Parenting

World Book Day

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I woke up this morning to the usual packed timeline on Facebook and Twitter of enthusiastic parents proudly displaying their works of art.

The works of art being their children dressed up as characters from a story to celebrate the 2014 World Book Day.

As I rolled over in bed looking at these images on my phone I felt a tiny sense of sadness that my children are both too old for this, but that was immediately overtaken by a sense of relief.
I am now excused from the pressure exerted on us parents from the schools in what became known to me as shaming those parents who couldn’t spend weeks preparing a hand-made costume.

Oh yes indeed, I used to despise the pressure that was World Book Day in my kids primary school.

It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t a celebration of books, characters and authors – no it was a competition amongst the nightmare playground mothers who thrived on little Cayden or little Sophie winning the coveted prize awarded by the school for the best costume.

Being a full-time working mother I used to feel intense pressure the moment that letter from the school had made its way home to announce that National Who’s a Bad Parent? World Book Day was coming.

I all but booted my kids out of the car every day as I had to battle the traffic to get to work each day.

Where would I find time to go to the crafts shop, make the costume and more importantly make a good job of it so that child was not picked on by those kids dressed by Gok and Tony Hart. The ones where the mothers had spent the past two weeks in between Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women to cut, stitch and design those costumes.

One year I made Mr Bump during my lunch break at work as soon as I’d realised that tomorrow was the show off day. I’ve been up to 1am gluing pipe cleaners to a swimming cap to make a “Wild Thing” until finally the last year I had to endure this mockery of books, I gave in and bought a Where’s Wally costume which I accessorised.

World Book Day 2011, as my child rocked up dressed as Where’s Wally, he was pushed aside by Cayden who had to get the double doors open so that he could walk into school with flipping Hogwarts attached to him.

Deep breathe – it was fine. I would never have to endure this test to how to make a working mother feel like a failure again.

I wouldn’t have minded but for most of these competitive parents experience of reading probably went as far as Fifty Shades of Grey, never mind read on a regular basis and passing on their love of books to their kids.

World Book Day should be a time to celebrate the great stories of the past and present. Let’s try and get back to that instead of making it such a vile excuse for parents to show off.image

24 July : Write what you know #wpad

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It’s the easy option, isn’t it? Write what you know, but it’s always a challenge to write about what you don’t know.

I’m only just starting out as a scriptwriter so it makes sense at the moment to write about what I know. First hand experience about a topic is like a nugget of gold as it means that emotions, knowledge and it being realistic will be key to the script.

At the same time I would love to develop my writing further which I know will attract a lot of research going into it prior to writing.

Working full-time limits the amount of time that can be spent researching, and add onto that a part-time degree. But, it’s not impossible and the internet and books provide a wealth of information on all kinds of topics.

This blog prompt made me take a few minutes to dig deep and think about what I do know that I could write about. Like everybody else we all have experiences, sometimes positive and some negative that could be turned into a story.

My current project takes on a vast amount of my life experiences within the context of the six-parts. When the characters were created some of them were based on actors, characters in other dramas and real life people. Some characteristics in the three main characters come from myself, either when I was a teenager and to how I am as a parent to a teenager.

Writing for female characters is also less of a challenge than writing male ones for the obvious reason. But living with three males offers it’s own research as I often will pass bits of dialogue and plot between them and ask if “would that really happen to a man?” However, I can see the benefit of having a writing partner from the opposite sex as both points of view can come through in the writing of certain characters.

Back to my current project, write what you know! The set is based around my nana’s home when she was alive.

I loved the fact that everybody on the estate knew who my nana was. She never locked her door during the day and folk would walk into her house to see her.

I recall during my rebellious teenage years being “chatted up” (am sure it’s not called that now – I must ask the teenager). Anyway I was chatted up by a young man in a nightclub who lived on the same estate as her. It’s a huge estate in Preston, and he lived at the opposite end but he still knew who my nana was – the woman was a legend! I wish I had known that back then and appreciated her more.

The concept of being part of a tight community is what prompted me to write the project.

I couldn’t tell you the names of my neighbours where I live, yet back when I was a child everybody knew everybody in the area. It would be nice to live in a community like that again.

I guess most writing comes from writing what you know, and it sure is fun to make up the other bits.

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.
thurnham road

What makes me cry : Challenge 25

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onions chillies

Onions. Those mother-truckers never fail to make me weep.

Cutting up fresh chillies, not washing my hands properly and then scratching my eyes. Ouch – my eyeballs are twitching just thinking about this one.

Kids. When I used to watch my kids perform in their primary school assemblies. Not sure they believed the “Durr it’s a dusty hall and my eyes are sensitive” line.

Sport. Watching/hearing human emotion in a sporting arena. I cried when I heard Sebastian Vettel being told by Christian Horner on the radio that he had won his first world championship (Formula 1 for any non-fans), Michael Phelps at the past two Olympics and Mo Farrah winning his Olympic gold. And yes the floodworks were in full swing two weeks ago when Rafa Nadal won the French Open. I think I cried twice during that broadcast, when he won and then when he was being interviewed. Oh dear.Michael Phelps

nadal

Love Actually. The scene where the dad and his son go chasing through Heathrow Airport to tell the son’s crush that “she’s the one”. Every time I watch that film I have to get myself ready for that scene. I can feel the other family members watching me as I hide my head under a pillow, sniffing away and trying to convince them “I’m not crying – blimey how many times have I watched this film? I’m not a saddo” – cue the blowing of the nose.

love actually

Les Miserables. The song “Bring him Home”. Speaking to Les Miserables I have to see a performance when I haven’t wept like a baby at the end, and I’ve seen it live five times now. Thank goodness I had an empty bucket of popcorn on my lap when I saw the movie as it was snot city on the third row.

les mis

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.

Optimum Atmosphere – Challenge 10 in blog writing for June challenge

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The next blog writing challenge is about optimum atmosphere.

I could delve back into my “raving” days where every weekend I would be part of a gathering of like-minded individuals who were all congregated for the same goal of dancing till the early hours of the morning and feeling euphoric. But we change as we get older and so do our preferences.

My optimum atmosphere is anywhere that my kids and husband are. I like nothing better than us all sitting together watching television in the same room, or listening to them singing in the shower, spending time outdoors as a family and long car journeys where we can all sing along (that doesn’t happen much due to varying tastes in music), but when something comes on the radio that we all like I just sit back and listen.

It doesn’t happen as much these days as we all seem to be busy and in different places, but I cherish those moments when they do arise.

boys
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June – I’m behind already but determined to catch up #wpad

People think I’m……. Challenge number 9

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Whatever people think of me, they are probably right.

As part of a training session with work I had to find out what my work colleagues thought of me by giving them a set of twenty words, and for them to choose ten words that best describe me.

The work colleagues who really know me well practically chose the same words as I chose for myself. The others would choose words which didn’t surprise me, as I am quiet, shy and can appear intense with people that I don’t really know. But, those who know me well, know that I am not like that with those I feel comfortable with.

My neighbours in the street probably think I am rude and ignorant, as I avoid making small talk or engage in conversations. It’s not that I am either, it’s just whenever they see me outside it is usually either going to, or coming home from work. Working 12 hours on 3 days a week, the last thing I want to do is start making chit-chat about the weather. Some people like that sort of thing – not me!

My close friends think I am focused and lead a busy life. They are right, and that is how I prefer my life to be. In my twenties, I was raising children and didn’t have much else going on in my life. This lead to low self-esteem and arguments in the house, through my frustration. Towards the latter end of my twenties I lost a very close friend suddenly and it made me re-evaluate my life. I wasn’t living, I was merely existing and it was time to discover the things that I enjoyed doing. Just because I was a mother didn’t mean that my life had to end. So, I started playing netball again, began to write, developed friendships and found a job that I felt passionate about. The rest is history!

3 June 2013 – What I do best

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Day three of the http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June! A big challenge when I can barely write one blog per month at the moment.

Today’s topic is a tough one and I’ve spent all day thinking about what the best answer would be. So, who is the authority on all things me –  my other half. As the person who knows me best – if he can’t enlighten me then nobody can.

After the initial, “is this a trick question?” “I really can’t win with this one can I?” and “nagging!” he did spend a few minutes thinking about the question. Oh, and he didn’t say nagging either, he wouldn’t dare.

The obvious ones are organising the family, making sure the school trips are all paid for, remembering important dates  etc which to be honest, isn’t that what being a mother is all about anyway?

Now I don’t mean to be sexist as there are a lot of very able fathers who all do that too. However, when running a busy family, as our family is it does require one person to steer that ship and it could have been either of us. However, the control freak in me being a typical virgo does not like relinquishing any responsibility to anybody else because if things don’t happen, or are forgotten I would rather blame myself than be frustrated with anyone else. Plus, the other half likes to not have to think about those kinds of things either.

So, getting off the subject slightly. What do I do best?

Well the other half tells me that I good at being incredibly focused and disciplined when it comes to my hobbies and studies. He states that I always seem to have enough time to study both for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, play netball, run, work the day job, meet up with friends and still engage with the family life too. It was a nice thing to say, and I guess he is right.

busy mother

Maybe then, the thing I do best is to hide my emotions and sheer panic of not having enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do, if I seem to make it look like a breeze.

I also seem to be able to write more when I have deadlines to work to.  This writer’s prompt a day challenge is certainly helping me move away from procrastination and not only am I writing these blog entries but I’m story outlining my comedy drama every evening too.

Happy June days.

Pulling hair out

How do you know if you are a good parent?

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It’s hard  being a parent isn’t it?

We have children, and they don’t come with any instructions with them. No parent is sure that how they are raising their children is the best possible way.

I feel thankful that I don’t have to raise my boys on my own. My elder sister has practically raised all of her children without their father. This is something I admire her for, as I cannot even imagine what that is like.

Ever since I found out I was pregnant there was one thing I really wanted for my children. That was for them to be provided for and to be given every opportunity and encouragement humanly possible for me. In the early days things were really tough. We had very little money, lived in a rented house and every day was a struggle. I look back and what we lacked for in materialistic bullshit – we made up with a loving family unit.

Both of us have worked really hard to build up a career each, buy a home and try and provide a nice environment for the children. It’s taken many years, but with hard work we just about manage to do that.

Sometimes I wonder whether it is necessarily the right way to parent! I only have to listen to my eldest moaning about going on “another holiday” when he just wants to stay in his room playing on his Playstation. At times that feels like a knife in the chest. I have to bite my tongue to not tell him about the environment that I was raised in. My mum raised myself and my four sisters on very little money per week. We had no holidays, no fancy clothes, no luxuries.

Yet, maybe that’s the way to do it – so when you become an adult you appreciate every single thing.

Or maybe it’s a teenager thing – I am undecided as yet! They are certainly an ungrateful breed at times. I would love to send him back in time and spend a month in my shoes as a fifteen year old.

The latest thing is that the teenager has managed to persuade his little brother (whose birthday is coming up) that they shouldn’t buy presents for each other. I haven’t said anything for a few days as it was their decision. But, tonight I got really upset driving home and decided to tell them that each person has one day per year that is special just for them. This is important that people who care about them, treat them special and buy a small gift on their birthday.  I don’t know if they listened to me (probably not).

Kids! Responsible for my rapidly increasing grey hair and frown lines. Maybe I’ll spend the money on making myself look younger than trying to enrich their lives.

Modern Romance

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Call me old fashioned but I believe there is a certain etiquette which should be followed in the world of dating. The etiquette being that verbal communication is king and only the weak hide behind texting and messaging.

However, the use of social media and instant messaging has changed how we interact with each other and particularly with the opposite sex.

I recall in my dating days actually phoning boyfriends up and talking verbally on the phone. To me, it was always nice to hear a voice on the end of the telephone. Nowadays, it is all about texting and blackberry messaging as the preferred form of communication.

Okay so its been quite a while since I actually dated, having been in a relationship for many years. And yes, I do text and email the husband throughout the day. However, if we ever spend time apart with work or through leisure we always make sure that we have a voice to voice conversation every day.

My teenage son has reached the age where he is now dating different girls. I don’t think he has ever phoned any of his girlfriends up to have a conversation with them, but he always has his blackberry in his hand.

The other week, he wanted to finish the current relationship that he was in and asked for my advice on how to do it.

Not claiming to be an expert on such matters, I did try and make sure that he did what I considered to be the right way of doing it, which was to see the girl face-to-face to end it. I believe that dumping someone by text or instant messaging is bad manners and a cowards way out of a situation. Apparently its common place to do this, and maybe I am just old-fashioned and need to get up to speed.

Maybe he’s right and face-to-face verbal communication will be a thing of the past.

He did however, try to undertake my method after messaging the girl to meet up that evening. She must have sensed something was wrong and messaged back stating that If he was going to dump her, she would rather he did it over text.

Thus, maybe my old-fashioned views should stay where they belong – back in the 90s.