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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


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.