Tag Archives: #school

Fighting the inevitable

The start of a new school year, or a return to school/work after a break, is always hard. Part of me relishes getting back into a routine, knowing where we will all be at what times. The control freak/organiser in me likes it. But, there is another part of me that fights it. Fights against early starts and school runs and homework and nagging. (There’s always an element of nagging – empty your bin, bring down your dirty washing, wash the ten million cups up that you have in your room, to name but a few.)

Conversations are no longer about nice things: plans for long sunny days out with their friends, holidays, fun stuff. The sorts of conversations we have now are about lessons, homework, food tech ingredients that are needed the next day, clean uniform, lack of socks, text books, showers, whose turn it is to clear the table and wash up. God, its boring. I ask “how was your day” and get grunts. Before it was “good, fun, really great”.

So, I’ve been mentally fighting it. Moaning. Being grumpy. Shouting (once). This has not been productive – you can’t fight something that is inevitable. It won’t last forever. Socks will be bought, teachers will settle down, homework won’t seem so alien and difficult, I will get back into the swing of asking for the food tech list the week before so it is all purchased well in advance –  to avoid the last minute dash around Tesco’s, praying that they have some wooden skewers loitering around in a small section of leftover BBQ season stock, when in actual fact they have the Christmas stuff in already and BBQ season is long forgotten. (I did find some with the help of a kind member of staff who could see I was nearly losing the will to live).

I need to stop wishing the week days away. I find myself saying in emails to suppliers or messages to friends “nearly the weekend” or “halfway through”, wishing my days away so we can all have some time out, do something more fun than sitting at a desk or driving to and from school and work, back to school and home again. And repeat.

The danger then of course is that everything hinges on the weekend being brilliant, which is unreasonable. I hate the Sunday night regret – that we should have done more, gone somewhere nice, had more fun, made more of it, been nicer to each other. Another weekend gone, never to be revisited.

I need to stop. Stop fighting it, start making the most of it.





Home alone, again

They’ve both gone back to school. T decided to stay on at RPS in Sixth Form and started back yesterday, with A following on today going into year 9. Year 9?! How on earth did that happen? In a few short months she will be expected to choose her GCSE options for year 10 and 11. I am not sure I am ready for that yet.

I am so relieved that T finally made a decision. It was always going to have to be his decision: we talked about the options, keeping things flexible, it not being the only choice he will ever make about his future. He took his time (painfully long in my mind), he thought it all through and he decided on Sixth Form. Logistically, it has made life easier – buses to college do not run direct from our village. This way we can carry on with our car share arrangement. But more than that I think he has made the right decision. He is happy with his decision; he has no regrets – at the moment. Of course, we always wonder what it would have been like to take a different path. He has a good friend who is going on to college to do the same course that T was considering. Inevitably, they will talk about it and he may have some pangs of “what if?” but, as we have discussed, just because he has opted for one course doesn’t mean the other is closed off to him forever. He is lucky, in few respects, to be a summer baby, as he can carry on in free education until he is 19 – a year after he will finish sixth form.

A was unusually reluctant to return to school. She has always loved school. Even when things were hard for her in juniors, she still loved the process, the routine, the teachers. I think this is just a reaction to change. Like me, she likes things a certain way and is not a huge fan of things changing. She has a whole raft of new teachers this academic year and I think it’s thrown her a bit. She went off this morning slightly happier due to the prospect of receiving a MAC lipstick that her friend kindly bought for her at the weekend. New makeup makes everything feel better, apparently.

On that subject, she has not lost her love of creating new looks and posting her videos. She has made lots of new “internet” friends (carefully vetted) who also love makeup – they call themselves aspiring or “baby” MUA’s (make up artists). I don’t think she really wants to do it in any capacity when she is older but for now she loves it and seems to be pretty good at it! (this look is inspired by DC comic heroes).

So, today, I am home alone for the whole day for the first time in ages. With T finishing school early after his exams, has meant that I have rarely had to put up with just my own company for some time and it is a bit weird. I keep expecting one or both of them to appear any moment asking what there is to eat. I will have to make lunch just for me and eat it alone. Bit sad. If not for the Ocado man delivering my shopping, I wouldn’t have spoken to another person for 8 hours. Customers on emails don’t count. I don’t mind it normally, I quite like the peace and quiet, just getting on with it, but today it is a bit odd.

Last night, I had my lovely book club here – as K was away overnight we all convened at my house. I am normally a bit averse to having more than a couple of people round. Dinner for more than four is scary and I am not a natural hostess with the mostest. Book Club doesn’t need hosting. It doesn’t need looking after or keeping the conversation flowing. It just happens and someone will get up and grab another bottle and some more snacks and top up glasses. I popped out during the evening (I was on the tap water up to that point) to collect T from cadets and it wasn’t weird leaving them all there chatting. It was lovely to come back to them, a glass of Prosecco waiting for me. It was another fab evening with 50th birthday presents for C and lots of laughs and a few tears. I love these women. Locking up after them and switching off the lights was the only down point of the evening. Thankfully K is home tonight.

Ready for the off

We’ve got to the 12 day mark now and as per usual I’m ready to go home. I know I sound like an ungrateful hag. I know I should be enjoying the last 2 days and NOT thinking about the packing, the return journey, the unpacking, the washing, the return to work. But I am – I’m a planner and an over-thinker and I can’t help it.

I don’t like being like this, I try to keep it hidden from the others so that they CAN enjoy the last two days but I keep finding myself wanting to talk about what we need to do when we get back.

The main topic at the forefront of my mind is Results Day on Thursday. I can’t really get my head much further than that and it’s really frustrating me. I keep thinking about Back To School things: shoes, clothes, bags, pencil cases – you know the drill. But we DON’T KNOW if T is going to sixth form or college. He’s been talking (unconsciously – not that he was unconscious but rather that he seemed to not be aware that he was saying it) about being “back at school” and “in sixth form” which makes me think he’s made his mind up about his preferred route, but it may not be his choice. On A level results day last Thursday the reality hit me that “this time next week we’ll know”. And I’ve not really been able to stop thinking about it since.

The rational part of me knows that thinking about it won’t change anything. Worrying isn’t going to make the results that have already been recorded (I would imagine?) change for the better (or worse!) and really all we can do is deal with whatever situation is thrown at us. But we all know that my head and the rational part of my brain don’t always communicate too well and so, inevitably, I’ve been worrying.

T and his friends have made a pact – no one asks what the others grades are. It will, they believe, be enough to know if they get on their preferred courses or not. It doesn’t need to be spelled out, mulled over, analysed, discussed at length. If they get to stay on (if that’s what they want) then they’ll know they’ve done enough. All very mature and all very sensible. He’s said that there’s one weak link in this chain and “if anyone tries to break the pact it will be W”. Or his mum, by asking me how T got on. It goes without saying that I will be proud whatever grades he gets. I just want them to be enough for him to do what he wants to do. He’s not headed for A level Maths followed by an unconditional offer to Cambridge University. He hadn’t put himself under so much pressure that his life will be over if he doesn’t get straight 9’s (I had to re-type that as I’d gone old school A*’s). He can resit any that he needs to. Life won’t be over, it just may take a bit longer to get started on what he wants to do next. We will deal with it together. I just wish we knew now.

I know on Wednesday morning when I am back at work and with piles of washing around me, I will kick myself for not staying relaxed, not enjoying these last few days, for wishing them away. But, hey, that’s me. And I’ve only got myself to blame!

In the meantime, there’s stuff to think about. Food for the journey home – does the airport have any where decent to eat? Will I remember how I packed the cases so that they’re not over the weight limit? Do we need more money to see us through to Tuesday? Have I nearly run out of gin?

And trying to relax…..

Boy friends

When I was a teenager I had a number of unrequited crushes. Some on pop-stars, some on real people – mainly my (older) brother’s friends, rarely on boys in my year group who were mostly all idiots. I wasn’t popular with boys. Whether it was the very short haircut; being taller than most of them; being quite shy; not knowing what to say to them – I just wasn’t in demand as girlfriend material until I got a bit older and even then I wasn’t exactly run off my feet with offers.

A is decidedly disinterested in boys, even famous ones. She has a couple of friends who are boys but,  in her words, they aren’t really like other boys, they are happier hanging out with girls and they play cards in the library and talk about books and films and music. This sounds ideal to me. Boys keep girls grounded and don’t stand for any nonsense.Other boys in her year are according to her “complete idiots”. Sounds familiar?

She mentioned another boy the other day after they had been for their sponsored walk at school. The two friends she was walking with had to take some time out due to blisters and tiredness. She wanted to carry on as she was “on a roll” so caught up with two of the boys. She ended up walking just with M as the other boy wanted to walk with a girl that he “likes”. (They don’t say “fancies” as in our day – something I am not unhappy about, it’s an awful expression.) While she was walking with M, another boy that she has known since she was a toddler walked past and said the standard immature, teenage boy thing of “ooh, A are you going out with M?”. She quickly shut him down with a “no, it is possible for girls and boys to just be friends, you know?” Fair play to her. She apparently then said to M that she is sick of people assuming that just because you are friends then you must “like” each other. M has had issues with boys in his year giving him hassle so has a very small pool of friends, most of which are girls. He must be pretty used to this sort of nonsense, so he agreed. Nothing more was said of the incident or M.

Until the weekend. M had been messaging her about her plans for the holidays and if she is going away, etc. Just standard chat. He then went on to ask her if she would like to meet up. I didn’t see any issue with this, as she clearly likes him AS A FRIEND. It’s no different to meeting any of her other friends. It was settled that they would meet today. He asked if she wanted to ask any of her other friends along. No-one was free. This was fine, until one of the friends mentioned that she thinks M “likes” A. Not just as a friend. A then lost confidence, thinking it would be awkward, because she DOESN’T LIKE HIM THAT WAY. I persuaded her to go anyway. He sounds like a nice boy. She can make it clear that they are just friends. She insists that she is far too young for a boyfriend and I agree. Could I pick her up an hour later, any longer would just be “too awkward”. OK.

I dropped her off and he was dutifully waiting for her in the designated spot. He looked thrilled to see her. He looks like a nice boy. We had agreed that she would call me when she was ready – there was no point me going home to turn round and go out again so I sat outside a cafe. Lovely. She rang an hour later to say she was ready, I told her which cafe I was in, and lo and behold she appeared shortly after. With M. He was beaming from ear to ear, stuck his hand out and said “hi, I’m M” (he said his full name, it would have been weird if he’d said his initial). A nearly choked. I said I was pleased to meet him and then he said goodbye and was off. What a nice boy.

It hadn’t been awkward at all. They’d had a nice time. She will meet up with him again. They’re just friends.

A boy friend, who thinks she’s fab and “likes” her but is happy just to be around her. I think it is rather lovely. The stuff of (my) teenage dreams. Just not hers!



P.S. I was told later that he thinks her makeup tutorials are brilliant and that she is talented. His mum “does people’s eyebrows”. He knows the right things to say!



Boys v Girls (again)

I’ve blogged a couple of times now on the differences between T and A. It never fails to amaze me how two children borne of the same parents and raised in exactly the same way can be so different. How different their personalities are and how their outlooks on things are so different. T has always been a very chilled child/teen (he was far from being a chilled baby: colic, reflux, sleeplessness- you name it he had it). He has his moments which, because they are so infrequent, send me off kilter and make me question my judgement. A was a very chilled baby: slept really well (to the point where I worried something was wrong with her, the difference to T was so marked); ate really well; was placid and easygoing. She made up for it during her toddler and early years. I look at photographs sometimes and remember with horror the trips out that were marred by some tantrum or another. I suspect that her behaviour was a by-product of being with a mum who, feeling so out of control in her own head, attempted to control her children so much that at least one of them was going to fight against it.

As teens they are still very different. T making the minimum effort required over homework, while A wants to make sure she has done all she possibly can. T being very relaxed and easy going about friendships, while A has always found this a much trickier path to navigate. T keeping things to himself, not really a worrier but not really talking much when he is; A spilling the beans on everything – and I mean Everything. She sometimes messages me as she is leaving school to meet me at the car 5 minutes later to tell me she has had a bad day. It’s great that she wants to talk to me about stuff. I know I am very lucky to have this open, honest relationship with her. T and I were talking in the car the other day (it always seems to be easier somehow to chat about important stuff when we are driving – it seems less intense and important, making it easier to open up) and he said something about talking to friends about things that bother him, that certain friends can be relied upon to give good advice or keep things to themselves. He said that one of his friends is a really closed book and doesn’t impart any information about his family life or personal stuff in any way. As a group of friends they know this about him and respect his privacy and would never consider pushing him to be more open. I was quite impressed that they have this level of understanding and empathy. It gave me hope. A also has friends who she confides in more than others. But I am her biggest confidante and I feel very privileged. She bought herself a new phone at the weekend and it arrived yesterday. Unlike T, who’s phone is sacrosanct – no-one is allowed to touch it, she offered for me to add my fingerprint to her new phone so that I could open it “in an emergency”. I said I was happy to have the pass-code, but she was insistent that I should have access. I promised that I wouldn’t look at her private messages or abuse her trust in any way. She said “Duh, I know that!”.

T is more private than A, but knowing that he has good friends to talk to, that his friends seem to have some level of perception about each other, is heartening. And A has me. Lucky me.


One thing that has astounded me during the process of having the extension built is how some people have treated the space they are working in.

When the work first started it was all outside, it was messy, it was a bit noisy, but the main thing was that it was outside. I could ignore it, mostly, and it was the start so it was exciting to know that things were finally happening.

As the work has progressed it has become more and more intrusive. I understand that it was always going to be messy. Having walls knocked down and ceilings messed about with was never going to be a tidy job, and I understand that for the tradesmen involved it is a building job. But, and this is a big but, it’s not a building site, it’s our home. Yes, it’s a mess and there’s no floor and walls but it’s still our home. And I think my expectation was that people would respect that. I was sorely wrong.

We have walls now and a new kitchen and we have windows and doors and it’s all nearly done, but anyone that comes still seems to treat it like a building site. The tiler started on Monday and he has made a mess. It’s a messy job, I know that, and not one that I would want to do, and it’s easy for me to sit here at my laptop moaning about it, but he knew we were having the walls painted (yes, he would have preferred for us to have it decorated AFTER he had finished, but equally the decorators preferred to have the floor bare when they painted. In a toss up of what would be easier to clear up – a few marks from the newly painted walls or scratches from ladders from the newly laid tiles, we opted for the walls) but he has still left tools leaning up against them and bits of compound stuck to them. I am sure it will all clear up fine, but it is very frustrating.

Also, what is it with the radio? Why do they all have to have the effing radio turned up so effing loud? I like listening to music while I work and have the radio on at home and in the office every day. But not at full volume. Booming through the house. And it’s never a decent radio station.

The only person who I would welcome back in to my house any time is the electrician. He talked to me like I was an intelligent human being (who knew?) and with a lovely manner about him. He was courteous and polite and was keen to ensure I was happy with everything he had done. He was the antithesis of everyone else that has been here. With very few exceptions every other person has either (a) ignored me and spoken solely to K; (b) patronised me – classic quote “are you excited about getting your new kitchen installed today?” – not exactly excited, glad it’s finally happening, and definitely not in the way you just said it which made me sound like a 5 year old; (c) made me feel uncomfortable for being in my own home. I only work from home one day a week so I’ve not been around much but arriving back after a day at the office to be made to feel I can’t go into my own kitchen to make a cup of tea is not a nice experience.

In short, I have had enough of people being in our house. Our home. My haven. It’s left me feeling off kilter, out of sorts, irritable, out of control, not on top of things*. (So much so, that even the usually not very perceptive bosses at work have noticed that I am not myself and have suggested a few days off when it’s all done – to recharge my batteries and “re-nest my house”, bless them.)  I am desperate for it all to be finished. I am desperate to know that when I come home no-one will be here (other than maybe T who is now on a very long summer holiday**) and I will be able to make a cup of tea, sit in the garden, think about cooking dinner (at a reasonable time and not taking into account the timetable of whichever workman I have in the house) and breathe.

*A has her school “enrichment” week this week. This generally means the parent spending a shed load of cash sending their child on a week long trip to France or Germany or day trips to London and other delights. A was not keen to go away to improve her language skills as she fully intends to ditch the subjects at the earliest opportunity (much to my horror – I love languages) and so she opted for the day trips options. These were limited – she has already been on the London Eye with us as a family, she doesn’t like horses and doesn’t want to spend the day mucking them out for a half hour of riding. She didn’t want to travel four hours in a coach for a few hours at the Ironbridge Victorian museum and then four hours back. She’s not awkward, she just knows what she doesn’t want to do. So on Monday she took part in a multi- sports day (all children who were not away on residential trips had to participate) and it was OK. Yesterday she had a STEM day where groups of four students were set the task of making a self-propelled buggy. Her team won for KS3. Happy moment. Today she is taking part in Masterchef – which is where my lack of organisation has hit home – she was missing a vital ingredient that I had let slip my mind to buy and nowhere locally stocks it. But she was her usual positive self and insisted she would be able to work around it with the substitute that I got her. Tomorrow she is going to the Tower of London – the only one from her group of friends, but she has managed to track down a friend of a friend who is also going to be on her own, so they are pairing up. Phew. It’s all too much to remember and I’m not normally a flaky mum. Normal service will resume very soon.

**T finished his exams on the 15th June. He has 10 long weeks ahead of him and I would prefer him not to sleep them all away. Ideally, I would like him to get a job and earn some money. However, he is not 16 for another 4 weeks and most companies won’t take any one on under this age. He also has 3 weekends when he is away (D of E, cadet competitions) plus our 2 week holiday in the middle of the summer. This makes him a less than attractive applicant for many prospective employers. I’ve managed to get him a bit of paid work emptying recycling bags for the company I work for but it will be pocket money rather than anything long term. It’s going to be a long 10 weeks!


The beauty of it

Since she started at senior school, A has become more and more interested in make up. I’ve never worn much make up. I’m not very confident applying it and I don’t really like the way it makes my skin feel, so other than a bit of mascara and some concealer for the dark circles that live permanently under my eyes, I tend not to bother too much. I’ve found it quite interesting to see A become almost obsessed with it. I say obsessed – she rarely wears it to go out. She has bought quite a few (cheaper) items and loves watching YouTube video tutorials, follows make up accounts on Instagram and loves to film herself doing similar “looks” which she then posts on her own Instagram account(*) – she has one devoted to make up so that her friends who are not interested in it don’t get sick of seeing her videos!

I have to admit to finding it a bit irritating. She used to love to read more than anything. She used to sew and bake and colour and do crafty things. She still reads a lot but not as much as she used to. She still does crafty things but not as much as she used to. I quite often find myself asking her to do something else, when I find her filming herself again or removing make up in the bathroom again (we get through a lot of Micellar Water!) It normally leads to some sort of row but that’s OK, that’s what parents and teens do right?

I didn’t follow her make up account for quite some time. I get to see the effects first hand most of the time – she quite often comes down to dinner with one eye made up in some garish, amazing, impressive, beautiful design – so I don’t need to see how she did it or read the comments from her equally obsessed friends. Then I had coffee with a friend whose daughter is in the same year as A. She mentioned the make up videos and before I had chance to roll my eyes (it’s not just teens that are allowed to do that you know) and say anything derogatory, she went on to say how impressed she was when her daughter showed her one, how confidently A comes across and how much she liked watching her. Oh. I had to admit to not seeing any of them and actually felt a bit bad.

So that evening I requested to follow her and without discussion was granted permission. (I don’t generally follow the kids accounts – T follows A and I know he keeps a beady eye on any nonsense – and prefer not to have kids following mine, not because I post anything unpleasant but I’m 45, not 15, and my photos/posts are not of their world.)

I sat down and watched her latest video. I was impressed. I haven’t watched anyone else doing this stuff so have nothing to compare to, but watching my girl smiling and pulling faces at the camera, putting on this amazing make up design made me smile. She is funny and the way she edits the video – sped up and music playing, no talking, lots of waving – is brilliant. I loved it. My friend was right, she’s great. I didn’t read all of the caption listing which products she used, etc. but she had some lovely comments from other girls and other make up obsessives. I still wish she spent more time reading or doing something else but can see that this is creative in it’s own way and gives her a lot of pleasure. She’s good at it and she enjoys it. She washes it off almost straight away and she looks her age when she goes out. (Maybe a bit more than her actual age due to her height but age-appropriate).

This morning, I had a quick look at Instagram while I was waiting for the kettle to boil. She has posted a couple of pictures of herself with no make up on and she has written a long piece beneath them.

“For a while I’ve been feeling fairly insecure about the way I look, my teeth, how I run etc. In the long run these are all silly things that can be fixed or learnt to live with, braces can fix my teeth and so on. Recently, maybe over the last couple of year, have I really accepted myself and learnt to love myself the way I am, as I was born to look and be this way, and that no one can change who I am. This post is kind of a way to show and let other people out there who may feel insecure to know that you are you, and well you should be happy about yourself and maybe even find a way to turn these insecurities into securities because in the end they are what makes us stand out as unique and different, allow us to stand out. Now that I’ve said that I want to address another thing which is that some people think that girls and boys wear make up to cover over and to mask themselves. This is not true! Yes it can be a way to boost confidence and help someone feel good about themselves, but it’s also a way of expressing themselves and make a point through something other than a painting or sketch, it’s a way of expressing feelings in a creative way. Because at the end of the day it can be removed. It’s not permanent. Personally I don’t wear makeup every day and even when I do, most of the time I don’t wear out half of what I put on my face in my videos. I mostly just fill in my brows and that’s it for school, maybe pop on a bit of mascara or concealer if I feel like it or maybe do some eye-shadow for a special occasion or weekend. I rarely wear out a winged eyeliner or a smoky eye or a bold contour. Anyways, I hope this post has maybe inspired or supported some people. xxx”

Most of this I knew. I know she has always been very self-conscious of her front teeth, which are now as good as perfect and look like a completely different set of teeth to the ones she had three years ago. I know she is self-conscious of the way she runs – she has been under pressure from a (particularly unpleasant) girl in her form to take part in the school sports day, running the 1500m. She is only pressurising her because she knows of A’s feelings about running. Luckily, A is made of sterner stuff than that and has stood her ground, steadfastly refusing to be bullied into it. I know that she gets silly comments from some of the boys about her make up account. She doesn’t care – she loves doing it and she just asks them why they are watching if they are not interested!

She’s only 13 and like many other 13 year old girls she likes putting on make up. Big deal. What is a big deal is how much she thinks about stuff.; how sensitive and thoughtful she is; how much she wants to be positive and help others to feel more positive. She is my own personal cheer leader and makes me feel better about myself all the time. To me, she is beautiful inside and out. Make up or no make up, perfectly brushed hair or bed head. She may not spend as much time reading or baking as she used to, but this latest hobby (I won’t call it an obsession any more) has given her confidence, made her think about the bigger issues and it makes her happy. And that makes me happy too.

(* all her accounts are private and she knows to “vet” any potential followers and we talk – well, I talk while she rolls her eyes – about being safe online etc, etc.)