I don’t feel old (although my favourite section of the newspaper has become “25 years ago today”), but I was a little dismayed this week to be invited to a couple of separate events at my local cinema. One was the dementia friendly screening of
The Forgotten Denial (with free tea and biscuits!) and the other was an invitation to to the Silver Surfer’s showing of Jackie. But it’s true, officially I am an old, middle-aged person and I know this because I no longer have any desire to watch the television while lying on the floor. The positive aspect of this getting older malarkey is that I actually derive great enjoyment from drinking wine now, and I am capable of tasting the difference between a Gavi and a Pinot Grigio. Luckily they are both in my fridge.
Thing 1 has a room full of polaroid style photos with snapshots of friends, family, pets, more friends, cousins, parties, selfies. She’s surrounded in that room by people (and animals) who love her. Thing 4 has enough cuddly toys to stock the entire ground floor of Hamleys. Thing 3 has nothing on his wall, though that could be something to do with my previous screeching for the application of sellotape/blu-tack to the paintwork. Thing 2, on the other hand, has a pin board (a mad moment of DIY generosity), see snapshot above, which features only rugby heroes (please don’t ask me to name them). I was wondering if the contrasts had some deeper meaning, about boys and girls and idols and heroes and manifestations of love etc. But then I recalled that as a teenager, I had pin-ups ; George Michael and Princess Diana mostly – but also a few of Boy George about whom I held not entirely positive feelings, but the cool kid in my class (Karen) loved him and so I thought she might like me more if I had a poster of him in my bedroom. Maybe there’s a girl in Thing 2’s class who is passionate about rugby personalities? Remind me to ask him later!
Like many women, I belong to a Book Club. Like many women we’ve discovered it’s a fabulous way to read books, drink wine, eat chocolate and spend an evening every month with the girls. The only thing that troubles me is when it’s my turn to choose the book. High culture, classic, low brow, non-fiction etc? It’s always a worry because you don’t want to let anyone down in the group, you’d like to give them the gift of a truly memorable read. Something that we can churn over, discuss, find inspiration, or just plain enjoy. Luckily an opportunity presented itself yesterday afternoon with a fellow mum while collecting Thing 4 from the playground.
Me: Hi there, how are you? Have you had a productive day?
Lucy: Oh hi! Yes, great day actually. I finished my book.
Me: Oh brilliant, what was it? Any good? I need to come up with a suggestion for Book Club next week.
Lucy (a little bit disdainfully if I’m honest, but maybe I’m being overly sensitive in hindsight): Oh no! I wasn’t reading a book. I was writing my own. It’s an academic publication about the development of working memory in young adults. Do you remember, we spoke about it before Christmas?
Lucky I’m not a young adult isn’t it?
Family trip at the weekend to see the film ‘Lion’. I’d read some critical reviews (it’s a little slow in parts, the music can start to become overpowering, there are some areas where it diverts from the true story) but these points were so minor in my experience. It’s a stunningly powerful film, a formidable tale of familial love – maternal, fraternal and filial. It’s an unimaginable situation for a five year old boy to go missing, but equally horrifying to think about how a loving mother might feel in this situation. The beauty, pain and strength of the story is in the love that is shared between the central characters; love lost, love found and love created. And in the context of being adopted, Thing 4 found a true positive and recognised the privilege of being loved (albeit while feeling hard done by!),
“It’s not fair, Mummy. He had two mums and I’ve only got one.”
Thing 4 was to be collected from Brownies by friendly mother while I was at Parents’ Evening for Thing 3 (“easily distracted”). During conversation with English teacher, I can feel handbag vibrating ceaselessly. Short 3 minutes chat (yes, we will read more/anything/everything/audible books even, magazines, First News – for sure!) which must please tutor as he has a queue snaking round the corner of the room.
Yes, it’s Brown Owl who has left 450 messages because on top of her many hours of voluntary service to the Girlguiding Association she now has to take her own children to gymnastics competition (obviously it’s the Inner South East London U9 floor and vault official quarter finals) but of course, it’s no trouble for Thing 4 to tag alongside, would she like dinner too?
Learning Outcome 1: must spend dedicated time finding more reliable parents in the Brownies playground. Learning Outcome 2: attend fewer Parents’ Evenings? Learning Outcome 3: realisation of pure unbridled relief at ignorance/involvement with gymnastic club. Learning Outcome 4: volunteers in this world should have a medal, though they would likely gift it to someone else in the spirit of generosity and selflessness.
I passed the haggis in the butcher’s window this morning and it set off a whole chain of thoughts down memory lane. The first was that I really used to love haggis even though my father repeatedly told my brother and I that it was a small furry Scottish animal that lived in the Highlands. In fact, he actually led us to believe that the haggis was related to the Lirpa Loof, a hairy creature that lived in the wilds of Ireland. Like the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, parents and mythical stories are just a magical part of childhood. Got to admit, though, that my kids aren’t having much of a magical time with my story-telling (must work harder)!
Minecraft. What? Where? When? Where? Who? Thing 3 tells me it’s a ‘Sandbox’ but that’s just not enlightening. What’s fascinating me is the polar approach towards construction adopted by boy/girl. I’m not gender stereo-typing here, I’m just a casual (well, maybe less than casual when I’ve finished watching Series 1 of The Crown) observer but one world is full of armoured vehicles, buildings complete with spy holes, ammunition stores, secret tunnels, a couple of thousand sports pitches, trap doors, sky scrapers, dug-outs and a large sign saying “KEEP OUT SISTERS”, and the other is awash with dog and pig hospitals, bedcovers with flower designs (as much as flowers can be designed with blocks), enormous bathrooms, more bedrooms, a cat rescue centre, equine stables, orphanages, schools, a foundling hospital and a secret password so that none of her siblings can access these worlds. What this tells me is that at least two of my children spend too much time on Minecraft.
There was a time when I was spooning pureed fruit (organic, of course) into those precious mouths and I truly looked forward to the time when they would be old enough for us to have homework chats. We could pore over the atlas together, discuss why Henry broke from Rome, read Jane Eyre in tandem or converse over dinner only in French. The possibilities were endless! But perhaps homework hour should be rebranded? Arsenic hour? Take last night as an example.
Thing 4, on writing up science conclusion, after quite some persuasion that homework should be completed before turning on episode 756 of The Next Step: “I discovered that North Pole of a magnet is on the left and South Pole is on the right.”
Me: “Where were North and South Pole, then, for Hattie, who sits on the opposite side of the table to you?”.
Thing 4: “ What do you know about magnets? You weren’t there in the class, and anyway when you were at school, in the olden times, magnets hadn’t been invented!”
The word ‘repel’ sprang to instantly to mind….
An exquisite box of caramel sea salt truffles dusted with icing sugar were staring at me from the depths of the fridge, behind the jar of piccalilli – kept only in the fridge because I love the stylish Fortnum and Mason jar – where I had hidden them so nobody else could find them (not that they’d appreciate truffles, they are more of a Smarties bunch). The chocolates were given to me as a Christmas present by one of my gorgeous pupils. They were so scrumptious that I was forced to eat the entire box in one sitting, while watching back episodes of The Crown. A study once concluded that eating chocolate led to improved cognitive performance. On reflection, perhaps a good rummage and tidy would unveil the whereabouts of the giant box of After Eights which, post Christmas, are lurking somewhere else in the house……
Hurrah!! Monday. Bin day. Back to the regular schedule after the festive period when I read and re-read the ‘Waste Services’ leaflet on a daily basis in the vain hope that reading would miraculously make the waste lorry appear and take away all of my carefully sorted rubbish. As requested, I methodically separated the Christmas wrapping paper into distinct piles: paper with foil and glitter, plain paper and brown paper, not to mention the cardboard box folding, glass bottle/jar sorting and compartmentalising the food tins from the drinks cans. We are a conscientiously environmentally friendly household, you see. Indeed, as well as recycling, the laundry is put on the 30 degree cycle. But there are problems associated with that eco-friendly, cost efficient system, namely that it has little effect during the rugby season (Thing 2 pictured above yesterday). I have visions of a conversation taking place at rugby club bar many moons ago, over a few pints of Heineken:
“Club colours, Jeff, John, Ian? What do you think?”
“Green…and white?” (Looking straight at beer bottle).
“Good news. Striped top and white shorts. Job done. Another round, chaps?”
White shorts. Honestly. Eco Warrior will surface another day.