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Gandhi and the Mental Middle Finger

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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi

My son is a legend. Seriously. He should get a medal, an award or some sort of formal recognition. There should be a national holiday in his name. On that holiday, everyone can choose to ignore anything they don’t wish to hear that is said to them. Everyone may adopt selective deafness and persistent apologising. No-one needs to worry about modifying their behaviour. National Ignore Day will have been born. Hallmark will probably make a card you can buy for that. Or they’ll simply ignore it??

The Mini Pig is not so mini now so I sometimes have to be cross with him. It is allowed. The puppy dog eyes no longer tear up when I am forced to mildly tear a strip off him. He no longer cuddles as much as he did when he was little so I won’t miss those so much when he withholds them after I tell him off. For the same thing. Again. And again. And again.

Is it me? Is it too much to have asked for – ooh – going on two years or more now for him NOT to drop his used boxers and clothes in a heap shoved behind his bedroom door? Am I unreasonable to ask him NOT to have lights in two rooms plus a TV, PlayStation, PC for Facebook and my iPad for Lord knows what purpose ALL switched on at the same time? The poor leccy meter is dizzy with the amount and speed of revolutions it is expected to make of an evening. I am positively hyperventilating at the size of the bills it decides I should pay!

Mini Pig has heard the nice requests. I know he has because I sat him down for those.

He has heard the firm but still fair plea to his better nature (global warming for the leccy usage, rats and dust allergies for the tip that is his room, mum’s time and energy spent cleaning up after him and in fruitless nagging). I know he heard because I sat him down with the Man Hog present as a witness for those ones.

He has heard the stern and not remotely amused threats of property removal from his possession. He has witnessed me physically carrying out those threats. He has absorbed my screaming ab dabs like a parched sponge and stoically accepted he needs to find some other entertainment until I deem him punished sufficiently enough to return the goods. Having previously secured his solemn promise to do what I ask.

And then he ignores me. Legendary.

How many times can one over-stressed woman ask a boy to change out of his uniform after school so it does not end up with whatever that night’s meal is all down it? Vanish is great but until they invent “Miracle” or a tree that grows new school shirts overnight there will still be hints of stainage and I can’t have that, OCD about it as I am. How often can one small almost teen say sorry so convincingly and then KEEP ON DOING IT!!! AAAGGGHHH! *pause for necessary deep breathing and ohm noises*

Yet if the Man Hog and I happen to be chatting about anything to do with him or his sister or anything mildly of interest from behind closed doors an entire floor away, young Bat Flaps can hear all that OK! If I go into the kitchen and stealthily ease open a cupboard for a sneaky Malteser, again from a whole floor away, there he is! Like a starving rabid dog with the hearing of a hungry hawk. If I’m wrapping a present locked away somewhere with seven doors between me and him, he’ll tune his sonar into the rustle of paper and come looking for the source.

Nothing actually wrong with the hearing then. Nor the brain functionality – passing all tests with flying colours at school. Well, except for DT but he has small hands – it’s not easy making a shed with those. Be fair.

How do you get through to someone whose capacity to ignore you is greater than your patience to deal with him? How do you handle a kid you love more than life, but who is without a doubt sticking his mental middle finger up at you? I am trying to be all Gandhi about it – slowly, slowly catchy monkey, patience is a virtue, he’ll get it eventually and all that. But the slowness is more likely to send me head first into a vat of sloe gin before he ever conforms.

I am seriously considering some form of training. Apparently for gun dogs and guide dogs, they reprogramme the dog’s brain during a four week breaking session. It involves a lot of lemon juice up the snout and a bit of ear pinching, I believe. But I would do that – if it meant he would listen to me, do the very small things I ask like “Rinse your toothpaste spit, please” or “Please don’t leave your shin pads under the cushions so I get goosed every time I sit down“. If it meant he would eat all his meals from a bowl on the kitchen floor too (less food on the clothes?), well there’s a bonus right there.

Now then……who’s got the number for a decent Dog Whisperer? Whoever it is, I bet they won’t whisper quite like me. At the top of my lungs with a wooden spoon at the ready to carve out my own eye sockets from the sheer frustration! Maybe I should just go the old fashioned route – a hissed directive and a sharp poke in his little porcine buttocks with a cattle prod? No?

OK, so……Any other suggestions before I sell him for medical experiments? I soooooo would, you know.

Quote credit to: http://www.brainyquote.com

Picture credit: http://www.punjabigraphics.com

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Snoring, Boring and Foot Fetishes

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So I haven’t written a blog in a while – apologies to any who may have missed my inane ramblings. There is therapy available on the NHS and you should probably take advantage of that.

Here’s the thing. I read somewhere that most general chit-chat and drivel bloggers such as myself get to around a year or so of blogging and then start inhaling the fatal smog of ennui, lethargy and deflation. Having been all puffed up with ourselves and our witty twitterings, we then discover that we’ve promptly and – in my case – quite unexpectedly run out of steam. Or the desire to write. Or the time. Whatever. The cold hard fact is we’re blog-blocked and it is nigh on impossible to get started again.

That has certainly been my experience. Somewhere around Oktoberfest 2012 – when most sane people were drowning in beer and oompah-pa – I began imbibing the salty liquor of my own stale ideas. I began, in essence, to bore myself. Neither a hurdy-gurdy man nor a glut of men in lederhosen could drag a blog post out of me.

“How can this be?” I hear you cry. “Such wit! Such talent!” Well yes, dear reader, obviously *rolls eyes*. Yet despite believing all my own press AND having an ego twice the size of Rosemary Schrager’s pre-jungle left thigh, I had hit a blog wall and HAD NOTHING MUCH TO SAY!! *cue horrific screaming and folk everywhere hiding their heads in their pinnies*

Distraction from this disturbing realisation occurred in the form of home improvements – multiple and far too expensive. The world famous WOM room is now fully operational at around the cost of a small LearJet. We experience severe dehydration and inertia every time we actually light the 11.5KW woodburning stove. We heat not only our home, but most of the village as we have to open all the windows in order to get rid of the smell of our own roasting flesh. It can linger so. Banners have appeared on lamp posts screeching “No Public Incinerator in Our Village!”. Sooooo dramatic. Many otherwise productive hours have been lost in warmth-induced comas and partaking in several jolly long and surprisingly intimate talks with the Man-Hog over a glass of rapidly mulling (of its own accord) wine. TV or noise of any kind that does not suit me has been banned from the WOM. The children enter and feel compelled to converse – using the real and proper Queen’s English instead of grunting. I think they secretly like it – all that undisturbed parental focus? Got to be character-building. They’ve even had their friends round to hang out in the WOM – subject to special permission.

One unexpected and truly exciting benefit has been the dearth of slugs coming up through the ancient and crusty floorboards – or the 2013 home improvement project as I like to refer to them. Yes, tis true. Lamentably the slugs do not like this newly tropical sitting room and have decamped somewhere else. I fully expect to find a coven of them lurking in the somewhat cooler utility room planning a sneak slime attack on us for ruining their fun. Ugh.

On the family front, further distraction from the Big Issue of blog-constipation was to be had in the form of Teen Pig, Man-Hog and Mrs Pig’s birthdays. Followed by a couple of significant milestone ones in our wider family in December. Too much carousing and general whoopee around such moments resulted in a severe case of gout/trench foot/trotter-rot in the Man-Hog and his inability to wear shoes. Anti-Crocs in any form as we are – truly a footwear abomination whose inventor should have been drowned at birth – the poor old MH has been slapping about in flip flops throughout most of the recent cold and very wet weather. Feet that were merely sore are now also chilblained, purple and sporting slightly beveled edges. If you thought he had gone hippie, think again. I can assure you there is nothing remotely zen about him. The only part of being a hippie he would embrace would be the free love aspect and, frankly, by the time he’s lurched in his awkward lopsided gait- cussing and sweating – towards you, you will want to charge him for embracing anything – bugger free! All I know is the fallout of such foot flinching was me forced to attend a festive dinner dance without him – any attempt to shoehorn him into his dress shoes would only have landed him in hospital – and as a result I was the self-styled victim of far too much rum and way too many Jaegerbombs without the aid of my warder to carry me home. The hangover was legendary – even for me. I have been told I lay catatonic in the WOM for almost three days. Excellent role model and citizen. Not.

Christmas and New Year were a blur of flu, bronchitis, sickness, missed events, events we wished we’d missed and ones we somehow managed to completely forget about altogether. Various folk came of age, failed to act their age and in my case, denied age even as a concept.

So – that was then. Now what’s old pigletinapoke blog going to do in 2013? Shut down? Or continue? And does anyone except me really care? We shall see. I shall be checking the stats on this highly boring yet “momentous in its mere appearance” post to see if anyone out there still reads it after my prolonged absence. And just as a teaser, my next post will describe in excruciating detail just how ridiculous my working life has become. Until the next time……..

 

The Weight-Loss to Home Improvement Correlation Theory

For the past few weeks I have been doing the Cambridge Weight Loss Plan. This was all sparked by my friend Sue – now forever know as “Non-Starter” for her immediate abandonment of the idea in the first week! – who thought we should both drop a few bags of sugar from our hips before the start of the new netball season. I gamely went along with it. I did not weep at the thought of twice – nay, sometimes thrice! – daily shakes or freshly-shat slurry masquerading as low-calorie soup. Nor have I moaned at the consumption of more lettuce leaves than a hutch full of fat lardy bunnies. No, stalwart that I truly am, I have just got on with it.

Five weeks in, the Man-Hog has just noticed that I slip easily through doorways and have to avoid storm drains more carefully these days lest I descend through the bars into the low-calorie soup below. Relief then – at least the old fella doesn’t need new specs just yet. Possibly a nursing home specialising in slow cognitive decline? But not new specs. Money saved – KERCHINNNNGGG!

Which is just as well really as I appear to have spent the national debt of Greece in a flurry of home improvements which appear to be directly correlated to the number of pounds I have lost. 15 DIY projects on the go at the last count. The main thrust has centred around creating the “WOM Room” as the Teen Pig has named it. WOM stands for “waste of money” – her principal beef being me squandering her potential inheritance on unnecessary structural alterations and the DFS sale. Such naivety! She doesn’t yet know I plan to blow every last bit on fast living and hard liquor before I shuffle off this planet. She’ll work it out eventually.

On Friday night, I sat in the WOM room for the first time, leaving barely a dent in my new cushions, lighter by degrees as I am each day at present *smug smile*. The WOM room is not yet finished – there’s still the installation of a ludicrously expensive woodburning stove, and the purchase of a decent reading lamp and a set of cast iron tongs to tweak my logs with.

Incomplete as it may be, this is no WOM. This is most definitely womb for me. No TV noise. No beeping of phones. No yelling. No mess and general stickiness. Come to think of it, no reason to be in here unless I invite you! The rest of the family have their own spaces for doing all the things they like to do. All I have ever had is the bed (sad) or the loo (sadder). This, then, is a proper, grown-up room for me to read in, listen to music in and have jolly mates round to. The stove will warm my seemingly permanently frozen cockles, heat will drift up the stairs and hopefully lower my gas bills releasing more money for shoes.

The House of Pig is slowly coming together. Mrs Pig is shrinking altogether. Non-Starter Sue has lost no weight whatsoever. Everyone is happy. Except the Teen worried about her own personal poverty following my clearly imminent demise. Selfish moo. But I do have to thank her for the WOM/womb idea – without those Pigs there’d be no blogs at all really.

Alas Poor Washer, I Knew Him Well…

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Alas, I am awash with washing. Piles of the stuff lurking in every nook and cranny of the house. Staring at me reproachfully as I bravely try to ignore and rise above the trauma that is my washing machine and tumble dryer both going kaput on the same day, within an hour of each other. I wish this was a tragically romantic tale of white goods love played out in the utility room; that in the end, after years spent together, Tumble simply couldn’t continue living without Washer and shuffled off her electrical coil to join him.

Unfortunately I think it has more to do with their mutual chokings on gargantuan-sized helpings of the Man-Hog’s Calvin Kleins. Exhaustion and eventual mechanical death brought on by the sheer volume (and sweatiness) of Chelsea and FC Barcelona footy kits. The used socks alone are enough to induce coma in the strongest kitchen gadget, let alone poor old frail and past-its-best Washer.

It’s times like these that my passion for all things John Lewis borders on stalking. I avidly pore through their website, lusting frantically (and frankly unrealistically) after the shiny mechanical washing problem-solvers they have on display there. Having made my choice and licked the screen picture in delight, I lurk around their free delivery page, waiting for the perfect slot to come up for me to meet the green-liveried delivery man who will restore my much-missed laundry life. Not to mention that whole “Never Knowingly Undersold” thing they have going on. I love that tag-line so much I have been known to drop it into conversation in All Bar One on a Friday night after work. It’s a life mantra actually – I’d never knowingly undersell myself. Ever. Overegging and clinical arrogance is probably nearer my mark.

So I sit and watch now as the clock tick-tocks its clicky little tune towards my 2PM-9PM slot. I won’t be there to receive my new utilitarian family members – no silver-tongued delivery spiel coming my way due to work commitments – but have instructed the Man-Hog on pain of death to call me the instant they arrive. After a week without tub-rub, rinse and anti-crease cycles, I am frantic with the need to hear him load over-ripe towels into my shiny new drum. I ache for the ripping sound of the lid of the washing tablets container. I close my eyes and sigh – ecstatic as I imagine the glug-glug of the fabric softener into my pristine new dispenser drawer…..and then there’s the drying to be done….oh my!

Really must get out more!

Photo credit: http://missionsite.net

John Lewis PLC and the “Never Knowingly Undersold” are used purely for entertainment purposes, neither the author nor this blog has any official association with the company whatsoever. So don’t sue me. Please.

Parenting: Old Navy Stylie

We have a favourite film in our house – well, at least the Man-Hog and I do. It is “The Bounty”, the 1984 version starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins. The Man-Hog admires all the stiff upper lips of stout, loyal serving men (not so loyal as it turns out) in difficult circumstances and, of course, the ripe Polynesian women. I covertly ogle the young and as yet untainted-by-booze-and-unfortunate-rantings Mel Gibson from behind my firmly gripped cushion, replete in all his fine-fettled youth and breeches-clad glory. Mmmm.

Anyway, moving swiftly on. The film has many excellent lines and we quote them to each other (because we are sad) and have most recently started using them on the children (because it amuses us).

For example, a whingey-whiney complaint about insufficient pasta content in the week’s dinner menu can be met with “Your comments shall be noted in the log, sir.” A protest against demands to tidy their rooms shall be parried with “Filth, sir! Filthy, Mr Christian! Still filthy! Look!” and the like. Long journeys are not to be negotiated – we have family in the deepest North after all – and complaints are countered with “Around the Horn is the easiest way, the better way, and that is how we will go. Anything more?” as we turn our heads creepily slowly to face them, slitty eyes piercing into their developing skulls and with a firmly overinflated sense of our own superiority.

We’ve stopped short of making them dance for 15 minutes daily under pressure from Social Services, and the only grog on board the good ship “Prancing Piglet” is that consumed by the Man-Hog during a particularly tense episode of “The Real Wives of Orange County”. (He wants one, I am NEVER going to be one.) Nevertheless, the spirit and culture of the Bounty such as seamanlike behaviour, discipline etc. and the Prancing Piglet – more like ill-disguised sarcasm and grog in times of stress – appears to be working. The children are responding and I hope to issue promotions to Lieutenant shortly.

Such parenting ethos does mean that high standards need to be maintained at all times. I’m just off to check the bathroom floor for errant socks and discarded boxer shorts. If I find any, someone will be walking the plank. And I don’t mean taking the Man-Hog out for his daily stroll.

Over and out.

Photo credit: http://filmous.com

Review Blog: The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studios

What to do with the Teen/Tween combo during the Easter holidays? How to avoid days of stultifying TV watching, kerb-trawling around the village and general boredom and lethargy? Well, we found the solution.

Yesterday we took the Terrible Two to the Warner Bros. studios at Leavesden, near Watford. A bit of a trek by car, given the state of the holidaying M25, but nevertheless we got there in one piece and without any tantrums. Result number 1.

The Two had no idea what they were going to, and it was a sick and twisted pleasure to keep the whole thing a secret from them for over three weeks! They were expecting the usual parental tortures of visiting castles and digesting historical facts;  yomping through open spaces requiring much movement of legs; or – worse – something involving home-made crafts. No, yesterday was not what they expected at all. Entry into the inner sanctum of the studio that filmed the Harry Potter movies was not on their radar. Result number 2.

We were ushered into the foyer to await our tour into the innermost workings of the Potter movies. We are all fans, even if we are far too cool and teenage/old to admit it. The first thing we saw was the poignant sight of Harry’s actual understairs bedroom:

Complete with cobwebs, spiders and a pair of round-eyed spectacles left by the side of the bed. Poor Harry! Then we went into a cinema for a brief film explanation from the main stars of the movies as to what we were about to see. Staff then lead us on to the first of the “wow” factors – the Great Hall. Gobsmacked doesn’t begin to describe the Mini-Pigs faces. I haven’t included the picture I took of them as they took it all in – I don’t want to spoil the surprise when you go along  – but it was an absolutely hysterical portrait of two kids who were trying not to show that they were seriously impressed!

The exhibition contains original sets, props, costumes and artwork from the movies that were filmed there. Harry’s Quidditch cape, the cloak of invisibility and Dumbledore’s robes – all here, all original and incredibly detailed pieces of work. The tour also explains to the layman how a movie is put together, who the main players are from the director of photography through to the make-up girls and runners. Satisfyingly, it also reveals how the children were part of a huge extended family of cast and crew – something I found very comforting given the 10 years or so the main characters spent at the studios and on these films.

There is also a creature workshop with all the ghouls, goblins and fantastical creatures that featured in the movie, from conceptual art to the moulds to the finished masks. There is even a hairy werewolf chest – the Man-Hog was momentarily intimidated by such manliness in a human dog. Then there’s the animatronics – moving works of art simply staggering in their detail and lifelike actions.

After all that, you can pay a visit to gringots Bank, wander through Diagon Alley, stop by the wand shop and pick a cage for your owl. You can sit in the flying car – and yes, that’s the real Hogwart’s bridge in the background there, not a painting:

Jump aboard the bike or take a photo on the back of the triple-storey night bus (seen in the background in the pic below):

You can even swoon over Ron Weasley’s bed with hand-knitted blanket, as the Mini-Pig Girl did….who knew she had long harboured such a crush??

Or, like the Man-Hog, you can marvel at the level of detail given to each prop, piece of original artwork or paper model which at every stage transforms the unbelievable creativity of J K Rowling’s mind and works into actuality. You can, like me, be moved by the simple things such as the sight of the REAL sorting hat (pic at top of page) or the incomparable final surprise of the tour which is so breathtaking and awesome I will not ruin your experience by detailing it here.

Besides all of this were the extremely courteous and knowledgeable staff, who knew details and snippets of information you will not get anywhere else. They were able to point out things to the children that they may not otherwise have noticed, and the experience was the richer for that. The Starbucks cafe at the entrance to the venue is an excellent, clean and comfortable place to meet with others before starting your tour. The shop at the end is full of everything a child could want and the prices were no more than you would pay in your local Disney or other concession store. Result number 3.

Forget what you may have read in the press, and don’t baulk at the price – I promise you it is well worth the money. The cost at the time of writing is £83 for a family of two adults and two children. The audio tour and digital guide are extra but are, apparently, excellent though we did not take advantage of it as I sometimes think those audio headphones cut off family enjoyment of being able to share things together. The price was worth every penny when your cynical “too cool for my own good” teenager turns to you in the final room and says, “Mum, that is just the most amazing thing I have EVER seen.” Worth the drive there when your son says “Thanks for today. I was a bit worried it would be boring but….it’s been brilliant.” Forget all of that when your husband says “Thanks for booking this….it wasn’t what I expected at all.”  The Man-Hog is rarely impressed by anything except my roast beef and Yorkshire pud. Successes on the family entertainment front, then, don’t come much better than this. Final Result: Harry Potter – 1,  Boredom & Lethargy – Nil

In conclusion, go and do this tour –  if you have even an inkling of the scale of astoundingly skilled work and people involved in bringing the Potter books to life, you will not be disappointed. You can book tickets at their website at http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk 

DISCLAIMER: All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal views and I have no link to Warner Bros. or any affiliated entity whatsoever. I wrote this review because I was impressed by the venue and did not write it for any form of monetary or other personal gain. All photos are my own.

Can You Hear The Drums, Fernando?

Poor old Fernando Torres. As die-hard Chelsea fans we could be forgiven for being a little…disgruntled…at his goal tally to humongous price tag ratio. But as a mother, I can feel great sympathy with his situation: a combination of insane pressure to perform from those that pay his salary; an increasing psychological barrier to performance manifested in a huge loss of self-confidence; and, the outside world – that bastion of armchair experts – with their opinions on everything about him from his choice of hair clips to his ball skills and even, sometimes, whether he’s a good kisser. (He is, so it would seem but Tevez is not. No surprises there.)

Parallels can be drawn with Tozzer’s Footius Horribilus. As mothers, we are expected to meet every parenting challenge wearing our natty pink-dotted “Perfect Parent” onesie, despite the fact that inside we are still 14 years old, scared, confused and unsure what to do with these balls of demanding flesh produced from our own interiors. We are supposed to cope with everything life with babies and kids can throw at us and are not supposed to get it wrong – there are children at stake here!

But I do slip up – often – and regularly fail to be a perfect parent or even a slightly lame one. It could be something huge like losing my rag with Whingey Teen Pig’s catatonic earphone-clad, Blackberry-toting state. Pea-hen screeched threats of boarding school, borstal or permanent adoption by people resident in Belgium are not an advert for good mothering. Or minor things, such as neglecting to give the sufficient time and effort required to chopping the smallest Pig’s mushrooms for his spag bol so microscopically small that they are undetectable to the human eye. Lumpy mushrooms = Bad Mum.

This week has been a particularly torrid Torres-esque week of mothering. Not in an earth-shattering, life-limiting way, but you know me by now – miniscule dramas are my life. Simply consumed entirely by the search for the perfect prom dress, talking about prom dresses, applying for prom tickets, attacking me with dress print-outs, hair up-dos and shoe price tags the minute I open a sticky eyelid in the morning and so on, and so on. You get the picture. Poxy prom! I’m sick of it already and it’s not until May. When I grumbled slightly at such intense subject focus and claimed immunity from shopping, online or otherwise, on the grounds I don’t really give a stuff, I was growled at, screamed at and ignored. Phrases such as “For God’s sake, all my other friends’ mums are interested – what’s wrong with you?” were muttered incoherently from behind a sneering top lip and the iPad where yet another http://www.effingfluffycrappypromdresses.com site is being researched.

Alongside this, the Boy Wonder was having a little crisis of confidence of his own. Having always been challenged in the height department, he’s currently feeling it acutely as his compadres go through a sustained growth spurt that we know he has to wait at least 6-12 months for – the pattern of his growth to date. He blames this “growth lag” for his presence on the subs bench at footy for the past few weeks where tough games have, ostensibly, required greater physical size and “strength” than he would appear to offer in his somewhat smaller package. Now, as a perfect parent I should boost his self-esteem with chats about strength of character, showing skills count as much as size, growing his desire to win, and rising above one’s physical limitations (see what I did there?). As the rubbish slack Mum I actually am, I’ve let him talk me into Maximuscle whey powder milkshakes which he is convinced are going to transform him into Sussex’s very own Charles Atlas. Fingers crossed he grows all over, and doesn’t just sprout a massive earlobe or an unfeasibly long big toe.

Whenever such challenges arise, I know I am supposed to grasp them in a smooth nettle-like manner and not allow parental perfection to slip through my Mum-fumbling grasp. Rarely happens and I usually upset someone, ruin something or bury my head in the woodpile until it all goes away. Result? I leak self-confidence. First in myself and then in motherhood itself. It oozes from my pores and evaporates into thin air. “Who do I think I am kidding?” says my inner Slacker. “I can’t do this job for the rest of my life – it’s full-on, constant pressure to perform while being watched by unsympathetic bystanders.” The world views mothering as natural and we women that enter into it as perfectly suited and up to the task. Crap. Crap. And more crap. I find it really hard work sometimes on top of a full-time job which, given the Texan boss’s inability to deal with a single minute issue, is tantamount to double-parenting: work as well as home.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore my children more than life itself – the loving them part is easy peasy. I walk it and gain enormous pleasure from giving that love and receiving it back, albeit in a haphazard fashion linked to my overall mothering performance. But mothering – the job – that’s not easy at all. What other job consumes a person so entirely 24 hours a day forever without monetary or seemingly any other gain or upward momentum? In modern society, such servitude is illegal, surely? And where is the end goal? The pinnacle to aim for? You think once you’ve managed the standard set tasks: getting them to pee in the loo and not in the corners of the rooms or on each other; eating without showing everyone what’s in their mouths, etc.; that you’ve “achieved” something. That you are now, officially, a parent. Not true. There’s always another hurdle to overcome; another parenting conundrum to solve; another way you can screw things up without even trying. Almost 17 years into it, I’m still waiting to score a sweet, perfect parenting goal!

So, Fernando, I see your dilemma. I feel your pain. To some, it’s only scoring that goal – an insignificant elusive little goal. In my case, it’s remembering to include a vegetable in the kids’ meals at some point during the week and not send them to school with pink-dyed shirts. Minor in the big scheme of the world but not achieving these seemingly simple things is enormously pressured and smarts like a smacked arse. We both know that our respective jobs just aren’t that easy. Ask your Mum – she’s bound to know, isn’t she??

Moving On Up….

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So it turns out that moving house is about as easy as shoving a pinecone sideways up my own backside without the aid of Vaseline and is just as much fun. The housing market, or at least that in the East of Sussex, continues to be in the doldrums with some properties taking up to a year to sell. Let’s not even go there, I am already bored senseless with re-tidying my already tidy house.  Then there’s the expectations of the children to manage: everyone advised us we needed to prepare the kids for such a large move so we did that. Thoroughly it would seem, and they are both fully on board with it. Now, of course, they just want to get on with it and they ask accusingly as another week goes by “So when ARE we actually moving?” as if there is something we can actually do about it. Aaggh!

So I have decided to stop the subconscious ramming of woodland flora up my own orifice and think jolly thoughts. Positive thoughts that may just, miraculously, bring forth the desired outcome.

To kick-start the process, I have been reading “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I’ll confess I bought the book about two years ago and it has been gathering dust on my shelf ever since. I am not much given to introspection, Zen, mumbo-jumbo, belief in a divine power or NLP of any sort so this has been a first for me. Nevertheless, the current house-sale stagnation has forced me to seek out alternative ways to deal with my frustration other than verbally bashing the family or gnawing my fingernails down to a soggy pulp. Hence “The Secret” and its wise teachings. I remain unconvinced that positivity alone will move a matter forwards. I am also not given to trying to direct the future. I have always felt it best not to dwell too much on what I want to happen since I am usually thrust so deeply in amongst what IS happening that I can’t possibly contemplate a future past wine o’clock tonight.

There’s also this whole business of repeating affirmationsto myself like some sort of sad nutcase – the  book does not mention when I am meant to do this? In private in front of a mirror, similar to a goldfish mouthing to itself in a tank? In public, on the train with complete strangers within earshot? When IS the right time to mumble comforting phrases to myself without appearing to be losing my marbles? I am still unclear on this point and have been doing them a bit ad-hoc until I figure it out.

I admit I would like my inner cynic to be proved very wrong. I have already found the basics of the book helpful. I have (in the bath) told the Universe I am worth my weight in gold, I have (in my car) written a “cheque” to myself for what I think I need for our future, and I have thought relentlessly positively for countless days now. If nothing else, the upside of such concentration is the halting of my descent into a negative screeching spiral of: “Mo-fo busstard estate agent from hell!” or “Asswipe ignorant two-bit cheap prospective purchasers!” etc. Which can only be a very good thing. So let’s see what happens – come on, Universe, surprise me!

To end, I thought I would share today’s positive thoughts with you: Firstly, I feel notably thinner than I did yesterday for reasons I cannot fathom given the sheer number of Rich Tea biscuits consumed before bedtime last night. Secondly, I have no noticeable plants of an alpine nature growing from my butt. It’s all good so far. Watch this very uplifting space.

Ebbs-cuse me, Am I Growing Old?

“OK, darling, I’ll pick you up at ten.” So said I in yet another chat message to dearest daughter yesterday afternoon. Closing the jaunty little messaging app on my phone – having made sure to include plenty of smileys, emoticons, kisses and hip textences lest I appear as uncool as I suspect I actually am – I was suddenly struck by the reverse-level life I am leading these days. Apologies for the terminology, but if you were currently house-hunting in a seaside town where every house is reverse-level living, you’d be regurgitating that guff as if it is normal too.

So; reverse-level, topsy-turvy, upside-down or plain tits up; whatever you want to call it, that’s what life has become. I’m not sure I’m enjoying this new “normal” – at the very least I’m resisting it inwardly so as not to appear to be growing old. Old? Me? Noooooo! *runs screaming for the nearest wine bar*

But it may unfortunately be true. I can’t fight the fact that my own mis-spent youth has been superseded by that of the kids now. When did it become the norm for the kids to be out later than the parents? How has it happened that I sit wistfully yearning for jim-jams and Horlicks yet denied, having instead to stay fully clothed, some form of alert and ready to fire up the old jalopy at a moment’s notice? When did my own weekends become slaves to my teenagers’ social lives?

I’ll be honest – after a day at work I struggle with anything much past 11PM. Living in a quiet Sussex village means not much goes on during a weekday evening in the depths of winter except a spot of dull TV and a nose around Twitter before bath and bed call me skywards. Throbbing metropolis? No, sir. Sometimes a distant neighbour trips over a wheelie bin and curses loudly, which is always amusing. Or a teen hidden in the dark smoking an illicit fag has his foot run over by a British Gas van in next door’s driveway lighting up the windows in nearby houses and requiring an ambulance. Very funny and completely true. But generally things are quiet in the vicinity after 9ish. Hence, having to hold my eyelids open with tweezers and sellotape  so I don’t fall asleep open-mouthed and forget to collect a kid from some teenage hang-out at midnight is, I’ll admit, a bit of a struggle. (Tip: place a cocktail stick or two vertically in your cleavage whilst watching TV. Secure in place with more sellotape. That way if you begin to nod off, a sharp poke in the schnozzle will wake you up instantly. And – bonus – you get a free chest wax, which can only be a good thing.)

Have I grown old then? Did it creep up on me unawares like a stealthy stoat? Am I ready for botox, tight perms and a 6 week cruise around Croatia? Doomed to a Val Doonican soundtrack in the car and layers of chunky knits? Lord save me!

I don’t think I’m old yet per se. Not in my soul, for sure. I am hoping that this is just the natural progression of things. The ebb and flow, the tidal rhythm of life. My tide is out now (for out, read “I am temporarily dead”) while my fledglings spread their wings and explore their independence. I am, for now, not Sarah the Party Animal who likes one too many cuba libres and to dance inappropriately on tables but Sarah The Mother, a four-wheeled Moses basket driver that fetches and carries them, bears them safely home, never fails to be there when required. Albeit grumpy and tired with rising chest welts and spike marks on the end of my nose.

I have resisted the mother label, if I’m honest, never quite thought of myself that way. Mum is OK, I can do Mum. Mum is a matey sort of name that implies nurturing in a friendly haphazard way. A muddling through Mum. Occasionally an absent-for-an-altogether-irresponsible-amount-of-time-while-sailing type of Mum. Relaxed is, and will always be,  my parenting style. We each have our own. But “mother”? No. That’s reserved for people much more responsible and demonstrably better at the task than me.

Sarah, the regular sort, will re-emerge eventually. I’ll probably don hot pants, go to gigs and festivals, maybe even plant a boob-shaped pampas grass flag on my front lawn in my early 50s, just as my offspring are settling down, sprogging up and going into their own quiet times. (Pause for silent evil chuckle.)

Ebb and flow. Flow and ebb. It’s how it is supposed to be. Now, if I could only stay awake until then……

 

Photo credit to: http://scrapetv.com

 

How Low Can You Go…..

For two things you must forgive me today. The first is that this is the second blog post in 24 hours, so there is clearly some form of crisis going on. The second is the word in the above picture, the reason for which will become clear later in this monologue.

Today has revealed that new lows can still be found, even at my great age. The first clue that this was going to be THAT sort of day came when the Man-Hog bounced jauntily out of the bathroom in his natural state (and what a state) and flung himself bodily across my supine body still lying in bed. This was no fit of unbridled passion, dear friends. No – this was the Man-Hog demonstrating that romance, passion, love or whatever that funny bubbly feeling in your chest actually is has finally, and forever, left the building. His words, uttered in a fairly sexy (for him) rasp, were: “Hun, can you look at the spot on my bum? Does it have an ingrown hair in it?” Of all the things a man could say to a woman after spending the night together (albeit the billionth one), this was not what anybody wanted to hear. He somehow couldn’t understand my sudden leap from the bed squealing, running at impressive speed for one so recently horizontal and subsequently slamming the bathroom door. He is blaming it on my hormones. Aaagggh!

Having hidden the tweezers lest he be tempted to ask me to prod, I ventured sulkily downstairs in my PJs five minutes later to be greeted by the Mini-Pig boy: “Mum, I can’t find my PE kit.” I sighed heavily and trudged into the laundry room to search for the offending items. The girl-child wandered into the kitchen meantime in search of school tights without gaping holes in them (there are none) and for whatever her reasons, uttered a sentence I only half-heard from the depths of the ironing pile but which contained the word “mucus”.  Mini-Pig boy – clearly more delicate in disposition than the rest of us – immediately gagged, retched and regurgitated his recently devoured Coco Pops. Still, another heavy sigh wrenched its way out of my chest, the place where the Love Bubble used to be, as I trudged back to the laundry again to fetch the mop. Clearly this is not a word to be used in his earshot within an hour of any mealtime. Forewarned now.

Keep in mind, people, this is all before 8.30.

Man-Hog despatched to visit sister to bore her with botty-spot issues, vomiting Mini-Pigs thrown onto school coach, I was finally able to get dressed and go off to work. The train journey managed to soothe my frazzled nerve endings and, never one to be down for long, hope rose within me again. It was not to be. Halfway across the one-way street housing my office building, a black cab driver flew around the corner at break-neck speed straight towards me. With an adrenaline-fuelled Kanga skip I managed to make the kerb by the skin of my teeth. Bad enough, you would think, until Taxi Neanderthal then screeched to a halt, reversed backwards like he was going for the drifting World Record, and proceeded to berate me for not looking where I was going. I pointed out that I had been halfway across a one-way street – there had been only one way to look before crossing and he had probably been in the next town at that point, the speed he’d been going. This was clearly not the right thing to say. He let fly a volley of words I haven’t heard since Bristol Rovers versus Crystal Palace away back in 1980-something (although I can clearly remember chanting Charlie Nicklas is a Horse’s Arse! I was young, what can I say.) I kept calm and merely directed Caveman-For-Hire to his copy of the Highway Code. To his credit, he was rendered speechless. He then waved a dramatic fist at me  and zoomed off in a flurry of London dust and old fag ends. Miserable old git.

All in all, it’s been a poor start to the day. Boss is at a funeral (bound to come back grumpy), been promised something from a jar for tea (oh joy) and the office is out of biscuits (for the love of God, why?). There’s a great line from the 1993 Mrs Doubtfire film that sums all this up. Robin Williams says: “Did you ever wish you could sometimes freeze frame a moment in your day, look at it and say “this is not my life“?” Well, that’s me. Thinking seriously of going back to bed. Call me when the love is back in the room.

Quote reproduced from http://IMDB.com

Picture credit: http://icouldcrybutidonthavetime.wordpress.com