Tuesday, 3 July 2018

School packs, small chairs and naked photo bombing...

So it’s happening.

My youngest is going to school in September.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a total surprise.

I didn’t wake up this morning and think, ‘fuck, I forgot to fill out the forms.’

But it has crept up on me a bit.

I don’t work on Fridays and the day that my son and I spend together whilst my eldest is at school has become quite precious.

He’s good company.

We went to a lido with friends last Friday. It was an absolute scorcher and after running around in the fountains for a while he spotted the big lane swimming pool, divided from the children’s area with a Perspex fence.

Too much info?

Just bear with me.

Uncomfortable in his all-in-one swimming suit, he whipped it off.

(I checked the label as he stripped off as we’ve had it for a while, turns out it’s for 12-18 month olds so no wonder it was a bit snug as he’s now four and a half.)

He went to investigate the big pool.

Unfortunately at that moment, a class from the neighbouring secondary school also turned up to celebrate the end of their GCSE’s.

Coordinated by one of their teachers, they stood on the side of the pool and doing their best ‘American-Pie-esque’ impression, all the students jumped in with their school uniforms on as the staff took pictures.

One for the school album.

That is until they zoom in and see there’s a delighted naked boy and his best friend pressed up against the transparent fence right in the middle of their picture.

But those days are soon to end.

I went to pick up his pack from the school with all the new starter information.

It hadn’t dawned on me that it would be a big deal.

Nancy’s at school.

She loves it.

She’s got all her buddies, and some weekends is genuinely disappointed when she realises she’s got to spend the day with her family instead of at school.

So this is just going to be the same, right?

We sat on tiny school chairs in the hall listening to all the practical stuff.

The uniforms.

The lunches.

The impossible-to-navigate-as-a-working-family settling in dates, when you drop your child off for about 4 minutes at the school for the first two weeks and then have to somehow fit a working day around that.

I was prepared for that.

Expecting it almost, unlike some of the parents of first time school children who looked understandably anxious.

I was waiting to finish, to meet the teachers and then catch the second half of the England game.

But then it happened.

The head teacher read out a poem, Dear Teacher*, about your child starting school.

The concerns you may have about who is going to look after them, play with them, to help them if they’re worried, to change their clothes if they’re dirty, to dry their tears when they cry.

And I could feel it bubbling up.

I tried to swallow it back down.

But then she read the final verse:

I know as I give him one more kiss
And watch him walk away, 
That he’ll never again be wholly mine
As he was before today.

And that was it.

Broken.

It wasn’t an elegant cry, or a weep.

It was a proper shoulder-shaking, wipe your nose on your sleeve full on beal.

How had I not realised?

In a couple of months the little boy who’s favourite thing at the minute is to dance around the front room with me to 80s Heart FM is going to be starting a whole new chapter of his life.

And once he’s started.

That’s it.

Two children at school.

They’re off.

They’ve both on their next adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to keep him back for a year and attempt to home school him with my poor grasp on geography, understanding of the natural world or lack of all round patience.

But my best little buddy is not going to be hanging out with me as much soon.

It’s the end of an era.

And let’s face it, it’s not as much fun to dance around in the front room to Bros on your own.

* you can find the full poem and response from a teacher here. Tissues at the ready.
  

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Love Island, lying on the sofa and looking like Laura...

I like to think I’m the kind of person that, given a free evening, would have a bath with essential oils, drink a cup of camomile tea and get stuck into a good book.

I want to be that person.

But…

I have more unread books than you can shake a big stick at piling up on my bedside table.

But mainly...

I've started watching Love Island and I’m now completely hooked.

I feel dirty.

I’m watching a load of impossibly beautiful people who ‘don’t know where their head’s at’ getting off with each other whilst simultaneously being ‘mugged off.’

They don’t even smoke fags this year.

They’re perfect.

I watch it on a nightly basis, lying on the sofa stuffing my face with Malteasers whilst shopping on line for bikinis that are DEFINETELY going to look good on me once I will myself thin like Megan or Laura.

I’m mesmerised.

How can Alex EVER go back to work as a doctor after this?

What would it be like to be introduced to your new girlfriend’s dad, Danny Dyer??

Is it even possible to do it under a 10 tog duvet when you’re being filmed?

At the point I was starting to hate myself a bit, it suddenly happened.

Rosie Williams was about to be evicted.

And instead of berating the women who had made her feel a bit shitty, or the boy who turned out to be a serial liar and broke her heart.

She looks at the women who have created a protective shield around her whilst she wipes her tears and straightens her hair, the friend who shared a bed with her and held her hands as she wept herself to sleep, and said, ‘I came in here to find love, but I didn’t find it in a boy, I found it with all you girls.’

I FOUND IT WITH ALL YOU GIRLS. FUCK YES.

You can stick a load of gorgeous people in a villa. Make them share a bed and strut around in next to nothing, set them all up against each other, and still female friendship can grow. 

BOOM.

PS can someone PLEASE put some suncream on Alex?

PPS can we actually see someone eat a meal?

PPPS do people really get off with each other in the morning without brushing their teeth?


Thursday, 8 March 2018

Happy International Women's Day...

I wished my six-year-old daughter a Happy International Women’s Day before she slept, and she asked me from her bed if that meant it was a day for her.

And I said yes.

Of course yes.

And she asked me if we should have a party. She likes a good party.

She also likes spinning out bedtime.

But it got me thinking, International Women’s Day is a day for celebration of women’s achievements, of all our successes, but also all the sacrifices women have made so that we can enjoy the lives we lead now.

It can also be a marker in the sand to see how far we have come since the last IWD. 

Looking back over the last 12 months, it has been a complete shit storm of abuses of power, cover-ups and collusions.

From Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey to Max Stafford-Clark, women have, for decades, been compromised and abused in the pursuit of their careers by men in power.

The #metoo campaign gave people a voice to come forward and out men who have got away with this for far too long. And women did come forward. In their hundreds, thousands, to share their stories and gather strength from one another.

But where do we go from here?

How do we continue to strive forward, to gain momentum, to feel like things are getting better, becoming fairer, more transparent?

It’s starting to happen. Women are forcing things to happen.

A group of women have taken the power back when a majority female investor group bought the Harvey Weinstein company. Weinstein won’t receive any of the $500 million sale of company assets, and despite taking on about $225m worth of debt, the women are setting up a $90 million victims' compensation fund.

Incredible.

Another group of women are campaigning to buy the Theatre Royal Haymarket theatre with the aim of making it a venue that showcases female-led work, making it a supportive space for women to create work.

 As women we need to support each other. To celebrate each other.

Because there is nothing stronger, more terrifying, more powerful, than a fucking incredible group of women who look after each other, who listen, who protect, who nurture each other.

Who celebrate each other’s achievements, and support each other through the shit times.

The women who have gone before us have fought for our places in the world now.

We owe it to them and our daughters and granddaughters to finish this.

To not turn a blind eye, to not accept that things are so because it is ‘just how it’s always been.’

Let’s support each other and know that our voices are louder when they are in chorus.

So deep breath.

Put your best fighting foot forward…

And Happy International Women’s Day brilliant women.

Thank you for being in my life.



Thursday, 8 February 2018

Week 289- Dry January, Sugar-free February, bullshitting me.

Dry January. That went about as well as I could have anticipated. I didn’t drink for as long as the New Years Eve hangover lasted.

Which was cruelly lengthy.

But definitely not 31 days.

So I decide that I need to get a grip.

With the big 4-0 looming this year and the broken resolutions ringing in my ears, there was only one thing for it.

Sign up for a 5k run.

Week one of training goes by.

By ‘goes by’ I mean, I think about running but, Christ on a bike, it’s cold.

So I, instead, buy a new sports bra on line. That’s progress.

Week two and I sign up to a motivational running app. A mere £7.99 a month to listen to a woman who is shouty and really fucking harsh.

She’s all, ‘right lets sprint for two minutes and then you can relax into a revitalising jog.’

That’s the relaxing bit?

Are you shitting me, Rochelle? The last app got me to jog for a minute then walk/ have a sit down for the rest. 

I’m not jogging for a fricking rest, thanks.

Week three and it’s definitely too cold. It’s been snowing for fucks sake. No-one jogs in the snow, do they?

I’ve got a much better idea. I’ll sign up to no sugar February. That’ll do the trick. But keep the sponsorship low because I can’t really ask anyone to sponsor me to not eat a Twirl when other people are swimming the Channel for charity and stuff.  

It’s week four of  ‘training.’

I have been for one and a half jogs. Avoided eating anything mildly tasty. And thought about how I have one month to get fit for a race*.

It’s going well. 

Tonight I’ve watched three episodes of Suits in sportswear. I missed my window to go out for a run after episode two, so I’ll probably just get out of my unused sweatshirt and leggings and have a bath.

I feel like 2018 is going to be my year.


*As I’m making a MASSIVE deal about doing a 5k, it turns out my husband is doing a marathon several weeks afterwards that he’d forgotten to mention. Slightly regretting making SUCH a big deal about this now.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Week 285- pets, babies and double decker hutches...

Get a pet, they* said. It will be good for them.

So we did it.

We bought the kids two female guinea pigs and an outdoor hutch.

I used to have guinea pigs growing up so I’m all over this shit. I like the weird noises they make, they are totally low maintenance and cost next to nothing as they mainly eat all the vegetables you buy from the January health-kick-rush-of-blood-to-the-head and then keep in the fridge until they smell like a compost bin.

The kids named them Snuffles** and Bella and they were due to live outside and rub along with us with minimal disruption.

Until hurricane Brenda or whichever one it was started to blow a gale and I realised that the guinea pigs would die of hyperthermia before they reached their 2-month birthday.

So we moved the massive hutch inside.

Not ideal but two clicks later and I’d bought an indoor hutch on-line. This was starting to be a slightly more pricey endeavour than the occasional bag of hay and pet food but hey ho, it might be easier to look after them/ harder to ignore them, if they are just at the bottom of the stairs so we have to breathe in to squeeze past them every time.

The new hutch arrived.

It’s huge.

And the outdoor hutch went outside again, the children declaring it’s their holiday home ‘like Pontins.’ Perfect.

The first thing I noticed now they’re inside is how fucking noisy they are.

And nocturnal.

They reach optimum squeak at about 3am.

Never mind.

We’ll get used to the noise I tell myself. We might even start to not notice it at all; they will just become part of the house.

They start to grow. Like really quickly.

These guinea pigs are gigantic. I don’t remember them being this big when I was a child.

And then we realise why.

‘Mummy, Snufffles has shrunk!’

I look in the hutch.

No she hasn’t.

That’s a baby.

And there are two more.

Bella was pregnant when we bought her it turns out. We have five guinea pigs for the price of two.

And the massive hutch doesn’t look so massive now.

We plan to find homes for the babies, but after Ben referred to them as ‘family’ we couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t split up ‘the girls.’

When did we start calling them ‘the girls’? Kill me now.

But one trip to the petshop later confirmed that they are indeed all girls and so the chances of them procreating further are biblical.

Come Christmas and the kids are putting together their unrealistic lists of things they’d like to appear under the tree, and we’re trying to convince them that perhaps what they’d really like is a gigantic guinea pig hutch.

A double decker, two story, block of flats style hutch.

Done.

They’re both slightly disappointed but it’s the only way we can keep them all.

So what started out as a lovely exercise in empathy and looking after another creature has become a quick lesson in teenage pregnancy and incest.

You can’t win them all.


*The voice in my head and Yahoo news.


** I have never met a creature who is less like her name. She bites. And if you look at her straight on she reminds me a bit of General Wooundwort from Watership Down.