Monday, August 14, 2006

Monsters. And the having of them.

So what do you do if your baby is afraid of "monsters"?

A couple of times recently, offspring has called me up to her room, saying she's frightened the monster will get her.

me: what monster?
her: the one behind my tent
her: behind my tent
me:show me
her: i can't
me: why?
her: the monster will get me
me: let me pick you up and we'll have a look together

so i carry her round the back of her tent (little canvass thing where she keeps her soft toys) to show her there's no monster. She says she could hear it. I suggest that maybe it's people on the stairs next door she can hear (ye olde terraced house). She seems satisfied with this at the time, but its happened a few times in last couple of weeks. There used to be a bucket of toys in the corner, but I moved it so no "monster" would be able to skulk behind it.

[i tried quite hard to post pic of offending corner here, but bloggers having non of it this afternoon] (perhaps it knows i'm supposed to be working . . . .)

Sometimes she's obviously playing pretend, like if we're walking along the street and says "better hurry up mummy, monster coming", in which case i usually stop, turn around and ask "monster" if he'd like to come back to our house for tea/come with us to park/to shops/whatever. This usually quashes any interest she has in persuasion the topic.

Of course I don't want to discourage imaginative games, but I also don't want to encourage her to spook herself out.

I absolutely will not tell her she begin "silly." It makes me angry when i hear parent say that to their children, and its amazing how often its used. The English language is a biggish sort of place - there's no call for "silly." If she's scared by something, real or imaginary, she's not silly, she's scared. If a child's upset, they're not silly, they're upset. Its such an undermining thing to say.

When I was little, and upset by something (usually something i didn't understand), i was always told i was being silly. Years and years of that contribute to the understanding that your feelings are not important. That they are not to be taken seriously and should not be considered.

I'm not immune to it, I catch myself almost saying it. Like this morning, she ran down the hall to the kitchen saying, "there's a man coming, quick, hide". Now where does she get the notion she has to be afraid of "a man"? She's not three years old. I asked

which man?
one out there (pointing to front door)
out there, mummy
Why is he coming?
because he is

at which point I picked her up and took her to the front door, opened it, and we both went outside.

I didn't want to talk about it with her too much, didn't want to make a big deal and somehow reinforce the idea that she needs to be afraid. But it's a fine line -dismissal vs the investigation lending weight to the validation of her monster's existence.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Drawing whales for strangers. She's just that kind of girl.

Suuuuuuuuuch a good day yesterday. Such a good day. no lurky hollows. We slobbed about, she painted, we went to lunch, she drew a "whale" for the old lady at the next table, we went to the museum to see the puppet exhibition, she saw some penguins, bought some beads, sat dolls and animals in a row, we chatted about the sky and the grey cloud and why the lights at the crossing didn't work and what kind of ice cream we'd have later. More days like this please - they remind me why my grip and the keeping of it are so important, and worth all the energy it takes.

(i know, i know, but it's from my phone and i don't know how)

Speaking of which - had the most curious dream about boss's boss on wednesday night. We were shouting at each other (nothing unusual for her, seriously unusual for me, being a festering sort of person)I slapped her face! next thing I know she's outside the upstairs window of a house we lived in when I was in my early teens, trying to rescue me because it was on fire, then she's giving me a leg up to get over a wall to hide from something . . . .

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Look, I know I don’t stay in these fancy pants hotels so much as I used to, pre child, pre move, pre part time working, and maybe I’m completely out of touch with such matters, but, really, GREY shower gel? Grey? Scum coloured cleansing products? Who came up with that one?

Also, if I call housekeeping at 7.30 in the morning because I can’t find the iron that’s supposed to be in my room, and I want to give a linen skirt a quick once over on the ironing board they’ve so kindly provided, but I want to do it BEFORE I get in the shower so I can then hang skirt in bathroom for remaining crinkles to steam out a bit, and if I have to get a move on because an habitually early colleague is kindly picking me up, if I tell them I can’t find the iron – don’t tell me to go and have another look! Don’t tell me to double check. I’m nearly 34, I pretty much have that whole looking for stuff thing down. Don’t send the night porter round to my room to check that I’ve checked. People – I need to be getting in the shower now! Having checked in the wardrobe and the cupboards, don’t have the porter say to me “Oh, there’s no iron in here. How strange.” So I have to say well, yes, whilst these executive suites are undoubtedly both capacious and generous in their furnishing, I think I pretty much established the total and complete absence of iron more than 20 minutes ago, and I really should be getting ready now. Big day. Big meeting on behalf of my bosses boss. Bosses boss has stood these people up three times now. They hate me before they’ve even met me. I have to go sell these people ideas that mostly suck. The inadequacy of these ideas is paralleled only by the muppetry with which they have been delivered so far. I am going to have to sit in a room with more than a dozen senior people from the business who will all have their arms folded pondering all the lucrative and productive things they could be doing with their time. I’m going to have to explain this project (which is a fundamentally a good project despite troublesome gestation) look them in the eye, apologise for the stuff gone before that was nothing to do with me without actually demonising my colleagues, and get them to buy into in. Heck they don’t even have to buy, I’ll settle for short term lease and not being laughed out of the building. But I can’t do any of that until I’ve had a shower. I can’t get in the shower til the iron thing is resolved. PLEASE RESOLVE THE IRON THING!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

oh, and also, just read in TImes this am about mumsnet.comand SheWhoShallNotBeNamed - Fordamort. Out and Out rageous.

email from M about her weekend with C and O, Mr and Mrs Smug NewlyWed.

"I had some nice anaphylactic shock over the weekend.

I wonder if I’m allergic to newly wedded on going public displays of affection?

C was telling me about one of their new friends and opening descriptor of him was:

‘he’s completely desperate to settle down and have someone to discuss and share things with properly’

Me: ‘wow, he sounds really frightening’

C: there’s nothing wrong with people wanting to settle down and be happy and have someone to share things with…. Yap, yap, yap’

Me:….!!! Yeah there is, if that’s all you can find to say about them."

Monday, August 07, 2006

so, how is it that other people feel they have the right to just barge in all over your life. to sit at your table, eat your food, sleep in your spare room (on the new linen, no less) and tell you that your views and choices are wrong. people that you're not even related to. how the country is much better than the city to raise children, how the flowers must be picked off a courgette because they're all male and inhibit fruit growth.(it's a squash, lady!)how none of the laundry needs ironging because of her expert folding (with fag hanging from corner of mouth so lovely aroma on garden dried clothes)and how you can'r possibly have your new kitchen designed the way you've imagined because it makes absolutely no sense and why haven't we out offspring name down for all suitable schools yet and there can't possibly be as many primarys as i've said i've researched in the area and oh no i should never engage an architect because all i need is a competent builder.

i know she means well. i know she does. i know she feels i need some sort of supplementary parenting. but really.

offspring's day nursery told me when i dropped her off at lunchtime that, come september, they want to put her up two years instead of one. there's no question its for the best in terms of her ability and stimulation. but where does it end? its two more years until she starts school proper (september birthday) which means if we chose a state school she'l be so far ahead the teacher won't know what to do with her in a room of 20 plus where half can't even go to the bathroom unaccompanied, let alone read and write. she'll be ditfferent, she'll stick out. not a good thing in school.i don't want her to hate school as much as i did. don't want her to feel like she can't push herself and explore how her mind works for feaqr of exacerbating that gap. maybe my social skills were exceptionall bad so I couldn't bond with the other children full stop, it had nothign to do with the fact that the teacher was always singling me out either for being ahead and disruptive or ahead and disruptive and aggressive. the first few years of school being told either that i couldn't possibly have read all the books in the scheme and made to stand on my chair and answer the comprehensions, or that there was no time to set me additional work when i'd finished but could i please stop talking and redo what i'd already done. then comes the inevitable mental checking out, followed in latter years by the failure to fulfil potential notices every report card. wish you had written more. could do better. fails to apply herself. I don't want my child in a system like that. discipline, sure. not some sort of free for all everyone doing what they want all day. but an education that recofgnises that academia isn't everything. that different children are good at different things, that they learn in different ways at different speeds. if the kids weren.t cattle hoarded into batches of thirty plus and taught by computer programme, teachers would be able to more adequatelyy cater. I don't want to send her to small classed private school. small classed not just in sense of sheer numbers, but such a tiny social fragment that she thinks the world some homogenised place. it's bad anough that we now live here in this monocultural annex of civilisation, i don't what her experiences to be further narrowed.

I want to steal her away. take her home with me. show her the magic. i also know it's not her magic its mine. its a selfish thing. she's been here two thirds of her life, she doesn't really know what else there is. doesn't know i can't never really live here.

and eating my cake, too

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Last night in longhand.
Tonight could be magnificent. uplifting. I could walk and walk in this place that I need. ther's life everywhere in it. every nook and corner. high ledges above floors and floors and street of life is more, squeezed into pockets where families play mahjong or peel oranges, lovers banish stinky shoes to share ledges with pidgeons, lugging supplies up narrow staircases, revel in the energy of the place. I could have walked and walked. could have sat and istened, let it penetrate my chilly bones. Slipping in so comfortably into the familiar anonimity where nobody looks but anyone might smile. traders don't approach me because I look comfortable - not lke like their tourist targets. I want to be the person that wanders to a newly reopened old haunt, taps her feet, nods her head. drowsy in the half dark eiderdown. There would be interesting conversations with half remembered anecdotes after. Arrive back late to this scare opportunity bed, slinking into four star sheets and shiney surfaces. But its breaking into my heart. I can't live it because I mourn it. I miss it even though I 'm looking at it, listening to it. A few steps and a thousand miles away at the bottom of something I don;t know the name of. New skin too fragile over old wounds to risk bumping the edges of me. the knife of an old flames favourite on a radio, ill tuned to the times. something drags claws down my chest with every changing traffic light or neon flicker.there's no key. i'm done here.

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