“It’s just the way we are”

H came home from school today. “I was convinced I was getting the class frog to bring home today, I really was. I’m so sad” she announced.

I breathed a sigh of relief, as nobody really looks forward to it when you’re a parent. Do they?

“I really did think I was getting it this week, but A did instead. But I have to get it before M does!” she blurted out.

and this worries me. She’s not a competitive child in any way, and yet this year she’s definitely wanting to do ‘better’ than her friend – her best friend. I told her it doesn’t matter, and that doing your best is the most important, and if you really have to be competitive, then just make sure you get the class frog before the naughty children do.

But I’ve seen it a few times now. They play together wonderfully, but every now and then H will point out that her friend did something before she did, and my heart sinks. It shouldn’t be about doing something first, it should be about doing it – it doesn’t matter when. I’m sure all children do it, and I know what has caused it – being at school. You’re always competing against someone for something at school aren’t you, at this age?

I’ve heard her say many times how she wants to be on a higher book band than her best friend, and it’s silly. She should want to be on a higher book band because she enjoys reading. It’s all still so black and white. We were moved up to gold level a week ago, and so far we’ve had two books, rather than a new book every two days which is great. The books she has are now ones we can google to find out more facts, which she’s finding interesting too.

Quite frankly, she’s challenged by these books in a really good way – it’s the perfect level for her. I think we’ll stay on these ones for a while now, and that’s a good thing.

I asked her why she gets so competitive with her best friend when it actually doesn’t matter. “because it’s just the way we are” she replied. Yep, I bet there’s a class full of competitive 5 year olds… I could never be a teacher!!



I woke up as usual, I got dressed as usual, caught the train as usual and got into work as usual, with the same old usual food bought as I do every Monday when I don’t have the energy to make myself a packed lunch the night before.

I logged onto my computer and started work. Checked my calendar. My heart sank. I hadn’t forgotten, I’d just not remembered it was right now. I knew it was coming. I never forget, but I kind of let it slip my mind, if that makes sense? A bit like when I phoned my mum and dad up all those years ago, my dad picked up the phone and we chatted for ages before he passed me on to mum, and she said “er, you do know what day it is, don’t you?” to which I promptly remembered it was his birthday. I was at work at the time so the gasp as I remembered I’d forgotten to remember startled my workmates. Just a tad.

Eight years ago today my dad died. He lost his fight with cancer. Bowel cancer with secondaries in the liver and I think maybe the lungs too. The same kind of cancer Lynda Bellingham has been fighting. The same cancer she’s decided to end the fight with. My dad did the same. You know when you’re done with the fighting.

They were the same colour, the liver losing its ability to do what it should.  Dad joked about giving David Dickinson a run for his money with his glorious mahogany tone, but the yellow in his eyes gave it away – he really wasn’t well. We had four months with dad from diagnosis to death.

I see acorns these days and it reminds me of the time we all drove back from the cinema together after watching The Queen (the Helen Mirren one), and there was a large pile of them by the road. Mind, I also remember how he somehow got in for free, completely by accident and we all had a good laugh about it on the way home. It’s the little things. But always acorns. This time of year.

Eight years. But good stuff happened today too. Shaun got his job so is now permanent. H is going to become a proper Rainbow next week. I got to go to her school today to look through all her books, and saw lots of good comments and remarks and a little girl who is really trying hard (Even though she often does the ‘I’m too tired mummy’ thing with me). That’s why today happened and I didn’t burst into tears first thing.

I told H it was eight years since the grandad she’ll never meet died. She said to me “hey, that means he’ll have met god! you meet god when you’re in heaven, you know?” and said it with such authority I just went with it. She seemed happy enough. I think he’d have words with her though, as he didn’t believe in all that.

Tonight I came home at a different time, picked up H from school rather than the childminder, did some work at home as it’s getting busy again, and ended the day differently. Tomorrow is another day, another new start, the same old routine back again.  Life goes on.

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A Week Of Stuff

H withdrew a bit at Rainbows this week. I think it was the noise. It was noisy, but it was the first time in ages I’ve seen her covering her ears, the noise being too much. To be fair, I felt the same, and fortunately things calmed down. She helped me tidy up instead. She still loves it though.

Tuesday she had a playdate, and a new persona too. The over excited “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!!” with bad attitude thrown in occasionally for good measure. This bad attitude is coming and going through the week.

She’s been moved up to the Gold reading level at school which I’m immensely proud of as this is all her own work – she’s a huge bookworm anyway, so progress like this, two months after turning five makes me delighted. Her response? “Yeah, whatever. Um. Yeah, interesting. Right. Whatever”

I can’t work out which child she’s copying, but she soon smartened up her ideas when I threatened to turn off The Great British Bake Off that we were watching so she would NEVER find out the winner. My little girl came back then.

Swimming too – we were told by her teacher that next week we’ll get the letter to move up into Stage 2/Yellow hats which is brilliant. I know she can do it, and it was about building her confidence. Now she’s just terrified because “I’ll have a new teacher” which may or may not happen straight away – I’ve been watching the yellow hat teachers as well as considering moving her to the pool we live practically next door to (which would cost more). Time will tell….

She was cross with me tonight. I was later than usual. I’ve had to point out that I have to work earlier on Mondays, so am later on Thursdays, but it’s okay as we have most of her schoolwork done by Thursday so we can take it easier on the late night. I think she agreed. She was still cross at me though, and did a bit of standing, scowling and roaring at me as only a five year old can.

This Saturday we’re going to Hampton Court to see Singalonga Frozen. It will be amazing. It will probably rain. I have bought a chair today from Blacks so I can sit comfortably. I am going to hear that DAMN song again. But most importantly of all, H doesn’t have a clue we’re going – neither do her friends. We decided to tell them in the car on the way there. Hehehe. So keep an eye on the MumFriendlyJo instagram feed on Saturday night as we slowly go a bit mad with it all. I love Hampton Court and can’t wait!

Shaun has had two job interviews in the last week, we should find out something next week. From my simple understanding of it, it’s either the job he’s doing, or a job he isn’t doing which would mean that one week out of every month I’d be doing the bedtime routine every night. Having done it for two nights in the last week I bet you can guess which option I’d prefer him to go for, should he be offered both..

I Went to Church Today.

That was an interesting experience.

Today was the harvest festival, so H and I arrived with a tin at the methodist church where she attends Rainbows. She was terrified, as were two of her friends that we’ve known since she was a baby.

Fortunately I can sit with the Rainbows as I’m helping out, so I had a chat with my terrified group of three, promised we’d all sit together and things would be fine, and decided to make them laugh.

“don’t tell anyone. I’m actually quite scared too…”

H clamped her hand over my mouth in embarrassment. “oh mummy!” she said, as I reminded her that I was in Rainbows mode, and can only answer to ‘Kangaroo’ (I do realise the pelvic floor implications of this name)

To which she clamped her hand over my mouth again – oh the embarrassment of it all. We all lined up and H went into the church with one of the girls while  I looked the other, we all sat down together and by the end one of them said she enjoyed it “but it was a bit boring” (hey! that’s MY line!), we handed over our tins (I swapped mine so many times for various reasons, such as one girl didn’t like the tin, another was a bit sharp and she was trying to scratch her finger on it, another was just trying to open hers so we found one without a ringpull and so on – girls do seem to love the drama), and admired all our handiwork on a board at the side of the church, and actually. . .

It wasn’t so bad. The church isn’t for me, but I didn’t feel as awkward as I have in the past. Even if they did go and change the tune to the majority of the hymns. Fortunately when I was twelve or so, I was told by a schoolmate when we were having a ‘Bad Deed Week’ that I can’t sing. I took it to heart and tend to mime in public places. I tried to break free from the shyness and audition to sing in an indie band in 1988, but I couldn’t do it.

The children all behaved brilliantly, I ended up taking two of them for a mad toilet dash during ‘We Plough The Fields’ which was a relief as I could stay standing up – my back hurt today. H stayed behind and watched – she didn’t want to come with me. That made me really proud – she knew it was fine and knew I’d be coming back. Of course, I’m told they need the loo when we’re all doing the lords prayer. “hold it in! Not long now!” and so on. I felt like Julie Andrews doing all the wrong things at the wrong time and being a bit daft too.

Thing to remember next time – they do a collection. Of COURSE they do a collection, but when you haven’t been to church for over 30 years you forget this happens. So when the Rainbows next to you also have no money and you’re emptying the coins in your purse so everyone can join in, it doesn’t actually matter. Even if the change was around 12p each (I put in £1) the other Rainbows felt a part of it. I just thanked my lucky stars I had a purse full of change. Sorry church.

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The Diary of Back Pain Part Whatever

My back pain still hasn’t gone away. It flares up from time to time, things like sitting in a different kind of chair, or just lying uncomfortably. Taking it easy and moving around carefully seems to fix it, but in a rare moment of having some time to think this morning, I remembered how it used to be before my back hurt.

1. I used to drive into work every day.

2. I would change our bedsheets every week and have a good washing routine for all our clothes, bedding and towels.

3. I’d vacuum all over the house and have a fairly dust-free sort of place.

4. I had Tuesday nights free to watch tv.

Whereas these days my life has changed, sometimes I wonder forever.

1. I take the train every day. The 7.29 is my best choice, mainly as I can get a seat. If I go for the 7.45 there’s a chance I may have to stand all the way. Sometimes it’s manageable, other times it isn’t. Having back pain is something weird, like, you don’t wear a badge saying ‘baby on board’ even though it could have been a baby which was once on board which made the back be such a problem in the first place. Or sometimes the train just gets reduced to a 5 carriage from a 10. Then I’ll often go as far as Mitcham Junction and take the tram, hopeful of a seat (no chance at all of that).

2. I can’t remember when we last changed the bedsheets. Actually, it was last night, but before that? Maybe four weeks ago. It isn’t a priority any more, keeping the house clean is painful. I have mentioned getting a cleaner and we could afford to. It’s something I should consider if only for a cleaner house.

3. Same as above. I can’t remember the last time. I did vacuum up where H had been playing with PlayDoh that had dried out, but that was all.

4. I go to pilates every week now, to stretch, control my core and work on it so that one day I won’t be in pain. I’ve been doing this for over two years now – from when we were very skint and most of our money went on childcare, to now when we’ve actually got some money and I don’t feel so guilty for going.

my back

I don’t think anyone realises how annoying back pain can be. You do something, you do it fine. You feel normal again, and then five minutes later a little sciatic pain pricks you all down your lower back to the top of your legs, reminding you that you may have just overdone it a little tiny bit, and that actually, sitting down and concentrating is something your little niggly pinchy sciatic nerve doesn’t want you to do.

So you go to the Osteopath at £40 a time. It works, but eventually something clicks back. Around now you’ll wish you were made of Lego so someone could just piece you back together. You think you know what your problem is but nobody can actually confirm. You go for a swim after getting the all-clear from the osteo and have pains all down your legs and pelvis for two days.

I am considering doing my induction at the gym; as cycling is my next course of action to make it all stop.

Oh, and add to all the aches and pains, when it’s bad you can’t turn over in your sleep without waking up, mainly to get comfortable again. When you’re tired you hit the pillow and that’s it, but when you’re in pain you have a horrid night of sleep. Or it passes in stages through the night.

You put your child on your knee to give them a cuddle, and something stretches in your back, and won’t stop stretching.

Fun times, right? I would love to be put into some kind of mummified cast from the waist down which would stop everything moving for as long as whatever is wrong to heal, if only I could get answers to find out what it is. The pain doesn’t stop me doing anything, it just slows everything right down. Imagine a life in fast motion, that’s when things are fine. Then it s-l-o-w-s right down and you get very little done.

Frustrating. Stupid back.



H has been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately.

‘Time For School’ was the favourite for a good couple of weeks, she’d carefully count each episode and type in the next one to watch, and sit keeping herself entertained.

Then at the weekend a very odd thing happened.

She watched an episode of Peppa Pig.

Her first episode in years. Two years, maybe? Maybe a year and a half? We haven’t watched Peppa for a very long time indeed.

She watched several more. It’s like some weird regression back to a world where she was at nursery when things weren’t so hard, and she didn’t have to do so much thinking. Which is how I make sense of it all – and it’s fine if she wants to watch Peppa Pig – I have no problem with it. I’ll still try and get a bit of Horrible Histories or Dick & Dom in there where I can, but sometimes she just needs that change I guess.

This week sees the last Topsy and Tim episodes. The one we saw being filmed was shown last Friday, and I was sure that would be the end of our time with Cbeebies. It would seem not… her little soap opera will soon finish and I expect tears just like there were when her favourite got voted off the Great British Bake Off last week. (she buried her head in me and sobbed)

My little girl is somewhere between being a big girl and still being a little girl, and she’s making her own way. I guess a bit of the past every now and then isn’t so bad… it didn’t harm me!



“Mummy, if you don’t do this, I won’t tell you ‘I Love You’ any more”

(I tricked her into saying it a minute later)

“I am VERY cross with Daddy as he didn’t let me do what I was doing. I’m never helping him make my birthday cake again!!!!”

(like she’ll remember?)

“If you don’t let me go, I’m going to run away from home!”

(the front door was locked, so she was going nowhere. She stomped around the back yard instead, huffing and puffing)

“RIGHT. I am going to live in Fredrina’s house and I’m NEVER EVER COMING HOME”

(Fredrina is her imaginary friend, her home is under the bed. She took a blanket)

“I am never talking to you EVER AGAIN”

(I asked if she was hungry. She replied in the positive. I pointed out she had spoken to me)

“I don’t want to eat EVER AGAIN”

(“okay, I’m going to have a chocolate cookie now, see you later” “ohh mummy let me have one please!”)

“I am never cuddling you again, you have been so naughty and made me cross!”

(she was having a cuddle while telling me this)


I think the easiest thing to say about having a five year old girl is how challenging they become. There’s so much more fighting to get things done, rather than being able to count to three and she’d be there by two-and-three-quarters. “Clean your teeth!” “but it’s boring” sort of fights, where you know it’s only going to get worse, but it’s just getting it done.  She’s becoming less obedient while still being very obedient towards people in authority.

Threats to run away are now a reality, even if she won’t go through with them. I suspect most five year olds threaten this. Fortunately she won’t run away, though she can get out if she really wanted to. Stranger Danger is on the agenda as ever.

But then we had a schoolfriend over yesterday, the girls all dressed up as Elsa, Anna and Rapunzel and played so nicely – while there’s an angry side coming out, the little girl who suddenly started talking with an American accent (cheers, Disney) just enjoys being around people too.

I still enjoy immensely being around H too. We had a lovely night in together last night, in our pyjamas with home-made pizza watching ‘Frozen’ while Shaun went out to a gig. I should have gone to the gig the night before but on our trip last weekend to the British Museum I felt my back move and I had a very little panic attack on the tube – helped mainly by being little thanks to being with Shaun. On my own I can’t risk that happening again. If it means I miss things, that’s the way it goes. So I missed out, but I’m not gutted, fortunately. I had a super night with my girl and she was amazingly good and well behaved. It was only this morning we got the angry back again.

I pointed out that I know she’s cross about things, but just explaining to us what is wrong would be much quicker, and it isn’t like she’s short on words to be able to say how she feels. She just looked angry at that too… you can’t win really.

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We Saw The Mummies

It was excellent, H really enjoyed it and found it interesting, and any fears we had about it being age-appropriate were wrong. It was really well presented, the lives of the eight mummies was interesting, and H hasn’t had nightmares.

I think I need to look at myself when I’m looking at these things – she found it fascinating, we all did. We popped to see the Rosetta Stone and the Cleopatra mummy too while we were there, and talked about the bodies in the Egyptian section and what little we knew about them.

I was kind of left wondering how that person would have felt, living however many thousands of years ago, and now they’re an exhibition in a museum with people working out details about their lives via CT scans. It’s kind of odd. I mean, yes, they won’t have those thoughts, but it’s still kind of oddly fascinating how someone’s previous life can be interesting to our existing lives, when the only reason they’re there could be due to them having lots of money so they were wealthy enough to be mummified.

So in a couple of thousand years when someone finds a computer, enables it to work and finds all the bazillions of blogs out there and comments on how ordinary our lives were back in 2014, I’d have to agree. Ordinary, but interesting. Maybe.

Every Time I Try To Explain…

I open my big gob and manage to just tell the truth. I can’t lie, this is a fact. I tend to hide from people when I don’t want to lie, though I have never gone as far as crawling under a table, I don’t think.

However, when you have a five year old who is being given the chance to decide what she would like to read, sometimes questions HAVE to be answered truthfully whether you like it or not.

For example, this week when she chose a book about Egyptian Mummies. Now, firstly, I love that H is choosing less storybooks and more factual books as it’s kind of interesting for me too – I don’t remember school being like this, so when she asks me awkward questions we can read it together and my memory is jogged.

“Mummy, why are they called Mummies?” “What’s in there?” “How did they get there?” were some of the questions. She carefully read the book and answered the activities offered, while I sat and explained the choices people can have when they die (which quite frankly wasn’t something I was considering going through with her at this point in time). I told her Grandad Mike was cremated, that the graveyards she has seen and walked through have people buried deep in them, and that Egyptian Mummies were just bandaged up well and put into the nice coffins, then put into the pyramids.

Which is pretty much what her book said. Oh, and it said the Egyptians cut their vital organs out too. Yes, I truthfully explained that too.

“How did they die?” was the next one, to which I had no reply. We talked about my dad and how we got his ashes and scattered them in a place where he would be happy, and how Egyptians who went through the process of mummification had plenty of money to then be placed into a pyramid. My dad would be proud of me I think – I remember having to record a programme to do with an Egyptian Pyramid excavation several years ago, and I think I kind of got it right… I was never much good at all this.

But then I found an exhibition at the British Museum – http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/ancient_lives.aspx which kind of goes through the kind of things she’s asking. I know you don’t see anything horrible, but you do see results of CT scans they’ve done of the mummies – so I’m sitting on the fence unsure whether it’ll be suitable for H or will just freak her out with her only just being five, and the website doesn’t indicate age suitability. I can get a reduction on the exhibition as I have a Waterstones card, so we wouldn’t be paying full price – and it’s only on until November, so it’s something we need to do sooner than later. I think it’ll be quite fascinating for H – in the last week we’ve looked at some of my x-rays (she didn’t like that as it was me), as well as gone through things on the Human Body app for most of his year.

We don’t get into London very much, but this seems too good an opportunity to miss. What to do?