Thursday, 10 March 2016

Pocket money or bribery?

The kids are all grown up...or at least that's what they think. Living with teenagers is a blast...not! We're in the midst of choices, exams, school changes and whatever the world can try and throw at us.

 I'm ducking it all and letting them each make their own decisions....a cop out I know, but try talking some sense into an obstreperous 15 year old who thinks gaming is a career choice and a 14 year old who believes that university is not the bee all.  And there was me thinking that in a very few short years, I'd be free of their smelly feet, the 'Perry' effect,  so that me and Mimi would have some quality time and do girly things together. It seems like Mimi has other ideas too. Apparently she asked my child free sister for ideas to make money as "Mummy won't pay pocket money". Sister was aghast and took her down to her studio where she makes all manner of crazy stuff from junk and gave her a few ideas. I'm a bit cheesed off as I thought Mimi would be my girl..but it appears she's not, she's not interested in girly stuff and seems to be intent on donning a mask and creating metal art!!

Anyway, back to the subject in hand....pocket money! In the idealised days of yore (pre-child) it as always my intention to reward any child I had with the cash once they'd completed a chore. I thought that to earn in that way would teach them the value of money and would encourage them to save for items they wanted and that it would be a great life lesson. It would teach them the basic principles of money.

That's all well and good until reality bites back. When they were younger and a lot smaller, we'd barter on chores.
Empty the dishwasher and I'll give you 50p.
Do the vacuuming -50p.
Lay the table 20p.
Mow the lawn £2
Clear the table 50p

We had a calendar and each chore had a price attached and at the end of the week we'd total up the chores and how much each one had.  It worked well for about 2 months, then they started to fight over who was doing what, they'd argue over did the most, who was earning the most. There'd be fights with forks whilst another wrestled the knives from my hands. I didn't fancy seeing an eye on the end of the fork so I made them take it in turns.

Then it stopped...completely! I couldn't get them to do anything. Then they started to negotiate more money for chores when in all honesty I thought they should be doing them anyway! They'd complain that it's slave labour and that they should join a union for exploitative child labour!  Trying to encourage them to come into the kitchen to cook was nigh on impossible. I remember peeling the potatoes and chopping up the cabbage for our dinner when I was growing up. It seems they fear the kitchen. They don't want to cook. Why should they? Mum does it all anyway. I was hoping that the bribery would make it easier for me. I hate vacuuming!

After months of trying to get them interested they didn't seem to want to earn any money after that. I couldn't exactly promise them their chance to save up for their Ferrari. They'd worked out that they'd never be able to afford the petrol....let alone the insurance! I could bribe Mimi with the promise of all the Shopkins her heart desires...but what then?

I worry for them when they leave home. They really won't have a clue, will they? BH thinks it'll all come out in the wash and they'll have to learn how to clean, how to wash their clothes and have their own rotas for the mind numbingly dull things I do on a daily basis, but they'll just do it in their own way...or not at all!

Little did I know that grandma was giving them a £5 secretly every week to do sod all!!!

How can I teach them the value of money when my own mother won't even play the game?

Saturday, 20 February 2016

War and Peace.

Cast of BBC's War and Peace - photograph Mitch Jenkins/BBC

Go on, admit it. You haven't read War and Peace, have you? I hadn't, but after the beautiful epic of the recent televised drama, I decided that I I am!  The BBC drama ended all too quickly, and by rights should've had a further 20 episodes, and that would've given me then opportunity to lust after the stunning James Norton for a few more weeks.

I'm not sure what had put me off all these years. I can't understand why I put it aside in favour of a lesser tale. I think it might have been the thought of lugging the thick tomb about that had put me off (it's seriously thick!) or maybe the thought of the flowery descriptions...and the war bit. I didn't think I'd understand it; that it might be too intellectual.  But it's not like that at all. It's bloody excellent. It's a descriptive piece, but the characters are full of life and I can see each one of them as clearly as if they were standing in front of me.  The dramatisation has helped, of course, but had I not seen it I'm not sure I would have ever picked it up. It has dialogue, which I like and it has depth.

Many say that Tolstoy was a sage, some say he was mentally ill, but you can't deny he was inspirational. His beliefs of non resistance influenced the non violent resistance movement in particular directly influencing Gandhi. After reading A letter to a Hindu and The kingdom of God is within you, Gandhi, then a lawyer in South Africa, sought advice and permission from Tolstoy to reprint the essay. How amazing is that? A writer influencing and changing the face of the world and the future! (As an aside, did you know Indira Gandhi wasn't related to Mohatma? I'm sure you do, but one story goes that her husband was actually Feroze Khan who was then adopted by Gandhi as an adult so that she could take his name along with her fathers to ensure the great dynasty. The other story is that he was Ghandy, but changed it. Who actually knows?).

Tolstoy believed that the aristocracy were a burden on the poor and lived his latter life in a spiritual development.  His wife wasn't too happy and apparently the family werent too enthralled by his beliefs or his writings. The sad thing was that he was embarking on a pilgrimage (to get away from his family?) but fell seriously ill enroute to wherever and ended up in Astapovo where the train had stopped and passed away in the station masters home.  I read a short story by Rose Tremain a while back, fictionalising the account of the incident.

So there you have it. Tolstoy has been feted as the greatest writer of all times but he was also game changer. He's also at the top of the UK best seller list for the first time ever!

I bought War and Peace in the book format. After studying the preface, the notes and the 1000's of forewords that accompanied it I decided that I'd be better off downloading it to my kindle as the typescript was seriously titchy! I needed reading glasses and I don't use them!

I'm a third of my way through reading it and have barely put it down. Even the war stuff was interesting. Read'll be pleasantly surprised!

The other day, Finn asked me what I was reading. When I told him, he laughed and said "Mimi said she'd heard you were reading this great new book called 'Leo's Toy Store' by Warren Peace. She wondered why you were reading a kids book!"

Friday, 29 January 2016

No regrets.

Standing at the crossroads of life, do you ever wonder where that other path may have taken you? You know...the one that you stood at, looked down and thought '"Nah...I don't like the look of it"?  Do you regret the choices you've made or worry about those missed opportunities that might have made the life you live so very different?

I'm pretty happy with my lot. Last night I did something that I don't regret. Generally, I'm someone who always looks forward, tries not to look back and gets on with the task in hand. I don't look over my shoulder, and I know that the grass is never greener on the other side or if it looks it, it's usually the same as the grass on this side. It's all grass.

I have no idea what made me do what I did and I had no intention of doing anything about it. I looked on Facebook for an old boyfriend...and found him!!! Well...I found his profile anyway.

It took me back to those days when I was young, pretty and , well, a little bit shallow. Yep...I admit there were times when  I thought a pretty boy would look good on my arm.  Who wouldn't? I could never shag an ugly man.

I met Jamie at a party. I didn't fancy going, as I knew most of the availables would be gay, so'd be a waste of my time (see...shallow!)  but my friend had promised that we'd hit the town later if we got bored. If I remember rightly, I was standing on the terrace and I got this feeling. You know, that feeling, when you know someone is staring at you. There was this guy standing by the wall, nursing a beer.  He was tall, blond, tanned, and incredibly good looking. He just had to be gay. He waved me over. I ignored him.  I'd had enough, so turned to Kerry and suggested we made tracks. We were saying our goodbyes, when he grabbed my arm and said "Och eye hen, ye shud meet me fer a wee dram tmorra". At least I think that's what he said.

I had nothing to lose so I met him, the next day...and he wasn't gay. He was Scottish. He was vain, arrogant but oh so beautiful. Getting ready to go out he'd spend more time in front of the mirror than me. He liked women as much as I liked men and would happily engage in flirting and I'd see him writing his number on the arms of girls we'd just met. I spent a weird year in a very odd relationship with him.  We never really talked about our relationship or what we wanted from each other. It ended. Well, it kind of fizzled out. Then I met BH, so less complicated and so right.

Looking at Jamie's profile, I knew it was him immediately. I checked through his pictures and there he was as the young guy I knew. I can see he hasn't aged too well, but we all get older, don't we and I
can't hold that against him. He has a daughter, but he's not married. Maybe he was, but he isn't now. He has his hair, and maybe his teeth. He's slimmer than he was, almost skinny. I checked out his friends list. It was full of women, young, older, sexy women so I guess he still likes them. I don't  regret looking for him. I'm pleased that I found him. It put a daydream to bed and he's has awful taste in sofas!

You won't be surprised to know I didn't add him!! 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Competitive parenting

We've seen and heard it all before at the school gate, but there appears to be a phenomenon where lots of my friends congratulate their children on Facebook.  Nothing wrong with that.  It's nice to be proud of your little sprogs, but it's beginning to make me feel that my little and large sproglets are on a hiding to nothing.  Really, it makes me feel a bit sick in my mouth when I open up my FB page of a morning and has found that my frenemy, Giselle has posted on her wall

"Well done, Sproglet!  Winning the overall champion of Mensa!"

  I mean, really?  Isn't that boasting and not congratualting? Your child is 5!! He doesn't  even have a Facebook account!  I know, I've looked.   Now I can understand being proud. I can understand writing on your childs wall, but I can't understand why you don't realise that I know, that you know that I know it's just plain competitive and it makes me feel inadequate. But that's what you want, isn't it?

Pre kids, I was one of those people who'd turn off when at dinner parties, parents would tell the gathered group how clever, beautiful, amazing Morticia was.   I swore that I'd never bore those who didn't know my kid. I still don't.  Now it's all gathering around the school gates, comparing reading books, class tests. There's one mum who has a notebook. I'm pretty sure she's jotting down everyone's scores so that she can accurately place her child in the class. I've seen her whip it out and jot stuff down as she walks back to her car. Or maybe she's noting down what I was wearing that morning? Eek!

My kids are clever (not mensa level) my kids are sporty (not international level), my kids are very, very funny; but I don't tell them that.   I don't want them thinking they'll be able to take on James Cordon a comedy battle! My kids are quick witted and astute. They know how many beans make five!
"A bean, a bean, a bean and a half, a half a bean and a bean!" They shout when I test them. See...clever!

I remember a teacher discussing Bart at a Parents Evening many moons ago.

"He won't be a high flier" she said "He's very immature"
He was four!!  Of course, her experience proved her wrong.  He is a high flyer. His  head's way up in those clouds...and that's the way I like it.

I'm not knocking you if you like to boast..but be honest.  We should all pre tag our comments with #boastalert. In that way we're being open and transparent about our emotions..and I won't get all worried that I didn't spend enough time with them on Algebra or algorithms.

When the 11+ results came out last month, Mimi sat in the car with me while we opened her results letter. I looked at her sadly and she punched the air with a "YES!!!"  We high fived, then did our victory seat wiggle.

You see, I know what my daughter wanted.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

My Talking Dog

Now...I like writing in my office. I like to sit down with my cuppa and ponder my world for a few minutes (possibly for a few hours after I play a few games of Candy crush...eek!). I could sit in there all day if my life didn't drag me away...but I just don't get the chance!

No sooner am I lost in something  really, really, really important or am in the middle of the masterpiece, I'm thwarted! Yes, you've heard it. Thwarted!  Not by the kids (and don't they know better than to interrupt mummy's  'mummy time'? Yes they do!), not by BH, who knows that something very important is going on behind that door, and not by the phone ( just ignore it) but by the large brown bear called Peewee! He stands at the door screeching! Yes...Peewee displays vocal abilities in all manners! Peewee is a talker. More than that he's a crier. A wailer and a moaner! Baby Bear (yes, I was forced into getting another brother for the brother of another mother) on the other hand is a sweet, less vocal creature who demands attention of strangers by jumping up and licking their faces.  If he can get his tongue in their mouth then it's a bonus as far as he's concerned as he bounds away after his happy slapping! Embarrassing or what?

Peewee looks all sweetness and light but he's the demander of my attention. If I don't give it...woe betide the whole household...he just won't shut up! 

"Eeeeeewwww! Eeeooooowwww! Eeeeeooooaaawww!" 


He stands in the doorway telling me he needs my attention and doesn't like me sitting locked away.  It's fine when I'm standing in the kitchen  or when I'm doing the ironing, but he can't stand me sitting down.  Come to think of it, he doesn't really like me sitting at the kitchen table either.  He thinks if I'm sitting down I should be curled up scratching his belly...and he will whine, cry and moan until I give in!

He has several different cries or squeaks.  There's a certain one for the lack of water in his bowl accompanied by the raised eyebrow.  There's the one when he needs to go into the garden to bark at the world.  There's another when he's locked himself in the bathroom...(lovely cold floor in there but he will close the door behind him!!). Peewee just loves to talk. 

He's not a bad boy, in fact I would go as far to say he's an amazing boy.  He's almost human. He doesn't like anyone watching while he has a poo, so I have to turn my back. He wakes me up in the morning not with a cuppa, but his heavy load bearing down on my chest peering into my face...squeaking!

BH tells me I have him ruined.  Not for me! I give in for him.  I do it all for the loves of my life. Without me, they'd all have to run hither and thither for our talking pet. 

 They're so lucky I pick up the slack and the cr@p!!!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Losing a Parent.

My Dad is strong, fearless and brave. Those were the opening words of my eulogy for my Dad and those were the words I'd written in my exercise book when I was 8 years old. It was accompanied by a picture of Batman...another hero.

There are not enough words to describe him. I said that too. How can you condense a persons life into  a few paragraphs? When I sat down to write his eulogy I found I couldn't stop. I had my memories and I wanted everyone to know what a great man he was. It was easy, because I knew and loved him.

Losing a parent when you're an adult is strange feeling. As you get older you know the inevitable is going to happen but you consign it to the back of your mind in the hope you'll deal with it. Fleeting ideas pass through your mind. How would one parent cope without the other, or how would you cope without one of them? The little things they do as they get older is a reminder of their mortality. The general loss of confidence as they get older. Their slight slowing down. Their little ailments that seem to become more frequent, the questions they'd constantly ask about the Internet and technology, and all the things they kept forgetting and all the things from the past that they remembered....more than once!

Which one you'd prefer to go first?
How can you think like that?
But you do.

They became a tiny bit more dependent on us. How did all that happen?   None of it stopped them from enjoying their life and none of it stopped us from loving them but you hope you won't have to deal with the inevitable.

It's something you don't want to think or talk about.

When the inevitable did happen the world stopped turning for a few minutes. I couldn't think. I couldn't talk. I needed to sit and assimilate the words. I know my brother did too. He told me he'd have to phone me back because he couldn't think.

My dad passed away overseas and we all needed to get to my mum as quickly as possible. We needed to be with her that night but the flights had already left for that day it seemed like an insurmountable task given the state we were in. My sister had found a flight to Finland with a connecting flight to our destination. She wanted to take it. Her husband was pushing her to take it. The chances were she'd be stuck on her own, in a place she'd not be able to leave were higher than I wanted. I wanted us all to go together. Let me think I said. I'll work it out. So I did. We were all with my mum by midnight having taken planes, trains and automobiles.

I've found it hard to cry and but I think it's too big. I know if I cry I might never stop. Tears seep when something moves me. I weep when I hear of someone else's sadness and I cry at a sad tune on the radio, but I can't cry for Dad. If I give into the grief that I'm holding in my heart then I would be giving in to the madness which might engulf me...and that would be no help to anyone.
Spending time with mum has helped me. Over the past couple of years I've realised that caring for others in the same situation helps me greatly. It helps me understand my grief, sadness or pain by seeing it reflected back at me. Obviously, helping mum is the right thing to do, but being with her I know that it's also helping me.

A friend once said that caring for a parent is an honour and a privilege. It is. I see that now.

She's having to start all over again, after having had Dad in her life longer than not and she's finding it difficult. Of course she is. She's never been a weak woman but losing dad has sucked the life from her. She's weak right now. She has no idea how life works without dad. But she'll get there.

My Dad taught us to be strong, fearless and brave. I think we're living up to his legacy. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

"Where have you been?" they cried?

Well..I thought the last post was the break in my 'block'...but it appears it wasn't!  Not that it matters. Shit comes in all sizes and I've had a colon full this year.   I couldn't remember my password as it's been so long, neither could I remember the email address I used. Useless, that's me.  Anyhow, I've found my way back, so for me at least, that's a good thing. I'd hate for it to be lost in cyber world and I'd hate for all the words to mean nothing.

I've been away so long that I've forgotten how it all works. I've forgotten about Twitter and I've forgotten about Facebook. It became so complicated, especially when Google decided to change its method of feeding the feeds and all of that complicated stuff so I decided I'd really had enough.  Following someone because they followed me, just to get a few more views. Working out the best ways to get read and to promote the blog. For what?  It really became pointless after a while.  I tried to read everything everyone wrote and I became disillusioned with the whole process. The gangs, the mummy brigades, the whole works! I didn't fit in...and I wondered whether I wanted to. I wasn't sure where I was. I wasn't really anywhere except in my own real life.

There was a point to my blog, but I lost it trying to second guess what others might read.  What I'm really I'm really trying to say is that I wasn't true to myself. The truth is...I'm a writer. I write for the love of writing. I'm a mother, a wife and a writer. There. I've said it. No use pretending. No use in trying to be anything else.


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