Phew, what a week. I’m back from BritMums Live and looking forward to what else 2015 has to offer. OK, I’m particularly looking forward to Turkey next month, but there are lots of exciting things afoot!
In the meantime, a company called Kingswood Camps recently got in touch with me to see if I’d like to take part in their #BornToBeBrave competition. They are encouraging people to share stories about a time when their child has overcome a challenge, tried something new or done something they are proud of. I’ll talk more about Kingswood Camps, and their campaign, a little later, but here is my entry.
As a single parent, it sometimes feels as if I’m both Mum AND Dad. Which is fine, it is what it is and after all, all parents (single or otherwise) can only do their best right? Some things come naturally to me as a parent but there have been occasions where, albeit only for a split second, I’ve thought that if their Dads were around they would have been more suited to certain activities in the boys’ lives.
Take f ootball for example. Dexter is obsessed. I kid you not … he talks about it ALL the time, whether it’s about playing FIFA, talking about Chelsea (the best team EVER apparently) or the football team he’s played for two seasons now. I have no interest in football whatsoever, apart from when it comes to Dexter playing, but I do my best in nodding along and pretending I know what he’s talking about.
When I was with Dexter’s Dad, we took Dexter to toddler football classes and tried him out with a team, but when he reached 6 years old, we took the decision to take him out of the team. Well, his Dad did, but that’s another story. So a year after we split, I made the decision, after talking to Dexter of course, to commit Dexter to signing up to a team.
And what a commitment it is – for both of us. It’s on me to get him to training at least twice a week, every week, AND a match on Sunday. We travel around Kent for the matches, I ensure his kit is always clean, that we’re there on time (apart from the one time when I was adamant the match started at 10am, but it was 9am – luckily, I have Dexter to always remind me of the ONE time I was late!), and Dexter commits to training hard every week and giving it 100%. That’s my number one proviso – he is totally committed to training or I pull the plug.
Signing him up to this team was the best thing I could have done for him, and me as it turns out, because I’ve made lots of wonderful new friends.
Dexter would be the first one to tell you that he isn’t the most gifted player on the team. He’s twice the size (literally) of most of his teammates and there are ‘better’ players than him on the team that always get a full game (he’s often subbed.) But what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in passion, a desire never to give up and dedication. There have been times when he’s wanted to leave because he’s felt like he deserved to start a match or play a full game, or when he’s been upset with occasional in-team fighting and arguments, but he’s persevered and stuck with it and I’m very proud of him for doing so. As the team has grown, so have friendships and everything is coming together nicely.
I wasn’t kidding about Dexter being twice the size of his mates!
A couple of weeks ago, we had presentation night – a great opportunity for the whole team and parents to get together to recognise the kids’ hard work throughout the year. Each child gets a trophy, but there are special awards that go to the most improved/star players. Now most children love recognition right? Well this is especially true for Dexter and I’m sure this may stem from coming from a ‘broken home’. His need for reassurance and acceptance has lessened as he’s got older, which I think is just down to him feeling more and more settled and happy with himself as a person. Working on his self confidence is something I’ve tried hard to do since I became a single parent, but it’s an ongoing project shall we say.
So all the kids have been given their trophy, and it’s time for the special awards. Dexter’s teammates are all whispering Dexter’s name, pretty sure that he’s going to get a special trophy. Dexter is trying to be cool, but I know that deep inside he’s praying to get it.
He didn’t win.
It was a really tough choice for the manager because there are lots of players who deserved that award and so there are no hard feelings at all for him not choosing Dexter. But I could see in Dexter’s face he was devastated.
Now as a parent, in that situation, I had to think about how to handle it. He was surrounded by his peers and now, more than ever, what they think is important to him, so I just put an arm around him and whispered how I was proud of him no matter what. Not quite sure whether that meant anything to him mind you, but it’s true.
A year ago, he may well have broken down and taken the whole thing really personally, but as he’s maturing, he’s able to think a bit more clearly and realise the bigger picture, rather than thinking everything is a slight on him.
All of his mates put an arm around him and within five minutes, they were back chasing each other around the garden outside as if nothing had happened.
He fought back tears for a few seconds but in that moment, as much as I wanted to smother him in kisses, I just took a moment to be utterly proud of him for how he handled the situation.
My boy is growing up!
Just to give you a little background about Kingswood Camps. Their premise is all about offering children and teenagers the opportunity for adventure. (Unfortunately, I’m way too old!) Kingswood Camps offer activity holidays that cater for ages 8-17, but they also offer pop-up day camps for children aged 3-12. They pride themselves on offering something for everyone and their #BornToBeBrave competition is about encouraging people to share stories about a time when their child has overcome a challenge, tried something new or done something they are proud of.
Check out their competition and why not enter yourself? You could win:
First prize – a choice of:
7 night Multi-Activity holiday for 2 children at any of Kingswood’s holiday camps (aged 8-17) – worth £1078
A week at a pop-up day camp for 2 children / 2 weeks for one child (aged 3/5-12) at any of Kingswood’s pop-up camps – worth up to £400
Second prize (prize of choice for runner up):
A Bear Grylls Survival Academy Day Course at Grosvenor Hall Ashford or Isle of Wight
£100 voucher towards any Kingswood Camps holiday or pop-up day camp.
The prizes are valid for available dates between 27th July and 30th August 2015. There is one first prize and one runner-up prize available. First prize is a choice of a week’s holiday at Kingswood Camps for two children between the ages of 8-17 or a week at a pop-up day camp for two children/ two weeks for one child between the ages of 3-12. Runner up prize is a choice of A Bear Grylls Survival Academy Day Course for one child aged 8-13 or £100 to spend toward any available Kingswood Camps holiday or pop-up day camp. Please note that dates available and age ranges vary depending on the centre, please visit kingswood.co.uk/camps for more information. The closing date for entries is Midnight Sunday 19th July 2015. The winner will be notified by email. The prize is subject to availability, non-transferable, non-refundable and must be used by the prize draw winner.
It’s really easy to enter, just head over to the Kingswood Facebook page and share a photo of a time when you have felt your child has been brave. It could be when they first walked to the shops on their own, climbed a tree or played trombone in front of the whole school … (I still well up when I remember doing just that!)
As for Dexter, well I can only hope he continues to grow into a wonderful young man, just like his big brother. I take full credit for both of them of course.
*This post was brought to you in conjunction with Kingswood Camps.