Fibbing to children

So easter eh! Well this year was kind of complex.

We have family traditions at easter. The ‘easter bunny’ brings easter eggs and hides them about the house/garden (depending on the weather). On sunday we have ‘childrens day’ which is just like mothers/fathers day except for children. The grownups bring the children breakfast in bed and the children get total control over what we do that day. T&B LOVE it.

This year tom spotted some eggs purchased by a relative hidden in our wardrobe, this was resolved with some fast talking (aka fibbing) from anna. Anna and I were taking advantage of the long weekend to have a bit of a grown up holiday the children were staying with my parents. My parents decided that last year the children had waay too much chocolate (Which to be fair the did) so they would buy them presents instead of eggs and urged the rest of my relatives to-do the same. Thus T&B had easter without any (or very much) chocolate. They also missed out on children’s day, all in all they were dischuffed.

What to-do? Well we could (and did) tell some fibs about the easter bunny not knowing where they were and maybe they would find eggs back home. (plus some promises of moving children’s day back a week or two). To be honest I felt a little dirty telling them such bold face lies, it felt much worse than father christmas – oddly because Father christmas is (for some reason) to me more believable ??! DONT ASK! – I though about this all way home, is it worth the lies to give the children a treat? Can you ‘treat’ them without the lies? Does tom even believe it anyway? He is seven and pretty smart. Is this a lie or a game of lets pretend we are both playing? Either way the children were contented coming home, when we got home a quick trip to the shops (damn no half price eggs yet HUMPH!). We sprinkled eggs around the lounge and then went to bed.

This morning the children were sat downstairs just bursting with excitement, they had not touched a single egg but had found most of them! I gave permission for them to start collecting and boom they ran about grabbing eggs and piling them up. 20 mins of negotiation later they had 3 piles of eggs, (one for t one for b and one for m (m’s was pretty small tbf)).

Does tom believe in the easter bunny? NOPE (I rather suspect Beth does) However he plays along and enjoys doing so. I did feel a bit crappy telling lies but if I repackage the lies in a game then its a game that the children enjoy playing. The question is in Toms head is he playing with me or am I playing with him?

Parent consultation

I had a meeting with the teachers for tom and beth a few days ago,  it went well on the whole.   Beth is doing well she has ‘concentration issues’ but thats just Beth :-),  the teacher recounted a few amusing stories of Beth being Beth,  (For example, the time she draw around her foot and was asked to go out into the play ground to find things bigger or smaller,  10 mins after starting she was found stood in the middle of the playground looking about her, having utterly forgotten what she was supposed to be doing).  I certainly could relate to the teachers frustration.  I think Beth lives on another (higher) plane to the rest of us and frankly I dont wanna change that.  She is creative and clever,  I think as she gets older the stimulation will keep her rooted in reality – I dont really want to accelerate that.  She may be dizzy but she is happy and dizzy.

Tom has been ‘identified’ as being a gifted child in science and has to go on additional courses to stimulate him.  I am very pleased the school have picked up on this and are dealing with it effectivly.   He has weaknesses of course,  his spelling needs work (but then so does mine, could it be genetic?).   The parent teacher consultations are different now, when I was ‘a lad’ the students had to wait outside now they come in and chat to the teacher with the parents, very huggy feely, on this occasion it was a good thing.  Tom grew 2 inches (and had a bigger smile than I would have thought possible) in that discussion hearing his teacher say he was top of the class, gifted etc.  This was a good thing for him to hear.  After the meeting anna pointed out to me that my imediate reaction on hearing tom was ‘gifted’ was to ask why science and not maths (tom has talents in that area as well) – can we say pushy parent or what?!  Pondering it a bit I suppose its because the teachers comments were no suprise,  I know tom is clever and hearing someone else say it made me very proud but I was not taken aback.    I must think more on this though,  take time to enjoy the successes without always looking to the next!

This conversation kinda started me thinking of the nature nurture thing.  Tom is bright of that there is no doubt however I do attribute a lot of his ‘knowledge’ in the ‘sciences’ to the environment we bring all our children up in.   I enjoy the world and puzzles and so forth and I challenge the children with them.   I enjoy sharing my interest in the mechanics of the world with the children and I think they respond well to this.  A real challenge I have at the moment is as tom is older I can talk to him about increasingly interesting subjects,  I must not let Beth (and maddie) fall behind as they get lost,  I dont want them thinking that such things are discussions between Tom and Daddy and not them!   

The question of the day though is that of spelling and the writing,  how do I teach my children to spell,write etc.  As a parent I dont (often) sit down and ‘teach’ its just part of our life, we educate by sharing, chatting etc.    

Here are some of the thoughts i have had.

i/   I am going to setup an LJ account for TomBethAndMaddie to share,  and encourage them to post into it.  Not least as i think they would value this as they get older.

ii/  I am going to print out the 200 (or so) high frequency words most critical to spelling and velcro them to tom&beths bedroom door and have impromtue spelling tests – here is my thinking,  when prompted they go to get some words from their door and spend 2 minutes learning them, anna or I test them on the words they have picked.  For every word they get correct they get 2 mins children time to spend (Childrens time is a time when the children in charge, they get todo anything they want and instruct anna and I todo what they like,  kinda works well) 2mins is not a lot but it will soon add up.  Anna and I will monitor the words and when we think they know how to spell a word we will remove it from their door and put it on another place.  We will randomly select learnt words and add those to the test, any learnt words they get wrong will be put back into the pool.   I think this approach to spellings has the following advantages:  Visual feedback, as they learn words they will see them removed from the wall – they can see progress!   They are in control, they choose the words etc.  They should learn the words just by seeing them continually.  No explicit ‘lists’ or ‘learning’ ad hoc tests will be less daunting/intimidating

iii/  Buy lots of games the encourage spelling and play them together as a family.

Anyone have any other thoughts?

Selected history

Chatting to tom before going to school this morning I asked him what he was learning at school,  he said he was learning about the great fire of london and explained to me about peeps, pudding lane etc.  As he spoke I flashed back to my time at primary school and learning exactly the same thing.  This train of thought led me to ponder aspects of the national cirriculumn, firstly is it healthy for our society for all children to be taught the same bits of history, there is quite a lot of history out there, would’nt it make more sense for different schools to teach whatever bits they thought relevent (within a loose framework).  If nothing else it would give adolesents something to talk about :-).  Now dont get me wrong i am a fan of the national cirriculumn especially when it comes to scientific subjects as its clear what topics must be covered to grow knowledge, science is a structured subject.  Humanities are a less structured discipline so why give it structure?

Oh and in other news, I also pondered how/who decided what historical events should be taught .. .. .. a set of civil servants pondering the relative importance of historical events pah!

Good morning

Eeerowch! I am tired,  losing an hour in the morning really sucks it out of you!!

However I do love this time of year,  the clocks changing is a sign that I wont be travelling home in the dark for much longer.   Prior to working in london I didnt take much notice of this but nowadays it really is a key point in my year.  A sign of good days ahead.  This morning I took the boat to work (well I was hellish late so figured why not!  No matter how many times I try changing at croydon when on the 8.44 train I never seem to recall that it does not work – there are no connections at that time *grr*) sitting at the back of the boat with the wind rushing over me, feeling the sun on my face (struggling to breath as we were shooting along so fast).  It did feel good and now I do feel ready to have a great day!  Summer keep comming!

Men loving Men

I asked tom today if he would marry a man or a woman when he grows up .. he looked at me agast and told me that men only marry women.   Now both Anna and I have gone to great lengths to ensure that all our children dont have fixed gender views – except it apears to have not worked at all.   Anna and I have very open (ok well pretty open) views on relationships and discuss them with T&B – it just puts into perspective the influence of parents over that of ‘the world’.

Aww the power – on a side note, tom has just brought his friend Jake (who I dont much like – he is rude 😦 ) to play in his room.  They have to walk past my study to get to their room.  Tom gave me a look that was pure ‘is this ok dad?’ – I nodded and they have gone to play.   Dunno why this exchange touches my but it kinda does.


How much pocketmoney is a good amount and how much should children have to earn it?

The scheme we run for T&B is as follows:

They get a star for being extra good, they can claim 4 stars a week.  The fifth star comes from getting 5/6 in spellings.   For every week they get 5 stars they get 5ukp in pocket money (4 stars = nuffink).   The rate has recently changed (from 1ukp to 5ukp, an above inflation rise !!) but for as long as they have been recieving money they have kept ‘accounts’ a book showing income and expenditure we have been trying to train them to understand money, make the mistakes we made at age 20 at age 4-7 🙂  I will have them running a budget pretty soon.

My question to anyone who reads this is should we pay more or less to them,  the reality is they get the same amount of money either way.  The more poket money they get the more control they have over money that is spent on them but the figure does not change.  The more money they get in pocket money the more I will expect them to pay for activities themselves (eg next time we goto the fair they can pony up some cash). where before we would pay for them.   The more money they ahve the more money they have control of .. the more responsibility they have but I am concerned about devaluing money to them by giving it to them too easily.


Alternate view points

I play a game called World of Warcraft. I have sucked Tom Beth and Anna into the game also *evil cackle*.

Tom does quite well he gets the game and is all about levelling. He mostly understands the stats on the gear he wears and what it means. Beth does not.

A little while ago I came into the room to hear Beth screaming at Tom, not a usual situation as Beth is pretty calm mostly. Tom had sold Beth’s pink dress to buy her some leather trousers of + stuff. Beth was livid as they were not pretty.

I guess we all get something different out of games.


I am still playing catchup .. trying to jot down memories and thoughts I might like to recall when I am old(er) and gray(er).

Thomas and I have started to learn to play golf, as a friend commented a good life skill for a young man 🙂 Anyways we have played a few rounds, on the first round out about half way through while strolling after our balls tom said:

” Dad, you are 5 times older than me and I hitting the ball less than 5 times as much as you are. That means I am winning, I think”

Cant argue with that.