Monday, 28 March 2011

 said to me hundreds of times a day. They are all into friends at this point, I'm told. Who's friends with who is the constant story from school. Who let who play with who, who has the power to sway others to their will. She practices on me: "I won't be your friend if you make me clear up, I won't be your friend if you don't let me wear that... "

"Fine," I say, "I'm not your friend, I'm your mummy."

This felt a bit strange at first but now I can say it with gusto. Since I will be about eighty when she is a teenager there isn't much chance I'll ever be one of those mothers who says they are more like friends with their daughters. More like grandmas in my case.

It threw her a bit to begin with, me not wanting to be her friend. They all want to have as many friends as possible at school, I suppose- it's just like facebook and linked in. They haven't evolved to the point where one actually considers it a healthy thing to prune the list being entered into a new address book.

Since then she's diverted to new tactics:

"I won't let you come to my party if you won't let me stay in the bath longer."
That one always makes me laugh, and she gets cross and asks me why I'm laughing.
"Who is going to organise your party if I'm not allowed?" Pause while she considers this.
" You won't be my mummy friend if you don't let me stay in the bath longer."
I haven't thought up my reply to this one yet, and life's too short not to have five more minutes in
the bath. And mummy- friend seems quite a nice balance somehow.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The princess and the pea sized memory.

"Oh the tyranny of pink," sighed a mother I know.
'I steer her towards other colours and she just runs to pink," said another.
"She was doing so well in blues and blacks, and then her friends got to her," said another.
"I'm just trying to enjoy the time when I can insist on grey and red," said another, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

"Ummmm, but hang on a minute," I said, to this last mother, who's been a friend for some years, "what happened when you met your husband only, ummm...three or four years ago? Don't I remember your new fiance, after quite a few months in your tasteful - er, what shall call it? boudoir of powder tones, with it's sweet fairy flower lights in an array of - what shall we call them- pastel colours and with your, Morroccan tea rose silk bedspread and your, um, cherry muslin window drapes? Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, after quite a few months in your boudoir didn't he finally pluck up the courage in a heart - to -heart (after he had pledged his entire life and wordly goods to you) and admitted that he wasn't sure he could stand sleeping in a um, Moroccan tea rose shaded bedroom for the rest of his life? And you, I seem to remember, looked on his request quite cooly, almost coldly, some might say, and finally, after talking it through, while drinking rose with girl friends, conceded that possibly the fairy lights might be removed to the sitting room for christmas and that maybe the wall that was mainly wardrobes could have a little taupe?

Best enjoy pink aged four, I reckon.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The tragedy of first position

Do you believe in omens?

I went to visit a school for her and on the way there someone I know and really like yelled out the window of her car and her children go to the school. Maybe that doesn’t count as I did sort of know that her children went there. But she stopped and we chatted and I remembered why I think she is a great, upbeat person and then she told me that she went there when she was young and gave me some ides about some of my transport difficulties. Probably not really an omen, huh?

And then there was a calendar on the wall of dogs, which was by the photographer I am working with at the moment. Probably not a lot to hang the whole idea on, eh? But I love the shots…

And if I think about it in terms of Ofsted reports and whether I want her to learn through play or actually learn to read and write, and whether it’s me that cares about uniforms or her, and whether it is good to be near home or near my work when I have no idea where I will be working, and if I can actually cope with doing a packed lunch every day, let alone with the fact that I really want to live somewhere else entirely….well, I just go mad. So I might as well make a mad omen sort of decision, no?

Oh, and when I walked around the school and saw the artwork on the walls I nearly burst into tears. I’ve no idea why. Does that count?

Does it even matter if she learns to play not to count?

Fonic Fun ( better a witty fool than a foolish wit )

Tricky thing the English language, practically every word one picks is an exception to the rules of phonics, not to mention the rules of grammar, spelling and a load of other rules that take up rather too much childhood time.

On the way back from seeing a friend in Holland Park we play spelling the names of her friends.

‘Me and my best friend, it’s OK.’ She says, delightedly.

Ok, to get the (what I choose to call a ) joke you need to know that her best friend’s name begins with K and hers O. Ok, even after that it’s not exactly a belter but it’s her first wordplay joke, as far as I'm aware, though maybe she puns and riddling with the teachers and minders all day every weekday.

We begin to sound out the name of another friend.

“A, m, e, l, i, a….”I enunciate in my best consonants and vowels (might as well do a bit of elocution at the same time).

“Eh?” she says.

“Yes: A, m.....- e! Clever girl!”


‘No, e!’

“E?” I catch her eye in the mirror, she’s looking very pleased with herself.

Oh, eh! I geddit…another little wordplay. At this rate I’ll have to get her a Shakespeare red nose

t-shirt for Comic Relief.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


I woke up this morning with X pulling my pillow (which she calls a cushion) away from me. "Hey, you can't do that, that's selfish," I tell her. Over making toast we chat about selfish and what it means. This is the luxury of saturday time, chatting over the meaning of being selfish.

Then we go to dancing and do shopping and car washing and present buying and library going, and book buying where we use our token from World Book Day. This event seems to have been an amazing success. The bookshop is crammed with parents such as I, adding to the token in the hope we're adding to our little ones desire to read rather than bang on a dvd.

Later, banging on the telly, I discover that the list of 12 of the best for World Book Day includes a book by David Abbott, ad luminary, mentor to my generation, now about 80. What hope this gives. Maybe, though I've blown it writing ads as beautifully as he did, there's still that slight, small (very small) hope and possibility that I still might one day write a book as well- crafted as his copy. I write a mental note to myself to look at his book: but I don't read books any more, that's the problem. I'd love to but I've no time. I'm too busy dealing with my digital multi-platform life: checking my email. twitter, facebook, you tube, so I don't lose out in the marketplace of now. Of course David Abbot is rich and has has a very profitable company. He's uniquely able to leave the workplace ( heard that word on Woman's Hour this afternoon and it irritated me as usual) and so now he can enjoy his life in the homeplace.

Later my old friend Will calls from the Isle of Man and we chatted for a bit too long.

"That was very shellfish of you," says X.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

It's world book day on thursday.

I know this because the school has sent me two texts this week helpfully informing me that on thursday my child must take her favourite book to school and also come dressed as a character from it.

I've come to dread texts from the school. They're full of cakes that need to be baked, special clothing that needs to be found, or inform me of yet another day off (sorry, inset day) for the teachers, which means yet more foraging around for someone who is not her mummy to look after her.

Favourite book? Hmmmm. For years I longed for time spent with two heads in one book. I’ve loved books all my life and I always thought that passing on the joy of reading would be a pure, simple pleasure. But, come the pressure of an evening when we haven't got into the house until seven, and then her into bed until eight and I've more work to do.... well, the stories I like the best then are the short ones. At the moment this is Cinderella.

We read it and then she begs for telly. Yes, wrong. I know. Yes, it shouldn't even be in the bedroom (strange that it is, given that for years I didn't even have a telly in the house) and she shouldn't be in there either, but there it is. She thinks that telly comes after books now, not dreamtime. In fact I’m surprised she didn’t ask to go to school dressed as her favourite character from Masterchef. This is not the childhood I wanted for her, it's certainly not the childhood I had. On the plus side last night she learned how to make a catwalk ballet dress with a big flower out of a highstreet number. I was thrilled (though maybe this is also misguided, given our clothing budget) that she preferred the designer one to the highstreet number. Anyway, at least she doesn't really need a fairy godmother, she's got Gok.

I did mess about with the idea of her going to the book day dressed as the monkey from that Julia Donaldson story we like but monkeys are a bit complicated whereas, we’ve got a whole dressing up box full of Cinderella balldresses. It’s all a bit of a cliché but X got quite into it, working out roles for all her little friends- who could be her ugly sisters and the prince etcetera.

Today, when she came home from school she was still full of the book event. Apparently about half the girls are planning on being Cinderellas and the others are coming as ballerinas –guess they’ll all be Angelina’s, then.. ..

X told me that the teacher was wondering if anyone wanted to be a witch. Good for the teacher, but I can’t think of a good witch story that X and I read and anyway, X is set on the Cinders route and is packing her princess shoes into her school bag right now. She’s nagged a friend who has a wand into being her fairy godmother, but not surprisingly she hasn’t got any ugly sisters and her prince wants to be a cowboy. Get used to it, that's real life, princess, I said.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


I know this make me sound older and even more hidebound than a character in PG Wodehouse but it was with great chagrin that I discovered today that my old school, or should I say, almer mater, has dropped the school motto: vincit veritas. I've found this motto a great deal of help to me over the years and in bad times ( when someone says my bottom looks big, or that they don't love me or want to fire me....) -well,' truth conquers' I say to myself shortly before the 'butch up and get on with it' internal speech. It's always worked well for me. Which is possibly why it was on my mind tonight when X tore the loo paper off the roll into a massive heap on the loo floor and then was adamant that Mr Nobody was responsible. It took three quarters of an hour of alternate naughty step, screaming and discussion to align on the fact that Mr Nobody was in fact little Miss X.

I was surprised I had the energy, to be honest (- well, I have to be honest now, don't I?) after the exhausting last week or so and there was a moment half way through when I thought that it was a bit silly getting so upset about the fact that Mr Nobody doesn't exist (and wasn't it me who suggested he existed in the first place?) But then she flung her arms around me and tried to muddy the water by saying she loved me and I had this vision of her in late teens doing exactly that to me to distract me from some much more serious issue and I just wanted to establish that truth is an important concept. Thank goodness she said 'me' to the twenty milllionth time I asked who did it.

She looked a bit surprised that one little 'me' was the magic answer that made mummy ok again. We went upstairs to have a bath together, peace restored.
" Mummy, you legs look really fat don't they," she said, as I climbed in the water.
Porky pies? No, sadly- it really is truly, honestly- porky thighs.

Vincit veritas..........