Sunday, 27 September 2009

Has Miss Piggy left the bulding?

My daughter is over the swine flu, well actually the flu is gone, but we've been left with the 'swine' part. The poorly girl, who was malleable and sweet, wanted hugs and watched her childhood Disney movies a week ago, that girl has left the building.

I have to remind myself that the flu, separate to the man flu version we all know so well, which is a period of high drama which involves a man, tiredness and the sorry for myself syndrome or at worst a bad head cold, BUT the real deal is really debilitating. I had it only once two years ago and it came on suddenly one afternoon, whilst at the metro centre, and I took to my bed after the teeth chattering journey home, from cold not fear of Larry's driving. Once you have suffered the flu, you never again think a three day head cold is flu. Two days later, Larry insisted that he take me to the Q-doc place for a consultation- and Larry doesn't do insisting nor do doctors, so I was sure I looked worse than I felt. Good old fashioned Influenza the doctor said, fluids and bed rest for a week.

What I need to recall is the period after the symptoms left, when I was bone tired and irritable for weeks afterwards. It takes a lot out of you. With our daughter, she has taken her many free study periods in the mornings this week, and translated them into mean that sleeping in until noon, is the order of the week. And me, her mother turned green and burst forth with,

'Don't you think that study periods may be better used, by getting up and doing some er studying? or some coursework? tidying this den of iniquity? I can't see the floor and you have 9 yes nine I counted them - half full glasses and cups that the dishwasher has been looking for!'

Any sense of humour has disappeared out the door with the flu and I, having worked really hard this week on an exhibition changeover at work, doing manual work dismantling walls and painting 12 foot high walls, just have not the patience to pussy foot around. I cannot get the house and me in a better place IF the vampire is sleeping all day, worse getting under my feet.

Today she and Larry were up at the crack of dawn to visit Edinburgh University for its Open Day. I feel like crap that I haven't gone too, but thinking it through and only getting the day off at the last moment when they had planned to go alone, I decided to leave them to it would be the best.

My daughter confides in me when it matters most, in that she needs my help or advice. I think that it is important to try and keep the communication lines open. It is necessary to remember that they DO NOT know it all, even if they think they do. Knowing that she will shout for my help, not Larry's in certain situations. Is a good thing. I need to remain approachable and not piss her off entirely. She however needs to remember to fill the dishwasher and keep her room tidy. A fair exchange you would think!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Of course it's my fault

So my gigantic almost 14 year old son has been trying to slim down a bit recently. He has finally realized that yes, you can in fact overfeed an adolescent male body. I have to admire his restraint of late, and without over-emphasizing things, he knows that I am proud of him.

At dinner the other night I commented that I could tell he was getting skinny by his wrists. Everyone thought that was hilarious, but you know what I mean? He now has much more pronounced wrist bones.

"Yes but I still need to get rid of my moobs (man-boobs)", he lamented. And then followed up with the inevitable, "Which incidentally, are all your fault".

Try as I did, I simply couldn't make the leap between his moobs and my inadequacies as a mother, unless of course it's simply because I have boobs. Obviusly I was thinking hard enough.

Apparently if I'd mentioned that the little foil-wrapped chocolates in the pantry were women's calcium supplements, he wouldn't have stolen so many a few years ago and wouldn't have moobs now!

Expat Mum

Friday, 25 September 2009

I'm in love with her boyfriend...

No, I don't mean in a Jeremy Kyle, Oprah Winfrey kind of way. Made you look though didn't it?! In fact he is really, I am told, just a friend.

My eldest daughter is nearly sweet sixteen. She's always liked boys, ever since she was a toddler. She just 'gets' them, probably more than she 'gets' girls at times.
As she's matured of course I've encouraged her to try and stay focused on 'other things' (i.e. schoolwork) and since, for various reasons, she moved to an all-girl school last year, it's been fairly quiet on the boy front.

Until a few weeks ago...

...enter Harry.

Harry is 18. He is off to university soon to study English and Politics. He's also learning Arabic, he wants to save the world. Harry works all the hours God sends to save up for uni. and my teen meets him during his lunch break from time to time. On the last occasion we both happened to be in town she brought him over to meet me. Afterwards she told me that he is just a 'friend'. Hmmmm OK then..I'll believe it if she does.

Last night Harry came for dinner. He brought a box of Crispy Cream do-nuts to share after the meal. Harry made eye contact. Harry asked if he could do anything to help. Harry chatted with all of us...he's intelligent...he's done work experience in Westminster...not too gushy...self assured but not in a cocky way. He's handsome and he has a twinkle in his eye for my daughter. Who is just his friend. They sat on the sofa and were comfortable with each other, it was plain for all to see. And he won us all over; even my 10 year old son went out an got him a good luck card before he goes to uni on Tues., having met him only once. I don't even get cards from my 10 year old son unless his arm is forced behind his back by two older sisters.

And I'm thinking...I'd love her to choose a lad like this at some point in her life, to welcome into our family. Then I think "WHAT!!!?"

Excuse me, but when did this happen? When did I turn from a rational, efficient, slightly anxious mother into a dopey eyed, wishful thinking idiot? Is this what teenagers do to us? Of course Harry will go to university, meet lots of girls his age and break my heart. Sorry, I mean my daughter's heart don't I?

Get a grip woman. Show some decorum here. A little sense and perspective please.

Yet could it be true that manners really do maketh man?

You'd all like him, I know you would.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Comfort Food...

tunnocks teacake Pictures, Images and Photos

Tunnock's Tea-cakes...

Wine Gums...

Stodgy Puddings...


Sausages and Mash...

Hearty Soup...

Wine Gums Pictures, Images and Photos

I wonder whether I am to blame for my son's Comfort Food fixation... For whatever addictions he might develop in life? Are they in the genes?

I over-eat. I know I do. And I associate comfort eating with... Well, comfort.

Being in my peejays surreptitiously breaking off squares of chocolate is one of life's random pleasures, is it not?

Chocolate Pictures, Images and Photos

And I tried to bring Grizz up with a healthier attitude to food, I did... That he turned out to be no faddy eater was a real result for me... While one of my nephews wanted "Hard toast, please", and the other whined, "Soft toast, please"; The latter was the same child who ate nothing but sausages for several years... I had no such problems with Grizz.

He would eat whatever he was given and he played outdoors rigorously, ran hard, ensuring he was never really overweight... So we indulged ourselves occasionally - A biscuit here, some sweeties there... Avoiding the things with additives and E numbers and no caffeine or Cola, to keep him happy and healthy and hale and hearty...

And now he's practically an adult, with his mother's sweet tooth unfortunately. And I try to keep him healthy still, even while he's making his own choices in life... He indulges in occasional, but never excessive, alcohol... Two bowls of cereal a day... Cheese Sandwiches... Tunnock's Tea-Cakes... Wine Gums...

ice cream Pictures, Images and Photos

And I still watch his teeth, and his waist-line, and how he fits in his clothes. And I know it's his body. And he's entitled to make his own choices... But smoking? That's MY bete noir... I really hate what smoking does to people. And I don't know now where I am going with this post, but I just wanted to rant.

Sorry. Rant over. For now!

Ice Cream Love Pictures, Images and Photos

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Home Comforts...

food Pictures, Images and Photos

Our darling Saz was writing the other day, as only Saz can do - Making us laugh with tales of her young 'uns scuttling in and out of the kitchen, casting aspersions on their parents' passions, and ram-raiding the fridge and food cupboards...

And I think Beautiful Auntie Gwennie had much the same to say recently, about not being able to keep her lovely, growing son fed... Eating her out of house and home, I should imagine... And then our beloved Scriptor Senex spoke about Junior's magic abilities to make huge hunks of cheese just disappear.

Therefore, I am given to understand that Fhina's not alone in this... In my mind's eye I see the Sainsbury family sitting in their cosy snug each Friday in life, to raise a glass of their own twinkling Prosecco in honour of the profits they have made purely from Fhina's purse and the man-made mountains of food-shopping she has to cart out of their supermarket and into her home!

All of which, I kid you not, makes its way down the beak and gullet of our starveling Baby Bird...

posted Pictures, Images and Photos


And then there are the 'phone calls - I swear he has a timer fitted in his tum! We might be stuck in traffic on the way home from work, and the mobile 'phone will trill into life, and we can recite the conversation verbatim.

"Where are you?

When will you be home?

...There's absolutely nothing to eat in this bloody house and I want you to bring some shopping in...

Oh, and remember ice-cream!"

And then we have to start all over again... And Mr Sainsbury's eyes roll back in unadulterated pleasure as his tills go "Kerching!"

Friday, 18 September 2009

On a more serious note....

I enjoy writing fun posts for this blog but in reality it is frequently anything but fun being the parent of a teenager. Equally, and perhaps more importantly, it is often no fun at all being a teenager.

I get frustrated by the state in which Junior leaves the bathroom when he is preparing to go out. The bowl’s dirty, the bath towels are on the floor, the tops are off half as dozen different lotions and smellies. And lecturing him about cleaning up after himself has no effect. But occasionally I put myself in his position and think which would I rather be. The guy who cleans the bathroom or the one who has to spend hours grooming himself and worrying about every hair that might be out of place, every potential spot or blemish and all the other things that a young man going out for the evening has to consider.

I am fortunate in that my life experiences have given me the confidence to deal with things without worrying about what people think of me. I can happily display on my blog the words of Dr Seuss -
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

But what was is it like at nineteen? Very different!

I recall one girlfriend I went out with who was a rugby fan. I brushed up on my rugby knowledge. Magnified the three awful games of rugby I’d played into a season of above average performance. She was tall. In high heels she was taller than me. I wore smart black leather boots for most of that year. ‘By coincidence’ they happened to have higher heels than ordinary shoes. She liked me to be clean-shaven and my beard has always been quick growing so after a day at work I was a bit stubbly. I went through agonies finding various ways of shaving between work and going out. It would seem a simple enough task but this was in the days before electric shavers were common and there would have been nowhere private in work to plug one in. So I had to endure the risk of someone coming in the Gents and finding me shaving. There would have been ribald comments to endure. How mortifying.

Of course, not every evening was spent going out with one’s girlfriend. There were trips to the match and on to the pub with the lads. It didn’t matter what the weather was like or if one had a headache one stood (in those days) at the Anfield Road end of Liverpool’s ground and sang rude songs at the referee. And, most important of all, one had to look like one was enjoying it, even when Liverpool were three nil down and the hail was bouncing off your bare aching head. (What, wear a cap – how wimpish would that have been!) Then , in the pub, how many unwanted glasses of beer were downed and cigarettes smoked simply to keep pace with one’s friends. The pressure to conform outweighed all else.

So I try to look at Junior and remember some of these things. And I’ll pick up the towels from the floor and be thankful. After all, it may not seem like it but he’s got a lot more to worry about than I have.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

The disappearing act

Some magicians spend years perfecting their art. The better ones may eventually make money by going on stage and waving their hands in the air to produce bunches of flowers or somehow place a pretty girl in a cabinet and get her to disappear. (What a waste, I always thought!) One thing I have never understood is why people are so impressed. Surely anyone who has had a teenager knows they can make anything disappear.

Let’s examine this week as an example of Junior’s skill in this regard.

It is so obvious to any teen parent that food disappears from the fridge. What is less obvious sometimes is how it is done. You look in the fridge and there is a very large chunk of cheddar cheese. Without leaving the kitchen you plan how you are going to cook that cheese and you get the utensils and other ingredients out for a Welsh Rarebit. You open the fridge door again and the cheese has gone. Does the fridge have a hidden back door that leads directly into his den, I wonder?

In the kitchen we have a pair of orange handled scissors. They are excellent scissors. Junior had been in the kitchen creating one of his excellent Chinese stir fries. When he had finished I washed the dishes for him. (How do you use every dish and utensil in the house to create one stir fry?) The scissors were not among the items I washed. Nor were they in the drawer when I went to use them later that day. They disappeared for a week only to turn up in the fridge in his den. Magic!

I reckon that around the house there are scattered about seven CD players of various sorts. Actually, that seems now to be only six. Oh, the one in the bedroom has gone as well, make that five. I could have sworn there was one in the corner of the lounge. Oh well, at least there’s one in the conservatory. Yes, OK, you can borrow it to listen to the match on the radio if you’re sure your radio isn’t working but you must return it.... Damn. Not a CD player anywhere. What’s he doing, Running a market stall of electrical goods?

But the ultimate disappearing act involves Junior himself.

Me - “Can I just have a word with you for a moment?
Junior - “Sure, can I just set my Sky to record and I’ll be back in a moment.
Disappears and doesn’t reappear for at least two days...

Me - “Can I just show you a job I’d like doing in the garden?
Junior - “Sure, can I just put some shoes on.”
Disappears for at least three days....

What he doesn’t know is I’m working up to finding just the right phrase to make him disappear for a month or two.... Ah, bliss.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Take another little piece of my heart...

tattoo Pictures, Images and Photos

My son, Grizz, recently got his A/S Level results...

We were on holiday in the Netherlands when our next door neighbour's boy, Nate, was at school to collect his own and Grizz's A Level results... Nate's a year older, so leaves school this year - He's going to University next year, and is going on to train to work as a ski- and, I think, -hang-glider instructor, in his 'Gap Year'.

...The anticipation and suspense was prickling the tiny hairs on the back of my neck. As we waited. And as I pondered their fragile futures.

You might not know, but like our lovely Lakeviewer, I work in Education Policy...

One of the latest education research results in the North East of England I heard about, admittedly concerning a pocket-sized area of an inner-city, indicated that looking at a cohort of young people, (aged 16 - 18), who were not in education, training or employment (charmingly called 'NEETs'), 50% of them were dead by the age of 25.

That's daunting, is it not? Horrifying, in fact... Scary indeed.

There is so much riding on the academic achievement and vocational success of our young people. My son. Your daughter. Our beloved children.

And how do you get those messages over to them; Those who think they know EVERYTHING better than their long-suffering, always-loving, parentals?

So many people with now grown-up children have said similar things to me lately, using words like these, "They have to learn their own lessons, make their own mistakes, and their own way in life...; It's all part of growing up, Fhina... They're growing away..."

And yet, I bite my lip to a frazzle, I fret, I wait and I wonder, and I hope that all that I have done in my life to try to make my child's easier, more enriched, will come to fruition. I want him to blossom and grow.

All I want in life is for him to be happy. I don't want for him to hit the heights, to be an astronaut, Prime Minister, the next Alice Cooper, (the later version sans drugs, sans alcohol!), or to have his coffers over-flowing with riches...

None of that's really important, is it? Ultimately, the majority of mums and moms, dads and carers, want our children to be healthy and happy and to live a life without devastating incident, disaster or disease...

So, what happened with Grizz, you ask? Well, he did as well as could be expected, I feel, given his penchant for a healthy social life that Paris Hilton would envy; 20 hours' worth of furious kipping a night; his well-honed skills in Work Avoidance 101, and copious amounts of 'resting' his brain in-between... I think he's trying to preserve it... To keep it in pristine, museum condition...

He'll have to re-sit one lot of exams - To gain a better grade in Geography, the subject he thinks he'd like to study at University next year... I breathed a silent sigh of relief, which I hid from him, but shared with my husband... "It could have been worse...," we opined, and we moved on, dealing with his outbursts of angst and brief despair, as the day ran on...

I'm keeping my fingers (and legs!) crossed for Grizz. I'm keeping him back a bear-hug of an embrace that's full of hope. I'm saving another little piece of my heart for him...

In case he needs it.

tattoo Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, 14 September 2009

The food mountain...

There is much talking and worrying about possible food disorders in our young people these days. It is something all mothers of daughters talk about, worry about and read about. We look for signs of fast shrinking waists and hips. I admit to even thinking once or twice about it when daughter goes off to the loo right after eating. I am sure l have no worries there but it is sensible to be aware of the dangers, the vulnerabilities and the pressure on our girls from many different levels.

However I admit that I haven't given more than a fleeting thought to my son's possible susceptibility to any eating disorder. Bar one. The 'eating me out of house and frigging home syndrome'. WTF? Our son has metamorphosised like bloody Jeff Goldblum does in film The Fly. I mean overnight my son has grown six inches, his hands and feet are huge, his fingers are so long everytime I look I think of ET . His father and he are vying over that last half inch that will make son taller and Larry isn't giving in none too easily, I promise you!

Our son will no doubt beat Larry's 6ft 1.5' height by year end. He is currently 15 years and one month old, his feet are a size 12, he is all elbows and knees. Having his brace off last Christmas, after enduring four different rather disfiguring like braces over a 30 month period, these changed his profile and his teeth are beautiful, only enhancing his wide dimpled smile. He is a sensible, kind, thoughtful and is sensitive to the feelings of others. He appears to be popular with both the lads and lasses. His teachers speak well of him and he does all his school work on time. After a blip in junior school following a bout of glandular fever one Christmas, he learned the value of making good choices in his friendships and with his school work. He rarely cheeks or 'disses' me. Yet. Fingers crossed, I may have a good'un here.

What I cannot get my head around is the amount of food this tall, skinny lad consumes! The quantity must be in keeping with the European food mountain! I go to the supermarket and unpack and like the dealers who are allowed in early to a cold, dawn sunday boot fair, the boy hovers around me and furtively stretches around me to see wot I got, like Twizzle. He is often waiting my arrival behind the front door, offering to help me unpack. I would like to think that this is out of politeness or that he knows that I am suffering from my internal wonky heating system and I need a hand. But I believe none of these to be the prime source of his concern.

He needs to eat. Regularly. Not always healthily. for example there will be drawers full of fruit and vegetables, but they may well as be labelled for Mum 'cos no one else touches them. He will ignore the cheese and the cold meat, yoghurts and stuff. Favouring overful bowls of cereals, cinammon bagels slathered with Lurpak, and anything that resembles a cake, a fancy or chocolate biscuit preferably with high sugar content and preservatives, out of a box or wrapper.

If I bake a cake it's gone by sundown. I should do more baking, but after work is done, the catching up of housework and then some me time on the laptop or some decent tv, I'm stuck. But now that I think of it, home made is better than processed. The lunch money goes on baguettes at school or pies in town.

In the evening whilst sat in his darkened den, on Msn whilst doing his course work, he restocks regularly. This he does with utmost stealth, we often don't notice he has glided downstairs a bit like the daleks do, seemingly hovering down the stairs, then the kitchen light goes on. He is a BIG tea drinker so always asks if anyone, usually it is me that wants a cuppa. The toaster will snap down and pop up, waiting for his next foray, down the stairs into the land of the barmy shape shifters, his parents. He repeats this every 2 hours or so even whilst on holiday or in the evenings.

I am not sure how he makes it through the night, perhaps teens are like squirrels, they hoard it and don't digest it properly, so kind of half regurgitate it to gain succour and energy later!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

But they look good

Is it me, or are there no limits to what kids will endure to look good?

The Queenager went to school this morning jokingly wondering if she would be able to sit down in her skinny jeans. (No uniform). Alarmed, I made her squat and demonstrate full range of motion, although I don’t remember hearing her breather as she did this. I even offered to take her out at the weekend to buy new jeans. That fit. Her response was that they “looked good”.
“Ah well”, I thought.

She’s not even one of those kids who spends hours getting dressed, and certainly doesn’t hanker after designer labels.

“Did I ever do that” I mused, when she had levered herself out of the door. Given that I can barely stand anything around my waist these days I can’t imagine ever wearing a garment that would limit movement. But wait, didn’t my sister and I just recently have a conversation about how you’d have to lie on the floor to get your jeans on. Your friend straddled you, pulled the pockets together and laced something through the zip to pull it up. No – couldn’t have been. Weren’t we once guilty of getting the bus into town, wearing jeans that were so tight we couldn’t sit down, despite the fact that the bus was empty? (Heck – we could barely lift our legs high enough to get on the bus in the first place!)

Hmmmmm. Now that I think back, perhaps I’ll cut the Queenager some slack.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The seX factor

Okay now this may be taboo, but I AM gonna talk about it. S.E.X. sex. There I said it. But I'm not talking about the teenagers and sex, this time I'm talking about US MMM's, mums and dads and er sex.

Why do all teenagers think we don't have or do .... um ....well, sex actually? I get that they don't want to think about it, their Ma and Pa at it, but well you know... it does happen, yes it does, well maybe not as often as one would like but yeah, sometimes!

Recently my kids have twice heard me say something that they thought was, as they put it, ' Gross,' 'Revolting' & ' I think I'm gonna be sick' ,all in that order.

The first time was when Larry and I were sitting and chatting in the conservatoire, (sun lounge to toi and moi) and our son sluffing down the stairs to refill his stomach, (I feel this cold be another post topic ), replenished, he stopped by our den and we exchanged some talk and then he departed back to his dark, musky lair.

I left to put on the kettle and said to Larry, 'I really fancy a good snog!' and yes I still say snog c1971, but before Larry could respond in his usual, guffawing jokey fashion to distract me from my intentions, our son shouted down the stairs, 'I heard that Mum and that is well out of order,' and get this, 'Remember there are children in the house!'

So when it suits them, they are children, like last week, new trousers and school shoes, superfluous stationary, so that suits them, yeah? But when it comes to our own natural instincts, the parents are out of order, but the kids allow themselves, carte blanche! ?

The other most recent indiscretion and yes it is always me who gets caught and considering I've had 30+ years practice at subterfuge of this type, it's pretty disappointing really! Obviously I must be unusual for my age and seemingly I should be wearing black, letting my eyebrows grow in and too the hair on head, legs, underarms and face. Wear thick tights in the middle of summer, wear black unflattering clothing, like the elderly greek widows, then would this be appropriate do you think? I digress...where was I? Ah, yes Larry and I were laughing smuttily in the kitchen, heads together; daughter wafts into the room, all perfume and long legs up to her elbows, stops dead and grimaces, 'Oh you too aren't at it are you? Time and a place you know, time and a place!'

I do realise that there is an element of teasing here, and l am sure they prefer us like this, rather that at daggers drawn, but it seems to me there is no , get out of jail free card when you are a parent!

It used be, 'dont wake the baby!' but now it's more, ' the kid's are still up, shh!!' Now I really do understand the phrase, 'Get a room!' I think I might just do that, it's not all about them, it's about us too. After all they wouldn't be here if we hadn't had sex in the first place.

Can't help think though, what goes around comes around, eh? Karma eh Mother?

Teenagers and Cell Phones. Learn From My Experience.


Hi Everyone!  My name is Sallymandy.  I live in Montana, USA, and this is my first post on Mad Manic Mamas. 

So, I promised my twelve-year-old she could go back to school with a cell phone.  That was six months ago, and we are still navigating the waters.   If you are new to this situation, too, maybe we can help each other.

Now, it’s not that I want to hide from cell phones, television, or computers altogether.  I want a door that shuts on them from time to time, to protect sanctuary in my home. 

How to find moderation with a teen or ‘tween, and cell phones?  If you can learn from my experience it will make me happy.  And then share your insights with me.  Here are some of my hard-learned lessons.       

1.  Buy time.  Not cell phone minutes, but as much time as needed to get informed about cell phones and teenagers.  If your child is pressing you for a phone, set a date that’s reasonable for you, and then stick to it.     

2.  Get informed.  Learn about phones, services, and payment plans.  Learn about your provider’s parental controls.  Don’t assume that because you have a cell phone, you know the needed facts.  Assume that your child knows way more than you do. 

3.  Ask what boundaries seem reasonable to your child.  Try to discern what he/she thinks cell phones are for.  Sit down, and prepare to be educated. 

4.  Decide what your boundaries are.  Do you mind the cell phone being used first thing in the morning?  At midnight?  At dinner?  On family outings, hikes, bike rides, movies?  Your child will have seen atrocious cell phone behavior by the time she’s potty trained.  She can’t be expected to follow reasonable boundaries unless you make them conscious and clear.     

5.  When in doubt, start with a strict boundary and ease up later.  Explain that this is a work in progress.  Allow yourself to evolve.

7.  If your child is young enough, start an early rule that a phone at school belongs in the locker.  High school teachers report that the cell phone habit is nearly impossible to control in the upper grades—even though schools have rules against them, they are hard to enforce.  Discourage the habit of carrying it to class. 

8.  Let your child have a say in which phone to buy, but pay for it yourself.  Ownership = tiny shreds of control.  Your child can pay for services if you want him to have a financial stake. 

9.  Finally, when it all seems too much, look for comic relief.  You might try learning some texting language to try out on your partner or mother.  Beyond the ever popular “WTF,” there are phrases like: 

YRYOCC:  “You’re running on your own cuckoo clock.” 

SSEWBA:  “Someday soon, everything will be acronyms.”   

RUMCYMHMD:  “Are you on medication cuz you must have missed a dose.”

Do you have any wisdom about teenagers and cell phones? 


photo cartoon from  Click on photo for link to page. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

By the time you get to 3...

I have been truly blessed and have 3 beautiful children. I have been pondering on the quality of my mothering over my 17 and a half year career.

With my first child, Eldest Beautiful Daughter I believe the quality was akin to Jenners or for the non Scots amongst you Harvey Nichols. When she was born I peered into every cot in the maternity ward with a smug glee as my baby was the most beautiful. She was THE most precious baby in the universe and nothing was too good for her. I actually made people wash their hands before they picked her up, even my in-laws, no, I can't understand why they got bent out of shape either ! I pureed and mashed her food, every morsel home made and as pure as I could get it, breastfed and gazed into her eyes whilst telling her how amazing she was, all her outfits were carefully co-ordinated and I lovingly laundered and ironed even bibs and babygro's, entertained her every waking moment whilst providing educational stimulus, read every book and childcare theory going and would not have left her for a peko second with anyone was not her father, her grandmother or who had less than an encyclopaedic knowlege of childcare and was prepared to worship and adore her as I did. I researched every nursery and every school and moved to ensure a place at the establishment that was rated the highest as I felt it best suited her (read my) needs. I wanted to ensure she got the best, the very best of everything.

With my second child, The Beautiful Son, born and presented to his Father on Fathers Day (I know, how efficient am I ? the only son) I feel the quality moved down to maybe a Marks and Spencer level, still good but not quite as exclusive. He was not the most beautiful baby in the ward but you were allowed to pick him up without the full hygiene screen. He survived on a mix of home cooked stuff and maybe Heinz stuff from jars (there was no organic baby food then)I breastfed him too but did so whilst watching the telly, talking on the phone or even reading a book. This baby had clean clothes but they weren't always ironed and he occasionally went to bed in a pink polka dot babygro that used to belong to his sister. He was entertained in between picking up his sister from playgroup and the hoovering, he also would enjoy watching a Teletubbies or Bob the Builder video at some point in the day. I would leave him with trusted friends to babysit and was quite happy to do so. I sent him to the playgroup that was local and friendly.

When the Beautiful Baby Daughter came along, a mere 16 months behind The Beautiful Son (making 3 children born in 4 years and 7 months) we came down to functional and economy mothering, Sainsbury's own label, so to speak. I didn't even bother going to hospital to have her, stayed at home, minimum fuss, she was born at 5pm on a Sunday and on the Monday morning I dropped eldest daughter off at nursery at 8.50am and was doing my shopping in Sainsbury's at 9am. You didn't even have to be visibly clean to pick this baby up. She survived on food scavenged from her siblings and was very partial to cheesy wotsists which gave her a peculiar orange glow, her clothes were clean but not ironed but always ended up covered in snot and chocolate and orange goo and my food and parenting snobbery ended abruptly. I breastfed her too but did so whilst loading the washing machine or making the tea, if I sat down to do it I'd fall asleep. She was entertained when her siblings could be bothered and had a Pingu video on on a loop. I would have let anyone at all babysit her, anyone. I sent her to the playgroup that took children at the youngest age.

I hope I have not damaged the younger 2 beacause I had so much less time, hopefully it was counterbalanced by me being more experienced and much less neurotic. The eldest is the most self assured, the middle the most laid back and academically the youngest is the brightest despite not having baby Mozart or flash cards or my omni present attention. They are all very different characters, they bicker semi professionally but they are mine, and the most important thing of all, we all love each other, warts and all.

auntiegwen xxx

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Finally, it's the last day of summer holidays with my daughter going back tomorrow. Consequently she insisted on a final day of "bonding" with her mother, which really meant using all her powers of persuasion to exploit me to the fountain pen and all. Bloody bored of stationary now.

I'm sorry they're all going back. Not because I'm going to miss them, but because I have to get up early. This summer (when they have been around), it has all worked quite well - mainly because my older two children are now entirely capable of entertaining themselves. My third and last child suffers a bit with my lack of full on interest, but surely that is what makes third and/or last children so special? They have to be creative and imaginative and independent simply because their parents can no longer be arsed to amuse them.

The great thing is that I don't even have to feel guilty about it anymore because there is a new parenting book out called "Can We Give Them Back Now?" which has coined the term "benign neglect". It suggests that we redress the balance of family life, where we attempt to meet our children's needs, but don't pander to their every whim. It's about being around but not actually available at all times.

I don't really have a major problem with this approach to parenting. It's how I grew up. My parents magnificently honed the art of "benign neglect". Choosing instead to drink coffee and/or alcohol and read papers and books and talk to friends and generally have a fun-filled child-free time, even when the kids were about. They used to forget we existed for entire days. Even weeks and months. In fact we were lucky to be found alive after several occasions of being locked in the back of the car with a packet of crisps and a sleeping bag. The same applied when we went anywhere near water. Our parents would feed us a packet of crisps and then tell us that we had to stay out of the water for the next three hours in case we got cramp and drowned. I can hardly believe they got away with it.

The principle behind the approach and the resulting benefits seem entirely obvious to me. Parents become less stressed and resentful and children become more independent. My one criticism is the title. I don't like it. What's wrong with "f*ck off, I'm busy?"

Or maybe that's a bit too harsh.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Home Help.

dirty dishes and baby Pictures, Images and Photos

Scriptor Senex's post made me laugh out loud the other day. With his picture of a dirty-dish filled counter-top, I thought he'd managed to take a snap through my kitchen window!

So you know that I've been avoiding lifting things while I recover from my back operation, right?

And that has meant I can go grocery shopping, but I only manage to put away very light things in the cupboards of the shabby, (not 'shabby-chic', note!), kitchen; I can't endure lots of bendy-back, uppy and downy, movements...

And Grizz has been intermittently helpful, intertwined with hog-stubbornly recalcitrant...

I honestly never know which way to turn. Still, I do very little turning too!

Who was that who said, 'The Lady's not for turning!'... Anyhoo, it could have been me.

Well, after a rest and scarfing down some tea, (supper to our Over The Pond cousins), I sauntered through to the kitchen with my plate to wash up.

I spotted, out of the corner of my beady eye, a plastic punnet of blueberries sitting beside the toaster. Not a great place to leave blueberries, and possibly something of a fire hazard, so I called to my husband, GJ, as he walked through into the room, being up to my oxters in washing-up soap suds...

SMEG fridge Pictures, Images and Photos

'Do you think you could pop those blueberries into the fridge, they must have been left out?'

'Sure, no probs', he cowered - I have him right under my thumb - SO NOT!

And he opened the fridge saying,
'I don't think this needs to be in there, do you?
That should make room for the blueberries!' As he said this, he was taking my new canister of Dove deodorant out of the fridge, replacing it with the beautiful blueberries...

You see, with teenagers, it pays to be obvious, to clarify every point... To leave nothing in any doubt. They take things literally sometimes, you see.

So, earlier, when I'd given him the bag full of groceries for refridgeration, and asked him to put them away... He had taken me totally at my word!

deodorant Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Feeling Guilty.

Despite all the blogging I have been doing lately I was all too aware that I hadn’t contributed to MMM for a while. I was feeling guilty. What can I write about, I thought. And the answer immediately came back – “Feeling guilty”.

I get the distinct impression that the word ‘guilt’ is totally foreign to the average teenager. By the time we have children and have spent at least twelve years attempting to bring them up as well as possible the average parent is, by contrast, totally guilt ridden. Did we do this right, did we do that right, will what we did yesterday have a life-long effect upon our children? Will they be seeking psychiatric help in a few years time because of where we went wrong?

Junior meanwhile does not feel in the least bit guilty about forgetting to bring dishes out of his den until they crawl out by themselves. He has no conscience about leaving electric appliances running all night or creating inordinate bills on his mobile phone (for which parent foolishly pays). About the only time he appears guilty and apologises profusely is when some minor item of crockery gets broken. Not only do breakages not matter but they happen to all of us and he knows that. He's never been chastised for breaking anything and he knows that the philosophy of our house is that damage to people matters - damage to things doesn't. So why does he choose that to feel guilty about?

I’m sure many eminent psychologists have propounded all sorts of theories about guilt in their learned papers. Indeed psychologists still consider that the role of this complex emotion is debatable. Religious theorists also propound their ideas about guilt being the result of Man’s ability to tell Good from Evil and the internal fight between the Devil and God.

But what I’m concerned with is very much the minor things in life that keep us on track and help life to run smoothly. Things like feeling guilty if we cook a meal and don’t wash the dishes afterwards so that they are clean for the next person who comes along. Or feeling just that little bit responsible for replacing the empty toilet roll with a new one. I want him to experience guilt if he hasn’t cut the hedge when I’ve asked him to half a dozen times.

All too often guilt is viewed as a powerfully negative behaviour. One which makes us feel condemned and that we deserve punishment. It can make us ill, depressed, unable to relate to people. It really needs sorting out! But that is when it is excessive, has a false cause or relates to some really major transgression in life. The last thing I want is for Junior to feel guilt at this level but I feel there is room for a reasonable amount of guilt in all of us to help us to conform to the norms of society. When guilt is running at a minor level I believe it can be a positive and helpful emotion that assists teenagers to conform to the normns of the society we are training them for.

There is the story of the man who wrote to the tax office.
"I am sending this money I owe, because I have been unable to sleep at night. If I still can't sleep, I will send you the other half."

I don’t want Junior to be unable to sleep at night for worrying about unwashed dishes but I sure could do with him feeling guilty enough to promote socially acceptable behaviour.

In the meantime, I’ve done a posting for MMM so my conscience is clear on that score!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Teenagers & Stress

This time I'm talking about their stress not ours.

My fifteen year old daughter is having some symptoms that I'm having checked out by the GP and whilst we were with him he mentioned this little word that was hiding away at the back of my mind - "stress." Now I could of course be worrying about nothing here (further invesgations are to be done) but this is the thing...and maybe you can shed some light in all of your infinate wisdom on the subject as this is my first 15 year old.

There are circumstances of course. She had to move at the age of 13 and had a terrible first year when she was mercilessly bullied by 'passive aggressive' girls - there's a blog post waiting to happen.

We got through it, we put her in a private school for a couple of years to get her through her GCSE's and geographically away from the school zone she was in. She settled easily (as would normally be her style) and made friends with ease.

Since then there has been 'stuff' going on. Her dad's lost his job, need to move out of rental house and find another as owners coming back...but we try to protect her from the worries we have and she has a happy home life and is loved. She isn't telling me of worries and she has always been one to tell me everything.

But I worry. She certainly feels the pressure of academic work, not least because she basically lost a whole year and is catching up in some subjects. Yet I also wonder, if indeed stress proves to be the issue (which I now strongly suspect to be the case) how much it is part of the teen condition. I need some perpective here because things haven't been 'normal'.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Now you're talking!

censure Pictures, Images and Photos

We were on holiday just recently, me GJ and Grizz... You might have noticed - Things got a little quiet around here with Saz and I both away at the same time, there was no-one to pick up the slack, sorry... Joanne (Reasons To Be Cheerful 1, 2, 3, your post is ready to be posted tomorrow - Hope that's okay me dahlink?

Well, there was one day when we were in the Netherlands. It was hot and humid and close, and it looked like we might get caught in a storm without rain gear in the middle of nowhere, and I was sweating like Porky the Pig... I can't even remember what it was about now, but I might have been indulging in a little whining and a little whingeing about something... I honestly do it very, very rarely - Usually being a 'glass half full' kind of gal...

teenagers Pictures, Images and Photos

And Grizz turned to me and these words fell from his Appelgebak encrusted lips...

"Whoah mum, stop moaning. You sound like a teenager!"

My jaw fell open, incredulously... Out of the mouths of babes, eh?!.

Insane Pictures, Images and Photos