The price of a Prom

Teen had his Prom last week.

His was the first high school in our area to hold one, the others followed suit the rest of the week. Each prom had an after party somewhere, usually at one of the kids houses. There were a few after parties for each school, for each of the different friendship groups. The kids in year 11 at all the schools around here know each other and hang out, so many of them went to the after parties for other schools’ proms. I thnk this is hilarious!

So it was a week of partying basically!

Proms didn’t exist when I was at school. We just left and that was it. Oh, maybe there was some shirt signing but nothing more than that. Boring really!

Proms are big business in the UK now. Copying America obviously, a bit like Halloween! But like Halloween, I don’t think Proms are quite as big here as they are over the pond. I’m glad really because from what I’ve seen in films, American high school proms were the stuff of nightmares! A bit over the top and pretentious. With half the kids, the popular ones, having a great time, looking gorgeous, picking dates etc,  and the other half, the nerdy ones, struggling to keep up with it all and getting left out! I’m sure it’s not really like that but that’s the impression I’ve always had!

Getting back to Teens’ prom. Being a boy, there wasn’t much fuss made. He didn’t give it any thought at all until the week before. But the girls in his year I know we’re organising themselves for months in advance. Dresses were being tried on and chosen, how to arrive at prom (as in by flash car, limo… etc) was being decided upon.

Research carried out by My Voucher Codes suggests that going to Prom costs a small fortune.

Teen wanted a tux. We’d bought him a snazzy suit a few months before for his ‘interview week’ at school. But that wasn’t good enough for prom apparently. He HAD to have a tux.

Prom suit tuxHe DID look absolutely gorgeous in it though! 

We decided to hire one. Hiring cost £65. But I’ve heard this is relatively cheap. Other boys paid over £100. This is for one night only remember!

Then there was the transport. Teen and some friends hired an old London red double decker bus for the occasion. The cost for this wasn’t too bad really, being as there were quite a few to chip in! It was around £25 each.

Then there was the ticket for the prom, which was £25. Teens prom was held in a local hotel.

Because Teen was going ‘out’ after prom we gave him another £30.

All in all it cost us around £145. Not cheap for one night out for a 16 yr old kid!

For girls I’m assuming you’d need a bit (lot) more!

Some of the girls I know in teens year had gorgeous dresses that cost hundreds of pounds. Then they had shoes, the fake tan, the nails, the hair and make up……

promThis is Teen with a friend who had really glammed up for the occasion!

Some kids arrived in limos….. and I even heard one child, not for teens prom I hasten to add, but someone we know, arrived at his school prom in a helicopter! Crazy…. I daren’t think about how much that would’ve cost!

Teen had an amazing night though. Definitely one to remember because himself and lots of friends managed to party all night long and I thought… well why not?

You only leave school once!

prom boysTeen and his bunch of suave looking buddies at the hotel, ready for Prom to begin!

Has your child had a Prom? Did you splash out or was it a reasonably priced event? I’d  love to hear your thoughts…..

Nearly done #GCSE’s

The half term is over and Teen has ploughed straight back into his GCSE’s.

He had his first one on the 12th May and from then on they came thick and fast. Half term brought a welcome respite but now the GCSE’s have fully resumed.

The good thing now though, is the end is almost in sight.

It can’t come quick enough as far as I’m concerned.

I wrote a few weeks ago how I have been ever so stressed in the lead up to these exams. I’m still a lot more stressed than Teen, I hate it. I feel for him as he leaves the house to go to school for an exam. I worry about the pressure or how well he’s going to do and I can’t bear it! I just want it all to be over!

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I told you I’ve despaired of Teen at times over the past few years. Yes, he’s a good boy deep down but he’s had a somewhat colourful (for want of a better word) time during his years at high school…. He’s a very lively, confident boy who’s up for a laugh , and once the teenage years were truly in full swing, he acquired a bit of an attitude. I suppose he’s acted like the stereotypical teenage boy on more than one occasion; showing off at school, being cheeky, disruptive, disrespectful even… not exactly moments to be proud of.

But he always managed to worm his way out of situations with his charm and the fact that many of his teachers liked him and had his back. He always managed to be somewhere in the top sets too, despite never seeming to do much homework – always saying he wasn’t set any, or that he’d done it at lunchtimes!

I was so worried that he wasn’t taking school seriously. Don’t get me wrong, he did excel in certain areas and represented the school many times in sporting tournaments. But the lack of interest in anything academic and the complete disregard for his work (I used to find scraps of worksheets crumpled up all over his room and the work in his books was ridiculously messy) distressed me no end!

With the GCSE’s looming though, and I’m talking weeks not months before, I did see a real difference in Teen. He’d been telling me not to worry for some time, saying that he ‘had this’ – and honestly, all of a sudden… he just seemed to switch.

Gone was the attitude of not giving a stuff and in it’s place was a determination to succeed.

GCSE revisionTeen and friend revising in the garden!

I have been totally blown away by his dedication to revision in the final weeks leading up to his GCSE’s. Yes, I badgered him for a long time, but now, right now when it matters, he has locked himself away and has knuckled right down.

Should it surprise me? Not really.

Teen is the sort of person who likes to win. It’s the reason he’s always been so successful at any sport he turned his hand to. He’s incredibly competitive and doesn’t like losing, so why should his GCSE’s be any different?

He wants to open that envelope on results day and be able to wave it around with pride! He’d like to show off and give himself a big, well deserved pat on the back as he reads his great (hopefully) results.

Whatever happens though on results day, to me, he’s already succeeded.

I know he’s tried his best. That’s all I wanted. He’s been committed, he’s taken his GCSE’s seriously and for that, I am already the proudest Mum on the planet! 🙂

Mum of Three World

Missing my girl….

My little girl has gone on her first school trip to stay away from home.

She went yesterday and she’s back tomorrow but today, I’m missing her so much.

I remember when Teen went on this same trip, back when he was in year 5 too. A PGL activity trip that I think many schools run for this age group. He loved it. I missed him but I knew he’d love it, he was that sort of child; very outgoing, confident, sporty – I didn’t really worry too much that he’d miss home. He had some great friends and was used to sleepovers etc.

But my girl is different. She’s quieter and a lot more homely.

I remember she must’ve been in year 1 when Teen went, and she was horrified at the thought of going on a trip like that herself! Of course she was only little at that time, but I couldn’t imagine it either.

Even up to last year she was adamant she would not do the trip. But once we received the letter in the Autumn of last year, giving us all the details and a deadline for the first payment to be made, she decided she wanted to go. All the children at school were talking about it and she knew she didn’t want to miss out.

I’m glad, because I wouldn’t have wanted her to miss out either. I suppose many of the children would’ve felt apprehensive, it’s a young age to be staying away from home in a strange place. They had no idea what it would be like.

As momentum at school started to build when the trip date approached, my daughter became very excited about it! I would even go so far as to say she was looking forward to it! Bless her.

I thought it would be nice to go out shopping, just the two of us, to let her choose some of the things she needed from her kit list. I treated her to a new suitcase. Yes we have some already but they’re all a little large and anyway, I wanted her to feel special and have one of her own! (Although I did insist on a neutral colour so it can be used again by any of my sons!)

She chose some new clothes, just basics like leggings, t-shirts and a new raincoat (children have a nasty habit of growing out of everything!). She also picked out a little wash bag and a few of those mini toiletries that shops like Superdrug and Boots do! She loved that bit!

zoella wash bag and perfumeThe cute Zoella wash bag she chose. Oh and I even treated her to some gorgeous smelling Zoella perfume! She felt very grown up!

So she was all set.

Sunday evening she had a little wobble. To be expected. She couldn’t sleep and came downstairs once or twice but when the morning came around, she was back to being excited again.

Everything was packed. A secret note to her was written by me and hidden in her suitcase, ready for her to find during her trip! I packed a few sweet nibbles too for some cheeky night time snacks (I don’t want her little tummy to be empty… maybe she won’t like her dinner – who knows?!).

Here’s my Girl when we arrived at school! The case looks bigger than her in this photo!

She happily got on the coach and was sitting with her friend. We waved them off and that was it. They don’t know who they’ll be sharing a room with until they get there. This is obviously to prevent complaints. They were invited to write some names of friends they’d like to share with beforehand, and I’m sure the teachers will ensure they get at least one of those with them.

That’s worried me a little though. I hope she has been with someone she feels comfortable with, otherwise that could upset her.

The worst thing about the whole trip though for me, is the no contact allowed. We cannot call or speak to our children and they cannot call us. This is for the best according to the school, and being as they’ve been taking children away on trips like this for years, I’m sure they know best. It’s to prevent homesickness kicking in. The children might be fine, then speak to a parent and suddenly miss home. It also prevents parents worrying if their child was to cry on the phone. But no contact is difficult. At this age, I don’t think there are many parents that would say they haven’t spoke to their child for this long!

It feels strange.

And I’m sitting here on Tuesday evening missing my girl so much. The twins are missing their buddy and the house doesn’t feel the same without her.

She’s home tomorrow and I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to see her pretty little face and hear all about it. I hope she’s had an amazing time. I’m sure she has.

The weather has been perfect for them.

I can’t believe she’s had her very first trip away from home.

Growing up.

GSCE Exam Stress – Me not Teen

So my beloved Teen is taking his exams this year. I can’t actually believe this time has come around this fast. It seems like yesterday that he was just starting high school. Honestly.

I’ve been stressed about his GCSE’s for at least a year now! Pathetic I know, but they’re important and I just want him to do as well as he can. To achieve his potential.

He’s not stressed though.

exam time

He doesn’t seem to have a care in the world!

I’ve been banging on about preparation and revision this past year but it’s pretty much fallen on deaf ears most of the time!. Teen wasn’t thinking or worrying about his GCSE’s a year ago…. Jeez, he’s only just starting to acknowledge them now! He was still messing around at school a year ago!

Causing me stress.

Going into year 11 last September, thankfully, he started to knuckle down. Taking things a bit more seriously at long last. But even so, I had to be on his back, asking him questions, asking his teachers questions so that I was clear on what needed to be done by when. I didn’t think he was doing enough though and even his mock exams he didn’t take THAT seriously. He did revise a little and did better in some subjects than was expected, but did ridiculously bad in others.

Causing me stress.

He still wasn’t stressed though. Said he’d be fine in the ACTUAL exams!

Oh yeah? I wouldn’t count on it matey.

He completed all of his Controlled Assessments and did incredibly well in them, which is fantastic. Controlled Assessments are done in school under exam conditions. They replaced the old coursework aspect of the GCSE’s and were introduced to eliminate the possibility of cheating at home by either using the internet or getting parents to do it. This used to happen apparently! Students still have to prepare for the controlled assessments but if they do well in them it gives them a head start towards their final results, so very important. And I’m happy Teen managed to get excellent results in his.

But now we are in the final push before the exams start.

Teen’s first one, Biology is on the 12th May. Exactly SIX WEEKS from today!

And I’m stressed. I don’t like it at all.

I wish I could stop worrying but I can’t help it. There’s so much riding on the results.

His results will determine whether he can get a place on the Sixth Form course at school and do the A-Levels he’s chosen. Yes there are always alternatives but it’ll be so much better if he doesn’t have to re-think his options. Yes he can re-take some GCSE’s if he needs to but that’s not ideal.

I wish it didn’t matter. I know Teen is a bright, witty young man… why should his results of a one or two hour exam on one day dictate his future? Even if he fails, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a bright, witty young man! It means that maybe he didn’t prepare well enough for the exam, or that he had a bad day, or the nerves got he better of him.

Being 16 is a difficult, challenging time for a person; raging hormones, confusing emotions…. the eagerness to get out into the big wide world, the need to enjoy life and have fun….. exam time just gets in the way!

I get that. I was 16 once. But times are hard out there and the competition is fierce for jobs. If you haven’t got a good education with decent exam results, you’re going to be overlooked, no matter how bright you are!

Teen knows this. He should do, I’ve drummed it into him enough times!

But he’s still showing no signs of stress and I suppose that’s a good thing. He’s confident he’s going to pull it out of the bag. He’s drawn up a revision timetable and he is sticking to a plan, so fingers crossed.

I’ll just be glad when it’s all over!

Top Marks Teen

I haven’t written enough about my Teen here on the blog. I’ve posted the odd thing but I haven’t shared the oh-so-many trials and tribulations that life with a teenager brings. And I have SO many stories that I could share that would make interesting reading!! I will start documenting things a bit more I think!

This story is one of the good ones!

My Teen is 15 and, as teenagers often do, he can cause me a fair bit of stress at times but in general he’s a great kid. And he’s now in Year 11 at school, his final year.

How did that happen?! I can’t believe it to be honest with you.

I know it’s a cliche but once your kids start high school time really flies by. More than that for me, these years have literally whizzed past like a hurricane whirlwind at the speed of light, leaving me sitting here wondering what the hell has happened to my little boy! And now, here he is, getting ready to sit his GCSE’s next summer!!

Gosh!

It’s fair to say though that high school for Teen hasn’t gone smoothly. There are many dimensions to that comment and so many instances that I could cover where Teen has been in difficult times (he’s had great times too I should add) but this isn’t the post to go over them. He’s been in trouble at school, from mostly minor things like not completing homework or being a little cheeky to teachers, to some major instances which stressed me out no end!

All the while though he seems to have split opinion at his school. On one side you have the teachers that, and I’m not joking, literally LOVE him, they think he’s amazing, and have no problems with him what so ever. This is double for any P.E teachers who worship him! On the other side are those teachers who Teen doesn’t get along with at all, teachers that he’s rude to and shows little respect for and in return who probably hate him! I’ve met with the Head Master on a number of occasions and he tells me how much he personally likes Teen but equally lets me know that he really needs to drop his attitude and get the most he can out of school. We are all hoping that Teen will knuckle down this year, he has to, this is the final push. He’s a bright boy and is in top sets for most subjects but he hasn’t been achieving his potential.

(I’ve just skirted round the edges there but you get the picture!)

Today I learned something which has made me the proudest Mum on Earth right now! Teen has given me lots of proud moments during his short life, the majority of them have been sport related, he has been an outstanding athlete throughout his school years both at school and out of school but today it was very different.

His English teacher called me to let me know that he scored the highest marks out of the whole year for an English GCSE controlled assessment (this is coursework that is done in school now, rather than at home as it used to be in the past).

I was shocked! OMG I was so happy but it took me completely by surprise as English was one of the subjects he always misbehaved in. He hated it as a subject and claimed he wasn’t very good at it. He hated his teachers and I was beginning to despair. But last year things seemed to turn around, slightly.

The Head of English decided to take him out of the class he was in and put him into his. He couldn’t stay there as his lesson was full but he promised to find him a different class and teacher. Teens school is huge. There are usually 10 sets for subjects, with two classes in some of the sets and they’re all usually full, so moving him mid way through the year was going to be difficult but he found him a class with a teacher that Teen clicked with straight away. He was away from students that distracted him, and he immediately told me he was learning much more in this lesson, which was great for him and relief for me!

But I wasn’t expecting this!

His teacher called me because she was overwhelmed with pride and at how well Teen had done! I could almost hear her jumping up and down with joy! She explained that this particular English Literature paper was a very difficult four hour long assessment, and that Teen had understood exactly what was required and included every single thing he needed to, to gain maximum marks. It gave him a very high A* result and she said it was outstanding what he had achieved considering where he had been a year ago, she was very hopeful for his overall result next summer after the final exams!

I wanted to cry. Bless this woman for bringing me such fantastic news and for helping my son to achieve his potential. And hats off to Teens Head of English for doing what he did at just the right time. I honestly believe that some teachers are simply born to be in that job, they know how to bring out the best in a student and instead of whining and moaning and handing out detentions every five minutes, they encourage, build confidence, support and inspire. My son has been lucky to have a few key teachers at school who have been amazing with him.

But ultimately, it’s the child who has to do it for himself, and it looks as though Teen has finally got this!

He has truly turned things around for himself and even though he makes me proud every single day just by being him…. knowing what he has achieved in that English assessment has blown me away! I’m so very, VERY proud of him ….. I could burst!

Mum of Three World

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Morning Mayhem

I find the morning rush stressful. It’s fair to say I absolutely HATE it.

I look forward to the school holidays when I can wake leisurely….. I don’t mean laze in bed all day, I’m happy to get up early, it’s the rushing to get out of the door with four kids that’s the killer. And I know I have a teenager who pretty much sorts himself out but he can nag sometimes.

“Mum where’s this” or “Can I have this” or “You haven’t done that”… etc, so more often than not he contributes to my already high stress levels.

Getting the younger three to even MOVE is a mammoth task in itself. They work in slow motion you see… and it’s all I can do to stop myself screaming at them but I try not to. Bless them, they’re tired,I think. And being a bit disorganised myself, I always blame myself for not having everything ready the night before and more often than not I’m always looking for something as I’m about to leave the house, which drives me insane.

But yesterday, the joke that is my morning routine hit a whole new level!!

It was past my time to leave and I was rushing around. Nothing new there.  I went out to the car and unlocked it and told the three little ones to get in, Teen walks to school with friends. I often do this as it stops the children being under my feet for those last few seconds before leaving. The twins jump into their car seats and my daughter fastens their seatbelts. This saves precious time too.

Now, for some completely peculiar reason, she had never done this before…. my daughter had put the key in the ignition. I remember thinking it was odd but I didn’t question it as we were running late. She hadn’t turned they key or anything and I assumed she had done it to save time.

I have a long keyring type thing attached to my car keys, one of the kids put it on once and I kept it on because well, it enables me to locate them much quicker when searching for them in my huge handbag!!

The key ring

So, I switch the engine on ready to go… but as I’ve started to pull away from my house it quickly became obvious something felt very wrong with the car. The steering wheel wasn’t moving. At all.

My mind was racing and as I’m moving across the other side of the road on course to hit the houses opposite I’m frantically trying to fathom it out! I thought it was the steering rack or the power steering that was broken…. what was happening?!!!!! Aargh!! Not sure why I hadn’t put my foot on the brake at this point but thankfully I was moving slowly as I’d just pulled off so in these split seconds all I wanted to do was turn the wheel. Quick. I couldn’t just break anyway because my car was diagonal across the road! I needed to straighten the car up.

It was then that I noticed. My daughter had undone the black fastener of the keyring and tied it around the steering wheel somehow… OMG what was she thinking? The steering wheel wouldn’t turn because the keyring had jammed it into the one position. Why why why? I had to do something!!! So I yanked the steering wheel with sheer brute force to get the wheels to turn the other way!

Then there was an almighty SNAP. They key broke in the ignition. The engine turned off and I was stuck, diagonal across the road with a broken key in the ignition, completely flush so there was no way I could get pliers or anything else to pull it out! NOOOOOOOOO

GREAT! This could only happen to ME.

What was left of my key

I actually couldn’t believe what was happening. My daughter was horrified and I was in shock. Angry, but not really at her, it wasn’t her fault, although why she did it I’ll never know! I sat there for a moment trying to take stock. The twins were looking at me, clueless as to what just happened!!

So there I was. Up shit creek without a paddle. Why the hell did I even bother getting up and rushing around this morning? I should’ve stayed in bed! It couldn’t get any worse could it? Oh yes, I forgot, I was supposed to be in work too.

I called the OH who was already at work and he suggested the RAC or a locksmith. He wasn’t amused. I managed to put the car in neutral and luckily it rolled (I would never have been able to push it, it’s a huge 7 seater!) so I managed to straighten it up a tiny bit, even though it was miles away from the curb! I took the kids back in the house while I deliberated on what to do with them.

I was tempted to keep them off school and not go into work but I thought better of it. The RAC wouldn’t come out because I don’t have home start. Well they would, it would just cost me ninety odd quid for the call out. Yeah, sod right off! Two locksmiths said they probably wouldn’t be able to get the key out?! I tried to find a specialist auto locksmith but in the mean time, the OH called back to say a guy he knows had a tool that he thought would get the broken key out of the ignition and he would bring it back later on. He was at least an hour away at work.

I decided to call a cab and take the kids to school and carry on to work. OH would pick us up after school time.

Taking the twins through reception at school an hour later than usual proved difficult. They got upset and wanted to stay with me. They had a complete meltdown. Of course they did! This is how my morning could get worse!!! I had a cab waiting outside the school, clock friggin ticking away racking up my fare and my little boys were hanging off my legs screaming! I tried for what seemed like ages to encourage them to go in nicely but they were having none of it. I ended up having to leave them with the staff to deal with.. their idea not mine. It was awful, they were crying for me as I left… My poor babies. I just wanted to take them home and snuggle up with them and forget the whole damn stupid day!!

But instead, I got back in the cab and went to work. Stressed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Want to Go Back To School

Ever since the Easter school holidays began, my Twins were asking me…

“We’re not going back to school today are we Mummy?”.

They said it with such worry that I felt terribly sorry for them and it made me not want to take them back to school again, ever.

They’re only four and I’ve been ever so concerned about them starting school too young, as I’ve written about on many occasions, but I’ve tried to convince myself that they’re ok. They’ve settled in and that’s it.

They don’t talk to me seriously, being so little, so I can’t fully understand what’s bothering them but we try to reassure them as much as we can. They just want to be home I suppose with their Mummy instead of out in the big wide world, as they see it! I know they find certain aspects of school daunting, like the ‘big playground’ at lunchtime, or even just having to communicate with people. Bless them.

Being late August born premature babies, O and H have, by default, started school the year before they should have, had they been born on time, and it’s been an emotional journey because I felt they were no where near ready to start Reception last September, when they had just turned 4 yrs old.

Painfully shy and clingy, they had struggled all through nursery and I felt I needed to take action, but after months of trying to delay their school start for a year and not succeeding, I reluctantly had to send them.

But it’s been a much more positive experience than I imagined. My boys settled in reasonably well and have fantastic teachers who are aware of my concerns and who have been amazing with O and H, understanding their needs and helping them to overcome their shyness.

My boys have made friends but it’s still incredibly obvious that they’re younger than the others and it hurts my feelings when I think they don’t want to be at school. I think, well you’re so tiny and young, I don’t think you should be there either. I have a hard time with this.

My twins are ever so close

I sometimes wonder if I should’ve tried harder to secure a delayed school place but I knew that if I did win my case, it would’ve been very unlikely that O and H would’ve been offered a place at the school I wanted. The school they are in now. So I felt it came down to a choice, and because their Head Mistress reassured me that my boys would be fine, they’d make sure of it, I decided to take the plunge and hope for the best.

It’s tough though because I’m always going to think.. what if?

Maybe I make matters worse in my own head. Everything they do, or can’t do, I put down to them being young. Too young and immature for the cohort they are currently in.

Take writing for example. They struggle and can just about write their names at the moment and this is the last term now of Reception. H isn’t even comfortable holding a pencil for any precise work which I think can’t be right, surely? He doesn’t want to try at home when I suggest it. O is slightly better and definitely more keen to learn but can still only write the letters in his own name.

Reading is another issue. They would rather place the opened books on top of their heads for a laugh than read the words! They’re pretty good at recognising all the letter sounds but they can’t blend them together, even if they’ve seen the word on every blummin page they say it wrong lol! But they enjoy being read to, which I’m sure is a positive.

I’m not going to force their reading though as I believe they’ll get there eventually. I also know that in some European countries where children don’t start school or learn to read until the age of seven, they are no further behind ours by the age of secondary school so what’s the point of starting ours so early? I just don’t want my boys to feel inadequate if they don’t pick things up as quickly as the others in their class, who are older.

I know that many of them can read well now, which concerns me a little, although some of the others are still pretty much in the same place as my boys, so maybe I’m worrying needlessly. Their teachers don’t seem worried at all, they say it will fall into place eventually and that abilities in the classroom sometimes don’t even out until year 2, but it WILL even out.

I hope so.

I have a friend who has a son in Reception, not at my boys school, but he is one of the oldest in his year with an early September birthday. O and H are a whole year younger, (more if you take their actual DUE date into account which was the end of September) and I know that if they were starting school THIS September, things would be much easier for them AND me.

But anyway, they are back at school now, yesterday was their first day and they were fine. They were excited when we arrived at school and they saw a couple of little boys from their class. When I picked them up they were very happy so I’m hoping all is good.

I’m always going to worry I guess, and I would’ve worried whichever year group they were in. I’m their Mummy and it’s what us Mummies do isn’t it?

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