Thursday, 27 October 2011

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Something of hers has fallen off. I couldn't be more devastated if it was a limb. She is thrilled, though worried that the tooth fairy might get the wrong room as she sleeps with me. I was too devastated to use it to my advantage and persuade her into her own bed. 

Does everyone feel like this about the first tooth? I had no idea.  It is just so sudden, even though the dentist had murmured something about wobbles happening soon I was in no way prepared. Is it because I had nice baby teeth and then great tombstones came through that have made every smile a misery ever since? It feels as if she has suddenly grown grey hair. She is mortal, and ageing. I am shouting at the waves but the sea is still coming in, just like that old king.


 I hate half-terms when I work.I drag my feet to work like a reluctant schoolboy.

X , however, is such a girl.This morning she told me to throw away all her trousers as they don't look pretty. I was trying to chivvy her into trousers as they are quicker to put on in the morning than tights. 

Getting to the minder was also hampered by the fact that we have to sort the baby too. Sadly not a real baby, despite X's constant pleadings for me to get one, but baby Molly who looks like an extra from a horror movie with her scratched out eyes. She also has an electronic cry which makes my ears bleed and my teeth hurt. As it was raining it took some time to get Molly into the coat in such a way that X could also scooter. 

I am trying not to mind the fact that when X plays with Molly she isn't playing mummies and daddies she is playing childminders. Molly's mummy is a lady called Edie who is away working. She even has to spend the night away which means we get to mind Molly at nights sometimes. 

We were late for the childminder. X was in a hurry to get there to show her Molly as she wants some tips on how to look after her.   X was happy there but I went to work in a  bit of a dismal mood over half terms where I have to work.   On the plus side I thank the heavens that X has a minder who she loves and seems to have a benign, happy interest in all children. There are always smiles there and I am glad X is in a hurry to get there and hasn't so far noticed that most of the other children are having holidays with their parents.

And then, during the morning, I remembered how much I love working in a studio with pleasant, creative people all around me- and how lucky I am to be able to work among young creatives at my age.  I went to a meeting came out and was sent this picture of the view from my window when I was gone by one of those lovely young creatives.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

It's as embarrassing as your mum getting a tattoo.

Shock horror: Barbie has got a tattoo. If this is an effort to look like a Bratz doll then Galt (or whichever plastic conglomerate makes either one or both of the dolls) are failing miserably.
Barbie with a tattoo looks like Essex mum who got carried away on a spa day. When I worked on Pantene we had a word for the Pantene target market: perfectionistas. Barbie is the archetypal perfectionista. Bratz are just dirty girls.Wouldn't it be great to make up some really new dolls: Cheryl, the judge, Vicky the aids worker, Mandy, prime minister, Wendy the astronaut, or something really aspirational: Gilly with a job and a happy marriage.

I would hate X to have a tattoo, they are such a cliche. I would especially hate her to be Babie's age and have pink flowers and hearts inscribed. It would be as rediculous as me getting one. Luckily that won't happen for a million reasons including the fact that my skin is too wobbly - the needle would skate all over the shop.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


We went to see Peppa Pig today with D and T. It was great fun and X enjoyed it, singing along and seeing her TV friends in real puppet life.  On the way out there were glistening bouquets of Peppa balloons on sale for a disgraceful price. I yanked X through the vale of temptation but D was much nicer and bought both children one. We tied the cords to the children's wrists  and they watched the balloons with eyes as round and glistening as the balloons. The disembarkment from the car at D & T's home had its normal complications of coats and lunchboxes. During the confusion the two mummies looked up to see that one of the balloons had escaped. It was already hundreds of feet in the air, off to meet its celluloid maker, glinting in the late afternoon sun in the middle of a big blue sky. We said nothing to the children and it wasn't until X and I got home, some hours later, that it's absence was missed. X was strangely sanguine about it, I think she was tired, it had been a big, fun day. By that time I had bumped the car into a post and inflicted damage which, though not act of God, is still not worth my while claiming for on insurance. This is the first bump on my car and means that I will probably now never sell it as it will be yet another depreciation and so will have it for the rest of my life: therefore a turning point. Not necessarily a bad one, just a deciding moment.  We got into bed and I discovered that, through some incomprehensible act of i-photo I have lost the pictures of X's first day at school. I am determined to be as sanguine as X was about the balloon: the first day was nothing special in itself, it is only because I am sentimental about pictures of my first day at school. In reality X looked better in the pictures of the first day at nursery, where she was in a sweet little uniform. Why spoil a lovely day, when the sun shone on golden autumn leaves, and we were with great company and Peppa found the treasure, just because a couple of bits of celluloid were lost?

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

                                                                          Yes, you.
Well, why not you? 
  I thought the fact I wasn’t married and over forty would rule me out.
It was only a chance meeting with someone that meant I learned I might have a chance.
It was just a random lucky meeting.  Serendipity.
Sometimes I look back and break out in a cold sweat thinking how it so easily might not have happened. 
If this message comes your way maybe it is a random lucky sign that your life could be transformed for          the better as mine was - by adoption.
Why not find out more now?

Monday, 17 October 2011


Tonight I went out in the evening for the second time since I adopted. It felt very strange going out in the dark. I went to a parent teacher evening. I felt so grown up. I remember my mother going out to meetings like this when I was a child. Everyone looked half my age, even the headmistress, and they all were so confident with their opinions and feisty attitudes. 

The main topic, other than fundraising, was an outbreak of nits. I quailed as they described how it is totally impossible to get rid of them without comb: X's hair is impossible to comb, either the hair, the comb or our tempers or willpower breaks. The hair is as fragile as our tempers, yet is also curly as African hair. I have literally never managed to get any comb the length of the hair and we survive by teasing, fluffing, smoothing and rumpling. A three-quarter of an hour conversation has made me an expert on nits. One mother actually put them in a bug-box (what's that?) and ran an experiment to see how long they lasted alive on the hair. There was graphic description of the need to actually break the eggs open. There was invective against hoodies where they might linger in the fleece. A disagreement over whether bedding needed to be boiled following an outbreak ended in polite disagreement. One mother clearly harboured resentments against: "some mothers, who just don't care, and don't do anything about it at all." This made a mexican wave of nodding go around the room.  "It's always the same children who bring them back, We All Know Who They Are..." said another mother, provoking another Mexican nod-wave.

Discussion was held about how the shampoo and combs might be bought in bulk and it was suggested that: 'maybe the free school lunch-lot' might get the combs free. Much emphasis was made on the fact that it wasn't the free-lunch mums who were the wicked slatterns who didn't comb the hair, it was others- We All Know Who They Are. It was agreed that a relentless programme of texts, letters and leaflets would be drawn up.  Apparently there was a time when school nurses would send home children if they had nits. The nit -warrior mums were keen to hot-foot it into the school to inspect all the children ( no doubt we great attention on some- We All Know Who They Are) and send home notes if they found any. The headmistress looked a bit worried: "you would have to ask for permission to inspect the children," she muttered," one has to be so careful...." The nit-warrior mums also had no truck with the idea of organic treatments and considered only the strongest chemical treatments did anything. A sheep-dip on the way into school was mentioned, I think it was a joke...One teacher admitted she had nits at the moment and the ladies on either side of her looked discomfitted. 

I went home scratching my head and wondering about setting up a little nit business. Apparently the combs are a tenner and the shampoo twenty quid. Someone is making a pile on the little blighters.  Another thing to start saving for. The only down side of the business plan is that, apparently nits do no harm whatsoever and only even itch if you are allergic to the eggs, so all in all they sound about as harmful as the bugs that supposedly live on our eyelashes and eyebrows. But I'm quaking for the future. I don't want to be considered one of "those mums." I think the only plan for X will be to shave the lot off as if she is the heroine of a war story or Audrey Hepburn in 'The Nun's Story' but it will be a shame, her hair has never been cut and it is still is only a couple of inches. There was one lady there with a muslim headdress on. I nearly plucked up the courage to ask her if that was a preventative device. Maybe that would be the answer for X. Other than that she will just have to be bald, there is no way I can bear the shame of being "one of those mothers, We All know Who They Are."


Sunday, 16 October 2011


She has two children, a husband in IT who can afford a nice little artisans house like mine about fifteen years before me. She worked for a year or two after university but since then has married and looked after the house and the two children. Her little daughter is polite, confident, full of fun and phonics - she is already ahead of children a year or more older. In fact, thought she is only allowed to be in nursery due to her age she does phonics with year one because she can help bring them on! Mummy also has enough time and energy to make homemade party bags such as the one above.  She has just been interviewed for an open university PGCE to become a maths teacher and they are crying out for them in our area so it looks as if she can build a career around her children's term times. What clever choices she has made with her life. 

I have some friends who believe that the economy will crash irrevocably who are moving to a farm in Devon. It is a choice that scares the wife more than the husband. She is not sure she wants to leave her house in a safe contained enclosure where her children play with neighbours to go to a place two miles from another house. She is supporting her husband's choice and putting her faith in him and God. He is fifty and doesn't know much about farming, except for a year in farming one field which didn't produce much.  It's a brave choice. 

Another friend made a great choice to take time out from her NY advertising career to give her children some mummy time all summer for her children. 

Life feels as if it is spinning dizzying fast to me, the weekends barely long enough to sort the washing let alone sort the future. I hope my choices in middle age finally become more sensible for the sake of X.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


The story so far: 
Zachary is five. He has just married his aunt. The cat jumped on the roof and mum rescued him. Dad was found with his head in the oven but has been dragged out and has survived to make the breakfast. Cynstia, the baby, has been christened and everyone had a party outside the house...

I'm told this is all private and shouldn't be discussed, and frankly it is such a dysfunctional set up that maybe it is best brushed under my mother's perfect needlepoint rugs, which grace the kitchen.

It was the best bit of my day.


Wednesday, 12 October 2011


When I wake up in the middle of the night and my head is full of fear shadows, I feel her fat foot jammed up against me and it's so solid, so viscerally there that somehow it makes me think everything just has to be alright, and if it isn't then there is nothing I can do anyway. I stroke her hair as if it is her that woke up and needed soothing and then I go back to sleep.

My mother said that she survived  looking after three children while her husband was away at sea by saying most days to herself at any time after midday: "I'm just tired, everything will seem better in the morning."

I find that playing with a dolls house helps a bit. The world reduced to shoebox size is easier to cope with. Sometimes I let her play too.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A lesson in the internet
By Hyper Islands youngest tutor, aged 4. Am a bit confused by the print outs of dresses app, which clearly frustrates the born digital.   But loving the bubblemixure platform. 


My dear, dear friend Tracy has started to blog and I didn't even notice!  Actually, she isn't blogging she is  blethering. Blethering, as anyone from north of Watford knows, is a little like mithering or blathering but, being from USA, it's a term Tracy has learned from a Scott called Scott, who is Tracy's husband.  I don't think I have ever heard Tracy blether in her life. She's a NY 'career woman' (though also with two children and a husband) who runs massive accounts like Kraft for digital ad agencies. Or at least she did before she went on a summer career break. Now, much as Tracy may love her husbands Scottish way of talking, I love Tracy's American style. I love the way she casually tosses out the term 'career break', as if it is so easy to wander away all summer from a high-powered and high paid job in NY to look after her two children, when we all know there are implications and choices are not easy.  I take my hat off to her for it. It is so much easier to get "career breaks" the way that I do -  when they're imposed upon me. Next time I'm casting about for work I will tell everyone I'm on a "career break", including myself. So much more positive. One day my career will break so many times the wheels will fall off it and then I shall say I am retiring.

Anyway, I recommend Tracy's insightful latest piece, who cares and I do care about her for a million reasons to do with how incredibly dyamically she manages to have that elan and savoire faire in life that probably really does come from a who cares attitude in all kinds of subconscious ways. She also really, really cared for me. Without her support when I was facing not ever, ever being a mummy I doubt I would be one now. Tracy scraped me up off a cosmetics shoot in Malaga in a jibbering mess when even enough valium to slew a horse could not get me to relax ( I kid you not, the doctor in the hotel said that he had already given me enough to slew a horse ), and she flew me back to the UK and got me into the Florence Nightingale hospital when I thought I would die from grief of childlessness. Drama queen, or what? This left Tracy, inconveniently, to pick up the pieces of the job we were doing together. In my defence, I would like to say that the pre-production is the biggest part of any shoot and caring too much not too little was probably my problem, even with work. Sometimes it is impossible not to care but take it from me, displacement activity only works when it is not used as slow suicide by exhaustion. I reckon Who cares? is often a great motto for a working woman as well as one on a career break.

PS: Just realised this post will  probably mean I will never get a job on a shoot ever again. Oh, well. Who cares?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


A friend of mine called me to tell me about a site full of great food for children. 
It is a paradise of recipes from Italy, the place where all children ( even the nasty smelly rude ones) are considered little putti.

I particularly liked the choccy salami- X's fave foods being both chocolate and salami. And the write up made me smile: 

 salame al cioccolato

This fun no-cook chocolate recipe comes from a headmistress in Naples. She told me it’s a firm favourite at birthday parties. She should know. She has a family herself and has been a teacher for over 3 decades. I did a bit of a double take though when she sent me the recipe and I saw limoncello (lemon liqueur) on the list of ingredients. I called her up to check.  “Are you sure about limoncello for kids?” I asked
.“You don’t have to use it” she answered, “rum works just as well”. 


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Gone to real life.

About six months ago X's best friends mum called me and told me that she thought I ought to know that my daughter was telling everyone  at school that the reason she hasn't got a daddy is because the police took him away. 

During the adoption process we are strongly advised to tell the truth and be open about biological parents so what I had told X was simply that we didn't know who her father is. That is the truth. But of course it's impossible to let a truth like that rest. So in her little head she rationalised what this meant to the fact that he had been taken away. 

X and I had a little chat about the fact that her daddy had not been taken to prison, in fact I was pretty sure he must be a very good person, as he had such a good little daughter. A little later she told me that she thought he had gone to another country, which I thought was a much better explanation. 

While riding a horse in the playground the other day she turned to the little girl next to her, who she didn't know, and said: 
"I've got no Daddy."
The other little girl looks puzzled, "did he leave?" 
"No, he's dead, " says X. 

A bit later I asked her if she knew what being dead meant. "Yes, Lola told me,"she said.  According to Lola from the childminders, aged five, it means:" gone to real life."