Sunday, 24 January 2010



X is insisting on trying to dress herself these days, which makes for some interesting Houdini moments. But it's not just clothes that seem to get a bit twisted around and back to front with me and X. 

Take the naughty step: how come it's me that's ended up on it? Surely that's not the right way around? I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but she was right- I had been doing what I told her not to. 

To be fair I'd already been wondering whether the step was quite the deterrent I'd hoped when she started asking to go on it. Isn't that a bit Upsy Daisy? The step was a surprisingly pleasant place- looking at the flowers in the glass on the front door, the sun on the floorboards and a warm cuddle afterwards, but I'm not sure where it's left me in the long term discipline stakes. I'm pretty sure that the telly nanny would have a few stern words with me. The bullying at work seems to have beaten me down somewhat. I've the backbone of a worm these days, it seems. 

When I get down about discipline my Ma sympathises. She says: 'When you lot were little I remember days that seemed to be  nothing but 'no's". Mmmm- I have lots of those- but sadly it's not me saying the 'no's'.
As in, me: "put your shoes on"
X: "No."

And it's not just t- shirts that end up back to front.  X is only just mastering basic vocabulary but she's already a master at turning the argument.
"Please," she shouts, having been lectured on manners. 
"Please put your shoes on, " I repeat, duly chastised. 
"No, thank you," she says. 
"Don't say no to me," says I, quietly but firmly trying to ease myself into the authoritative top position.  
"Can I have some chocolate?"
"Well, don't you say no to me!"

So it's back on the naughty step for me. It's supposed to be a minute for every year of your life, isn't it? Have I got that bit right, at least?

Cripes, 50 minutes.......

Thursday, 21 January 2010


X is only three but if she complained about being bullied I think my first retort would be: "don’t be such a wimp”.

So it’s embarrassing to admit that I've been horribly bullied at work. I'd like to forget it. But I feel I’ve no choice but try talk to my former employers about what happened. It's not just the bullying, I just don't understand how this can be a fair business reorganisation.

I'm being asked to write a particularly aggressive little document called particulars. Which is basically: who did exactly what, when and where. Fair enough, they need to know (though it's not as if HR weren't involved) but, unlike some, it’s not in my nature to put the knife in.

Like domestic abuse, it's not so much about one killer incident but more the endless number of little indignities, rights removed and humiliating episodes. Much of it, like bruises under clothing, goes unnoticed. It takes another working mother to know exactly the stress caused by not knowing when you‘ll be able to get away every night, or not knowing until friday afternoon whether a weekend of work will be coming your way. 

There are many public incidents- the shouting, being called a liar, my role being diminished to that of the lowliest work placement junior. But the real humiliations were much quieter: not being able to speak in meetings that I had previously run, not being permitted to collaborate with people who’s respect I had enjoyed. It’s the embarrassment. In order not to drag others in to ones own problems I’d allow her to get her way. Was that weak?   She'd been hired in a role over me, so what could I do?

Interestingly one of the ways that this new creative, hired into a new role that was created over me when I was on adoption leave, used to cut me down was to talk to me as if I was a child. When I protested that she wasn’t allowing me to work on next years briefs, (I’m not as green as I’m cabbage- looking, I knew that meant that plans for me were limited) she snapped at me that I was ‘cheeky’ for questioning her decisions.

One of the hardest parts was seeing others treated in the same way. Watching my art director being totally disrespected when his work was so professional, yet not feeling able to stand up for him; a colleague, white-faced, having worked three weekends on the trot, being shouted at as if she was lazy or useless, when she was neither.

If this had been about bettering the work then I wouldn't be writing this. But it wasn't. I think it was about is was about bettering some new careers over other older ones. By some who should have known better.

When I was little my brother told me that there was a horrid, big boy who kept knocking him over in the playground. "Tell him not to, then tell the teacher," I remember telling him.

“Oh no, he said airily in a Just William sort of way, “me and my friends have got a much better way than that- we just lie down on the ground whenever he's around and then he can’t do nothing about it.”

Well, I lay down often and it didn't work for me. I stood up for myself often and that didn't work either. Any ideas on how to handle bullies at work? Let me know.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


X runs away a lot at the moment, she's all over the place and it makes me all over her. I'm probably a little over protective since the second most precious thing to me- my job- slipped though my fingers. But she's also a slippery customer.

She's given me several sick moments of jolting fear where I've run around Sainsbury's shouting like a nutter, and then, when I finally find her, everyone looking at me jibbering and slavering over her while she looks askance at me with adolescent rolling eyes.

I've been watching the Dog Whisperer for ideas. His dogs never run away. "Scht!" he says, quietly, from the corner of his mouth, and they look up in awe and trot quietly. "Bless you" said the bloke standing next to us by the veg, when I tried it out on X. Of course I couldn't stop to talk - X was off down Toiletries and Cleaning.

I've taught X to remember her name in case we get seriously separated. But she has four of them and sometimes forgets. That'll teach me to be so verbose. And sometimes she adds a few like Dolly and Upsy Daisy.

It made me think that maybe children's shoes could have a little under sole inside where paranoid mummies can write contact details.Or even that I could get a few cool labels printed to hang on zippers or go inside jackets. Of course another option would be electronic tags or maybe leg irons. Or some painless branding, as on New Zealand lamb. Or tattoos: how about me getting X a tattoo heart  on her chest with my name and address scrolled across it? Maybe Amy Winehouse could get one too- for when she's too out of it to know where she lives. At least it'll ensure that X  is a bit more creative in her rebellion style when she's gets to be a teenager - she'd never want a tattoo if I thought it was cool now.  Hmm- maybe I should develop these surefire business ideas into one of those video presentations for Dragons Den. Come here darling- you won't feel this a bit......