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.

Why should we save Childhood?

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Boo inside an ENORMOUS Oak Tree Trunk #FreeNature

Childhood – an enormous word encompassing so much. There is such emphasis put on ‘childhood’ today and as parents it can feel very confusing knowing what you should give your child in order that they: ‘get the best’ childhood.

Of course, for every parent that means something different, perhaps a safe home, a garden, violin classes after school, private school, Steiner school, home-school, playdates, being vegetarian and on and on. There is a myriad of things we worry we should do more of, or cannot compete with, or simply cannot afford to give.

Yet research has found, over and over again, just giving a child the chance to connect and be free with nature, dirt and the earth around them is, quite simply, one of the most vital and important experiences they can have.

Encouraging children to play by themselves is essential. Get them outside and away from screens. Let them roll in the grass, chase butterflies, make ‘perfume’, plant seeds, blow a fluffy seed clock, run barefoot in the grass, listen to the birds, poke holes with sticks, taste fresh berries off a tree, build a fairy house with leaves, moss, stones, talk to animals, trees, flowers, clouds, the moon. Just let them really feel. 

This natural play is the building blocks of intelligence. To discover how to feel connected with the earth and yourself, to know you can return, any time you need, and re-tune throughout your life. It is so simple and all we need to provide is a green space.

One uncluttered with screens, tests, exams, the pressures of what to look like, be like, speak like, act like – leave it all behind – un-necessary weight.

The value of creative and experimental play in childhood, and adulthood, is often undermined and we need to ensure that we, as guardians of the next generation, are strong enough to stand true to the simple values of letting the children of our future be free.

Be truly free to experiment, get dirty, to imagine, to really feel and to play with their beautiful and wild imagination.

Britain has plenty of parks and open spaces and it is up to us to try and get everyone out for a walk and to deeply breathe in fresh air.

This year the Save Childhood Movement is partnering with National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) on 17th May to celebrate: The Science and Magic of Play. Here in Bath that celebration will be in partnership with The Forest of Imagination ( a four-day contemporary arts event in Queen Square). This will include of a number of free talks given by the likes of, Wendy Ellyatt, Chief Executive, Save Childhood Movement, Steve Chown, Director, Play England and James Findlay of The Play Foundation. To hear these inspiring speakers and to find out more go here.

Tweeting without flatulence

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There is an absent-minded acceptance to the endless clouds of flatulence floated out across, so-called, social media.

Reams of farted out flannel, regularly drip into the vast ocean of characters held afloat by the likes of Twitter or Crackbook.

And there is definitely a compliant misery by us as we wade through the endless drool in the hope of finding a glimmer of meaning, interest or words that are just plain useful.

And then, in March, Sir Terry Pratchett died, and left us with, what felt like, his last public words in the form of a tweet…Here it is:

‘Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.’

And then, his final tweet…

‘The end.’

How poignant. So simple, direct. Many of us have a much to learn from Sir Terry and his use of just 140 characters to communicate directly from his heart, with meaning and clarity.

This is an art form in itself.

George Monbiot intrigues with his statement: ‘lets re-wild the child’.

This brilliant expression is directed at re-educating parents, teachers, political leaders and others about the essential need to allow children to explore their natural world and to discover learning through interacting with nature. Rather than sat, day after day, in a classroom being stuffed, like a French goose, with information.

Check out his short and simple video about re-wilding the child here.

Giving your social media and communication meaning is key to conversation – no-one likes a bore, lets face it. No-one likes to be endlessly sold something.

But having a meaningful, fulfilling and potentially intimate online conversation is a benefit to everyone.

Do you have any favourite tweeters, or Instagramers who really connect with you on a personal and fundamental level?

Please tell me know they are…share it with me below.

 

Le Puff de Fromage

When
the music stopped.
The highways collided.

Route 1970.

It fell into place
Our lips finally taste.
those
moments
No breath it fill
Until –
our hearts unveil
and locate.
They mate
and create a wave
 of titillating
danger.
The unknown
The beginning
The end.
That smattering of unearthly magic:
Love.
In all her untamed wildness
Held forth in that one kiss.
This moment is forever held in my heart.
Let me never let it go
Standing on that ancient street corner
Lip locked
In the flow…
The moon gently closing her thighs and sighing behind us
I was, finally, in cahoots with le toots
He, who remembers Roxy music
This red haired fox
Whose rich, ripe semen –
Made my whole body teemin
With babies
As one became two and two became three.
Endlessly the adventurer, the perfectionist
Loyal to you, his friends – until he cease
Whose groove will never stop getting on
Despite an aching back, dodgy knees, grey hair and a mortgage to choke…
Him –
He is never broke
En
My man
His balls have always, been BIG
 Come, what may –
And Hairy.
May he never stop chasing his dreams: French farmhouse, dusty Spanish jeep, a handful of plane tickets for those he loves, music maker, mountain warrior…
My
own
dearest
fromage.

Finally A Real WOMAN That Wobbles

Finally, a brave ad agency has created an advert that celebrates women, in all their natural, real and raw beauty – wobbly bits and all.

Please watch it:

This Girl Can is frankly, flaming brilliant and full respect to both Sport England and the ad agency FCB Inferno who were brave enough to chose the beauty of reality over the dishonest and mendacious choices of the all-consuming,  behemoth fashion industry.

Every female, and male, in this part of the world has been duped into believing that natural beauty is a form of photoshopped physical perfection only achieved by Barbie – a goal few of us will ever attain. Leaving the rest of us mere mortals with a warped perception of our bodies, deep insecurities, shame, embarrassment and a fucked up way of behaving towards, not only food, but each other.

I firmly believe that most men appear to genuinely see it differently – and adore all our jiggilly and wibbly bits – just as we adore theirs.

If only the fashion industry were brave enough to embrace the natural shape of everyone rather than endlessly creating and photoshopping an entire universe that will never be achieved no matter what we put ourselves through.

Let us continue to shout long and loud about this campaign and applaud the massive balls of Sport England and FCB Inferno.