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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Shake It All About

If only it was as easy as the hokey cokey, eh?

The EU Referendum happens tomorrow, and it is possibly the oddest thing I’ve experienced in my life. It isn’t one-party-one-view. I find myself siding with people I wouldn’t normally side with, for example. Watching the BBC debate last night Ruth Davidson came across really well and quite frankly, you’d never hear me saying something like that in a regular political debate. Sadiq Khan too (though you would get me agreeing with what he says).

The other side just seem to say things which make no sense to me. I’ve tried to find sense in both sides, to find things that would make me want to understand, but nothing makes sense by leaving the EU – to me.

Let’s rewind to the London Mayoral campaign. I collected all the leaflets to read through, to see if anyone made sense to me, and ultimately Sadiq Khan did. I feel like you have to read everything even if your gut feeling is you’d disagree to know exactly where you are. Then again, I was brought up on a Lib Dem background with a dad who did that every time an election came up – he had so many reasons for not voting for parties, but always weighed up every argument. (I’ve only just realised this as I write)

So here’s the EU Referendum. The weirdest of things when the Wandsworth Conservatives In are canvassing outside the station and you walk past because they’re Conservatives, even though you’re in. The Wandsworth Conservatives Out haven’t been – maybe they’re saving their energy for tomorrow. I have mastered the art of the dismissive hand signal while still being polite, my own ‘shake it all about’, perhaps.

One thing that isn’t really mentioned much in this debate is Gibraltar – this is the UK and Gibraltar voting. Imagine if we voted to leave? They’d be a bit screwed, wouldn’t they? Then again, I had this weird vision that it would be neck and neck until Gibraltar came in, swinging the vote to Remain in the dying minutes – a bit like when the Ukraine won Eurovision this year with the new voting system. God, imagine if Leave won? We’d be stuck on null points for the forseeable future…

Here’s another thought. Should I be buying my Euros for our Paris break in August? Could the pound end up worthless if we leave? (heaven forbid) Should I be planning ahead like this, worst case scenario? Nobody can really answer that one…

I’ve tried to avoid putting proper serious political things on Facebook, and only silly things because mostly we all need silly things to keep our spirits up, right? So here’s Rhodri’s one which made me chuckle.

Rhodri Marsden misinformation

Look, whatever you do tomorrow, vote. I don’t care which side you’re on – just make your voice heard. You’ll only have yourself to blame if you don’t like it. As Gaby Hinsliff on The Pool said:

If you’re still stuck, close your eyes and imagine that it’s now Friday, June 24. Imagine you didn’t vote, and have now woken up to find the rest of us voted Out. So long, Europe. What’s your gut reaction?

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Sometimes We’re All Just Little Islands

It has been quiet on here. There is lots to talk about but I don’t have enough time to talk about it. But here I am with a bit of time.

Today is Father’s Day. It is also my 13th Wedding Anniversary. The first time a dad-related thing has happened on the same day as something else. In October it’ll be ten years this year since he died. I frequently feel sad H will never meet her Grandad, but happy I can talk about him and know that he’d love the fact she loves history (his favourite subject).

I’ve been thinking too. I know we’ve become cut off from lots of things in the last year – I see pictures of groups of friends having meet up’s that we don’t get invited to. It’s fine, and I don’t expect to be invited anywhere by anyone, but it has made me think. Really, Shaun, H and I are in our own little bubble, our own little island. Sometimes we get off and join the mainland, but mostly we’re in our little world. I’m not complaining about this – it’s how things have panned out and that’s that.

I’m reading Brix Start-Smith’s book at the moment, and she mentions how many “vagina friends” she has. As in, how many people, if she had an issue with her down-belows, she would happily phone up and talk to about them. It has got me thinking – as really, I only have Shaun. I’m very much of that ever-so-British nobody would actually want to know anyway. I just can’t imagine phoning anyone up to talk about having a period for three weeks or any other issues. I may have spoken about it in the pub after several glasses of wine (in the hope they’ll forget afterwards, I guess?). But it isn’t something I could bring up in sober conversation.

Then again, I wouldn’t expect a conversation with anyone else about those parts of the body – about anything too intimate. I’ve had to go over some really personal stuff and have talked about it with friends but it feels like I’m taking over the conversation when it starts as there’s so much of it the words tumble out of me, I trip over my talk as there are so many tangents to it all. Then I run away. Again.

I worry H will be like me. Stays on that safe little island. My little island is somewhere I forget about bad stuff when it has happened, as it’s safe there. Shaun still doesn’t quite get how I can forget some of the stuff but I guess just goes along with it these days.

But I encourage H to talk. To say what makes her angry, to laugh with her when she makes up a joke as she seems to have an amazing sense of humour. To make sure she isn’t me. I am me, but I’m part of my family, and in turn my family are part of their family before them. If there are problems, they’re part of us. H isn’t going to inherit those problems. Those problems didn’t make it onto the island, you see.

 

Carbon Monoxide Part Two

So, we left things a few weeks ago in the aftermath of what *could* have happened, but fortunately didn’t. Which gives you time to think about stuff, as you do.

Last night I asked Shaun to go through all our paperwork, and something which I think might be pretty massive came to light – our last gas safety check was done in February last year.

In rental properties they’re meant to be every twelve months. Ours was done FOURTEEN months later.

In other words, had it come to light two months sooner, things could have been sorted by now (they’re still not, but it looks like we’re getting central heating – IF we stay here). It would have been two months less of breathing in those evil fumes without realising.

So I’m kind of starting to have slightly angry thoughts right now, while waiting for our annual raise here (which they’re late telling us – surprise, surprise). So I’m starting to look at buying houses to get the hell out of here now, as I’m not sure whether it’s crap letting agents or crap landlady woes going on here. All I know is something wasn’t done when it was meant to, and as far as I can work out, nobody gets into trouble for not doing it. I’m done with letting other people be responsible for these things, if they can’t even get their dates right then what hope is there? I’d rather just do it all myself, and with a part buy part rent we should be able to – even with my old age.

So then there’s the fact we could have died. Just a little matter like that. Supposing something bad had happened. What would the fallout have been, had it come to light that they were late with their gas safety check? It doesn’t seem to be easy to find information to find out what would happen, more what they should be doing.

We’ve already started looking at other rentals too, but so far they seem much smaller than what we currently have – but we’d be happier. But do they want us? Who knows… it’s the waiting game now (which means it’s possible). But the last house we saw, he had the heating on – it was lovely and warm. He has instant hot water. I repeat to myself, why on earth are we still living here?

I don’t like doing grown up very often. I’m probably setting a terrible example to H, and in turn I’ve probably had a terrible example set to me by my mum (as I’m pretty sure my dad did all this stuff). It’s all SO stressful isn’t it? Too much to think about and too little time.

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

In January this year we all got a bit ill. Dizzy, and in Shaun and H’s case, some sickness thrown in too, although I thought H’s might be an ear infection. I thought mine might be too, so made sure to put drops of coconut oil in our ears as I’ve heard it helps, and I wanted to avoid antibiotics and most importantly not miss any work.

It didn’t shift though. But I’m busy. We had loads of after school things going on, and loads of real life other stuff so I muddled through as you do, until all of a sudden it appeared to be April.

Our Letting Agents called and said we were due our annual Gas Safety Check, which I was too busy to think about scheduling, plus I felt dizzy and occasionally sick. Most mornings I dizzily staggered to the train, thinking about going to the doctors, although it almost always subsided by the time I got to work.

I got the check organised anyway. After checking a few things he asked to go into the loft, and came back down instructing us not to use our heater.

Our heater is crap, you see. It’s one of those awful hot air ones – with vents in the wall upstairs and downstairs where the heat goes out. Very 1970s I suspect.

The flue which leads from the boiler and the vents in our house had come away in the loft, which meant it has been leaking – and we’re talking carbon monoxide here.

The penny dropped after a while. We’d made arrangements to go out so did our usual too busy to think about it kind of day and it was only after really thinking about it, and having one of those “ohhh… ” moments that it started to hit home.

So you start with the confusion. Then once the heating has been locked off, you suddenly realise you don’t feel dizzy any more. Then things start making sense. You feel a bit less jumbled in the head too. It’s like some kind of weird clarity. Then you get a bit angry and upset about it. Because, let’s face it, carbon monoxide isn’t something we choose to expose ourselves to.

Then you have the moment you realise why your child may have been sick all over your bed that time, because our bedroom is right next to the loft.

Then you start to kick yourself a bit because HOW did you miss the signs? Oh, that’s right. Because we were working, we’re busy at work and just put it down to a virus. One that hadn’t shifted in four months.

Then you get a bit upset too. See, when you asked the boiler man “what’s the worst case scenario” you meant just to get it fixed, but he answered with the brutally honest “death”. Fuck. But you didn’t really register that at the time.

So the landlady is getting it sorted. We’ll either get a replacement flue. If that happens we’re moving out. We’re never going to live in a house with this type of heating ever again. It’s rubbish and it doesn’t work very well anyway. If we get central heating we’ll put up with the disruption for a week because it will be better, it will be a good thing. However, it costs a lot more. But in my mind it gives this house more value – plus it will be warm.

Then I kick myself, because it would never have crossed my mind to get a carbon monoxide detector put in the loft, because I didn’t think. Neither of us did. The fumes have to go somewhere.

So, if you happen to have the awful hot air heating which comes out of vents, please please please get yourself a carbon monoxide detector in the loft as well. Because the worst case scenario doesn’t bear thinking about. We have a detector, but it’s downstairs next to the boiler itself.

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