Quarantine

Credit: Simon Strandgaard

The excitement of the last few weeks and the events of last Friday have tipped DD over into a bout of shingles. Which means no school, no going outside, possibly not being a bridesmaid in a wedding. 

Day 1 of quarantine is begrudgingly done. I sense the next five days are going to be a challenge. She’s started a round of antivirals, and has dosed up with vitamins B & C. She’s pretending she doesn’t have a fever even though her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are glassy and she willingly took a nap this afternoon. 

However, she has her paternal grandmother visiting and this is good, because Granny has oodles of patience and entertainment up her sleeves. We’re going to need it!

A different kind of Monday

IMG_20150309_080451_editJust three short months ago, I wrote Oh, London, my London, and it hurt to write it.

But last Friday brought me to my knees. DD and her schoolmates had to walk out a back entrance of school, with news helicopters hovering overhead. She came home and just got into bed and watched the Gilmore Girls. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. Nothing felt like it made any sense.

On Saturday, the entire city was on high alert. I had to keep pushing the anxiety down as I took DD to her Saturday classes. Everyone made eye contact on the Tube – so unusual for Londoners. There was a visible police presence everywhere.

And today, I dropped DD to school, like lots of other parents. Except today, we’re acutely aware of what we almost lost on Friday. Of how tenuous our hold on life really is. It’s a little surreal. I feel like I’ve popped some fuzzy pills and they’re delaying all my reactions and responses.

Maybe tomorrow will be different.

Too damn close to home…

wtfY’all are used to me updating the blog or Twitter with “I’m safe, nowhere near the attack/bomb/insert London incident here”.

Not today. Not effing today. Today, I am smack in the middle of crazy central. But outside the cordon that has my daughter’s school in lockdown. Yes, my baby girl got to school just in time. Some of her friends were not so lucky. There were cuts and scrapes in the stampede to get off the train and out of the station. There were girls stuck in trains behind. Girls walking on tracks, once the power was cut.

And I have spent the best part of today, guts churning, trying to be helpful. Positive. Forward-planning. Reaching out to other parents. But DD’s school is coming out of lockdown and I am going to run up that road to collect her and try not to weep. I am going to hold her and cuddle her and kiss her until she begs for mercy.

And like every other parent at the school, I am going to have to muster the courage to send her off to school again on Monday.

Wish me luck!

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.