My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 8 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Inspirational Parents and Carers: Our nomination!

 #InspirationalParents with:

You may have heard that Kiddicare are currently running their Inspirational Parents Awards, in which we are all invited to nominate a parent or carer who we feel has been inspirational or left a lasting impression in some way in our lives. As soon as I heard that they were running this, I sat down with Munchkin to explain to her what it was all about. 

I asked her if she could think of someone who has looked after her and made a big difference in her life so far. We talked about everyone. Grandparents, friends, her nursery teachers, mummy and daddy, but I knew there was one person that she would end up saying was very special.

"She is the kindest and loveliest and I'm going to be sad when I don't see her any more"

As we were talking, I had to stop her bottom lip from trembling a couple of times as she started to recall all of the things that make this nomination so perfect. 

"She calls me Lily-Boo!! I like that!"

In January, 2013, a few months after her 3rd birthday, Munch started nursery. I had no need, nor desire, to send her into part time childcare until then. I was a stay at home mum (as I still am!) and made the decision to keep her in my care, solely, for as long as possible. We attended a number of sessions together at our local Children's Centre, so she was getting the benefits of the social interaction with other children regularly, and I felt this was the best choice for us. 

However, once she turned 3, I knew it was time to set her free amongst other children in a more independent setting. Without me. I wanted to allow her to find herself and to experience situations without me being there as the 'safety net' she had always known. We started looking at the local nurseries, and were so confused. There were so many! We visited a few with Munchkin, and she said she liked them all, although she resembled a baby rabbit caught in headlights as we passed through groups of playing children, sticking close to my side the whole time. Then, there was this one nursery. The last one we visited. Cherubs Firststeps it was called. It was quiet when we visited as it was quite late in the day, but the minute we walked through the door, something felt different. As the nursery manager greeted us with a chirpy tone and a friendly smile, Munchkin slipped her hand out of mine immediately. I then continued the remainder of the meeting and tour by myself, whilst Munch was busy introducing herself to the other children and accepting their invites to join in their games. 

This was it. This was the nursery we had to choose for her.
In fact, scrap that, Munch had already chosen!

Now, she is working her way through her final term at Cherubs, as she prepares to start full time primary school in September 2014. In July, she will finally 'graduate' as a Cherub and start her first year of formal education. She has anxieties about the transition, one of the biggest being leaving a certain person behind the gates of Cherubs Firststeps when she leaves in July. This person is our nomination for Kiddicare's #InspirationalParents campaign. Munch is going to miss a whole team of very very special individuals when she moves on to the next stage in her childhood, and if I could, I'd nominate every single one of them for the highest possible awards, but I can't, so it seems fitting that we nominate the person behind this phenomenal team. The person that brought this team together and therefore created a winning combination of wonderful people who work together to make Cherubs Firststeps the safe, fun, confidence building, nurturing place that it is today.

Gela being Gela at Cherubs' 2013 Nursery 'Graduation' Prom
Angela, or Gela as she is most commonly and affectionately known by the children, has been part of the nursery for the whole ten years it has been open, and she is, well ... Truly amazing. A loving mother of two beautiful children of her own, she faces the same challenges as all other parents in her day-to-day life, and probably stumbles across some new ones occasionally too, as many of us do, but that never fazes her. If I could honestly put into words how heartwarming (often even tear jerking!) it is to see Munchkin's excited, joyous reaction when she walks in to nursery and sees Gela there, I would. But it is beyond words. The burst of enthusiasm when Munch sees that Jela's car is parked outside the nursery gates puts an extra skip in her step as she realises she can't get through the doors quick enough, and the screams of "GELAAAA!!!!!" as she spots her across the room before she launches herself into her (often occupied) arms. Not once have I ever seen Jela dismiss this excitement or request that Munch wait whilst she finishes doing whatever she is doing. Those tasks don't matter for that moment. Everything stops momentarily for that cuddle. What better way to start the day for a little girl who would often rather stay at home and play with Beastie Boo, until she sees Jela and her wonderful team. 

It makes me smile when sometimes, we meet Gela on the way into nursery, and a group of children may be playing in the garden area at the front of the building. I can only compare the moment to a film star on the red carpet. The children pressing themselves up against the slatted wooden fence of the play area, little arms reaching through the posts as they call her name over and over, tripping over one another to get as close as possible so they get personally noticed by her. The atmosphere is electric. Simply magical! Those children are just so elated to see her. And that is not because her presence is a rare occurrence. Far from it. Unlike many nursery managers I have known, Jela is as 'hands on' as she can be with the children. She joins in their play, supervises their learning and sits with them at lunch. Many many mornings, as I am preparing her lunch for nursery, I will be pestered with Munchkin's orders of, "make sure you put an extra sandwich in there for Gela! Gela loves sandwiches!!" How can I refuse?! 

Then there is her relationship with the parents and carers of the children. She is friendly, enthusiastic, positive, full of humour, kind, understanding, familiar, but always professional. It is blatantly obvious to anyone that she loves her job. The tears she sheds as children leave to start full time school, the pride she shows at the achievements of the children and the sheer joy she emits when she is around them is the most comforting and reassuring thing a parent can witness. 

As Munchkin prepares with both excitement and anxiety to move into full time education at Primary School in 3 months time, she wonders what to expect. However, whatever nerves she may be feeling, whatever reservations she may have, Gela said something to her a couple of months ago that has definitely stayed with her. One small statement from Jela has made a huge impact on the way Munchkin feels about this new stage in her life, as I have heard it repeated by Munch almost every day since, and Gela probably has no idea these few words have made such a difference, but they really have ...

"You're so ready for big school now, Lily-Boo!" 

Yes sweetheart, yes you are. And it's with huge thanks and appreciation to Gela and her amazing team that you are!

So here it is, our nomination for Kiddicare's #InspirationalParentAwards. One person who is truly deserving of an award like this, but also one whom I am certain would be the most surprised at being nominated. So for one moment, she can stop being so humble, sit back and realise how much she is loved and appreciated for the wonderful things she does and the amazing things she and her team have done to help my little Cherub grow!

Thank you, Gela!
Love from Lily-Boo!

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