Do you have Your Listening Ears On?

I often hear teachers and childcare workers say to kids “Do you have your listening ears On?


It sounds funny.

But our teachers don’t say it to be funny.

They have a good reason.

A lot of the time, our kids just don’t listen to what we are saying.

They hear what they want to hear.

Most of the time, it’s not because they mean to be naughty, or they want to ignore us, or they are trying to infuriate us.

Its just because they are in their own little worlds.

Their imaginative little minds are constantly spinning.

There are zillions of possible things that they could be thinking about at that moment.

And lets face it, even as adults, when something is really on our mind, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand.  Its hard to listen to what someone is saying to us if something is really nagging at us in the back of our heads.

But when we don’t really listen – or don’t really hear – what someone is saying to us, there can be consequences.

Yesterday, my children learnt this the hard way.

I have 3 children.  Mr J is 5 and is in Prep. Mr S is in Year 2 and is 7. Miss O is in Year 6 and will be 11 in less than 2 weeks.

Our School has decided to raise some funds to help the victims of the Bundaberg Floods.  On Monday at school, two students from the Student Council went around to each class and announced that the school would be raising funds by having a free dress day. This means children can come to school in any outfit that they like instead of their school uniform. To raise the funds each child who wishes to participate by wearing free dress must bring a Gold Coin Donation.

The way my kids actually heard the message was quite amusing. You can read about that here.

So yesterday my kids dressed in normal clothes instead of their school uniforms and Miss O took the money that was needed for the Gold Coin Donation.

When we were getting closer to the school, I saw a mother walking her child to school. The child was in school uniform.  I said to Miss O, “Are you sure the free dress day is today?  That kid is wearing their uniform”.

Miss O wasn’t worried.  “Not everyone dresses up on the free dress days. Sometimes kids forget to do it”.

This is true. Sometimes kids do forget. However as we got closer and closer to the school, all we could see were kids in their school uniforms.  And by the time we got to the stop-drop-go it was obvious.

It wasn’t a free dress day.

Lets be clear. My 3 kids are in 3 different classrooms. They have 3 different teachers.  Surely one of them would have heard the message right, right? Wrong.

It seems however, that the entire school heard the message right, except for my 3 kids.

“Oh well” I smiled broadly at Miss O and the boys.  “It seems like you guys are the only ones who didn’t listen to the message properly.  You are just going to have to go to school in what you are wearing.”

Inwardly, I was feeling like a bad parent.  I felt like I should go home and get their uniforms for them.

But this would not teach a lesson.

Maybe dealing with the consequence would teach them to listen.

“Its OK”, said Miss O. “I’ll just tell them you didn’t wash our uniforms and they weren’t dry on time so we had to wear these clothes”.

Wait. What?

Lesson Learned?

I don’t think so.

“No you won’t!” I said.

But I guess I won’t really know what was said.


And for the first couple of minutes as I drove to work, I was guilt-ridden, imagining my children in tears getting ridiculed by laughing children for wearing free dress on the wrong day.

Then I laughed.

And during the day when I thought about it, I laughed again.

At the end of the day I found out that none of the kids were teased. No one cared that they didn’t have their uniforms on (oh the blessings of a public school).

So I don’t know if they learned a lesson at all.

But I did.

I let my kids deal with the consequences on their own, without stressing out about it and trying to save the day.

That’s something, right?

For the record, my kids assure me that the free dress day is actually this thursday.

I wonder if they will be right this time.

Thunderbirds Are Go

I picked up the kids from after school care yesterday afternoon about 5.30 and was halfway home when Mr J (in Prep) tells me that he has to dress up tomorrow, because the Thunderbirds are coming.


Now for a couple of seconds I panic that I don’t have ANY time to get a costume together. Are they supposed to dress up LIKE the thunderbirds?

Then the logical part of my brain takes over.

And I realise that
(a) there is no way the thunderbirds are coming
(b) I better find out what the real story is.

“The thunderbirds are not coming” I tell Mr J. “What are you supposed to dress up as?”

This is when Miss O (soon to be 11) chimes in. “If your whole house got washed away and you had to wear your favourite clothes. So we have to wear our favourite clothes tomorrow. And we have to bring a Gold Coin”

The penny drops.

“Ohhhh” I say. “You are raising money for the Bundaberg Floods”.

“Yeah and they are coming here” Mr J pipes up excitedly.


“No J-Bear! Not THUNDERBIRDS. BUNDABERG. The Thunderbirds are not coming here. You are dressing up at school tomorrow to raise money for the Bundaberg Floods. Bundaberg had a big flood and a lot of people’s houses were damaged and some peoples houses got washed away. Some people were only able to save the clothes that they were wearing. Tomorrow you will dress up at school and bring some money to donate to the people of Bundaberg that need our help”.

“But why did they have a flood?” Asks Mr S (in year 2).


On a serious note, donations to the Red Cross Flood Appeal are lower than expected. If you can help out, head over to the Red Cross website and donate today.

I lost my plot at the stop-drop-go and I have to do better.

I have to do better.

I HAVE to.

Yesterday was a normal school morning like any other.

I was disorganised.

I forgot to freeze the ice bricks for the lunchboxes the night before, so when I got out of bed, I had to turn up the freezer to ‘coldest’ in a vain attempt to freeze the bricks enough before it was time to go to school so that their lunches would stay cold enough until lunch time.

It was also one of those mornings that the kids just got on my goat.

The house looked like a bomb site.

Mr S couldn’t find his shoes or Reading Folder.

Mr J couldn’t find his library bag.

Miss O was cranky becuase she couldn’t find her favourite crop top.

Missing things is just the norm around here.

Its what the kids DO when something is missing that can turn me from calm-patient-loving-mother to militaristic-drill-sergeant-fish-wife in 0.27 seconds.  (Okay who am I kidding…. I am not sure I am ever calm and patient.)

When things are missing, do the kids…

a) look for the missing item

b) forget about the missing item and play with toys

c) go outside and pat the dogs

d) whinge and wine that they can’t find the item while sitting on the couch doing nothing

e) Answers B C and D

You guessed it folks!  It was NEVER EVER going to be answer A.  Actually look for the missing item themselves?  That just defies kid logic!

Eventually we found everything.

The shoes were in the car.  He took them off on the way home from school and left them in there.

Nice. I am not sure what part of “Don’t take off your shoes in the car, wait until we get home and get inside” doesn’t comprehend. Maybe I said it in another language? Maybe my kids don’t understand English?

The reading folder was underneath the couch at the back.

The library bag was underneath Mr J’s bed.

Note to self, next time we buy new furniture, buy furniture that goes all the way to the floor so that there is no space underneath said furniture to become the new easy-access rubbish tip.

So eventually, the kids lunch bags were packed and it was time to go.

I gave all 3 kids their lunch bags and told them to get their school bags and get in the car while I quickly tried to raid my very empty pantry for something to take to work for lunch for myself!

Miss O got her backpackbag and her lunchbag and put them in the car.

Apparently Mr S and Mr J decided that they were not going to get their backpacks and lunchbags and take them into the car. Instead they were going to try to smuggle contraband toys into the car and fight about who gets to sit on the left hand side of the car.

Hubster dealt with the fighting issue and made them put the contraband toys back inside the house while I quickly filled out a form to allow Mr S to have help from an occupational therapist and physiotherapist at school.

On my way out to the car, I noticed the boys backpacks still hanging off the kitchen chairs. Their drink bottles were still in the kitchen.

I grabbed the school bags and drink bottles, along with my handbag, phone and my own lunch and took them out and put them into the boot of the car.

Why did’t alarm bells go off at that moment?  Why didn’t I double check for the lunch bags?  I simply assumed the boys had their lunch bags in the car already. What kind of a parent assumes that their child did the right thing?

We finally left, after hubster locked up, which seemd to take 50 million years.  When he got in the car, he complained that he had to turn off every. single. light in the house. As usual.

Eventually, we arrived at the stop-drop-go.

I went to the boot of the car to get the bags, while the kids got out.

I handed Miss O her backpack and lunchbag.

I handed Mr S and Mr J their backpacks and helped them put their backpacks on.

Then it dawned on me.  They weren’t carrying their lunch bags.

“Boys, where are your lunches?”

“I don’t know”

“Did you put them in the car?”

“I don’t know”.

My blood pressure is rising dramatically at this point.

I am realising that if the lunch bags are not in the car, I am going to have  to drive all the way home and get them and take them back to school.

This means I am going to be very, very, late for work. I quickly contemplate whether it would be easier to let them have tuck-shop.  

Then I remember I totally have no cash in my wallet, an overdrawn credit card, and only 40 emergency dollars left in my bank account, until thursday.

I checked the entire car, in the delusional hope that the lunch bags were actually in there.

They weren’t.

Then I lost my plot.

The F bomb was used.

Right in the stop-drop-go.

F-F-S was used.

Right in front of all kids and parents getting dropped off.

I actually yelled at my kids about how angry I was that I had to go all the way home to get their lunchbags.

I was fuming.

I told the boys I would drop off their lunchbags to their classrooms.

And I got in the car.

And drove off.

No kiss goodbye.

No nice loving words.

No I will miss you and have a good day.

I was too angry.

I was fuming.

And I fumed all the way home.

I fumed until about I was halfway back to the school.

Then I started to calm down.

Then I started to feel guilty about the things I said.

And I have been feeling a bit guilty ever since.

I have to do better.

I need to reign in my temper.

I need to choose my words better.

I should be building my kids up.

I could have made it a learning experience without making them feel like crap.

I was an hour late for work.

Yes it’s an inconvenience – But so what?  I won’t die or get fired and the world won’t end.

They are my kids.They stuffed up. But what does getting so angry accomplish?

Nothing. It just makes me unapproachable. It just builds a wall between me and them.

What kind of a precedent am I setting if I lose the plot about something as minor as forgotten lunch bags?

What happens when something really goes wrong?

Are they going to want to tell me about it, or will they be too scared about how I will react?

And at the end of the day, I was the one that stuffed up.

I am the parent.

I need to be more organised and have better systems in place so that things like this don’t happen again.

And my kids need to know if they do stuff up, its not the end of the world.

They need to know that I will be there to help them  – no matter what it takes – no judgement.

Because thats what unconditional love is.

I need to do better.

I will do better.

I promise.

For them.

But also for me.