Big thoughts for a Sunday morning.

All who know me can confirm that I’m no morning person. Before kids, I was unlikely to be out of bed before 11am on a non-work day. I’ve been an insomniac since I was a small child and tend to get my deepest and best sleep in the early morning. One of the things I feared most about having children was the early mornings. I was sure I wouldn’t cope. Whilst I don’t enjoy early mornings, I’ve adjusted and am just so thankful that Briar generally sleeps until around 7am, which is much later than many toddlers.

This morning, when Briar started chanting at me “Get up. Come on. Get dressed. I need a lady dress” at 7.15am, I tried to convince her it was too cold and too early. But when I discovered Gabriels nappy had leaked and all three layers of his pajamas were wet, I figured it was time to admit defeat, and to get up and get moving. If I had to completely change Gabe (even his singlet was soaked), I may as well get all of us dressed.

Until today, we’ve rarely attended church on a Sunday Warwick was working, however recently I discovered there actually are three bus loops on a Sunday morning and it is possible for us to get to church and home. Briar loves going to church and it is such a warm and welcoming community for us, so now that Gabe is here and my awful HG is in the past, I really need to get us to church more often.

So this morning we headed into town and got coffee before church.

Briar brought her beloved turtle. She has two turtles and they are two of her favourite toys. The wooden turtle was a first birthday gift from Warwick’s cousins Mic and Chris. It has a shell that spins as it rolls along but Briar takes that off all the time, so wooden turtle resembles a weird lizard mostly.

Briar also has a plastic swimming turtle that she loves. It was a gift from Pop and it spins it’s arms to propel through the bath tub or pool. Both turtles are called Turtle and have accompanied us on many adventures.

This morning Briar was particularly interested in listening to the different sounds wooden Turtle made on different textures. She dragged him through leaves, through a puddle and over the drains and different textures of the paths as we walked from the coffee shop down to church.

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Autumn is my favourite season and it’s so beautiful living in a part of Australia that experiences a proper autumn with falling leaves. Briar enjoyed hearing the crunching of the autumn leaves under her feet.

Church was short and sweet today with the minister away. Our church is going through some tough times and lots of transition right now so there seems to be less families then before, however we always feel so welcome and part of the community despite our sporadic attendance.

For Briar, church really means “friends” and she loves playing with the other children during and after the service. QUC is the first church I’ve attended that has a kids colouring table set up at the front of the church pews, so the children are very much accepted and welcome in the worship service. They are literally allowed to be front and center.

Nevertheless, Briar is not inclined to sit quietly and colour, so we generally encourage her to play in the “crying room” at the back which is almost always filled with toddlers. She loves the plastic mini kitchen.

There were four other young children there today and she enjoyed the social time. Her face lit up as soon as the other kids walked in the room and she was fascinated by the more structured game the older boys were playing. They were using books as items to trade and sell, and Briar figured this out and theived a few for her own wealth.

After church, we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to the park for a slide. Briar immediately befriended some “big kids” and enjoyed playing with them. She has a natural ability to connect with people and is very friendly and outgoing. The kids were very caring and considerate and were worried she’d be frightened if they spun the merry-go-round too quickly. However she was soon chanting “faster, faster” the loudest and squealing with delight.

Everywhere she goes, Briar tries to make friends. Whether it be on the bus, at the park or at an event, Briar smiles and waves at anyone who’ll look her way. People frequently compare Briar and I, particularly on our similarities in appearance, but I think that she is more like my sister in personality. She loves an audience, is quite flamboyant and is very creative.

I always said that if I had kids, I’d homeschool them. This idea is not supported by those around us, particularly as three of Briar and Gabe’s four grandparents hold teaching degrees, as does Briar’s godfather. They are all quite favourable to the public education system but I have some concerns.

This is largely because my own recollections of school years are filled with so many traumatic memories. Back in the 1990’s when I was in primary school, it wasn’t the norm to diagnose small children with mental health issues, but I look back and can see how I functioned in a state of heightened anxiety for as long as I can remember. I can recall having full blown panic attacks when I was in grade 1!

I was bullied and felt like I didn’t fit in. I loved animals, particularly dogs and sought their company as respite.

When we moved to QLD, we attended an all girls private school which was like being thrust into a foreign culture. As kids who’d grown up living a simple life in the bush, suddenly being surrounded by wealthy city kids was a huge shock. Now we REALLY didn’t fit in.

Whilst my sister thrived in the new environment, I did not. Although I made it my mission not to fit in and pretended I didn’t want to, I also developed an eating disorder and my teenage years weren’t happy ones.

However, this was my reality, and it isn’t Briars. One of the challenges of parenthood is not forcing our own past experiences onto our children and thus restricting them unfairly. When I think of home schooling, I envision a safe and secure learning environment where children can learn at their own pace and lessons can be taught incorporating personal interests and strengths. I was book-smart at school but struggled socially. However Briar is not me, as similar as she may look. She is quite the social butterfly which has led to me having to rethink my strong oppinions on schooling choices.

Briar walks into a room and commands attention. She loves to meet and chat to new people and thrives in social environments. Seeing how happy and excited she is to interact with kids her age leads me to think that holding her back from a school environment might not be in her best interest. I’ll certainly be very fussy on which schools we enrol Briar and Gabriel, and will probably be that over-involved mum who goes to all the school events, but my gut feeling is that Briar in particular will thrive in a big group of kids, even though I did not.

Seeing her today was testament to this. It was fascinating to watch her observing the game the boys at Church were playing. Her little mind was quick to figure it out and insert herself into the game, even if she did that by stealing some of the prized tokens!

She was incredible at the park too, within minutes of meeting the group of much older children, she was seated beside their mother on a park bench, sharing the families morning tea and chatting away. I was obviously apologetic but as usual, they all thought she was delightful and super cute.

Briar truly is a social butterfly and my challenge as her mum is to not let my own fears crush her wings.

As for Gabriel, he’s already showing signs of being far more introverted. He gets fussy and distressed in busy and crowded places and seems to get quite overwhelmed by too much action. He’s so content to snuggle into his mum or dads chest and stay close and safe. He did just this today, sleeping through almost our entire morning either in the pram or in the ringsling.

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