Thursday, 16 April 2015

Big School...

Last night I, like so many other parents, felt anxious about what the morning would bring...the result of our primary school application for Eli.

On the one hand I was feeling pretty confident.  Meg was already in our first choice school and siblings often come high up on the list when allocating school places.  But on the other, as the date got closer and closer, little niggles started in my mind.  What would I do if he didn't get a place?  Would we have to move them both?  And so on.

I woke at midnight when my phone went crazy with tweets and checked the results, relieved to see that he had been given a place at our first choice school.  I know that for a number of parents this wasn't the case and I know how hard that would have been.  It was the very thing I was so concerned about for us.

Mixed in with all the relief was a huge dose of sadness that Eli really is almost going off to big school.  With Meg she just seemed so ready.  I don't know whether that's because our home situation was different; I was working and she was in private nursery more than she was at home with me or simply a personality thing: she took to school like a duck to water and has never looked back.

In my head, I get that it is still a good 4 and bit months away and a lot can change in a short time but I just can't picture Eli at school.  There are so many things I worry about for him: that he prefers his own company and will struggle to make friends, that he will try and play with Meg and she won't let him, that I won't be able to wrestle him into a shirt and tie, that he's such an active little boy they won't meet his needs at school properly, that they won't see all the wonderful things which make Eli tick.  I don't remember having these worries for Meg.

Is it because he is my baby or because he is less sure of himself than Meg?  Even now I know that she can walk into a room of total strangers and make a friend.  This morning Eli put himself in the cupboard at playgroup just to get away from the smaller children.  

You think having done this once before I'd be an old hand.  One of the reasons I love this blog is because I was able to look back and see that actually, Meg did have some wobbles initially but that she soon overcame them.  This gives me hope that actually it will all be okay, in the end.

This is a stage that he has to take and as a parent all I can do is prepare him in the best way I can and then hope and pray that it will be alright.  Maybe he will flourish, maybe he will struggle but as with all the other challenges and stages we have faced, I know that all we can do is support him as he takes his next step into the world.

I think to myself, 'what would I tell another parent going through this for the first time?' and I know I would offer reassurances, that it isn't as scary as we imagine and that although you feel sad that first day as you watch your little person skip or run off into reception it soon gets so much easier.  I know all of this and yet...and yet.

There are so many dreams I have, for both Meg and Eli, and I want nothing but the best for them both.  To see them achieve the things I never did, to have the freedom to be themselves, to soar.  This is just the start of the journey for Eli and whilst I believe in my heart that whatever happens he will be fine, I can't quite dampen the squeeze of panic which shoots across my chest every now and then as I think about him taking this first foray into school life.

Big school...for my not so big boy.  


Keep Your Pets Safe This Summer

As the weather finally began to warm up this week I spotted a number of posts on Twitter and Facebook about dogs in cars.  How several cars had needed to be broken into in order to ensure that the dogs left inside didn't overheat or dehydrate.

It always surprises me that people would forget something like this but it got me thinking and so when Argos Pet Insurance got in touch to ask whether I would share my thoughts and tips on keeping pets safe this summer, I was only too happy to oblige.

We have a rescue dog, Pepper, who is an absolute sun-fiend.  If the weather is even slightly nice she will stand at the back door and bark until she is let out.  Once outside she will take up her resident spot on the decking, collapse and not move until forced to.  

Of course what this means is that we have to make sure that she doesn't overheat as the daft thing wouldn't move out of the sun of her own accord.  It's a lot cooler in the house and as the weather gets increasingly warmer I will need to make sure that she isn't spending all day out there basking.

There are other considerations too, so here are just some of my top tips:-

*Don't walk your dog at the hottest point of the day: this might seem like a great idea, especially if you yourself want to get out and enjoy the weather but it will cause them to heat up a lot faster.

*Never leave your pet in the car on a hot day.  Even with the windows open the interior of a car can heat up incredibly quickly and your pet will have nowhere to go and cool off.

*If you are planning on doing some gardening, make sure you don't leave the products out and check the labels before you apply.  You might need to keep your pets away from certain sections of the garden for a period of time.  Anything which contains insecticides or potential nasties can be harmful to animals if ingested.

*If you take your dog down to the beach, watch out for riptides or strong currents.  Our last dog, Alfie, was a brilliant swimmer and would love nothing more than spending hours in the sea but it is easy to forget that they can be caught unawares by a sudden surge in the current just as we would.

*Provide access to fresh water.  Fresh water is a must and it is a good idea to place a bowl outside if your pet is hanging about in the sun as well as inside.  I often call Pepper to the water and stand over her as she drinks so I know that she is drinking regularly.

If we are going out then we take an extra bottle of water along with us although I have noticed more and more that dog-friendly places often have a drinking point.  The photo below was taken at a pub we stopped at last summer.  They didn't have a drinking station but the manager offered us this for Pepper as it was so warm.

*Just as we get bitten and stung more in the summer, the same goes for pets.  Be sure to check fur and skin regularly and make sure that you have some insect repellent and treatment just in case.

Pepper is a member of our family and comes almost everywhere with us so it makes sense that just as we make plans to protect Meg and Eli and ourselves from the hotter weather, that we would do the same for her.

And of course, these are just some of the steps you could take this summer.  Have you any others to add?