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Sunday, 9 July 2017

CBeebies. For Grown Ups, Not Kids. 

If you have a child under the age of six then chances are that CBeebies is a regular presence in your household. If you're a new parent you may find you flick on CBeebies with great trepidation. You may still be under the illusion that you don't need a TV channel to babysit your kids. But don't worry. You'll soon get over that little hurdle, and once you realise that CBeebies is life, oh how you will laugh and laugh at your initial reservations.

You see, I'm convinced that CBeebies is an adults channel DISGUISED as a kids channel. It pretends to be for the kids, but really it's main purpose is to serve the parents. Don't believe me? Then look at the evidence! 

1. It reminds us what day of the week it is. Don't tell me that any child under 6 actually gives a shit about giving it up for Friday! Of course they don't! Adults on the other hand very much do like to give it up for Friday. We also rely on these little weekday melodies. It helps us remember to attend appointments, take our little cherubs to school. 

 It helps us live life.           

2. We're not only reminded of the day but we're also given little prompts throughout those days! And what makes it better is that all this is mainly done through the medium of song! Andy gives us a nudge at lunch time by asking us what's on our plate, and the CBeebies bedtime hour lets us know that soon it will be time to boot the little blighters in to bed. Brilliant!! 

3. When 'Bedtime hour' finally does arrive, CBeebies ensures that a celebrity is kindly waiting to read our child a bedtime story, so that we can rest our vocal chords and gaze upon our children adoringly whilst sipping Gin. 

4. Sometimes Tom Hardy reads the bedtime story. On these occasions we can gaze upon him adoringly instead, whilst we tell our children to "Shhhhh! The sodding bedtime story is on! With Tom Hardy!"

5. Slightly off topic, but whilst we're on the CBeebies subject I may as well ask. What the fuck is Flop actually meant to be? 

6. Mr Bloom (Hubba Hubba!) I'm not sure what his accent is and my tiddlers can take him or leave him (further evidence that CBeebies isn't for kids), but he can introduce me to his veggies any day of the week. 

7. Did I mention Tom Hardy?

8. What about Andy? Would we give him a bash?

And Mr Tumb..... 

Ok too far.

9. Although Pat Clifton AKA Postman Pat gets right on my tits, he does actually represent a realistic picture of the utter incompetence of some people within (let's call it) the mail service. He also simultaneously provides a handy scape goat for when you order your kids birthday presents too late. 

"That bloody Postman Pat! He's obviously gone off to save some gerbil and forgotten to deliver your bloody present!"

10. Finally, how could we forget Chris and Pui with their fluttering kites. Possibly the best (babysitters) presenters of all time! Whenever these two are on you know you're safe to eat chocolate and crisps behind the fridge door as the kids sit mesmerised watching everyone show their 'groovy moves'

GOD BLESS CBEEBIES! 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Dear Mrs May, Lets Talk About The School Cuts 



Dear Mrs May,

Three Billion Pounds.

This is the sum of money that schools will have cut from their funding under your government.

Three Billion Pounds.

My child's school alone will have cuts of £82,563 by the year 2020. That's £-432 per pupil and 3 redundancies.
The redundancies have already been made. They were Teaching Assistants. Adults with vital roles in the support of our children and their education. Adults who have now lost their jobs and income.

Because of you.

You stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised you would run a country that works for EVERYONE.
Please explain to me how THIS works for everyone?
Because I'm struggling to understand.
I need to you to explain.
These cuts can only have negative consequences. An increase in class sizes and therefore lower standards of support, more pressure on teachers & loss of jobs, subjects being cut, as well as extracurricular activities.
Where does this leave our children? Our future generation.

You lied.

Under your government I don't see a country that works for everyone.
I see a country that works for the elite.
A country that is divided by social class.
I see a government that doesn't WANT working class children to excel.
Under your government how can I encourage my children to have hopes, ideas and ambition. How do I tell them they can be or achieve anything they want to.
When the support in their classroom decreases due to your cuts, and their education suffers, how do you propose I tell them that they're being punished for not belonging to the right social class?
How can I teach them to be open minded and never discriminate, when they themselves are being discriminated against?

I wish you could meet my son. He is 5. One of the youngest in his class. He is funny, loud and charismatic. He is behind his peers and is unable to work at the same level as them, therefore needing support from a teaching assistant. A teaching assistant who along with myself is helping him learn to read, supporting him to form letters, teaching him to have confidence. A teaching assistant who has just been made redundant as a result of your cuts.
Although I'm reassured the school will do everything to maintain a decent level of support, they can only work with the tools they have. And you're stripping those tools from them, one by one.

It's more than likely my son will have to go down the route of applying for funding to aid his learning. That means fighting to place a label on him that we do not want just so he can have a decent amount of educational support.

If you care about the children of this country. ALL the children in this country, you need to recognise that they aren't numbers on a page that can be shifted about. They are human beings.
Give our children the opportunity to become what they strive to be and reconsider these cuts to our education system.

Our children are not a burden on the country's finances.

They are an investment in its future.



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Fish Finger Brigade 

I write this at the risk of being seen as a Katie Hopkins of the blogging community.
*Shrugs*
It's not like I'm Miss Popular anyway. My 'stats' aren't brilliant, I don't run (or join many) linkys, and I don't do 'giveaways' or reviews. I'm a very small fish in a very large pond. As are many others. 
But I don't blog for other bloggers. I blog for the people who read what I have to say. Other parents who can relate. And again, like many others, that's the reason I started blogging. To reach out. To let others know they weren't alone.
I guess I fall in to the 'Slummy Mummy' category. Apparently if you're honest about your feelings in regards to parenting that's the title you are granted these days. And yes, I was a bit pissed off when I read the Daily Mail article that asks Why Are So Many Women Boasting They're Slummy Mummies? The article after all was mainly slamming female bloggers for representing this type of Mum.
Now, on any other day I probably would have joined the Fish Finger Brigade of bloggers who posted selfies with numerous frozen products, showing #solidaritea for some of the writers that were mentioned in the article.
But not yesterday.
Because something else had also happened that morning that needed discussing. Something that probably affected the parents we as bloggers try and reach out to, more than an article slamming The Unmumsy Mum.
Because live on 'This Morning' Gino D'Acampo made a statement that there is no such thing as fussy eaters in children. Just stupid parents. He went on to say parents weren't firm enough with their children, and advocated sending them to bed with no dinner if they didn't like what they were served.
And not one single fucking word was said about it.
Well, it probably was, but my newsfeed was swamped with fish finger selfies so I probably missed it.
I totally get the whole "sticking it to the man" thing. I stick it to him on a regular basis. But right now there are hundreds of parents out there who watched This Morning and are now asking themselves if they're stupid. Are they letting their kids down? Are they failing?
I dare you to ask Mothers who aren't in the blogging community if they even saw the Daily Mail article yesterday.
 I asked them. And they were completely unaware. The ones I spoke to DID see This Morning however.
Let's be frank. The Article was shitty. But it was mainly shitty for bloggers. And let's face it, we're big girls and we're used to this. When you write things for the whole internet to see, you're going to get crap. It's standard.
The Unmumsy Mum wrote an amazing response and basically said everything that needed saying. She said it for all of us. And she said it with class. When I starting seeing the Selfies flooding in supporting the 'Slummy Mummy' genre of bloggers I thought it was great! I love a good old selfie that supports my fellow women!
But as they continued, something just didn't sit right with me. Each selfie was staged differently, with passionate words of support and #solidaritea.
But then I saw comments of how one blogger had copied another persons selfie. And I began to think "what the actual fuck?"
Was this a message of support or a blogging competition? Were these bloggers just proving Anna May Mangan right when she said the 'slummy mummy' movement was a battle amongst bloggers rather than an attempt to depict any reality within the underlying message.
For the majority of you I know that's nonsense. I know you blog in the way you do because you want to let other parents know they are not alone, and it's ok to be a bit shit. But whilst defending your blogs you failed to defend the very people who you write your blogs for!
Collectively we kind of failed the hundreds of mothers who had no clue about this article, yet did sit watching 'This Morning' where they were told they were 'stupid.'
The Mothers of children with Avoidant/Restrictive food intake disorder, Mothers of children on the Autistic Spectrum, Mothers of children with a Sensory Processing Disorder, and Mothers with children who are just fucking fussy and we respect their right to be so!
So I'm with you standing in #solidaritea against Anna May Mangan, but we also need to stand against the hurtful and dangerous words uttered by Gino Decampo.
Because fuck him.
So my selfie of support does not include fish fingers (that my child does in fact eat, whilst I do In fact slug on a glass of wine), but includes an array of beige foods which at one point was the only colour food my child would even entertain eating.
Because THAT is reality too!
And it's ok!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Mental Illness is SO Not Quirky 


I  wonder how many people reading this are thinking "Anxiety Disorders?" I'm totally aware!
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? I know exactly what that entails!
I wonder how many of you have labelled yourselves or others as OCD because they like to clean or are very organised.
*insert eye roll*
I wonder how many have taken one of the 'Fun' quizzes available on social media that asks 'How OCD are you?' And shared it as though it were on par with a quiz that asks 'How well do you know musicals?'
If you've done this then you are really NOT aware. Yes, you know what the illness is. What the letters stand for. But your idea of the condition is that it's something quirky.
Tell me, would you take a quiz and share it on Facebook if it was entitled 'How Cerebral Palsy Are You?'
Of course you wouldn't! Because not only would it be ridiculous, it would also be highly offensive!
So why is it acceptable to do this in regards to mental illness?
On mental health awareness week I want to tell you that anxiety disorders are not positive, quirky or fun, and they're certainly not diagnosable through Facebook. They're debilitating.
I don't feel very positive when my mind bombards me with horrific scenarios that dance around in my head and won't give me any peace.
I don't find myself very quirky when my hands are cracked and bleeding because I've washed them that much. Not because I like to be clean but just simply because my mind tells me I have to, or there will be consequences.
I don't think the father of my children finds me very fun when I'm snappy and irrational and need constant reassurance from him that nothing bad is going to happen.
And my condition wasn't diagnosed through a 2 minute quiz. It was years of darkness, tears, embarrassment, pain, counselling, antidepressants and beta blockers before I knew 'How OCD I was.'
I'm embarrassed when I have to walk back to my house a number of times before I can leave my street, because my mind is telling me I've forgotten to check things that could cause harm.
Im exhausted when I constantly have a knot in my gut, as though something terrible is about to happen and I have no control. I'm even more exhausted when I have to explain my actions to people because they view me as being "silly" or "overdramatic."
I'm ashamed when I hear people make reference to a condition as though it were just some sort of personality trait.
If I can achieve anything throughout mental health awareness week, I hope I can help to open people's eyes, hold people's tongues and widen people's understanding.
Don't be ignorant with your basic knowledge of pop psychology. Don't throw my condition around lightheartedly in conversation.
Don't underestimate just how challenging, inconsistent and incomprehensible this illness can be.
Instead, understand that we are constantly fighting a battle with ourselves. On the outside we are parents, colleagues, cousins, friends. We may be chatty, funny, friendly, silly. We may not. Some of us wear disguises. Some of us don't. We are unable.
But before you take that quiz. Before you throw out a casual statement, remember we are people fighting real battles. And we need a few more people on our side.



Thursday, 6 April 2017

Hatty Hiccup ~ The Girl Who Often Got Lost 

*This story is a collaboration between The Puzzled Mummy and her five year old son. It was originally published on The Confusing Stories Of A Puzzled Mummy...And Son
Hatty Hiccup was born on a Friday. It was a grey day, but there was no rain. It was cold, but there was no wind.

She was an eager baby. So eager that when her mother pushed her out she flew across the room, doing a triple somersault, and landed in a rather large vase on the window.
They say babies can't smile, but at 17 seconds old, Hatty Hiccup did. Ask anyone who was there. If she hadn't smiled people may not have noticed the one singular tooth she was born with. A front top one, to be precise. And it was the only one she ever had.

From a young age Hatty Hiccup had a habit of getting lost.
When she learned to roll over she rolled across the lounge, out of the cat flap and in to the garden. Had she not been stopped mid roll by a window cleaners bucket, no one can say where she may have ended up.
When she could crawl she crawled in to the fireplace and up the chimney. She found refuge in a large birds nest on the roof of the house, where she was fed worms for two days before the bird realised she was actually in fact a human. Although with Hatty Hiccup it was hard to tell.When she started to walk Hatty toddled out of the garden where she was playing one summers day, and got so lost that when she returned it was snowing.
Her Mother said it had been 7 months, and as punishment Hatty was to sweep the floor every day after breakfast, if she could manage not to brush herself up and tip herself out with the crumbs, that was.
It was when she was sweeping one evening a few years later (Hatty's family ate breakfast in the evening to save time in the morning), that Hatty first laid eyes upon Kelly Krabtree, poking around in her back garden.
She had heard about Kelly when her Mother didn't stop talking at the dinner table. Mother said he was a boy with a girls name because his Mother & Father thought they were fashiodable and were related to Whales.
Hatty didn't know what fashiodable meant, but she did like Whales. She thought she might like to be one when she grew up. Either that or a vet.
Hatty put down her brush and dustpan, being extra careful not to sweep herself up, and tiptoed in to the garden.
"What are you doing in our garden?" She asked.
"If my Mum catches you she'll wring your neck. She did it to the paper boy once for throwing a paper at her head. His neck ended up so long that he had to go and live in a country that has a higher sky"
Kelly, who was now scrabbling around in the flower beds, looked up and laughed.
"That's stupid. The sky isn't higher in other countries, only in space. He probably went there. I'm looking for my Dads marbles. I overheard my Grandma saying he'd lost them"
"Lost his marbles? How?" Hatty enquired.
"Something to do with the woman who works in the supermarket. She has purple and green hair. Grandma says she's a horse. She looks more like a unicorn to me."
Hatty raised her eyebrow and curled up her lip, showing her single top tooth.
"Well, why are you looking in MY garden? Why don't you look in hers?"
"I have looked in hers, stupid! I found nothing! You're the girl who always gets lost. Where would you be lost if you were a marble?"
"Ahhh. There's too many lost places. Anywhere could be lost. It's not just one particular place. Lost to me might not be lost to you. Sometimes you don't know you've even been lost until you're found. And you certainly don't find lost on purpose! Lost finds you!"
Hatty drew in a breath.
"If you want to find lost you need to get lost. I can help you do that?"
Kelly nodded gratefully, his watery eyes glistening.
And off they set. To get lost together.

"Don't we need anything?" Asked Kelly?
"Food? A map? I feel like we're not prepared!"
Hatty snorted,
"No one is ever prepared to get lost, silly! It just happens!"
...To be continued



*Thankyou to both children and adults who provided sketches. And a special Thankyou to Illustrator Jaqueline Fryers whose work you can find Here

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Survival Guide For Teething

We have entered the teething stage. Also known as The Realms Of Hell.
I thought I'd pretty much got used to everything being my fault and nothing I do being good enough with my five year old who has suddenly sprung the attitude of...well... me, circa 1998. But he's got nothing on my five month old in this new phase who has developed an even worse attitude of....well...me, circa 2000.
People who are unfamiliar with teething think you have a few days of an upset baby before a cute little milk tooth appears and we're all happy again.
WRONG!
It's not a few days. It's not even weeks. It's fucking months! Months I tell you! Endless days of being screamed at, endless poking at gums in the hope you'll feel one of those pesky peggy's poking through, and endless disappointment when you feel nothing but a rubbery gum. Again.

In these desperate times I've decided that I need to devise a list of do's and don'ts. A teething survival guide if you will. Something I can flick to in my time of need

A Puzzled Mummy's Teething Survival Guide.

1. DO use alcohol. For centuries women have been using this as a numbing solution for teething. Whiskey is the usual recommendation, however I've found that a bottle of wine or a strong gin usually numbs me sufficiently to the point where teething is just a walk (ok, stumble) in the park.

2. DON'T ask any of your more experienced mum friends if they remember the hell of teething. They won't. The trauma of teething is parallel to child birth. You forget. I forgot once myself. You're likely to get tales of how they woke up one day and their child had a full mouth of teeth without a whimper.                                     If you do mistakenly ask this question, refer back to point 1 and drink gin.

3. DO hold your child at arms length as soon as they've taken a dump. If you don't then prepare yourself for the warm feeling on your leg as their nappy leaks its contents all over their clothes and yours. Teething babies nappies are wet and runny.                    
Hold them at arms length and drink gin.

4. DON'T take offence when your child makes it clear that they fucking despise you. They really don't. Well, maybe they do at the minute. But think how pissed of you would be! Gum ache, choking on your own drool, the shits, and to top it off an unsightly rash round your mouth and glowing red cheeks. If the only thing that cheers them up includes you never leaving the room and simultaneously not making eye contact whilst holding them by an open window, then you're probably best just doing it. Hell hath no fury than a teething baby whose parents can't be controlled sufficiently.            
 Do as they demand and drink gin.

5. DO be cautious when breastfeeding. Your child's irritability and aggressive fist biting can be mistaken for hunger. Or maybe you just think a quick nursing sesh will provide some comfort, like I did yesterday. It was at this point I found out that when in the throes of teething my child fails to recognise the difference between my nipple and a teething ring. Ouch. So much ouch.
 But I was fine after a gin.


On a serious note. Do remember they're just a baby. They're your precious little bundle who is struggling to figure out what to do with themselves.
They need you to cuddle them. No they don't.
They need something to bite on, but not that.
They need sleep, but only an hour.
They want to play, but not here.

Refer back to point 1 and drink gin

Mummascribbles
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

I Am Woman Hear Me Roar

March 8th was International Women's Day. A day to celebrate and show solidarity as a group of women. A day to be proud of who we are. A day to stand together.
It sounds lovely doesn't it? Women supporting each other, building each other up. But is it reality?
Is it fuck.
Let me tell you a little story about March 8th 2017 - International Women's Day.
I was scrolling through Facebook when I noticed a post on a local Mums Group within my area. A lady was asking if she could share her business page. This particular business page offered a specific service that was free of charge. It was offering a personal handmade item for bereaved parents to bury with their angels who had passed away. The service was initiated through personal loss and was really just a bloody lovely idea that came from nothing but a kind and empathetic heart.
I wonder how many people who witnessed this post shared flowery lovey dovey memes on pregnancy and infant loss awareness month?
I wonder how many people who shared those memes watched as this lady was told she was unable to share her page on the wall as it was technically a business, because aside from the free service, she also made and sold clothing for babies (including preemies).
I wonder how many people who saw this rejection later saw an admin from the page share a special offer for a local business that included a giveaway of chocolate?
I wonder how many people who saw this special offer saw my comments questioning why this was allowed on the page when a free service for bereaved parents was not?
I wonder how many people who saw my comments also saw the admins response that she could bend the rules in regards to advertising if she wanted to and had chosen to do so because "she liked chocolate" and if I didn't like her choices that was up to me, but she knew what worked as she has been running this page for a number of years.
I don't need to wonder how many people saw my response to this (zero) because the thread was deleted and I was unable to retaliate to what was possibly the most insensitive and rudest person I have ever encountered.
So I'll write my response here. In the hope that my fellow women will stand with me.

Admin.
I'm really sorry that today on International Women's Day, and on any day really, you chose to completely undervalue your fellow women's opinions and feelings. I'm sorry that you felt a free service that catered towards the needs of bereaved mothers didn't deserve the same acknowledgment as some free chocolate. I'm sorry that when challenged about this you couldn't muster the courage to say "You're right. I have been insensitive" and instead chose to attempt to belittle me (the operative word being attempt) and use your authority on the page to bat down any opinion that I held. I'm sorry that you don't seem to have grasped that infant loss is very real, very relevant and extremely prevalent. I'm sorry that sharing supportive services for parents who have lost their babies doesn't "work for your page" as much as sharing free chocolate does.
But most of all, I'm sorry that you chose not to stand with your fellow women. And I'm sorry that Mothers may have seen your comments and now feel that their grief and need for support is something that shouldn't be spoken about. Should be silenced. Because it's not as interesting as chocolate.
What a joke.
So I'm using MY platform differently to the way you used yours. I'm using mine to say "Women! I support you. I stand by you. I will listen and be respectful of your opinions and experiences. I will stand up for you. I will speak up with you."

Because I am unable to stand by and keep my mouth closed to unjust and unfair behaviour.

I am Woman hear me roar.


*Those who are interested in the service mentioned above can find the Facebook Page Here

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The F****** Annoying Fives.

The terrible twos, the tyrannical threes, the fearsome fours. Sound familiar? They're cutesy names given to phases in a child's life to illustrate how god damn awful they are when they reach that particular age. Each new phase is worse than the last.
"Oooh terrible twos is nothing! Wait until they reach the tyrannical threes!" Is the type of thing you'll hear when you become a parent. Much like when you're pregnant and mention that you can't sleep - "oooh wait until they're born! Then you'll know what tired REALLY means!"

But do you know a phase I've never heard of? The stage my child is going through now. The one I've had to name myself because it appears that no-one has ever dared to mention it, never mind name it.

The fucking-annoying fives.

I have never IN MY LIFE met a creature who can grind my gears more than my five year old at present.

Do you have a question that you've always pondered the answer to? Is there life after death perhaps! Ask my five year old. He's a little know it all with an answer for everything.
Only yesterday did I get screamed at, full frontal in the face because the number 6 that was in bold black print in front of me WAS NOT A SIXXXXXX! because in my 32 years of life and after gaining a bachelor of science degree, I have not yet grasped the shape of a number 6. Not like my five year old who is working within the early years foundation stage and should have been born with 666 on his head.

Do you ever get the feeling your child isn't listening to you? When they get to the FA Fives they'll make sure you're more than aware they couldn't give a shit about anything you say. They'll talk over you, give a pained expression when you do speak, and then ask you the same question again that you've just spent 30 minutes answering. OR they will do my favourite thing at the minute (NOT) and blatantly place their hands over their ears as you speak.

Assholes


Maybe you're drinking your way through the terrible two's at present and think you know what it's like for a child to press all of your buttons. Perhaps you do. But a FA Five also knows how to press your buttons. And then some. And never fucking stops. Ever.
I'm pretty sure this is why they have to go to school. I can hardly survive a weekend of this back chatting, shit giving creature. Never mind a full week!

If you're a person who always blames yourself for things then you'll feel right at home when your child reaches five. Because you'll be blamed for EVERYTHING!
You'll be minding your own business in the kitchen when your child screams from the lounge because they tripped over a cushion on the floor that they "Told you to move!" And "You made them trip!"
Actually YOU told THEM to move it but they were too busy putting their hands over their ears and telling you it wasn't a cushion. It was a rock, and their only chance of survival in all this imaginary lava that was flooding the entire lounge.

Asshole.

So if the rumour is true, that each stage is worse than the last (and so far I'm kind of convinced), then who knows what the sixes will be like! And god help me when we reach the puberty stage. One can only imagine the grief.
So far, the only thing in common that each stage has, is that they continue to look like angels when they sleep. And you continue to feel guilty for your reactions to them through the day. And you continue to promise that tomorrow you will be more tolerant.

HA!

Life Love and Dirty Dishes