Almost daily diary!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

At the Doctors

Tall Girl is tired and run down - aren't we all? But it's been a while so I thought I should get her checked out so that she can enjoy her 6 weeks off school. I'm sure it's just the teenage stage of wanting to sleep all day and wake up in the evening. Anyway I rang the doctors just to be sure and she said to book in with the nurse for a blood test.

Poor Tall Girl is nervous of needles, she's nervous of lots of things, wasps, moths, strange men, big dogs, hospitals, the name it, she's scared of it, almost. Though she is much better now at 14 than she has ever been before. However needles are probably her Room 101. So as she came down stairs on Monday morning, the first day of the holidays, all chirpy and asking if I'd spoken to the Doctor, it was with great trepidation that I told her about the blood test.

She cried, she shouted, there was much gnashing of teeth! "I'm not having it!" She declared several times. And on it went. In the end I persuaded her to go to the appointment and talk to the nurse about it. She agreed. At least I could get her there, I thought, and perhaps the nurse could persuade her to go through with it.

So at 2.30pm we entered the surgery, Small Sprog in tow with his iPod to keep him busy. We sat in the waiting room for a short time, and just as I thought she was about to come apart at the seams we were called in.

Nurse Debbie was an angel. She was the kindest most caring nurse you could wish for. She started to reassure Tall Girl and tell her all about what would happen and showed her the needles and explained how she would do the procedure. Tall Girl warmed to the idea. A little.

All of a sudden I realised Small Sprog was very quiet. I looked across at him. He was turning green. It was the sight of the needle. "I think I'll just wait outside" He said in his best grown up voice, and off he went out into the corridor. The nurse on the other hand spent ages with Tall Girl, who was still refusing. The best we could get from her was to agree to come back in 2 days time.

When Tall Girl and I left the room we went to pick up Small Sprog. He didn't look any better.
"Are you ok?" I ask him, trying to hide a grin
"No!" He replied "I just thought I'd escape to the waiting room, but then I had to listen to 6 people discussing their diseases!"
Poor Small Sprog, escaping one graphic medical drama only to find another waiting for him in the waiting room. It's shame he has such a weak stomach, he had to be rushed home for an emergency toilet visit as soon as we left, it had upset him so much. Perhaps he has too much empathy!

As for Tall Girl, she did go through with her blood test today, though it was a bit touch and go. I won't go into details, save to say that the stress of it all made her vomit into the washing up bowl, once back home. But it's done now and that is enough of that!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chalk and Cheese

Tall Girl came home flouting all her end of year subject 'level's today. We looked at them over the dinner table. They were good; they were average, which is good considering her dyslexia (and general lack of enthusiasm!)

Small Sprog asked to be excused form the table. As he left the room he said he though he'd be hopeless at 'Big School'. "No you won't" I argued "You've done so well this year". And he has. In fact, I think he has exceeded his sisters standards at the same age. Yet he doesn't take praise easily, believe me I do try.

Yesterday Tall Girl said that she'd been discussing with her dad that when she's passed her driving test she's going to get a second hand Fiat 500. "Really?" I say to her, eyebrows raised to the sky "Then you'd better start saving up!" (She's never got any money, it burns a hole in her pocket too quickly) I suspect she thinks Daddy will buy her the car. And there's me thinking I might be able to afford a newish car myself  in a few years time and that she'd be happy with my old one. Dream on on both counts!

Small Sprog on the other hand has been saving up for his car for a year or so, ever since I told him I had done so when I was his age. My first car was £500, he already has as much. Tall Girl can't save for toffee. They are so different, which is how it should be I guess, and they are developing together, in their own ways.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, she got a certificate at prize giving too today (as, I suspect, did most children). However I wasn't there to witness it, that would have been Far Too Embarrassing apparently!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tall Girl makes a non-political point.

Small Sprog is soon to be at Tall Girls school, in less than 3 weeks time, if you discount the summer holidays. I have tried to tell her to keep her views to herself when they have been less than positive but some have slipped out.

The other day I overheard her relaying the girl pecking order, or some such.

"Well, there's The Popular Ones" I hear her explain "Then there are The Chavs, (I ask you?!) then there are The Orange Ones"
I felt I had to intervene at this point.
"The Orange Ones?" I exclaimed. We live in Bristol and have no marching around here!
"Yes, you know, the ones who wear foundation 3 shades darker than their skin colour (I think Small Sprog may have lost the thread by now) and forget to smooth it down their necks so that you can see a tide mark just under their chin"!

I nodded. Yes I knew the ones. Her observations made me laugh. As for Small Sprog, I don't suppose he understood a word of it, but then, that's just as well.

Give me strength not vomit!

Small Sprog had his first day at 'Big School' yesterday. He took it in his stride and went in happily when I dropped him off in the morning. I was due to pick him up and his friend (they are the only 2 children going from his school so safety in numbers!) in the afternoon.

When I got home I decided to make some cakes for them to eat on their journey home to celebrate their first day. Recently things aren't quite turning out as expected here.

The cakes were fine, in fact they came out quite well and I set off back to school in the afternoon hoping they would enjoy them. I was looking forward to hearing their news. However I was met by a very sad Small Sprog who was feeling wretched with a headache. His friend managed 2 cakes but Small Sprog felt too ill.

It's a 30 minute journey between home and school and I could see he was quite poorly, and as he got out of the car he proceeded to vomit on his new shoes! Poor Small Sprog. At least he didn't do it in my car!

He was ill most of the evening but by 10pm had fallen asleep. I had my fingers crossed for a peaceful night when Tall Girl appeared looking less than happy. She had had a sore throat for a few days but I put it down to the excitement and shouting that went on at the concert she attended at the weekend.

"What's the matter?" I asked her, hoping for good news
"I think I've got throat cancer"! She exclaims, tearfully "Like in the picture at the dentists"
I manage to keep a smirk inside. The poor thing does always over react, such a hypochondriac. "It's just a sore throat, let me have a look". Then we performed a little dance with the spotlight in the bathroom and a magnifying mirror. "You'll have to bend your knees" I squeal, teetering on my toes and wobbling all over the place. She is as tall as me now and it's like trying to look down the neck of a giraffe. I get a glimpse of redness, maybe a spot (please don't let it be tonsillitis) I manage to assure her she doesn't have throat cancer and say that if it gets any worse we'll get the doctor to look at it.

Exhausted I slump into my bed. I felt like I'd had a full on night at A&E.

PS. To add insult to injury, when I phoned into school this morning to say Small Sprog had been sick they said I'd have to keep him off for 48 hours. It's the new rules. That means me not being able to work tomorrow and therefore losing a days pay. That's twice this month...great.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I try not to write about work but I am going to indulge this once.

It's not been a very enjoyable year as I have worked with a teacher who is very'self contained'.  I have often felt undermined, or under the thumb. But this is not the reason for this post.

The end of term play is almost upon us and teachers are asking for props to be made. I often get the job, I have the reputation for being 'arty' and I do like helping with that sort of thing. The trouble is they ask for the most impossible things! And the school, like most others, is as poor as a church mouse right now (or so they claim) so the resource cupboard is empty. There's only so much you can do with old cardboard boxes brought in from the wheely bins, and Sellotape!

Anyway, last week I was asked to make a giant inhaler, the sort used for asthma, bit much much bigger. I got going with my boxes, paper and tape. It took me much longer than it should have and when it was done I didn't think much of it. However I left it upstairs in the relevant place and moved on to other things.

Towards the end of the afternoon, one of the teachers I used to work with said to me "You know that inhaler?"
"Yes" I said "I didn't make a very good job of it did I?"
"Well I was going to say it looked fantastic!" He said genuinely enough.

I felt myself beam. Silly really, over a bit of cardboard and tape. But it was more than that. It's been a rough ride at work since last September, pretty rough elsewhere in parts too, and  I haven't had a 'thank you' or a 'well done' for a very long time. I hadn't realised how much confidence suffers in this situation. Just one person saying I'd done a good job, albeit ridiculous, made me feel really good for a moment.

It was a good moment.

I still have no idea what I'll be doing at work next term. What other job changes at the drop of a hat with no notice? I am hoping I will work with someone less controlling. Fingers crossed

Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberry Sunday

Strawberry picking, a wonderful summer event, followed by jam making; it satisfies the 'hunter / gatherer' in me. And it is July, you'd think it was the perfect time. So off we go to our usual patch, but no. Loads of green strawberries, loads of plants with flowers on, loads of plants that have had strawberries on previously but none to pick. How disappointing.

Then it rained! We sat in the car until it stopped playing pencil and paper games, with the children bickering in the back and me hanging my head out of the car window every few minutes to see if the rain had stopped.

It did, eventually stop, so off we ventured again. We went on the hunt for raspberries next but got waylaid in the blackberry patch instead. Now you'd think it was much too early in the season for blackberries but these are the cultivated variety and are simply huge. Covered in juice and excitedly shouting out 'Look at this one!'we compared size and flavour. Reminding the children to only pick the very black ones we greedily filled our baskets as the rain started again.

As we left the nice lady at the farm said they'd have plenty of fruit right through to September, which is just as well as we are planning another visit soon.

Meanwhile the blackberries are already made into jam, with a few left over for blackberry and apple crumble. It may not look like summer has arrived yet outside, but in my kitchen it already smells like autumn.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday nights in

 Small Sprog is dancing in the kitchen, it must be Friday night! He interprets the words of the songs with actions; not always suitable. He makes me laugh (and I need that tonight), the interpretation of the 'F' word that crops up (unsuitably) in the song is something to behold I can tell you, and not for the faint hearted.

He is light on his feet as he pogo's around the kitchen, which is undoubtedly the best place in the house to dance because of all the reflective surfaces. He watches himself, his brown curly mop of a hair-do bouncing along with the rhythm.

He brought his school report home today, it is glowing though not academic. 'Quiet and reflective' it says (if only she could see him now) 'A bright boy'. I am proud. Always proud. I want to hug him but he no longer wants hugs as he did as a small boy. He is struggling with the growing up process, too young to understand hugs are important no matter what age we are, too old to do it without thinking.

Tonight doesn't feel like a Friday night even though Small Sprog is dancing in the kitchen and I have a half full glass of red on the go. Tonight feels a little flat, though I try to keep up the spirits. Its been an emotional week, and I have come to terms with it all.

Sometimes I really wish I had a good friend to be with, someone just around the corner who would pop round in times of need. All my friends are married with kids, they live busy lives, some have moved away. Sometimes I feel isolated as life goes on around me, but hey, I'm just feeling a little delicate right now...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

You don't always appreciate the mundane.

When we went to mediation, nearly 18 months ago - but what seems like a different lifetime away - we discussed and agreed childcare. Ex husband wanted to work towards having the children every other week, for a whole week - a 50/50 split. At the time we discussed that, it was decided by him that this would start was once Small Sprog was settled at senior school. Christmas this year. I never thought it would happen.

At the time it seemed a lifetime away; I had this thought that once the children were settled with me, that they would want to stay, would be familiar with the routine and would  not want to change it. Recently, since we have moved and become settled, in our own home at last, I have been trying to build a home that they would enjoy living in, a family home, a home for us...That was then.

Recently the prospect of sharing their care equally has been haunting me, perhaps because Small Sprog has only 2 weeks left at Junior school. I am anticipating an email from Ex H. Emails from him are the only thing that makes my heart fall now, but at least there are no more awful solicitors letters dropping through the door every five minutes any more.

What will I say if he asks to have them? I decided to ask the children what they thought about sharing their time 50/50, after all, they're old enough now to decide. I felt so confident. We were happy in our new home, we had plans, we had a routine, thought we might get a pet.

I asked Tall Girl first, would she ever want to spend a week at daddys and a week at mine? She said she would. I was shocked. Really? I asked her. She didn't even needed time to think about it. It cut me to the core. I asked Small Sprog the same question this week. He jumped at the chance. I cried a lot yesterday, but not in front of them obviously.

What more could I do for them? I asked my Mum in an email. What have I failed to do? Like a spoilt child I wanted to be the best parent, I wanted to have the homeliest home, I wanted my children around me, not only half the time. I work in a school so as to have all the time I can with them. I enjoy their company; I thought I would still be needed for at least a few more years yet. I am not ready to lose them, it seems much too soon.

Then I feel angry inside. He was such a hands off father when we all lived together, he hardly ever wanted to spend time with them and retreated to the garden during most of the summer. He often seemed to regard them as a nuisance. Tall Girl even admitted that she used to be scared of him once.

So what has happened? He seems to be the perfect father now, spends loads of time with them on his weekends and when he doesn't (because he's still in the family home) all their friends are still on the street for them to play with. They have a great time, with or without him, as it should be I guess. For them, that must still feel like their 'real' home.

However whether he wants them 50/50 now or not is irrelevant really. They both want to spend more time there, I have already lost them...

I spent some time here feeling bereft. My heart hurt. It seems so unfair that they don't remember all the things that they have done with me over all their lives. So much time spent together, but they don't seem to remember any of it.

How will I feel being a part time mum? In most ways it is all my own fault, I split the family up, it was selfish and this is my punishment. So every moment I have them now is precious, it always has been, but you don't always appreciate the mundane.

I will leave you with an excerpt from an email from my lovely Mum. No matter what happens, at least I know, while she is on this earth, that she loves me and will always be there...

 It will all be fine for a while, but he won't change. He 'll begin to be the hands off father he once was, and when he starts treating them as a nuisance, I'll think it will be a different story. I shall never forget the day when we were all sitting down for a meal, you were in the kitchen and TG was sitting at the end of the table with her back to the window and asked him if she could shut the conservatory door as it was making her dinner cold and he said  "NO". I could have cried for her.  A few treatments like that and they will soon realise which side their bread is buttered.I do know that they have 'The Nit Children' to play with, but as they get older that won't last forever. I can't think what their Christmases will be like without your touch.

You have absolutely nothing to reproach yourself for. You have been a wonderful mother to them, and done so much for them and with them. Think of all the wonderful birthday parties you have given them all the wonderful themes you have created and fun you have given them.Oh, yes he was there but what did he contribute to it all.Will they stir the Christmas cake with him and have a wish...

Give them time, they aren't stupid, they will think it all out for themselves eventually.

I hope she's right