Tag Archives: #friends

List-less

For years, whenever we have been going away – even for just a few days – I have written lists. One year I needed a list of all my lists, there were so many. I've always seen lists as a saviour, as something I can't live without. With lists I was in control and knew exactly what I needed to do. I had lists for other people so THEY knew what they had to do and I thought it was all a brilliant way of going about it.

In recent months, I have been making myself challenge the way I deal with things. Not Big Things, just Small Things that I get stressed or annoyed about and that make me stress other people out in the process (or annoy them, which is far worse). For example, cooking dinner every night. A Small Thing, but I used to get so wound up by having to decide what we were going to eat, decide what I needed to buy from the supermarket, actually do the shopping, the cooking. Deciding, shopping, cooking. And on and on it went. So now, we agree what we want to eat as a family (I still order the stuff we need – I can't change the world overnight – slowly slowly catchy monkey) and K cooks a few times a week now (and seems to be enjoying it mostly). Over the summer I have announced that one night each week a child will cook. I say child. They're not kids anymore really, young adults. And very capable of knocking up a dinner for four people. So why did I get so stressed and annoyed if it's not difficult? Because I don't want to be the one making ALL the decisions ALL the time and it's very nice to have dinner cooked for me now and again. Thank you.

So, back to the lists. I still write a shopping list, I haven't got that good a memory, but I have decided to ditch the lists for other things. Like to-do-lists and holiday lists. I realised that the lists were actually making me more stressed. By writing a list I was taking responsibility for it all. I was saying "look, I've got this, I am in control and if we get to our holiday destination and we don't have something important then it is all MY fault". And believe me, it's happened. And the consequence is me feeling terrible, other people feeling annoyed and the holiday loses it's sheen of loveliness. So, instead of saying "I've got this", I've said "pack what you want to take". Job done. I realise this is easier now that the 'young adults' are, well, young adults and can decide how many T-shirts they want to take. T has packed his own bag for at least the last 4 trips that he has been on and I haven't even asked him how many pairs of pants he has in his bag. See, progress! So, if someone doesn't have a phone charger, well then they will be very sad but they will be annoyed at themselves and not me. If they don't have enough pants, well, er, they will have to wash them or go commando. But it won't be MY fault.

(N.B. I've jotted down things like 'cool box' and 'picnic blanket' because they are in the garage and I don't rummage around in the man cave.)

I have NOT made a list of places we MUST go to while we are away. We have a map that a lovely friend has lent us and some leaflets; we have the National Trust app; we have our brains and the internet if we get stuck. I started to write a list of places and forced myself to throw it away – for so many years I have had my list and it's rained and the list sat there making me feel sad that we were not going to get to these lovely places I had planned to go to. Not this year. I am going to wake up each morning, check the forecast and as a family WE will decide where we are going and WHAT we will do and WHERE we will get food, etc, etc.

I'm not saying that this is going to be the best holiday we've ever had; equally I'm not saying that every holiday that has gone before has been a disaster; but I am saying that I am NOT going to be in charge.

So I may be list-less but I feel quite free and quite excited by the idea.

Another N.B. I am not going to be 'online' while I am away. I am not going to be checking in, or checking other peoples check-in's. I am going to take some lovely pictures using my camera (if I remember to take it – ha ha!) and I will post them when I get home, if I want to.

 

One third of a lifetime

It’s a funny old thing hitting 45 (as I did a month ago). As I said to K at the time, it’s proper middle age now, on the basis that 90 would be more than long enough, thank you very much. We went to see my brother, P, and his family at the weekend and we were reminiscing about a U2 concert we went to in our twenties. He has recently been to see them on their latest tour and it got us wondering about the year we went. We speculated for a few minutes, trying to work out where we were both working at the time, who we went with, etc, until he resorted to good old Google and discovered it was 1993 – the Zooropa tour. We were only out by a year or so but we were both shocked by how long ago it was. 1993 doesn’t sound that long ago to my ears, but 24 years ago sounds like a lifetime. In fact, it is exactly half of my brothers lifetime, being as he turns 48 tomorrow.

Someone else with a birthday tomorrow is my lovely boy. I like that he was born on my brother’s birthday – they are very alike in many ways and not all good ones – although at the time I was just desperate for him to finally be born after a couple of excruciating days and nights in the hospital. That was 15 years ago. One-third of my lifetime. I have held and loved this boy for 15 years; for a third of my life. Sometimes I can’t imagine or remember time before him. Although, the first few hours/days/months/years were hard going my life has been so much fuller, happier and just downright better with him in it than the years that went before (they were still very happy years, by the way, just to make that clear). Even if I sometimes feel as if I have my teenage brother as my son – sounds weird, believe me it’s even weirder living it – with his unwavering ability to wind me up and irritate me in the EXACT same way that P used to; although he may be smelly and grumpy at times; and even thought he has horrible feet; he makes me very proud.

With the two peas-in-a-pods birthdays imminent, so comes the end of the school year. My “on this day” app yesterday gave me a memory from 4 years ago – at T’s junior school leavers assembly. It seems incredible that this time next year he can leave school. And that A has almost finished her first year at secondary. Sometimes, I would like time to slow down, just a little bit.

 

 

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.

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.

 

A lump in my throat

I’ve just waved K off as he heads off to Germany for a week. Well, 5 days and 6 nights to be precise, he will be back next Friday, but it feels like a week. Since we moved in together 17 years ago, we have never spent more than 2 nights apart. Neither of us has ever been inclined towards holidays away with friends without each other, even if we had the means. We’ve always wanted to go away together, and since having the children this has been a given. I’ve had weekends away, he’s had work trips away, so this trip has made us both a tad unsettled.

I need to explain. We’re not a lovey-dovey couple who can’t bear to be apart. We don’t shower each other with overt displays of affection. We just like being together. We like being at home in the evenings watching a bit of TV and chatting about stuff. We like spending time with the kids (why else have them?). We just like it that way. Of course we have time apart, we both have friends that we see (me more than  K as his friends are dispersed far and wide) and we do go out separately, but more often than not we are together. I often joke with friends that I would only miss him if he wasn’t here because I would have to put the bins out (in fairness it was one of the things I thought of when I knew he was leaving on a Sunday – “but it’s bin night!”) but in reality he does far more than that. He makes me feel grounded and he stops me worrying so much about stupid stuff and he makes me laugh. When he’s not here it just doesn’t feel right. And I can pretty much forget about sleeping.

K is nervous about the trip for different reasons to me. He hasn’t been abroad with work before. He hasn’t flown alone before. I usually organise trips (apart from last summer holiday) and take the blame when it all goes wrong. This makes him sound useless and a bit pathetic – he’s not, he is more than able to sort this and he has made all the arrangements necessary. He’s just not confident that it will all work out. He’s a bit apprehensive about the itinerary while he is away – mainly because he doesn’t have one. He is unsure what format the trip will take and he doesn’t know if there will be any communication issues, as he doesn’t speak any German. I’ve assured him that their spoken English will probably be better than his (let’s face it, he’s a brummie) and for him not to worry. A has given him the phrase “My name is K…” in German as a little bit of help. I suggested a name badge.

Making stupid jokes is the way we (in our family) seem to deal with nervous moments. I think it’s so that the subject matter seems less ominous. It doesn’t mean we don’t care, it’s just our way of saying “hey don’t worry it will all be OK” without actually saying it (because we are not American).  Here’s a case in point: K developed a rather unfortunate lump on his neck a few days ago and has had to get it seen to by the doctor. She diagnosed a boil (sounds very 1950’s) and prescribed a steroid cream. T’s immediate response was to refer to it as Susan. This has now stuck firmly in all our minds and we now say “Susan’s looking better” rather than “your boil is not too bad”. It’s mainly due to relief that the lump was nothing more sinister and therefore we can be silly about it. I was rather disappointed that my comment of it being where his bolts had been removed was overtaken by the Susan comment, but you can’t win them all.

An email K received from his German colleague last week confirmed the hotel booking and the plans for collecting him from the airport. It was signed off with “we look forward to welcoming you to our house”. Of course, we said this was surely due to a Google Translate issue and that they meant “to our company offices/our place/our town”. Then, we saw the hotel booking was for bed and breakfast. Still no big deal, as no doubt they will be taking him out for food each night rather than expect him to sit alone in a hotel restaurant (for K this would be almost preferable to having to be sociable). And then, it hit me. “Welcoming you to our house” might mean exactly that and he could be dining “chez nous” as the French would say (I have no idea what the German equivalent is). Unfortunately, the kids overheard our conversation and we now have an ongoing joke that he is going to be having selfies with Helga and Wilhelm, the directors lovely kinder, while eating home-cooked bratwurst and sauerkraut. Even his Auntie S joined in when we saw them last weekend. I was slightly perturbed by his Uncle D’s comment of “watch out for the lady-boys”. K reiterated that it was Germany he was going to not Thailand, and we have since put it down to a slip of the tongue; we think he meant to say “lederhosen”.

Joking aside, we will all miss him massively while he is away. A has sneaked a letter and cuddly Panda toy (his nickname) into his suitcase, T has been giving him way more hugs (i.e. more than one) than usual and I have found myself looking at him a bit longer than I normally would (i.e. more than a few milliseconds). He has promised to FaceTime and asked if I would like him to bring back a bottle of Gin from duty-free (did he even need to ask?) so it’s not all bad. The week will soon be over and he will be back with us: annoying us with his singing, farting and general nonsense. And it will be fab.

 

 

Re: the title of the blog piece. Whenever I am a bit stressed, I get the sensation of having a lump in my throat. I first had it when we were planning our wedding and after weeks and weeks of being convinced I had throat cancer and would not make it to the wedding day, I finally plucked up the courage to see the doctor (funnily enough, the very same one that diagnosed Susan) and she gently asked me if there was anything big going on in my life, with a quick diagnosis of a stress-related phantom ‘lump’. It comes and goes at certain times but is never more apt than when waving K off this lunchtime. A true lump in the throat moment.

Home Alone

Don’t worry, this isn’t a film review about small blonde boys running amok, scaring off incompetent burglars. I’m talking about me. Again.

It is the Easter holidays and I have worked for the first two days and now I have a glorious (regardless of the weather) 12 days off (including weekends). K is off for just slightly less time. We don’t have much planned; we’re not going away. I am mostly looking forward to not rushing up – I don’t like to lie-in but anything past 6.30am will do me fine, thank you very much. I am looking forward to not having to sit at a computer all day. I am looking forward to some walks and maybe some bike rides and perhaps a day-trip to the coast.

The kids, on the other hand, have made it very clear that they are cramming as much time with their friends into these first 2 days as is humanly possible, as they will be stuck with me and K for the remainder of the holidays. They haven’t said it out loud, but I can tell. I asked them both to ensure that all homework is done before the close of business today (no I didn’t use that exact phrase) so that we don’t end up with frantic, last-minute panicking ruining our break. A spent most of yesterday doing all of hers and has free time today to go out with friends. T’s response was “but I only have these 2 days to see my friends…..” (and then I am going to have to spend the rest of the time with you, you boring old woman, and you are going to make me do ‘family stuff’ and I will be bored, so no, I am not going to do my R.E. revision, are you mad?)  It’s the unsaid words that are the loudest.

I love that my kids have friends that live close by and that they have a safe environment to go out in and that they are free to do as they like (within reason) most of the time. T has spent most of his free time lately going for long treks through the local woods with his friends, undoubtedly annoying dog walkers and wild animals. A pops out with a friend, they come back here and giggle in her room. It’s lovely.

But, I see friends with younger kids going to the Zoo, the Farm, the Park and I feel a bit wistful. I used to love going to the Zoo. I still would love going to the Zoo but might look a a bit odd on my own. I suppose I am forgetting the horrendous trips where it started raining and we had to dash back to the car, or when someone spilt their ice-cream all over themselves, or the time at the Farm when my friend’s child slipped over in pig excrement (this wasn’t just poo it was Excrement with a capital E) and we all stood horrified not knowing what to do with him. Or the time when we went to the seaside and A fell over at the waters edge and I HADN’T TAKEN A CHANGE OF CLOTHES (*) so she spent the day in her brothers thankfully very long hoody in lieu of  a dress. The list of nightmare events while attempting to enjoy ourselves is never-ending. But, I forget all those when I see my friends pictures of little faces beaming at lambs, or baby elephants. I remember the time when T held a rabbit for the first time and the look on his face and him whispering to me how soft it was still makes me want to weep. And the time when A wanted to feed the lamb but was too scared so we did it together and she held my hand while I held the bottle and we laughed at how hard it was to keep hold of it, even with 2 of us doing it. I wish I had enjoyed those moments a bit more. I wish I recalled those moments more than the ones with sick involved.

As much as I would love more of these moments, I am not going to force my kids to spend the next 12 days solely in my company. We will have some days out where we will be on our own together, just us four. But, it wouldn’t be fair on them to stop them going out and seeing their friends. I am sure K and I will have plenty of Home Alone time and that is quite nice too, especially as it is guilt free alone time, i.e. we haven’t ditched the kids at my mum’s or taken time off during term time to have a day off on our own – the kids are off out doing their own thing, having a great time, and so we can too. There are definite bonuses to having children old enough to fend for themselves, who like to be left to their own devices sometimes (most of the time) and who, when they do spend time with us, are good to chat to and nice to be around (most of the time) and who are less likely to puke down themselves, fall in mud (or excrement) or into the sea.

So, although I may be feeling wistful at the ever-changing, teenager-centric, world I live in and remembering the rabbits, I do actually quite like it how it is now. For now.

 

(* a lesson I never really learned from and still see as one of my biggest mum-failures. T had to once borrow a pair of pants from the well-stocked boot of my friends car when he had a slight accident on a day out at the farm – the same farm as the pig poo episode but on a different occasion.)

Status update

Since Making myself unpopular (again)  was a while ago now I thought I would check in on how it is all going.

So, initially the teenager was VERY resistant. For the first few days we had a bit of moaning but he reluctantly gave in; then on the 4th day we had an all out slanging match. He didn’t understand why. WHY? I refused to be drawn on it and stood my ground. I think he believed that I would soon forget all about it like I do so many other things: diets, exercise regimes, chore lists. We repeated this pattern over the course of the next few weeks and eventually I finally ended it with an all out “I AM NOT BACKING DOWN. GET OVER IT”.

The pre-teen was less bothered. She is not quite so invested in the social media scene yet and so is less concerned about having access 24/7. I am sure her time will come soon enough. This plan of attack is for both of their benefits and it makes me feel better. I’ve spoken with a few other parents about it and annoyingly most responses I had were along the vein of that I was an idiot to let them have them in their rooms in the first place (thanks) and that it was a given in their houses that all devices live downstairs. Smug much? Only one friend had had to take the same route as me and it was nice to know I’m not the only idiot out there.

Joking aside, I found this quite annoying. I’m not actually an idiot. I’m pretty sensible and on the ball. I know I don’t really get recent technology – well not the technology as such, but the platforms that kids use and the way they use it. I mentioned in Birthday, poo, shopping and the hostess with the leastest that I found it a bit off that one of A’s friends was ‘live-streaming’ during the back at the house bit. I do find the idea that our kids are living their lives so publicly quite hard to fathom. I don’t get Snapchat and ‘streaks’ – what’s the point in messaging someone just an X or an emoji just so you can say that your ‘streak’ with that person lasts 120 days? Am I really that old that I am missing something amazing here. Is it a test of friendship? Surely not, as T will ask another friend to do his ‘streaks’ for him if (heaven forbid) he is going to be off the grid for more than 24 hours. This is not a friendship thing, it’s just a Thing. I don’t object to sharing photos, or updating statuses or, here’s an idea, chatting with a friend (albeit online), but do we have to have it in our faces ALL THE TIME?

I worry that  anything that happens in this online world (because there’s no escaping that this is their world) is seen as less real somehow, less accountable for – that you can slag someone off online and it’s not as bad as saying it to their face; that you can post an awful picture of a ‘friend’ and because you have added a crying with laughter emoji or some hearts after it then that’s OK? You didn’t do it to be unkind, it was just a joke so that’s OK? No parent could fail to be moved and horrified by the poor, poor mum who went on This Morning a matter of days after her daughter’s funeral to make other parents aware of how insidious and secretive this bullying is. Her daughter was to the world around her a popular, bright, sporty, confident young woman with no worries other than the next test or the next match. In truth she was being relentlessly hounded on social media culminating in a message asking her why she didn’t just hang herself. She did. It was only after her death that this all came to light. Her parents were completely in the dark about it because she kept it from them. She could see no way out of it. She could see no end to the constant stream of abuse and so she killed herself.The person who sent her that last message – did they mean it as a joke? Did they think that because it was sent online that it wasn’t real and wouldn’t hurt her or affect her? They have to live with this for the rest of their life – they tipped her over the edge. They were the catalyst that made her end her short, beautiful life.

These cases are few and far between, thankfully, and are so shocking. More close to home recently a large number of girls at a local secondary school have been groomed by a man online purporting to be a teenager and many of them have taken the next step and met him. Luckily none have been harmed but this is by luck more than anything else.

But the overriding message of this is that these kids’ parents DIDN’T KNOW this stuff was happening. When I was a teenager, I had to call my friends on the phone from the hallway. The only other way we had of being in touch was to write each other letters, which we did – we would pour our hearts out on paper and give it to our friend the next day at school. If someone didn’t like me I usually found out by them not hanging around with me any more, or a friend of the friend would tell me. If someone was calling me names I usually heard them, out loud in the playground. Of course, I didn’t tell my parents everything that I was worried about or everything that went on in my life, because that’s not what teenagers do and that’s just they way it is. Teenagers are making their own way in the world and learning to deal with stuff by themselves so that they are ready to leave home and go off and be adults. They have secrets and they have a right to privacy. But the difference between bullying when I was a teenager and now is the other worldliness of it. It happens in a world which we parents can’t see and have little control over.

I know the pass-codes to my kids phones. I treat them with respect and only look at their messages/social media accounts/photos etc if I am concerned about something. Luckily, I think we are still at the stage where A tells me if anything is going on with her. She had a small bust-up with a friend in the half term holidays and she wanted to know how to sort it out. She took my advice and she didn’t try and contact the friend by phone or WhatsApp. She wrote her a letter and put it through her door. The result was positive and the issue was quickly resolved. But, soon she will ask my advice less and less. She will tell me less and less. But for now all I can do is keep the channels open. I tell them my fears, I tell them about things I read and the horrific things that other parents have been through and I tell them to please keep talking to me. Please tell me when someone is hurting you. And, almost as importantly, if they know someone is being hurt please tell someone. But it all comes down to hope and the small amount of control that I still have.

So, yes the new rule is going OK. It’s still being adhered to and I’m not backing down. Not on this one.