Monday, 28 September 2015

Wave Goodbye

Following on from the wistful post about my little girl growing up, here's....another one.

The walk to and from school has taken many forms over the past six years - from blissfully skipping hand-in-hand under trees dappled by sunlight, to nightmarish epics where we're being lashed by rain and splashed by passing cars as one of the children screams that they are "NOT. WALKING. ANY. MORE!" 

I have taken anything from one child to five children on this walk; in the latter case I am a pied-piper marching down the path with a little crew trotting behind (but not in a weird child-catcher kind of way, more in a "I offered to help way more people than I realised and am now carrying five book bags" kind of way).

The journey has gradually got easier as their legs have got longer but something else has happened in the past few weeks; we leave the house together but other than that I pretty much walk on my own.  The boy wonder runs or scoots ahead with his friend, and my daughter and her friend meander somewhere behind me deep in conversation.  Where I used to hold a little hand, all that's needed for me to hold now is an umbrella that my daughter refuses to use (proving that she is nearly ready for senior school - those kids never wear a coat, let alone use a brolly!), or a lunch box that is getting in the way of my son's aerodynamics.  I exchange rueful smiles with the other parents who appear to be walking a rucksack to school.  We have, as one mum put it, become donkeys - transporting our children's heavy loads.

Events like this are occurring ever more frequently and whilst there are elements of being needed that I was very happy to drop (I never once enjoyed trying to catch a cascade of baby vomit or when nappy changing required everyone to have a full change of clothes thanks to errant weeing and explosive pooing) there are times when I don't feel quite ready to be surplus to requirements - none more so than when that hugs and kiss before they go into school was first replaced by a wave goodbye.

But my need is not theirs. Their growing confidence and independence mean that they don't want a constant waterfall of overt affection to be showered upon them - it is very uncool when you're with your friends to have your mum trying to plant a sloppy kiss on your forehead.  What they need now is to know that the hugs are ready to be switched on at any given moment - as I found when one of the children felt unwell and snuggled in for a good half an hour.  I caught their cold as a result but it was worth it.

So I stand back and try to calm the ever-alert hawk that twitches in my brain, desperate to swoop down and protect my young.  I keep to the very edge of the playground (which now has yellow lines designed to inform parents precisely where they are permitted to stand - perhaps this was actually the children's idea?) and speak to my own friends, glancing occasionally to make sure the children are ok - which of course they are as they don't have their mum cramping their style.  I watch them go in, wave goodbye, and walk back home.

And then I find this on the table:

I'm reminded that just because it's not shown on the playground, it doesn't mean it's not felt - I got a hug after all.

Soundtrack - Wave Goodbye - Steadman

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Mystery Meat

Mystery meat
Mystery meat
I've looked in the freezer
There's just you to eat
Are you a health hazard
Or are you a treat?
What are you mystery meat?

Mystery meat
No label = no idea what the contents are...

There is no label
On top of the Tupperware 
So how am I able
To tell if you're safe
To serve up at the table?
Dare I chance it, mystery meat?

Mystery meat
Is it months or days
You've been in the icebox
In a frozen haze?
There's only two options for this foodstuff maze
Bin or taste you, mystery meat

Mystery meat
The microwave pings
I hope that the heat has killed off nasty things
The mystery's over 
And my heart it sings

You're last week's spag bol, mystery meat!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Jamie Oliver Set My Kitchen on Fire

Jamie Oliver, you, sir, are a liar!
You made me start a kitchen fire
I'm not sure when it was you dreamt
Someone just like me could attempt
Half an hour for three courses - I'm on to you
I didn't even try for two

I went for just one thing to eat
A pizza designed for "a cheat"
But Jamie do you think you can
Picture adding oil to a "very hot" pan
It will send up a sheet of flame
This is what I actually got..
That seems impossible to tame

My stuffing-face-with-pizza desire
Is replaced by a need to extinguish fire
I put it out with a wet towel
And then my stomach began to growl..
The pan was ruined, and nothing was eaten
Your recipe left me hungry and beaten

Oh Jamie, how I do despise
Your beautifully presented book of lies
And though you want to preserve my health
I'm placing you back on the shelf
My attitude may make you frown
But at least my house will not burn down


Footnote: this is a true story.  You can read the blog post that inspired this poem here

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sunday Service #1

Sometimes we all need a bit of peace and quiet.  I've been collecting videos of things that make me feel good to be alive.  Here's one of them:

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Bush Issues

You know how it is 
When you want to go for a swim
You look down below....
and the bush needs a trim

You think to yourself
Would this look ok?
If I tucked it all in ...
Or would hair start to stray

With each movement I made
To get into the pool
If I put on some board shorts

Do you think I could fool

The hirsute swimmer's friend
Other swimmers in thinking
I was a surf chick?
If I had a quick shave
There's a risk I might nick

That delicate skin
And come out in a rash
And I'd rather have hair
Than spots round my gash

If pull down the front
Do you think it might hide 
My topiary? But if I go down the slide....
It will ride up and show I'm too busy relaxing

Than to spend my time plucking and shaving and waxing

And then I see blokes

With their big hairy guts
All covered in pubes from their throats to their nuts
Who don't need to be shaved
Yet when it comes to my bits
They must be so carefully managed 

And it's....

Very unfair and a little bit weird
That my foof must be covered
But not a man's beard!

The filter gets clogged
With the hair from their backs
The pool would be cleaner
If men all got waxed!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Don't Go Changing

I've never hankered for a return to the baby years; as each year passes the children have become more interesting, engaging and surprising and there is a huge amount to be said for being free of potty training and broken sleep.  These strong-bodied, active, articulate little people teach me just as much about myself (I need to keep a cooler head, play more, worry less) as they do about themselves (they hear more than I give them credit for, they can sense if I want five minutes to myself and so interrupt me, they will read the front cover of Private Eye and ask what "pissed" means....).

This summer, however, I've felt a niggle.  One that I should be mentally capturing moments and committing them to memory even more keenly than before, especially when it comes to my daughter.

For her, this summer has been one of cartwheels, of plunging into rivers on rope swings, Cub camps and family camps and running through fields uninhibited and happy.  

For me, it has been one of unexpected cuddles, of watching her conquer fears and dive into swimming pools and freezing seas, of tearing across a field in her shorts roaring with laughter, of conspiring with her cousins for an extra hour of play.  It has been the best.

And then I remember that tomorrow she's moving up a year at school.  And that there are girls two years older than her entering into puberty and if I'm honest, I'm happy to wait a hell of a lot longer for that to come knocking.

My husband and I don't 'baby' our children, and we're open about what's to come but now feels like a very special time for our girl.  I can still carry her (although only just), and it is still more than ok to tickle fight, water fight and pillow fight.  I'm still helping with hair washes, and still called upon to give a kiss goodnight and read bedtime stories.  She is free to run, jump and play unselfconsciously and I want that to last *as long as possible*.  

I like to think that a bit of honesty plus keeping the house free of MTV, Page 3 and trashy magazines will help to keep her free of undue pressure and crappy role models but I can't delay the inevitable, and I can't pretend it isn't going to happen.  What I do hope is that I get just a couple more summers like this one.  Don't go changing - not just yet.

Soundtrack: Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Stiletto Shoes

Stiletto shoes
You're the footwear I'd choose
These will be going back in the box then......
If my car was driven by a chauffeur
Or I never had to leave my sofa

If I never had the school run to do...
Oh how I'd cherish a pretty shoe
And on those rare occasions when
I try to put on heels again

You make my ankles painfully twist
And fail to hold me up when pissed
I've decided it's probably better that
I stick to shoes that are sturdy and flat