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Very tempted to let my cat write my blog tonight – she’s certainly been trying to, and might do a better job.
Feeling a bit despondent after a tough week. We’ve all been ill – suffering from a bizarre virus that comprises bad headaches, lethargy and a sore throat – but we weren’t sufficiently efficient to be ill all at the same time, so the family malady has been dragging for weeks.
Definitely need a holiday. Remember how much I like holidays? I think the only thing I like about them is that they make me appreciate term time. Or maybe I’m just a grumpy churl who doesn’t really like anything at all.
I asked my daughter if she had any good holiday suggestions and she immediately piped up, “Camping!”
Ha ha. Talk about the wrong answer! I would really LOVE to be that kind of person – the relaxed mum who chucks a few things in a car, says, “Hey kids! Let’s go camping!” and spends a long weekend wrapped up in a colourful hand-knitted, knee-length cardigan and expensive wellies; happily flying kites, pond-dipping, quite comfortable with not washing for a whole weekend, and eating organic tinned soup from the health food shop.
However, camping is something we have NEVER done as a family. It doesn’t seem like the obvious choice when two of us hate mud, grass and wet; one of us is allergic to fresh air; and three of us hate public toilets with a passion.
When I was a child, we did go camping frequently. We used to team up with our beloved Danish family and just set off – tents and cases tied precariously to the tops of our cars – hanging out of the windows and singing Viking songs. On different occasions, we visited Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Denmark, maybe Germany, and they were (mostly) lovely memories.
The funniest tragi-comic memory I have from camping all those years ago surely has to be the one about the fish. I must have been about 14 years old, so it was definitely one of, if not THE last camping trip of my childhood.
The weather had been pretty miserable – cold, wet and a bit windy. Half way through our trip, we seemed to run out of food. We were camped out in the middle of nowhere. There were no shops nearby.
Thankfully, my real Dad and my Danish Dad had their fishing rods with them, so they planned to catch a basket full of trout which we could then barbecue and eat with boiled new potatoes and salad. We saw them off in the morning, jauntily waving to us from the river path, their fishing rods perched on their shoulders.
The rest of us busily prepared for their return, setting the tables, making a salad, scraping and simmering the potatoes.
We waited for quite a long time.
By the time they finally returned, we were starving, and we ran to mob them and take their basket full of fish.
Sadly, they’d only managed to catch two very small trout. We barbecued them, and shared them between 9 or 10 hungry people – barely a mouthful each. It was like the bible story of the loaves and fishes…except none of us was Jesus.
Even now, I’m not a huge fan of grass. I don’t know why – apart from the fact it makes me sneeze… I remember as a toddler being terrified of slugs, bugs and dog poo; and grass just seemed like a really good place to hide those things. I am, and always have been, a huge fan of creature comforts like running water, flushing toilets, Neff ovens and cold drinks; so camping is a little ‘out there’ for me.
As a child, spending time with my Danish family completely made up for sleeping right near the grass on a sleeping bag, next to my snoring Dad, in a sweaty tent that smelled of sheds and garden centres. But without that carrot, would camping ever appeal to me?
A few years ago, a group of mum-friends arranged a camping trip and asked me if I fancied it. I did, at first. They made it sound hip and chilled and full of community cooking and prosecco… but then I had a THOUGHT. And once I’d had this THOUGHT, I couldn’t dispel it, and it became a deal-breaker. The THOUGHT? Kids waking up in the night, needing the loo.
I have two kids. They never wake up, needing the loo, at the same time. Neither of them would ever consent to wee in a bush or a bottle or anything Neanderthal like that, so basically, every night camping would be filled with torch lit tramps – over wet, slug-infested grass – accompanying sleepy kids to the toilet block, and might even involve spiders on some level.
That’s a big nope from me.
I asked my daughter if she had any other ideas.
“Yeah!” she cried. “Let’s stay in a 5* hotel!”
Yeah. That’s more like it.
So far, this week has been a solid 4/10.
If it hadn’t been for a lovely Sunday spent at the Harry Potter Studio Experience and a yummy Mothers’ Day meal pulling up the average, the mark would have been a LOT lower.
This week’s highlights have included setting the grill on fire whilst cooking pork chops, dropping the same pork chops on the floor, a poorly child being off school (NOTHING to do with the pork chops), discovering that the orange warning symbol in the car that looks like a cauldron being stirred with an exclamation mark indicates a punctured tyre, and paying overdue library book fines totalling £4.20.
£4.20… I could have parked in Cheltenham for 2 whole hours for that kind of money.
These are all first world problems, I know. The thing I found hardest about this week was actually my daughter’s behaviour.
I realise that, being a girl, hormones are going to kick in early, but I’m not convinced that our recent run of shouty, tearful, stampy, glowering interludes are anything to do with the onset of adolescence.
Here’s the thing… Along with 101 other things I find to be guilty about, one of the most insistent is the furtive suspicion that I don’t treat my children equally.
Half of me – the sensible half – tells me to get a grip. Reminds me that my children ARE DIFFERENT PEOPLE, so why would I treat them the same? Assures me that constantly trying to assess, balance, and compare my level and quality of interaction with my kids is unhelpful and a massive waste of energy.
The other half pokes me – gives me little jabs. “Ooh!” it says. “You smiled when your son said that, but then FROWNED when your daughter repeated it!” It shakes its head sorrowfully every time I say goodnight to my daughter after spending only 5 minutes in her room, followed by a 15 minute chat with my son in HIS room before lights out. It sighs judgementally when my son goes to his room without prompting and does his homework, while WW3 goes on downstairs because Dear Daughter doesn’t want to learn her spellings.
But I’m paranoid about it now. Even down to the most ridiculous things…
Finding ourselves ensnared in the Harry Potter shop on Sunday, I told the kids they could each choose a memento, costing up to £10. It took a long time to find anything for that amount, but eventually Son chose a pygmy puff keyring in his house colours, and Daughter chose a time turner keyring. But the pygmy puff was £6.95, and the time turner was £8.95!
The stupid fusspot in my head started dithering and looking for a way to make it even. Should I buy a packet of peppermint toads for us to share? To make it ‘fair’? But Daughter doesn’t like chocolate, so that would be a bit mean. I’d have to buy some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans too… and that would bring HER total up too much, thereby defeating the object.
Then I gave myself a figurative slap. Seriously?? Who gives a crap if one souvenir is £2 more expensive than the other? They certainly won’t, unless I mention it. They appreciated the trip and were delighted to be allowed to choose a gift. Why have I made it into an issue?
Guilt makes me illogical and irrational. And having more than one child is just a huge, muddy, gloriously disgusting wallowfest of guilt.
It started on the very day we brought our baby daughter home, and our 2 year old son realised he was not the only one in the centre of our universe any more.
I spent the first few months of my daughter’s life feeling as if I’d done something incalculably cruel to our son, and cried all the time – every time he wanted to play but I was breast-feeding, every time he wanted to make noise but she was having a nap, every time he wanted my attention but she was crying and needed a nappy change.
And then I felt doubly guilty because my daughter was being short-changed. She didn’t get to do ANYTHING with my full attention. Her brother had spent two blissful, peaceful years with our undivided attention; she didn’t even get two minutes. She was seen as the newcomer – the one who had, through no fault of her own, turned a fragile equilibrium upside down.
I still think she doesn’t get enough attention. Her brother gets to do everything first. He’s the first one to take a music exam, the first to do his SATs, the first to go to secondary school, the first to buy a new uniform. It’s all exciting and fresh when he does it. It’s old hat by the time my daughter does it, even though it’s new for her.
Since September, since our son started a new school and entered an exhilarating, nerve-wracking new phase in his life, we have been avid to learn his routine; to hear about his new teachers and his new friends; to try to visualise his school day.
Our daughter is at the same school she always has been, with the same friends and the same routines. Maybe we don’t show enough interest in her life. Maybe she sits and watches us, and compares the expressions on our faces when we talk to her and when we talk to him. Maybe our lack of engagement is the very thing causing her insecurity and frustration.
Children rarely act up for no reason at all. And while they are this young, the true cause can almost always be traced to home – as we, her parents, are still the biggest influence in her life right now.
I think it’s time for a huge shake-up and reassessment of my performance as a parent.
Yes, it’s VERY difficult to keep my temper when she knows how to push each and every single one of my buttons – sometimes with just a well-timed pout or eye-roll. Yes, she can be abrasive, challenging and rude; slamming doors with unnecessary force, and reciting a list of imagined things we apparently hate about her with self-flagellating melodrama…
But I’m going to have to dig deep, and find a core of loving patience and kindness, because underneath the bluster, I think there is a hurt, disappointed girl who doesn’t have the vocabulary to articulate the ways we are failing her as parents.
And I for one, am fiercely glad that she still has the fire left to shout and stand up for herself, and indirectly call for the help I think she needs.
Eating out in Japan is a joy.
All Japanese people are foodies – it’s just a fact. I haven’t met a single Japanese person who isn’t interested in food, and who doesn’t demand the highest quality when it comes to meal times.
Customer service is BIG in Japan. The customer is KING. You will never feel quite so special as when you order a Big Mac in Japan!
Restaurants are clean, service is ingratiating and meals are prompt. Anything else would be an insult to the customer, and require some kind of ritual debasement on the part of the staff.
Here in the UK, it must be admitted that the food industry is hit and miss. When it’s good, it’s really, REALLY awesome; but when it’s bad…well, it stinks. The comically bad experiences that Hubby and I have had over the years we’ve been together could fill a book in themselves – a tragic litany of spilled peas, swearing waiters, ruined jackets, snot-like gravy, hairy caterpillary salads (once, HALF a caterpillar – I sure complained about that one. I’m not one to be short-changed…) and pink chicken.
We have also ordered meals, only to find they arrive bearing little resemblance to the flowery description on the menu. When you order ‘Hand-crumbed goujons of monkfish, delicately crisped sautéed anya slices, with a scented aioli, and buttered trio of heritage petit pois varieties’, you don’t want to be served with a plate of bog-standard fishfingers, chips and peas, with a blob of mayo.
But how do you know?? Short of sidling around the restaurant peering at other diners’ plates, how can you guarantee that you’ll like what you’ve ordered?
The Japanese have a novel way of combating this problem – a solution that ensures every customer knows exactly what they will be getting, how large the portion sizes are and how much it will cost.
The first time I came across this, I was about 14 years old, and we’d stopped at a restaurant window in Tokyo somewhere, looking for a good place to stop. The shelves in the window were adorned with colourful, beautiful plates of real food – every single listed item on the menu was there, together with the price.
“How come the window isn’t teeming with flies?” I asked my mum.
She laughed. “That’s not REAL food!” she replied. “It’s made out of wax.”
I looked closely, but it was almost impossible to believe it wasn’t real food. In fact, the only thing that convinced me was that it looked BETTER than real food – the lettuce looked crisp, the tempura as if it had just crackled out of a deep fryer, the beer had a smattering of bubbles and a perfect proportion of tempting froth. Real food would have looked a little withered, faded and unappetising after a few hours on display.
Seriously, the artistry that goes into these displays of food is utterly astounding, and needs to be seen first-hand.
A couple of years ago, when I was visiting Japan with my two children, I took a day trip with some friends to a street in Tokyo called Kappabashi. It is also known as ‘Catering Street’, and is lined with shops selling all manner of catering goods – kitchen utensils, pots and pans of all sizes, wholesale packs of sweets, chocolate and biscuits for kiosks, crockery, cutlery and plastic sushi trays.
It’s a delight for any kitchen gadget freak; I bought my beloved ‘handai’ there – a large, low-sided bowl made from fragrant cedar wood, which is used in the vinegaring, salting and sugaring of sushi rice. It is a thing of beauty – and a snip at 3600 yen.
Kappabashi is also famous for its wax models of food. The shops are mobbed with customers who want to buy wax pizza; Spaghetti Bolognese with a fork suspended in the act of twirling pasta; tall parfait glasses of brightly coloured ice creams and sorbets, sprinkled artfully with chocolate, chopped fruit and sugar strands; individual rectangles of sushi with various toppings, made into keyrings and fridge magnets; and even burgers and hotdogs, dripping with ketchup and mustard.
There was a workshop upstairs, where customers could experience wax food-making workshops, which were sadly sold out on the day we visited. To allay the children’s disappointment (and mine) we bought wax food modelling kits so we could take them back to the UK.
These kits sat in the ‘craft room’ for 2 years, but last weekend we finally managed to find some time to make them.
My daughter made a ‘melon soda float’. Melon soda is an acid green fizzy drink, popular with Japanese kids, and stunningly artificial. And yet, it’s oddly compulsive. I always order one on the first day back in Japan – just for the sake of it. This one is perfected with the addition of a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a maraschino cherry.
My son chose the ‘chocolate parfait’ – a concoction of chocolate syrup, cornflakes, ‘soft-cream’, chocolate sticks and a sprinkling of coloured strands.
Hope you enjoy the pictures!
Interesting video on the fake food industry...
It’s Groundhog Day again.
In other words, it’s the beginning of the week, I feel bloated through weekend overindulgence, vaguely unworthy, and trying to think of a good enough excuse to duck out of doing any exercise today.
It doesn’t seem to matter HOW earnestly I pledge to make a difference to my life, how THIS TIME everything will be different and better… I always end up here again.
Patterns scare me generally. Even creative, beautiful, visual patterns. Don’t you find there’s something relentless and pitilessly rigid about a pattern – a fractal that continues to unwind into infinity; a repeating row of images that never ends and never changes?
Sometimes I suspect that we are just tiny, whirling dust motes in a tornado of intent - that we don’t make any decisions, that nothing is random, that our perception of control is just an illusion. But this train of thought is not a good one – it slides on a barely perceptible incline towards a much darker and unhelpful place.
It’s just that any study of human history or philosophy seems to prove that we are at the mercy of inevitable patterns. Every time our generational memory is lost, we seem doomed to repeat mistakes over and over again, regardless of the technological leaps we may or may not have made.
And here I am – a little micro-example of humanity’s essential inability to change the pattern.
Here’s how the pattern tends to go, more or less…
On Monday, I feel bloated through weekend overindulgence, vaguely unworthy and wish I felt bad ENOUGH that I could cancel crossfit with a clear conscience. I can’t though, so I drag myself there, headache and all. After killing the session, and chatting to friends, getting all sweaty and squeezing out some endorphins, I go home feeling fresh resolve and energy.
Yes! I will sit down and write a list of everything that will facilitate my transformation into a goddess – the menus for the whole week, a corresponding shopping list with healthy snacks, an itinerary of exercise, a plan to fit in 36 hours of stuff into 24! It can’t fail! This time it will work!
I flap around like a headless chicken, and wonder how my precious Monday seeped into the crack between the floorboards so QUICKLY? I don’t quite manage to do all the menus and I forget to order any shopping.
Tuesday and Wednesday – I realise we have no food because I forgot to do the shopping. I make something bizarre and possibly not that healthy because it’s all I have in the fridge – usually involves lots of melted cheese in some form or other. I’m not on top of my work, and work late in to the night. When I finish, I stay up even later, because I NEED time on my own, even if it’s to do nothing – even if it means I don’t sleep well, and wake up feeling low and tired the next day.
Thursday is nearly the end of the working week, so it takes an upturn. Buoyed by a little rush of optimism I may go to crossfit again, and reward myself with something calorific in the evening.
Friday is the day Hubby and I always meet for lunch. We actually have to put this in the diary, otherwise we are forever ships that pass in the night. We eat too much, because it’s like the last supper – we might not see each other again till NEXT Friday.
Saturday/Sunday – you can guarantee that it’s either someone’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, or some such day. This means we go to Music Centre on Saturday morning, do something celebratory and go out for dinner in the evening. Sunday is either more of the same, or a sobering opportunity to gaze at my navel and consider how my week didn’t go to plan. And as I’m already dying under the wheels of the wagon, I may as well have one last good feed up, right?
The next day… Groundhog Day. Again.
I feel angry today though. Why must I trudge through this moronic farce week after week?? What is my problem?
It’s Monday evening right now, and I’m bang on schedule – having run out of time to write the menus, forgotten to do an online shop, and I’m just about to go hunting for hairpins to do my daughter’s ballet bun (where DO the wretched things go??) whilst simultaneously chucking stuff in the slow cooker, and hanging washing out to dry.
I need to find a way to break this cycle. It’s depressing and demoralising. Every time I feel myself getting sucked into the whirling inevitability of the pattern, I remember a Stephen King story about a couple who die in a plane crash, and end up in purgatory – neither heaven nor hell – a never-ending, repeating cycle of the same few hours.
I think there are probably 3 things that would really help.
1. Tell someone about it. OK. I just did.
2. Go to bed earlier. I am sleep-deprived. There’s no excuse for sleep deprivation now my kids aren’t teeny. Earlier bed time = earlier waking = more hours in the day. That’s the hypothesis.
3. Stop associating celebrations with ‘naughty’ food. Why can’t a celebration be healthy?
We went to a lovely restaurant on Mothers’ Day and I tangled myself up in knots trying to choose from the menu. The salmon fillet with broccoli puree and beetroot dauphinoise sounded delicious AND healthy, but something in my brain went nuts when I read ‘New York burger with cheese and bacon, chilli and garlic mayonnaise, and skinny fries.’ My own little personal tasmanian devil slobbered, drooled and gibbered in my head. How helpful.
When the waitress came over I ordered the burger, scarlet with shame at always making the wrong choice, KNOWING I’d regret it later, but almost deafened by the hungry, yipping growls of my inner devil. She finished jotting down our orders and walked out of the room.
Then something NEW happened. Something that might finally interrupt Groundhog Day.
I suddenly blurted out, “No! I wanted the salmon!”
Hubby leapt up and sprinted out of the room, chased down the waitress and changed the order, while my inner TD scowled and trudged crossly into a corner to sulk.
It was worth it. The salmon was done to perfection – crispy skin, and meltingly tender inside. And more importantly, I enjoyed every mouthful because I didn’t feel guilty, and I hadn’t slid down that familiar slope. For the first time, I’d found a handhold.
It might sound like a small victory, but I’ll take it.
We’ve just experienced an incredibly rare thing – a sunny weekend in England.
No, of course it wasn’t WARM. Heavens, it’s only March! It won’t get warm until July, when it will peak at 25.5 degrees C, just before the end of the school term, as BBQ and patio furniture-buying hysteria hits the shops… and then plummet swiftly into two months of solid rain, followed by winter.
But it WAS pleasant. And when the weather is pleasant, and I remember how pretty trees, hills, cobbled streets and patios look in the sunshine, I get the untrustworthy urge to book a holiday.
When I was a child, we didn’t really go on the types of holiday OTHER people went on, even though my Dad worked in the hotel industry. I could never really work out whether we were too middle-class, or not middle-class enough – but either way, with one exception, we didn’t ‘do’ the whole ‘hotels, pools, sunbathing, and table-tennis’ holiday.
Most of the time, any spare money went towards going to Japan, or going to Denmark to stay with our Danish family, or my parents would accompany me on orchestral tours. With a busy schedule and Dad’s work, that left very little time for any other kind of holiday.
Only once, when I was about 7 years old, we went to Portugal and I spent a blissful week splashing about in the hotel pool, being waited on hand and foot in the hotel restaurant, and feeling glamorous and important because I didn’t have to make my bed. I loved that holiday.
Funnily enough, a generation later, our holiday situation has evolved in exactly the same way. At first, when our kids were babies, we were too poor to go on holiday – instead, setting a humble budget and going on day trips. Then, when we had a little more money, we saved it for trips to Japan or Denmark. And now, due to Hubby’s insane concert/contest schedule, we tend to do short city breaks rather than full blown holidays.
I’m ambivalent about holidays anyway. I like the IDEA of them… I have a good enough imagination to dream about the sun; the delicious food; the hours spent stretching and basking like a cat by the poolside; the enjoyable AND educational trips into old cities, interspersed with ice-cream and coffee breaks at chilled-out, town-square cafes; not to mention the sultry evenings in the bar, sipping cocktails.
One year, my imagination got the better of me, and I persuaded Hubby that we should totally go on one those holidays.
I’d never even set foot in one of those holiday agencies (is that what they’re called?) before – you know, the ones with hundreds of cards in the window, with incredible holidays at ridiculous prices scribbled over them in red ink. It was quite a strange experience.
We sat down and explained what we wanted. We informed the nice lady that we had two kids, and that we wanted to go somewhere warm, comfortable, not too noisy, and where there was only a slim chance of a political coup during our stay.
She looked at us appraisingly for a moment, then with a quick business-like pirouette towards her computer, starting typing. She said, “I know just the place. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s quiet and there’s no riff-raff.”
And that’s how we booked a holiday to Lanzarote for a week. All inclusive.
It started off well. I especially enjoyed packing lots of bright colourful summer clothes. Hubby laughed at me when he saw me dubiously dithering, wondering whether I should pack a heavy jumper and maybe the kagoules.
“It’s going to be hot! There’s 0% chance of rain for the entire week!” he said.
- It was COLD for 6 out of the 7 days we were there. Too cold to make use of the 5 pools, apart from the single heated pool, which was busier than Kings Cross on a Monday morning.
- Our son went in the pool for about 5 minutes, then said he was done. And bored.
- Our daughter LOVED the pool. But a) shouted ‘Look at me!’ every time she jumped in, or did some other manoeuvre that she’d already done about 617 times… and b) needed accompanying to the toilet every 7 minutes.
- The all-inclusive food and drink, which included churros every morning, pancakes at elevenses and ice-cream in the afternoon was very exciting, until I remembered that I have the world’s slowest metabolism, and would probably be barred from boarding the plane home due to weight-gain exceeding my entire luggage allowance.
- The kids were too tired to attend any of the evening activities. So we took it in turns to put the kids to bed, while the other parent drifted around the resort, lonely as a cloud, before returning to a snoring family…and going to bed. (remember the sultry cocktails? What the heck happened to those??)
- We took the children to Kids’ Club one morning, hoping they’d enjoy it and maybe even want to go back the next day, so that us parents could relax for an hour at the spa or whatever. They both absolutely HATED it – said it was the worst thing they’d ever done, and they never wanted to go back. Oh good.
- We took a trip into the town centre, where every restaurant was showing football, and boasting an all-English menu – as in English food. Ugh.
- We bought ice-creams. Son promptly dropped his on the floor and began to sniffle. Hubby gave him another extortionate amount of Euros to buy another. Son picked up his fallen ice cream, and threw the mess into a nearby bin…along with the Euros. *sigh*
The only good thing – we had a secret weapon every time we wanted a little peace… as in, “I’d like to finish this chapter of my book. If you keep interrupting me, I’m going to take you to Kids’ Club tomorrow.”
That worked a treat.
All in all, we came home feeling that holidays like that definitely weren’t for the likes of us.
It would be nice though, wouldn’t it? It’s been so cold and miserable… I fancy a little sun, and cocktails by the pool… Maybe we should try again. This time it would be PERFECT.
When I was 9, my mother was informed by my school that I should take the 11+ exam, as I was of above average intelligence.
Problem was, there were only a couple of selective schools in the area, and they were both girls’ schools.
My mother asked me if I’d like to go to a girls’ school. I thought about it for roughly 2 seconds, and said no. Resoundingly. I spared not a single second thinking about my education or my future. I just knew I didn’t want to be in an institution where there were no boys to talk to or play with.
I was also completely convinced that I was going to be attending the local secondary school anyway, with the friends I’d had since age 5. End of story.
Except, that’s not what happened at all. Instead, we moved house into a completely different area, and I started at a local state secondary school without the friends I’d known all my life. I spent the entire time overcompensating for my perceived disadvantages as an ethnic minority, and my real disadvantages as a ‘new girl’, and realising that everything that defined ME also made me a bit of a misfit.
School days don’t feel like a distant memory at all. I feel as if I’ve only just left school. I can only assume that’s because I haven’t really come to terms with the way that school made me feel.
I’m angry that I didn’t have the strength of character to stand up for myself. I’m frustrated that I was ashamed of my nationality, and of my musical and creative abilities. I’m exasperated with my spineless tendency to be influenced and manipulated by others, or that I cared about the opinions of people who didn’t value me.
But I’m also disappointed that I was put in that position. 11 is very young – especially for a gawky, innocent, sheltered, oversensitive Japanese girl with zero street-cred. The kind of ballsy defiance and strength my young self would have needed to hold on to my integrity without becoming bullying fodder in the eyes of my classmates… well, that’s strength I can’t always muster even as a grown up.
So what I DON’T want to hear right now, are judgemental caustic comments about my shameful snobbery for sending my son to a grammar school. I even object to the use of the word ‘sending’ – as if I folded him up and posted him there. You send mail. You send naughty children to their rooms. You send a servant to fetch you a drink. I am not sending him anywhere. He CHOSE his school, out of all the ones we went to see, and they CHOSE him. It was a match. It was a meeting of minds.
He is also not at grammar school because we are ‘middle-class’ – whatever THAT means. It is nothing to do with how much our household earns per year, or our social status.
Apparently ‘people like us’ have a HUGE advantage because we can afford to tutor our little darlings for the 11+ test to within an inch of their lives. Well, I actually listened to the head teacher’s assertion that children who were heavily tutored would struggle at grammar school; that they needed to demonstrate raw ability, not tailored exam-competence. We didn’t spend a single penny on preparing our son for the 11+ test. We went through the familiarisation materials together (downloadable for free from the county’s website), and although he didn’t need any encouragement to read, I steered him towards more established repertoire to challenge his understanding and diversify his vocabulary.
Last week, I attended a concert performed by students from his school. I was flabbergasted by the standard of the music-making but, more than their prodigious talent and ability, I was impressed by the motivation, the commitment and dedication of these young people. They obviously enjoyed making music. They created opportunities for themselves, arranged and composed their own music, and rehearsed pieces for the sheer joy of participating in something special. This ‘X’ factor was missing at the school I attended, and I felt quite sad for my young self although, in my case, the hole was more than adequately filled by my local music centre and scholarship scheme.
As I listened to my son perform, I was filled with a fierce pride, and a rock-solid conviction that he was ABSOLUTELY in the right school for him.
I was unwise enough to get into a twitter spat with some bleeding heart, leftist, grammar-school-denigrating, socialist zealot the other day, who was SOOO disparaging about the CHILDREN who attend grammar schools that I might have gone a little beast-mode. He attacked the students, calling them ‘nerdy, self-satisfied geeks’, and attacked me for allowing the class divide to widen by sending my child to a grammar school.
I realise that there are huge issues facing schools, especially those in socially deprived areas, and those suffering catastrophic funding cuts, but no one can persuade me that I should somehow use my own children to prove a political point, or to salve my conscience.
All children are different. Different children thrive in different schools. I did not send my son to this particular school BECAUSE it was a grammar school – he is there because it suits him. He was a puzzle piece that fit perfectly.
My daughter hasn’t chosen her secondary school yet, and we are approaching this with a completely clean slate. We’re doing the rounds of school visits right now. She is an individual, and our duty as parents is to find a school that suits HER – a school that suits her personality, her work ethic; a school she feels comfortable in; a school with priorities she can support and that will, in turn, support her, wholeheartedly.
And as for me… can I let go? Can I stop picking at my school days like a scab that keeps bleeding?
I suppose I can. After all, I learned to get on with people from all walks of life. I learned to be diplomatic and socially aware. I learned that working hard and motivating yourself is your own responsibility. I learned that boys are easier to get on with than girls. (Wait. I already knew that.)
I DIDN’T attend a school where the teachers are called ‘masters’ and wear billowy cloaks. I DIDN’T attend a school where you were called by your surname and teachers threw blackboard rubbers at troublemakers. But I still got my A levels, still went to a good university, and more importantly, I have balance and perspective in my life experience.
I don’t regret NOT going to the selective girls’ grammar school when I had the chance. Because I’m pretty sure, now I think about it, that I’d have been a misfit there too.
Feeling a bit mutinous today.
I cannot help feeling that we females have drawn the short straw, physiologically speaking.
I seem to cycle from feeling rather fabulous, to feeling like the back end of a broken horse on a regular basis – a cycle that I guess, on closer inspection, would probably be roughly monthly.
Here is much-abridged list of the crap things about being a woman:
1. Having to wear high heels. If you’re short, like me, and married to a VERY tall man, you have to wear heels, even in the house. Otherwise I’m talking to his navel.
2. Having to wear makeup if you don’t want to make random toddlers cry when you’re out and about.
3. Having people assume you’re rubbish at driving when you’re not.
4. Having a hopeless sense of direction, however.
5. Being deemed too large to bare my belly in my 20s. Being too stretchmarked to bare my belly in my 30s. Being a bit too mutton to bare my belly in my 40s. (Why do you think I live HERE in the UK?? No belly-baring necessary…though try telling the locals that.)
6. Needing to sleep until about 10.30am in order to feel remotely human.
7. Being at the mercy of your hormones until you die.
8. Having to carry a handbag that weighs roughly the same as a large dog. And then ALSO having to carry your family’s bits and pieces too, whilst being expected to produce tissues, plasters, safety pins and sellotape at the drop of a hat.
9. Being expected to look smart in a strapless dress at posh events, when you’re freezing and you’d rather be wearing fleece pyjamas.
10. Being described as ‘feisty’ or ‘unusually intelligent’ if you have an opinion on politics, science or philosophy.
11. Pregnancy, labour, birth, and postnatal depression.
12. Periods. Period.
Don’t get all huffy and offended if you disagree with me. This is just my point of view, from where I stand in my shoes. My very high heeled, pinchy shoes.
#11 is the big one, though.
#11 is the one that I STILL feel resentful about - over a decade later.
I look back at my first birth – an underwhelming experience, in terms of the ‘care’ I received. After I laboured for many hours, and produced a huge baby in the middle of the night, Hubby was packed off home, where he got a good night’s sleep in a comfortable kingsize bed all to himself (ooh! I’m still fuming), and I was shown to a single bed in a cramped ward, already occupied with crying babies and crying new mothers. My baby was swaddled and dumped unceremoniously next to me in a bassinet, and I was left to my own devices.
I almost shouted after the nurse, “You can’t leave me here! You can’t trust me with this…this BABY. I’ve never even HELD a baby before! I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m tired! Don’t leeeeave meeeee!”
He cried on and off during the night, and I didn’t get a single minute of sleep. After labouring for hours and hours, and turning myself inside out, and literally ruining my body for ever??
No one told me what to do in the morning. I felt as if my insides would fall out if I tried to stand up, so I lay in bed waiting for someone to come and talk to me. I waited for hours.
By the time someone finally came over to my bed, apparently breakfast was over.
“You were supposed to go to the dining hall, pushing your baby with you, if you wanted something to eat,” she snapped crossly.
So. After labouring for hours, pushing out a baby, and then getting not a wink of sleep, I also didn’t get any breakfast either.
Very, VERY shabby.
The second experience with baby number 2 was even worse, because I was sent home whilst still dangerously anaemic.
Why are women expected to function normally after such trauma?? Not only function normally, but achieve MORE than normal, in fact – breastfeed, for example. Easy, right? Release a bosom, wave the baby in vicinity of the bosom, it feeds. Right?
Wrong. It isn’t easy. It’s physically and psychologically challenging, the demand is never-ending, and the sense of responsibility is crushing. It hurts like daggers if you get it wrong. It hurts even when you get it right. And if you ever have the misfortune of having to feed your baby when you have mastitis, then you have been to hell and back.
Some women never manage it, and are made to feel like failures - and whether you breastfed or not, your body will have changed irrevocably by the time your baby is weaned. Fair? I don’t think so.
I will never have a full pension, because I had the audacity to stay at home and look after my own children, rather than earn just enough to pay someone else to do it.
If I stay at home when Hubby is out, then that’s just expected. If Hubby stays at home when I’m out, then he’s ‘babysitting’ and ‘isn’t he good?’ (*Other people’s comments – not his)
Billions of women are powerless, while a bunch of men sit in a room and decide what we can do with our bodies, decide whether sanitary products are ‘luxury’ items, and decide whether abortions should be punished (not the men, of course. Just the women).
I never used to feel angry about being a woman. But now that I have a daughter, and I’m desperate for her to grow up in a world where she isn’t going to be thwarted by a glass ceiling; where her self-worth is not dependent on her appearance; where she can be proud of her skills and demand to be heard; I realise that a little anger is a good thing – a steady flame with enough heat to remind me to fight for what is right, and ensure that I never accept injustice with a bowed head.
What is fear?
I thought I knew fear.
I thought it was the feeling that creeps over you in the dark, as you lie with your eyes screwed shut because you’re suddenly horribly sure that a white shape will coalesce in the corner and drift towards you.
I thought it was that lurch as your stomach sinks swiftly into your boots when you realise that you forgot to do your homework, and a detention is heading your way.
I thought fear was the tension in the back of your neck, as you walk in the dark in a deserted car park.
Fear is the horror of imagined events, the anticipation of the things you most dread. It’s an inbuilt mechanism to protect us from ourselves; it stops (most of) us taking unreasonable risks; it prolongs our chances of survival in an unpredictable world.
Just as we start to realise that monsters aren’t real, that thunder doesn’t harm you, and dreams are just dreams… just as we start to break free of our fear… we have children of our own. And that’s when we REALLY find out what fear is.
I mentioned in a previous blog how I began to suffer from PTSD which manifested itself by flashing before my eyes graphic, horrendous images of catastrophes involving my children. I realised the true, crushing extent of the myriad awful possibilities out there in a way I never had before. I suddenly understood why some parents are unable to let go of their children, to give them the independence they need, to release them into the wild to fend for themselves.
And yet, now that my children are approaching adolescence, I can see that stifling them would also be a catastrophe – and a REAL one of my own making; not a megrim or a waking nightmare.
The worst thing about fear is its cunning ability to cause the worst to happen. It preys on your insecurities and changes your behaviour. For example, if you were terrified that your child could be run over whilst crossing the road on their journey to school, you might decide that you’d rather walk them to school yourself. You might believe that your presence there somehow mitigates any possible disaster. You might believe you are the talisman, the extraordinary parent, casting a force shield over your precious child, sending Fate scurrying back into the cracks between worlds.
Of course, you’ve fallen into the very trap that Fear set out for you at the beginning. You’ve protected your child to the extent that they DON’T KNOW HOW to cross the road safely themselves. And it’s this very lack of experience and knowledge that may, one day, cause them to suffer the disaster you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.
I once knew a girl who always looked sad. She was sad because her parents wouldn’t let her do ANYTHING. She wasn’t allowed out with friends – in fact, she hardly had any friends. Her parents had decided that friends were too unpredictable. She explained that her parents had eloped when they were 16, and had caused a huge rift in their respective families. They were so scared she would do the same that they wrapped her up in cotton wool, locked her in the house (literally), fed her hypochondria and neuroses, and made her very ill and unhappy.
The last thing I heard, before I fell out of touch with her, was that her situation had become so intolerable that, aged 17, she ran away with an older man, got married, and became estranged from her parents.
Too, too inevitable.
I remember being constantly assailed by fear when my boy started school. He’d always been a little awkward socially, and didn’t seem to encourage other people to interact with him. We knew he was warm, caring, sensitive, kind and funny, but we could see that he didn’t always come across that way. He didn’t connect with the life-saving, friendship-making, time-filling football culture like the other boys (and some girls), hence the trepidation every time I dropped him at school. I’d walk away wishing I could stay and help him with his new life.
Surprisingly perhaps, things went well. He enjoyed school. He made friends – friends who possibly had to make a little more effort than he made in return (!) but good friends, none-the-less. All my fears seemed to be totally unfounded, and I began to relax.
Then, about 3 months in, he came home under a burdensome raincloud, worry etched into his face, and pain in his eyes. Instantly, I felt my heart pounding and sweat breaking out at my hairline.
He wouldn’t tell me at first what was wrong. I had to physically restrain myself from badgering him about it. I told him that all problems became small problems when they were shared, and I’d be ready to listen whenever he was ready to talk.
Eventually he confessed (I’m even using the word ‘confessed’ as if he’d done something SHAMEFUL) that he had been verbally abused and pushed and laughed at by a boy in his class. The boy, notorious for his uncontrolled behaviour, his blistering vocabulary of swear words, and his violent family history, had been causing problems for other children too; but as my son told me about his day, his little face so despondent, I could feel heat rising in my face and ears.
Pure, primitive mother-rage.
I had never felt rage like it – not on my own account. That any child could be heartless and crass enough to hurt MY BOY – a boy who had never said or done a hurtful thing in his LIFE!! And what about the parents, huh?? Sitting on their asses, I bet, rather than teaching their child any values or compassion! Wasn’t this the rot that was attacking the very spine of society??
I knew, academically, that I was reacting, and that I couldn’t make any decisions about what to do until I had calmed down enough to respond instead. When I was no longer angry, I realised that focusing on the offending BOY was a waste of time. There was nothing at all I could do about him – he was not my responsibility. He was also only 5 years old – I couldn’t jump to conclusions about him and his family based on his behaviour. I felt loath to go into school to complain about the situation. It wasn’t bullying – yet. It wasn’t sustained and ongoing, and a reprimand from the teacher might exacerbate the boy’s frustration, and really focus his anger towards my son.
I did the only thing I felt would help.
I enrolled my son in a course of karate lessons.
I decided that taking part in a physical activity (which wasn’t outside, where he wouldn’t get dirty or wet, wearing a clean white uniform) would boost his confidence, and change the way he moved and presented himself. I hoped it might empower him to know he could look after himself. I thought he would probably appreciate the discipline and the pleasing sequence of moves, AND as a half-Japanese boy, he’d be able to master the technical terms quickly, and might even relate to the principles of karate.
I realised it was more of a long-term solution, but it made us both feel so much better, knowing that we were doing something practical to help deal with what life might throw at him.
It worked too. My son started to look more assured and confident. The other boy lost interest in tormenting him. Things went back to normal.
I suppose I’m trying to say that ‘fear’ is only conceptual. It is only a feeling based on a number of bad things that COULD happen. I find that the only way of dealing effectively with fear is to disarm it with pragmatic action. Do something to strengthen your position. Do something to make the fear smaller. Channel nervous energy and deflect the anxiety. This way, we broaden our horizons and create positivity where there was none. We don’t deny ourselves experiences or lock ourselves away, and we don’t allow fear to break faith with our beliefs or principles.
Next to tackle: my fear of flying…
The ‘R’ word didn’t really exist hundred years ago, because this issue was a way of life.
It has gradually, FAR too slowly, become part of a global consciousness, but is now a term flung about with reckless abandon, and I’m not sure everyone really understands what it means.
The ‘R’ word is divisive and contentious, because people don’t agree on its definition.
I am, of course, talking about ‘racism’.
As a foreigner, living in the UK, maybe I should assume that I can talk about racism with some kind of authority. But I have been living with my head in the sand for decades, simply sad and puzzled that the colour of someone’s skin can cause such violent and irrational hatred in some people.
Many years ago, I discovered something very interesting about how my mother views the world.
We were talking about one of my classmates she had noticed at a school event, and I was trying to ascertain who she was referring to.
“What did he look like?” I asked.
“Hmmm. He looked kind… but maybe not particularly intelligent,” she replied.
I laughed. “I mean, what colour hair did he have?”
She shook her head and shrugged.
“Was he tall, short? Dark, fair? Were his eyes blue or brown? What?” I asked, starting to feel a little exasperated.
It transpired that she couldn’t remember ONE SINGLE THING about this boy’s physiological appearance. She described his character. She described the way he moved. She likened him to a deer. She said she imagined he’d be patient with young children, and would probably grow up to be a vegetarian.
“How could you look at this guy, and NOT SEE his hair or notice how tall he was?” I asked, frustrated.
She thought for a minute, then said slowly, “In Japan, everyone looks the same. You can’t describe someone by saying they have black hair, brown eyes, and they’re not very tall. You could be talking about any of the 500 children in my school. So you stop seeing those external qualities. You notice their personalities.”
We looked at each other, suddenly aware of a vast difference in the way we each viewed the world.
And wasn’t her way better?? Wasn’t that a valuable skill? To be able to see past the external features – the features we have no control over, like the colour of our hair or eyes, the colour of our skin, whether our hair is straight or curly, whether our eyes turn up or down at the corners, whether our noses are flat or hooked or snub?
Once we see past those irrelevant trappings, wouldn’t we become aware of the human being within? The shape of someone’s soul, spirit, and character? We’d see their principles, their beliefs, their habits, ethics and tendencies. Shouldn’t we all have the right to be defined by what’s on the inside? We’d stop making assumptions and snap judgements based on a person’s outward appearance, and start bothering to find out what they think? Isn’t THINKING the fundamental difference that sets us apart from most species??
I think it’s important to remember that racism and stereotyping are not the same thing. Yes, it can be irritating to have people jump to conclusions about you based on your colour, but it’s not necessarily racism.
When people assume I have been playing the violin since I was 3, that’s not racism. When people assume I can’t speak English, that’s not racism. When people assume I’m Chinese, that’s not racism.
I have learned not to see a fight in every comment or situation – life is too short to seek battles, and most of the time, no harm is intended. When these presumptions become spiteful, when they are used as an attack, when they prevent fair appraisal and equal opportunity…then it becomes racism.
Only once, have I really felt the sting of utterly unfounded, uncalled-for prejudice.
This happened in the very early days of my teaching career. I was interested in a job advertised in a nearby school. As instructed, I phoned to ask for an application form and register my interest. My phone call happened to be answered by the head teacher himself, who welcomed my application and was particularly delighted to hear that I had a music specialism. He was VERY friendly – almost flirty - his manner exuberantly warm…right up until the point he asked for my name and address.
When I gave my name, he said, “Oh! Is that…er… Italian?” with the air of giving me one last chance for redemption.
“No. It’s Japanese.”
Instantly, the temperature dropped 20 degrees. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see icicles forming on the telephone. He couldn’t get rid of me quickly enough. He was abrupt and rude.
The application form never arrived in the post. Must have been ‘lost’…
Now, I realise that, in the big scheme of things, my experience was very mild – no one broke any bones, no one was killed and countries were not subjugated. You might remind me that people get beaten up EVERY DAY in the name of racism.
Beating people up for their colour though… is that really racism? Should that kind of mindless thuggery, no more cognisant or mindful than the brutal instinct of an enraged boar trampling on another animal, be validated by an ‘ism’? Doesn’t true racism require a degree of knowledge, of deliberate disparagement, of belief in your own superiority, and an insidious need to undermine others to further your own cause?
Do not misunderstand me. I absolutely abhor discrimination of any kind. I think it is tunnel visioned, selfish, mean-spirited, arrogant and, above all, unintelligent to discriminate due to gender, race, religion or sexual preference.
I just think it is important, especially now, not to see racism around EVERY corner. Perceiving everything as a racism issue is, in a weird way, a form of racism in itself.
Having the patience and intellectual ability to separate the tangled threads that are often muddled in with racism, obscuring the real picture, is a skill that we all need to cultivate in ourselves and in our children if we want the human race to go forward together.
I, for one, am going to try and adopt my mother’s way of seeing people – to look past their skins and into the real person within.
P.S Unsurprisingly enough, my mother is hilariously bad at playing this game...
Just returned from a school parents’ evening – the first one at our son’s new school.
We came away glowing with pride and residual warmth after hearing the teachers’ earnest and heartfelt endorsement of our son’s achievements. We congratulated him effusively as we walked to the car. He smiled shyly at us both and said, “I think it’s just good genetic material.”
Aw. Bless him.
If that were true, Hubby would be better at Science, and I’d be a lot better at Maths.
But it has made me think. How much of successful parenting is luck? How much is genetic? And how much is external influence? Or is it none of the above, dependent instead on an unplottable, mysterious equation, and a million delicate inter-related factors?
Probably the latter. After all, we have two children and we are not the same parents to both children. Our first had our concentrated and completely neurotic attention for 3 years. Our second was brought up, not just by us, but by her brother too. Even now, they relate to each other in a way that we can’t relate to either of them – they speak a special sibling language that we will never be able to learn.
Our approach to parenting wasn’t really an approach at all. We read the “right” books and magazines during my pregnancy, we tried to be prepared and have principles… but we were completely in the dark to be honest. Neither Hubby nor I had any cousins or friends with babies. We didn’t even particularly like children. We had no idea what being a parent was going to feel like, and I for one didn’t WANT to know. I just wanted to take each day as it came. We didn’t even find out the sex of either baby.
I look back now, and realise that I couldn’t have chanced upon a better attitude – I think our lack of expectation was the only thing that kept us sane. The thing no one tells you about parenthood is the intense rollercoaster lurch from ecstatic highs to utter lying-on-the-floor, bottomless despair – sometimes within seconds. And like a roller coaster, it’s hard to tell whether that expression on your face is laughter or horror. No single day is predictable. Children defy your neat boxes, stereotyping and generalising – which is exactly as it should be.
As a new mum, I made it my mission to DO something every day. When your baby wakes up, all jolly and full of beans and raring to go at 5.45am, it’s a loooong day. I used to strap him into the babybjorn, walk around the neighbourhood for miles, and then come back for a slap up breakfast, and it would STILL only be 7.30am!! Giving the day structure by planning an outing was essential – I felt as if there was a snarling pack of ‘PND’ wolves barely held at bay behind a flimsy door. Going out, seeing people, showing him the sights, helped to keep those wolves away for a few hours.
We were lucky to live in the most fabulous city, where museums were plentiful and free, where the docks and bridges were stunning, where quirky city farms and their amazingly eccentric cafes were perfect for gardenless people like us to ramble about in. Walking to the library was an outing (and also free – we were on one very small income at the time) - we could stay as long as we wanted and read to our heart’s content.
I made good ‘mum’ friends, and we met religiously at least once a week for lunch, taking turns to host. We’d each bring something – a homemade loaf of bread, homous, cheese, salad, and the host would often make soup or pasta – and we’d set it all up on the dining table. Then, we spread blankets on the floor, arrange the babies on the floor, and let them goggle and dribble at each other while we ate, laughed and talked about our tendency to burst into tears for no reason, or our sudden inability to jump on a trampoline without weeing ourselves a little.
This kind of interaction ensured that BOTH baby and I were sufficiently stimulated and happy.
One memorable day, there were no scheduled meetings. Everyone seemed to be away visiting family or on holiday, and the museums were all closed on Mondays, as were the city farms. It had been another early morning with a 5 as the first digit and, although we’d done as much as we could in the house, it was still only 8.30am, and we were both fretful.
I decided, rather rashly, to take Baby Son to a huge shopping centre 40 minutes away. I had visions of strolling through the mall, window shopping, exclaiming over the centrepiece fountain in the food court, and having tea and cake as he dimpled charmingly at passing old ladies. What could go wrong?
A few hours later, I was standing in the rain, actually screaming at the baby buggy which had suddenly lost its ability to collapse - looking like the world’s craziest, scariest mum-zombie. How had things come to this??
It had only taken a few minutes of pushing Baby Son around the mall to realise that my plan was a pile of crap. I’d somehow overlooked the unfortunate fact that he didn’t like ceilings. If we were outside and he was gazing at the sky, well, we could walk forever. However, the second we went under cover, inside any building, he would screw up his face, squirm and whimper. This forgotten nugget scuppered my plans.
I persevered for a while, but he began to escalate; I began to walk comically fast, hoping the resultant breeze on his face would somehow distract him. Eventually I gave up altogether, and pushed him out into the car park, whereupon it started to rain.
Proper, p*ssing down, West Country rain.
He began to wail. I fumbled at his seat belt which was slick with rain, swearing right in his face as I struggled to get him out of the push chair and transfer him to his car seat. By now, he was screaming at the top of his voice, and arching his back, making it almost impossible to fasten his car seat belt. But I managed it. All I needed now – apart from a poke in the eye and a lobotomy – was to start the car engine and DRIVE. This would soothe him instantly.
But when I ran to the boot of the car, and tried to collapse the buggy, it wouldn’t budge. I raged and shrieked and swore at the bloody thing, pushing the button and twisting the mechanism until I had blisters, but it was stuck fast. It wouldn’t fit in the boot unless collapsed.
I was out there in the drumming rain for fully 10 minutes, hearing my poor baby’s wails decrescendo to a dreary, bereft sobbing, while I wrestled with the buggy till my hands bled.
Dripping wet, shivering with cold and frustration, crying with fury, I had one of those black moments of clarity – I saw myself from the outside, and it was pathetic and pitiful. How had I gone from being an enthusiastic professional and talented musician, to THIS?? This bedraggled, weeping, hopeless wretch, whose idea of parenthood was driving her kid to a shopping mall, pushing him around for 20 panicked minutes and then putting him through the whole car seat trauma in the pouring rain?? It was as if the buggy was delivering some sort of karmic retribution for my poor decision making.
I half laughed/sobbed. At that moment, the buggy’s mechanism clicked smoothly into place, and it collapsed innocently to the ground. Still laughing with an edge of hysteria, I hefted the buggy into the boot, opened the driver’s door and squelched into my seat. When I looked around at my poor long-suffering baby, he was fast asleep. I continued to laugh, stuffing my sleeve in my mouth so I didn’t wake him up.
He slept all the way home. He obligingly stayed asleep while I changed my drenched clothes and put the kettle on. When he finally woke up, his long-lashed eyes fixed on my face, he gave me the sunniest cherubic smile, and was the most cheerful, patient little man for the rest of the day.
These sorts of memories have to be filed where they belong – under ‘random’ perhaps, or ‘awful but couldn’t be helped’.
Sometimes we are fabulous parents, and sometimes we are not. Sometimes we happen to give our children exactly what they need at exactly the right time; sometimes every single phrase that comes out from our mouths is WRONG. Learning to accept that this is the way of parenthood, learning to accept the bad memories with retrospective humour and wisdom is the only way to stay sane – to keep trying.
Yes, parenting is a non-stop rollercoaster ride. There are times you’re sure you’d be able to think if you could just GET OFF FOR A MINUTE.
But then there’s the other, shiny side of the coin. Like today. Like the rather gorgeous fact that our son was praised to high heaven by his teachers… and he tried to give us the credit.
Afterword: Ha. I was looking for an image of the Buggery Pushchair on Google, and found the exact make and model - on a news article informing the public about their safety recall due to faulty mechanisms!