Blotted Copy Books, and Caterpillar Coats

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The 70’s is currently enjoying a revival on TV thanks to memoir sitcoms Cradle to Grave and The Kennedys.

Cradle to Grave is part written by comedian Danny Baker and is based on his own adolescence in 1970’s London. With exploding toilets and loads of ‘farkin ‘ells’, it’s hilariously funny.

The Kennedys is written by actress, writer and TV presenter Emma Kennedy and is based on her memoirs The Tent, The Bucket and Me. Narrated from 10 year old Emma’s perspective, it resonates with me the most because I too was a child in the 70’s.

The show provides a nostalgic look back at the time when Darth Vader was a scary man (but nowhere near as scary as Jimmy Savile turned out to be) and schoolgirls lives were temporarily ruined by Donny Osmond’s forthcoming nuptials.

Both shows feature cars of the decade and it brought back memories of Dad’s Hillman Hunter.

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Dad and Me in his Hillman Hunter

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Dad putting the car away in the garage while I showed Mum what I’d been doing at school all day.

Another form of transport (for kids) was the Space Hopper. I had a go on my friend’s but wasn’t much for it as the bouncing made my head ache. I preferred to spin around until I fell over on the carpet and entertainment doesn’t come much better than that!

Not forgetting the hours of fun to be had from making go carts out of an old prams and bits of wood. We were recycling way before it was fashionable!

It’s Emma’s schooldays which have evoked memories long forgotten…

~ Inky Fingers ~

I remember inky fingers, blotting paper and my brother’s leaky fountain pens which resulted in Mum having to scrub his clothes. No magical Vanish in those days – just milk, vinegar and elbow grease!

Blotting paper reminds me of one of Mum’s favourite sayings..

You’ve really blotted your copy book this time, Madam!

I never actually understood the meaning of it but could tell I was in trouble from the way her eyes narrowed as she said it just before she ordered me up to my room to ‘think about what I’d done’.

~ Technology ~

Technology at school was watching a film via a projector which invariably involved disruptions while the teacher faffed about changing the reels. The films were usually about as entertaining as tonsillitis but they gave us the opportunity to eat sweets without risk of confiscation.

~ The School Toilets ~

The school toilets (more commonly known as bogs) were damp and drippy and there was always a cubicle with an out of order notice pinned to the door.

Hygiene was soap that smelled like antiseptic (because it was) and Izal toilet roll or ‘caretakers revenge’ as I like to call it. Wiping your arse with Izal was like trying to wipe yourself with a crisp packet, not that I’ve tried but it’s the best analogy I can come up with.

~ Thatcher, Thatcher Milk Snatcher ~

Dad considered Margaret Thatcher a cow of epic proportions..

~ Healthy Eating ~

On the way home from school, my brother would take me into the sweet shop where he’d give me a few pennies for some sweets and in those days you got a lot of sweets for your money. I remember the shop being crammed to the rafters with huge bottles containing Flying Saucers, Fizzy Cola Bottles, Sweet Tobacco, Black Jacks, Space Dust, Wham Bars, Drumsticks and Space Dust. I loved them all and it’s highly likely that the sugar in this lot contributed to me having ‘blotted my copy book’ on several occasions!

~ School Fashion ~

Fashion?

*guffaws*

The 70’s was the decade that good taste missed!

The sight of Emma Kennedy and her friend with their school satchels jogged my memory of having one as a child. Things were made to last in those days and were generally worn out before being replaced. Very different from today’s throwaway society where things are changed on a whim. My satchel lasted me for years because the sodding thing was indestructible!

Mum bought my coats a size too big so that I could ‘grow into them’. She bought me one in the sales once and it’s fair to say that it was going cheap because nobody in their right mind would want to be seen dead in it. It was phlegm green, padded and made me look like a caterpillar. I put up with the piss-taking for a few weeks then it ‘mysteriously’ ripped beyond repair. *shifty face*

I also had a pair of these..

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Mum liked to get her money’s worth when it came to shoes and demanded to see actual holes before she’d fork out for a new pair. Unlike clothes, she had to buy shoes that actually fitted so my growing spurts totally pissed her off. However, being a mother myself and having spent a small fortune on children’s shoes, I now feel her pain.

~ Miss D ~

My teacher in 1978. Goddess. Looked like Deirdre off Coronation Street.  A wonderful lady who actually liked kids which made a welcome change from my previous teacher who was straight out of a Stephen King novel.

The 70’s has been tainted with the recent revelations that some of it’s biggest icons were in fact depraved monsters but Cradle to Grave and The Kennedys have injected some warmth and humour back into the era to remind us that, disagreeable decor aside, it wasn’t too bad really.

mumturnedmom

Image Credit Star Wars J D Hancock

Image Credit Clarks Shoes Alansplodge

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Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now..

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I was crap at PE. Not only was I crap at it but I hated it as well. I hated everything about it down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear. Having been blessed with the coordination of Frank Gallagher after a few hours in the Jockey, it’s safe to say that sports were NOT my forte!

This post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.

~ Infants ~

Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five.

Gymnastics – Once a week we went down the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The smell of feet was overwhelming along with the whiff of sick where someone had vommed up their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Ma bought me a black leotard, which I spent a lot of time extracting from up my bum! My one and only BAGA award was for a near perfect bridge. Er, go me!

~ Juniors ~

The ante was upped in the juniors. Suddenly sport got serious and we were placed into houses, like in Harry Potter, only, shit. I was in yellow house, so in Potter world that would be Hufflepuff..

Rounders – The rounders kit came out and we were picked in teams. Fully expecting to be crap at it, I amazed myself by not being totally crap.

For every few miss-hits, the bat would connect with the ball and I would wallop it across the road. I even managed to win my team a game or two which ensured me being picked by choice the following week instead of being picked last, which was the norm for me.

Things were relatively bearable until we moved across the other side of the city. It was a new house, new school, new people and I was a walking mood, having just started my periods. The new school was big on sports. It had a massive brag cabinet chock-a-block with trophies and row upon row of team photographs (with some hilarious hairstyles) taken over the years.

Dance – All legwarmers and leotards with a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame. We didn’t pay ‘with sweat’, we paid with detention! She soon realised that I looked shite in a leotard and was about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid.

Hockey – I knocked a girl’s tooth out the first time I played.

Javelin – I gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled one of the teachers with the second.

High Jump – Spent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.

Long Jump –  First (and only) attempt required first aid.

Hurdles – After knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.

Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.

100 Metre Sprint  –  Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point, I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘For crying out loud, just run when you hear the bang, OK?!!’

Teach fired the starter gun and I ran like Ma had just caught me with one of her fags. Seconds later I was rolling around on the ground trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when he sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms and slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’

I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something. But as Mozzer from The Smiths so eloquently puts it…

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now

Because within a short time, I found myself racked with anxiety as I was loaded onto a bus on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county.

I didn’t want to be in the athletics team, truth be told. I was agoraphobic even then and the thought of running in front of hundreds of people had me dry heaving for weeks before the events. In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint because, well, he was a bit of a twat. I was still having baton issues in the practice runs before the race. Hadn’t I already proved that I was rubbish at relay?

In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out and prayed that I wouldn’t drop the sodding thing. Somehow I managed to keep hold of it and pass it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth and I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win or even come a close second. Teach (NOT a happy bunny) was sulking away in his X rated track suit.

The euphoria of my sports day win had turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Here was something that I was genuinely good at but my useless brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety levels through the roof. So I gave up.

It isn’t just about confidence. It’s about having a brain that doesn’t cope well under pressure. All my life, this is how it’s been. Maybe if I’d have persevered I would have found a way to cope? But the truth is that I didn’t even enjoy running because I was self-conscious of my Brad Pitts and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to run in my cardi.

High School

My sports life consisted of a series of excuse me notes (thanks to Ma), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I heard a starter pistol and a phobia of batons for life.

Nuff said?

Creative Commons Photo Credit ~ ‘Pete’

mumturnedmom

Life is a Highway

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From the day we are born, we’re on a journey. All of us are headed to the same destination (aka Death De Mar) but we each take different routes along the way.

Throughout our travels, we encounter challenges. We all experience love, joy and happiness as well as sadness, tragedy and hopelessness. Life can be good and a total bitch in equal measure.

Sometimes the road is bumpy as hell (with annoying roadworks and potholes) and we feel frustrated like when we get stuck behind a tractor for an eternity (or Stop/Go man takes the piss) and sometimes it’s smooth and enjoyable. In my experience, the moment that I acknowledge happiness, life throws down a stinger.

The ‘Big C’ became part of my journey when Dad was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, on my birthday as it goes.. You could say that his life choices of slumming it at the ‘Greasy Spoon’ cafe (despite Ma’s nagging) and smoking were a contributing factor in his illness. His choice not to act on his early symptoms, combined with him being misdiagnosed twice, cost him his life and my insistence that Mum saw her GP on her mentioning a bloated tummy and brown discharge (at the age of 65) probably saved hers.

Cancer made short work of my dad but I liken my mum’s experience to swatting an irritating fly. In her case, one well aimed whack got the bastard and she lived for another six years to die of something completely unrelated. Ma 1 Cancer 0.

Our journeys aren’t just about us.

As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination.

Cancer has entered my life once again but this time it’s my friend who is suffering from this horrendous disease. I haven’t known her long but our boys play together so we’ve become friends. She has advanced cancer but If you saw her you wouldn’t imagine she’s ill. She looks well. She’s certainly fitter than me and by her own admission, she doesn’t even feel ill. However, the scans tell a different story…

I have been around cancer. I’ve experienced the effects of cancer but I don’t know how it feels to have it. Nobody can know unless it happens to them.

My friend is a wonderful lady. By her own admission, she chooses to be positive. Despite the indifferent attitude of the cancer specialists, she’s giving it a run for it’s money and good on her, I say.

She told me that some days she finds it hard to get out of bed to face the day, which is totally understandable. So I made her a card with a quote which reflects this along with her desire to be positive.

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.

I am deeply sorry she’s going through this. I can’t stop this from happening to her but what I can do is be there for her for support. Nobody should ever have to go through this alone. Cancer is an incredibly difficult journey to to be witness to so one can only imagine how it feels to be living it.

Most of us have times in our life when we struggle to face the day, for whatever reason. I’ve got lost a few times and questioned what it’s all about but ultimately, all roads of thought lead back to the fruits of my womb. My body resembles a clapped old three wheeler (think Trotter van) but I look at my boys and know it’s all been worth it.

My latest run in with one of life’s proverbial potholes resulted in me having to assume the ‘On your side, bend your legs and face the wall, dear’ position while my GP swiped her index finger around my rear-end. No doubt I’ll end up having a camera up it (oh-the-joy) before the year’s out  but as long as it gives me peace of mind that my botty probs are simply an IBS flare up or yet another menopausal perk, I can cope with a bit of bum invasion. Dignity, me dears, went out the window the day I went into labour. These days, ‘dignity’ is a song by Deacon Blue!

Nobody’s journey will be free from heartache. Bad things happen but It’s what we learn from the experience that matters. Reading stories about the Holocaust has taught me that hope can exist even in the most horrific of circumstances. Our freedom to choose our own attitude throughout any given circumstance is something that nobody can take away from us. Nobody can make us feel bad about ourselves without our permission!

People enter our lives and the journey changes direction. It’s like a Sat-Nav that keeps re-calculating. However, in the journey of life, there isn’t a reverse gear. We don’t get to go back and do things differently. We can only learn from our mistakes and move forwards. Maybe if we knew how our lives will pan out, we’d be too scared to live them? All I know is that I’ve made it to almost 45 years of age so far and count myself lucky. The journey so far has been full of tears and laughter and with each sharp bend of the road, I’ve learned a little bit more about life.

There are a few more miles left in this ol’ jalopy yet (despite a biological age of 102) and I’d like to think I’ll manage a cheeky sideways skid when it’s ‘destination reached’ aka, the big scrap yard in the sky. Knowing my luck, I’ll be towed in on the back of a recovery truck but a girl can dream, eh?

Until then, it’s on with the ride..

I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may. ~ Leonard Nimoy

mumturnedmom

And Winter Came…

Winter

Definition of nesh ~ Being either afraid of the cold or feeling the cold a lot. Used across the Midlands and the North.

You don’t need to wear a coat today, you nesh git!

Nesh: I am the definition of nesh. I was born in the middle of summer but swear I came into the world wrapped in a duvet, well, maybe not a duvet as Ma didn’t give up her sheets and blankets until the late 70’s but when she did, to quote the youth of today, ‘It was like totes amazeballs!’

In my day it was just ‘ace’. Gone were the itchy blankets and ten layers of clothing. It was like sleeping in a marshmallow. Once you’ve had duvet, you never want to go back to blankets. If heaven exists, I hope it’s got a 13.5 tog rating!

On top of my natural nesh-ness, I am menopausal and I suppose you could think of winter as the menopausal season because reproduction grinds to a halt, things turns white and bits snap off. The only difference is that the youthfulness of spring won’t be returning, unless you want to pay a few thousand to look like a crap waxwork.

Poo Bags: Autumn’s riot of colour gives way to winter. The berries and evergreens inject life into the landscape. The woodlands, alive with greenery in the summer, are stripped bare to reveal hundreds of black poo-bags. Seemingly, people gather up their pooch’s poo in a bag and then SLAT THEM UP INTO A TREE OR A HEDGE! No, I don’t understand it either.

Snow: Winter can be barren but when Mother Nature does her stuff and makes it snow, it can transform even the ugliest of places into something beautiful. That is, until a dog pees in it or someone sticks a Carling can in it.

I used to love snow. All children love snow, right? When I was a girl, winters were hard and the snow used to drift up the back door. Of course, not every winter was like that. In fact, for the first seven years of my life, there was no snow to speak of. The first year of any significant snowfall was 1977/78. I remember the unconfined joy of being snowed in. No school! Ma hated the snow. She saw only inconvenience. I saw Narnia.

My love affair with the white stuff ended abruptly in 1984 when I fell over on my way to school. I was 14 and very self-conscious. My hair (styled on Sara from Bananarama) was a work of art, taking an hour and a half to achieve. It was backcombed to within an inch of it’s life but looked fabulous, or so I thought. Being a teenager, vanity won over common sense so I attempted to walk to school in a pair of flimsy suede effect boots in about four inches of snow. I skidded (a lot) and finally went down with the finesse of an elephant in full view of the entire world, or so it felt like. My hair was a right off. My boots, once they’d dried out, had nasty white rings around them. Lesson learned.

31 years later, it’s a totally different story. I couldn’t care a less what I look like as long as I’m warm and vertical. I have become my mother and whinge like buggery everytime I see a flake of snow.

Cold: Despite being Nesh of the North, I embrace the cold for two reasons. One, I can cover up my bingo wings guilt-free and two, it helps with the hot flushes which are the bane of any menopausal lady’s life. A quick arctic blast in the face and sanity is restored, well, sort of.

Cold weather means having to put the heating on more. Unfortunately (for OH)  I was brought up with Ma’s philosophy of ‘If you’re cold, put another jumper on!’. She demanded to see breath on the inside of the house before she’d reluctantly override the boiler. This would be met with, ‘You’ll all be the bloody death of me!’ to which we’d reply, ‘Not if hypothermia gets us first!’

Winter Nights: Another negative is the longer nights which means more time in front of the TV. The problem in our house is that OH guards the remote like a dog with a bone. He keeps it within grabbing distance and, short of tranquilizing him, there’s not much I can do about it. This means that I have to watch boring woodwork and wildlife documentaries. Oh the joy of sitting down to enjoy a chicken madras just as some poor gazelle gets downed by a lion with the munchies. Occasionally I’ll put my foot down and demand to watch Eastenders and he’s exited the room by the second duff. Men, eh?

Beauty ‘n’ Stuff: Personal grooming takes a back seat in winter, well it does in this house. What’s the point in spending precious time shaving bits which won’t be seen? My Bic is redundant until at least April by which time my legs need strimming, rather than shaving. Bad hair day? I stick a hat on. One of the perks of the menopause is that you stop worrying about such things. Quite liberating, really.

Defrosting the Car: Is always easier when you use the correct implement, i.e, an actual ice-scraper – not an old beer mat. Trust me!

I’m bored of winter now. The novelty has worn off. I’m looking forward to spring when I can go for long walks without freezing to death. Not that we’re safe from snow in spring, or summer for that matter..

A bit of trivia to amaze you. Or not.

In June 1975, SNOW stopped play in Buxton.

It was a real experience,” explained Bird, 77. “I’ve never known anything like it during my 50-year involvement in cricket. I’ve seen plenty of games affected by rain and bad light in my time, but never snow. ~ Dickie Bird

Good old British weather, eh?

mumturnedmom

 

Family Is What You Make It

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The era of the nuclear family is all but gone. It’s been replaced with single parents, non-married parents, foster families, couples without children and my family – the step-family, also known as the blended family.

According to an article in The Guardian, one in three people in the UK  are now a step-parent, step-child, adult step-child, step-sibling or step-grandparent. The statistics speak for themselves.

I was born into your bog standard ‘nuclear family’ – a mum, a dad and three children and in turn I helped create my own with my husband and two boys. Twenty years later the marriage sadly ended and a new chapter began..

After what I call my ‘wilderness year’ I bagged a blokey who was willing to put up with my shit. By shit, I mean my mind baggage and in my mind, I have more baggage than Manchester airport. Like me, he had children and we both understood that if we were to have a any kind of story, our children would be part of it.

The next few years were all about dipping toes in the water and trying to keep all ten. After being used to boys, I was faced with the daunting prospect of girls. Scared? Erm, YES! I’d been one myself and knew how challenging it could get. I decided the best approach was to be my strange, but amiable enough, self.  At first (and understandably) there was resentment. They named a toy dog after me and chucked it out their bedroom window. Well, at least it wasn’t actually me they were hurling onto the pavement. I counted my blessings!

My lads seemed to cope better with the situation (of which I am grateful) than the girls but studies suggest that this is generally the case with blended families. Us females are more complicated, don’t you know.

After living together for a year, OH and I decided to try for a baby. He knew all there was to know about me and hadn’t legged it so this was the next step. Also, there was the small matter of my biological clock reminding me that I was 38 and in danger of being ‘past it’. However, Mother Nature was on my side (for once) and a year later we had a baby boy. It proved to be a good decision as my ovaries surrendered soon after. We hoped that our little boy would help to bond our two families together.

I have read that it takes step-families (or blended families as is becoming the term) about seven years to function well together. It’s totally unrealistic to expect a step-family to work from the outset, it takes time, patience and effort. Some step-parents try to assert themselves as being equal to the child’s parents and it’s a mistake. I don’t try to be a mother to my stepdaughters. They have a mum. That job is taken. I know my place and my place is a supporting role. My sons get on well with OH and that is largely down to the fact that he’s never tried to be their dad.

I would advise any step-parent to understand that, while a certain amount of respect should be a given, respect works both ways. If you are a complete arse to them, they are likely to return the favour with bells on or ignore you completely. If you go all Eric Cartman and demand that they respect your ‘authoritah’. You’ll most likely be greeted with a two fingered gesture as the door is slammed off it’s hinges. Expecting your step-children to like you from the start is unrealistic. With time and effort, feelings do change. Go in with low expectations and you’ll save yourself thousands in therapy.

Parenting is hard but being a step-parent can be an absolute minefield. You just can’t bollock em like you can your own, can you?!  Neither should you lie on the floor and assume the doormat position. There is a line which you need to find. It can be difficult but there are moments when you feel you’ve turned a corner. Its the smile that isn’t forced, a kiss on the end of a text or them simply choosing to sit and talk to you.. small things which mean a lot because maybe your starting to become part of their story instead of being the outsider.

Step-monsters mothers get a bad rap. If the Disney films are to be believed, we all cackle in front of the mirror and think up evil ways to kill our step-kids. Well, I do cackle a bit, especially first thing, but I don’t plot my step-daughters demise. I quite like them.

Eight years down the line, we are beginning to blend together. We’re an eclectic mix of creative and logical (and in my case, slightly insane) minds. Each unique and caring in our own ways. We’re not perfect, but then, no family is.

mumturnedmom

OOPS!

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I’ve made mistakes in my time, who hasn’t?

Some of those mistakes have been arse clenchingly embarrassing, like when I wrote “pubic act” instead of public act in my history book at school. Not content with putting a big red line under “pubic” with the words “OOPS!!” written alongside it, the history teacher decided to have a laugh at my expense by revealing my little faux pas to the ENTIRE class.

Course, I can laugh about now, Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, couldn’t then – went home and died.

Then there was the time I underestimated how slippy grass can be in the rain..

A short sharp shower stopped play at a local cricket match and I decided to run and rescue my deck chair, as you do. Needless to say it didn’t end well, tripping and sliding across the outfield in full view of, well, everybody.

Aaaand there was the time when I went to school without my knickers.

Nope, I wasn’t the school tramp, let me explain..

We had swimming lessons first thing on Monday mornings and I used to put my uniform on over my costume to save having to strip at the baths. Only on this occasion I’d forgot to put my knickers in my bag so having confided my lil dilemma to the teacher, she issued me with a skanky pair of PE knickers from out of the lost property box which, by the musty smell of them, had been in there since 1962.

Then I had a near death experience at high school when I got mixed up in the ability groups in swimming and was pushed in at the deep end of the swimming pool by a sadistic SS trained PE teacher (and cow) I nearly drowned. My friend had to jump in and save me (cus the teacher couldn’t be arsed) and I eventually surfaced with more snot on my face than a two year old and, WORSE, my swimming costume around my midriff. Yes, I flashed my Brad Pitts to everybody. Oh, nearly forgot to mention that it was a MIXED session!

Or maybe the time I’d worked up the courage to go to college as a mature student. After many self-help psyching sessions, I marched in the PACKED room, flounced up to the important looking lady sat on the table at the front and announced in my most confident voice, “Hello, I’m T, pleased to meet you. Where do you want me to sit?” to which she replied, “Wherever you want love, the tutor isn’t here yet!” I smouldered my way over to a seat with a set of cheeks that would fry an egg in three seconds flat.

Have you ever wished for a big hole to open up and take you down?

Plenty more little anecdotes from where these came from only I like to limit my posts to under 1000 words!

Then there are the mistakes which eat you up from the inside.

The things I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t.

The things I said.

The things I didn’t say.

But I’m human and to err is human, as they say.

So now I look at my life, my gaffs, my faux pas – my mistakes and acknowledge that they have all been learning curves. Life is one big learning curve and it’s OK to make mistakes.

But what about the mistakes which cost lives? Doctors, police, firefighters, paramedics and military personnel all have the burden of other people’s lives in their hands on a daily basis and then there are other professions which are responsible for the safety of others. They are human beings so it is inevitable that mistakes will be made and while they will no doubt learn from each one, I don’t know how they are able to cope with the knowledge that their action or decision cost a life. It’s an immense responsibility and not one I envy. I accidentally knocked my mate’s tooth out the first time I played hockey and I felt bad enough about that! Yet another mistake!

Mistakes are essential for our personal growth and we’ll keep making mistakes until the day they put the toe tag on because we never stop learning. If you get to the point where you feel you have nothing more to learn, you might as well shuffle off your mortal coil and make some room for someone else.

My mistakes were embarrassing but nobody died. Well I nearly did but in the end I survived to the entertainment of my class. You’re welcome, folks!

Even though I’ve been shifting about uneasily in my chair as the memories have come flooding back, I’m able to see the funny side and laugh at myself even it’s a manically insane, hide the knife, laugh. At the time it would have been a full on crisis because I was a teenager and a teenager’s very existence is fraught with angst over the slightest thing. Such as:

  • Zit = angst
  • Broken pencil = angst
  • Period = psychotic angst
  • Flopping boobs out in front of the class in the swimming pool = kill me now my life is over – angst

I dealt with it by locking myself in my room and playing Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now on repeat.

I was (and still am) a complete disaster zone but, in my humble opinion, there are no mistakes that we can’t learn from – it’s just that some mistakes are harder to live with than others.

Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts. ~ Jim Morrison

The Challenge

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If your child has autism you may be familiar with the term ‘challenging behaviour’.

My son has autism and presents us with challenging behaviour on a daily basis.

It used to be termed as ‘problem behaviour’ or ‘socially unacceptable behaviour’ but that implied that the child was at fault – a problem to be fixed.

Challenging behaviour such as kicking, pinching, hitting etc could be due to communication difficulties, changes in routine, too much stimulus, too little stimulus, difficulties with waiting and taking turns and feeling unwell.

The challenge is in how we as parents, carers and teachers deal with it.

S was very young when I realised something was different. This post was written just before his fourth birthday and explains how we came to the conclusion that he might be autistic.

He was subsequently diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder shortly before his 5th birthday.

He has daily ‘melt downs’ and could give any teen a run for their money with his door slamming skills.

You can’t cure autism. It is a lifelong condition but it can be positively managed and that’s where the challenge is.

Parenting a child with autism can be physically and mentally exhausting.

I have had a few Grandmaster Flash, “Don’t push me cause I’m close to the eeeeedge I’m try-ing not to lose my head uh huh huh” moments but usually a few deep breaths and a slow headbanging session sorts me out.

It can also be incredibly rewarding.

It’s my job to recognise his triggers as best I can.

It’s my job to see when he is becoming overstimulated and adapt things in order to calm him down.

It’s my job to learn as much as I can about autism and him.

It’s my job to take the judgmental stares, the complaints and the assumptions and deal with it.

It’s my job to make sure that he (and we) get all the support we need.

It’s my job to see that he develops the necessary skills not only to cope, but to thrive in an overwhelming world.

It’s my job to make sure that he reaches his potential.

It’s my duty to make sure that he is the best he can be.

It’s a privilege to be his mother.

The negative side to his autism are the behavioural issues.

The positive side is that he never fails to amaze me. His photographic memory is nothing short of awesome.

When he laughs, he really laughs. My child doesn’t ‘suffer’ from autism, he is a very happy little boy!

He carries his numbers about in his pink handbag and he’s oblivious to the stares. One blessing is that he can’t comprehend that some ignorant twats are laughing at him. He thinks they are laughing with him. I know who I would rather fill the world with..

Five year olds are expected to be able to count up to 100 and know their 2, 5 and 10 times table. He’s been able to count to 100 for the last two years and knows the entire 12 times table off by heart. He can’t put his shoes on without help or hold a pencil properly but he’s a number machine!

Part of the challenge is to find ways to calm him down, especially in social situations. It’s trial and error.

His teachers recently realised that he was interested in the chicks and when he became overwhelmed in class, his support teacher would take him to sit by the tank. She kindly took these pictures to show us.

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The last four weeks have been incredibly challenging due it being the school holidays.

I have a few more grey hairs than I started the holidays with.

And the twitch is back!

Earlier in the week he ran out in front of a car that was driving onto the garage forecourt because he’d had ten minutes of stimulation. Children with autism can be ‘runners’ where they can slip away from sight in a few seconds. He got upset, not because of the car, but because I screamed out as I grabbed him. One moment of distraction is all it takes..

A bus ride last week was another occasion where we over estimated his level of tolerance. He loved the ride but when we got off, he couldn’t stand any noise at all and we had to go straight back home.

That’s the hard part for me, knowing that the enjoyable things in life do his head in and end in melt-down.

On reflection, a shorter journey with an instant turnaround would have been better. It’s important that he experiences ‘normal’ things but small steps are essential.

It’s a continual learning curve for us as a family.

Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong. But in making mistakes, we are learning. That’s not unique to autism – that’s life.

With the challenges come the rewards of seeing our little dude make progress and thrive – especially socially.

I have sensory issues so part of the challenge is pushing myself beyond my limits but I am a mother first. I overcome because I need to – for him.

The positive to this is that I understand my son in a way that most people can’t and in turn it’s helped me to understand myself. I don’t just sympathise, I empathise.

Some days it feels like an impossible task but I remind myself that the goal is my son’s future and that gives me the strength to keep going.

Thank you for reading.

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless,
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause.

The Impossible Dream ~  Elvis Presley – written by Mitch Leigh, Joe Darion

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This post is part of Sara at mumturnedmom’s linky.

 

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You’re So Vain (you probably think this post is about you)

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but my idea of beauty differs greatly from that of the media.

Facelifts, Botox injections, teeth whitening and veneers are becoming common place for women these days and for television presenters of a ‘certain age’ it’s expected if they want to keep their jobs. Seemingly women have a shelf life, as opposed to their male counterparts, who’s only other requirement is a pulse. Men can go on presenting into their 80’s but women are put out to pasture on Radio 4 where they can still be heard but not seen.

The message from the media is that old is not beautiful.

As Catherine Tate’s ‘Nan Taylor‘ would say, “WHAT A LOAD OF OLD SHIT!!”

Women are becoming completely obsessed with their looks, desperately trying to eradicate the effects of time for fear of being replaced by a younger woman.

But what is beautiful?

The media portrays surgically altered and photo manipulated women as beautiful and as a result women are aspiring to be something that’s unrealistic.

Bigger boobs, smaller waist, thinner nose, bigger lips, smaller piss flaps, thicker hair, whiter teeth and muff styling – anything to change their appearance.

The result of continually going under the surgeons knife is something that wouldn’t look out of place in Madame Tussaud’s – only the really shit looking waxworks which look nothing like the celebrities they’re meant to be.

Then there’s these two…

I was stunned to read about the ‘Human Barbie‘, Valeria Lukyanova.

Er, what’s going on here then?

There is also Justin Jedlica ,dubbed ‘The Ken Doll” by the media, who has had 140 plastic surgery procedures in the last 15 years including 12 implants in his torso that mimic shapely arm and chest muscles.

According to him his body modification comes from a place of artistic creativity, not a mental illness.

Not deluded in the slightest!

If I was to come face to face with one of these creepy creatures, I’d presume that I’d been mixing my household chemicals again, or that I was actually dead and this was karma paying me for snapping the leg off a Barbie in 1978.

Recently Valeria claimed she wants to live only on light and air.

As you do..

In recent weeks I have not been hungry at all; I’m hoping it’s the final stage before I can subsist on air and light alone.

No, that’ll be the final stage before you die, but I’m sure you’ll look just fabulous in your coffin!

Normally, I’m a ‘whatever floats your boat’ person. If celebs want to take the risks with their looks, it’s tough false tits when it goes wrong but these ‘dolls’, especially the food dodger with her “food nihilism” and her message that surgery is the essence of beauty is alarming. They have a fan base, no doubt made up of perverts and impressionable girls.

For the good of humanity – load her and all the other ‘dolls’, including Ken with his fake pecs, into a rocket, light the boosters and fire em off into space before they have chance to reproduce.

Why in the name of Cher would anybody want to look like a doll? I had a Holly Hobbie once but I don’t want to have freckles tattooed on my face and wear a bonnet!

I’m not sure what alarms me more – the fact that people choose to do this to themselves or that unscrupulous surgeons are willing to exploit what amounts to mental illness. I am all for corrective or reconstructive surgery when it’s about quality of life, but this is insanity.

Celebs will go to extraordinary lengths to hold onto their youthful looks.

Mrs Beckham for instance, is rumored to be using a facial which involves bird poo.

Go sit on Blackpool prom with a tray of chips, Posh – you’ll be graced with more bird shit than you’ll know what to do with!

What’s so wrong with wrinkles anyway? They certainly haven’t done Dame Judi Dench any harm. She is proof that older women can be naturally beautiful and desirable.

I’m hardly Waynetta Slob when it comes to my beauty regime. I do try to look keep myself presentable but a twice weekly exfoliation and tash control is about as radical as it gets.

I’m growing fond of my lines. They show I’ve lived.  Many people don’t live to see their first wrinkle and at 44 I count myself lucky.

And I’m not totally against a little maintenance work here and there. Helen Mirren has had a subtle face and neck lift. The look is natural and in keeping with her age. She’s not trying to look 18 again.

I’ve grown up watching my mother trying to fend off time. She spent that much money on creams and potions, I expected a sympathy card from  L’Oreal when she died.

Her self esteem plummeted as she aged. She didn’t do age. She wasn’t comfortable with it. She’d get stroppy when we playfully ribbed her about it then she’d flounce off upstairs saying, “Sod the lotta yer!”

She had these amazing brown eyes and never looked more beautiful than first thing in the morning before the make up went on. She despised her wrinkles but I loved them, partly because I’d helped to put them there – especially the furrows in her brow.

I prefer natural beauty – amazing eyes and a great smile do it for me.

Maybe if society appreciated older women more, Ma would have been more confident with her looks.

My mother was a beautiful woman, she just couldn’t see it.

Lets take a look at these crows feet, just look
Sitting on the prettiest eyes
Sixty 25th of Decembers
Fifty-nine 4th of July’s
You can’t have too many good times, children
You can’t have too many lines
Take a good look at these crows feet
Sitting on the prettiest eyes

~ Prettiest Eyes – The Beautiful South

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This post is part of  Mumturnedmom‘s linky.

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Rediscovering the Magic

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Childhood is a magical time.

It’s magical because children are looking at the world with fresh eyes – everything is new and exciting.

Imaginary friends, climbing trees, making daisy chains, running, shouting, skipping, dancing, making mud pies, building sandcastles, giggling at anything and everything and not caring what you look like…life at it’s most carefree.

When does the magic stop?

The magic took a direct hit the day I saw my dad putting the presents around the Christmas tree.

The “There is no Santa coz my dad says so” had been doing the rounds at school and that night my fears were confirmed.

I’d slipped downstairs to get a drink of water and through the glass pane in the door – I saw the truth.

There was no Santa.

The whiskey and mince pie were gone but the carrot was there, allbeit half of it missing.

I looked at that carrot the next day with the heavy heart of a child who wished she could turn back time.

It’s a sad moment in a child’s life but just as gutting for parents because it marks the end of that magical part of childhood.

That and the “Santa’s watching you, so behave!” bribe no longer works.

Life was still semi-magical on account of me not having any worries except trying to keep Ma sweet in order to safeguard my pocket money.

But the sparkle had gone.

I’d already boarded the puberty express, not that I understood why I was such a cow.

I morphed into the bitch from the bowels of hell. I HATED THE WORLD!!

And everybody in it except for Duran Duran.

Worry, bills, debt, illness, grief, loss, depression, sadness, bullying – all destroy the magic.

I’m almost 44 now and recently I’ve come to look at the world with tired eyes.

Pain, suffering, fighting, hate, killing, stealing, abuse, lies – a daily bombardment of misery – especially if you read the Daily Mail.

You can’t hide from it.

If you manage to avoid it in the media- you hear it in the cafe, “Did you hear that terrible story on the news?”

Terrible things were happening in the world when I was a child but my parents did their job well – warning me of the dangers in life but protecting me from the horrors.

Another reason why childhood is a magical time is that children instinctively live in the present and I believe that living in the now is where us old gits will rediscover the magic.

Finding the magical in the mundane doesn’t mean taking leave of your senses, it’s the opposite – it’s making the most of them.

We’re not talking Peter Pan here…

Peter Pan only exists in books, movies – and in the form of Cliff Richard.

It’s not about reclaiming your childhood – you can never get that time back.

It’s about living in the moment.

So often we walk around but miss things because we’re too busy thinking of the clothes that need ironing or the guttering that needs repairing.

Boring stuff.

Necessary but boring.

Meanwhile, we’re missing the rainbows.

Living in the moment means keeping distractions to a minimum.

At some point in every day..

Close the laptop.

Turn the PC off.

Switch the mobile to silent.

Use every one of your senses.

Tell yourself that, no matter what you are doing, you will think only about what you are doing.

If you are watching your children play –  watch them playing.

If you are reading a book – lose yourself in the story.

If you are playing some music – put the headphones on and listen to the music without distraction.

Enjoy the food you are eating. Make it a pleasurable experience as opposed to throwing it down your neck before Corrie starts.

Choose foods which tantalise the senses and uplift you – for me, it’s the smell of Earl Grey tea and freshly baked bread.

I’ve lost my way recently. I’ve allowed the difficult situations in my life total head space. I have been the perfect example of living anywhere BUT the moment. I’ve been feeling so shit, it’s almost as if the Dementors have paid me a visit – draining me of every happy thought.

However, while I can’t control the situations, I can control how I deal with them – and when.

I took advantage of little man being home yesterday (due to the strikes) to practice what I’m preaching.

These were my magic moments.

  • Having a snuggly lie in.
  • Enjoying a milkshake and a cake in the cafe.
  • Listening to birdsong and counting how many we could hear.
  • Sitting in the garden under a sun-shade – eating ice lollies.
  • Doing sums on his black board. (I hate sums but he lights up and that’s the magic)
  • Walking the dog with little man swinging his pink Bratz handbag.
  • Hearing a sleepy voice say, “I love you, my lovely mumma.” and feeling my heart fill with love.

The magic that I’m talking about is the feeling that you get with magical moments that you make or those that are unexplained.

The universe is amazing and some of my most magical moments have been out of this world – literally.

When you open your mind – you open up the possibilities.

Do you believe in magic?

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl

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Why don’t you join in the Prompt linky with Sara over at mumturnedmom 

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