Monday, 20 October 2014

Survival tips by an 8 year old

You must read this until the end - otherwise you will not know how to deal with hyenas.




Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Mother's Guilt #154

We were supposed to be 'love bombing', me and A. I was looking forward to it as much as she was. She bounded out of the school gates and clung from me like a 2 year old, delighted to have me for herself for the afternoon while the little one played with a friend. I had it all worked out, we would ride Freddie the Shetland, I would teach her and she would feel proud, we would then go for cake and I would really listen to her.

It was a rainy day, another grey one and soggy underfoot. Freddie's belly was wet with mud, being so close to the ground. A leapt on to the tiny pony, grinning, glad to have him all to herself today.

"Heels down, keep your hands down, well done, look up, push him over, don't let him cut the corners, you're doing really well..." I instructed her, keeping close by the cheeky pony's side.

A desperately wants to ride well. She wants to do it for me, I know that. She tries so hard and gets so frustrated when she loses her balance.

And then some walkers tramped across the next door field, Freddie must have caught sight of them and .....wooooooosh....he shot off at a miniature gallop as I watched my daughter hang on, screaming and finally to be dumped in a puddle full of sand. I rushed over to her, and cuddled her amidst big, fat salty tears of shock while the little pony careered around the school, looking quite pleased with himself.

Of course she got straight back on, because that's what you do - I soothed her and explained to her what had happened and then we went for a walk around the forest where Freddie behaved impeccably.

I felt so terribly guilty. I had let her off the lead-rein, I am the one encouraging riding and all things horsey, it was my idea that we rode for a love bombing afternoon and now I felt awful. Putting my little girl in danger made me feel very sick all the way home, she was seemingly unbothered.

Character building they say - or another reason to believe that you're not very good at this parenting lark at all.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Here we go...

The fine rain made seeing difficult, it was easier to look down and let the water drop off the peak of my hat as he trotted purposefully up a hill. My new coat, tight at the wrists, refused to let any rain trickle down my arm  - bought for this weather in mind. His chestnut coat steamed after a ride around the lanes, no more cantering through fields as they turn to sludge, not to be seen again until next spring.

The yard started swimming as the horses stood patiently with their heads over their doors, seemingly unbothered by the drips falling off the end of their noses - waiting for their hay. I lug soaked hay nets to each stable, re fill their water, muck out, getting sweatier and smellier - and change their huge heavy rugs. Winter with horses is hard, the weather relentless and even after only two days of rain the summer seems but a dream.

The girls have changed to winter uniform, grey tights and buttoned up shirts, stuffy but necessary. We have sorted out the scarves and hats and odd gloves, giving them a good wash before the chill sets in. The garden looks bedraggled, neglected since the Leylandii fell, the vegetable beds awash with weeds and the odd pumpkin that no one wants to eat. The cats litter tray has moved indoors, they refuse to go outside from now until about May, they sit waiting hopeful by the fire that someone might light it, wondering what all the fuss is about.

My friend has the right idea. Take off for a big trip around the world chasing the colours of the rainbow with her two boys. Follow her adventure here.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

"What does sexy mean Mummy?"

"I'M FEELING SEXY AND FREEEE...." Jessie J screamed out of the iPod speaker.

The music pounded out of the dance studio where my 8 year old A, was having her Street Dance lesson, the teacher encouraging hair shaking and hip swivelling.

I was not in the mood to hear that yesterday, and apart from pull her out of her class, protesting that the song was deeply inappropriate for little girls, little children in fact, I suddenly felt powerless to protect her from what the future years hold.

Thankfully A is quite an innocent 8 year old. She's interested in making stew-pies behind the garden shed, creating lurid loom bands for her friends, she likes having Famous Five stories read to her when her big blue eyes stare at the night ceiling, imagining the adventures and tight spots the four children and a dog get up to. She doesn't watch TV, only selected programmes on iPlayer and DVD's appropriate for her age, she hasn't seen MTV or pop video's on YouTube - the ones she has seen when I am with her are quickly switched off or laughed off.

I have no idea why that lady isn't wearing any clothes darling, she must be freezing!

But it's everywhere; on billboards and buses, in magazine adverts and on Facebook, Ann Summers shops in the High Street, overtly sexual clothing in H&M for 5 year olds and blaring out of the radio - I'm sexy and I know it eeeeeeh sexy lady op op op oppa Gangnam style....

There are hundreds of articles written about the sexualisation of young children, how damaging the Internet can be and how children are body conscious at the age of 9. There are stories of eating disorders and bullying and of Snap Chat and porn playing a huge part in young peoples lives.

I am scared for this future because no matter how many articles are written about it, no matter how many petitions we sign protesting about boobs in The Sun, no matter how much I protect my kids from videos on YouTube - it all still exists and nobody seems to be doing anything about it all.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Brighton rocks

You forget what's out there if you spend too much time at home, on the school run, or at work and trotting around the country lanes. It's all very well and lovely, my Sussex life, the gentleness, the everyday-ness and the calm of the countryside - sometimes I don't even know I need some culture to inspire me and jiggle the creativeness back into action.

Brighton with its laines, shop after shop selling interesting, quirky, hippy, vintage and intricate stuff. Café's with enticing cakes and vegetarian dishes sold by young people, with hopes and rings through their noses. I remember being like them, all alternative and free. Carving out a life for yourself, starting with selling gluten-free puddings and vegan casseroles, smoking roll-ups out the back in your lunch break - for this is only temporary before you make a difference in the world. I remember feeling like that.

This time in Brighton, he and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, all married with children, good jobs and not very alternative at all. But Brighton fires the inner-student in me, makes me want to join a mindful meditation group, have a go at creative writing, get a tattoo and think about my wardrobe a little harder. We made plans for the future, guessed the ingredients of our quiche and salad lunch, we went roller-blading along the sea front to Hove - a little wobblier and less certain than last time. We stayed in an arty hotel with a view of the sea, drank beers as the sun went down - when the way forward seemed much more clear and exciting.