Thursday, 24 January 2013

Homework Wars, Dispatches from the Frontline

Scene One: A perfectly normal, if slightly messy, dining kitchen. A family are seated around the table consisting of mummy, daddy, two draped teens, a tween and a small boy ... though the small boy isn't ACTUALLY sitting, more kind of squatting on his seat. And bouncing about a bit. They are eating their evening meal with varying degrees of enthusiasm and chatting.

Mummy to the Tween: "Have you got any homework?"
Tween: *grunts noncommittally*
Conversation continues around the rest of the table.
Mummy, politely, to the Tween: "I asked If you had any homework?"
Tween: *shrugs* *scowls at plate*
*general family conversations cease, ears prick up*
Mummy: "DO you have any homework?"
Tween sulkily: "Yeah."
Mummy: "So, you'll do it after dinner, yes?"
Tween sighs, rolls her eyes and stabs a piece of sausage (or pasta or chicken or whatever is on her plate) viciously.
*General conversation resumes*

And so it begins, yet another skirmish in the Homework Wars. These are the first rounds of preparatory fire before THE actual battle, just one of many in an on-going war. The battle has proper explosions. And casualties, though it's generally temper, patience and understanding that repeatedly lay down their lives. Frustration, at this particular point, is winning.

The Tween is a bright girl, articulate if shy, good at English (obviously *rolls eyes*) and interested in things that interest her. Ask her the inner workings of a steam engine and she can tell you, at length, with diagrams *looks meaningfully at husband* But homework?

The Tween does not do her homework when she is given it. The Tween leaves it until the VERY last minute before it's time to hand it in and then appears tearfully clutching several pieces of paper that, in the blind panic to have her homework done on time, might as well be written in ancient Egyptian while she apparently comprehensively forgets every single thing she has ever learned.

Homework IS pants. I know that. EVERYBODY knows that and that's why it's called Home Work, it is exclusively designed to BE pants. Clearly the best thing to do is to do it and do it well in as little time as you can possibly manage and then get on with home-sprawling and home-faffing-around-on-the-internet that you choose to do free of guilt. But it is this one singular fact that has by-passed the Tween by.

And so, while I hope that one day, some day, she will eventually realise that just getting on with her homework and not fighting it, and us, is an entirely more sensible way to spend secondary school, I shall be hefting the sandbags out of the cellar every time I dare to ask if she's done her homework. *Sighs*

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Lies I Tell My Children ...

Childhood  is a time of lies. Innocence and joy as well, obviously, but MOSTLY lies. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. Of course we should. Lies are not good. Lies are bad. I know this because I have spent 17 years bringing children up and telling them so. Er... *shifty look*

Some of those lies are for their own good though. The one about the Tooth Fairy? A distraction technique laced with bribery used in an attempt to distract a small person from the horrific realisation that a TOOTH HAS JUST FALLEN OUT OF THEIR HEAD.

It's traumatic, that's what it is. But it's alright because the child's thought processes run thus: "What? Wait? There's a fairy coming? With money?" and they wander off in search of a sibling to brag at completely forgetting the horror of discovering their own tooth in an apple thirty seconds before.

And Christmas? Well, that might just the biggest lie of all. Specifically designed to give parents at least one small part of the year where they have a chance of controlling their offspring's behaviour if it strays into hair-tearing levels of despair on yet one more trip to the supermarket."Santa doesn't visit naughty children," IS, almost, the most believed lie in the world by anyone under the age of ten and they believe it wholeheartedly with no correlating evidence or proof at all. *rolls eyes*

And then there are the OTHER lies. The lies we ALWAYS tell our children:
"In a minute..." (when it'll be ten minutes)
"Soon..." (when it won't be)
"I'm doing something..." (when you're not)
"I just have to finish this..." (when you don't)
" You'll love it, of course you will" (when, quite clearly with arms folded and lip stuck out, they will not)
and, of course, the BIG one:
"It'll be alright."
And just thank the gods that sometimes it is, because then at least you can maintain some semblance of parental credibility.


And then there are the specific family lies. The ones that blithely trip off the tongue because you've said them so many times before like this one and the one I tell every morning on the way to school with the six year old. The last of the brood. The only one I still have the responsibility of getting to school in a morning. The lie that I've told countless other mornings for an entire decade to the other, now older children, the ones who are NEVER late for secondary school.

The one that goes: "We're not late darling, we're just making an entrance."

*Apologises to children*

*Not really*

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A Letter of Complaint....

To The Manufacturer

Dear Sir,
Re: Model no: 1010220801/IFH

I wish to complain about the above product, The Tween, which I purchased in good faith eleven years ago. Despite careful maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer, The Tween has recently become very slow to start in the morning, difficult to fuel and started saying 'No' and stomping off on a regular basis which is beginning to stress the stairs.

Unfortunately I have been unable to find a method of making adjustments to The Tween's mood settings which now appear to fluctuate wildly and without reason. Inexplicably The Tween also seems to have been supplied without either an Off switch or Reset button, so I am unable to restore to previous settings which were very much easier to live with.

Despite these worrying issues, we have become quite attached to this particular model of The Tween. By continuing with regular maintenance, occasional bribery and the application of lavish amounts of tolerance we hope we can re-adjust The Tween to it's original sunny disposition and get many years of satisfactory enjoyment from this model.

May I recommend to avoid any further customer dis-satisfaction you install both an accessible control panel and off button on all future models.

Thank you.
Yours faithfully,


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Things That I Hate......

The first in an occasional series about, well, um, Things That I Hate. Obviously there are MANY things that I hate, like world poverty, hunger, religious, racial and sexual intolerance and the current government but none of them, at the moment, get me quite as wound up as.....


The Bane of My Life

....This is The Boy's water bottle from school. It (supposedly) leaves with him every morning, filled with water, and returns home with him in the evening ready to be washed, refilled and taken back to school the next day. It was introduced at the start of the new school year, the idea behind it to, purportedly, combat the spreading of disease around the class.

And a fine idea that is, you might say, but this water bottle replaced the previous range of identical looking, also individually name-labelled water bottles that the school had which were also washed and re-filled daily but, and this is the one crucial difference, BY THE SCHOOL.

All attempts at combating the spread of disease aside because they don't, never have and never will while children are huddled together in classes and playgrounds snuffling, sneezing and dribbling over each other with abandon for six hours a day, the water bottle is THE most loathed piece of plastic in my house.

At least three mornings a week we have to turn back home to retrieve the water bottle, we MIGHT remember it on the fourth morning but on the fifth we forget it and leave it at home anyway because we'll be even later than we normally are and that will mean going through the dreaded front door and past the headmistress.
"Don't worry, Mummy," says The Boy stoically, "I won't have a drink today." And then I hate myself for a whole six hours.

And it's much the same, the other way round. If by some miracle it arrives at school, The Boy will duly forget   it on the way home. He's six years old and a boy, so I'm lucky if he remembers to come home in the same clothes he went in. *Rolls eyes.*

There is also an added threat that NOT bringing one's water bottle to school results in a fifty pence fine, but I've never been asked to pay it. I could have funded an entire library shelf of books by now and probably the shelf as well, but I suspect the teachers are just too embarrassed to ask. Or frightened.


*Stumps off to wash water bottle swearing*

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Weird Crushes, Perfectly Normal

EVERYONE'S got a weird crush, of course they have. It's perfectly normal, perfectly. *shifty look*

They are THOSE crushes you wouldn't admit to out loud or in public. Those crushes you would NEVER ever tell your husband about because then he'll start to wonder if he's been trying too hard. So, of course, I'm going to blog mine *rolls eyes.*
And it's not my fault, it's mostly down to reading JoMakesSix's Blog, giggling unreservedly (and alarmingly agreeing with some of them) and Jo herself throwing down the gauntlet to do my own.

SO here goes *blindfolds husband* In no particular order:

1. James May AND Richard Hammond AND Jeremy Clarkson. And if that isn't weird, I don't know what is.

2. Tom Daley. Though TeenTwin2 assures me that is not weird in any way at all. BUT she's 17 years old and I am 48. Tom Daley is 18 years old. If you can do maths well enough to make that NOT weird, then please let me know and DON'T CALL THE POLICE.

Gratuitous shot of Tom in his trunks
3. James Cordon.
4. Jack Black. Obvs.
5. Gene Hunt. Yes, sometimes I even despair at myself *Sighs*
6. Alastair Campbell.

Who? Me?
7. Helena Bonham Carter. What? And why not?
8. Matt Smith. Which I didn't think was weird at all, but have been fervently assured (by the 11 year old) that it is.
9. Barack Obama because it is ENTIRELY weird to fancy the President of the United States. *Tuts at self*
10. Olly Murs. I KNOOOOW *ashamed face*

11. Dangermouse.
12. Boris Johnson. Yes, THAT Boris Johnson.
13. Rowan Atkinson, but NEVER as Mr Bean.
14. Sebastian Coe.
15. Ian Hislop.

Yes, well. There you go. I could have put Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis on the list too APPARENTLY *looks scathingly at TeenTwins* but I do not believe those crushes to be weird AT ALL. *Dignified face*

*Runs away*

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2012 In Posts

Yellow Days

2012 has been my first full year of blogging. Hurrah, I hear you cheer *listens hard*.... Hurrah, I hear you ... Hurrah..... oh, never mind. ANYWAY, to celebrate this achievement I'm joining in with the 2012 In Posts linky over at Yellow Days

January 2012: I'm never very good at Januarys. They're dull, cold, grey, wet, miserable and, did I say, DULL. 
January is the Monday morning of the year, the one where you've got a bad hangover and can't remember where you left your purse but it doesn't matter because there's nothing in it anyway. Things CAN begin to get on top of me in January and sometimes I feel like absolutely nothing is going my way.

February 2012: I started February equally reflective about letting go while holding on to the recently turned 16 year old TeenTwins. Then it was back to earth with a bump, holding on to a bottle of gin, when half term rolled around.

March 2012: March was ALL about dresses and more dresses for the TeenTwins rapidly looming Prom Night. *Has to have a lie down just at the memory*

April 2012: The month of The Boy's birthday and also the month he got to bring home the class Frog for being the Star of the Week. It's also the month I started a campaign to ban Star of the Week (not really, but perhaps I should).

May 2012: In May I decided that the National Trust needed my assistance and so leapt to the rescue with this invaluable addition to their list of 50 Things a Child Should Do Before They're Eleven and Three Quarters. The I decided to help out their mothers too with a list of their very own. *Helpful face*
Oh and then I decided to reveal to the world my royal connections.

June 2012: In June the blogging community united together to raise awareness of the terrible atrocities being committed in Syria. They're still going on by the way, so the blog is worth a revisit. June was also the month that the TeenTwins finished their GCSES and were looking forward to the long summer holidays. We soon sorted that out. It was also the month of The Prom.

July 2012: July was the month of the Argument *gibbers in fear at the memory* but I AM pleased to report is was a one of a kind moment and has not yet been repeated though I still keep sandbags, just in case. Then I decided to be extremely helpful by revealing the secrets behind the School Report

August 2012: In newspapers they call August the Silly Season, there's never much to report but we did have a family day out. *Shudders*

September 2012: September is back to school month and a time of transition, the TeenTwins starting sixth form, the 11 year old moving onto secondary school and The Boy, one classroom along the corridor. It all seemed to go quite well though. I even learned some things too.

October 2012: National Poetry Day in the UK so I decided to publish one of the poems I wrote for the now 11 year old when she was small. She didn't appreciate it though.She was a bit too busy exploring a new way with words on her own. *Tuts*

November 2012: The month I turned 48 years old and I wasn't traumatised at all, oh no not at all. And in the spirit of growing up and being adult about things, I decided to lay down a few rules. Not that anyone's taken a blind bit of notice.

December 2012: I started December off in a mood for fighting rather than festivities and this year I took on Christmas and won.

*punches air*

Bring on 2013 !

Please check out everyone else's 2012 In Posts at Yellow Days

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