Mid-year Madness

Last three days of school – announced at ear-splitting decibels – this morning. Seriously. This term has D…R…A…G…G…E…D on. Like molasses going uphill on a cold day. I am so ready for summer. DD is so ready for summer. Her teacher is so ready for summer (he told me so yesterday!). There’s been a bit of mean-girling this term, and I think all of us are at our wits’ end. One long-time friend told DD last week, “Let’s be friends at our new school till we make new friends, and then we can stop being friends.” DD told her they could get a jump on that plan and ease up on the friendship now. Didn’t mean she didn’t come home and cry a bit. Seriously, puberty starts a whole lot earlier these days. I remember scenarios like these, but I was in my teens.

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Surely we can survive on cake?

In other first world problems, my supermarket sent me a text to say my food order will not be delivered as planned at 6pm today due to operational issues. Now bearing in mind I did my food-shopping past 8pm drinking a glass of wine, do you actually think I remember what I ordered, and therefore need to replace? Are you kidding me? The best part of the weekly foodshop is the constant surprise – “I ordered that? Who in this house eats red pesto?”

Speaking of foreign goods which might not be available in the UK minus tariffs after March 2019, we’re still in no-mans-land on the Brexit issue. Everything seem to be hitting a wall – the wall of governmental incompetence. There are no clear plans, no clear talking points, no guarantees for Europeans, and the rhetoric just seems to be ramping up. The UK chief negotiator spent a grand total of a few hours in Brussels the other day – given that this is his ONLY job, I expected him to show a little more dedication. Silly me! So my new strategy is to avoid engaging the loonies on social media, and every time I really get mad, I memorise some French grammar.

I took 60 hours of intensive French (equivalent to A levels/AP French) over the last 6 weeks and let me tell ya, I’m in love. I’ve always adored French but never studied it officially. Learning it properly has just opened up my eyes. I can now read more, and speak and write, too. The South West of France won’t know what hit it next month. DD is learning with me. She will continue with Spanish in middle school, and add French in September, so she figured she’d get a jump-start on things. France has always been top on the list of places we could move, should we have to – we’re just being sensible, really. Husband is feeling horribly left out – he only speaks English and Scottish.

Soooooo, that’s where I’ve been and that’s where I’m going. Oh yeah, we also had the Canadian Crew visit after 7 years and the girls got on like a house on fire. There were many tears and strops every time they had to part. Hey, maybe I should start looking at Canada! They speak French and have socialised healthcare, right?

What are you up to? Read any good books lately? What should I load on my Kindle?

Saturday Thoughts

To my beautiful girl: 

It’s the start of a very long weekend. I’ve spent the last five hours watching you rehearse, taking copious notes for my backstage role. I am deeply grateful your newly broken-in ballet shoes, which went walkabout, re-appeared today. I know we’ve got a brand new back up pair, but they’re not the same. Your toes bear testament to the beating they’ve taken these last few months. Muscle fatigue seems to be your constant companion. You’re fuelling like an athlete. And you know what? You are. You are amazing and dedicated and I can’t wait to see you fly across that stage tomorrow. I’ll be the one dressed like a cat burglar, hiding in the wings, checking costumes, staunchly neutral and encouraging all, when inside, my heart will soar every time I see you pirouette. And yes, I will cry and blame it on my hayfever. Get over it. You are awesome. I love you.

Aspirations

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“Mum, when DJT isn’t President and it’s safe to go to America, can we go to Target?”

#lifegoals 

*She pronounced it Tar-jhay…

Seeking Success

DD has been going through the rigmarole of senior school entrance tests. Each one tougher, more challenging. The beauty of living in London is all its opportunities. Including going up against the brightest and sharpest 10 and 11-year-olds the city has to offer. DD has two parents who never chose the path of least resistance, so why would she? She seems to be taking all this in her stride, but I honestly wonder, when does this end? To what end, all these tests? What life is she carving out for herself?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want my child to succeed. Succeed at being content. Healthy. With stable, supportive relationships. Enough money in the bank not to worry about paying the bills. Don’t we all want this for our children?

These lines by William Martin struck a particular chord with me:

Do not ask your children

to strive for extraordinary lives.

Such striving may seem admirable,

but it is the way of foolishness.

Help them instead to find the wonder

and the marvel of an ordinary life.

Show them the joy of tasting

tomatoes, apples and pears.

Show them how to cry

when pets and people die.

Show them the infinite pleasure

in the touch of a hand.

And make the ordinary come alive for them.

The extraordinary will take care of itself.

What do you think?

The day after…

​I’m reeling today, just like I was reeling after the Brexit referendum. But rather than lose all hope, I’m going to continue to be the change I want to see in the world. I’m going to continue to be the person I want my child to grow up to be. I’m going to cling to John Wesley’s words: 

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.

Back in the saddle again…

So DD is back to school and loving it. The last year of primary school is off to an auspicious start, and we’ve begun the whirlwind of school visits to choose senior schools next year.

Our first visit scared the bee-jay-sus right outta me. Seriously. Husband’s words: “If I hadn’t been here, I wouldn’t have believed your re-telling.”

The school we visited was gigantic and soulless. Even the art rooms. It felt a little like Gattaca come to life. I had an almost irrepressible urge to pinch one of the teachers to check if they were human or identikit robots with humanoid characteristics. The Head Teacher did a sparkling rendition of “I’m so fabulous” for about 45 minutes, followed by “The School is Perfect” for about 15, and ended with “your child would be so lucky to come here”. He also told us the teachers put their families second, and were actively encouraged to do so for the benefit of the school. That children and staff “didn’t dare to challenge the Head”. Say what?!?! Husband, DD and I executed a daring escape halfway through the school tour.

How can I entrust my child to someone who doesn’t understand work-life balance? Who puts winning above all? Who will not see my child as an individual? Who will not allow her to challenge and question and thus discover on her own? If we didn’t have a clear idea what we were looking for when we started this process, we sure as heck know now what we DON’T want for DD. I have to believe that was the worst we’ll ever experience and the rest will be better, right? Otherwise it’s home-schooling all the way. EEEEEEK.

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On an upbeat note, the tropical weather has finally broken, and it’s starting to feel like sensommer (late summer for my non-Scandi readers) is sliding in to autumn. DD has settled on a steampunk theme for Halloween, so I am pinning costume ideas and scouring eBay for finds! Any suggestions and ideas are gratefully welcomed – send me pins on Pinterest if that’s easier.

I’m off to bake another batch of banana bread – they don’t last very long in this house now that I’ve meddled my way to a low-sugar, gluten-free version which is deliciously moist. Then I might move on to applesauce. I promise I won’t touch the pumpkins till October, but in the meantime, I am staving off my cravings with this candle.

Just a Little While Longer

sidebyside“Do you think you want to try walking to school by yourself now? Or walking home?”

“Why? Do you not want to pick me up any more? Are you busy?”

“No, darling, but we did talk about you wanting to be more independent. I’m just reminding you the option is on the table.”

“Is it inconvenient to come get me?”

“No, angel, not at all. I love walking with you and chatting with you. It’s one of my favourite parts of the day.”

“Me, too. So if you don’t mind, I mean, if it’s not a bother, let’s just keep doing this till I’m in Year 8.”

“OK, no problem.”

And that is my parenting win for this week. My daughter is not ashamed to be seen with me in public. At least twice a day. For the next two years. Boo-ya!

First Day of School!

So DD is back to school today. It’s her last year of primary school, and we enter into a whirlwind of school visits and testing to get her into senior school next year. I’m done screaming, “She’s 10, leave her alone!”, and hoping the UK miraculously invents middle school, because that’s not going to get me anywhere. I am more focused on reminding her to be herself, chill out, and remember that the right school for her will recognise her. She has a lot to offer and I hope that the testy-choosy people see that. My job is to get her through the next 5-6 months unscathed (OK, relatively whole).

IMG_20160820_082306Our holiday in France did a lot towards that end; we had a really good time with some rousing games of charades and Uno (Granny plays to win!), lots of swim/beach time and ziplining for DD, and lots of book & wine time for me. We did an insane amount of crossword puzzles, too, and spent many evenings discussing the news (sigh, yes, Trump). But all good things must end, and it was lovely to get back home to my super-sprung mattress and reliable WiFi.

The weather is tropical in London today, and we’re expecting warmer temperatures this week – I do love a bit of ‘sensommer’ – that’s late summer for the non-Scandi readers. But I did sneak in a pumpkin spice latte this morning and my Pinterest clothes boards are already filling up with chunky jumpers and boots. The slow cooker is waiting in the wings, DD is already working on Halloween costume ideas and I’m waiting for Wholefoods to list their Thanksgiving menu – can you tell we love autumn?

But for now, I need to sign off, and finish all my filing and shredding for August.

It’s good to be back – à bientôt!

Relics of a Past Life

I genuinely had every good intention of blogging more this month, but every time I go on social media, there is some new tragedy or galling catastrophe, and I shy away again. To say recent events have tipped me over the edge would be fair. There are no words I can find to fully express how sad I am. How helpless I feel. How ashamed I feel, to be able to enjoy brunch with my daughter, when I still have flashbacks to a mother and her child in arms, covered in ash and dust, dead from a mistimed/misplaced air strike. And a lingering sense of terror and dread, that perhaps a similar Paris-Istanbul-Nice-Munich scenario might play out in London again. We have put DD’s trial runs on public transport alone on ice for a while (but how long is a while?). It makes me sad that she understands the reasons why. Despite  frequently suffering from motion sickness, she has opted to take the boat three times in the last week, rather than face the confines of the Tube.

This weekend was a chance to de-stress, ignore the Interwebs, and just ease into the first week of summer. DD had a spectacular end of term, with a really wonderful report card and a Maths award. She has been rewarded with a Kindle e-reader and is now happy as a pig in clover. She also enjoyed trying out all my shoes from a past life as I did a massive cull today. One of the few pairs to survive the cull were these beautiful gold Emilio Pucci gladiators.

The heels could double as weapons, and the pain they inflict are in direct proportion to their prettiness. I only wear them sitting down. But they’re a brilliant reminder of how fun and impractical and frivolous I once was! These shoes were a good way to tap into the juvenile, carefree part of my life (and raise my cool quotient in DD’s eyes).

Do you have a favourite relic from your past life?

 

 

Forgotten…

All the depressing news recently has made me more tetchy, more on edge, and honestly, just fed up with the state of the world. I. Can’t. Even.

Yesterday, I had an embarrassing triggering episode IN PUBLIC. WALKING WITH MY DAUGHTER. An ambulance sped by, as it does in every major city at least ten times a day. What was so special about this one? Well, it was a Children’s Acute Transport. The same kind which took my one-day-old baby away from me ten years ago. Cue instant tears and hyperventilation. On a busy road. In rush hour. Awesome. I tried focusing my attention on the beautiful, whole child next to me, but all the memories came rushing back in. For some inexplicable reason, I feel like I have to know what that journey was like for her. What they did with her? Did they have to resuscitate her again? I can start the process by writing and asking for her file(s). This irritates Husband as he feels like we should leave well enough alone and focus on fabulous DD. I wish I could. I’ve tried. But it’s like a horrible fungal infection that goes away, only to return a few months later. Memories are crap like that. Unshakeable. Or are they?

This morning’s journey in to work was strangely slow and delayed, and the city seemed muted. After last night’s episode, and this morning’s horse-strength antihistamines, I was too foggy to put two and two together and get my usual five. It was only when I got to work and stared at my phone that I realised today was 7/7. The eleventh anniversary of the London bombs. The day I nearly lost my fiance. The day I lost a friend. But you know what? Instead of the usual sadness, today, I had managed to forget. And it was nice. Nice not to be sad, to miss, to hurt, to cry. Reassured to know that it’s OK to forget for a moment.

IMAG0711_BURST002_1So maybe next year, I’ll pass a CATS transport and I won’t cry. I’ll wish the wee bairn inside well. I’ll wish the doctors and nurses strength and knowledge to perform their jobs. And I’ll come home, and hug my perfect DD, and be grateful, instead of sad.

Maybe the world will be a slightly better place in a year. Who knows?