A budding career in puberty

spring-budsMy daughter has buds…not the obvious, ‘buds’, mates at school type buds, though, thankfully, she does have those. But more, spring like ‘bud’s, the type that are just about to blossom and bloom, into, well, yes: breasts.

I have to admit – I am not ready for buds, nor bras or B.O. and don’t even mention boys. But despite my desire to file her in the freezer immediately and keep this ‘on-hold’ for a few years whilst I get my bonce round it… puberty appears to be one road we are racing headlong towards without my authority or consent.

BUT, it appears I must wholeheartedly embrace this new found chapter of motherhood, not deny the existence of boobs and periods like some of our fore-mothers of the 1970’s.  Many of whom were happily indifferent to those one or two poor big-breasted girls who were left to swing and hopefully, presumably, work it out for themselves?

Into, obviously, the lingerie department at M&S we go. I mean, where else? BHS has long gone, Woolies a distant memory – and H&M or Primarni’s is surely not the place to take your beloved baby to begin her lingerie buying and puberty embarking career?

I try and appear, outwardly, nonchalant, while inwardly I am nervous and my heart is slowing shattering into a myriad of failed mother fragments. As we stroll around the bra section in M&S, it dawns on me that this is, without doubt, a milestone and I think that perhaps I am also a little bit excited about embarking on this together.

A large, soviet looking matron bustles up and ushers us into the official M&S: ‘bra fitting cubicle’. “I am professional bra measurer, Sveetie” she barks at us in a 1950’s Hungarian accent. “Remove your top sveetie”. My daughter looks to me for reassurance and I nod nervously.

32 Double A – the classic beginners statistic – Grade One, if you will. I am relieved – Miss Hungary circa 1956 brings us in a number of overly pinked and princessed starter bras from their ‘Angel’ range…my heart sinks. Simplicity, classical innocence, why the need to trash, brash and over-design everybloodything?

“You look beautivul Sveeetieee”, Olga drawls, did I mention she was Olga?

All, the bras in the Angel Range are made from a thick padded material that Olga had reassured us: “protects the growing nippvles”. However, the 32AA still seems vast on the buds and a great cavernous valley opens up between my daughter’s actual chest and the bra cup. I am secretly relieved, maybe we still have, what – another year at best – to enjoy the last sighs of childish innocence.

We thank Olga profusely, because despite her overtly Bolshevik manner and mighty, square, breast shelf – she was incredibly kind and gentle. As we leave, we hear her booming in the next cubicle: “I am Olga. I am professional bra measurer, Sveetie.”

Giggling we dash past the cubicles, ditch the unicorn covered pink starter bra and find a simple white one, which my daughter clutches over-enthusiastically. Her unimpeached joy at growing up and becoming: a Woman, as overtly abundant as my unfathomable fear of losing my innocent daughter to the devil clutches of puberty, pimples and parties.

But, I muse, I think I handled it well – puberty is safely stowed in the back drawer until the next unleashing of her wild humanity. I was calm, practical: a hands-on mother who smoothly ushered in and managed: The. Next. Stage.

This is what motherhood is about surely – utter panic, sleepless worry-filled nights, followed by facing: THE TRUTH and then, naturally, dealing with it in a modern, finger-on-the-pulse woman, kinda way…bring on the pimples and periods – but not the boys, not yet.

The Guilt of Motherhood

5b9b65e0-f880-4a85-9ff1-483130dc5446Some days, I find myself shouting: screaming and swearing like a fish-wife and, as I do so, in front of me stands a crying child. Quite obviously terrified, quaking, in case I actually reach out and hit someone. This is all due to: being late for school, again –  or someone hasn’t put their socks on, brushed their teeth, or is still: playing lego/drawing/reading/singing on the piano… while the minutes, just literally dissolve into a black hole and we are late, again.

I shout in vain for them to: ‘get a bloody move on’, jumpers unfound, toothpaste strewn down shirts, hair in a tangle and all, for, what?

Conformity.

As we drive silently in the car – my anger slowly draining from my body – the children: quiet, tense, the day just unfolding.  I resolve, silently to myself, to apologise and hug them as tightly as I possibly can before they go into school.

I do.

The rest of the day is spent in a grey fug as I feel drenched in dark mother-guilt about my: outrageous behaviour.

And I wonder: did my mother, ever, do this to me?

Yet sometimes, and I have to make this point to you, this is not a regular occurrence, but just, very occasionally, (honestly),  I am so lost in anger. I. just. Cannot. Stop. Even when: right in front of me, I can see the destruction I am manifesting in my children.

Motherhood has revealed the darkest side of me: the anger and venom that gently froths, darthvaderlike, just beneath my conscious…Waiting for some unknown trigger to set free the raging torrent  across the still-ish waters of family-life and establish literal tsunamis of pain, tears, anxiety and, quite probably: therapy-inducing permanent fuck-up fuelled futures…with an over-priced psychotherapist proferring instant coffee…

And, as the days from that jarred, hurtful, venom-filled moment pass – I carry the wake of churning guilt and bitter after-taste disgust within me. I cannot believe I can behave this way to those I love more than any other beings on the planet…

What is that?

I apologise, again, many days later and desperately seek forgiveness – it is waved off.

But that anger is really, truly, not fine, sometimes it is truly scary and I’m in it and I cannot find a way out.

 

Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S)

Hannah and Toots kissing up a tree: K.I. double S  I.N.G…

Just one kiss, this is where it begins. A single kiss has the potential to lead to a myriad of outcomes, one is parenthood…did you plan it like that?  I didn’t have the time or the notion to think about how I would: ‘parent’ – I was terrified…That one kiss led to twins.

I have no ambition to preach, or bore. Yet one thing is essential for us, our children, our friendships and our loves: simplicity.

Allowing our children to unwind and grow in a technology-free environment. Where nature and boredom can sit hand in hand, allowing a child to discover in their own time and in their own way, how to play.

Children in todays world are bombarded by an unprecedented amount of media and technology, the way they play freely has changed dramatically, the countries schooling system is under pressure and a competitive nature in parenting leaves many children finding it hard to cope.

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How can we help them to function in this high speed, stressful environment?

We have to simplify things, we need to de-clutter emotionally, physically. Give children, and yourself, the freedom to do nothing, to have nothing to do, to get dirty, to get outside, in the park, in the garden, kick a ball about, read a book or hang out with a mate.

Remove the technology and the thinking, the information and your anxiety to ‘succeed’ and allow them to just be. Allow them to get bored and to faff about with a pen and a paper, or a hammer and a nail, a hole and some mud.

Enjoy the chaos, the mess and the madness – this is life.

This scaling down, moving technology, pressure and allowing us all too just live gently and more organically – will provide your child with a safe space to be themselves – and it will teach them to find contentedness in simplicity.

Reaching for the Moon

“I cannot wait to start my periods mummy!” Declared my nine year old last month on our way home from her first visit to the Red Tent.

Can you imagine feeling like this as a young girl standing on the brink of puberty? Actually being excited and in awe of the future periods that will be yours? It seems preposterous – but is entirely possible.

It is within our reach to completely change the perception of our daughters, nieces and god-daughters bodies and their monthly cycles by simply preparing them. By introducing a positive and exciting spin on the incredible gifts we are given as women: our bodies, our monthly cycle and our divine legacy to create and give life!

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My daughter, who is nine, took part in a Girls Celebration Day, hosted and run by Lou Press of the Woolley Valley Red Tent.

The morning began with the five girls, aged 9-11, creating a mandala of seeds and rice, whilst Lou told them gentle stories about coming of age. The girls then calculated how many periods they would have over the course of their lifetimes!

Following this simple calculation:

Estimated age I stop my periods: 55, minus, estimated age I will begin my periods: 13 = 42.

Minus:    Estimated number of children I hope to have: 3 (this is what my daughter said!) x1.5yrs (for each child no period for 9 months pregnancy & 9 months breastfeeding) = 4.5yrs.

42 – 4.5 = 32.5 x by 12 and a quarter (average number of periods a year) = 459 periods in my lifetime.

Extraordinary! Don’t you think – did you ever realise how many you would have, are having? And how few that actually seems!

The afternoon was spent with the mothers and daughters, the girls were sewing small felt lockets as the mothers revealed stories about their first periods. We giggled and were in awe of everyone’s different experiences. We shared pictures of us at their age, with our silly hairstyles, dreams and 80’s sweatshirts. As the girls stuffed their lockets each mum wrote a special message on a note for the girls to hide inside the felt lockets and then they sewed ribbons to create a necklace. We each chose a few words to describe each other, from mother to daughter and from daughter to mother, we listened to each other and, finally, we presented our daughters with their hand-sewn locket.

The girls left joyously excited about their unfolding young womanhood.

The mothers left changed women. Having opened our hearts to our daughters and to ourselves and having begun to glimpse the changes ahead, of our daughters as they begin to walk their own paths and become wise, understanding females.

Our Future:

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If you are not fortunate enough to have a local Red Tent but you would like to give this gift of confidence, understanding and openness on the journey of beginning menstrual cycles then I heartily recommend Lucy H Pearce’s beautiful, gentle and informative book for girls: Reaching For The Moon.

Skateboarders…welcome?

Plans are being drawn up by BANES, for a new skateboard park to be built in Larkhall’s Alice Park.

The proposed new skateboard park, has had £100,000 earmarked for it, and is set to be built in 2015.

However, some Larkhall natives are opposed to such a scheme – why?

There are fears that such a venture will lure beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, noisy teenagers near to homes and into the park, giving them a legitimate reason to hang around and potentially cause problems.

Despite these fears a recent report from the Dorchester Police Force found that anti-social behaviour had been reduced by 45% following the development of a skatepark in the city. Inspector Les Fry, Dorchester Section Commander, said: “This reduction is a tremendous result for the town and shows the real value of having such a good facility for young people”.

Children and young adults, even actual adults, have a great love of cycling, flying around on skateboards and speeding about on scooters, but there are very few designated areas in the East of Bath where they can physically, safely enjoy these activities.

Wide, busy roads congested with traffic, narrow pavements, all of these things add to making any prospective two or four-wheeled fun dangerous and, ultimately, prohibitive.

A new area to practice these skills is hoped to promote health, exercise, being outdoors and away from screens for the boys, girls and young adults in this area. It aims to encourage youths to build up friendships through a common theme, gain physical strength and agility and ultimately allow them to have fun in a safe environment.

ben4Ben Nordberg, considered one the best skateboarders in the world, learnt to skate at Victoria Skateboard park in Bath and is now in LA, competing with the worlds elite in skateboarders, this is rare for an English Skateboarder – and it all began here, in Bath. Ben and his mum are supporters of the skatepark proposed in Alice Park – to find out why click here.

If you would like to support this venture or find out more about the proposed plans then come along this Sunday 23rd November to the New Oriel Hall, Larkhall from 3pm-6pm. The car park will be closed and skateboarders will be allowed to skate in this safe area. There will be cakes, tea and detailed information about the skatepark proposals.

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Bonfire Burning Bust Up Bonanza

IMG_1385Nothing better than introducing the children, young – as you can – (babies if possible, crying toddlers a bonus) to a roaring, burning, inferno, preferably with an effigy of some desperate, loose-limbed, male charlatan tossed on the top, steeped in petrol and engulfed in flames, to keep the children entertained, now that the death and murderous blood-fuelled gapes of Halloween have long been spent.

But this is Blighty: where flaming effigies and screaming children are nigh on expected this fifth night of November, notably with a side of sparklers, a large glass of red for the growns and a couple of bangers smothered in ketch-up for good measure, it’s our stock in trade – we didn’t court the yanks and their bewildering halloween japes to trade this in- did we?

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Enjoy doling your child/ren/husband & friends up in a classic English odds and ends wooly assortment of winter wear and, big wellies, natch, for all to stand in a cold field somewhere, hopefully local (ie within walking distance from your bed), shivery and entranced in the trippy, 3D kaleidoscope of flaming light forms pouring fourth from the sky – a kind of first hand introduction to life enhancing drugs for the children.

Pea.s: Make Toffee Apples – you will become adored henceforth…

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Pea. Pea. s these bad boys are organic and hand-picked – yes, I adhere to great food snobbery – bring it on…This is the stonking, fail-safe recipe I use….

 

 

 

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They All Had A Lovely Time…

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Original 1960’s ANT and BEE Book by Angela Banner

“It’s Butcher – er, something or other…” This is what my pal and moi inform a be-spectacled, book-ish, geeky, yet groovy, young man, who’s sporting a mohair jumper and skinny jeans, capturing perfectly, that di regueur, I work in a book-shop and love books, look in Waterstones.

We’ve entered said shop, sadistically hungover and barely stringing sentences together, our brains yogurt-numbingly blank, after a mephitic evening sucking down lashings of grape juice and fags and celebrating, yet another 40th…in search of this elusive book….something to do with a butcher…

He glares at us, not impressed with the information provided. But, of course, his job is to humour us, and so he glibly types in butcher and comes up with a myriad of titles…none, match anything whatsoever, in our weak, empty and barely functioning, unreasonable minds.

However, the good news we find we all had a lovely time.

NO. The good news is: ANT AND BEE ARE BACK!

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The newly re-issued Ant and Bee series…

I was brought up on Angela Banner’s two tiny hero’s and they have finally re-issued the titles.

The perfect size for a fat toddlers hand, Ant and Bee are two loveable characters who are also an Ant yes and a Bee – YES! The re-published books are very colourful but inside, thankfully, nothing has changed Kind Dog is still super, lovely and kind and sporting his pork pie hat and Angela Banner’s brilliant, yet simple, illustrations live on in 21st century techni-colour glory.

I have been buying them for all my friends who have children – Ant and Bee are the perfect present for younger children, although I can inform you right here and now, that my nine year old twins continue to enjoy a quick squizz at Ant and Bee as well – they are, without doubt, timeless classics.

Buy them, BUY THEM – and no I am not related, sadly to Angela Banner, nor am I sponsored by Egmont – honest guv.

Pea.S. My lovely pal REMEMBERED the butcher book and sent it to me much later and boy oh boy is that book BLOODY MARVELLOUS…I shall reveal the title tomorrow. Honest Guv.