Category Archives: Discussions

How are we to move forward?


A few things have happened lately that have made me think about what it’s like to be a woman in this world.

Before that, I just went around well, being a woman.

I should just start at the beginning. It was this article that started it all.

Since I read it, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

Because, unfortunately, it’s true.

Take today for instance…

♦♦♦♦

We have a salesperson who comes to our door roughly once every three weeks selling frozen food to us. The food is generally of pretty good quality and I specifically like the frozen fish as there’s more choice than at the local supermarket, plus it’s mostly been fully deboned.  To top it all, it’s cheaper than buying fresh fish (don’t forget, I’m feeding oodles of kids here).

Normally, our salesperson is a slightly ditsy lady. She has a tendency to forget something from my order and a couple of minutes after she’s left, I see her hurtling right back down the road again with my missing items. Though once, admittedly, it did take her until the next day to notice my forgotten eclairs.

Her arrival always sets our dog off. The previous frozen foods salesman was an absolute dog fanatic. He used to spend 20 minutes playing with our dog during every visit, as opposed to five minutes taking my order. Sometimes he even filmed our four-legged friend with his mobile phone, so that when he went home he could relive his work day with his wife. Any moment he had left to spare he whiled away showing me pictures of all his other customer’s dogs.

Our dog (Lexi) still recognises the van. Despite the dog enthusiast having moved away over a year ago. It was a mutual love-love relationship.

So he left and we are now visited by the sales lady who is nice and tries really hard but is obviously completely overwhelmed by the hairy one. Lexi really, really encourages her too to be a dog enthusiast. But so far, she’s still rather intimidated.

Now, knowing what I know, I should be more careful checking off my goods versus my bill. But it’s difficult. As you now know, there is the manic dog, who’s jumping up, trying to catch a lick, then throwing herself, belly-up, onto the ground, desperate for a full-on belly rub down, while barking all the time.

Despite consistently having been informed from the company a good couple of days before that the lady is due, I have always, always forgotten and then been ‘surprised’ by her arrival, and that leaves me totally embarrassed on two major points:

  • The house is always a tip
  • I have never ever looked through the catalogue and I have no idea what it is I want to order.

Which means: any random child who just happens to be around takes the opportunity to yell out excited ideas of what we really, really don’t need.

Now the frozen food company doesn’t only sell fish. They sell anything at all that they have possibly thought of that could be frozen. Which naturally includes cocktails and doughnuts, snails and lasagnes, dumplings and… well, it’s just easier to tell you that they have a catalogue filled with more than 150 pages of tempting offers.

As a grown up, the tempting-ness of these offers become less seductive because I have the ability to look at the price and at my bank balance. Unlike any of my children.

So normally the picture looks something like this: with one arm I’m trying to wrestle back the dog while with the other I’m shushing the children. Who, if there happens to be more than one of in the room at that time,  have entered into a full on battle of ‘What We Need More Of – Ice Cream or Cake’ otherwise known as the S’cream Cake Wars.

And then, after all that, there’s the freezer to contend with. It’s always almost full when the frozen food salesperson arrives. Either because I’ve been on a soup making mission or because my husband has thoughtfully been shopping just the day before and filled it with frozen pizzas. No, he never knows when the frozen food salesperson is coming either.

I always buy way too much and end up emptying the ice cube tray and stuffing the kids with ice cream before dinner in order to fit in yet another fish finger.

So you get the usual picture.

The woman arrives. I battle and spend. My husband emails me because the bank suspects fraud as his wife has spent so much on the debit card again. The dog pines and sometimes escapes when the poor saleswoman accidentally leaves the front door ajar. And she returns, red-faced and panting, “Sorry, your dog is now running around the sports field again. Oh, and here’s your tuna fish pizza.” And not one single child is satisfied with what I bought.

Instead they are bickering.

Again.

While I am re-rearranging the freezer.

But today it was different.

Today, a man came to the door and as soon as I saw him I knew that I knew him from somewhere, but I couldn’t quite figure out where…

That’s because I have absolutely no skill at all when it comes to the competency of facial recognition. Seriously, I once watched a film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in it. Half way through I was completely confused and I had to interrupt my husband’s viewing pleasure and interrogate him about it. It turns out, I couldn’t tell the difference between these two main characters and thought they were both playing the same role. My husband was significantly horrified and has teased me about it ever since (hence I now remember the two actors’ names).

The man standing at the door was clearly a frozen foods salesman as he had parked his van right in front of my house. So I greeted him, but I told him not to enter as I had one sick and germy kid lolling around on the couch.

He didn’t try to come in. But he told me several times that he would like to sit down at the table with me to do the order. I had to say “No” very clearly, three or four times, before he would finally back down. I explained to him it was for his own good health but I could tell he wasn’t at all pleased.

I felt that instinctive unsafe feeling that, since I read the article, I’ve started to think that every woman knows.

And then I remembered, that’s how I knew this man. He’d been a substitute salesperson for the frozen food company once before. And I’d had the very same uncomfortable, unsafe feeling then.

He didn’t raise his voice, or push the door. And he didn’t lay a finger on me, but I felt threatened by his tone and his body language. He was very forceful in his sales technique. He didn’t smile. He slammed the doors of his van stormily, one after another.

I felt unsafe. On my own doorstep. So much so that I thought about calling the company and telling them not to send that particular salesman to my door again.

♦♦♦♦

That article jumped into my mind yet again.

I am a woman and I live regularly on my guard.

I am a woman and time and time again I feel unsafe. Or taken advantage of or disrespected.

And I don’t say anything.

I just ignore it.

I thought it was normal.

And it may be that it happens a lot. But that is wrong.

I owe it to my daughters to talk about it.

We all do.

So, I’ll start the ball rolling. Feel free to join in in the comments section.

It is not acceptable to think that all that should be important for me is pleasing men and having their children.

It is not acceptable to pat my bottom.

It is not acceptable to pay me less.

It is not acceptable to say that all my problems will be solved if I look pretty.

It is not acceptable to have a go at me for feeding my child.

It is not acceptable to use your strength to make me feel afraid.

It is not acceptable to not stop when I say no.

 

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NaNo No-No?


I have spent the day stuffing myself with Cadbury’s Whole Nut.

(This is not an advertisement,  Cadbury’s did not give me any free Whole Nut. They have never given me any free chocolate, which is probably a good thing. Anyone in my vicinity can quite clearly see, I have no self-control when it comes to Whole Nut. It’s actually the real reason I left Britain and relocated to Germany, there’s a distinct lack of Whole Nut here. In fact, there’s a distinct lack of Cadbury. If I’d have continued to live in the UK I’d have looked like a Weeble by now. Instead, I just look like a sausage.)

While I chomped (could it be that Whole Nut, in excess quantities, makes your bottom burp?) I also contemplated.

Should I or should I not set myself the challenge of joining 300,000 or so other writers and attempt a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days? NaNoWriMo

I had planned to make a gut decision, but I fear the whole Whole Nut escapade may have jeopardised my instinct.

What do you think? Am I certifiable? Do I need this challenge like a hole in the head? Will it give me back my mojo? Are you taking part? Will you support me? Will you come over and pair odd socks and make me chicken soup and hot chocolate and tell the children to “Rise and shine” each morning? Could my fingers actually fall off? Could I manage 50k qualitative words in 30 days or would I just be outpouring poop?

As The Beatles are famed for asking: “Won’t you please, please help me.”

Cast your vote!


Sweden, my favourite, flew through the finish line and won last night’s Eurovision Song Contest.

I loved her song, her dancing, her look and her braveness to stay honest and speak up for human rights issues.

The contest, despite being another political hotbed, entertained us with magnificent illuminations and as always, interesting dance routines.

We sat down, as a family, with our score sheets and pens, some of us on pillows on the floor (there are too many of us, we can’t all fit on the sofa, it was OK when their bums were smaller, but they keep on eating, and thus growing). We agreed to: 3 if we loved them, 2 if they were quite good, 1 if the performance reached a mere OK and 0 if it was bloody awful.

It seemed like quite an easy-to-grasp score system to me.

But this house is full of rebels and when I quizzed around about how many points they’d allocated after each performance, minus numbers and decimal places started to creep in. Then during Macedonia’s entry the five-year old abandoned scoring altogether and attempted to write ‘evil’ in the total score section.

These were the high/lowlights for us:

  • The female presenters took the opportunity to show us the entire contents of their wardrobes. While the man advertised his ability to take on as his next job a toothpaste commercial: he grinned constantly from ear to ear.
  • What on earth are we British thinking? The Hump? Someone on the selection committee needs to be fired. Scrap that. The whole committee needs to go! There are so many brilliant artists in the UK. Shame on you!!
  • Albania entertained us with a shrieker who had one of her dreadlocks glued to her chest like some kind of serpent. She was my husbands favourite?!?
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina had the five-year old in a tizzy, I quote, “To me, her dress is stunning!”
  • The Russian grannies were brilliant.
  • Italy provided a pretty good singer but her downfall may have been that she dressed up as Amy Winehouse.
  • We were highly entertained by Greece’s chorus, “You make me dance, dance like a maniac. You make me want your aphrodisiac.” (We don’t get out much).
  • The Turkish group impressed us with their ability to make boats from capes.
  • Spain said they couldn’t afford to win then taunted us with a stunning voice of Pastora Soler. They should really have taken tips from Ireland. I so hope that is the very last we see of catastrophe known as Jedward.
  • I suspect that Ukraine’s ecstatic dancers had a wild time with Denmark’s euphoric drummer at the after show party.

Were you one of the 125 million viewers? Did you enjoy the show? Which county were in receipt of your “douze points”? What were your high/lowlights?

Should a baby join its mother in prison?


I wanted to write ‘a lovely young girl named Stephanie’, then I realised that I am old and she is no longer the little girl who once lived two doors down from me. She is now a beautiful young lady and has, gulp, a child of her own.

So, I’ll recommence:

Yesterday evening, I spotted a very interesting discussion on Facebook started by Stephanie, a gorgeous new mother.

She asked (and I quote): “Should mums in prison be allowed to have their babies in there with them?”

I must admit to being divided on this one. I don’t like the thought of children starting their lives in prison, but on the other hand, as a mum myself, I can see that babies need their mothers.

Where do you stand? Are you you totally against babies joining their mothers in prison? What if the woman was pregnant when she was convicted? Does it depend on the crime she committed? Does it depend on what led her to her crime? Is early life in prison a negative start for a child?

I am looking forward to reading your responses!

Do you agree with the death penalty?


WordPress asked:

Do you agree with the death penalty? Is it ever right to kill? And under what circumstances? Is it worth the risks of being wrong?

Yes, actually, I do.

And my circumstances are extremely specific. I agree with the death penalty for someone who has murdered more than one person.

You may now wonder, but why not for someone who has been proven to have committed murder once? A fair question. I think that there can be a lot of reasons for a one-off killing. A constantly abused wife. Self-preservation. Jealousy. Financial hardship (a gun going off in a robbery, for example). Snapping over because of psychological problems.

I believe these people should be punished if deemed necessary but also be helped so they have the possibility to one day be a valuable member of the community again.

But a person who repeatedly takes the life of another, in my mind does not deserve to have life themselves. They have forfeited that right by their own actions.

To allow them to live puts the public and also other prisoners and prison workers at risk.

Keeping them in prison, at the tax-payers expense, for the rest of their lives, for me, is not the correct answer.

I also think that the families of the murder victims deserve closure.

They deserve to know that what they have to live with, no one else will go through at that perpetrators hands.

A friend of mine was murdered. He went to a concert, happy, free. He left his friends to nip to the loo. He did not return.

He was stabbed by a ‘high’ teenager in an unprovoked attack.

The perpetrator got life imprisonment, which in Scotland means that he could already be out on parole.

I hope that he’s had therapy and has turned his life around. That he’s suffered the consequences of his actions and now wants to make a go of his life.

But were he to kill again, I would want him quite simply, deleted.

*Wherever you are Colin, I hope you have found peace. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten.*

Your Stories Request


A few years ago I remember my eldest, Joni, coming home from school and asking me about my most embarrassing moments. Some kind of new age homework…

I prattled on for half an hour, then she finally interrupted me and said, “Actually Mum, I only need one example!”

😳

A recent post I wrote resulted in a couple of bloggers revealing some hair-raising hysterical stories of their own.

Slowvelder started it:

Too funny! Reminds me of the time my daughter told her kindergarten teacher about the huge cockroaches at our house. (She was thinking peacocks!). I hope your kindergarten teacher is prepared :)

I then went on to tell one of my embarrassing stories, which goes something like this:

When I lived in Scotland, I used to look forward to parent evenings. They took ten minutes and in general those were gushy minutes of: Look at how cute her pictures are! What’s that supposed to be? Along with proud smiles at red ticks and smiley stickers. And teary-eyed laughter at entertaining snippets of our lives and little stories in ‘The Writing Book’.

Until that is, Joni (my eldest) ruined it all.

(OK, I do admit, I didn’t write all of this in my return comment to Slowvelder).

I had as usual, enthused over her drawings. Felt contentment because of her perfectly calculated sums.

I lifted ‘The Writing Book’ filled, Ladies and Gentlemen, with hope. With pride. With naiveté.

I read through the sentences, at the start with a smile.

“Mummy and I went to the park.”

“I ate a cheese sandwich with Maleehah.”

Then suddenly:

“Our rabbit died because he starved to death.”

Along with a picture of the once living rabbit.

Our rabbit did die. But of old age!!!

It struck me that such comments really are worthy of their own post.

Tilly confirmed this, with her addition:

lol! My brother told his teacher that ‘Daddy kicked my teeth out.’ First my parents knew was when social services turned up on the doorstep. Dad and Little Brother had been playfighting and his loose front baby teeth fell out :)

I love this story. Probably because it didn’t happen to me.

So, my question to you is, how have your children shamed embarrassed you? Or, even better, how have you yourself discredited your own parents?

By popular demand…


Now several of you readers have been asking to see ‘the picture’.

I’ve asked the four-year-old and she seems quite keen to splatter her artwork all over the internet. But as her agent mother I did feel some negotiations protective measures were necessary.

So, first I ‘lost’ the picture. After writing the blog, I noticed her adding extras to her masterpiece, like colouring in the skirt. Then I saw the picture carelessly abandoned on the floor, so I picked it up and placed it on some surface somewhere, I can’t quite remember where…

But it’s been found, she’d cleverly hung it on the fridge. (I swear she sneaks a look at the comments on this blog).

Anyway, I’ve decided that if you want it, you can vote for it!!

Freshly Pressed


Now I have your attention.

Thank you!

It does seem to me from a few blog posts I read lately, that WordPress bloggers, seem in general, to be hankering after that prestigious Freshly Pressed moment.

Now, I’m a bit thick.

I had to ask one such blogger (as it was rather unclear to me) if we have to submit posts somewhere to be in contention for Freshly Pressing.

He, kindly, wrote back to me and informed me: No. No submission. Every post that’s written could potentially be FP’d.

Now, I don’t know how it is for other bloggers, but I definitely think that some of the articles I write are of better quality and some are of a worse standard.

What would happen if they picked one of the worse ones?

I would be inundated with a brief moment of popularity and people would think that that worser one is a true and accurate representation of my actual ability.

Shit!?!

I am not always good


Yesterday, I found myself shocked.

In disbelief.

I needed a few bits from the supermarket. (How can ‘a few bits’ come to 54 Euro’s?) We pulled up at one on the way home and, as usual, four-year-old Akasha needed to nip to the loo. (Perhaps you can feel my exasperation, we hadn’t even grabbed a trolley yet.)

I found the toilet door in record time (I am becoming a pro).

I saw a notice on the door, but I ignored it, (being in German and that requiring effort on my part, and it being evening and me trying to remember which few bits were actually required). I pulled on the door but it didn’t open, leaving me looking like a complete fool person with an enquiring mind.

I read the note. OK, if I’m honest, I picked out the most important looking words and got the gist that I had to go to the cashier and ask for the key.

We walked, well, I walked normally and the little one did a John Cleese impression in an attempt at holding together her four-year-old bladder.

Feeling some urgency tugging at my arm, I interrupted the checkout assistant and asked her politely for the key. She informed me that I would need to give her a deposit.

I opened my bag, a little surprised, thinking a Euro should do.

Only to hear her say, “Your car keys or your mobile phone will suffice.”

“What?!?”

She repeated her request.

I repeated her request back again. Just to make sure I’d understood. The little one squirmed.

You may or may not be proud of me:

I did not call trading standards.

I did not squeal and laugh hysterically and look for Candid Camera.

I did not start a rational debate on why I should trust her with my phone/contact details/sim card or my car keys when she/her boss evidently, did not trust me with a roll of toilet paper.

I did not ask to see the manager.

I did not give her my keys.

I did not give her my mobile phone.

I did shake my head a lot in disbelief.

I did inform her (and anyone else listening) that I would prefer to shop elsewhere.

I did leave the shop with a husband and four children in tow. One doing some weird-looking yoga positions.

I did whip down the pants of my four-year-old right in front of the shop and ordered her to pee “there, right there.”

And she did let loose onto the stones.

Would you trust your car keys/mobile phone to a stranger in order to use the toilet?

Just ADHD? Update


I wrote a post, a few short weeks ago Just ADHD? and I have to say, I am truly amazed at the response it received.

Since I wrote that article, things have moved forward in that I finally found myself with the details of a hospital where my son, Aden, should be able to be correctly diagnosed. The only snag being, a long waiting time. Again.

My issue with that is, in recent weeks more and more problems have begun to arise. And although I understand more and more about why my son behaves differently (mostly from the help I received after writing the above article), I am finding myself with new issues to deal with now, on an almost daily basis.

The school is struggling to cope with Aden and that all became very clear on Friday.

I received a call from the secretary to inform me that he had run away.

A fight had broken out between him and another boy, and Aden had thrown stones. A search of his school bag revealed more stones and this led to my little boy locking himself in the toilet. His class teacher, who, it must be said, is very nice, got him out of the cubicle and the headmaster sent him to the sick room with some work, on his own, to deflate the situation.

Experience tells me, that this is a very bad idea. At this point my child needs to be calmed down (see I am learning, I just need to learn a lot faster, because I’m having trouble keeping up).

Aden, alone and frustrated in the sick room, opened and climbed out of the window and left the building.

Then made his 2km way home. In the rain.

I answered the phone, and literally two minutes later found him standing on the door step.

I calmed him down and explained patiently, that we needed to go back to school and why.

We faced down an angry, sarcastic sports teacher and the headmaster, together.

The headmaster raged about how disappointed he is in my son, how after everything he’s done for him, giving him less work than the other children, etc. Aden has let him down.

I watched Aden’s pained face and I hurt with him.

I understood the headmasters anger, but I realised at the same time that his ranting would absolutely not improve the situation with my child. I also didn’t feel that Aden’s ability to keep up with school work and the current situation, actually had anything to do with each other.

And someone else’s disappointment will not stop him leaving a building or climbing out of a window or even throwing a stone.

I don’t know exactly what will stop my son doing these things. I do know, that in his frustrated, angry, upset state that he wanted to come home. And though I agree that he should not have left, although I’m upset that half the school had to search for my ten-year-old and that everyone knows and the whole school has been disrupted, I’m also aware, that I must be doing something right and that led my child directly back to me.

To reiterate, I do not want Aden to leave school and come home and cause such disruption. What I want is for him to have a normal school experience, with friends and to love learning, like I did when I was young. I want him to achieve and have goals and feel success. To laugh, to interact, to be able to concentrate on the task in hand.

But I also want him to know that he can tell me anything, no matter how awful it is. That he can trust me and that he has my unconditional love. That whatever he does, we can try together to work it out and to do the right thing.

Once the headmaster had calmed a little and after detention had been set, I tried to explain that I believe Aden not only to have ADHD, but also to be autistic. I informed him that we are awaiting an appointment at the hospital, and that our paediatrician has now told me that he suspects my son has not only ADHD, but also autism. I quietly told him that all of this information has been thoroughly discussed with his class teacher.

He sent us off to the class teacher and on the way I explained to Aden that it could be that she is also angry.

Outside the classroom a boy shouted, “Evil Aden!”

I actually couldn’t speak.

The teacher saw us and treated us both with respect and concern. She informed me that Aden is being bullied. That the other children will not leave him alone. They annoy him constantly. They stick things on his back. And that she’s at a loss on how to handle it.

I felt physically sick as she spoke to me and I had to really force myself to blink back the tears.  He had not told me this. Nor had the headmaster. I knew that the week before, a boy had pulled his trousers down after swimming class. Aden had come home extremely angry, but he had also revealed that the child had been properly dealt with.

My son is an obvious target. He behaves differently to other children of his age. Stands out for his different taste in shoes. Makes odd noises and faces. Runs to the teachers and helps them with everything. Tells if he thinks someone’s doing something wrong. Has no sense of personal space.

We had problems with bullying before, last year, and what I do know is, that he will only take so much and then he will react, explosively.

Worried I called the hospital again, to try to hurry the appointment through. And incredibly we were given an immediate emergency appointment. I asked how immediate and they told me to “leave the house right now!”

I picked up my husband and we drove straight to the hospital.

We saw a psychiatrist and explained the current problems and some back history. She told us almost immediately on seeing our son that she thought ‘autistic’, but that we would have to go through a proper diagnosis.

We came home and although it had been a long, horrible day, and we’d spent half of the afternoon filling in forms we’d already filled in ten times before, I had the overall feeling that we’d made a big step forward. Because now we have an emergency telephone number that we can use, be it day or night, should our son require urgent assistance and the hospital will now push us along on the waiting list and give us an appointment, I hope, quite soon.

◊◊◊

Still worried about the potentially explosive situation at school. Last night Aden and I studied the calendar together, which revealed that he has only just over six weeks left at this school, after holidays in between are deducted. I’ve told him to try to stay calm. When he comes home he can bounce on the trampoline and hit the punch bag to attempt to keep his frustration down.

I’ve also told his teacher that, should things be too difficult at school, she should call me and I’ll come by and pick him up.