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Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Before I launch into this, I just want to say, that my children are actually alright. I know this to be true, as the husband and I had pretty much this conversation, after some exceptionally fine wine, last Friday, as we sat down to his birthday supper;

"They're alright, aren't they?"
"Oh yes, they are."
"Eldest is a bit needy born from insecurity and youngest is a bit of a brat when feeling insecure, but in the main they're not bad. Except when they have to sit down to eat!"
"Shall we open the second bottle now?"
"Oh yes, we're great parents, and it's your birthday, I think we deserve it!"

That's all we need, self affirmation that our children's insecurities make them sometimes, revolting, everything else is all good.

We're in the run up to Christmas, my eldest will be 6 this Friday, SIX, SIX whole years of age. That's not a child anymore, if we were in India she'd have been working for about 2 years. Very proud parents we are, we wish her well and hope that her 6th year is even better than her 5th.

But, the run up to Christmas. The girls have asked for various things, we've not really got any of them, we've got them a Karry Oh Key machine. They have one present between them this year, because they're really good at sharing. Like last night for instance, youngest wanted to listen to their school's Christmas CD, nothing better on the market so far, I can absolutely say that. So she ran off to get CD player and CD to play it to me, having just finished reading me Marian Keyes This Charming Man. CD player ignited and then there was what I can only describe as a cats fighting soundtrack, as her sister and her pulled and pushed and scratched at each other to try and gain control of the pink CD player. Husband got upset and shouted at one, I got upset and shouted at the other and the whole thing was curtailed and children were sent to bed. This is how sharing goes in our house, so we're looking forward to Christmas day when they have to share the Japanese recreational toy... Fingers crossed.

We have most of our family coming to stay, we're also having turkey this year as we're trying to build on tradition. We have no traditions, so we're trying to etch things in the children's brains so that they'll know how to make things miserable for their families when the time comes. Presents are under the tree, no one can agree on what to buy who and how much money to spend. We have no choice, we've bankrupted ourselves, as we do every year, just because choice is too hard.

This year we're not having a party on Boxing Day though, so that means we can walk about the place asking each other what we think we should eat next and wonder how we can get out of the house so that the children stop bouncing off the walls, this is why we have a dog, you HAVE to go out every day so that he can stretch his legs and then we have to drag the children out with us, although this year, I have a feeling people will try and stay behind so that they can perfect their version of Eminem's Lose yourself, I know I will.

The point is, Christmas is the only time of year that we all have to bow down to the god of Christmas. Children love it and that's why it's there. I am sweating about the fact that Father Christmas has the same wrapping paper as me, we have so much "happy birthday" wrapping paper I can't bear to buy anymore. But I sort of still believe in Father Christmas, even though I have a feeling there are other things at play. Good luck to everyone, if we can't do it at Christmas, when the hell can we do it?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Two posts in a week, must be some kind of record, but it's hard to let a man like Mandela go without acknowledging something of his magnitude.

I read The Long Walk to Freedom before I set off on my travels, with a friend, from Johannesburg to Cape Town. En route we passed Nelson Mandela's house and I was struck very much by this man. Last night when we heard the news I shed a tear and this morning driving home from school drop off, another few tears fell from the old eyes. But the saddest thing that hits me, is not that Mandela has died, because he is now free, but that my children can't grasp the cataclysmic hole this man shall inevitably leave.

I was trying to part this information to my youngest this morning
"You know Nelson Mandela died last night"
"No, who's Nilsom Mandayla?"
"He was a great man from South Africa, he was 95!"
"Sun Africa? Why was he 95?"
"He was 95 becasue he lived until he was 95 and he was in prison for 27 years!"
"Oh, what made him die?"
"He had a lung infection, he was 95 and weak and he fell asleep and didn't wake up."
"What is lung? Why do lungs kill you?"

Yes, all these things are the things to focus on, the lungs, the age and the country. My husband took a different tack.

"Nelson Madela died last night, who died?"
Eldest "I don't know"
"Nelson Mandela..."
"Yes, he was 95!"
"Yes, he was an anti- Apartheid icon"
"Yes, I got a reindeer in my calendar Mummy!"

We'll try again, this is a day that should be remembered, if you can remember. A man like that is inspirational. He shall be missed, by my husband and I certainly, even if my children have no concept of the significance of the day, they know that he was old, even though my eldest's best friend has a grandparent who's "a hundred or something like that!" 95 seems so insignificant, he shall be missed, and I wish South Africa the best of luck in the times to come. RIP Nelson Mandela 1918-2013, what a man. 

Thursday, 5 December 2013


It's not often one gets to reflect on the passing of time and the brevity of moments that come and go with it. But in this run up to Christmas I find myself looking back at my childhood and comparing it to my children's. I remember waiting for Christmas and thinking how far away it was, then it came and then it was over, and then it was another interminable period of time before the next one. I know this is how my children are feeling now. They are helping themselves willy nilly to their Playmobil calendars (given to them by a friend, hands down, the best calendar I have EVER known.) it doesn't matter that they now won't have anything to open for another 3 days, it's the opening and the having that seem to be the order of the day.

I have given this at least 20 minutes thought, and I really think that this all comes from "stability". My children, so far, have grown up with two parents who only fight in the mornings on a regular basis. I grew up in a family where my parents were at war, most of the time. Divorced by the time I was two (parents, not me) and the law courts seemed to be the only place that decisions could be made. We were at two different homes, (3 if you count country pad, you're probably weeping at the hardships of my massively overpriviledged life!) we had about 3 different Christmases, 4 holidays a year and I was shipped from school to school to school until I was so used to it I kept everyone far enough away so as to enable me to flit from one social group to the next without being missed or pulled up. Mother died when I was 12, putting an end to the mother father feuds but not to the hither and thither, boarding school life affords. This disheveled, broken home upbringing, seems to have bred permanence in me I believe. I can keep anything, forever. I have lip balms dating back to the dinosaurs, when The Body Shop "was must have" as opposed to "last minute retro". I still wear clothes that I was given at Christmas when I was 17. Fashion means nothing to the stead fast! The only trouble with this though, is when I lose something, or someone asks to borrow something, I have a real fight on my hands to remind myself that it isn't the end of the world, sometimes things come back, and sometimes they don't, no one is dead or pregnant, embrace transient.

My children on the other hand, would spit a sweet out mid mastication if it weren't for the fact that it were a sweet and they are determined to have no teeth left by next week. They keep hold of NOTHING. Scalves and hats are fleeting ideas, we buy them, people present them, where the hell are they all though? My youngests Taggi's have traveled far and wide and never made it back. My brother had one shipped from Japan for her birthday (as the Taggi company has stopped producing the originals) and we've lost that a thousand times. Now, I, like Gollom, don't allow "The Precious" out of my sight because I feel the loss so deeply. Youngest is sad for about a mili second and then goes off to open another door of the calendar, rip something off the wall or attend to any of the fenced goods she keeps turning up with, to include two pens from two of her teachers, we've taken them back twice, one of them has arrived back here. Cleptomania, it turns out, is for life not, unfortunately, for Christmas.

I do have to say though, having reflected for another minute, it would appear my eldest seems to be a little better at it. She has things she hasn't even opened. necklace, ring and bracelet combos still in their packaging, crafty things in their boxes in the "craft hole" in our house. She, like me, goes a little bonkers sometimes when she loses something, and I know that it's my evilness that has stamped that into her. She sees transience as the plague. I admire her for that, to cherish and nurture is to value in my book. However, she can't make her mind up for love nor money. She knows she wants an animal that moves, but she originally asked Father Christmas for a remote control horse, we aren't getting a real one and that's final, but I said it wouldn't fit down the chimney, so she said she'd have a remote control puppy, kitten and pony, and a skipping rope that counts and lip balm and all the things my sister has on her list and..."

Perhaps these are all bad examples, and at the end of the day, who actually gives a shit? Shower them with everything and hope they're grateful someday. Don't shower them with everything and perhaps they'll still be grateful one day. Transience is life, the only thing we can actually be 100% certain of are death and taxes, and as far as I am concerned I wish neither of these things upon my children, so remote control whatever the f*** ever and a thousand Taggis and all the rest of it it is. They may not thank me, but my goodness they'll love Father Christmas, they'll have a smile on their face, and by that time I'll probably be drunk so to hell with forever and permanence, it's Christmas cheer and excess we're all about these days, isn't it?