Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Taking your time...

Once again, my son and I are waiting for my daughter.

To say she is slow is an understatement. We do seem to spend a lot of time waiting for her. Getting dressed, eating her branflakes, finding schoolbag, remembering where she has put her spellings book, picking up the games kit, brushing her hair ... and this is all just before 8.30am!

This time it is en route, walking all the way to school. Only 5 minutes (less, if you are me and realise just a shade too late that if the computer says 15:15 and you really ought to be at school to pick them up, not tweeting away...)

"Come on!" I say.

About ten metres behind my daughter is dawdling along, singing merrily to herself.

"Okay, okay, I'm coming!" she says, moving a little (but not much) faster.

My son groans through gritted teeth.

"Hurry up! You don't want to be late for your teacher!" I have a vain hope that this will be an incentive.

"Okay," she says.

A brief burst of speed does little to help. Exasperated I say, "You are a slowcoach!"

"No I'm not!" she replies indignantly.

"Yes you are!"

"No, I'm not!"

"Excuse me, but you are a slowcoach. You're taking forever this morning to walk to school."

"No, I'm not a slowcoach," she says adamantly. "I'm a BIG slowcoach."

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Dream Challenge

At some stage a year or so ago my son couldn't get to sleep so wanted something to dream about. I gave him some suggestions. "How about giraffes and elephants and lions?"

The next night I volunteered a few more.

The following night he asked for some ideas again.

And the next. And the next. And the ... well, you get the idea.

It is hard to come up with three original ideas every night. And, believe me, I get complaints when I repeat topics.

My son is bad enough. Now it is even harder: my daughter has decided that she too needs dream ideas. Three. Each night.

It would be lovely if I could repeat the same three, but daughter likes fairies and princesses and son likes rockets and dinosaurs. (Another path that has never run straight is having non-stereotypical boy/girl splits, for reasons that completely elude me.) Six dream topics, every night. No wonder I delight when my husband is home from work in time to put them to bed: it may be a rarity, but it gives me a break from the dream challenge!

So, anyone got any ideas I can use?

Picture credit: Dr Richard Ferber, Children's Hospital Boston   http://web1.tch.harvard.edu/dream/dream_fall06/sweet_dreams.html

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Words on Wednesday

Written as part of creative writing course run by @dotterel at Bringing up Charlie. By its nature, this is unedited: constructive criticism is welcome!

I sit cradling a cup of tea. Gin and tonic appeals, but it is too early in the day. The numbers don’t add up and my mind is tied up in knots with worry.

The green plastic chair isn’t the most comfortable place to sit, but it is my spot: my place of peace and quiet, just for now.

Mustard, our Labrador, lies behind me. I can hear him panting in the heat, though his body lies cooling on the cold concrete slabs of our veranda. He has been running around the garden chasing the cat and irritating the gardener. Like me, he now seeks solace at the front of the house.

So far the cat has shown no interest in the birds that are nesting in the tubular posts holding up the corrugated iron roof. There are more tweets this week than last: the eggs have finally hatched. Mother sparrow, I assume, is busy flying in and out, bits of nesting grass sticking out at odd angles.

The air is still, heavy with heat. The sunlight fires down on the garden in front of me. The trees remain green, but the grass is browning despite the gardener’s best efforts to water it. There is too much lawn and I am stingy with water use when there is always a risk of drought. The marigolds have flowered: a brilliant display of orange encircling the pine tree. The bougainvillea is a riot of maroon and red clambering up and over the concrete walls that surround our house.

I lean forward and rest my elbows on the garden table. It is lovely here. My head may have been spinning with financial problems but here – here I find peace. Here life is put in perspective again. Here a soothing cup of tea has worked wonders for the emotions. I am reluctant to return to the books, but I smile, as I know this patch of paradise is available to me whenever I want.

Draining the mug, I go back to work.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Cheesy, but true...

"I don't want cheese sandwich in my lunch," my daughter declares at breakfast, with a distressed look on her face.

I am surprised. She always has cheese; she likes cheese. She has never expressed a dislike of it in the past, although (unlike her brother, who hates the stuff and will only eat ham) she is usually willing to try other things.

"Oh?" I say. "Why not?"

"It makes me feel sick," and she rubs her tummy and leans forward with such pain and anguish that I am forced to believe it has truly upset her.

"Okay, do you want ham, like your brother?"

"No." (More stretching of face in agony.)


"No. I get a poorly tummy."

I am getting the picture. "So, what would you like in your sandwich?"

The face transforms instantly. She sits upright, a small smile on her face and a bright spark in her eyes.

"Chocolate spread, or honey!"

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Making my mark

That's it. I've done it.

I am surprised how emotional I am when it comes to voting. The private walk to the polling station, a few moments to think through what I really want and the responsibility of marking an X on the ballot paper.

I remember turning 18 and being so delighted that just a couple of months later there were European elections and I could vote! The privilege! The honour! I've never been quite so excited about the European elections before or since.

This time I had to queue! I guess that the school run is bound to be the busiest time when the polling station is in a classroom. My most recent voting experience was for a local council election and involved walking to a portakabin on a scrap of land that previously I didn't know existed. Last general election we were living in Zambia. Whilst I could have gone through the procedure to get a postal / overseas vote I didn't. It was a lot of fuss and a very early deadline and I could only vote in the last constituency I was registered at, which I didn't really care about at all. 

But, for me, the real frisson of excitement comes with actually entering the polling station and holding the stubby pencil attached to a piece of old string, and making a cross on the paper. I am actually able to make a statement of my beliefs, with no coercion (if you excuse the media and politicking of the last four weeks) and no risk of retribution. No-one need ever know how I voted and nobody can tell me I was wrong. It is my democratic right.

It is a great privilege.

So, thank you Ms Pankhurst et al for fighting for this freedom of mine. And thank you, UK, for your democracy, despite its flaws. I enjoy voting, every time, even if my choice doesn't get in. Thank you.

(And no, I wasn't quite dressed like that!)

Picture taken from iTelegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1542248/Suffragettes-were-like-al-Qaeda.html): all copyright remains with them.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Words on Wednesday

I know

For a Monday lunchtime the café was busy, humming with conversation. Joan sat awkwardly, uncertain what she should say.

Ted nudged the salt across the table. “I know you can’t take your potatoes without it,” he said with a smile, chocolate-brown eyes melting her hardened spirit.

She gave a false smile, took a deep breath and consciously relaxed her shoulders. Oblivious to her discomfort, he chatted on, recounting stories from work and joking about his foolish colleagues. She stared at her plate, pushing the peas around aimlessly.

He paused for breath, and in that moment the room seemed to fall silent. “I do love you, Joan,” he said tenderly.

She looked up at him sharply. “I know,” she said.

Beside them, the waitress noisily stacked bowls, plates crashing, cutlery clanging, a fork unexpectedly falling to the floor.

Joan sighed. “I know,” she repeated softly.

Reaching down to pick up the fork she caught the waitress’s eye. They stopped mid-movement, staring at each other. And then she knew.

She knew she had to end the relationship.

This was written in 20 minutes as an exercise, based on the picture 'New York Restaurant' by Edward Hopper, c 1922. 

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