Action and Drama

Just another Tuesday morning, this morning.

By that, I mean yet another Southern Railway strike. So the alarm went off at 6.30am and I asked Shaun to check what state the trains were in. Amazingly, they were running fine. So that was good – after all, it’s meant to get worse (but now I’ve realised that’s next week when there are no services from here).

So that meant service as normal. I get up, get my shower, get ready for work. When I get out of the shower it’s H’s turn to get ready. We have our little routine.

She was part-dressed for school and already I was running late. She came running into the room tearfully.

“Mummy, I think my tooth is bleeding” she worriedly said.

It was. The one that wasn’t as wobbly as the other side, which isn’t meant to fall out until she’s 9-10 years old. The teeth next to the middle ones are pushing them out and her mouth isn’t big enough. I had that problem when I was young. (I would often delight in letting anyone know who called me a “big gob” that it actually wasn’t the case)

I asked if I could wobble it. Most of the time she’ll let me but this time she was quite upset. “OW! OW! OW! IT HURTS” she yelled. Conscious of the train being a bit late, but knowing that I had to get this train as they’re only going to get worse, I had to put the pressure on a bit.

So I tried to wobble enough to take it out. She cottoned on to what I was doing and clamped her mouth shut.

“I really can’t miss my train this morning” I told her. Then came up with a plan to take her to the dentist to get it taken out. “you’ll probably get an injection to do it” (jeez, why do I make up such nonsense? She’ll probably end up terrified of the dentist instead and it’s all my fault). Then passed on the responsibility to Shaun. Then took it back again.

H just looked a bit confused. But still clamped her mouth shut.

I asked her if she was likely to eat today, what with having two Very Wobbly teeth either side of her centre ones. She confirmed she wouldn’t be eating. So obviously as parent this asks for Very Drastic Measures.

“Can I wipe this blood off your tooth?” I asked, and she opened her mouth enough for me to get both my fingers in. I grabbed the tooth and pulled.

“AAAAAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEEAAAIIIAAAAAAEEEIIIEEE” she screamed. Followed by a very dramatic “Just kill me now!” repeated in a frantic manner. She’s seven, they do that kind of thing.

Anyway, result. The tooth was out. Now there was just the blood to deal with, consoling my daughter “I will NEVER trust you EVER again” and getting out the door in time for the train because who knows when the next one will be as Southern Railway are complete gits.

Several apologies and cuddles and telling her I felt really bad, but that I was happy she would be able to eat, and I was out of the door, the tooth firmly inside her Tooth Fairy Box.

THEN I remembered we might not have done anything with the elves, the bane of my December as I feel the least creative I ever have right now. Fortunately Shaun did something at 1am when he woke up on the settee (he keeps falling asleep there and I go up to bed at 11pm having two hours of snore-free time).

She ate well at school and all is good.

So it’s bedtime.

“I’ve decided. I want to keep my tooth” she informed me. “It’s really cool. It has a gap inside it, and this is my only chipped tooth so I want to write the Tooth Fairy a letter to ask her to leave it” I confirmed all her teeth were like that, and why not write a letter ready for the next tooth which will be left (as it’s only a matter of days) and just GO TO SLEEP. Oh and that the Tooth Fairy might only give her half the money if she has to keep it. H wasn’t having any of it, because she knows about the Tooth Fairy. Apparently the fairy comes past every single night to check for missing teeth.

“I’m so clever I could pretend to sleep and you will fall for it” she told me. Obviously she’s right. I heard her get up when I’d left her snoozing. Clever monkey.

So tonight I have to remember to do something creative with the elves (yes, we have two. WHY?!), leave money from the Tooth Fairy and take away the tooth (she’ll lose it, surely? Then I won’t have a complete set) Then again, as I asked on Facebook, what exactly am I going to do with an entire set of milk teeth that belong to my daughter? Other than it feels weird keeping them but wrong to throw them away.

It’s bloody hard being a parent sometimes and having to remember all the lies.

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Oh the Guilt

Being a parent who works five days a week as well as doing far too much voluntary work in my free time is a tough job. Being a parent is a tough job anyway. I’ve been lucky in that I can work around it, and start really early every day, making it out of work in time for school pickup.

It’s exhausting.

Every Friday I leave work 30 minutes early to get home in time to pick H up from the childminder (which is a drive away), and then get onto a conference call which never lasts an hour (more like an hour and twenty minutes). With my working day starting at 8.30 and the call finishing at 6.20, half an hour for lunch and another hour getting home from work and set up again, I finally sit with H and give her a big cuddle. It’s a long, tiring day.

She doesn’t like it. I don’t like it either but it’s the compromise I’m having to make. It is now being suggested having the call on another day (or possibly in addition to). Which would involve more time working at home. I’m putting in a lot of extra hours. I’m often getting home and telling H I “just need to do some work stuff” and getting it done as quickly as possible.

It’s pretty tiring. Add to that PTA responsibilities. Oh, and Brownie ones too – I’m training to be a leader and our Brown Owl is leaving so I’ve taken on banking duties and helping out.

I’m not complaining. Neither is H, but that time we had which was ‘our’ time is being taken away from us, slowly, bit by bit.

I feel pretty guilty. This blog is updated once in a blue moon which is fine. The other blog is updated once or twice a week (I have three posts scheduled I need to take photos for this weekend) and things plod along nicely. When your seven year old tells you “I don’t like it when you have those phone calls as I don’t get any attention” and you know she has a point but you know the calls are important too… well, it’s hard. Where’s the balance?

I know, let’s throw another spanner in the works! Southern Rail. Or rather, Southern Fail. Strikes (which to be fair, seem to make my trains run on time), late trains and more. We’ve been driver-only on our trains for an age now, and tonight a fire alarm went off in one of the toilets. So the driver had to get out and walk along the platform to resolve the issue. We were at Mitcham Eastfields which I think is an unmanned station too.

So. We have a busy job, a busy home life, and a rail service that sometimes gets you from one to the other which is the worst performing one in the country. Were you to combine the poor service from the other companies together then I think Southern still come out on top. Really poor. The amount of times I’ve had to take the fast train to Sutton only to find all the other trains are cancelled and I need to get a cab to get H from school (which costs £10, none of which seemed to be reclaimable). So that’s more money. Oh, and train fares are going up next year too.

I’m not sure what exactly the multi-million pound train company who run the service poorly intend to do with this increase, maybe award themselves a bigger bonus?

So yes, when I get home and it’s just H and I, I want to sit with her on my knee and enjoy a cuddle and a chat about the day. But slowly all that is being dismantled.

Oh, and the biggie. She’s getting older so she doesn’t always need her mum. But she does need me sometimes.

So yes, there’s the guilt, the wish for more quality time and the fact that it isn’t forthcoming. That’s all. I haven’t worked out which bit to work on first.

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October

October brought more changes into the world of H. We had her belated birthday party which was a Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts themed one. She loved it and all her friends did too.

We went back to visit my mum in York, spending a few days back there. It was the first time H has seen her Nanna in two years which is way too long. Lots of things have happened in those two years, but all I wanted was to spend a bit of time with my mum and make sure H has some quality time with her too. I think we achieved it.

We kept ourselves busy there, making the most of our last month or two of Merlin Passes, as we’re not renewing next year. I think we’ve exhausted what we can do with them pretty much, and while it’s nice living near Chessington and Legoland, we didn’t go as many times as I thought we would, and in some ways the local National Trust places have been neglected!

H also just went on her first Brownie camp. That was pretty big. She couldn’t want to get away from us! (but did miss us, fortunately) She spent two nights away and loved that she had a bunk bed. She shared with her good friends there and came back exhausted. We wandered around a bit lost, missing our girl terribly. We did have enough money to get out for a meal though which was nice – our first meal out for just the two of us in… ugh. Years?

Oh, and she has lost two more teeth – so that’s 8 now, with a bottom canine quite wobbly (and they’re not meant to fall out until they’re 9, so we’re two years early on that). I think H might have the same problem as me – too small a mouth for all her teeth. She just wants to wobble all her teeth so she will have the most missing (honestly…) and she’ll get some cash from the tooth fairy. Jeez.

2016 has been an odd year. One which has felt like something weird is happening that never actually happened. As the year comes to an end I feel more settled. It started strangely and things have worked their course. I hope… Work has been really busy with all the things we have released, and it has been fun to go in and be busy throughout the day, rather than it feeling a bit groundhog day. For H it brought changes in school and Guiding, but overall it hasn’t bothered her. If I could feel a bit less tired I think we’ll get on top of things. As it is I’ve had way too many sleepless nights, and I’m running out of day (or night) dreams.

Her teachers are amazing. At school her main teacher is fabulous, and really gets the kids engaged. I can see she’s doing well with her, she’s doing me proud as usual and had an excellent end of term report. At swimming tonight I felt like her teacher there was good at communicating with the kids, and she’s coming along really well.

So yes, October was pretty good. H got to play with her cousins for the first time in two years although we ran out of time to see more family. We’ll work on that one…

Oh, Hi.

As H gets older, the blog gets quieter. I always knew this would be the case. Mum Friendly is also quieter. I’ve plenty to write about, but no time to do it. Year 3 is here, well and truly underway and going marvellously. H is still the youngest in the year (in school now), and she’s in the top groups for everything which has a top group.

(I’m assuming at this point PE doesn’t, although she still claims to be the fastest runner ever, showing me whenever she can. I’m still not entirely convinced)

Alongside year 3 and the jump in work is regular homework on a Thursday (and I’m the kind of mum who makes her sit down and do it when she gets in, while I get tea ready) – no more of that Friday thing. Which is probably good as I’ve switched my late day at work to a Friday, and do a conference call until 6pm.

H is becoming far more independent. She doesn’t rely on me as much any more for entertainment. She sorts herself out. I’m the kind of person who loves space, but also loves being around people. My feeling is H is also like that. No shortage of friends, but also plenty of quiet time. She loves nothing more than being in her bedroom reading… and more reading… and reading. She has started to play with her Lottie dolls a lot more again after a bit of a break. My girl has no shortage of toys, and a good imagination to go with it.

Later this month she’s heading off on her first Brownie camp. Without me. Two days away… two nights. Having to fend for herself. I’m kind of looking forward to it (and with my new role as Snowy Owl I should have really been there but I can’t get the time off work), but will miss her terribly. H, on the other hand, can’t wait to get away from us.

We’re not that bad, are we?

Just kidding.

So I’m helping at Brownies now. H asked if it was possible I could not help at something as I’m cramping her style. She’s SEVEN. Bloody hell.

Fortunately I don’t take things to heart.

*sobs*

Friday this week brings the school disco. Which I’m helping at. She’s not happy about that, of course. I’ll be hidden away in a room where she can’t see me until she needs something… or even just needs me. BIG NEEDY SOB.

I keep staring at H. She’s losing her little girl-ness. She’s growing up. I love that I have my little buddy who makes brilliant conversation. She will phone my mum and take the phone upstairs and chat for an hour with her sometimes (and I get a few seconds when I say bye to my mum). Oh, and if I dare ask what they’ve talked about “it’s private”. She also chats with next door over the fence, and again, if I come out then I’m asked firmly by my seven year old to give her some privacy as she wants to talk.

I think with everything that has happened over the last year which has ranged from rejection weirdness, friendship and finding yourself and your confidence again (and that’s just me), having your child then behave that way probably isn’t the best for your ego. I’m too tired to challenge it. I’m probably making a rod for my own back…

Anyway, it’s November next month. Nearly Christmas, innit? Can I have a day off parenting?

Things Are Changing

For most of H’s young life so far she has been a mummy’s girl. I could do no wrong, even when I did wrong.

Something has changed recently. It’s like a switch has been flicked. She is now daddy’s girl. I am a nag, apparently. This means she doesn’t have to listen to what I ask her to do and can do the exact opposite. Fun times…

(n.b. don’t get me wrong, she has always been daddy’s girl, it’s just she’s even more than she used to be these days)

Here’s an example…

This afternoon after Holiday Club I took H to our local Tearoom for a drink and a treat because we’ve talked about it all summer and not done anything about it. So we’re sitting chatting and having a lovely time. Afterwards we head to the bus stop outside.

There are people waiting at the bus stop and she insists on climbing on the seats there, I’m aware of other people and ask her nicely to keep to one side (there’s an old bloke with a stick too). She ignores me, of course and defiantly goes for the one that’s too big for her. Eventually she sits nicely, but looks at me like I’m a pain.

I hand H her Oyster Zipcard, and she drops it – in the road. AS THE BUS IS COMING. I grab her backpack to get her out of the way because I really don’t want my child to get knocked down by a bus. She ducks down again to get her travelcard, horrified that I’d tried to pull her out of the way of a bus (which she hadn’t seen) and stopped her from getting her card. This time she gets it, and I drag her clear of the bus again doing a dramatic “WHAT ARE YOU DOIIINNNGGGG?” to her, as the people at the bus stop ignore me. (well this is London)

I then spend most of the bus ride home with a frightened seven year old and a shaken up me. We have a serious chat about what could have happened and how I’m not trying to be a pain telling her what to do – I just want her to think. To Stop, Look and Listen.

*makes mental note to make a body suit made out of bubblewrap for her*

I mention it to Shaun when he gets home. “Well, she’s fine isn’t she?” He says, and kind of lets it go. Or at least, doesn’t go on about it like I do. I’m not nagging, I just witnessed my daughter do something really stupid that she did without thinking and I’m still dealing with it.

Anyway, the conclusion H and I got to from this, apart from her saying “I feel really stupid for doing this” and me reassuring her that most seven year olds do something like that so it’s actually normal, therefore validating everything she did, was that we’re going to let her lead when it comes to crossing the road. We will stand in good places to cross and she will judge when it is safe to cross and we’ll tell her if we agree or not. We will look at what is on the road, and work out whether it is safe or not. We’re going to Stop, Look and Listen.

As I pointed out to her, if she dropped her Oyster card on the train tracks as the train was coming into the station, would she climb down and pick it up off the rails. (she confirmed she wouldn’t)

So I tried to draw a parallel with that. I think the message has sunk in. She had a quick cry and a cuddle (because she is still mummy’s girl when daddy isn’t around) and then everything was okay again.

I, on the other hand, need gin. A large one.

 

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Hormone House

This is, the hormone house.
We’re happy here in the hormone house
Oh it’s such fun, fun, fun, woah-oh.

We’ve come, to eat, in the hormone house
And waste a day, stuffing our face
Biscuits again, and again.

We’ve come to scream, in the hormone house
Living the dream, in the hormone house

We’re going insane.
This is, the hormone house, we’re happy heeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrre
We’re all quite sane, sane, sane, wooah-ohhh.

This is the hormone house,
We’re happy heeeeeeerrreee ohhhhh oh.

Poor Shaun, you’re stuck here too
Don’t say no, the hormones don’t go
We’ve done no wrong, the biscuits are gone
It’s safe and calm if you buy us more
Buy us more, Buy us….. ohh ho

This is, the hormone house, we’re happy here, in the hormone house
I forgot myself, and all’s good
There is no chocolate.

This is the hormone house, two of us here, in the hormone house
Aged seven and forty six, it’s a great mix.
In the hormone house. Wooah-oh.

This idea popped into my head on the bus tonight. With thanks to Siouxsie and the Banshees for creating it in the first place. Sorry, normal service to be resumed soon.

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Seven

To be said in a Len Goodman style.

H is now seven. Seven. How did that happen?

It would seem I’m good at keeping secrets and amazing at being absentminded. We took H to Disneyland Paris for her birthday and I messed up three times but she didn’t realise.

The first one was her asking when Bake Off was due to start. “Oh, when we get back from Disneyland” I replied hiding my face and hoping she hadn’t registered what I’d just said, and if she had that she was putting it down to me being a bit dippy.

The second was the following day, I can’t remember what was said, but I said it again. I have no idea how I got away with it.

The last was on Shaun’s birthday, two days before hers. I handed him a Minnie Mouse stripy t-shirt all wrapped up, thinking it was his. Which of course it wasn’t… the penny didn’t drop at all with H, again, she just thinks I’m dippy.

Which I am. The perimenopause has created an incredible amount of havoc in my body this last year, the worst of it being my short term memory and coming out with words that have nothing to do with what I’m talking about. But H knows that and just kind of laughs at me… like last night when I said ’email’ rather than ‘elbow’, as you do.

I think this is what is making her an awesome 7 year old. She’s got a fabulous sense of humour and is starting to show no fear in doing things. A year ago she would never have stood on stage and performed, and on Wednesday just gone she did the Jedi Training Academy at Disneyland and had a quick fight with Darth Vader. The audience was probably around the 200 size, maybe a bit more.

She insists on making our dessert at meal times and I’m not going to turn it down! She starts Brownies in a few weeks when more grown up things will start – such as making a cup of tea (I assume that anyway) although she could still do with a bit more common sense…

One thing I haven’t mentioned on the internet, she had her SATs last year at school and only got one maths question wrong – which I’m really proud of. All her marks were excellent, and she’s come on so brilliantly at school. I really wish that people wouldn’t worry parents of summer-born children like they do… they’re as good as they are – and there are ways of helping them if you know they’re struggling. They just don’t have to be born in August for that to be the case.

She’s starting Junior School soon, in just over a week. A new school and as she pointed out, she’ll be the youngest in school again. She wasn’t happy about that! So maybe we’ve all got hang up’s about her birthday…

A year ago getting H to say anything in The Netherlands was impossible – she wouldn’t speak out. This year we got a few ‘merci’ and ‘bonjour’s out of her which is BIG progress. I went on two German exchanges in the 80s and spent the entire time speaking English, so wrecked was my confidence in myself. I’ll happily speak German now, and indeed French. I want H to have the confidence to do it, and really encouraged it. She’s going to learn French at her new school too – should be interesting!

She has grown. 137cm, now technically tall enough not to have a car seat. She will be having one for the forseeable future, what with having long legs and a shorter upper body. She wasn’t happy about that, but too bad.

Other than that, she has passed her Stage 4 in swimming and starts classes again soon, back with her buddy from school so she’s happy about that.

She has switched to a Holiday Club for slightly older kids and loves it. I kept her in one with her best friend from nursery as they were both quite shy and young. They’ve both changed to this one and are loving it- and there are even more of their friends who go as well. She has made loads of new friends. In fact, she seems to make friends really easily. No longer shy about talking to people, for the first time ever she left some kids our address for them to be penpals. Having said that they haven’t written yet, so I’m not holding my breath, but a year ago she would never have done that!

So yes, she’s growing up, and it’s mostly good. My prediction of my menopause hell coinciding with her puberty hell is almost certainly going to happen. Poor Shaun!

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Farewell White Polo Shirts

goodbye white shirts

Farewell white polo shirts
Bleached so much it really hurts
Turning yellow in the sun
a memory of school which is over and done

White polo shirts on the line
Reminds us of school all the time
Now they’re packed away, never coming back
Why am I washing them, can someone tell me that?

White polo shirts with an unexplained stain
Tomato, whiteboard pen, removing them involves pain
Bleach away, bleach again
And again…. and again…. and again…

It isn’t just the polo shirts which make me really mad
There are also all the socks which kind of make me feel quite sad
Every night they come home with the blackest of soles
Add to that a token number of awkwardly positioned holes

So polo shirts, socks, the lot
Beyond human use, you’ll be left to rot
But actually, I’ve had a thought
And this one is one which would get support

In reception they need some things
For crafts and stuff, which people bring
To help the children find learning fun
A sock puppet – that’ll be the one.

So I packaged up socks, felt like there were forty
yellowing, fading, really stiff and cardboardy,
And I hope in the next year I’ll see those new folks
Who hide the kids crafts, and tell all those jokes

Who’ll curse all us parents
Like we did before
Who dump all their old things
For the newbies and more

So sorry, Reception mums, you’ll get there too
More white polo shirts and patience about through

Anyway, just to finish, one final say.
Farewell white socks, I’m switching to grey.

Farewell white polo shirts, it’s proper shirts today
I won’t miss you at all, not ever, no way.

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Bubble Gum

We walked home from school tonight and one of H’s classmates was eating a Screwball. Her younger sister also had one but wasn’t getting on with it very well, so passed it on to H. She happily stuffed her face until she got to the bottom.

“Mummy, there’s a hard bit in here” she advised me. The penny dropped, it has been a long time since I’ve had one of those. “ah… it’ll be bubble gum” I answered, knowing the delight this would give H as she had never tried it before.

I was right. Big smiles. She got it out of the bottom of the plastic container, and started to chew.

“I really want to blow a bubble with it mummy!” she excitedly said.

Have you ever tried to explain how to blow a bubble with bubble gum? It isn’t like you can pick it out of the mouth of the person chewing it, show them, and give it back. So you have to explain, describe, demonstrate. It’s hard.

“errr… you stretch it across your tongue and stick your tongue in it, and errrrr take your tongue away leaving it sticking to your teeth and then blow?” I attempted. Not good. It almost flew out of H’s mouth.

She looked at me resentfully. “that didn’t work”

See, part of me hates this six year old mentality which means that as soon as you get something you have to be able to do everything with it. I’m sure it took me years of perfecting how to blow big bubbles with my Bubble Yum Bubble Gum (and measuring tool which almost certainly came free with Look In or The Beano in approximately 1981) – and even then it was with several packs at the same time for maximum bubble width.

Nevertheless, we persevered. “really stretch it in your mouth, make it nice and flat” I tried to explain. H stretched it really thin.

“I don’t think this will work” she advised. She was right. It didn’t. I told her to keep chewing. “But I want to blow a bubble!” she said with a bit of the stroppy sevens anger she’s developing at the moment.

“make it flat like a pancacke… errr…. stretch it out. Poke your tongue into it” I started, already defeated. It wasn’t going to happen.

“OH LOOK! TV!!!” distraction technique still going strong here, aged six and three quarters. The next thing I knew, she was sat watching tv pulling the bubblegum really really thin like a piece of string. Oh, and she dropped it on the carpet too… it was soon binned.

Later on at teatime she told Shaun about her new ‘thing’. “Ask daddy how to blow a bubble” I smugly said, knowing that while we could all do it without thinking as we’re old and well experienced in such matters, describing it is really not that easy at all.

“Well,” started Shaun “you stretch it across…” and so he pretty much repeated exactly what I said, with a little more detail. H looked at him. “that makes NO sense at all”.

So, dear reader, how would you describe to your child how to blow a bubble with some bubble gum? Bearing in mind I doubt she’ll have any more for a very long time… (I hope)

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Post-Brexit Comedown.

I admit it, last Friday I felt really quite depressed. The initial stage of ‘what on earth happens next’ and over a week later and nobody really seems to have a plan. Then Cameron resigned and I wanted to cry which is weird as I can’t stand the bloke and I’m not a Tory. Thank goodness for The Last Leg on Friday evening to bring a bit of sanity back to it all.

A week on and I’m feeling much calmer about things. Perspective. We haven’t done anything apart from some quite important bits:
• I joined the Labour Party.
• Shaun got a free Tastecard with his CSSC Membership
• I signed up H to the Tottenham Juniors Supporters club. Has to be done.

So now the scary stuff is coming out in the press, politics are imploding and something is going to happen which may or may not trigger a general election and more stress. The In or Out buddies are back to being a part of their own parties again and didn’t want to play with each other really anyway. Oh, and all the parties have fallen out with each other too. It’s like a game of pass the parcel gone wrong, where the person doing the music wins the prize in the middle.

We watched Gogglesprogs last night. H was watching the section on the Referendum. “Mummy, they told a lie” she informed me. I asked what. “Well, they said that young people voted to stay in, and old people voted out”. I confirmed that this was in fact the truth, and not a lie at all. “But you’re old mummy” she responded. Ho hum.

H and I have talked a lot about things from the last week. Mainly because on our afternoons after school I’m checking the news. It’s an interesting time to be almost seven and learning about the world, especially now she has her own opinions.

Where does the result leave us three? I have no idea. It has certainly made us think. This country feels like a confused place at the moment. When we’re not all arguing hate crimes are on the rise, it feels like everyone is angry at everyone right now. It isn’t pleasant. I hope things become pleasant again.

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