Monthly Archives: June 2017

Being Brave

Last Wednesday at work I received a frantic message from A (sent during afternoon form time) saying that she had been selected to take part in a rounders match after school the following day and that she “really, really didn’t want to do it”. She went on to say that she had told the teacher that she only came to Rounders club for fun and exercise and didn’t ever intend to compete IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE!!! It is the IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE bit that she was most worried about. The teacher had replied that she felt it may do her good to take part and overcome her fear of competing. (n.b. we had had an almost identical situation over Sports Day). I agreed with the teacher, but how to tell A that without her feeling that I wasn’t supporting her?

Hmm. My issue is that A is a confident person. She has never baulked at joining a new club or talking to people she doesn’t know. The fact that she chose to go into a form without anyone from her old school shows that she is not scared to make new friends or put herself “out there”. She performs dance routines on stage with 3 other girls at the dance club’s annual show and although she gets nervous, she loves the adrenaline rush and the excitement of performing.

When it comes to sporting activities she is a wreck. She has never seen herself as sporty, despite being perfectly able. I think a lot of this stems from junior school where only the really talented athletes were given a chance to compete and she was not one of them. So, I’ve tried to encourage her to give more sports a go since starting at secondary school and she has – she tried dance club but found it too conflicting with the class that she already goes to; she attended Fitness Club for a whole term and improved her PB on the “Death Run” considerably as a result of this, earning herself a postcard from the PE Department praising her efforts; and most recently Rounders club which she has been enjoying – until now.

I replied to her message telling her not to panic, that we would talk it over when she got home and see what she wanted to do. My hope was that the hour or so that she had left at school would give her chance to think about what the teacher had said and come to the conclusion on her own that she should take part. I really want her to be more confident and hope that the teacher wouldn’t put her forward if she didn’t think her capable.

We got home after a very subdued car journey and she immediately burst into tears of panic. She had told the teacher that she wasn’t going to do it, but I could sense that she was wavering. I asked her what was holding her back and she said that she didn’t want to mess up. I offered the idea that the teacher must think her able if she has put her forward and (as always) she had an answer for that one – “she just wants everyone to have a chance to take part and it’s my turn”. Hmm. OK, but surely, if she was really bad at it, the teacher wouldn’t allow her to humiliate herself in front of others? No, probably not. What should she do? I took the wavering to be a request for encouragement so told her I thought it would be a good way to overcome her anxieties and that if she really hated it she could at least say she had tried. OK, but she’d already told the teacher. This is where I love the high-tech world we live in. In the ‘good old days’ I would have had to try and get hold of the teacher at school after hours. No chance. Or write a note for the next day. Too late. In the enlightened age that we live in, A was able to email the teacher to tell her she had changed her mind and it if was OK she would like to give it a go. Reply within an hour or so. Sorted. Teacher very proud and happy. A feeling nervous but slightly pumped that she had been brave enough to think about it.

And so the next afternoon I anxiously waited for her to finish her tournament, hoping and praying that she had (a) not fallen over and humiliated herself, (b) not fluffed every stroke of the rounders bat and humiliated herself, (c) not failed to catch the ball when needed, etc, etc. She was VERY late getting to the car with her friend, who was cadging a lift with us, but she was VERY HAPPY. She HAD fallen over – “so embarrassing but, what the heck, it doesn’t matter”, she hadn’t messed up her batting and she HAD scored a rounder. But, far more importantly, she HAD DONE IT. And she was, quite rightly, very proud of herself.

And I am proud of her. She’s a little star.

Advertisements

Political Protest

I’ve never had very strong political leanings, in fact none at all really. My parents didn’t really talk politics when P and I were growing up. My dad used to mutter about “that bloody woman” referring to Margaret Thatcher but I think really only because he didn’t like her manner more than disagreeing with her actual policies. I don’t remember any heated debates about politicians or who to vote for and if I ever asked Dad would joke (but mean it) that that information was between him and the ballot slip and basically it was none of my business.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase and joined an anti-vivisection movement (BUAV) and wore T-shirts, bought cruelty-free make up and toiletries and wrote letters to politicians. I quickly grew out of it when I realised that I could never take it that step further and go vegetarian or go on a march/demonstration – just too fussy an eater and frankly a scaredy-cat. I also got a job and had other things to take up my time – boyfriends, the pub, etc.

As an adult I have always voted. My parents did instil that in me, and my Nan to some degree – the old “women died so you could vote” thing, which of course is totally spot on and I would encourage everyone to use their precious right. In fact, K had never voted until we met and I think I shamed him into it. He is also from a family where politics were rarely discussed and he was probably too busy clubbing to give it much thought. Then he met me and he stopped clubbing and became a bit more sensible, bought a house, started voting, that sort of thing.

Although I have always voted, I have never really had a strong sense of purpose or real need to change things. Obviously, there have been things in the past that I have thought were not the best ideas and I do keep relatively up to date with current affairs. For example, I know who the current Prime Minister is, and I understand the basic differences between the parties. But I didn’t go to uni, where a lot of my contemporaries gained their political leanings, and I have never worked in the public sector or had to claim benefits (for which I am very grateful) and I know I live in a bit of a bubble. I’ve talked before about my aversion for the “real world” and all the horrors it can hold and I am a self-confessed ostrich with my head firmly in the sand when there is stuff I don’t want to know about. And I can be a bit near sighted about issues, really only seeing how things will affect the world within my bubble. Please don’t misunderstand, I have empathy by the bucket load and I feel plenty for people on waiting lists, people with housing issues, people working in the public sector for crap money, people caring for relatives, I can go on. But my voting in the past has been probably quite narrow-minded. And I feel a little embarrassed by that. The truth is, I just don’t know enough.

The impending General Election that will take place tomorrow has me in a quandary. I don’t know if it is because there are so many contentious subjects at play: Brexit, terrorism, the NHS crisis, the education system, etc; whether it is because the children are older and this feels more about doing it for them; or if I am just getting older and more worried about stuff. But I have looked at more info for this election than any ever before. The EU referendum was a no brainer for me as I work for a tiny company trading in Europe and selfishly I would like the business to survive. This election is far less cut and dried for me and I am worried about making the wrong decision. My Twitter feed is full of anger towards Teresa May and pleading with me to vote for the other bloke (I’m kidding I do know his name, Tony something?) but I follow a lot of actors and writers and they are notoriously left-wing so I can’t really make my vote on that basis. I have tried to find unbiased, truthful viewpoints. I know you are probably sniggering at my naivety. Unbiased? Truthful? I do know this is an election, with politicians, right? I have read the leaflets, read the pertinent parts of the manifestos; I have taken quizzes ¬†– no, not on Facebook to find out what the colour of my eyes means about the career I should have – ¬†actual quizzes based on the actual party manifestos, and what have they told me? Nothing. Big fat nothing. It turns out I am undecided – oh really? It seems I actually want someone who is cross-party, someone who will pick out the bits I agree with from each party and say “hey you, vote for me, I will make everything all right.” Sadly, I don’t think there is time.

So, what to do? Not vote? Not an option. Vote for the lesser of the 2 evils? (let’s face it there are only really 2 options). Throw away the vote and go Green? Show some throw-back loyalty to my first every boyfriend who is running for parliament for the Lib-Dems for the first time, bless him. I really don’t know. And there’s no point asking me tomorrow because remember, it’s between me and the ballot paper. I envy those of you with clear minds, either based on your jobs or your past experiences or your upbringings.

What I would like to do is go back to my fifteen year old self and tell her to get an opinion, find out information, ask questions, maybe even go to some events. What I want is to be able to talk about it with my children so that they get some ideas about it all. I can’t be the only parent who struggles to explain it to their children? If I can’t find unbiased, useful info then how can I expect them to? I know we can read the manifesto’s and the leaflets but in reality how much of that stuff will actually happen? How many of the promises will fall by the wayside when they realise that it simply won’t work? How cynical do I sound for someone with no political leanings?

We will know in the next 36 hours or so who is going to be running the country for the next 4 years. And, frankly, I am worried.

 

 

 

A sunny happy birthday

For the last two years it has rained, not just small showers but torrential downpours, on my birthday. Two years ago I had requested that we visit Hampton Court Palace on my birthday as K and I had done 14 years previously. The weather was not on my side and so we had to postpone, until the summer holidays. Last year I didn’t even bother planning anything as I had been so disappointed the previous year. This year, as luck would have it, the weather forecast looked good a week before and continued to look good as the day got closer. I am lucky to have my birthday in the May Half Term holidays and I love it mainly for that reason alone. I don’t have to get up early (we often take the week off of work in May half term) to get the kids off to school, I don’t have to spend the day waiting for them and K to return from work to begin celebrating. I say celebrating, please be aware that I mean this in a very low-key manner. The only year that my birthday was not in Half Term was my 40th (5 years ago) when Her Majesty the Queen decided that she had some sort of special occasion (a Jubilee or something similarly inconsequential) to celebrate and half term was pushed back a week. How very dare she?

Anyway, back to me and this year’s birthday. I wasn’t able to take the week off this year due to staffing issues, so K and I booked my birthday and we’ve wangled a long weekend at the end of the week due to an inset day. As I mentioned, the weather was looking good, but rather than push my luck I asked if we could go out for breakfast somewhere nice and then, weather permitting, all I really wanted to do was go for a bit of a stroll around some nice gardens (National Trust membership comes in useful for this) and maybe a cream tea in a nice tea shop garden afterwards. If the weather decided to turn then at least I had had my lovely breakfast and we could rethink the afternoon. But there was no need to change the plans, as the sun continued to shine all day and I had the loveliest birthday I can remember in a long time.

At the age of twenty (although even then I wasn’t a party animal) I would never have dreamed that a quiet breakfast in a posh hotel with my family and mum and dad followed by a stroll around some gardens would be how I would want to spend my birthday when I was older. But it was and it was perfect.

After a bit of a lie-in (you know me and lie-ins), and having opened some lovely presents and cards, we met G&G for breakfast at Luton Hoo Hotel a few miles away. We had a very relaxed morning in their lounge area where they serve coffees/teas and pastries or in my case French toast with bacon and maple syrup. We took lots of pictures and recreated a photo of T and A on the stairway coming down into the lobby that we had taken a few years before when we went for my birthday for the first time. We had a bit of a wander around the grounds and then said goodbye to G&G.


We went on to Ascott House about 40 minutes away in Wing. We’ve never been before despite it being so close to home, and I am glad we saved it for a special day. It was a lovely house with a real homely feel about it – in fact it turns out that the de Rothschild family do still inhabit the house and many of the rooms are their private rooms that they allow the public to walk through. My favourite room in any NT home is always the library and this one didn’t disappoint. With window seats and squashy sofas for relaxing on, floor to ceiling bookcases and a lovely light wood finish, I could have spent all day in there. It even had a “secret” door which had fake books inlaid into it with made up names that the owner had had a hand in coming up with – some of them were very funny and A and I had a good giggle over them.

The gardens were beautiful and varied and we literally strolled around – even the teen and tween were happy enough, but I think it was probably the prospect of a piece of cake at the end of it that kept them focused. That was the only let down of the whole day. I had been thinking about a scone and jam with a cup of tea all afternoon, but they had run out! Not good enough! I didn’t throw a strop though and forced a blueberry blondie down instead. Tough life.


We came home and I opened some gifts that had come in the post and K opened a bottle of Prosecco. A lovely dinner cooked by K and a slice of birthday cake baked by A (yes, more cake, it was my birthday and I’ll eat cake if I want to).


It was a truly lovely birthday and the sun didn’t stop shining all day. Just for me.