I’ve been quiet, mostly because I’m in shock. I can’t even understand the world we live in any more. Children being gunned down in schools. Children being abused and violated by people from charities and NGOs who are supposed to help them. It makes me want to scream, a high-pitched, keening, ear-drum shattering scream.
News of the Florida school shooting, more than any other, hit me harder because it triggered memories of the Tube attack last September, and how it affected DD and her friends. And while I accept, as most Londoners do, that we live in challenging times and face more danger than the average person would outside London, or perhaps any other major global city, I also expect my child to be 100% safe at school. After the Parsons Green attack, the assigned Metropolitan Police constables were a visible presence at school. If anything, it made the children and parents MORE jumpy, not less. We didn’t want to see a police presence.
It makes us nervous when we see the special police out with their guns. We’re used to seeing them at Buckingham Palace, or Number 10, or the American embassy. Not out and about. Guns are not our normal. They are treated as deadly weapons, and only specially trained officers are allowed to wield them. The AR-15 is a deadly weapon. That it could be bought at Walmart up until 2015, or that it’s relatively easy to buy the pieces to modify it to a fully automatic assault weapon, is beyond mind-boggling to someone like me. I’m not sure what view the authors of Constitution would take today, if they saw how far weapons had evolved.
For now, I’ll hold my daughter close, and re-tweet those who are taking a stand, calling out politicians, the NRA and the American President, to make change happen. Change has to happen!
We had a good break full of rest, movies and good food. We went for walks. We napped. Like I said, good times.
We had some heart-warming moments (opening the gratitude jar and reading our notes from the last year) – followed by heart-breaking moments (me landing the edge of the jar on the edge of my mobile screen and crunching it. Fer realsies.)
We had some entertaining moments – Husband and I were watching TV one evening when the air took on slightly charred tone, followed by DD hollering, “Don’t worry, it’s under control!”
WHAT’S UNDER CONTROL?! WHAT’S BURNING?!
“Just set some of my hair on fire, it’s all good, I’ve put it out.”
DD knows the kind of parents we are, so she allowed us 24 hours to get all our fiery puns and cracks out of the way. Best kid ever.
And then we finished our lazy holiday watching other people expend energy playing ice hockey. DD & Husband disappeared during intermission to get snacks, and reappeared before the second period started. Halfway through the second period, DD asked me about a play and I turned to answer her. My heart stopped because her lips were a greyish-blue. In those brief seconds, my brain tumbled over “she’s-too-cold” to “she’s-not-breathing” to “how-did-I-miss” this. Sweet heavens, I thought we were past the cyanosis! I clutched Husband’s arm in a death grip, yanking him to look at her …. slurping on a lurid neon-blue slushie. Wretched child was slurping on a slushie while I aged another seven years in seven seconds.
WHY ARE YOU SLURPING ON A SLUSHIE?!
“Because they don’t serve tequila to minors, Ma.”
Yeah, I love her an’all, but I’m really grateful she’s back at school this week!
It’s taken me a while to get in the Christmas spirit this year. 500+ days in limbo as a non-British EEA citizen. The orange guy. It’s just been hard to feel sparkly. But of course, sparkly or not, DD has a long schedule of events where she’s performing, and last night was one of them.
In true DD style, she announces a few short hours before the event that it would be nice if I was there. So there I was. Watching her sing and read a poem in a church which has stood since 1445 was something else. Dear reader, you will be so proud to note I did not cry, as is my tradition.
I just sat, and listened, as she read Mick Gowar’s Christmas Thank-Yous to laughter and applause. (Google it: English humour at its best.) I felt like a ‘normal’ parent. No overwhelming rush of desperate gratitude that she’s alive, functioning, talking. Just a normal amount of pride and affection. It’s the best gift ever. To finally have the stone of guilt and relief lifted off my chest.
It’s taken almost 12 years, and I’m sure I’ll have small moments of back-sliding when she gets ill, but for now, I’m all about the joy!
I love my child, I do. But when she phones me from school only minutes after arriving, pleading for me to drop off her Spanish books, I could cheerfully throttle her. Good thing I’m working from home today.
It feels like we’re approaching a wall really fast. Bretonne Bestie and I were on Whatsapp the other day, and she pointed out that it didn’t sound like DD was leaving much time in her life to rest or be a child. Agreed! Her schedule reads like an endurance training program every week – debate club, ballet, robotics, ballet, violin, newspaper, ballet, choir, vocal coaching, drama….and then homework squeezed in to every nook and cranny available. (I should add here that I did not sign her up for a single one of these things. I just pay for them.)
I’m stretched trying to keep her fed and watered and getting her where she needs to be all over London, so I’m not surprised that she’s starting to feel the physical strains of her schedule. Her hips hurt. Her ankles hurt. Her feet are battered. Ten hours isn’t enough sleep for her. Puberty isn’t kind to anyone, but it’s especially cruel to young athletes. DD has had a growth spurt of a centimetre a month, which is throwing off her balance and coordination (a common issue in pubescent athletes, but it’s still freaking her out). As a chronic worrier, are her aching bones the signs of growth plates groaning? Possible permanent damage?
Last night, as we were waiting for the paint on her art project to dry at 10pm, I gently suggested to DD that she might need to re-evaluate her schedule (for her sanity as much as my own), but I don’t think the message went over so well. I have never exercised the “because-I’m-the-mother/parent/grown-up” roar, but I’m about ready to open a can of it today!
How’s your week going?
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!
Just 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.
Y’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!
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.
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?