How bad could it be? muses Mum

The worst thing about being a Mum is the amount of bossiness and judicial involvement required to try and maintain a remotely civilised household. I sometimes fantasise about kicking back with a big fat cigar in my mouth in a massive armchair (the type that massages your whole body) and saying to the children ‘Do your worst’ with a smile that would rival Hannibal’s from the A team. What would be the worse that could happen?

I’m thinking along the lines of William Golding’s The Lord of The Flies, culminating in a ritual where I am held aloft as my children chant ‘kill the pig, cut her throat’. Then London riot version 2: out in the country, would commence.

Or I might be pleasantly surprised…. how bad would they let their rooms get before thinking ‘perhaps I better tidy up’? Would they start to think twice about chucking milk on the floor and upending a plate full of crumbs once they realised they would have to clean the mess up themselves. Would baby boy finally develop a self-preservation instinct or would he accidentally kill himself without me catching him or shouting ‘no’ for the hundredth time.

I am not naturally a bossy person and I am not that keen at taking charge so that bit of motherhood I find hard but nethertheless I have to do it for the sake of society…..

I am blogging for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Teenager at eight

Its the start of the summer holidays and the beginnings of many day trips. I take my mum, baby boy and daughter to the zoo and baby boy takes along his toy giraffe and monkey in anticipation of meeting the real thing. He gets to see no less than six giraffe, one tiger, four zebra, two tapir, fifteen flamingo, three meerkats, two camels, lots of birds and endangered species i can’t recall their names, but very cute and rare.

While going round the zoo in the heat of the sun, i did notice one or two people get a little bit tetchy and grumpy, namely my eight going on eighteen year old daughter. She is having sleep problems,so my husband and I have enlisted the help of Bach’s flower remedies in an attempt to help wind her down. Clearly it did not work last night.

I know at times, my mum can be a little irritating, but my daughter just could not tolerate her nuances full-stop. It was exhausting to keep nagging her to be more polite and to stop her bossing us about where next to go and when she would be getting ice-cream. She was also being argumentative with my mother and, as my mum got more annoyed, my daughter removed herself more and more from making eye contact and verbal contact with her granny.   My mum then interrogated me as to what could be done and why she was behaving like this as it was extraordinary. In a hot, bothered and tired moment, I did what a lot of Mums no doubt do and blamed my husband’s gene pool.

 My mum seemed satisfied with this answer saying ‘I wasn’t like that at eight’. But kids are getting older and the goalposts changed – i just dont want her to experience the teenage attitude problems too early…..

Only another six weeks to go…..

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Loving Looming

My daughter, like many children under the age of 17 (or even older), have been sucked into the new craze that is rainbow loom. She had begged me for ages to get one, but I dont believe in buying things for the sake of it, there has to be good reason (e.g. birthday, christmas, reward for something impressive etc). In the end my friend bought her a loom and band set in a very belated birthday present (about 5 months late).

Then I kept losing my tablet as the loom addiction took hold and my daughter sought you tube clip demos of all the different styles. I kept hearing the sound of an American girl’s voice through the house as my daughter followed the instructions, “what you wanna do is take the band, then you wanna get your hook and…”

All sorts of colour creations were spun and baby boy became the in-house model, mainly because she could make bracelets quickly as his wrists are so small.

I left her to enjoy it for herself, never thinking to give it a go….until last night. My daughter showed me how to do a fishtail and now I am hooked.

My mum bought more bands today and I am now browsing you tube to see what can be created. Ankle bracelets, rings,charms, you name it, I want to give it a go.

We are off to Camp Bestival next week so I am keen to produce a load of funky bracelets ready for then.

I think, really, I am still eight years old and what’s great is that my eight year old is not old enough yet to be embarrassed by her Mum joining in. We are now a team of loomers.

This blog is for Unicef.Thanks for reading.

Private Baby Benjamin

Now I am nearly a stay at home mum, i am thinking of what i can do to increase exercise with baby boy tagging along.

I have already tried interval running, which involves me pushing baby boy in the buggy (not one of those expensive jogging buggies, just my bog standard mclaren). I run and push for 1 minute, then walk for 2, although baby boy makes a good personal trainer, nagging me as soon as his buggy slows down.

I have been powerhooping once a week, with baby boy sat in the buggy in the corner of our village hall passing quiet judgement on us ladies spinning around. He even joins in for the stretching bit.

So with a bit more spare time, i am going to embark on ‘boot camp’. This concept has been popular for some time but i have yet to give it a go. Like most people, i will do more if pushed so figure it will be a good, if slightly painful experience. The boot camp lady will also let you bring your child, but quite what they do while you are being put through your paces is a mystery. I did notice at the school summer fair that the pre-schoolers of boot camp mums did do particularly well in the under fives race. So watch this space…..

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks or reading.

 

A very British School Summer Fair

Things that dont normally happen at your average school summer fair:

1) you win the bid for a pair of Alexander Mcqueen Puma sneakers supposedly once worn by Miley Cyrus (they must have been worn for namoseconds as they were not remotely cheesy). My daughter is thrilled to have won them (she will have to wait a couple of years for her feet to grow) and I was semi-humiliated as it was announced how much I bid (after a glass of Pimms and mild sunstroke). I laughed it off saying it was an early Christmas present and I figured at least the money (£70) is going to the school. My daughter seemed more than happy to have them as her Christmas present, although I wonder how she will still feel about that come December. Before i bid for them I was initially disappointed as I selfishly thought i could have them for myself, but when i discovered they were size ‘4’ it then dawned on me that I have a daughter who is showing the beginnings of shoe worship like her mother. In fact she has an effortless style that i never seemed to be able to carry off when I was eight, probably because my dad was too busy enlarging my girth with frequent trips to McDonalds.

Things that normally happen:

1) Gossip and the discovery that any news from you has already raced its way through the grapevine so that you have nothing to add (except put a few facts straight)

2) Getting a bit too competitive in the Mums race – I tried not to care that i didnt get a medal for coming third (i will wear trainers next time)

3) drinking a bit too much pimms

4) Moaning about senior management decisions, in this instance changing the school logo to…..wait for it……a child’s drawing of a tree (how original) to add insult to injury it looks more like a propeller with green blades

5) Just when you successfully had a clear out of toys, books and bears for the fair donations pile, you end up walking out of there with an armful of more toys, books and bears

6) The home movie that you will watch over and over again when your son is older of his first ever race (he was too comfortable to stand up for the get set, ready, go part and came in second to last – but was one of the cutest on the track)

7) Two children with way too much sugar in their bloodstream

8) The need to lie down in a darkened room, plus lots of paracetamol afterwards

But its all good in the mummy hood.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Happiness is perfect yet perfect isnt happy

I read an article by actress and stand-up comedian Francesca Martinez. It was brilliant and inspired me to order her book ‘What the f*** is normal?’ It also made me re-evaluate some of my views, particularly relating to parenting disabled children. I had always thought that parenting a disabled child overwhelming, although I could never have brought myself to abort a baby based on a predicted disability forecast by health professionals – a predicament that would have no doubt finished our marriage. My husband’s views on bringing up a disabled child are in contrary to his own childhood, which was marred by severe hearing loss due to brain damage.

Francesca looks at it from a different angle, ‘Most parents-to-be still fear that their beloved Newborn will turn out to be -oh, the horror – disabled. My personal fear is that my future child will turn out to be unhappy. I don’t care what he or she can or can’t do, how they talk or walk or how many fingers and toes they have. Because I don’t think that is a good indicator of happiness. Forget aborting babies because of the suffering they might endure. What about the suffering they will create? Wouldn’t it make sense to develop a test to check for the arms-dealer gene, the advertising executive gene, the corporate-overlord gene, or the gossip-magazine editor gene? That would eliminate quite a lot of suffering.’

I wish I had read Francesca’s article in The Guardian before I passed judgement on my daughter’s maths test mark. She described the scale of marks to me with 6 being the top score. I cant pretend that I was disappointed she had got a 3, they then get a sub mark in the form of letters, with A being the lowest and D being the top. Her total mark was 3B. I couldn’t hold back this disappointment and said that I didn’t  think her mark was ‘that good’ and that if she wanted to get into boarding school (her wish not mine) she was going to need to get a 5 or 6. What made me suddenly turn into a mother with the support and encouragement skills of an amoeba? Why did I turn into one of those pushy mothers who focus so much on grades they don’t recognise their daughter’s anorexia and anxiety attacks because of this unnecessary pressure to perform. Most parents say they just want their child to be happy, but also gets lots of qualifications and a high-earning job, the stress of which will put them into an early grave? I managed to halt the destructive path I was proceeding down when she explained to me that she had done her best and I later described it to Daddy in front of her as a ‘good’ mark, to which he said, ‘well that’s OK, it’s average’ gah! So I quickly added that no doubt Mummy and Daddy would have scored a 0 or a 1 if we had taken the same test at her age. Then I thought about the research that found those  who doubt their own maths abilities pass this down to their children. A fine case of how not to support the school life of an 8 year old. Next time I will apply duck tape to our mouths.

So tests are meant to give the teachers a steer on how the child is progressing and what additional support the child needs. I just wish teachers would give parents a steer  as to how we handle the news of the scores and whether we do nothing, praise regardless or encourage to try harder.

I agree with Francesca that kids and adults should just aim to be happy, so why as parents are we so f***in obsessed with perfection, when we are anything but.

I am blogging for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

Didis and dodos

Every now and then you come across a person who fits their stereotype as neatly as a white upper middle class conservative. It was at a country club, surprise, surprise.

I don’t frequent country clubs, I neither have the budget nor the inclination, but, as most of my life experiences have come about, I was offered a freebie visit through a family friend who happened to be going with her friend ‘Didi’ after school. As it turned out Didi had a daughter the same age as my friend’s daughter and a boy the same age as my own daughter. I met Didi soaking wet in a swimming costume with a frill around her hips (which tend to be worn strangely by apple shaped women who wear it at an attempt to detract attention away from the bottom and thigh area when in fact they may as well have a sign pointing to below the hip saying ‘look here’). But don’t let the cutesy costume fool you from the Didis of this world, one look at that her steely glaze with unflinching direct eye contact told me that:

A) she probably rides horses

B) most likely to have been privately educated

C) is going to be a tad bossy and domineering as many of the ‘pushy middle class mums’ tend to be

At this point I had to scold the little voice in my head with ‘dont judge a book by its cover, she hasn’t even said a word and already she is in a box’. “Hello I’m Didi, nice to meet you, the boys are in the pool already, lets get this lot in their costumes, I assume you are staying for supper, I have lots of kindles and iPad we can ‘plug the children into’ (while she haw haws over a glass of wine…… shut-up voice in my head). I smile and nod and before I know it my friend’s children and mine are ‘cluck-clucked’ to the pool by Didi. Then pool session over, in the showers and then she is going round brushing everyone’s hair with aussie miracle spray (including my daughter who loved it), sorting the seating arrangements out in the country club bar and recommending the most expensive items on the menu.

After she has got half of PC World out for the kids and got a glass of wine in hand, she then embarks on confirming my inner voice’s assumptions. “well of course I said to the teacher, the forest school route hadn’t been properly risk assessed, it was far too close to a bridleway and any rider knows a horse can spook at anything, then buck and goodness knows what could happen” (I found this scenario so far fetched that she may as well have been including in her assessment earth tremors and hurricanes. What she really meant was ‘i want to demonstrate that I am a horse person and this tenuous link is the best way I can do that). Then came assumption b) “I have my eldest down at prep school and my daughter will follow suit, you just can’t beat the class sizes”. In between utterances she was clucking round the table like a mother hen seeing to everyone’s children and paused for rather too long at something situated on my son’s chair, prompting me to look and notice he had wet his trousers as she flounces away in quiet merciless judgement. Before her posh chaos exits the room she makes some remark about her husband playing golf’ (apparently better than her first husband), how she ‘travelled the world and London’ before settling here and listened to my views on co-education with a stony expression before saying “what a funny idea”.

So stereotypically middle-class Brit was this encounter that I was half expecting someone to say ‘cut’ and finding myself mistakenly placed on the set of the next Bridget Jones movie. If this indeed had happened I would fantasise that ‘Didi’ would once again return to her actual name of ‘Diane’ and say ‘thank god that’s over, it takes effort to play the part of a point-scoring, social climbing bitch’ and then tell me how she graffitid all over the local UKIP signs.

But that would be a fictitious character.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – read about it here.

Thanks for reading.