Boobies be gone …

 

  

Okay trying to stick with my idea about just getting on to post without thinking too much about it. I just had to write about the end of my love hate relationship with breastfeeding, which after 6 years appears to be coming to its conclusion. 

For the last two nights my last little baby girl has not wanted a breastfeed. She turns her head away and acts as if I’ve placed tuna mornay on my nipples!(FYI- tuna mornay is clearly hated and an offensive word in our household!) yes she is teething and feverish- so maybe she’ll be back tomorrow? But…..

I feel really sad, and I’m not sure why because to be honest I’ve never been one of those women who LOVED breastfeeding anyway. But I guess over the years I have come to ‘not hate it’ as much as I thought I would. Maybe it’s because it hasn’t been my choice? Maybe because I didn’t know it was our last time at 5 am through closed eyes as I stumbled to her room for our usual dawn ritual? 

I never thought I would feed in the first place. The thought of it made me feel a bit yuck. My mum didn’t breastfeed and to be honest, having not been around many babies until having my own- it didn’t seem to be the natural thing for me to do.

Looking back to having my first son 6 years ago, feeding was awful. He had an early tongue tie and had damaged me so badly that the sound of him crying for a feed made me shudder with dread- while instead I should’ve been happy he was awake. I hated it- and also hated how it continued to dictate what I did with my body after already being taken over for 9 months. If it hadn’t been for the fact my mother in law was a pro- breastfeeding midwife I would’ve chucked it in after 2 days. I persevered for 3 months- but my hormones were going nuts and I just needed to be on the pill where I seemed to return to ‘myself’afyerbsome months of struggling alone to adjust to my role as a new mum.Looking back it was a horrible time, and being a new mum I thought that’s how you were supposed to feel. 

Three years later with my second and breastfeeding came easy. I knew what I was doing and to be honest who could be bothered making bottles every 3 hours. So I fed Sammy until he no longer woke at night, which was 6 months. Yes – I now loved the ease of whipping it out !!

Fast forward to my beautiful baby Elsie. 8.5 months and I’m clinging on for dear life. Granted we are only down to feeding once a day- and yes partly through sheer laziness and knowing it was there and was easy. But there’s something about this last time…. Knowing that despite never being a gushy mother who bored everyone to tears telling them about ‘how connected’ breastfeeding made me feel, I am going to miss it just a little. Maybe it’s because this is the last time I’ll have a little baby. Now I move into being a mother of older kids, and as much as I know there are great times ahead- I’ll only realise how perfect these days were, when they are long behind me. 

Don’t get me wrong- I still can’t stand women who make vile passive aggressive judgements on bottle feeding mums, and I still shiver when people say, each to their own then follow up with statistic, facts and slogans such as ‘breast is best. A women’s mental health is just as important, and having a mother who is ‘alive and present’ is surely best? And to the women who go out of their way to create controversy by removing their entire dress over their heads when feeding in public and expect no one to look sideways – I certainly won’t miss being lumped as part of your gang. I managed to feed all of my kids in public without showing my underwear to strangers. And those who did get a look actually deserved a little peek for trying so hard !I wouldn’t show my nipples  strangers when not breastfeeding so certainly wouldn’t ‘PURPOSELY’ do it to prove a point  just because I was feeding my children. As natural as it is and should be- the female body has been sexualised, and until that changes indiscreet boobs out on the dinner plate will continue to cause a stir… And as I said, being half naked makes me personally feel uncomfortable! It is something that I   chose not to do. (I can already feel the wolves beginning to attack ūüėā…. Funny how bottle feeding mums don’t go out of their way to make breastfeeding mothers feel like shit??) 

But for a mum who never wanted to feed at all-I’m really glad that I fed all 3. So farewell my friend- we never saw nipple to nipple. But I bid you adieu. 

If you have anything to do with teens then read on………………..

This past month I have had a disturbing re-introduction to Social Networking, in particular, Askfm. If you have Tweenage (9-14yrs) or teenage children and are thinking this post is about a new radio station, then read on.

As a past year 7 teacher, I used to pride myself on ‘being in touch‘ with my students and being able to relate to what was happening in their worlds. Being in my early twenties when I graduated, it was not that long before that I too had been an insecure teen trying to iron out my identity in the back row of ¬†a Business Maths lesson (yeah I know…Business Maths, I was never going to be an accountant with that under my belt).

Well it seems the generation gap has reared its ugly head, because I have crossed over from being a ¬†hip, happening twenty something, into a daggy, thirty something teacher trying to keep up with a generation who are fast slipping away from us.Times have changed and it is now not what we¬†do¬†see happening that we should be worried about…it is what we are¬†not¬†seeing ¬†that is the cause for concern.

Askfm is a relatively new social networking site that operates in an anonymous Q & A format. Users sign up for an account and are then open to receiving questions from anonymous users. The questions and answers are then publicly published on the page for all to see. After a chat with my 16 year old sister in law, I thought I’d go and have a look at what the hype was about.

After browsing¬†through several ‘open’ accounts I had to get off. I was left with a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt sad, I felt angry and I felt helpless. Page after page of comments intentionally posted by so called ¬†‘friends’ who in the safety of anonymity were able to strip away at the insecurities of their most vulnerable school mates. The questions would begin quite innocently, What is your favourite food? Do you prefer coffee or tea? Dogs or cats? and then dip to take a seedy undertone, with personal attacks on sexual status, weight and appearance. The insults, the attacks, the bullying is published publicly for the world to see. I wanted to find the children, shake them for being so silly and then hug them. Why would they sign up and subject themselves to this? What was it that kept them answering these humiliating questions? Why didn’t they block these users? The answer lies deep within their impressionable teen minds. ¬†I once asked a group of my Year Seven’s why they stayed on Facebook or MSN if they had been picked on. One group told me ‘If we aren’t on there, it’s like we don’t exist’.¬†This broke my heart.

Earlier this year British teen Joshua Unsworth took his own life after becoming the centre of a bullying campaign played out publicly on the social networking site.This is not a new phenomenon. Facebook is now in its seventh public year and has also been blamed for inciting violence, hatred and facilitating bullies.

But Is social networking to blame for these deaths or for the relentless bullying? Or would these events have occurred without a computer? There are some that will say that bullying has always been a large part of our society, it¬†is¬†after all as old as the hills. Take our friend Jesus for example…I’m sure many more would have attended the Crucifixion if Pontius Pilate had been able to take advantage of the ‘Create an event’ feature on Facebook.¬†Some suggest it is only now being taken seriously because we have the published manuscripts as proof of what is being played out in our playgrounds.¬†Surely we as a society should be taking accountability for the huge slip in moral education that is making it ‘okay’ for us to pick others to pieces, to hound others until they crack.

When faced with cyber bullying, Many parents ask ‘What can I do?’ Firstly you’ve got to find a window into their worlds. This window is now open for all of the world to see…the internet. Get online and sign yourself up for every social networking site you can find. Despite many ¬†having security features where profiles can be private, ¬†they are still kids, which means you can bet they didn’t listen to the constant warnings about concealing their personal details. ¬†Many pages are still ‘open’. You’d be surprised at what you can find out, if not from your own child’s pages, then at least those of their friends. The predators are having a field day!

Secondly, try to stay at least one step behind them. Lets face it, we will never get ahead of them when it comes to technology. Lets at least try to stay within reach, not fall ten steps behind. It is a parents responsibility to find out what’s going on. Snoop away! You’ll be hated for a while, but you’re not trying to make a friend. You are trying to keep your children safe. You¬†may just find that piece of information that saves their life.

Don’t become ‘that’ parent who didn’t know what was happening.

Here is the Link to the Daily Mail Article, a real eye opener.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2308395/Ask-fm-This-week-15-year-old-boy-killed-hounded-No-wonder-mothers-want-banned.html

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Ben The Pest

Today I needed to put my¬†Teacher’s Hat¬†on and write about something that is close to my heart. No it isn’t anything innovative or ground breaking, and millions of academics have written on the topic. It’s about the power of friendships and how this human need for acceptance can ¬†make a huge difference in the paths we take. I only hope that my own boys are blessed with beautiful encounters and always look for the talents in others…no matter how hard they are hiding. It is also my hope that the people they come across also take the time to uncover theirs!

Ben had arrived at our school in the later part of Year 4. Friendship groups had long been established and attending a school with a heavy focus on athleticism when you can’t kick a ball means you are instantly on the ‘outer’. He quickly became the class clown, going out of his way to distract the class meaning he would miss large chunks of learning as he was being sent to the office on a daily basis. He was offensive, rude, and soon became a royal pain in the ass, even in the eyes of the other children, who are usually slower to catch on to these pests.

By the time he reached my year five class, his attention seeking behaviours had alienated him from everyone in his year. He had no friends, no one wanted to sit next to him and he was certainly going no where fast…he did not pick up on social cues easily and had become the class bully. (…according to his other teachers) How sad that other teachers had already labelled this child. Yes it does happen, and when it does, it is hard to shake. That is why I would prefer not to listen to what past teachers have to say about my students….I will form my own opinion, and allow them the chance to start over.

After spending the very first hour of the new school year pissing off every other student, there was no where left to seat him but right next to my desk. It was in the hours that followed, with him purposely trying to chew my ear off talking dribble that the ‘Real Ben’ was uncovered..but only to me. He was in actual fact a bright, friendly and loving boy whose reputation had preceded him. He also had amazing artistic ability and to this day I believe he was on the Austism Spectrum. On that first day of Year five he was the last one to leave the room.The other kids couldn’t wait to get out of the room and run home to their families. I called out ‘Have you forgotten something Ben?” He said ‘no‘, I replied with ‘¬†well what are you still doing hanging around here, you must be excited to get home‘ He turned and looked at me and said ‘¬†I hate going home‘.

I later found out this was because his parents worked late in the city, both high achievers and he really didn’t get a look in at home. Here was a boy overlooked at home, overlooked at school…so made big noises to get noticed, he was just going about it in the wrong way. After several parent-teacher meetings it was clear that his parents were disappointed that he wasn’t following their mathematical pathway, and did not react when told how fabulous he was at Art. The consideration of Asperger’s was also blanked.

I am a big believer in ‘Circle Time’, particularly with the older children. It isn’t a lesson, it is a tool used to tackle the ‘big issues’ in your class. It is an open forum, where the students are made to feel safe and secure in their participation. I believe you must build a culture of trust in your classroom. I constantly talk the kids about being part of a family for the year. We as a class, will spend more ‘awake’ time together than with our own blood relatives, therefore should be looking out for each other.

Ben loved the honesty of Circle Time, he felt safe. He had become a bit of a try- hard and the kids knew it. He would tell huge airy fairy lies about his achievements in order to fit in and the kids would laugh at him. One day in our Circle Time, one of the kids raised the issue of Ben’s behaviour. We decided to discuss it as a Circle Time topic. Instead of it being negative, I asked the children to articulate what Ben was doing to upset them. It turned out that he didn’t know he was upsetting people. He said he had seen other popular boys also calling out and being rude, so thought that was what he should do..it took a while to explain that this was not the only reason they were popular (another example of missing the social cues! ) he just wanted to get some friends and make people laugh, what he didn’t realize was that the kids hated it. One student even said ‘ If you didn’t do those things, you’d be all right to hang around with…and you’re really great at art’

We then went around the circle taking turns telling Ben one thing that we loved about him. He was grinning ear to ear…..he loved being accepted and for the first time felt ‘part of it’. For the first time it didn’t matter that he wasn’t any good at footy….his talent was his drawing.

It just goes to show that some people just need feedback. They just need to hear how great  they are, even if it is just the once. They may never, ever have been told, and their talent may stay hidden under self doubt for the rest of their years.

In the following weeks things got better. Yes he was still a little pest, but a loveable one. People had discovered Ben’s wonderful talent for drawing, and other students wanted to sit near him to learn how to do it. For the first time, he had something to offer. We reserved a wall in the room for Ben’s artwork and called it the ‘Wall of Fame’. Later in the term, Ben came up to me in the yard and handed me a note. He said ‘¬†read it later when I’m not here‘.

It read:

Dear Mrs B,

Thanks for having circle time about me the other week and thanks for making the wall of fame. Liam is my mate now, ¬†I don’t have to sit on my own any more.

Ben

Up until him leaving the school, he was still great mates with Liam and as Liam was quite popular, this opened the doors of acceptance from others. He left for High School with confidence and hope.  He was still a pest, but he felt valued and he was no longer a bully.

I saw him at the school late last year whilst he was collecting his younger brother….and the proudest moment for any teacher is when past students actually want to come back and say hello! He said hello, quickly filled me in on his new school and how it was¬†way¬†better than ours, ¬†looked at my pregnant belly and said in true Ben style ‘Are you having a baby or are you just fat?’¬†

‘¬†Just fat Ben‘ I replied. He laughed and walked off.

Great info on Circle Time for those who are interested.

http://www.kenttrustweb.org.uk/UserFiles/ASK8/File/Primary_Citizenship/Citizenship_Teaching_Learning/pshe_circletime.pdf