A Heartful Of Hurt

A Heartful Of Hurt

sunset

It’s around this time of the week that we like to bring you a post that hopefully lifts you up, makes you laugh or just brings a wry smile of recognition to your face. But sadly, today it is not to be. We’re just not feeling it after the week that’s been. 

First, all the troubles in Orlando and now the killing of MP Jo Cox, there’s just no lighthearted spin on life this week and nothing we can say will make any of the bad stuff go away.

Every time the news comes on, we’re in tears. We just can’t stop thinking about all the hate in the world, and the lives of those left behind, now lying in tatters. How bloody useless and pointless it all seems when things like this happen. What a waste of people’s lives! We can’t imagine the pain of the families and friends of those involved in the Orlando massacre, the annihilation of the US Voice singer, and of the little boy whose life ended at a Disney resort, of all places.

We can’t stop thinking about Jo Cox’s two little girls, aged only three and five, just starting out on life’s journey and now so cruelly robbed of their mother. Her poor bereft husband, one minute perhaps making plans for Father’s Day, the next making plans for a funeral.

It doesn’t matter whose life has been taken, of course, but the fact this was a particularly good woman who could relate to her constituents and had their best interests at heart somehow makes it even more poignant. There’s no mature way of saying it really – life sucks sometimes and it’s just not fair.

There’s a haze of gloom over us at the moment, as we think about the world our kids are growing up in, and worry what sort of future they will find themselves in.

All we can do is hope for some kind of brighter tomorrow, though that’s cold comfort for those who have to live with the horrors in the here and now. We have to try to hang on to the fact that there are some amazing, fabulously kind and awesome people out there that do all sorts of good and help spread peace and love for everyone – and just hope that some sick individual doesn’t take them from our world too. Meantime, however irksome they may be at times, we’re going to cherish our loved ones and hold them extra tight this weekend.

Jo CoxTributes to Jo Cox in Parliament Square                                                              BBC News

 

It doesn’t add up!

Maths equation = no dinner

The end of GCSEs is thankfully on the horizon for many, so in support of our teens going through it at the moment, here are three questions that always pop up in our grown-up world:

The Numbers Quiz

Okay, so maths has never been my strong point, but here’s an equation that just doesn’t add up, so can someone please explain: On Wednesday, Mary goes to the supermarket and spends up to £100 on groceries. The fridge is full and nodding matily to its friend, the snack cupboard, who winks back and give a thumbs up. But come Friday and the kids get home from school there is nothing left in the cupboard and Mary is scrabbling around at the back of the freezer trying to find something (anything! 😳) she has ‘prepared earlier’ (as if! She’s just not one of those mums, remember). 😭 Answers to this connundrum please on our comments page. (There will be a prize of a squishy brown banana for the best response.)

The ‘Odds-on This Always Happens’ Equation:

Take your bets, please, ladies and gents: in percentage terms, how likely is it that at exactly the moment your own kids are acting feral in public, you – harassed, red, sweating – will look up and see the perfect Von Trapp family with its cherub-like offspring giving you the snooty one-raised eyebrow treatment, a book titled Brain Games for Clever Kids smugly sticking out of Mother Dearest’s tote bag? (Aren’t all kids clever? They’re certainly manipulative!) We’ll give you the answer to this, as if you didn’t know: it happens 100% of the time. ‘Course it does.

The Aural Comprehension Test:

This is a listening exercise: try it next time you have to phone Apple Support, Amazon, or any technical department of a worldwide corporation. You’ve dialled up, tapped through the various buttons until you finally….FINALLY… get through to an actual human being to talk to. But hang on… is it an actual human being, or is it in fact a robot? Because first there’s the staccato speech. ‘HELLO-MAD-AM. YOU-ARE-SPEAKING-TO- *Indecipherable – possibly a code number* TODAY. HOW-MAY-I-HELP-YOU?’ And then after the sort of autoscript-you’re-not-sure-you’re-listening-to-a-recording-or-not voice, it throws you by asking a question. Oh, it IS a human voice, you decide, but then you make some silly mistake, faff about saying, ‘Oooh, the serial number? Umm, silly me, I don’t seem to be able to find that…er… let me just get my reading glasses…’ and there isn’t the affirmation of a sympathetic, or even fed-up human reaction. So you try to make a little joke. ‘A-ha-ha’ you might say in a jaunty tone, ‘I know those glasses must be in my bag somewhere… I know I had them only yesterday… trouble is, I need them to find them, a-ha-ha-ha… Oh! They’re on my head!’ Big fat nothing on the other end. Come on, even SIRI has the temerity to give you a bit of backchat. But no, these beings are polite, they deal with your problem, they are uncannily effective in sorting out your problem, they don’t tend to transfer you or put you on hold. And at the end of your call, no matter how much trouble you’ve been, in the same staccato tone, they tell you they really enjoyed speaking with you today and wish you a good day. And that’s surely the big giveaway isn’t it – for no mere mortal customer service operator is ever that happy to have dealt with you, surely?

Computer_says_no 2

O.M.D (Oh.My.Dog!)

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By the time I’d had my eldest two settled into secondary school and my youngest started in Year Four, mums at school would ask me whether I ‘was finished, or ready for number four’. It was a question I’d been pondering myself. I was 42 then and still couldn’t say for definite that I didn’t want another baby, but I felt time might be running out. Continue reading “O.M.D (Oh.My.Dog!)”

My Secret Man

I’ve been happily married to Stressed Husband for 23 years now. Well, I say happily but there’s something I should tell him. I have a secret and…it’s another man.

NTM secret man edit

It all started about two years ago when I first noticed him standing there on my local high street. In fact, I literally bumped into him while I was rushing about getting the weekly shop and remember how my heart skipped a beat. I’d been looking for a guy like him for what seemed like forever.

I marvelled at how intelligent he seemed– so powerful. There were days when I’d see him surrounded by a group of people, each one enthralled with what he had to tell them… he had women hanging on to his every word. I didn’t approach him at first – it seemed wrong. I thought he was too good to be true.

Until one day, I woke up and knew I had to talk to him. He was all I’d been thinking about and I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything until I’d seen him…spoken to him. But what if he wasn’t what he seemed? What if he just looked the part but couldn’t actually do the deed I wanted him to…needed him to so badly?

I knew Stressed Husband was beginning to wonder why I didn’t text or call him during the day like I used to. But I just couldn’t.

And so the secret meetings started. Every time I left him I felt elated – I couldn’t wait to call my friends immediately and excitedly tweeted about my happiness and then… my daughters found out. I decided to sit them down and explain everything, very calmly. They understood and promised not to tell their dad… I felt more guilty than ever.

Seeing this other man has been costing me a fortune and I’ve been hiding the joint bank account statements, worrying that if Stressed Husband notices the regular cash withdrawals he’ll start to question me.

What’s worse is that I’ve found out my daughters are talking about this man and have even said they want to visit him too! I’m going to have find another way…

So now I’ve invested in some hard-core screen protectors for me and my girls. The fabulous Cell Phone Guru on the high street won’t be seeing me again and Stressed Husband need never know our Special Relationship. But ladies, if you’ve got any cracks that need attention…he’s amazing and worth every penny!

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SATs SPAT!

Q: What is wrong with this picture? (Apart from the crimes of fashion)

Lisa_and_Maz_childhood

A: It’s a class full of 10 and 11-year-olds smiling in a school photo 
(OK, maybe not all of them, but you get the idea). It’s a rare sight these days, but back in the late Seventies we’d never heard the term ‘SATs’ and if we were tested on anything, we were mostly unaware and were probably clueless as to the outcome.

What does SATs mean to you? Stopped At The Supermarket? Sorry About The Stain? Yeah, we’re not sure either, but what we do know is, we enjoyed a childhood free from academic pressure and we didn’t come out of it too badly. One of us the child of European immigrants, the other the daughter of ‘cockney sparrahs’ who were raised in Notting Hill in the days when the area was known for its slums and violent gangs (waaaaay before it became the bankers’ paradise it is today).

Grammar wasn’t generally taught other than ‘a noun is a naming word; a verb is a doing word’ (or ‘werb‘ as one of our teachers, a mature Sri-Lankan lady, pronounced it – that’s why we remember it so well!). We couldn’t have told you what a ‘fronted adverbial’ is (still can’t), but we knew the correct way to use an apostrophe (most of the time…no prizes for spotting a mistake on these pages, bright sparks.)

Fast-forward to the 21st Century and we’re all stressed out about levels or grades or whatever fancy new dreamed-up word they’re calling it these days. Actually, in our house, it isn’t SATs that’s causing the most angst – we just tell Son B to do his best and try not to worry about it. It’s more Son A’s secondary school homework assessments that are the bane of our lives – so structured and so frequent and so connected to streaming, they’re a constant source of meltdowns. And what for? Last weekend The Times included a feature called How To Unlock Your Child’s Genius Without Being A Pushy Parent, in which it referenced ‘futurist and author’ Peter Ellyard: according to him, it’s estimated that 50 years ago children left school knowing about 75 per cent of the information they would use in their working lives; today it’s about 2 per cent. So what exactly is all this testing about?

Surely it’s not good for them. And it’s not just our children who suffer…

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Spare a thought for their teachers, who are in turn trying to keep up with constant educational changes and feeling under pressure to meet their own targets, as well as staying up well past their bedtime to mark papers. On top of this, many are being encouraged to act as social workers at school, while enduring verbal – sometimes physical – abuse in the classroom. Remember, these people are our friends, neighbours, sisters, brothers. They’re all someone’s daughter, they’re all someone’s son.

Oops, sorry, seem to have effortlessly segued into John Farnham’s Eighties hit The Voice there. Perhaps we should leave the last words to him. (It’s our guess he knew what was coming in our education system – the clues are there. Hit it John…)

John Farnham

We have the chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
… before we get much older

We’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son
How long can we look at each other

Down the barrel of a gun?

You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make the noise and make it clear, oh, woah
We’re not gonna sit in silence
We’re not gonna live with fear, oh, woah

This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing we can make it better

Ooh, we’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son

Don’t believe us? Check out the video – we reckon these parents are arguing over how to tackle their kid’s homework (“I don’t UNDERSTAND it,” the woman is clearly yelling, while her husband rants, “And what makes you think I do?!” It turns nasty, so the child is swiftly removed (by Social Services?) and the line-up that later appears in the background – well, these are the school dinner ladies, admin staff and the caretaker, surely?

 

Party Pooped!

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It starts just after Christmas in my house: no sooner have the baubles been packed away and the last of the crackers pulled, Son B’s little voice informs me, “It’s my birthday soon – let’s make a list.” And for the next four months (yes, his birthday’s in May, for gawd’s sake!) there will be a running commentary on what he might like (the list changes every week), what we should do and who to invite. I’m left scratching my head, trying to explain patiently how it’s not going to be possible to buy a 3D printer, or create an LED-spattered roof terrace accessed from his bedroom, or dig a trench in our patch of a garden so we can have a sort of Ninja Warrior meets The Cube competition, “cos that’d just be so cool!”.

Pah! I know I shouldn’t say it, but my heart sinks every time, and it isn’t just because birthdays are a blinding reminder that my ‘baby’ is growing up faster than Jack’s beanstalk. Part of me just hankers for the old days when a bit of jelly and ice-cream would suffice. Maybe it’s a throwback to my Seventies childhood, but we just didn’t do big bashes back then – and the generation before us was even more rudimentary when it came to parties. My poor sister spent her 10th birthday blowing out the candles of a hastily made cake, while our mother was upstairs, giving birth to me (sorry sis!).

Maybe I’m just scarred from Parties Of The Past. There was karate party for Son B’s 6th (it’s always Son B; Son A’s never been fussed about celebrations). The company had come highly recommended, but for some reason sent a hapless 16-year-old along on the day to host a party of 20 kids on a sugar rush in a sports hall. Poor blighter, I’ve no doubt he had a black belt in karate but no one had prepared him for the boredom thresholds of children, so after a few ‘Hi-yaaahs’ and high kicks he soon ran out of things to entertain them. I panicked when he enquired with a haunted look in his eyes: “I’m only booked til 3, right?” when actually he had another hour-and-a-half to go! We ended up bailing him out with musical chairs and a very odd version of pass the parcel. “Never again!” we sighed afterwards.

The following year we smugly went for the tried-and-tested (but hugely expensive) gym party. We gave a sharp intake of breath, but reasoned it would be worth it not to have to entertain the kids ourselves. What could possibly go wrong? This time the party fell apart before it even started. Just as we’re meeting and greeting and scattering balloons, an unknown mum comes over with a lad (who’d basically invited himself), slaps a tenner in my hand in lieu of a card/gift, then starts – very audibly – to lay into another mum, snarling and issuing threats because her kid had offended her boy in the playground the day before! She stormed out, leaving us with a sobbing seven-year-old and his equally shaky parent. At least her boy had the decency to look embarrassed. The party was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

So, call me old-fashioned, but this year I’m not getting sucked in. A nice cake (must remember to order…) a few carefully chosen presents (quick look on Amazon…) and a friend round for the afternoon. Anyway, I’ve already warned Son B we’re going to have to play it low-key this birthday if we’re ever to afford to have the Space Station party with the 1:2:1 with Tim Peake next year…

While we’re talking feeling pooped about parties, we think this little comedy sketch sums the whole kids’ party thing perfectly. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

We love these funny mums and you can find out more about their hilarious goings on here on Facebook 

We’d love to hear about your most stressful, funny or nightmare kid’s party, so that we don’t feel all alone so please, do feel free leave us a comment. Thank you! x