Growing up as an oldest child has its challenges, you have unrealistic expectations put on your shoulders and you are always pushing boundaries. You are constantly negotiating, trying to see if you can stay up that hour later, walk to the store with your friends or if your curfew can be extended past 11:00 pm. My oldest muppet hasn’t tried to push any of these boundaries yet but I can see that in the future he will. I sit at the kitchen table with the oldest boy and tell him to sit up straight and stop complaining about doing his homework, to set a good example for his brothers. I am constantly on him to act his age or grow up, think about the consequences of his actions. Even as these words escape my mouth I hate them and want to take them back and just hold him like I used to when he was just a curious toddler.
Both Dave and I are the oldest child and we can sympathize with the biggest muppet. He is our first and the boy that we make all our mistakes with and learn our lessons in parenting with. By the time I was 18 years old and had escaped my curfew my little sister was on easy street, maybe my parents had learned something from me or maybe they were just too tired to fight anymore.
Everyday the oldest muppet comes home with a Star Role Model award from his teacher, he honestly couldn’t make me prouder. But the other day I was in the kitchen trying to make breakfast for three starving muppets when I fight broke out between the youngest and middle muppet. They were arguing about something that we only had one of and reasoning with a hungry muppet is like trying to nail jello to a tree. As I started to try to diffuse the situation failing miserably the oldest muppet came to my aid. He walked calmly in to the kitchen and asked the youngest muppet to come and watch a show on Orca Whales with him. He took the youngest muppet by the hand and guided him to the couch and the two were quickly captivated by the documentary. The middle muppet, not having anything to fight about anymore lost interest in the toy and joined the other two on the couch leaving me standing in the kitchen astonished at what had just happened!
Later that day I pulled the oldest muppet aside and thanked him for helping me out earlier that morning and for solving my problem for me. I told him how proud I was of him and how much I appreciated and valued his help. Then I hugged him and promised myself that I would keep this moment in my mind for those days when I am constantly nagging that poor child. We will learn together, day by day, year by year, mistake by mistake.
When we decided that we were going to move to Doha almost three years ago both Dave and I were excited about the private schooling that the muppets would receive. When we had visited in the spring people raved about the small class sizes, the amenities with in the schools and the multiculturalism of the student body. No one however mentioned the madness you had to go through to get in to these schools. We returned home and waited for an official offer form the company and when we received it in June I started contacting schools to enrolee the oldest and possibly the middle muppet in. I received a resounding “sorry” from every school that I contacted, there was no spaces available for the coming term and that there admissions were closed. I was told that I could apply in the fall and maybe be put on a waiting list, depending on how my child performed in his assessment, plus every school had a substantial application fee that was not refundable if my child did not get in. In panic mode I started emailing smaller nurseries/kindergartens and when one replied yes with 2 free spaces I snatched them up with out even seeing the school! All three muppets were students of this British kindergarten until they had to move on to the big school.
The oldest muppet was five when we applied for his first year at the American School of Doha. We applied in January and were given an assessment date in April. I sat out side the class room while the biggest muppet and about 10 other children were taken in to see the teacher, the oldest muppet was usually reliable but sometimes shy so I was a little worried about him talking and dealing with the teachers. When he was accepted we were relieved since we were slowly learning that it was not for certain that your child would get in. If there was no space available then you were out of luck! The middle muppet followed the next year very keen to be at the same school as the oldest. Again we held our breath waiting for the magic email to come saying he had a spot for the following year. we learned having a sibling in the school already put an extra tick by his name and we were once again pleased to receive an acceptance letter for the middle muppet!
The youngest muppet has been chomping at the bit to go to ASD with the older muppets. In October last year we got all of the requirements for his application which included a doctors exam and vaccinations which he was not happy about. The day came for his assessment and we had talked for about a month about what was expected and I just prayed that was not in one of his stubborn moods!
When we arrived at the school the teachers started taking the children two by two in the the assessment room. The youngest muppet walked himself in to the room and we waited until he proudly emerged 40 minutes later. We tried to get any information we could out of him because of course the teachers don’t tell you anything. It sounded like it went well but we still waited with baited breath for the email to arrive. It seemed to take about two weeks last year so I was surprised when I found an email from admissions congratulating the youngest muppet and welcoming him to ASD. Dave and I did a little happy dance and were relived to be having all three muppets under one school roof in the fall. I am not to sure how the teacher feel about having all three Wilson boys in that school buti am happy not to have to worry about applying for schools anymore… At least until University!
The first time that I ever slept in a tent was when I was about seven. My family did a lot of camping when I was young and there was a regular group of people that would head out of the city for a weekend. My Aunt and Uncle had a tent and said that my cousin and I could sleep in it that night if we were able to put it up. The job took us most of the day but we finally completed the task and were excited about the prospect of spending the night in the tent and not in our parents campers.
The sun went down and when campfires were done and children banished to bed we crawled in to our snuggly retreat ready for a night in the wilderness. Well the wilderness ended up getting the best of us! Neither of us could sleep a wink because of all the sounds of the forest around us and we continued to freak each other out for most of the night. When the rain started to fall we decided that was it, we were not cut out for tent camping at the tender age of 7! Making a joint decision so neither of us looked like we were scared we retreated back to our parents trailers and spent the rest of the night in the safety of those four walls.
The muppets wanted to me to set up the tent in front of our villa last weekend so that they could use it as a fort. It was wonderful and I didn’t see them for almost a whole morning,except when they demanded food and water. We sat at the dinner table that evening and the oldest muppet announced that they were going to sleep in the tent in front of the house. He had such an excited look on his face and I really didn’t want to crush his hopes, but I wasn’t planning on sleeping in a tent when it was 37 degrees out at night with three muppets!!
Then I got a really good idea. I suggested that we move the tent indoors up to their bedroom and they could have a camp out in it the following Friday. That way I could sleep in my bed and they could crawl in to theirs if they had enough tent time! Yesterday afternoon we set up the tent in the boys bedroom, I collected all the blankets and pillow I could to make it soft and inviting. The youngest muppet and I hunted for the flash lights that were hidden in various places around the house and changed all the batteries, then we decided we needed to built a fire. Originally I was going to get marshmallows and roast them over candles but the oldest muppet came up with a brilliant idea. Ice cream sandwiches! “They Look like s’mores mummy but they taste so much better!” he said to me.
I grabbed a handful of glow sticks and some toilet paper rolls and we made paper in to flames and put the glow sticks in side. The muppets thought it was a really nice fire, the oldest muppet decided that dinner would be eaten upstairs by the campfire. As the muppets ate I told them stories of camping with my family and my first tent experience. Later that evening the muppets laid in the tent all snuggled under the covers, the oldest muppet asked for the pretend campfire to be left in the front of the tent so that it was like a real campout and after hugs and kisses and another story the boys were off to dream land on their camp out adventure.
This morning I had three well rested muppets pile in to my bed demanding breakfast because camping out really makes them hungry. The oldest muppets announces that they will be sleeping in the tent every night from now on and that it was the best campout ever the youngest muppet however confessed to me later this morning that he slept in his bed most of the night and crawled in to the tent this morning to wake the boys. “I love my bed Mummy” he said when I asked him why he didn’t sleep with his brothers all night. I have to agree with him, I would take my bed over a tent any day!
We woke up this morning to a cloudy sky and a wet and dirty truck which meant it had rained earlier that morning. The boys wanted to put on jackets for school but it was 30 degrees out already and muggy out. We continued on our day and while walking through the mall later that morning with the smallest muppet we noticed the down pour of rain out side as we walked past one of the doors. People were crowded by the door and windows watching in awe the huge down pour before them. For a country that gets a few days of rain a year it is always an exciting thing.
As we walked out to the truck the youngest muppet asked me “Who turned on the rain Mummy?” I told him that God turns the rain on and off when he thinks the flowers and trees need it. He pondered this thought for a moment and then wanted to know how he turned it on exactly and launched in to a series of questions that only Google could answer. So like any good mother I told him that God had a remote control like for the television and that is how he turns on the rain.The other questions seemed to take a back seat for a moment and the smallest muppet was satisfied with this answer. He was content until the rain stopped and complained and almost had a tantrum that he wanted God to turn on the rain again!
Later that afternoon we picked up the other two muppets from school both of them were buzzing about the thunder and lightning storm. Each of them were telling me where they were when it was happening and how kids were screaming because of the lightning and how loud the thunder was. It was almost as if they had never been in a rain storm before!
We made our way to the pool as usual after school it was still over cast but hot so the muppets welcomed the chance to cool down. We were joined by friends at the pool and as the kids played the wind started to pick up and then the rain started to come. The kids danced and swam in the rain, the mums sat under the umbrellas and chatted and even in the midst of the storm everyone was having fun. Suddenly a huge gust of wind came up taking the umbrella with it in to the pool as well as a few chairs! My girlfriend screamed and the kids joined her, a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder sent them in to hysterics and my friends son screamed “WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!”
We managed to grab all of our pool gear and get out of the wind, rain, thunder and lightning. My girlfriend and I sat laughing at the whole situation and how we were both completely useless in keeping our kids calm in a “crisis” We sat safe from the storm in our truck and the middle muppet started replaying the whole scenario. “Remember when Hunter said we are all going to die, I so thought we were going to die” him and the other muppets giggled and laughed all the way home each of them taking turns retelling the courageous tale of our escape from the storm. Who knew that a rainy day in Doha could provide so many forms of entertainment!
Last week I posted a video on Facebook about the muppets future travel to Canada this summer. Everyone was super impressed by this video, probably too impressed. I spoke with my mother in law this weekend and told her that it was actually an application for the iPad that had made the movie for me and that my 8 year old neighbour had shown me how to use it!
This weekend the muppets and I hung out enjoying the last few days of spring break and probably the last few days of out door play time since the weather has started to turn incredibly hot. The three boys played out in the front of our villa and made a little movie of their own and they wanted to share it with their friends and family.
I did not help them with this at all so enjoy!