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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

This post is written to reflect some of the themes of Parenting Across Scotland, a charity partnership supporting parents. Their conference takes place on October 3rd. Follow #PAS12 on Twitter.

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On Sunday, as normal, my family was at our church. We have two services on a Sunday morning: one at 10 o’clock which is a quiet, contemplative service and includes communion, and a second service at 11.30, which tends to be busier, louder, and more family-focused. As a family, we try to attend both services, for several reasons – they serve different purposes, touch us in different ways, are beneficial to us in different areas of our faith. Not to mention that I have responsibilities in youth work during the second service, and so am rarely in the main church service during that period.

We love our church – it is a source of real encouragement to us in our faith, we have close friends there, and the church family is flawed but loves Jesus and puts him first, which I believe is the best any of us can be as Christians. The incident which prompted this blog post happened here at our church, which means everything and nothing – it could have happened anywhere.

My daughter, who is just short of four months old, was quite fussy on Sunday morning. She needed to sleep, and wasn’t for dropping off, so I took her out of the main hall and paced with her in the vestibule at the back of the church. She cried on and off – girning cries, not hysterical screams. In between her cries she settled into me and I was able to catch some of the thoughts, prayers, bible passages that made up that service. It wasn’t perfect but I felt I was at least taking a small part in the proceedings.

In the time inbetween the services, while my daughter dropped off to sleep in the sling, I was approached by an older gentleman who asked if he could speak to me “without me taking offence”. As I had been told upfront how I should be reacting to the chat, my back was already up, but basically he was ‘letting me know’ that being out in the vestibule didn’t muffle my baby’s cries at all, and that perhaps I could consider using the lounge during the service. I thanked him through gritted teeth for his advice and let him move on.

It seems like such a small thing, and yet in the days since it happened I keep coming back to it and dwelling on his words, and what they mean, both for me as a parent and for society as a whole. As I say, the fact that it happened at church is almost irrelevant; it could have been a coffee shop or a post office queue. Nor do I bear malice now to the gentleman himself who spoke to me – it was something he felt he had to say, and at least he spoke to me personally rather than grumbling behind my back.

How DO we as a society integrate children and parents into our day to day activities? The gentleman had a point; he was perhaps distracted by my daughter’s cries and found it took him away from his contemplations. If he spoke to me, then it is a certainty that there are others who felt the same but did not want to approach me. This is a time that is important to them, for their own reasons. Why should my desire to be part of the service, as one person – parent or not – trump the needs or comfort of umpteen others?

And yet. And yet. It would of course be easier for us as a family not to attend that service. Getting us all out with necessary accoutrements by 9.30am every Sunday morning is no mean feat. We go because it is important to us, to show our children that it is important to us. That we attend church not out of a sense of duty but of joy, to spend time glorifying our God and meeting with our church family. My son at 3 attends the creche where he plays for an hour, but my daughter is far too little for me to leave her yet, even if she would take milk from anyone but me. We tell our children that they are loved and accepted, not only by our Saviour, but by the others who attend our church.

Children cry. They fuss, they run, they smear chocolate on things. They are not always easy people to like – unless they are our own in which case we love them always, like them most of the time, and want to throw them out of a window only occasionally. Like it or not, they are the future. A church, in common with any organisation, will not grow and fulfil its purpose unless there is new life to continue it.

Should I not take my daughter back to that service until she is old enough to stay in creche and/or keep quiet when appropriate? This would of course also mean my taking no part in that service, as it is open and participatory, and the audio feed sent to the lounge does not pick up anything said from within the congregation. It would also mean that I am not able to take part in communion until some unspecified point in the future.

As a society we still prefer children to occupy their proper place. Absolutely they need boundaries, guidance and rules. They also need love and acceptance. To a certain extent there are two issues here – how we deal with children and how we deal with parents, but the two are of course inextricably linked. I understand how irritating and noisy children can be – believe me – but we can’t continue to expect them to be anything other than children.

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Holidays again

Remember last year when we went strawberry picking? (If not, find it here) Warning – large photo dump below.

Holiday destination of choice was Gullane this year (anyone local who could tell me whether it’s Gull-ahn or Gull-ayne? We  heard both during the week). Located on the Firth of Forth, it’s a beautiful wee town with amazing ice cream. We rented a house through North Berwick Holiday Homes. Well, to be accurate, my parents did, as we are broke due to new baby and maternity pay. The house was basic, but perfectly fine for what we needed. Ten minute walk to the beach:

 

Stephen, Stephen, Lynn and TWM

 

Ask my Dad about the Rangers players who used to run up and down these…

No, I don’t know either.

Bundle!

 

There was a trip to visit friends, but with two sleeping children in the car I didn’t want to take them out of  the car and wake them (NEVER wake a sleeping baby!). So Mr Dr L turned butler and brought us tea in the carpark.

 

That was exciting when TWM woke up – but not as exciting as accessing Mrs Dr L’s sweetpeas by climbing out the window!

We’re still talking about this.

 

On Friday we reprised last year’s strawberry picking trip. This time the venue was Belhaven Fruit Farm, about 3 miles south-west of Dunbar. The farm has several poly-tunnels for PYO fruit, a play-park, and a cafe with all attendant facilities.

 

 

Is this one ready, Mummy?

 

 

The cafe had a good range of snacks and meals and was very reasonably priced. Mum and Dad sampled the local speciality:

 

The play-park is well-designed and with tables and chairs arranged around one end TWM could come and go while we rested.

Meanwhile I purchased another local speciality for later consumption, having tried a taster from the cafe counter –

 

Gold stars to the staff who were friendly and helpful to a man (and woman).

Teeny spent a lot of time like this –

 

but occasionally was awake. Isn’t she getting big?

 

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Look what I made

 

 

Ailsa Hope McDerment (aka Teeny)

8th June 2012

6lb 12

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Riverside Museum

…and a fleeting return to the blogging scene! Don’t imagine I have any readers left (except you Rach, hi!)

I’ve been a bit lax recently about making sure I’m doing specific activities on my day off with TWM – more on why later, but I was determined that this Wednesday we would get out and make the most of our day.

So we started off with a trip on a train – I think that would have sufficed on its own to be honest; the excitement was sky-high as we stood on the platform. The rest of the carriage was treated to a running commentary of the passing scenery.

Then we arrived at our destination:

Riverside is the new incarnation of the old Transport Museum behind the Kelvin Hall – so there was opportunity for some good quality memory-lane moments. The new museum is superbly set up, with plenty of things to touch and climb on, and loads of space to run up and down and around. It would certainly stand up to repeated visits.

We had one of these!

Fancy a trip?

Fire fighting with Grandad –

What a view!

A visit to the cafe for refuelling, then exploring alternative uses for the green benches.

There are lots of things for enquiring hands to touch…

And some just to marvel at.

With free entry and only £1 for 4 hours parking, the museum is well worth a visit.

Oh, and the reason for my sporadic communication of late…

ETA mid-late June.

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Puddle-jumping

Sometimes, there’s nothing to do, but get your wellies on and jump.

This series of photos will shortly be appearing in the Social Service Award for Inattentive Parenting:

 

 

 

 

 

The kids ran, splashed, said hello to ducks, quacked at ducks, shouted at ducks, and shouted at a bush (I didn’t ask why). Then there was a little more splashing. And then there was tea drinking inside while we dried off.

There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

 

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Good days

I have found so far, as a parent, that there are good days and bad days.  Of course, it should all be sweetness, sunbeams  and healthy snacks – but we all know that’s not the case. There are days when I am tired and grumpy, and days when TWM gets the worst of me, not the best which he deserves. I constantly feel guilt – guilt because I work, guilt because we can’t afford to live in a big house with a safe enclosed garden, guilt that we don’t seem able to give him a sibling, guilt that I don’t always have the patience to spend endless hours on the floor putting puzzles together and make-believing submarine stories over and over.

And then some days are good days. Days like today. My day off, the day it’s just me and him. This morning we went swimming (and he actually enjoyed it, rather than clinging on with a bruise-leaving pincer grip as if I might actually drop him in the liquid chlorine). This afternoon we baked. We talked, and laughed, and made a mess.

I know all of that is just a normal day for many wonder-mums. For me, though, it was a reminder that, just perhaps, I am not breaking him.

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Shoes on sale =  happy mummy and happy small one.


Not white for long

And a happy morning in the garden for all concerned.

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