Summis Desiderantes Affectibus.

20171104_2355391389962119.jpgIn the car on the way home from nannies.

“When I change schools will I be able to go to bed later?” pondered The Eldest.

“It’s a quarter past ten, if you want to go to bed later at your next school you need to start going earlier at this one”

“Oh. Yeah. But I usually . . . ”

“I LOVE MY LIFE!” exclaims The Youngest.

“Ah, that’s splendid news” says me genuinely pleased as punch.

TY – “I love my life and I love school”

TE – “I love my life but I hate school”

TY – “But we need to learn”

TE – “I’ve learnt everything. Go on, tell me something I don’t know”

ME – “The Summis Desiderantes Affectibus was written in 1484”

This is the only thing I remember from A Level History that I took aged 24.

TE – “When will I ever need to know that?”

ME – “At a pub quiz perhaps?”

TE – “No. Tell me a useful fact that I will learn at school”

I’d got nothing.

ME – “It’s not just about facts, it’s about learning to do new things and making friends and stuff”

TY – “Yeah and love is real”

TE – “What’s love?”

TY – “Erm . . . It’s kisses . . . ”

TE – “Eww”

TY – “And hugs . . . ”

TE – “Ewww!”

TY – “And giving presents”

The Youngest is just the loveliest wee soul huh?

Wrong.

When we got home she decided to run an arm wrestling competition. I didn’t win and they finally went to bed at ten past eleven. 

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There’s not much I wouldn’t do for a good cup of tea.

The Youngest was going to nursery three mornings a week and I hated it. I was so miserable without her, I had no idea what to do with myself so I panicked as that seemed the best thing to do at the time.

When The Eldest was wee I was at work, I left work because it didn’t fit in with him once he’d started school and besides I wanted to go to all the assemblies, school plays and woodland walks with the school, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that if I’d been at work now would I? The hilarious thing is that The Eldest wouldn’t let me go in to school, on the rare occasion I did go in it would result in a panic attack of monumental proportions so I stayed home. Except that time I snuck in at the end of a Christmas play, shhh.

Anyhoo, although I had only worked three days a week when The Eldest was wee, I hadn’t spent three whole years with just him as I had with the youngest. It had been just she and me at home for three years then off she went, without so much as a “Cheerio”

What an absolute arse!

Two years she’s been at school now and still doesn’t look back. Other children hug their parents, some will even part with a kiss, not mine though. This may sound like I’m whining, I’m not, this is exactly how things should be. I love that she loves school, long may it continue.

Right, back to me.

I decided that I’d volunteer somewhere. Why not eh? It’d keep me out of trouble if nout else. Where though? Where would I like to go for no reason at all other than I quite fancied it?

Enter: The Swiss Gardens at Shuttleworth.

We, The Husband and I, were wedded at Swiss, it’s lovely there. Yup, that was the place. I signed myself up and, despite my not knowing a weed from a geranium, they took me on. That was Wednesdays sorted for the foreseeable. I’d wander aimlessly around the garden with a hand fork pretending I knew what I was doing. I fooled no one, they knew I was only there for the tea and biscuits.

The point is they didn’t seem to mind, in fact I’d go as far as to say they welcomed my not even slightly green fingers with an open tea pot.

Volunteers are treated like the bonus that they are. The Swiss team are always pleased to see us and, without fail, will thank us as we leave. It’s fabulous. I thought that they must all be slightly deranged until I arrived at my first volunteer dinner. Yup, they treat us to dinner too. Crazy huh?

I arrived at the allotted time but couldn’t find any of my gardening chums, I was beginning to think I’d got the wrong day when I spotted amongst the throng a table of six familiar faces. Phew. But who were all these other folks? There were gazillions of people there, none of which I knew.

The mystery persons were all volunteers. Wall to wall volunteers. It transpired that the much of the staff at The Shuttleworth Collection to which my, yes my, garden is attached are volunteers. Pilots, engineers, tour guides, meeters and greeters, gardeners and my good self, who happens to be none of the above, were all volunteers. It was then that I realised why the Swiss team were always so pleased to see us, it’s because we’re blooming marvellous.

The world runs on volunteers. Who knew?

Now I’m not above working for nothing, I used to work for a company that ceased paying overtime. I don’t want to name any names but we posties would still deliver the mail long after our time had run out because we didn’t want to let our customers down but I’d never really considered not getting paid at all until I became bored enough to.

But here’s the thing, volunteers aren’t silly buggers with nothing better to do, oh no, volunteers are wise beyond their years. Volunteers have felt the warm fuzzy glow of appreciation, the kind you don’t always feel when in paid employ and volunteers get to feel good for no other reason than they’ve done a little something for someone just for the joy of doing a little something for someone.

People will volunteer for a variety of reasons, the panic of being home alone long enough to feel the urge to do housework for one. Some volunteer at places connected to their past careers just to keep the old cogs a turning, some to learn something new or to test out a change of career before they jump and some just for the company and conversation. However, the bottom line is we all volunteer because we like to feel useful, worthwhile.

We like to feel worthwhile and we like tea and biscuits.

 

(whilst writing this I received an email inviting me to the volunteer Beer and Bangers evening, would I like to go? Ha! Would I like to go? Erm? . . . Hell yeah!)

Gardening, not art, GARDENING! 

The Youngest had art club, this means picking up The Eldest only to walk in the house then turn around and leave again. The Eldest hates this so, casting aside all his anxieties about being home alone, he decided he’d brave being left for 20 whole minutes. This is his first ever home aloneness, this is huge, HUGE I tell thee. We had a few moments to prepare.

Snacks – check.

Drink – check.

Back door locked – check. 

Dog suddenly allowed up the stairs just for that extra feeling of safety – check. 

The Eldest said his goodbyes and I left. An odder feeling I am yet to feel.

I’d no sooner parked than my phone rang. It was he. Bugger. I gingerly answered fearing something, not sure what, but something. It was something.

“Hiya” say I all casual like yet holding my breath in case he was mid panic attack and I was a mile up the road so could do diddly squat about it “you ok?”

“Yeah. You know the dog?”

“Yes, we’ve met” I breathed big breaths of calm. 

“Well. He started to cough and something wierd came up”

“Oh” this is not good, The Eldest doesn’t do weird bodily excretions “right, just leave it there, close your bedroom door on it and go watch a bit of tele, I’ll not be long”

“Yeah, that’s what I did. You can get it when you come home”

Lovely. I was looking forward to it.

“The dog’s still coughing”

“Is he alive?” I ask.

Wouldn’t that be fecking marvellous? The dog drops dead when only The Eldest is home!

“Yeah, he’s alive”

Bollocks. Next time maybe. 

“Right, shut him in his room and ignore him till he goes away”

“Ok, see you in a bit”

For the love of biscuits! The first time he’s been left and the dog, his protector, was an utter twat. I’d only been gone a few minutes. FFS!

Then, like a breath of fresh loveliness, The Youngest appeared.

“Hello there, did you have a good time at art club?”

“No, it wasn’t art club, it was gardening club”

No it wasn’t. The children that go to gardening club need their wellies, I hadn’t sent her in with her wellies.

“We’re you meant to have your wellies then?”

“Yes and grey clothes”

Oh dear God, she looked bothered. 

“Oh I’m so sorry, what on earth was I thinking? I’m the worlds worst mother!”

“No, you’re not” she didn’t sound convinced. 

“Was it ok? Do you want to do gardening club?”

“Yeah it was ok, it might be fun”

Might be? Poor little sod.

How in hell did I do that? Did I pay for gardening club? Did she say gardening club all those weeks ago but I heard art? Or, did I pay for art club and the school cocked up? 

Not that it matters either way. As half hours go that one was beyond shit. Mumming is hard, being one of my children harder but they rise to the challenge daily and without complaint, they’re fabulous at being mine.

Cherry Brandy Ice Lolly

I take gazillions of pictures of my children, my phone ever poised lest I miss something. My memory is terrible, I have friends that remember more of my life than I do, hence I dread not documenting everything as I know it will disappear forever almost immediately. 

So, imagine my horror when recently I was caught, phoneless, having a moment. 

We were away for the weekend and The Youngest and I were off to a park she’d spotted the night before. In all my years on this planet I’d never been so bored. Children can make friends at the park, something that is frowned upon if one is 46. Eventually, after a good 40 minutes of me whinging, she agreed to go for a walk. 

Lovely. We went to the shop and bought a bucket and spade, two water pistols, because I daren’t buy her one without thinking of her brother, and snacks. The Youngest picked an ice cream that she never did eat and I had a cherry brandy ice lolly. Who knew they were still about? It was amazing despite reminding me that I last had one as a kid and I’m not a kid any more. It was delicious and depressing all at once, a peculiar sensation. Anyhoo.

The Youngest loves water, is drawn to water, so it wasn’t long before she was waist deep in sea. We had nothing useful with us, no towels, no spare clothes and nobody to guard my bag. Oh what was I to do? There were two options available to me. 

1. Make the now half soggy Loon get out and spoil her fun. 

Or.

2. Get in with her. 

We’d just showered, we were clean, we were dry and we were going in. Bugger.

I started by just pulling my trousers up to the knee but Loon was farther in than knee high. 

“Come on mum”

There was only one thing for it. Up to my neck I went. The sea was beyond cold and it tasted like shite, really salty shite. When was the last time I’d swam in the North Sea? Blimey, probably not since I’d last eaten a cherry brandy ice lolly, many many yonks ago.

I loved it. The Youngest loved it. We went to where our belongs lay unprotected against thieves or, more likely, dogs and unwrapped the water pistols. I’ve not laughed that hard in a while. We were wetting ourselves, literally, and nobody knew. Water pistol fights in the sea, I cannot recommend these enough. 

All the while my phone was in my bag on the beach which saddened me far more than is normal. I was the most relaxed I’d been probably since the last time I swam in the sea and ate a cherry brandy ice lolly, so since I was a kid. I didn’t want to get out, not ever. 

On our soggy stroll back we were still giggling. 

“I can’t believe I did that!” said I to the Loon.

“But you did mummy, I’m so proud of you!”

She must have been because she stopped some folks to tell them. 

“Is that a girl or a boy?” The Youngest asked the mother of a passing toddler.

“He’s a boy”

“Ah. I see. We’ve been swimming in the sea” she bragged.

They, the mum, the nan and the toddler, all look at me as I dripped in front of them.

“Yes. I didn’t know we were going swimming” chuckled I.

“We’re all wet. We didn’t have towels but mummy did it anyway. I’m so proud of her!” she was beside herself.

I told The Youngest that it had been the best day ever and I meant it too. I learnt something that day. I learnt to leave my phone alone. I desperately wanted to go get it so I could take a watery selfie but the desire to stay and be shot was greater. 

I also learnt that The Youngest knows better how to live than I, all my years of experience and I’m getting this life malarkey all wrong. Why be dry and warm and bored when you can be cold and damp and happy?

The next day The Eldest decided that he’d quite like a swim in the sea. I tried to talk someone else into going in because I had run out of clothes but no, there were no takers. 

“So is no-one going in? Well, I’ve always wanted to be a grown up but not any more. When do grown ups stop having fun?” The Eldest pondered. 

Yes, when? What age was I when I became all serious? I bought some shorts and went in. I was braver the second time around, straight in I went and I loved it again. The Eldest loved it, The Youngest loved it and I loved that they loved it and they loved that I loved it. We had a blast.

Still didn’t get a photo though. Not one of us in the sea that is. I did get one of the cherry brandy ice lolly though. 

I’d rather play Twister

All of us know at least one of those woman that can do everything. You know the ones. They always look immaculate, as do their children. Their homes are like show homes, the kind that, if you didn’t already know, would have you believe that there are no pets or children living there. They run successful businesses and the P.T.A. singlehandedly whilst also helping out at Scouts. Their gardens could be mistaken for an entry in the Hampton Court Flower Show with their perfectly manicured lawns and impressive bushy bush type things and they are always cheery, for good reason it would seem, I’d be cheery too.

I can barely dress myself.

No really, The Husband recently went clothes shopping for me and did a better job than I ever could.

My house and garden look as though I have two children and a dog. The piles of washing hint at someone missing the necessary skills needed to organize a piss up in a brewery let alone remember to attend a P.T.A. meeting. I cannot cook for toffee and my children tend to look as though nobody loves them. Someone does, I do, but rather than iron their uniforms last night we played Twister hence the creases. We had a right giggle though, the dog got involved, it was funny as a funny thing . . . . You probably had to be there.

I barely function because my head is full of nonsense and I’m ridiculously easily distracted. Oh look, a squirrel . . . . .

I am full of good intentions but forget what I’m doing and will often wander off to go half do something else. It’s the thought that counts apparently?

I decided to find out how, how are these women doing it? I conducted a small survey. (I asked a few folks, those I thought wouldn’t be offended)

Well, it turns out that some have cleaners and/or gardeners and some are just fucking good at juggling everything and are nailing this parent/C.E.O./chef/gardener shizzle.

My favourite response though was from my mum. When I asked my mum how these women manage to do it all and keep smiling, she told me this little story.

My Grandma and Granddad were in the R.A.F. and back then R.A.F. homes were furnished with R.A.F. furniture. Now, one day, a friend of my Grandma popped in for a cup of tea, as you do, and was telling her all about her morning. The lady in question had been giving her house the once over, a more constructive morning you could not have wished for, she’d even cleaned the feet of her R.A.F. issue dresser. Later my Grandma told my mum of this encounter.

“I didn’t even know they had feet” she said.

So, there you have it, it’s hereditary, it turns out that I come from a long line of women with better things to do. Anyhoo, who wants a posh house and a fancy garden? Well, me but I’d rather play Twister.

I told The Husband to fuck off and I liked it.

According to my Dr I am nearing “that age”

I was on the contraceptive pill but it made me grumpy so I wanted to stop taking it, Dr just happened to mention that it may not be the pill causing my grumpiness. How lucky was he that I didn’t have the time to kill him there and then?

You see, I am peri-menopausal. I didn’t know you could be peri-menopausal. I asked my mum. I don’t know why I asked her as this is the woman that once told me there was no such thing as ovulation in her day so, as expected, she’d never been peri anything.

I think peri is the bit before full on crazy, the bit where things hurt a little but not too much, the bit where you forget some stuff but remember your kids names and where you hid the chocolate. This is the before bit.

Now, aside from the weirdness, there is a surprising and most welcome symptom of the peri-menopause.

I say stuff, stuff I wouldn’t usually say.

I’m one of those people that keep mum, I can’t see the point in causing a row over the little things but then the little things mount up until I want someone dead, right now! But, I have noticed recently that I can’t keep my mouth shut.

For example, one evening The Husband left rice in the sink and once upon a time I would have plotted his demise in my head, I would have cleared it up whilst hating him quietly, to  myself. Not now. Now I say “Is that rice staying there?” and in minutes the rice is gone, as if by magic.

Another evening The Husband made fun of my new job, I work two/three days a month and he boobed by chuckling at my meagre wages. Now, for the record, he’s not bothered about my wages nor is he concerned about whether I work or not, so long as I’m cheery he’s cheery. This was just a “little banter in the kitchen” but it got me all cross, probably because I’m heading into Crazyville but still, I was niggled.

Now, there was a time where I would have thought about this and thought about this until I came to the conclusion that what he meant was that I didn’t work enough and then I would have been pissed about all the stuff I do daily that I don’t get paid for and even more pissed at how he clearly doesn’t appreciate this, blah blah blah. All of this would have been bollocks but still, I would have been cross, silently cross but no more, H.M.S. Politeness has long since sailed.

“Oh fuck off!” said I.

Oh my, it was amazing, it felt amazing. I was done. No need for humpiness, no planning how to poison him or wondering whether I would know which was the brake cable, I didn’t get niggled. I still liked him. I’d said my bit and that was that. It was a tiny miracle.

All I’ve got to do now is pray that The Husband never becomes peri-menopausal. Both of us saying what we really think when we really think it? Wouldn’t that be fun?

 

 

 

I’d never cut it as a serial killer.

It came out of nowhere, there was nothing I could do. I stopped the car.

“Shit! I’ve just hit a squirrel”

“Oh well, just drive away” said The Eldest.

“I can’t just drive away for goodness sake”

I turned the car around. There was already a lady standing over the lifeless corpse with a car mat in hand poised to pick it up.

“I hope it’s dead” she said “they can be nasty little buggers”

It was dead. The nice lady parked it by a tree and gave me a hug.

“These things happen” she squeezed and disappeared as quickly as she’d appeared.

I get back into the car where The Eldest simply cannot believe what has just happened.

“Why are you so upset?”

“It was alive and now it is dead because of me”

“You eat cow though don’t ya?”

Fucking smart arse.

Anyhoo, fast forward to a note in The Youngest’s school diary the following week.

Sorry to hear of your accident this morning, I hope you are ok.

Signed by teacher.

I wrote back that I hadn’t had an accident that morning but I thanked her for her concern.

Oh, your daughter said you had run over a squirrel and that Mrs Whites had given you a hug.

Turns out my mystery squirrel mover and hug giver was a dinner lady at The Youngest’s school. Small world huh?

Tonight, three weeks on from the murder, myself and The Youngest are driving home from the supermarket. The Youngest leans over and whispers in my ear.

“Mum, you killed a squirrel”

I’ll be honest, it was more than a little creepy.

“Did you run over a squirrel in the car then get a hug from a dinner lady?” asked The Husband.

He thought The Youngest was telling fibs, it sounded made up the way she told it so he thought he’d check.

“Yes, for the love of biscuits YES! I KILLED A SQUIRREL! Have you got a problem with that? You eat cow don’t ya?”