Friday, 26 February 2010

Playground Politics

Whatever next? First Tesco say “No!” to shoppers in pyjamas and now Head teachers are banning “slovenly mothers” from wearing nightwear when they drop their children off at the school gate in the mornings.
I can honestly say I have never done the school run wearing my pyjamas but I certainly don’t have a problem with people who do. I’d rather see a nice, clean pair of pyjama bottoms than a grotty, stained pair of joggers, wouldn’t you? In fact I’m probably too busy to take any notice of the other Mum's attire and therefore couldn't really care less what they wear.
Getting to school on time is pretty much like a military operation. It makes air traffic control look like a walk in the park. One tiny digression can throw the whole system into utter chaos. I guess this is why I am a little more tolerant about Mums doing the school run in their pyjamas than your average Headteacher.

I only have the one child and I find the morning routine utterly exhausting. Junior is full of beans from the second he wakes up. The simplest task cannot be done without being accompanied by a gymnastic manoeuvre.
Go and get your slippers on” I’ll groan with bleary eyes and he’ll spin twice, do a handstand and finish off with a Ninja move that would be envied by the Power Rangers.
Time to get your teeth brushed!” I’ll say and he’ll run up the stairs like a whirlwind, do a forward roll along the top landing and finish with a star jump.
I’ve learned to accommodate an extra five/ten minutes into the morning routine just to allow for cartwheels and body popping. It really can be draining and most frustrating when you’re running out the front door (carrying gym kits and school bags, packed lunches and wellie boot bags) with seconds to spare and Junior is tagging along behind acting out the scene where Darth Vader fights Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. I’m pretty sure my long-suffering neighbours could set their clocks to me yelling “Hurry Up! We're going to be late!”
Despite best laid plans - packed lunch made the night before, uniform ironed and hanging up, shoes polished and lined up at the front door - it is impossible to prepare for unforeseeable disasters on a school morning. And we’ve had plenty! A spilled bowl of cereal, an action man stuck in the U-bend, a coco pop stuck up a nostril, an escaped hamster, a lost shoe, an empty petrol tank. One tiny change sends the whole thing tumbling down like a house of cards. It’s hard to try and explain how many things I need to do in a single morning just to tread water. I simply do not know how people with more than one child manage. I am in absolute awe of anyone with more than two children and I completely understand why some people arrive at the playground wearing their jammies. I would never judge them. But clearly there are some who would.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

My Sleeping Boy

I stare in wonder at my sleeping boy.
How beautiful he is, like an angel or a portrait in oil.
He has kicked off the covers; long limbs strewn across the duvet.
He cuddles Elmoure, a hairy dog who he cannot sleep without
and who I have to wash in secret because he loves the smell so much.

I step over the paraphernalia of childhood to get to him,
dodging the loose floorboards that might give away my presence.
During the day he is in perpetual motion, a blur of noise and movement.
Time is impossible to freeze so this is my chance to study him; his enviable lashes, his button nose and the top lip that forms a perfect heart.
He looks like me from the nostrils down.

I touch a clammy hand and his fingers twitch.
For a moment I am briefly transported back to the night he was born,
That first moment on our own with only a flimsy curtain to separate us from the rest of the world.
Just me and him as it has always been.
I watched him then as I watch him now.

I marvelled at those fingers, the way they curled around mine like little worms.
Such perfectly formed fingernails, like tiny shells.
I remember the surge of untamed maternal love that told me nothing would ever be the same again.

Now he is too big to sit on my knee and he cringes when I kiss him goodbye at the school gate.
Soon he will be all but lost to me,
My sleeping boy.
I tenderly tuck him in and close the flimsy curtains that separate us from the rest of the world.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A poem from 1982

The Kingdom Under the Sea

"Under the sea, way way down deep,
Where the seaweed floats and the mermaids sleep,
The sea king laughs as the fishes perform,
He lives in his cave so cosy and warm.
He holds his spear, his spear of gold,
There he sits so brave, so bold.
The bird in the cave flaps his wings,
And way down below the mermaid sings,
As her golden hair swings to and fro,
Searching for coral as she goes.
Lots of people like you and me,
Know about the kingdom under the sea"

By Hazel Allan (aged 10)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

With Valentine’s Day looming..

..I thought I would write a blog post about being single. I love being single! I probably go on about it a bit too much if I’m honest. At times I actually feel quite smug about my relationship status. I am sure my friends are all starting to think “the lady doth protest too much". But the single life is definitely for me and my thoughts about this are only reinforced when I hear horror stories about cheating husbands and unhappy partnerships. Despite my contentedness at being a single woman there are some nights when Junior is safely tucked up in bed and there’s nothing good on telly when a sudden blast of loneliness hits me. It’s nothing major and it doesn’t happen very often but when it does I have been know to switch on my laptop just so I can hear the man from Avast! tell me that my ““virus database has been updated". Sad, I know but he does sound ever so nice. The kind of guy who would look out for you and never let you down. Once, much to my embarrassment I inadvertently blurted out “stay for a cup of tea!“ when his gravelly, American drawl came through my speakers. I can’t believe I just said that out loud.
Alas Avast! man isn’t real and therefore I can pretend he is Mr Perfect. I’ll bet if he were a real person he would pick his nose and make annoying noises/smells. I am as guilty as the next person of romanticising the thought of having a man around the house. Yes, I sometimes miss having a cup of tea made for me. And I miss having someone to discuss my day with or laugh about my funny observations with. But I don’t miss all the irritating things that comes with that. And believe you me, I am easily annoyed! I once had a boyfriend who used to prop his feet up on the beanbag and rotate his ankles. After a while, the swishing of tiny polystyrene beads intensified to the point where I wanted to grab the beanbag and smother him with it!
I thought I had found my perfect partner recently when I invested in a Sat Nav. Suddenly here was someone giving me some gentle guidance, a person who could stay calm under pressure and allow me to make my own mistakes. They never ridicule me for making the wrong decision or choosing the wrong path, they simply tell me to ‘turn around when possible'. Supportive, reliable and always there when I need them. Oh, and you can turn them off when they get a bit annoying.
Until Mr Right pops up and throws me over his shoulder (he had better be strong!) I am very happy living the single life. And it would seem I am not alone in my delight at being a single lady. Jennifer Aniston, Rhianna, Sienna Miller, Alesha Dixon and Kate Hudson all recently claimed to love being single too. And whilst trying to find a quote/poem about being single to put alongside this blog post I Googled ““I love being single". When I clicked on one of the links it came up with “There are too many visitors on this site at the moment please try again later
I don’t like the thought that I might be labelled as lonely simply because I am alone. I couldn’t ever be lonely in any real sense, not when I have a demanding six year old around. And when he’s not around I have the characters from Bree McCready swirling around in my head, prodding me when I’m doing the washing up to remind me they are there. Hilma Wolitzer once said “Writing fiction is a solitary occupation but not really a lonely one. The writer’s head is mobbed with characters, images and language” I couldn’t agree more.
Sometimes you have to stand alone to prove that you can still stand. I have a very fulfilled and rewarding life without a partner. I am pursuing my dream and doing a great job of bringing my son up on my own. I am really proud of the achievements I have made whilst being on my own. I love that my young son has watched me change a fuse, put a shelf/curtain pole up and be the proud owner of a well stocked tool box (I do have a rather groovy screwdriver with a flowery handle just to keep it slightly girly).
I have considered internet dating but to be honest it’s the thought of someone actually showing an interest that puts me off. I do think it is a great idea though, having a computer sift out all the unsuitable people and match you with the compatible ones in the blink of an eye. How did people ever meet their significant others B.C (before computers)? And the great thing about internet dating is that you’re guaranteed to ‘click’ with every one you meet (boom boom) It’s just not for me though.
I always visualised meeting my perfect man whilst wandering around a museum or an art gallery. The fact I haven’t been to either of those places in a long time probably says quite a lot about my thoughts on being single. When the time is right it will be right. And if the time never comes I’m happy with that too. I don't dread Valentine's Day any more but for those of you who do here's a link ; )
I think when it boils down to it what I really miss is someone to cuddle up with on cold winter evenings, someone to share quality time with and someone who listens to me moan without judging. I think when it boils down to it what I really need is a cat.