Did I really need a mirror for my flaws?

When you have a tiny baby, you may spend much of your life trying and failing to be the parent and person you want to be, but you havent yet made enough of an imprint onto this blank canvas of a child- that other people will ever know that you are anything less than the parent you aspire to. As they get older, they copy your expressions slightly, your mannerisms, and emulate you when caring for their dolls- but stil, there is no clue to the outside world, of anything apart from what you show.Then the miracle of speech happens.It is natures idea of a practical joke, that children develop communication before they develop reason. Once you have finished tending to the basic needs of this child in your care- feeding, bathing, dressing- you are left to teach them about the world. Unfortunately, whatever your intentions are- that teaching does not come from the wisdom you choose to impart, like a stressed out Yoda- but from them watching an absorbing everything you do or say. They judge you, not with a developed understanding of the nuances of the world- but with the unquestioning eye and black and white logic, of an unforgiving mini Dr.Spock.This week, we have mainly been talking about swearing. The concept of swearing was introduced, when out of the blue, my 10 month old daughter, uttered the beautifully formed and enunciated word ‘Cunt’. Up until that point, I had never considered that she understood language(apart from milk, mummy and daddy)- and I did try to say to her dad that it was only his behaviour that had necessitated the use of the word in the first place- but I was suitably shamed, and realised from this point on- this child would show up every single character defect I had. Oh, how right I was.The dreaded ‘C’ word, has not reared its head again(due to creation of the word ‘Custard’ which is a cross between ‘Cunt’ and ‘Bastard’- but which can be safely uttered around the smaller members of our society). But the theme of Rachel showing up my every flaw, has continued in earnest.I abandoned the concept of ‘naughty words’- after I told her that ‘bugger’ was a naughty word, and it was repeated whenever said child was in a mood for mischief. My telling her that it was not nice to say ‘bugger’ was met with the explanation that it was ‘nice cos it was NORTY!’. This  showed me very clearly that an alternative strategy was needed. Although if we are honest, her reasoning is a philosophy which has served me well in many areas of my life.The attempted removal of expletives from my own speech, as well as a refusal to give attention, when the occasional exploratory swear word came from her mouth- was very effective. No swear words, not even beautifully uttered and enunciated ones, came forth. My occasional lapses were ignored, and life continued as normal.THen someone, not me I might add, had the bright idea of telling Rachel that words were ‘Naughty’. Yesterday, while sat in a cafe, a young man on a nearby table, was reprimanded by my two year old, for saying such a naughty word- and during the discussion that they entered into- also explained ‘My mummy says naughty words when she is on the pooter and the telephone, but she is always naughty”. Thanks snitch.And this is what toddlers do. They absorb what you say and do, and without any reason, or understanding of concepts of discretion, and tact- they proudly show what they have learned to the outside world.From the introduction of my boyfriend(who is also Rachels godfather, her favourite pet, and who wasnt even allowed to kiss me in front  of her for 6 whole months) to her nursery worker as ‘J, who sleeps in my mummys bed’, to very vocal questions about whether I have lost my keys again, every time we get within 5 minutes of our house. The flicking through a magazine, with loud statements that she ‘liked those shoes but that dress looks cheap’, the correction to my friend, that we did have sweeties, its just that we kept them in mummys bedroom drawer. Through to the telling of the world that ‘mummy is grumpy and needs a cup of tea cos I am a pain in the bum’.  She proudly exposes my every parenting weakness, and character flaw, to a visibly amused world.When Rachel bumped her leg, while her dad was carrying her downstairs- I am sure the constant repetition of the exclamation ‘My daddy smashed my leg into the wall and I CRIED’, did not raise any concerns about her father(incidentally also a child protection social worker…), and I am quite sure that the proud exclamations that ‘mummy will let me have a pot noodle for tea if am a good girl'(entirely untrue- I ONCE gave her a taste out of my pot noodle-pot noodle being one of my guilty dirty pleasures in a life dominated by fair trade produce, and organic veg), or the statement that I was planning on selling her on ebay for pooing in her nappy(and I have NO clue where that one came from!It wasnt me-I always plasters on a smile when welcome with a big steaming turd!)- have never led our friends and acquantinances to question our parenting.I am taking Rachel on holiday with 6 of my friends, and their children, on Monday, and I am in no doubt, that after a week with Rachel they will be a) making phone calls to our local social services team b) convinced that I am a woman with such loose morals, and character flaws- that I should never have been allowed to attempt parenthood in the first place! The latter may possibly right…

The cult of the princess

My daughter wants to be a princess, indeed her brothers, and certain friends encourage this by calling her a princess. Buying her ghastly clothes, with perky slogans like ‘daddies little princess’ emblazoned on the front. (ALWAYS sent to the charity shop as soon as received, and in the worst cases, chucked straight into the bin, or used as dusters- am not encouraging this in others).Lets just clarify what a princess is. A princess is the daughter of someone, and in every fairy tale ever written- her entire value is either as that mans daughter, or as the potential wife of someone.She has started requesting certain princess stories- Rapunzel for instance. I do tell her the story. Its just that in my version, Rapunzel realises waiting for some berk to come and use her hair as a ladder is pointless, and actually chops hair off, to a more manageable style, and makes her own rope ladder- leaving the tower a good 6 months before the  prince turns up. I tell her other fairytales with slight adjustments- you dont fall in love from a kiss, and certainly slightly more is required before committing to a relationship with the prince- never mind marriage. In my version of Rumplestiltzkin, the clever woman who guesses the mean midgets name, also gets to leave the mean old King, with the gold, and her child- and manages to live happily ever after on her own. In Cinderella, Cinders gets to keep the dress and the shoes, the Prince is told off for being so arrogant that he just assumes any damsel in the land will accept his hand, and eventually marries an ugly sister, realising that ugly and mean are not the same thing- while Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother set up their own design business. In my version, the eponymous heroines are not meek and mild, they are sharp, witty, and able to help themselves.There are many theories about the origins of folklore, and certainly when the origins of some of our more well loved fairytales are investigated- they all contain quite disturbing themes of sexual repression, of terrible things happening when the young woman is awakened sexually(note for reader- spindle is ALWAYS symbol for penis-small penis probably, but penis nonetheless).Yes, I hear you say- but these are just stories. But these are not stories. THese stories are so powerful, that I dont even have to explain the tales I am referring to- they are so deeply ingrained on our collective psyche, that I can safely assume that any reader from the western world, will know exactly what story I am referring to.There are theories that the folklore and mythology of any give society, are an allegorical reflection of their own psyche, their views, their morals- and IF this is the case- then the cult of the princess needs to be tackled. I suppose if that is true of folklore- then its likely to be true for the modern equivalent of folklore- the media. Our films, our television, our fiction, our art.I dont want my daughter aspiring to be a helpless virtuous girl- who when faced with trouble, thinks the only solution is that a handsome prince rescues her. The fact that at 2 years old, before she even has the ability to identify what a princess is(she thinks princesses eat sweeties, and have a crown)-this is her first aspiration, bothers me enough, that I will always rewrite these tales- even though by the age of 5, with, or without my influence, she will know the originals off by heart. I am sure that my rewriting these stories will cause a slight bit of friction, when she finds that mummy’s version is different…but who cares.



Pink stinks!

I predictably swore that I would never do pink. My daughter would not ‘do’ pink. But here we are. Two loads a week. Bright pink, sugar pink, cerise, raspberry pink, peachy pink, pale pink, white with a hint of pink. Even the stuff that isnt pink, has pink fecking sequins, trims, and bindings.I didn’t swear I wouldn’t ‘do’ pink, because I am a humourless militant feminazi. Although I am. It certainly wasnt because the idea that girls are somehow drawn to this bland, inoffensive, wishy washy colour, by virtue of being born with a uterus, was offensive to me- although it is.  It isn’t because thinking of the people who shape our nation, our minds, and our finances, standing up wearing sugar pink is absurd- although it certainly is.I swore I wouldn’t do pink- because it is a fecking vile colour. It goes with nothing-apart from more fucking pink. The overall effect of a the obligatory pink trim, on anything, so that people are able to identify that my child is female, and is not called George- is horrible. It was a fucking vile colour when it was traditional for boys, and it remained a vile colour when boys realised, and it was shoved off to girls.Rachel doesnt even suit pink. She looks great in red, blue, even yellow- but not pink. Yet it is almost impossible to buy clothing for a child without a penis, that doesnt have a sliver of pink, sneaked into it- somewhere, somehow.I wish this post was original. I wish I was saying something that hadnt been said, a million times before, and that my insight into the cult of pink- was some kind of profound statement. But it isnt.Ah, I hear you ask. You are the person controlling the purse strings- why do you buy pink? Consumer sovereignty and all that.I try really hard not to. I will go to ridiculous extremes not to buy pink- but when 90 percent of the clothing available for girls is pink, is accented with pink, or has something pink on it- then you are left with little choice-and it slips in. When that is combined with the fact that her extended family and friends are determined to see her as some kind of princess(and am damn sure I will blog about the cult of the princess at some point- but I need to be able to do so without shaking with fury!)- the pink sneaks in. Rachel is told that she loves pink, that she should love pink- and slowly but surely, pink is becoming her favourite colour- as it is with every one of the little girls in her nursery class.   I would rant more about this subject, but I have to take a load of washing out of the machine, that looks like someone left a red sock in there.

A change of pace continued.

So the change of pace materialised again.Walking into nursery, to be greeted by ‘Its my mummy, look, its my mummy!’, by an squealing, excited little girl, desperate to show me her new picture(which is for the wall mummy, but maybe at the top of the wall, cos there are lots of pictures now)- is just about the greatest thing in the world. Walking home, hand in hand, while she tells me I should have brought a coat, cos its a bit chilly, is beaten by nothing.The chaos of jigsaws thrown about, and the sheer excitement of finding she has a new tea set in her bedroom (where did it come from Mummy, do you think Santa left it…I love it, but Santa is on holiday, you said).Even the bedtime routine of ‘Mummy, I need to come and get a drink’, ‘Mummy there are spiders in my bed’, and every other desperate attempt to get me to come back up, delaying sleep, by just another minute. All brilliant.I was wrong. I didnt need to prepare myself to change pace. The reason my life is at the pace it is at, is that it is ruled by a two year old tyrant, with blonde curls, and brown eyes. The minute my child free birthday celebration was over, and I walked into nursery. The pace changed by itself. Very happy I am about it too.Did I mention the Sunflower has miraculously sprouted a new leaf?

The pinnacle of mans achievment.

In case you missed it in the last entry- I bought a working ‘etch a sketch’ keyring. Yes, that is right, I have a working etch a sketch. It is 2” by 1” inch. And it works. I am now going to spend the rest of my life, dedicated to the art of etch a sketch. In minature. I think it will be a very fulfilling way of contributing to the world. I think civilisation as we know it could fail, and it would be ok- because once mankind has figured out how to make an etch a sketch so small it can hang off my keyring-what else is there?

A change of pace.

Life can be hectic. I spend much of my time, racking my brains, to remember the zillion things that have to be done- and trying to fit them all in. Get washing done, buy new socks for Rachel, do the food shopping, fill in the funding applications, prepare for teh holiday, register with this agency, tell that agency what you are looking for. Ring this person, to obtain this information, for that person, and dont forget to ring so and so, to check what they need you to do. There can be days, when the day starts in earnest at 6am, then I collapse in a tired heap, by 9pm.Then every so often, all that goes out of the window- and the pace changes. Forgotten are the endless lists of things that I should do, and hello, to two or three days, where my priorities change, and my life centres on myself, good friends, and stopping to watch the world go by. While my birthday didnt offer this precious time, the days that followed, when Rachel went to her fathers, offered this plentifully.Up until 6pm on my birthday, my day was spent trying to manage on little sleep, due to Rachels surprise present of a vomiting and diarrhea bug(the smell of which still lingers on my sofa…apparently bicarbonate of soda, or biological washing powder will shift it- I should add that to the list of things I need to do). I was sorting washing, trying to remove the debris from my house, in order to get ready for people arriving. Thinking that maybe the sensible thing to do, would be to cancel my plans- and when her dad picked her up, and my boyfriend went home- that I should just curl up and catch up on sleep, trying to eliminate the bloodshot tired eyes, and aching body that I had earned- while trying to make Rachel feel better.I am very glad I didnt. While I didnt manage to cook the meal that I had planned, which had become impossible while dealing with the chaos that an ill child brings, I should have remembered that the state of my house, and the meal I never cooked- were not the reasons that people were coming.Perceptions of what would be expected, vanished into thin air- to be replaced by two days of talking, being around people that I liked. With the aid of bottles of cava, endless cigarettes, food eaten if and when the energy could be brought about to cook. Visits to the local second hand market to buy random stuff(an awesome mini etch a sketch key ring, an artists doll, and a teaset and jigsaw for Rachel), and a long afternoon spent slowly drinking in a local pub, where the aged hunchback landady rules over it like a queen, providing sweets, barking insults, and bawdy craic, alongside cheap doubles, and no stella, because the pump was broken. Being caught in the rain, and thinking this wasnt so terrible- until the skin on my arms- shows goosebumps in protest at my lack of sunshine and warm clothing.Ejection from one life, straight into another- forcing my body to accept a change of pace- so that deciding what to eat, and where to eat, was a task which in a lazy, relaxed state, took as long as cleaning the house from top to bottom, ringing the people on my to do list, and getting Rachel to bed. The pace of my thinking slowed, and now, after my house is empty again, I am trying to get my body and mind, back into a place where I can change pace again.Only with total relaxation, and a sleepy drawling thought process- I figure that for today- the list of a zillion things I should do, can go out of the window. I have checked my phone and there are 7 texts, and 3 missed calls, and I should probably open my post. But actually, I think I may tidy up a bit- have a cup of tea- bring Rachel home from nursery,a nd continue this pace just for today. Dinner doesnt have to be anything special- leftover potato salad, and some cold fish cuts, and when Rachel is in bed, a movie, and an early night.I can return to life ‘proper’ tomorrow, and am sure this sleepy drawling state, will have been replaced by me tearing my hair out, and doing everything at once. I shall do this again soon.Although I should probably start trying to locate a replacement for the dead sunflower, which is showing no signs of reviving on my windowsill.

Maryanne Hobbs

http://soundcloud.com/maryanneMaryanne Hobbs just favourited James tunes-(@howardsessions) – yes people. Yes, that would be Maryanne Hobbs. The Maryanne Hobbs. Dont all faint.He says he is going to pimp his street when famous. He would pimp his house but its a back to back terrace. Cant pimp his car as doesn’t drive. Maryanne Hobbs. Thats a bit good.