Monday, 19 April 2010

A Rant about "America's Medicated Children"

I watched BBC2’s “America’s Medicated Kids” presented by Louis Theroux on the iPlayer last night and whilst I wasn’t unsurprised at what I saw, (Why make a programme about medicated kids if there isn’t what we as “normal people” would believe to be a problem?) I was enormously saddened by the fact that the very first thing parents and doctors in the USA turn to, if they have a child whom THEY perceive as being different or difficult, is medication.

I was, as I always am when watching his programmes, incredibly impressed by Louis Theroux’s ability to handle so vast a subject so sensitively and manage to condense it into a 59 minute programme. How he manages to speak to such stupid, stupid people and keep his cool, I will never know. The more I watched these selfish people, who find rearing children just a little bit too difficult, the more I wanted to hit them.

The most salient line of the programme was, for me, the gentle reminder Louis gave to the viewer about just how much power parents have over their children. Something I am ever conscious of as a mother. I have Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse” pinned to the notice board in my office to remind me every single day not to mess around with my child’s head – because I could if I wanted to ... so can all parents – but why on earth would we?

How DARE these inadequate people place the calm-running of their own lives above what is actually best for their children. Is it the US culture that causes this? I suspect there are many parents in most countries who would take the easy option of having a drugged child to manipulate and mould to their own convenience, if they could – but we were only privy to US parents in Theroux’s programme.

I wonder what makes these people decide that a boisterous 6 year old, a pre-pubescent 11 year old boy and a girl of 15 who is patently full of hormones need MEDICATING. They need parents who will give them some time, who will listen to them and interact with them ... not pills.

Rant over. I probably need to have my blood pressure checked. It feels as if it’s sky high just now.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Thou Shalt Not Wear Crocs

The too, too long Easter holidays are over and I am learning that living within walking distance of son’s school brings with it new responsibilities and rules ... commandments that – according to son – I am breaking every day.

Son, it would be fair to say, has the road sense of a three toed sloth ... basically NO idea of left, right, roads, zebra crossings or anything at all that would aid his staying alive on the way to school or on the way back. For this reason, we decided that for this week and this week only, we would walk him to and from school – or at least walk with him until he could see the gates and that we could see him go through them (naturally, from a respectful distance).

It is absolutely verboten to kiss son on saying goodbye to him ... although this is a rule that HE forgets and lifts face up for a quick peck before zooming towards the school entrance to join his friends.

I’ve been using the short walk to meet him in the afternoon as an opportunity to take the dog out for a brief trot. It is on these occasions that I have learnt that the wearing of Crocs is a heinous crime and a cause of massive embarrassment to son who has worked out a way of walking directly in front of me so that none of his friends who happen to glance at the pavement will be able to see what I’m wearing on my feet. Of course, I trip over him and the dog and far more attention is drawn to us than would otherwise be the case.

I am also told WHAT to wear and precisely how much make up to put on my face. I am living in Essex. However much make up I may slap on, I’m never going to present any real competition to the other mothers. I can only hope to be a pale and ghostly imitation.

I give up. I asked son if he would also like me to imitate the other Mums’ accents. He decided against that one but I have been requested not to speak at all.

As of Monday he will be walking to and from school on his own. I will be able to wear my Crocs, speak how I usually do and even go out without two tubes of slap on my face. I can barely wait.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A Concise Crisis of Confidence

I’ve just glanced at my blog and realise that I’ve been spasmodically scribbling for 13 months now. I wonder why I thought I could write.

So much of what I’ve written seems trite, banal – even boring. Re-reading my self-conscious words, I wonder why I keep putting myself through this.

There are certain things I know I want to say and certain things that, to misquote Donald Rumsfeld, “I know that I know” but why on earth would I have the temerity to think that anyone would want to read about any of it?

I’ve had a too long break from writing “regularly” and my confidence seems to have completely deserted me ... not that there was much of it to start off with.

My son keeps telling my husband that I’m a writer. I’ll stick with it for a while longer. I would hate to disappoint him and, anyway, I don’t really know what else I would do in its place.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Our house is a very, very, very ... err ... NICE house?

Well, after three months in the rented London Dungeon (a teeny, tiny flat that was more suited as a “pulling pad” for a single 35 year old male than it was for a family) and what has, for reasons many and varied, seemed to be the longest completion of a purchase EVER, we are – once again – installed in our own home. We are now, of course, noticing everything that’s wrong with the place. I don’t even know where to start to describe the ever-growing list of priorities that aren’t just frivolous desires but urgent imperatives.

I’ve always thought I had the ability to see past other people’s ideas of d├ęcor when I view houses. I walk around thinking “yes, a loo can go in the cupboard under the stairs” and “I can fit an en suite in there” or “let me just rip this kitchen out and start again”. Not so much “Grand Designs” as “logical enhancements”. My viewing of this house was no exception ... but what I should have been doing was asking whether there was a combi-boiler, whether there were any leaks and if the shed at the bottom of the garden was lined with asbestos. I didn’t do any of that. So desperate was I to be away from the London Dungeon and so exhausted was I from driving 50 miles each day in rush hour traffic to get my son to and from his new school, I thought – THIS house is a 3 minute walk from the school and THIS is obviously where we must be.

The house – in “estate agency speak” – is “inter-war”. It was built (or possibly propped up by the two houses either side of it, in its mid-terrace position) in 1929. It has, without doubt been “ahem” modernised ... I reckon probably sometime in the 1960s but – since then – only cosmetic changes have been made.

Coat after coat of paint has been applied to each and every inside door – without ever a thought given to planing any of the wood off prior to repainting hence, apart from the door to the only toilet – which is upstairs, NONE of the other doors in the house actually close. At least two of us can be found most mornings going cross-eyed on the landing waiting for the third to exit the toilet. And ... when one of us is lucky enough to gain access to the toilet – these are what we get to look at!

And we can look at them in the separate bathroom, too – wherein they cover the walls AND the ceiling!

I like luxury as much as the next person – but REALLY is a downstairs loo “a luxury”? Not when you’re 53 years old, you’ve had your first child at the age of 41 and you completely forgot to do your pelvic floor exercises thereafter, it isn’t ... a downstairs loo is an absolute bl**dy necessity!

The master bedroom isn’t a bad size and has elements of – if I lived in North West London – what I would call “Golders Green Gothic” about it ... but I don’t. I now live in Essex, so I believe the house’s current state of decoration could be termed “Barkingside Byzantine”.

Oh yes ... every bedroom should have its very own chandelier ...

and – naturally – covered radiators are the ultimate in good taste!

My son has opted for the smallest bedroom ... he likes “cosy”. He certainly HAS cosy. And only about a third of his treasured possessions actually fit into the cosy little room. Never mind. He has overflowed into the spare room which has melamine-clad fitted wardrobes and very useful they are, too – they’re just not quite as “attractive” as the ones in the master bedroom which have the benefit of fake antique gold “stuff” stuck all over the place.

But – that said – the master bedroom doesn’t have the benefit of an electric shower strategically placed in its corner which the spare room does have.

Of course, what would only improve both the master bedroom and the spare room would be some of these:

... very Barkingside Byzantine and scattered liberally throughout the through sitting and dining room!

I avoid looking at them too much because they make me itch to rip them off the walls.

Where do I start? And – in describing – for fear of boring you ... where do I stop?

Outside, we have a thingy that is corroded and leaks.

I don’t know what sort of a thingy it is but it looks most ominous and I think something ought to be done about it very quickly.

We also have one of these ...

... which is open to the elements at both ends and I would dearly like to pull it off the wall (and then hit the vendor and the estate agent with it ... after I’ve hit myself – of course – for having been completely STUPID).

I desperately need a job to supplement the income from our business in order to start putting into action the many, many, MANY things that need doing to this silly little house – and that’s not going to be easily achievable!

And of course, there are sadnesses ... our darling German Shepherd (who was too large and too bouncy to live in a size-challenged house that the sale of a property in Catatonia deemed was all we could afford in the outskirts of the capital) is no longer with us but having a whale of a time in 3 acres of land in Kent.

For all of the sadnesses and inconveniences, I am once again sitting on my own comfy sofa rather than the concrete couch that nearly broke my back in the London Dungeon. I have a fat Westie snuggled up to my right and an aging black cat snuggled up to my left. That HAS to be fine ... poor old moggy was used to living in the shed in our old house and is now able to spend his twilight years inside as a lapcat.

I like living in Essex! I never thought I would, but after three months of living in the environs of where the London Dungeon was situated, I find Essex friendly ... and it’s wonderful to be within walking distance of a very cosmopolitan High Street. We're quite close to BNP heartland so, I have great pleasure in thumbing my nose at Nick Griffin because I LIKE THE MIX!

I’m enjoying using my own cooking utensils again – now crammed into a too, too small kitchen, and the smell of the first home-made chicken soup bubbling on the hob ready for Friday night in three months is a plus! There are some things that are absolutely okay about my world – and, of course, the very best okay bit is the fact that I have a happy kid. His education and the way he talks about his new school make every single inconvenience pale into total insignificance.

We are HOME.