Well done son!

Thursday 25 August 2022

This Thursday, the gentle giant, affectionately know as Smallboy, collects his GCSE results … and they are cracking!

The entire squad bundles down to school for support, crammed into my Eldest’s 3-door car, (alas, Windsor is recovering from an encounter with a bollard in Bolton … a story for another day) because, that is what we do and because we get it. Get the pressure of high expectation from: school, friends, family. Everyone expecting you to have done well, to have ‘sailed through‘ to have ‘smashed it’. It is a lot to bear at the age of 16 and the car journey is pretty quiet.

Our phone clocks move to 09:00. The school doors open. Off he goes and, after 3 years of blessed GCSE respite, it is ‘welcome back’ to that tortuous wait in the car for me! Smallboy later tells me that,

I kind of knew it had gone well mum because as I went through the doors one of the teachers told me to ‘wait behind at the end for a photograph’

But there is none of this reassurance for those left outside. Stomach churning, I waive aside my daughters’ suggestions of ‘music‘ or ‘playing a game‘. I try some experimental ‘positive chanting’ but soon fall back upon the familiar and am completing my fourth decade of the rosary when we see him ambling across the carpark, giving us a shy thumbs up and hopping back into the front seat.

It is simply a super set of grades! He gives a modest shrug, his face breaks into a smile, I ruffle his curly locks and we head off for a Maccies breakfast to celebrate.

And so, as a parent, my encounter with GCSE examinations, revision and results days comes to an end. Three very different experiences, not so much with the results days but with the examination period itself. This final one, without doubt, the most laid back and … let me get down with the kids and say, ‘chilled’ ever. Few dramas and a very relaxed (which I found alarming on occasion) approach to revision. Typically, I’d arrive home and open with,

Have you started revision yet? You’ve got Chemistry tomorrow

To which my son would usually reply along the lines of,

Don’t stress mother, it’s only 7pm… plenty of time!

I did put my foot down about mid-week socialising but he still went out most weekends. I also supported the schools insistence on attendance and did not consent to my son’s pleas to ‘phone and ask for study leave’.

Did any of it make a jot of difference? I guess we shall never know. But, on supporting school policy, I was never going to budge. I am unspeakably grateful to our local high school for many things and this includes the knowledge, the love of learning and the encouragement to aim high that they have instilled in all three of my offspring. I cannot thank them enough for this because, as a single parent, life is a tough old trek and self-doubt always only a thought away. Their resolute input has, without question shielded my trio from my lone-mum fears of ‘daring to hope’ and contributed to them becoming just lovely young people, with amazing friends and bright futures. So rather than questioning any edicts over the years I have been happy to trust and that has certainly paid off.

So let’s finish this post where we started with the one and only Small boy. Enrolled at sixth-form and starting an exciting new chapter. Well done son, you enjoy this moment …

A soundtrack for the Summer…

Monday 22 August 2022

Well, I may not have stepped onto a plane this August but I have certainly covered a few miles! Well done to Windsor, my trusty Toyota, for doing most of the work and hip hip hooray for ‘Heart 80s‘; pumping out nostalgic tunes from the car dashboard and providing the perfect soundtrack for the holiday season…

Heart 80s … why so perfect? Because, as I look back on the last 4 weeks, I realise that I have spent an awful lot of it with those I first met in… the 1980s! Just the sort of symmetry to make my mathematical mind happy and to inspire me to write this week’s post as an ode to some of my oldest pals…

First stop; dear university friends (known since the mid 80s) in the North East. Here we ‘make it a night to remember‘ in the pub quiz followed by a day of drinking ‘red red wine,’ and also sampling the fizzy, white and rose varieties at an organic wine tasting. We ‘walk this way‘ and that way and many miles through the glorious local countryside, where the fields of corn, barley and wheat just take my breath away. And finally, be it a ‘green door‘, brown door or even a solid steel fortification, nothing and I mean nothing, is stopping one very competitive friend from breaking it down in a determined quest to wrestle us out of an Escape Room within the allocated hour!

After several happy days, I head home whereupon, accompanied by a fellow classmate from sixth form (slightly earlier mid-80s) we go ‘running up that hill‘ and also wrapping ourselves in 4 sets of blankets to watch an exuberant but unspeakably chilly outdoor production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at a local riding centre. Whilst I would recommend the incredible Illyria theatre company without hesitation, I could almost swear I heard the Bard himself chuckle ‘Oh Lord what fools these mortal be!‘ as the wind freezes hands to the point where picnickers dare not even release them from the safety of rugs and jumpers to hold a glass of prosecco !

Thereafter however, comes the heat. Aside from a brief flit to Middlesborough (furniture drop for my Eldest) and a trip to sunny Stratford for Promdress daughter’s birthday, the ‘long hot summer‘ just passes us by, in a sweltering week of deckchair basking and ‘cool pool’ froth in the garden not-so-hot tub.

And before long, my next visitor arrives, a teacher training bestie from the late 80s. Now ‘girls just want to have fun and that is exactly what we do. Courtesy of this sunniest of Summers we are able to sit out until late to drink and chat and also spend a delicious day in the bars and cafes of Manchester.

But then….‘C’mon‘ calls Windsor ‘It’s time for me to hit the road again!’

Indeed it is! Nicknamed a ‘long distance lorry driver‘ by one witty amigo, on account of my holiday travels, I find time to whirl along the motorway to deposit Small Boy in Wales and then set the satnav for ‘a town called ...‘ London! Yes; I drive to London – eek! I am terrified. I am bamboozled. I am ‘ultra low emission zone’ charged and navigationally challenged. I have nightmares about taking a wrong turn and seeing the monopoly board come to life from my car window.

But with the trains on strike it is the only way for me to catch-up with great uni friends, some of whom I have not seen for over 5 years. So I go for it, get there in one piece and then enjoy ….

I am a ‘west end girl‘ with lunch and a mini-reunion at the elegant Wolseley in Piccadilly plus a stroll around a (very brown) Green Park. Then it’s the cultural delights of the Southbank; ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders‘ at Tate Modern before an afternoon at the Globe for my second dose of Shakespeare this Summer.

My final day veers a little more off the beaten track at Trinity Buoy Wharf. We go primarily to hear the ‘Long Player‘ a 1000 year piece of music composed by Jem Finer, once of the Pogues. Not only did my friend and I see the Pogues (together) at Glastonbury back in 1986, but I further relish in coincidences, realising that, by utter chance, it was also a location used in the Netflix film, Rogue Agent, which I watched with the teens just 4 days earlier… spooky! The site is even more than Long Player too, with arty workshops, a museum honouring Faraday, who conducted experiments in electric lighting for lighthouses there in the nineteenth century, the Floodtide music installation plus one of the quirkiest cafes I’ve stopped at for quite some time. A terrific find.

And it is there that my August 2022 travels end. Windsor and I point the compass north and we duo of Wild Rovers speed merrily up the motorway home.

Great times, great company, great 80s soundtrack, great Summer …

Have I sold my soul … ?

Wednesday 10 August 2022

“It is £30 for a check-up and we take payment in advance.”

I am momentarily frozen on the other end of the line. I am about to join a private dental practice and the immediate mention of cold, hard cash (well electronically transferred funds) brings home the reality that I am now paying for health care. Have I sold my soul to the devil?

This particular practice actually invited me in, after they met me as an emergency patient a few weeks ago. On this occasion, I had lost a filling and, co-incidentally, discovered to my dismay that I had also lost my place with the NHS dentist. After experimenting with home remedies, a work colleague suggested plugging the gap with chewing gum and I bunged in some gunk from the internet, I eventually resigned myself to taking an appointment with anyone who could help, waved my credit card at the smiling receptionist and left with a very secure (if expensive) new amalgam.

Thereafter, I resolved to find a new NHS practice and ‘re-join the dental system‘. And so when the private practitioners emailed me with an invite to ‘sign on’ to their books, I initially ignored it.

Alas, however, getting back into the national system proved trickier than I thought. Countless calls and google searches confirmed that nobody… but nobody is taking on new patients. And so for a while I just parked the issue and forgot about my teeth. Small boy, unlike me, had not been turfed out of the local practice. If he was okay, in true single parent fashion, I resolved to ‘just muddle on’.

Perhaps,’ I reason, ‘if there are no places and everyone seems happy to accept this, then dental care cannot be that important. Maybe the occasional emergency appointment is the way to go?

On Monday of this week, however the BBC report, ‘Full extent of NHS dentistry shortage revealed by far-reaching BBC research’, reveals, not only that 9 out of 10 NHS practices are not taking on new adult patients but also that this has lead to an alarming rise in ‘DIY dentistry‘. People pulling out their own teeth, restricting their diets to little more than soup and making improvised dentures. When I hear a man on the radio describing how he was forced to extract 2 teeth with pliers …. arghhhh…. I am forced to review my thoughts on dental care and I reluctantly re-read the email from the private practice.

I also review their costs because, let’s be clear, NHS dentistry is not ‘free‘ for adults, indeed free treatment ended in 1951, just three years after the NHS was formed, because it was deemed unaffordable, however the pricing is subsidised and pretty simple with only 3 charge bands.

Band 1: £23.80covers an examination, diagnosis, advice including x-rays, a scale and polish
Band 2: £62.50covers all treatment in band 1 plus additional treatments such as fillings, root canal and extractions
Band 3: £282.80covers all treatment in bands 1 and 2 , plus more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures and bridges
NHS Dental charges

I quickly discover that the private costs are a lot higher, in particular because there is no inclusion of previous costs in their pricing structure, so those bills just accumulate! Nonetheless, as I rattle around the kitchen this morning, I do come across a pair of pliers. It’s surely a sign. I need to spend some money on myself … just this once…

So I make the call and pay the examination fee.

At the end of much prodding and x-raying, I find that I do need a filling. As it is quite pricey, I elect to postpone treatment for a while, at least until my August pay check lands. It has been an expensive month for me with all 3 teens temporarily back at home. Doubtless though, at some point in the Autumn, I shall find the money and add yet more metal to my molars.

But I resent having to wait and I resent having to make health decision based not upon my wellbeing but upon my bank balance. The reasons for the current crisis I do not really fathom but I find incredibly sad. Is this, as the BBC report challenges, ‘The death of NHS Dentistry?’ It is certainly not the vision of national health care free that I hold dear.

For what of those who cannot pay at all? Worrying times …

The parent … as a gardener ?

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Gracious me gardeners, I need your help!

About 6 weeks ago, a pupil bought me this beautiful rose, accompanied by an utterly delightful card.

It’s called Lovely Lady,” she beamed, “because you are a lovely lady!”

Well, look what has happened to the poor thing since I brought it home and planted it in the garden!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is garden-2-2.jpg

Help! What to do? I’ve watered. I’ve fed. I’ve sprayed. But the once-lovely lady continues to droop. Every morning and every night, I have to face that desperate, bowed stem and … I feel dreadful.

Is the rose simply a reflection of me?‘ I ponder in a mad moment, ‘devoid of all energy and drive and just dragging myself towards the end of term?’

Or.. am I just a hopeless gardener?

Probably the latter, which would not be so bad, but for the fact that, in a similar vein to my pupil, several writers find strong parallels between gardening and parenting.

Children’s author, Katherine Halligan, in her post Why Parenting Why is a Lot Like Gardening, describes her transition into life with a family as follows,

As I gave up all notion of control and surrendered to the (happy!) chaos, I discovered I had probably been wrong all along. Nature has its own agenda, just like children do. And children, like plants, tend to thrive in spite of everything I do wrong.

Much, as ‘Lovely Lady’ is clearly not in the thriving category at the moment, I do enjoy the rest of Katherine’s article. The notion of learning on the job and just ‘jumping in at the deep end’ make pretty reassuring reading for any parent (or gardener.)

Mostly I simply muddle along, going on instinct, hoping that weather and circumstance will favour my wild guesses …”

And it is a version of the idea of working with, rather than trying to control the complexities of life, that highlights the parent’s role as a gardener for child psychologist Alison Gopnik in, The Gardener and the Carpenter. ‘Which kind of parent are you?’ she challenges us to consider, gardener or carpenter?

The “carpenter” thinks that his or her child can be moulded. “The idea is that if you just do the right things, get the right skills, read the right books, you’re going to be able to shape your child ….”

‘The “gardener,” on the other hand, is less concerned about controlling who the child will become and instead provides a protected space to explore…”

Which one are you? Which one am I?

I decide that I am probably a mix of both and my kids agree. I quite like the idea of the gardener and the carpenter but find them more useful for describing behaviours than people. Hence in some situations, I approach things as a ‘moulder’ and in others, as a supportive of the ‘explorer’. Hey it is an analogy after all. At least I hope so, because if not, given my lack of skill in either domain, things don’t look too rosy for my offspring!

Interesting as the reading is, parenting is not my problem on this occasion… gardening is. And none of this solves the dilemma of wilting ‘Lovely Lady’. As far as I can see, my only options now are, pruning, supporting with bamboo and … a miracle?

Meanwhile, all suggestions welcome!

The cupboard was bare…

Monday 18 July 2021

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard, To fetch her poor dog a bone. But when she got there the cupboard was bare, And so the poor dog had none.

Well, I may not have a dog but, when you’re down to a jar of piccalilli, a few tired old carrots and half a cucumber, it’s time to admit that you just cannot put off the supermarket shop any longer!

Gosh it has been a busy few weeks!

Look, I am a fan of ‘busy‘ and this particular brand-of-frantic starts brilliantly because it offers, in large part, ‘freedom from routine’ for me; always a winner. Some great playing, in big concerts and smaller groups. Several great nights out. Even a stay-away for work.

As an added bonus it is all wrapped up in a bow of lovely weather! Our northern lands, bathed (until today’s Saharan blast) in pleasant sunshine, providing the perfect setting for social drinks, afternoon strolls and basking away the occasional hangover!

Bliss and, to quote Gingerbread, the national single parent charity, just the tonic for the well-being of any busy parent,

Looking after the needs of your family can take all of your time and energy. Try to get some time to yourself every now and again to recharge your batteries. All busy parents need some adult time away from children, housework and chores

Is it just me however, or possibly a parental pitfall, but does there always come a point when ‘busy‘ tips into ‘just too busy‘? The scales certainly threaten to overbalance for me this weekend. A crammed calendar of activities on top of a full time job plus offspring casting me as the font of knowledge on: flat hunting, catching holiday flights and late night party transportation does finally frazzle my mind to the point where I simply need to stop and sit in a darkened room for a few hours!

And, in the end, as usual it is the daily grind of running a household which finally breaks me…

Yes, those bare cupboards. Not, I must confess the household chores! Keep it quiet but I have forgotten what they are! With one, sometimes two, university offspring in holiday-time residence, I’ve been very spoiled. They bob in and out, but even so have manged most of the: cooking, cleaning and even ironing, throughout June and July. And, used to surviving on a students grant, those girls are resourceful; eking a meal out of the most paltry of ingredients. But they are not magicians and, as I open the fridge today, I have to concede that enough is enough, we need food!

I mean piccalilli … picc-a-friggin’- lill! Surely a new (nutritional) low point !

So, as I am the only car driver, shattered or not, it is time for me to haul my weary limbs off the sofa and down to those shops! Wonder how the tale ended for Old Mother Hubbard ….

Family first…

Thursday 30 June2022

What parent doesn’t feel overwhelmed at times? Plus, if you are the only parent in the house … a mathematician could hypothesis that you face double the demands of juggling work, life and parenting!

Number theories aside, it is certainly one of those weeks for me. A chaos of day job, evening jobs, afterwork meetings and rehearsals collide with Small Boy’s college open evening and … prom! I find myself triple booked on most evenings, cannot see a way through and, after two really good months for me and my headspace, start to spiral into panic.

Two wise words from an old boss bring me back from the brink,

Family first”

That was always our motto when work and home diary commitments clashed. When you can’t do everything, which at times none of us can, move the most important things to the top of the list .. and for most of us, that means family!

In their article ‘Time Management Tips for Busy Parents’, the childcare company Bright Horizons, open on a similar theme. The key, they maintain, to balancing personal needs, family needs and the needs of your career is to accept that:

  • Not doing everything is okay
  • It’s all right to say no
  • You need to know what is truly important to you

Manage this, they claim and we will achieve the quality of life we are striving for “without completely losing our minds in the process.”

It certainly does the trick for me on this occasion. I decide that my son is the most important person in our household this week and, as a result, sixth-form open event and the school prom become our top, indeed our only, priority. Yes, I simply remove everything else!

Instantly, I can breathe and think again! Additionally, possibly because I rarely pull out of anything or maybe because most other people have also faced similar dilemmas, nobody else seems to mind either. The world does not stop turning and rehearsals, meetings and work events all carry on smoothly without me.

Does ex-hub ever feel pulled in 5 different directions?

I ponder briefly. Would he ever have to agonise about saying ‘no‘ to work colleagues and commitments? Probably not; but then again neither does he get to wander round our huge local college and share discussions of physics, philosophy, Chaucer and chemistry with our wonderful son. He also misses out on the proud memories of a handsome young man heading out to the prom surrounded by fun and friendship. I guess, the old adage, that you get out of life what you put in, rings true in every way that actually matters. So he can keep his quiet, self-centred life and I’ll hang on instead to my crazy existence.

So, here’s to ‘family first’! For accepting that I cannot always be perfect and keep everybody happy but I can always value and cherish what is really important and keep that as my main priority. All in all, that has got to be a pretty good way to live this life …

It started with a tick!

Saturday 18 June 2022

One week after I post my bucket list… one item is ticked off!

So, have I been skinny dipping? Not yet – but grateful thanks to the person who has offered to join me on that outing! Whisky festival then? Again no, even though this item attracted even more interest from friends and family!

What actually happened was that in the middle of last week, following a month of communication with an educational publisher, submitting, then editing (and re-editing) my ‘assignment’, I signed my first ever freelance agreement as a content writer and invoice no.1 has left my email outbox! Yippedy dee!

If am being honest, when I pictured submitting an ‘article’ to an educational publication, I envisaged a well-researched piece of writing on some topical issue of the day, such as ‘The impact of wealth inequality on the British educational system.’ And that is not what this is at all. My brief is designing learning and assessment resources. And whilst I’d never previously thought of this line of work, I do love it and … they appear to be paying me. So happy, happy days!

All of which leaves me pondering, what to do with my first writing pay cheque? Should I treat the teens? Both my uni girls have worked really hard and passed their recent examinations. Meanwhile at home, Smallboy has made it through 24 GCSE assessments (thankfully only 3 more to go!). So they certainly all deserve a little something. On the other hand … my bucket list was supposed to be about me so should I direct it towards further adventures? Money to pay for the Elevazione oboe part, or start a savings pot for Oktoberfest 2023?

Perhaps, I caution my racing thoughts, I should actually wait for the money to land! Last Friday,I got a fee for an oboe playing gig and they, rather bizarrely, paid me £75 … in Waitrose vouchers, which was an unexpected first and a timely reminder, as the old sages would say, not to count my chickens…

So, in the meantime, it is back to the bucket list and wondering ‘What’s next?’ Well all that writing and editing can take a toll on a busy single mum. I think the sofa, popcorn, a good bottle of wine and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s sounds like the perfect next step ….

My bucket list!

Saturday 11 June 2022

Bucket lists? Well if you are anything like me, the very mention of the phrase used to conjure up images of slightly balding men in lycra, dangling from the end of a bungee rope, having a mid-life crisis. Definitely not my cup of tea!

So what has changed?

‘The bucket list…’ states a Stanford Medicine article, is ‘‘… a list of things that one has not done before, but wants to do before dying’’.

It’s a definition that left me perplexed. Yes, for years, I really didn’t grasp the notion at all. No procrastination or waiting until the grim reaper came knocking for me. If there was something I wanted to do, I’d pretty much go out and do it. And, busy as a bee, I gallivanted through life: learning, travelling, adventuring, performing, and falling in and out of love. It was.. amazing.

But then came parenthood and … single motherhood-hood. Wonderful as that is too, in so many ways, as I now contemplate ‘empty nesting‘ I realise that the last 20 years has extinguished some of my drive and daring and made me become a little bit invisible in my own life. As a single-mum, because the focus is never on you, I think that I simply forgot, over time, to have any hopes or dreams of my own. I forgot how good it feels to live life to the full, with aspirations for me as well as my children.

So last Summer, as a friend was explaining their creation of a list of ‘60 things to do before I’m sixty’ , it was like a jolt of electricity through my veins. As, she ran through some of the items, with me shouting,

Ooh, sounds great!’, ‘Count me in!’

an even more exciting idea was forming. Designing my own schedule of ideas; now that truly was intoxicating and felt like a missing piece of me being slotted back into place. I needed some goals of my own, some challenges to look forward to, some re-invention of my former self. I needed … my own kind of bucket list.

So here we go. It is not ’60 things to do before I’m sixty‘ because after 2 decades of keeping everyone else happy, I did struggle to turn the spotlight in my direction and think about what might make me happy. Instead, it is ten things to do in the next 24 months, which I figure is a good start could snowball into other ideas.

  1. Learn to play the oboe part of Elevazione: Domenico Zipoli
  2. Have a night out at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho
  3. Submit an educational article for publication
  4. Go to a whisky festival
  5. Drink beer at the Oktoberfest
  6. Sign up for German classes
  7. Raise money for The Samaritans
  8. Watch ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  9. Read Jane Eyre: Jane Austen
  10. Learn to swim underwater

And… as a cheeky extra,

11. Go skinny dipping!

Many wouldn’t appear on anyone else’s ‘to do’ list, but I am pretty confident that they are all things I’d love to do. Little bits of me, reflecting: my values, my passions and my interests, plus in the case of number ten, facing a life-long fear and … I actually cannot wait to get started!

On the upside…

Monday 30 May 2022

Oh what a fortnight! My son starting GCSEs, my classes also doing examinations and me facing job interviews … all mixed together with illness and a dental divorce!

Yes, for someone who is ‘never ill’ , my timing really couldn’t have been worse!

I am sent home, vomiting like a woman possessed, on the eve of GCSE maths paper 1. Full of guilt that lovely year 11 class are gathering for post-school revision with pizza … and I am not there! (Grateful as can be to my wonderful colleagues who welcome them into other classrooms.)

At home, my plans to be ‘super supportive mum of the year’ also take a nose dive. Smallboy asks for help with some algebraic proof but, although I try, I am unable to make it to the top of the stairs before I have to lie down … on the landing carpet … and I am sent back to bed.

Never mind mum. We’ll just have to pick it up on the next 2 papers!”

says my kind-hearted boy as I collapse back under the duvet.

For the next couple of days I fail to even leave my darkened room.

Then come the job interviews

Why? Why now? Oh why indeed?’

A stressful week starts with me, in a washed-out daze stumbling through 2 hectic days of tasks, panels and presentations. Day 1 is not my finest hour and to say that I fail to ‘sparkle‘ would be an understatement. Nonetheless, I do see it through to the end and still await my fate.

Alas, as I wearily try to rally for interview 2, I discover that, to top things off nicely, one of my fillings has fallen out. So I flounder through the second appointment avoiding all offers of food and drink and trying to ignore the fact that I now feel rather feverish and appear to have a huge cavern in my mouth! At this establishment, I am informed that I have not been successful … and I completely understand why.

Next morning, I drag myself back to work, anticipating some (understandable) backlash from pupils who could be forgiven, mid-exam season, for feeling a little bit abandoned. But my classes are anything but resentful. Teenagers run across the yard, stop me in the corridors and gather around me in the canteen.

“Miss, how are you?”

Are you better now? You looked really ill last week!”

“So glad to have you back! We’ve missed you!”

It is a humbling and overwhelming welcome. Feeling a tad emotional, I conclude, not for the first time, that children are often a lot nicer than adults!

They are certainly a lot nicer than my dental practice, who inform me that, due to missing some check-ups, I have been ‘removed‘ as a patient. Left, abandoned, cast out… and told to take my ‘emergency situation‘ elsewhere.

Many phone calls later, I eventually find a dentist who can treat me at the weekend and, in the interim, I bung up the gap with some ghastly home-made remedy from the internet.

So, where oh where are the upsides?’ I hear you ask.

Well, firstly, it definitely makes me look at my current job with renewed affection. My pupils evoke a striking reminder that, in a profession like mine, value is not always found by looking within for self-fulfilment, but sometimes by seeing yourself through the eyes of others and the impact you have upon them. So even if interview number 1 yields a job offer, I will think long and hard about whether or not the post merits giving up the important role I deliver at the moment.

Secondly, I find a great new dentist. Open on Saturday, closer to home and…. he even compliments me on the ‘great job’ I’ve done with my Google-gloop!

‘You could be a dentist!’ he jokes good naturedly

Ha ha ha – but probably, methinks, not my next career move!

And finally….I actually feel okay today! And wellness after 2 long weeks of pain, nausea, and exhaustion just feels like heaven. Long may it last…

A parent’s guide to the GCSE season …

Monday 16 May 2022

Fasten your seatbelts parents for the 5-week roller coaster of GCSE and Vocational examinations has rolled back into town! It is third time for me … so what are my top tips for surviving the next month?

Well if truth be told, whether your child is a driven revision machine, a ‘last minute Larry’ or has their head well and truly buried in the sands of denial, I only have one piece of advice

“Remember to be a parent!

And simply put, that means being there. There to test a bit of revision if asked. Definitely there to turn off the x-box and even confiscate the phone on occasion. Absolutely there with emergency chocolate and an episode of ‘Modern Family’ when it’s been a ‘complete disaster’ of an exam and a sugar boost and laughter is essential therapy. There to hear all about the good days (and breathe again if only for 24 hours!) There to forgive the moods and soak up a bit of the stress. There with meals, and snacks, kindness and care and reassurance that ‘attainment doesn’t define us, but attitude does‘ so trying your best is all they need to do to make you proud. Above all – just there!

So in May and June, as I am the only parent available, I am dialling back the diary commitments and running around Small boy’s schedule for a few weeks. It is only for a short time and, moreover, I am sure that it will also be pretty good times. Because going through challenging events with my teenagers has always been this. A time to grow closer, to feel like a team, to share a lot of laughter… and sometimes a few tears. Plus, I’ll admit in whispered tones, as a mum of fast-growing, increasingly independent offspring… it’s also nice to know that I am still needed!

So although I will doubtless be stocking up on the alcohol too, before week one is over, bring it on …I am ready ….