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Monday, 24 November 2014

Catch Up

A little glance at my productivity suggests that I last wrote this nonsense about 6-7 months ago. That is so the way my life works, so wrapped up am I in the ridiculous minutiae of the day to day. However, recently, to my absolute shock, delight and wonder, I have had a few requests to resurrect this sporadic little piece. And so, whilst ironing I realised I was in fact desperately looking around for something else that might need doing, that I might actually enjoy, having found literally nothing, I thought I might drag my sorry shameful backside to the computer and spend a couple of minutes trying to resurrect something that may or may not work as a blog... Are you still with me?

A catch up I thought was in order to demonstrate the worth and value of my being on the planet and as an excuse to anyone who was wondering what had happened to my pearls of idiosyncrasies that I foolishly imagine you might like to read about.

After a rapid and awkward head first Helter-Skelter into the jaws of "clinical sadness" as husband and I call it, I made a short stop at the Priory where I was put on some lovely little pills that have kept me out of an asylum, phew, thank goodness for that. My children are just so lucky.

My eldest has flourished like a passion flower in her new year at school. At the tender age of 6 she has the reading age of a 10.6 year old, which is fantastic news for us, as we just assumed that there was literally no hope for our children, given their heritage. No more simulated drowning at swimming, she can washing machine her way from one end of the pool to the other, it's impressive to watch and delightful to know that money isn't being wasted there. Her table manners are appalling and I watch in horror at some of the things that go on at any food table. However, she has a furiously quirky turn of phrase and the comical timing of a semi pro, so as long as she never goes to anyone's house for any sort of meal time, we'll be absolutely fine and able to pass ourselves off as people with children as opposed to those people with those dreadful children. It's all about perception.

My youngest has fully grasped her grammar. The other night, when we were coming home in the car in the dark, she looked out of her window and said
"I am so bored with the moon!" Husband and I looked at each other and shrugged and the statement but smugly acknowledged the use of "WITH".
"Good use of "with" darling, well done, not many people say that any more, so well done." came the encouraging reply. With that, youngest thrusts herself a little bit more forward in her chair and bellows at me and husband
"I am so bored WITH THE FUCKING MOON!" absolutely marvelous we all thought, no reprimand was offered as we maturely and unflinchingly burst into explosive laughter. You can't have everything.

We are coming up to Christmas time, and hopefully there'll be something to say about that. I hope I shall be able to maintain this writing thing from month to month, perhaps this year I should focus on some awards, there must be a category for the inept and completely inadequate blogger. Until then, I hope this find you all well and always know, that no matter how bad it is, there has to be someone out there who has it worse, surely? 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

After School Activities

This is something that I am constantly on at myself about, after school activities. My children do swimming and riding, when we aren't doing anything else. I am thinking of upping the swimming as we currently pay a fortune for term time swimming and we've just had 5 weeks off for the holidays, as that seems to be the way the Irish teacher works.

It's not because I am competitive, it's really because I am selfish. I want my children to be able to swim on holiday, so that they don't drown if either me or husband isn't attached to them whilst they are in the pool. You see, the girls used to swim at the municipal cesspit, but 8000 ear infections later and after 6 months, we took a trip to swim with the Uncle. Where, foolishly, I imagined that they'd be pretty competent. So, I let them go in the pool, confident that they wouldn't drown. I now realise that being able to swim doesn't automatically make me a swimming teacher nor indeed, does it make me the best guage of how far ones children are supposed to have progressed in 6 months. Both children had to be saved by me and Uncle, on several occasions, smallest from the bottom of the pool, once. You see now, why I am thinking of upping the sessions, you can go to prison for negligence!

Beyond that though, my children do very little. I still think that the youngest is too young to be at school and so pay very little attention to any of the requests for extra curricular, or indeed curricular activities. In my house, home work is child lead in the main, except when we know that X child will be unhappy if not keeping up with peers.

So, imagine my surprise this am, when I dropped my little weasels off in the playground at a very cool 9 53 and fled to the school office clutching pieces of paper that had come home in the book bags the night before, telling of an after school bead making club, to which we had paid great attention (including forgetting the book bags this morning as we had made a special effort to remove them from the back of the car, you can't have everything, where would you put it?) Cheque in hand and slips of paper made out, I went to the office like a smug Uber Mother and handed the sheets in. Tick a flipping box! Lovely lady at reception looked at me as if nothing ground breaking was happening here, I imagined triumphant fanfares and the like.
"I have some here already!" She pointed out,
"WTF" my raised eybrow said.
"Only 10 people allowed per four week session,"
"Yes, so it says." I had read the info', didn't need it repeated back at me negatively at 9am.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine... with your two, that makes 11"
"hmmmm, yes, so it does" I sort of spat
"I shall check and see if that's ok, then I shall let you know."
"Righto!" I said, once the right side of my brain had engaged and reminded me that, despite the girls wanting to do the club, I had only really agreed to it because I wanted to pick them up on a Thursday at 4 30. You see, totally selfish. Just had the call, and they're in, wouldn't surprise me if the lovely lady at reception pushed this through a little harder because she was very worried for her safety at the hands of this very unhinged mother, we'll never know.

For a very short time we tried ballet, couple of years back. That sent me doo lally and broght out the very worst of Allan Rickman's Sherrif of Nottingham that hides very shallowly below my unrippled psycho surface. There was never anywhere to park, the girls hated leaving the house and I had to light dynamite behind their backs to get them into the dance studio. We also tried gymnastics, that was even worse, them and their friends fought all the way there in the car and then all the way home. There were tears and whinges all round, this is not what after school clubs are supposed to be made of, in anyone's imagination.

I never did any after school activities really, and I'm a social lepper! It's not done me any harm, so unless they go on at me constantly and make my life a living nightmare, as they do about horses and riding, they can be underprivileged and deprived most days after school. Frankly, as I said to my Mother in Law over Easter, they should consider themselves luck that they aren't dead. That's my philosophy and I'm sticking to it.

So,to Mr and Mrs "my child does everything all day every day including weekends and the holidays!" can I just say, I am very happy for you, my children don't, they'll probably, with any luck, be social leppers too, but, my Christ will they be able to drink their depressions away. Apple never falls far from the tree, does it?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Dentist

If you are anything like me, which you're probably not, so count yourself lucky, you'll think about the dentist every time you have to man handle your children to the bathroom to get them to brush their teeth. Why? Why do we have to fight to get them to keep their pearls white? I'll tell you why, because we are supposed to go to the dentist every six months / once a year, depending on how bad the judgment is on the requisite day. And it is a judgement!

This Easter, after the year was up, I took my children up to London to the all singing all dancing children's dentist, Toothbeary. A girlfriend of mine, politely and delicately, pointed out that we actually have a perfectly serviceable dentist in our village, the very same dentist that another mother at my girls school had labelled as "fit" that very afternoon in the playground. Armed with this knowledge as well as the knowledge that we are all registered at the dentist in the idyllic Cathedral Close in Salisbury, I still plumped for the "sell your family to pay the bill" dentist in London. At this stage, you may or may not want to know why. If you absolutely couldn't give a shit either way, stop reading now, as the reason is both lame and uninteresting. I like the London dentist.

Yes, we have to drive about an hour and a half to get there, yes my children murder each other and me several times on the way up, yes, she charges the earth for something that is, in my girls eyes, very unreasonable, but the thing is, it makes me feel like I am doing the right thing. Given that we used to be Londoners, this dentist was a find. I looked it up on the internet and there was literally nothing not to like, apart from the fact that it was a dentist. I wanted my children to look forward to going to the dentist, to ask me if I had made their appointments yet, if not once a day, then once every other day would do.

You walk in to this dentist and immediately you feel like you've won the mother of they year dental award. You're greeted by a huge stuffed bear slumped drunkenly on a chair in the jazzy reception. Lights are embedded into shapes in the wall, everything gleams and sings "lovely dentist" at you. If it were to be encapsulated by a sound, the sound would be a serene, but heavily designer, "whooosh"!

Once you've fallen over children, scooters, prams and parents corralling their children to the waiting room, you are seen to, by "funky" people who "love" their job and tolerate the hellish children with an award winning smile. You then go round the corner into a designer play room with cushioned alcoves and organic user friendly wooden toys, books and two big plastic designer animals that could be dogs or horses or zebras (as youngest suggested). It's AMAZING.

Once the officious dentist has patronised you and your children into realising that you need to spend most of your salary and your husbands on this trip and the next, you get to go and see the hygienist. Back to the waiting / play / design room. Hygienist comes down, wearing pink and speaks to all of us like we're babies, pats our heads and ushers us up the stairs to the state of the art "cleaning workshop". It's slick and fantastic. Rows of little basins with brightly coloured things around it magically pull you to your cleaning station where the beautiful toothed hygienist sets to work with her "Professional Preventative Programme". Winnie the Pooh and Disney Princess toothbrushes in hand, my girls are lulled into a false sense of security as they chew the magic blue pill that shows how well (or how badly, this is the look I get from shiny gum tooth woman) we are brushing our teeth?

By then end of this, I am on my knees weeping at my oral hygiene ineptitude and the girls are wondering where the hell the gold coin is for the egg machine in reception and looking at me like I am leading my lambs to the slaughter. I kick myself, but smile back and emulate the cooing, patronising noises of dental oracle. Both mouths were administered with the choice of chocolate, bubblegum, water melon, mint, apple, to name but a few flavors of toothpaste. Their mouths were scrubbed to a brilliant shine and we were sent off to pay the mammoth bill while the children collected their eggs with their golden coins.

All in all, a very successful trip. I learnt that I can do this a lot cheaper in Salisbury, but having been remorselessly tapped up for £15 a month for the dental plan, I feel that once a year we're really getting in their with the dental wizards. Love it or hate it, it's got to be done, and why not razzle dazzle yourself out of some hard earned cash and give your children the same treatment so the bitter is painted over by the sweet? Might make it easier next time, on the other hand it might not, either way, you can tick a box, and that's what parenting is all about, isn't it?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Easter

HAPPY EASTER!
Soo, amazing as it sounds, we've got past Easter!
Some children are back at school, some children aren't. Mine are, it's really rather sad, when ones children are around, one seems to be constantly looking for new and improved ways of getting rid of them, last night however, I was conjuring up ways to keep them here for a little longer.

We had a smashing Eater holidays, very Swallows and Amazons. Went to Wales with another family, to the most beautiful place I have been to in the UK to date. My youngest caught a dog fish, our friend caught a crab which we ate for tea, beaches, train rides, food and sun, on the last day. My children then spent half a day at the stables looking after horses, we saw Grand parents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, made a trip to the dentist, held the Reception / Year 1 Easter egg hunt in the garden, caught up with friends and managed not to kill one another throughout the duration. We do seem to be getting rather good at this family business.

I didn't come here to gloat though, more to spread the "happy easter" message. I trust that people enjoyed their holidays and their children and spent a little bit of time sober to create memories that will last forever. I think I managed a good couple of hours without alcohol, not least so that I could drive. But that's not the point. The point is, equilibrium, finding a path through the time one spends with ones children to make sure that it's a happy period, so that next time, the holidays aren't dreaded, they are looked forward to. Should anyone be struggling with this, can I highly recommend the Croods, on DVD, £5 from Sainsburys, it's a fail safe as luck would have it. Well, if you can't help yourself out with electronic baby sitters, what can you do?

Happy Easter, enjoy the back to school time.



Thursday, 20 March 2014

Shouting

I was brought up on a hearty diet of shouting, smacking and blame served up in a large bowl of belittling. The culmination of which was ginormous alcoholism, minor suicide attempt and a very ropey trip to Bagshott in a Mini that I was piloting. Luckily, having driven straight over a roundabout, I plumped for sleeping some of it off in a Holiday Inn car park and when I awoke at 5 30am I realised that, not only was I going to be late for work, I also had to cover some ugly lacerations to my wrists. Thankfully my long time therapist sent me home to take medication and regroup, otherwise, I feel I might have looked for a shotgun. My Father would no doubt put the lack of shotgun down to bad planning and management, and to a certain degree, one must agree. If a jobs worth doing and all that!

As L.P Hartley states so fabulously in The Go Between, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." Massive sigh of relief, as I just don't want my children to go through any of that or, in my eyes, I will have failed totally as a parent. Of course I want them to drink, enjoy themselves and experience life, but they might not be as lucky as me, and this is what sticks in my head when I shout.

This morning for instance, getting my children to school, something that I have to do 5 days out of 7. Granted we are nearing the end of term, and tiredness is setting in, but that doesn't change the fact that by law, they have to attend academia. My eldest, who has the capability to make almost everything she says to me, seem like tazers to the temples, my bad, was "creating", as they say. She didn't want to go to school.
"I hate school Mummy" said in weak crying whinge
"What do you hate about school darling?" Mother's gentle, measured response.
"I hate work!"slightly less weak whinge
"You have to work at every school darling, that is what school is. If you didn't go to school, you wouldn't know how to read and you're now really good at reading, and you're spelling is great, you're a spellerer now, aren't you?" Slight smile creeps on to face of eldest child
"Yes, but I don't want to go to school because I hate work and I don't like Mrs X" Back to full whinge.
"Well, school, is a lot better than prison, which is where we'll all end up if we don't get dressed and go to school!" Slightly more formal impatience to interlocutation.
"But I don't want to go to school, I hate it, I really, really don't like work." Maximum whinge and almost full throttle crying, tights thrown to the floor in demonstration of disgruntled absolutism.
Tazers applied aggressively to mother's temples and all major pressure points
"EDLEST CHILD! We have to go to school, if we don't we'll go to prison, so stop bloody whining (not at all proud of my swearing here, but I want to paint the whole picture), get dressed, as we have to do every morning and get to school."
At this point, husband came through the front door from dropping the bins at the end of the road and I hear my youngest speaking to him
"hello Daddy! Mummy's upstairs shouting and Eldest is crying!"

My heart melts, I'm the worst mother ever, but does that stop me? No, not at all, that just makes me angry with myself and leads me on to all the things that I do for the family that I don't complain about, that if I didn't do, then all of them would be at sea. Husband kindly tells me to belt up, I know I should, but that just makes me shout about stuff even more. It's ghastly and hideous, but it's learnt behaviour that I need to saddle in order that my children not turn out like me. Books and Google.

In my sane and virtuous mind, shouting should only occur when normal talking cannot be heard and or, as the dictionary would have it, as "an expression of strong emotion". Shouting at children because you are an impatient human being, is simply not, in my mind, acceptable. Doesn't stop me though!

There are those times, when you know that you shouldn't shout at your children, because you are in polite society and the majority of people have mobiles that mean Social Services are just a few buttons away, but it's impulsive. Like when your child runs out into the busy road, usually at school pick up, tries to pick up the iron by the hot plate, tries to pull a pan of boiling water on to their face, is about to cut through their fingers at an arts and crafts gathering. You shout, people look and tsk, but you know they all do it. Mother Theresa shouted. I bet, even the Dalai Lama has shouted. It's not the end of the world, it's what you do after that counts, isn't it?  

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Checking in

I have started a few blogs over this last period of silence, but then never actually got to finishing them for fear that one might offend someone and the others, people probably just don't want to read about, and another, was relevant at the time, but no longer so, and so it went on.

It turns out, that nothing really seems to be giving me cause to rant or gripe at the minute, probably means I've cracked this bringing up children malarky. One should look to me from now on as the "raising children compass" of the world. It's all here, in amongst these blogs. Got a question, flick back through the fromer detritus and read something that's slightly relevant, it'll change your life!

Spring is here, the sun is out, it seems to have stopped raining for the time being and children can once again be free range. The trampoline in our garden is proficiently and gloriously, creaking and groaning under the strain of a thousand children and I am now thinking of ways to get the children in to eat / stare at food in front of them as opposed to getting them out from under my feet. Can I get an Amen!?

With Easter looming, I am actually looking forward to having a whole load of time with my 4 and 6 year old. I keep asking husband if there is something we can do to freeze the children, even yesterday when the youngest emptied ink out of a biro all over the new car and this morning when they broke husbands new "man" measuring tape. We pulled ourselves back from the brink of capital punishment and rationalised that...
"yes, they may be totally out of control and have little respect, if any, for anything, but they are children, more than that, they are our children!" and the point I think is in there. They are children.

I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to go back to being a child. Wouldn't want my childhood, but I'd like to be a child again. I'd like to be able to take responsibility for literally nothing and leave stuff all over the place, have someone think about my every move and lay life out in front of me, not in a controlling way, but in a whimsical film clip kind of way.

I am very aware that I have said virtually nothing in this blog, but I just wanted to put something down on screen, seems to be quite important if you want people to read the things that you write.

We might go camping in the Easter holidays, probably just end up at the bottom of the garden. Skiing was a little out of the price range this year, but there's next year. And, we're thinking of taking off for a year, with the children and a tutor and learning all these things then, why the hell not. You're only young once, make plans, break plans, but don't do nothing, that's what we do when we're dead. This is spring, let's spring, got to be worth a shot, no?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

1/2 Term

I was supposed to write this before last week, but I was totally occupied with being the super mother that I seem to have become. It's effortless as well!

We had the most amazing half term, I think even my children would agree. I told myself, in no uncertain terms, that this half term we were not going to be hampered by time constraints or busy ourselves into prolapse. We were going to do a bit of this and a bit of that and in between we were going to do nothing, if nothing were required. If the children asked me to do something I just had to say yes, within reason obviously, but if the thing I was doing could be done at another time, I had to go and be painted / quaffed / be "it" / search for my children. It was simple, and for the love of christ it worked.

The first weekend we went up to London to have supper with some friends, this also coincided with Uncle time and Godmother time (for the children). Eldest is studying The Great Fire of London, we went to Pudding Lane... Youngest had a teddy bears picnic, I carried our eighty foot, inherited with the house, Winnie The Pooh through the playground at the beginning of the day and the school at the end of the day. Could massively have done without this, parents looked pityingly at me, like people look at others in nice cars and think "small penis". But I looked back with scorn, rolled my eyes and stuck my middle finger up at them, middle finger was covered by massive bear arm, but the thought was there.

We got new wellie boots, as my children seem to get 3 foot sizes bigger every holiday, thankfully we've gone up a price bracket, but I was relieved to know that there is another bigger price bracket so, swings and roundabouts really. We went to see Granny and Grandpa and went to a farm where Granny bought the children dinosaur eggs. these were monitored, on a second by second basis, and took up most of the surface space on the kitchen units. We went to another farm that was free, with one of my youngest's school friends and had a ball. We played in most of the playgrounds in our local area, "it" seems to be a huge hit, as well as "what's the time Mr Wolf?" only, my youngest insists that we start in a different county if she's being the wolf, takes about 5 hours to get to her and we're all hoarse and exhausted by the time it's "dinner time", but we all slept well/died. We talked a lot about entering some design competition to build a model of something that would be effectively used in 2114, gathered lots of empty packets and cups, that was all thrown out yesterday when it's identity was mistaken as rubbish. We swam, we saw friends and we qualitied our time.

Yesterday, when it was all over, I dropped the children at school spent some time in the morning researching home schooling and then spent the rest of the afternoon staring blankly into space, I think they call it Post Traumatic Stress?  

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Bed Wetting

After 6 years one month and twenty four days (since eldest was born and nappies became and issue), we have finally got to the stage in the game where my youngest has decided that she no longer wants to wear "night pants". She wants to be free, to do what she wants to do! Sadly, as it turns out, that entails weeing in our bed (should she be sleeping there) in her bed (in the main) and in a sleeping bag (if that should be the location at the time of sleep). Naturally I am really good and mother earthy about this and just clean up the mess with little to no fuss and we move on. Shouts of "Chriiiiiist, not again!" and "Are you sure this is just wee? Can't be, you're so little and this is everywhere." just don't occur, not in my house, not on my watch... uh hum.

We have a policy in our house, can't remember who it was that told me about this, but apparently, if your child is dry for a number of nights, we have chosen seven,in a row, it's time to shed the night pants and fly into "thank Christ we don't have to buy nappies anymore, we're free of that massive financial burden!" "Did you finish the night pants yesterday? Because there aren't any left..." chatter just before bed time.

My eldest was practically born continent, had she been able to walk at about 3 months, she'd have happily taken herself to the loo and we could have negated many a nappy change. I was a psycho about that though, and that stabs me on a regular basis, right through the heart and the conscience when I think about her standing at the bottom of the stairs as we are heading out to nursery, wetting herself and my loss of cool due to time pressures, that and the fact that I am a complete bitch. Whenever this image comes into my head the Catholic in me listens up and I slip into the garage for a hearty round of self flagellation, deprecation and loathing that is rivalled by nothing.

Youngest on the other hand seems only to be able to keep herself dry when she's wearing the safety pants. Night after night she wakes in the morning with a pristine pair of night pants, she rushes into tell us and we all celebrate wildly. The moment the pants of dry are removed I am washing most of the bed clothes in the house on a daily basis. Yes, we have the dry mats and the water proof mattress protector, but she manages to wee onto the duvet cover and into the duvet and, massively impressively on her pillows. It's actually astounding that such a little person can contain so much liquid. She goes for a wee before bed and we stop her intake of liquid at 6, without Guantanamo Baying her, we try and keep it humane. What therefore can we do to stop Niagra falls sluicing out in the night?

Husband and I, very grown uply, try pleading and explaining. We get her to help us change the bed sheets on those occasions that she's not too mortified about it to even acknowledge that it's happened. We make ridiculous statements like "If you wet the bed tonight darling, we're going to have to go back into night pants?!"
"Noooooo Mummy, it's only a tiny wee, this next night I won't do a wee, I DON'T WANT NIGHT PANTS!"
It's heart breaking because she really feels like she's arrived at that stage of life where night pants aren't necessary and we're all routing and wishing her to get there, but her bladder has different ideas. Her bladder is the weak link here and we all know it. But this doesn't change the fact that I want to have a minute outside of the washing machine and get on with other things on a daily basis. I don't want her to be disappointed into the shame of night pants. She's already stopped delivering us the news that things aren't as dry as they should be in her bedroom.

This morning she bounded in at 6 30am and announced, with finger in mouth that "I didn't do any wees in my pants Daddy!"
Daddy said "She didn't do any wees in her pants Mummy!"
I said "neither did I, well done us!"

It seems to me that we have to run with this, we don't want to quash her progression, however, and they probably exist already, if they don't it's my patent, degradable, eco friendly bed sheets that cost almost nothing to buy that you can degrade in a compost heap somewhere so that the plants can benefit from little night time accidents, should be widely available. I suppose, when all is said and done, one can't really be too insane about it, as the world will turn, and hopefully, if she doesn't hate me by then, she'll be helping me out in the night in the year 3014 when my bladder has other ideas. We'll get there, won't we?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Rules and Regulations Rant

Having had one of those mornings where you wonder if anyone in the country is anything other than a lobotomised moron, it got me ranting in the car at school with my children which then turned to thinking on the way home.

I do not consider myself to be a genius, I literally know nothing, but I wouldn't, as yet, classify myself as a moron. Yes, I can barely count, but that can easily be put down to the fact that I changed from the English school system, to the French school system, to the English school system 3 times, each seemingly around the time that maths and anything mathematical was being taught. My IQ might be slightly lower than the national average, but this does not stop me being one of the most vociferously opinionated people on the planet. Who needs counting when you've got words?

Rules and regulations is what I want to warble on about today. It seems to me, that most schools have been designed and then built on the policy of no parking. Why would anyone want to park anywhere. Granted, there are some schools that were built in a time when cars weren't readily available, but they must have had similar problems with their carriages and or horse and cart or indeed donkeys? Mothers and Fathers have been dropping their children off at school daily for a number of years now and yet, the most virile conversations amongst parents seems to be the lack of parking at school drop off and pick up. Our head teacher combats this nicely by sending emails out that stipulate that people must absolutely not park in the bus lane at drop off or pick up. I may not be able to count, but I can write and therefore I can read. I read this, and I think "gosh, that is a clever rule, not parking in the bus lane in the bottle neck will mean that people can drop their children off in a timely fashion rather than getting caught in a massively frustrating position in the bottle neck. Top drawer, I'll park in the car park and or wait until a space becomes free." Don't want to blow my own trumpet, but I would say that this is quite rational, perhaps even normal, thinking. Why the fuck then, do people still drop off and pick up their children in the sodding bus lane? It's a BUS LANE, this means, unless you are driving a bus, and let me tell you woman and or man, you certainly aren't, you can't ruddy park in that spot, even for a Nano second to drop your child off. Everyone in the world has ground to a halt because of all you people who either can't read or, I presume, decree yourself to be beyond rules and reg's.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes, one has to go with ones own impulse, but if this means that everyone else has to suffer and possibly spend the rest of their day vying for the blood of the knob in the Audi, Citroen, Honda or even Range Rover (it's not a car thing, it's a human thing), you might reconsider your selfish idiocy. "Don't park in the bus lane because it holds people up and frustrates those who are trying to get through to the parking spaces but can't because all you idiots are jostling for a position in the aforementioned non parkable bus lane" is a good rule / reg' and I can't understand why parents can't abide by this and just either throw their child into the road on a fly by if "it's only going to take a second", throwing them out won't take a Nano second, why not do that you illiterate moron? Perhaps the car park with other cars parked in it isn't enough of an indication of where to park? Perhaps you and your child are more important than the rest of us, if that is the case, I think home schooling would be better, because after this, if your child isn't being bullied, I'm going into school specifically to bully them and you'll have to go somewhere else where parking isn't an issue at school pick up and drop off, good luck finding that you mouth breathing, myopic crustacean.

Rules that are bad, seem to me to be anything that comes out of Michael Gove's mouth. He parks in bus lanes at schools or just pulls up behind 5 perfectly parked cars so that non of them can move until he's finished whatever it is he is doing.  Not taking your children out of school in term time, madness. Going to school at 4, insane. Do gooders standing in their villages trying to catch people doing 31 mph on the already wildly stressful school run, to then manifest itself in a letter telling you to slow down or next time it'll be the police WTF?  Etc etc, these are rules and regs that just need to be ignored, or better still abolished.

Rules and regs that I believe to be good, who cares. There are some, but they're deeply subjective. I just don't want people to park in the bus lane, middle of the road or any other inconvenient place that means civilised human beings have to give up man seconds or minutes just to curse the amoebas of society. My eldest put it best this morning when she said "why people have to park in the bus lane, it's ridiculous, I mean don't they know that they aren't driving a bus?" If she were running for any position of power, I'd vote for her, it's got to be better than what's happening now, hasn't it?

Monday, 10 February 2014

Loss and Gain

With all this chatter about Michael Gove, it brings me straight, and naturally it would seem, on to death. I don't know if we have necessarily arrived at that time of year when family pets are relocating to the great animal hotel in the sky and friend's parents seem to have been checking out of this world and into the next, much to the absolute despair of my eldest child, but let's for argument sake say we have. Yes, while we're on the subject, we have watched The Lion King, but both my children get too scared of that for it to even register on the philosophical or Darwinian scale. Even Elton John vomiting at us about "the circle of life" doesn't help. Still my eldest little Poirot wants to know "where do you go when you die?" "why do you have to die?" "Are you going to die?" "when will Monty (our dog) die?" "When Monty dies, can we get a rabbit and a kitten and two guinea pigs and a puppy?" It doesn't take long for her to see that death also allows for new things to be brought in to replace the old. Perhaps I've underestimated Elton.

The thing is, I want to be honest (despite my propensity to lie) without frightening my children. I want to make it as realistic as possible without sounding like a preacher or providing them with ammunition to take to school and frighten their class mates with. Something that has already happened re boarding schools, when my eldest announced to one of her friends, that "we all have to go to boarding school, and you only go home when your parents want to pick you up!" The mother of said child collared me in the playground after school and said "is your daughter going to boarding school?" to which I replied "not right now, no, why?" "because she has been telling my son that everyone goes to boarding school and you only get collected when your parents can be bothered to pick them up". She then inferred that I should probably set this right, so I inferred that her son should probably grow a pair and she should probably stop being such a militant bitch. It was lovely, and I know for a fact that not one other person witnessing the scene was at all awkward. I did it with a smile and a kind voice, so that's something. We're sort of friends now, in that we say hello when either of us catches the others eye, which is often quite hard to do as we're both usually searching the sky vigorously, or the ground so as not to make eye contact with anyone.

The point is, death is a very real and constant thing. How do you get the little inquiring mind to see it as something that is absolutely going to happen to all of us without frightening them out of their tiny little minds? And because of that, we should try our hardest not to worry about it, but see it as "quaint inevitability", like rain at Wimbledon or any bank holiday in Britain, like your child needing a wee the moment you get into a shop that will absolutely have no loo, nor will there be a loo for miles around that isn't guarded by single-minded jobsworths. Death is as inevitable as one's children behaving like out of control miscreants at the very mention of "please do try and be well behaved."

My parents dog was recently put down and my eldest cried ceaselessly until she fell asleep, earth shattering shudders and tears, and she didn't really know the dog all that well. Yesterday, when I inquired if anyone wanted to help me prepare the fish for tea, youngest basically told me to shove off, but eldest came and helped. She held the fish and made me watch as she moved the fish as they would have done in the wild and said "look Mummy, this is how the fish would look when it wasn't dead! Oh, I don't want the fishy to die. Did it die Mummy or was it killed?". I, riddled with guilt having seen the fish look really real in its very dead state, plumped for, "No, it definitely died". Which is actually the truth, but the very lamest truth I know. This question is usually asked when all meals are prepared. "Did the chicken die Mummy or was it dead?". I know what they mean, but I always say, "No, I think we can be pretty sure that this chicken died, it's sad, but, at least it's tasty murder..." I usually leave the last bit, I'm not a total witch.

So it's settled, my children need to sit down in front of News 24 and, as I suggested to the lady who I would now class as an acquaintance, grow a pair, they're going to learn sooner or later. In fact, blow it, I should take them out into the garden, make them run while I shoot at them and throw hand grenades around them. "It's a tough old world you guys, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you should be thankful you're not Myles, he's locked in his cot, at least I'm here, teaching you a lesson, do you see how I care?". This is surely their loss and simultaneous gain as well as my gain but loss of their innocence, is it worth it?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The News

About a thousand years ago, when I first moved to London and lived in a damp ridden maisonette on the Wandsworth Bridge Road, before children were even invented, I decided one day that I was going to take an interest in The News! Bird flu was massively prevalent at this time and I was advised by The News to stock up on no- perishable goods as this might be an epidemic and people had got it. Duly, I rushed out, after work of course, to my local supermarket and stocked myself up with tins and water and other such non-perishables. I can't quite tell you what it was I had bought as it was a total panic buy. I filled my Mini so the wheel arches caressed the tyres and drove home in excess of about 6 miles per hour. Upon reaching the homestead I was greeted by a very confused flatmate who gently asked me "WTF are you doing?". I told him that bird flu was coming and we needed to take every precaution, whilst spitting out the heavily-laden plastic bags I had between my teeth. It was at this moment he banned me from watching the news. 

Unfortunately, the world turns, we have children, we get older, and then at 11 O'clock on a Sunday morning one finds oneself searching for Radio 4, it just seems to fit. Best friend pulls out her phone and says "we might be in time to catch Desert Island Discs!" Hooray! Somehow we've time-warped into middle age. Happens to the best of us. 

Whenever I am in the car after husband has been in it, it's always on Radio 4, he seems to be able to listen to the news and filter out what is true and what is hearsay. I can't. For instance, he told me that the jet stream had broken and we were moments away from the next Ice Age/death. I believed this, had made and remade my will in my head, then cancelled it as nothing mattered we were all dead anyway. I had moved the girls from school to school and then to home-tutoring in my mind, then that didn't seem right either as doom was already upon us. Then one night, at a dinner party everyone was talking knowledgeably about such things, and I piped up that it mattered not, as the jet stream was broken and we were all, for want of a better word, fucked. Husband then piped up "no dear, I got that wrong, I meant to tell you but totally forgot!" I have been banned from listening or reading the news remember, so how the hell was I supposed to know? Awkward. Pretty sure the conversations anmongst couples, other parents like myself, would have gone something like this "Quite a character that Marelka!?"
"Oh Yes, how so?"
"Well, not only was her food inedible, she literally knows nothing."
"indeed!"  

This is relevant to children how? I hear you ask. Well, Michael Gove seems to be calling an awful lot of the shots at the moment, an awful lot that seem to directly affect us and our children, and I'm not entirely sure if I agree. Why should our children go to school at 4? They're so little, and they literally couldn't care less. What they learn in the class, they usually forget in the class, or just after, at play time, seems futile. They can't go on summer holidays when we want, because they might miss something that they later forget. If we take them out of school to learn social skills and real life, their parents might not be able to work and create more tax for our disheveled slightly less struggling country. We're not churning out geniuses, we're churning out bored children who want nothing more to do with the system because they've been in it for so long, they just "wanna be free, we wanna get loaded", except children don't even seem to want to do that anymore, they just want to communicate via the internet and, if unlucky, be targeted by older people who've previously got too loaded.

If Radio 4 is on in the car and they're discussing the latest child that's gone missing and been murdered by their mother or the most recent rape/bombing/disastrous situation, I turn over. Don't want my children to have to witness that. It's the same with adverts for the latest must have plastic fantastic shite that bedecks most of our houses. If they happen to be watching Channel Five for example, which they never are, as husband becomes enraged, we have to turn off or over. This type of news, that there are things like this out there, is not what we want our children to know. Heaven forbid they should start whingening about something that they only imagine to be good. 

There is, however, another side to News. For instance, if we're watching a film on the idiot box and an advert comes on for Unicef, Oxfam, NSPCC or The RSPCA I try hard to allow them to watch it so I have it as a reference point when I am flushing their heads down the loo for spilling something on the carpet or such like
"Maaaaaameeeeeeee! You're so mean!"
"You could be Myles from the advert, noone would come while you cry out from your cot, at least I'm here!" or something like that. Makes them see that actually I'm not the worst mother in the world, Myles's mother was probably a little bit worse.  

It seems to me, that the world is an adversely cruel place, and most of this generates from childhood. My poor children. Perhaps, and I am no politician or bank of knowledge (see paragraph 3), I really try never to profess to be. But I would like this to change. I would like the news to rain down good news and things that my children can aspire to and embrace. I'd like The News to occasionally say "you go off and enjoy your family summer holiday whenever you like, that way you won't feel like the holiday companys have you over a barrel whilst your children demand ice cream and water parks." I'm not saying that I want the government to relinquish the responsibility of my children for most of the weeks of the year, that'd be awful, where would I put them? I'd like there to be an alternative News Channel for me and my children, one where we hear about Bob saving Mavis' feline from getting it's paw stuck in a gold top milk bottle that the happy milkman left there about 30 minutes before. And Allan, from Dundee, has been given the freedom to mow his lawn at any time of the day or night because all his curtain twitching neighbours have collectively decided to go on cheap family holidays all round the globe. And this week noone is falsely accusing anyone of rape because they are a celebrity, instead they are all using their time to find sponsors for the three legged charity race. It's got to be worth a shot, hasn't it?  
  

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Technological Whinge

Sounds so much better in French I think. Although my children wouldn't agree, despite me trying to teach them French, they really have to be "in the mood" or they just tell me to "stop speaking weirdly!" Anyway, the point of this is not to rant on about my children's lack of want to unlock other dialects, it's the compulsion they seem to have for all things "technologique" and or whingeing.

This very morning husband and I were woken up with undeniably hideous whingeing. I can't stand it. I know I do it, I have caught myself saying things to them like "please eat with your mouth shut, don't do that, use a knife and fork, sit in your seats, stop fighting, please just STOP WHINGEING" etc, in a tone that massively replicates, no matter who's listening, whingeing. But in this case it's very much a situation, for me anyway, of "do what I say, ABSOLUTELY don't do what I do."

I do understand it, it's usually very effective, problem is, it makes me want to boil the thing whingeing, including myself. In Short, it makes me feel quite violent. It's one of those things that just seems to materialise. If you're not really careful and totally in control, it slips out. For me it's exasperation, I no longer have the will to shout, but I really want to communicate strongly with my children, so whiiiiiiinge blah blah is what falls out.

My children on the other hand do it because it gets results, not always the right ones, but nevertheless in these situations they just want a/any result. All children do it, I know this to be true, I have seen all children I have met do it on almost every occasion and it sort of makes me smile. Smile in the knowledge that this is just something, rather than THE THING THAT MUST BE STAMPED OUT. Sometimes I can cope with it, and have the good grace to just laugh square in their face, usually a good option as the perpetrator usually laughs too. But sometimes, it's not a laughing time and it escalates, rather like Jihad. This morning par example.

Children came in and wanted electronic devices to stare at. The husband's phone (which he never readily gives up, he'd far rather have them whinge on, because he doesn't hear it in the same way I do. Fact, nature has programmed women to hear their babies/children's pleas louder than anything else, cruel!) Then when whingeing for that didn't work, eldest went for "Beebies". This didn't work, so when youngest came in they simultaneously whinged from one medium of electronic idiocy to the other.

When we took our first virginal steps into babydom, husband and I were smugger than smug. We'd sit in the pub (me not drinking, far too full of baby and guilt over drinking when pregnant, that and the fact it gave me outrageous heartburn) and talk to people with children and indeed without children about the fact that "No no, our children shan't watch television, they shan't play computer games 'til their eyes bulge out of their heads and are good for nothing but staring. NO, our children will categorically be like Saffi from Ab' Fab' and embrace the book, the art, the crafts, cooking and walking and sports. Yes, our children will be well rounded, resourceful and... weird!"

There was a time, when eldest was about 17 1/2 months, when I was whale-like with my 9lb 2oz smallest in the oven, that I would beach myself on the sofa and actively try and engage my daughter with the television. I would point and nod encouragingly at the idiot box and pray for her to become transfixed so I could escape the flood of heart burn and sleep/relax from carrying 80 stone me and baby around. This did not work at all. Eldest just wanted to build things and then knock them down, climb things, jump off things on to me, make play-doh mess and sand and water mess, this was the child we had pre-emptively extolled the virtues of, and I wanted to trounce that and just have her stare aimlessly and stupidly for half an hour.

The tables have turned now, and they sometimes love nothing more to stare at hideous inane excuses for film and television. When we're "busy", we tempt them into the sitting room with the promise of such noble pursuits as "Horseland" very much worth a precursory glance, that stuff has to be seen to be believed, and Diego, this one can fool oneself, is educational, but in truth it's just idiot box staring.

Our two are always after a phone or a television, or and i-pad or computer and they navigate them far more proficiently than I can, but it's short lived, in the main. Usually they would far rather whinge on endlessly at me about this, that or the other. I think it comes down to the fact that children, according to most parents I've met, should really be for Christmas, that way you can spoil them rotten, then just put them back in a cupboard til next year, with or without an electronic something. That'd be great, wouldn't it?  

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Searching

This 'searching' is something that I think most parents should be able to put on their CV or we should simply be given the right to just add an S, to join any other letters people might have accumulated, at the end of their name. For instance, Polly English, MBA OBE S, because I am totally sure that I spend the majority of my mornings, afternoons and evenings fulfilling this task. China Black wrote a song about it, a song that often goes through my head as, under my daughter's instructions I just "look round the whole house, then you might find it". Seems reasonable to me.

On school days we look for shoes, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, school bags, swimming goggles, hair ties, hair brush, Taggi's etc. Weekends we look for toys, pencils, paint brush, DVDs, dolls, blankets, prams, things that they don't even know they have, but youngest comes to me and says "Mummy?",
"Yeeeees!",
"Where's my thing?",
"What thing?",
"You know, the pink one with the thing!",
"No, I don't know the pink one with the thing, that could be anything dear, can you be a little bit more specific please?",
"YOU KNOW!", she shouts now and stamps her foot to demonstrate her anger at my ineptitude.
It was at this moment in times gone by that I would have growled and shouted something like "I haven't got a clue about that which you are talking. Do you know where my thing is?",
"What thing?", she'd ask.
"You know, the thing, the one that you're talking about".
She'd look at me and just say, "You're talking rubbish".

Needless to say, we never get far with that line of questioning, I just have to drop what I am doing to get on and find whatever it is we might be looking for, because I hate lost things, it makes me feel panicky. The thing that we are searching for, helpfully, usually takes on several different guises during the search, until eventually she settles for and Autocar Magazine, piece of fluff or an expensive electronics item (or something of that nature) discarded by some other member of the family.

I can hear that some of you are shrieking "organisation Stuperior, organisation is the key here!" The problem with that one is, I lost my organisation 6 years ago, when I gave birth to the eldest, so I'm still searching for that too. Aren't we all indeed "searching, for that something that we'll never find, in another place another time, searching?".


Monday, 20 January 2014

Breakfast Conundrums

I love breakfast time, in fact what I love more than breakfast is being woken up by my children to provide them with breakfast. But, having omitted to give them all the tools to provide themselves with their own breakfasts (we're working on this) what the hell am I expecting? Husband and I have been really lax at doing the bullet proof diet for a good year now, so we simply have black coffee with unsalted butter and MCT oil in it. My brother calls it Soltan coffee, and he'd be about right, but it's all I can face now, unless hungover, then it's slightly different, we have it with eggs and pig.

My children on the other hand have very different appetites at breakfast and I have read somewhere, possibly in the Bible, that one should respect one's children's decision making capabilities wherever possible, otherwise they lose the ability to have faith in their own decisions and become like me, incapable of decision making, unless it's totally the wrong decision, and then I'm usually first up for that. Like having children, when they told me I would never do it, I was devastated, I think what they actually meant was "you really shouldn't have children, you can't make any of the right decisions for a start!" My eldest really likes to eat a lot, she'll have a blueberry pancake with chocolate spread and marshmallows, a brioche, a yoghurt, some bacon and a bowl of porridge. My youngest will only have a brioche at a push, perhaps a token amount of berries, and lashings of organic, fortified hot chocolate, the recipe for which my husband has come up with, but coconut milk, Organic hot chocolate, butter and Manuka honey are just a few of the ingredients.

You see, I come from the school of "as long as they are eating and there's health in there somewhere, a little bit of what you fancy etc, I don't want to make a definite decision either way, I'm still amazed that I've managed to keep two people alive for this long! Husband gets really cross and tells me I should just hand them a bucket of rubbish and let them eat from that, we love morning bickering. My eldest is as skinny as a rake, she does not get her genes from me, and the youngest is as robust a creature as you could come across. They are both full of energy (too much most of the time) and they have a glossy coat, healthy manes and sometimes their teeth look like catalogue models teeth, once they've brushed them and they've not been eating toxic coloured sweets.

We have friends whose children would far rather go for the healthy option every time, you offer them a chip and they'll quite happily question your ability as a parent. Then I start questioning my ability as a parent and I always come back with "they're alive aren't they?". We also have friends whose children eat no fruit or vegetables, we also have friends whose children eat only carbohydrates. Every one of these children, like mine, are still alive, and everyone is, seemingly, very healthy. Who am I to judge? I don't, I stand in awe at any reasonable parent anywhere, this fa├žade is not easy.

People say that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" and a thousand years ago, when it was possibly the only meal in the day, week / month I am sure this was true, but today, when we are all constantly trying to foie gras ourselves and or our children, I don't really think this is absolutely true. If you follow the Paleo way, breakfast should be the smallest meal of the day. Some people don't have breakfast at all, others eat all they can at breakfast, lunch and supper, well done them, I would too if it didn't mean I weighed a metric tonne.

Breakfast though. I panic if my children don't stuff themselves to the gunwhales. How can they get through to break time having only eaten one thing? If they don't take on 6 gallons of liquid, I should imagine they'll collapse in the playground just beyond their classroom door and all their friends will tread on them as they rush out, like cattle, leaving the barn for the grass laden field. My eldest drinks like a bird, my youngest loves nothing more than sucking liquid over her finger while she fiddles with her Taggi. She'd drink til it came out of her ears, anything, we've investigated diabetes, but she's just a thirsty person. Different strokes for different folks. I however am not the Oracle on this, I just try to keep myself from unhinging at food times, we're working on manners at the moment, may the lord bless us and save us!

There seems to be so much going on, so much to be careful of, so many dos and don'ts. I can't keep up. If it's not breakfast, it's lunch and or tea, they fortify themselves I work myself up and in the end they either do or don't eat, it's the same thing over and over. One thing's for sure though, we worked it out yesterday, over lunch and a couple of bottles. Everyone agreed that "they'll eat when they're hungry". Oh yes they will, this is nature, relax and go with the flow woman, there are so many more pressing things to worry about, like, a new world order for example, that's got to be more serious, hasn't it?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Teachers

A very controversial subject this, because I am fairly black and white about things and it is important not to lump all teachers in to black or white boxes. I am fairly sure that most of us can remember a couple of teachers who we loved and who inspired us to great things at some point. Then, on the other side, there are the others. The ones we hated compulsively and if we could meet them now we'd let them know exactly how we feel, you can say their name now, go on, spit it out. Then, there are those teachers who have been lost in the mists of time. Presumably, they existed, but who the hell knows who they were. It is with these things in mind that I attack these next musings.

My eldest daughter has been having a few issues with a particular teacher at school and we, as parents, have been trying to sort it out. I know a few teachers, and they are lovely people, the problem I think though, comes with teachers when they are at school. Some of them see school as armour and deliver themselves accordingly from behind their shield. This is what happens in my mind when it comes to "those" teachers and school.

Anyway, my eldest, as I have now repeated, has a few issues with this particular teacher, she's a sensitive soul. Husband and I have been really trying to get in their and sort this all out, as we have done it with one of her other teachers who actually went from being a complete zero to a total hero in about 20 minutes. Anyway, we had written about this in my daughter's progress book and a message came back saying that another teacher had left a message for the "issue teacher", and then after that we heard nothing. My eldest was still complaining bitterly and really kicking off in the mornings when anything about school was mentioned. We had to placate her to get her dressed, then we'd all lose it when it was teeth brushing time, don't get me started on putting fucking socks and shoes on, that made Japanese torture look like a holiday. You get my drift, things were not happy.

Husband then rang school and school passed message on to teacher, teacher rang husband, I couldn't be trusted to be civil at this point, I was still drying out from the water torture, seemingly afflicted on me because of aforementioned teacher. Husband made appointment with teacher and we prepared for meeting upon picking daughters up from OFSTED outstanding school.

We arrive at school, me looking like something both fashion and time had forgotten. I had a waterproof jacket on that tented my husband, some jeans that had most of the weeks cooking dribbled down them and a hat that had had a whole mug of tea spilt on it months previously. Of course, I only registered any of this when we were ushered to sit down on the tiny chairs that little people sit on at primary schools. I eye-balled the teacher to see if she was gauging and judging me upon my image, did not pick up any signs of this. 0 1 to her. She asked Something to the effect of "How can I help?" I can't totally remember as I was trying to hide a very large oil stain on my knee under the table that only dwarfs and 6 year olds are supposed to sit at. I looked at husband, having realised that I should probably keep quiet until I had the  measure of this teacher.
"Well, we really wanted to talk about our eldest, we spoke to Miss ... a while ago and we just thought that we should try and meet with you to see if we could try and carve eldests safe and happy passage through year 1!" Again, something like that was said, I was fairly distracted by husband perching on tiny seat like a Giraffe on a Budgie perch.

Long and short of it was, the teacher was just as sensitive as our eldest, she, I think, nearly cried when telling us how sensitive she was. She also seemed to have a pretty good psychological profile of our daughter and just wanted to get the hell out of this circus and back home to her house, undoubtedly made of woven yogurt and totally degradable produce. I wasn't overwhelmed by her, but I also think she's a professional, verging on jobs worth, and if anything, that is where the clash lies. Both our daughter and her are sensitive to the extreme but they both like things to be done their way and there can really only be one way with children and teachers, and that is, in the main, the teachers way.

I have to say, we were massively impressed with our first stab at teacher parent conversation, it was like talking to a normal human being who came from the same planet as us, but this time, husband and I peeled ourselves off the furniture made purely for dolls houses and moved out of the school without even really acknowledging much that had gone on. We didn't want the teacher to cry, we didn't want to cry either, more than anything we'd probably have broken the chairs and that would just have been too awful. She was a sensitive soul who had probably found her armour in the classroom and she was blown if we were going to steel that from her nor was she going to concede that anything else was up. The conversation was short, awkward and massively uncomfortable in all senses of the word, but more than that, she now knows that we know and we know that she knows and she knows that we told our eldest so our eldest also knows. I think that just about makes it as clear as the subject of indifferent children will ever be, surely?


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Lies and Truth

I am a constant disappointment to my father, not least when I was younger and then as I got older. So, in order to combat this, I developed a very keen and absolute method of lying. It's actually not all that complicated, I just switched the truth, wherever necessary, to lies, in order to get myself in, or out of, any situation. Most of the time he didn't believe the truth anyway, so I would develop it so that he might believe it. Regardless, the outcome was usually sadness and or disappointment that left us both with a horrible after taste. Being a parent is so complicated, I often apologise in my head to my parents.

They say, that what you dislike most in yourself, you dislike most in others, and if you think about that for a second, pick something you don't like about yourself and then think of someone you don't like that quality in, you'll probably see that this is actually really very true. I hate lies, I hate them because I am the master of lies and I know where it leads, nowhere great. 

My eldest is currently trying out her lies and working on, possibly, making them great. Perhaps this is a rite of passage, you see where you get with lies, and if you get further than you do with the truth, then you adopt and adapt the way of the lie? 

My youngest never really tells the truth either, I don't think she actually can, she lives in such fantasy and her brain seems to find sticking to a single track in conversation very difficult. Whenever she tells a story, we start with "so in the palyground, so and so (she can't remember anyones names, usually says "the one with two plaits or the boy with the white hair," or something like that) pushed me over!" I'll say
"Oh no! Really? Why?" to which she'll reply something like
"Because they went shopping the other day and they didn't get a lip balm and so I took my lip balm and put it in my drawer and then... Mummy?"
"Yes?"
"Can I go on my bike with the horn when we get back and my sister can go on her bike?"
"Of course you can!" If I want clarity on these situations I have to ask the eldest to clarify and then, she tells me what went on. 

My eldest has taken to fake crying, this drives me up the pole, but, having remembered the book, apparently you aren't supposed to admonish your children for demonstrating their feelings. You have to ask what's up, act appropriately and then, tell them the effect of what they have just said, in a way that makes them think. For example "if you lie, you'll get taken away forever by the child catcher, and I won't be able to stop it!" I think that's what they're stabbing at. The thing is, she hasn't quite perfected her lying face, she's a little bit like her father, she tells a lie and then has to work really hard at concealing a wry smile. That's my clue, at that point I jump in with something really mature and helpful like "liar liar, pants on fire." I find that elevates me to sensible role model, faster than anything else. 

My husband seems to always tell the truth, he can't lie. When I first met him, I think he was astounded at my capacity for lies. I was so far down the deadly path, I could barely tell the truth. 6 years on however, I seem to get into trouble for telling the truth. People ask for my opinion, a lie comes to the front, I push that aside and I speak the truth, like this
"Do you think I'm strict with my children?"
My brain says, "No, say no, no good can come of your friendship if you tell the truth here!"
I say "You are with your eldest, but not with the youngest!" It's flat, there are no placatory words.
My brain says "KNOB!"
Friend goes quiet, we carry on. However, she is probably one of the few people I can tell the truth to, and in turn, I think, she tells me the truth, and after the initial smite, it feels better, to know that it's the truth. 
My brother also tells me the truth
"God, I just don't know what to do with my weight?!"
"I think Marelka, you should stop eating as much and probably do some exercise, then, my guess is, you probably won't be as fat!"
This, is the truth from 2012. I duly did these things and have lost not a pound but haven, non the less, changed shape.

My children tell the truth in the same way. 
"Why've you got such a fat tummy mummy?"
"Why don't you always look so nice mummy?"
"Why is Grandpa so fat?"
"I don't like them Mummy, they're boring!" "Be that as it may, they are standing right in front of you and now you're just being mean..." Oh the scrapes the truth has got us into. 

The point is though, as we stiff upper lipped people know, the truth hurts, so why should we impress on our children to tell the truth? There's the story of the boy who cried wolf, and that is certainly true, but surely this is one of the hardest lessons "always tell the truth, unless you know it's not right to tell the truth, then lie, but make sure your lies are believable and don't, for Christ sake, make a silly face afterwards or everyone will know you're lying anyway and you'll get into more trouble."

This is confusing, perhaps, just perhaps, we should be teaching our children to lie well, or should we be teaching them to tell the truth but man up for the consequences, whatever they may be?  


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Rotten Ungrateful Children

It seems that I published this title without any content, 2014 is looking good so far.

Now that the Christmas festivities are over, I have had a chance to look at the close of the year and really study the way that we have bought our children up, the values that we have instilled in them, and the characteristics we have nurtured through the medium of parenthood. Although, at points, my husband and me have patted ourselves heartily on the back, it would seem that what we should really have been doing was flagellating, and not in a good way.

My eldest daughter impressed everyone this Christmas holidays by demanding "Where are my presents?" when anyone came through or even to the door. My youngest would highlight this altruistic behaviour with a stamp of the foot, crossed arms and caterwauling at a pitch best reserved for dogs and perhaps, at a push, dolphins. When the frightened individual or individuals looked to my husband and I for guidance on how to deal with the two miscreants before them (and the fact that they had brought nothing) we had nothing but pride and warm fuzzy feelings to offer them. For those people who got to and through the door with gifts, the greeting wasn't all that much different, except, were the gift to be proffered for the sake of birthday (20th December eldest) it would be ripped from the hand and dismembered in eye blinking seconds, while we all looked on chests out like proud parents and onlookers, wiping the silent tears from our eyes. Clearly, we had done well.

During the Christmas period I took the children on two shopping trips, again my domestic goddess / effortless parenting skills were brought right into the spot light. All the way round Waitrose the girls asked for / demanded things that they "really, really wanted" and when they were met with a negative response youngest actually flung herself down on the ground and screamed. Luckily, not one person batted and eyelid, clearly this type of behavior at this time of year is standard issue, or perhaps it was the blood dripping from my bulging, irate eyeballs that made them think twice about passing any sort of comment. The eldest took the news slightly better, but it just meant the whining became more frequent and massively more aggressive. I was "the worst mother she had ever had!" "the meanest person in the whole world" and other such charming things. There was love in that shop that day, I am amazed that I can still remember it, as I was lead to believe, trauma such as this, the mind sweeps under the massive carpet in our minds somewhere, so that you don't actually have to process it at all. Or at least not until you are really drunk at 3 in the morning and you can start blubbering on someone you barely know.

Toy shop was next, I did some Christmas shopping for someone else, so keen was my faith in the fact that I had everything under control. This, I have to say went slightly better. I set the ground rules before we even got into the shop.
"Right, just so we're perfectly clear girls. We are going into this shop to get presents for OTHER PEOPLE, and by that I mean PEOPLE THAT AREN'T YOU. And if you even think about asking me for ANYTHING, I am going to lock you both in a very dark place for a very long time. Have I made myself PERFECTLY clear?" This sort of parenting is written up all over the place, gets results every time! The girls nodded their acknowledgment and then walked 10 steps behind me through the whole hideous ordeal. We got to the counter well before they whipped out two deformed, stuffed, multicoloured unicorns that they asked nicely if they could have. Naturally, you're all thinking "you better not have bought them for them you ridiculous woman?" and you'd be right, but I did buy them for them, I added them to the pile of presents on the counter and undermined any little thread of authority I had had. I know why my children are like they are, this is not the problem, the problem is change. Anyhow, the torture did not stop there. As we were leaving the shop I was called back by a jobsworth security guard who told me that "your children have just stolen two deformed, stuffed, multicouloured unicorns!"
"They have not!" I replied.
"They have, they went up to the stand, selected the animals and then walked out, I saw no one pay for anything!" Naturally at this point I had mopped the blood from my cheeks and put the eyeballs back in my head, so he had no idea what he was dealing with.
"I paid for them, I PAID FOR THEM AT THE TILL" I shouted at the deaf security wally. With that I pulled a receipt from the bag and pointed at the two registered unfortunate unicorns. He walked off and we stalked back to the car under a very black cloud. No matter though, because my husband saw red and phoned the security guard and had a very loud and repetitive conversation with him where no expletives were used, but many were implied.

I return now, to the Bible I have removed from the side of my bed and promptly lost, "How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Your Kids Will Talk." This is the book that holds all the answers, this is the book that I have strayed from and this is the reason why my poor children are under measures of austerity that could have been avoided had I not been so soft and ultimately, lazy. For, I love my children, despite everything. They are my world, and surely, I owe it to them to get this right, to stick to the rules and send them out into the world happy and well adjusted, don't I?

Here's to 2014!