few billion times now, so I usually have a few vague ideas I can muster up on small child dilemmas.

Such as.  'How should I get them to settle back to sleep at night after a feed?' My response, 'Give them to your husband'.   'What should I do about little Johnny not doing his homework?' My response,  'Don't worry about it, homework in infants school is such a joke, just let them jump on the trampoline'.  Or, 'Little Mary never gets invited to parties'.  My response, 'But aren't you glad that you get quiet weekends at home?' I know, I know - terrible.

The one question I've recently decided that I have to be more careful about answering is the, 'Is your school a good one?  Are you happy there?  Should I send my child there?' Which is really them asking, 'If you're happy, then I'll feel OK about sending my child there'.  Which is all cool, until they get into the school, hate it and then you feel bad that you ever recommended it to them.

So now I have to articulate more clearly my philosophy about school choice (well, truthfully, kind of create a philosophy because I've only discovered that I'm meant to have one of those after many years of having kids at school.  With our first I just plopped him in the nearest school.  Poor darling, having a mother with no philosophy of schooling).

'Sure', I say, 'we're happy with the school.  But we're not that fussy.  We're actually quite lazy.  We like to send our kids to the closest school, because we want to walk there and we want to get to know families who live close to us.  And I figure, hey all the teachers went to uni, so how bad can it be?'

To which most people kind of laugh at me nervously, smile and go and find someone more sensible.  Works quite well.


Gordon Cheng said…
Brilliant! And you call yourself a Christian? ;-)
Sarah said…
Way to go Jenny. You are sensible and wise!
Tasmanian said…
I met a new lady at church last week and chatted with her about her sons. She asked about our school, and retold the story my teacher friend told me about how the staff had sung hymns together on Friday morning before school as part of their DAILY staff devotions, which warmed my heart. She looked a bit horrified. "But is it a normal school? Is the Christian bit only at the start of the day?" Not what I was expecting her to say!
Belinda said…
I read your blog often and really am quite refreshed most of the time about your realness in being a christian and busy and a mum (all things I can relate to) this one I've got to say made me laugh out loud - oh all so true and also very wise! Thanks for sharing!
Motherhugger said…
My advice about choosing a school, now that my peers are looking at high schools, has evolved into this. Whatever you hear is gossip. Any school's reputation is based on gossip. You can't know anything until you go to the school and talk to the Principal and see for yourself.
Jo said…
My exact schooling philosphy too! You really should write a realistic parenting book, I would buy it for all my friends.
Sandra said…
I personally would like my 6 year olds back.

My comment re schools is it is sometimes year dependant - the mix of kids can sometimes make an enormous difference to the flavour of the year and your child's experience. So one child will have a great time, another will struggle becasue of the social issues. Same school, completely different comments and feedback.

And if your kids are at a K-12 school as our were, things can be OK in the infants and primary but fall to bits in year 7 or 8 as it did for us. At which point we voted with our feet.
Sarah said…
I love your answers :)

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