Monday, 31 March 2014

My so-called life: fakebooking and other social media faux pas

On holiday we kept in touch with world events via BBC News which seemed to be wall to wall analysis of the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian Airways plane with an occasional break in of other news stories. Wifi was not easily available so I wasn't social media-ing as much as usual, but did post a few photos when we had some data to use (and when EE wasn't up the swannie). I also heard about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's 'conscious uncoupling' or break-up as most of us would refer to it. Her website GOOP went bust with all the interest in the announcement which she made personally rather than through publicists or an open letter in a newspaper as some celebrities prefer to share their personal dramas.

Most of us have Facebook or Twitter to voice where we are, what we're doing, who we're with, what we're eating or any other mediocre detail of our lives. We all know someone who posts abstract status updates that invite a comment or a sympathetic response and if I get another request to like a photo if I love my kids or hate cancer I will just block that person's sorry ass. Not to mention the people who seem normal, but go and share a homophobic or racist photo / news item that makes me wish I didn't know that about them. We all risk sharing too much.

Then there is the phenomenon of 'fakebooking' or posting selective status updates and creating an alternative life that bears little resemblance to the one we actually live. I'm thinking here of the friend who posts photos of her with her husband and kids and updates such as "Happy Christmas from all of us" as if she hadn't separated from her husband and moved out last year. I don't know whose benefit the fake status updates are for as most of her friends know the situation. Maybe it's for herself ?

It's not a criticism as I am guilty of doing it too. On holiday I posted photos of my boy being cute, smiling, making sandcastles, climbing rope ladders and generally having fun. I didn't let on that most days he was hell on wheels and yelled, screamed, fought and cried through most of the activities pictured. I captured the moment he was smiling, not long after he had been creating and banged his head on the restaurant window causing all the other diners to wince at the thudding sound. I post photos of my son for family members and friends who don't get to see him often because they live in India, Mexico, Argentina, Australia an assorted other world locations.

Blowing bubbles 
Social media is a wonderful way to share, but it is also a clever way to lie publicly about how we're doing. From relationship status updates that tell us that the boyfriend is not around any more to the amusing online quizzes that tell us if we're well read or middle class it's a convenient short cut to catch up on relationships that we can't necessarily nurture in the conventional way. Just please don't ask me to like a mindless proposition or share a ridiculous image that will enable spammers to harvest my personal data.

For the record: Yes I hate cancer, Yes I love my son, Yes I love my husband, No I don't support bad stuff and I don't care if me not liking that photo means little Johnny won't get a hamster for his birthday.

Oh and I'm going to keep posting positive images on Facebook. My social media persona is happy, positive, pro-active and lives a golden life. Even if my real one is sitting on the sofa drinking tea and picking cat hairs off my trousers.
Beach bunny

Saturday, 29 March 2014

One weekend, three Mums :)

This weekend it's Mother's Day (if you're in the UK that is - our American friends celebrate in May for some reason). It'll be my 4th one as a Mum and I've planned a lovely pampering day on Saturday which my Mum is coming to and then lunch with Mother-in-law on Sunday. We've kind of got the hang of this thing now. My first one was a little fraught as my boy was only 6 months old and while I enjoyed having a day of being pampered I did actually want to spend some of the day with my son and Hubbie.
Me and my Mum at West Pier Brighton
We are both lucky that we have our Mums and we make sure they are thoroughly spoiled and that they get to see their grandson, which is no less than they deserve. They seem to enjoy spending time with the boy and as time goes on it gets difficult to think of things they don't already have lots of. In the past I've deluged my Mum with scarves, chocolate, flowers and all manner of gifts. In recent years I've noticed that I have inherited a habit from my Mum and her Mum (my Naniji) of saying that I don't want anything. I never understood it, but as time goes on I notice that with Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and then my birthday in the space of 6 months it does get a little crowded and I don't need that much. We're still working our way through all the chocolate we got at Christmas so I've embargoed all chocolate gifts until after Easter. This also helps with my getting fit and training for the Moonwalk so double bubble.
Hubbie with Mother-in-law
I prefer to have some pampering and relaxation so that's what I'll be doing courtesy of my boys. The nice thing about having some time to chill out is that I get to reflect on how far we've come as parents and what my boy can do now that I catch myself being amazed by.

  • He can brush his own teeth. I remember when he didn't have any teeth
  • He chooses his own clothes - sometimes many times a day - and he checks himself in the mirror !
  • He asks questions and responds to the answers - I remember when he would burble and smile at whatever I said *sighs longingly*
  • He can use scissors - properly - this still makes me wince and I keep wanting to take them out of his hands
  • He can hold a conversation with a pilot, a cab driver or an airport official. I know adults who can't do this ! 
  • He knows to speak up and look at his grandparents who are deaf when he talks to them - he doesn't shout
  • He corrects me. Often. It drives me crazy
  • He calls for me when he is hurt or upset - it makes me feel important - one day he won't 
The thing I like the best is when he gives me a big hug and a kiss and says, "Mummy, I love you more than Jiggles." Jiggles is the bear he loves most in the whole world.

Whatever you do I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day :)

Me with my one day old boy

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Gone Fishing

As you read this I'm on my hols - consider this a virtual postcard from the beach where me and Hubbie and the boy are sunning ourselves. The boy has stated his intention to eat ice cream and lollies on the beach every day, Hubbie wants to just get some sleep and I'm hoping to finish a book. Just one book, I'm not greedy.
Me and Hubbie in a rare photo together
The day before we left I donated blood and loaded up series 6 of Mad Men on my iPad as well as 6 Peppa Pig episodes and 10 Dora the Explorers. I've taken teabags - I can't be doing with Liptons which you always get abroad - and whole food bars as we're self catering so I've not entirely escaped cooking.
Sunshine and shades :)
So this comes to you via the magic of the internet - and a slight hope that it's not as hot there as it is here :) 
Even the cat will be sunbathing

This post is part of Mummy Never Sleeps joy filled linky #allthesmallthings 

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

Thursday, 20 March 2014

You must be this tall to ride the World Wide Web

It's been 25 years since Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web - which apparently is different from the internet, but I don't really know how so I won't pursue this point. I was not an early adopter having learned typing rather than 'keyboard skills' and I handwrote all my essays at uni rather than typing them - the only lad I knew who was allowed to type his had special permission due to his  dyslexia. The computer at school took ages to 'warm up' and we all had to take turns to use it so I never got a go.

My first keyboard was a portable typewriter and when I was editing the university arts pages I had to sit with the designated geek who used a Mac to set pages to my specification.  No one was allowed to touch anything as it was all so precious and expensive and he had studied maths at Cambridge (and had met Stephen Hawking) so he was clearly the only person qualified to use a computer. It's fair to say that we have come a long way since then. So, to celebrate I thought I'd share what I have learned from the World Wide Web:

1. If I was an Avenger I'd be Iron Man - even though I'm no genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist

2. Posting schmaltzy messages about how much you love your kids/hubbie/family will just get you sarcastic comments 

3. If I was a mythical creature I'd be a fairy (wtf ?)

4. Reading Twitter while watching a TV show means you will inevitably stumble upon a spoiler  

5. If I was a character in Sherlock I'd be Irene Adler - Oh yes !!

6. I am richer than Croesus when it comes to shopping online - apparently money is no object when there are pre-filled payment details 

7. If I was a Joss Whedon character I'd be Buffy - Yes ? You have an issue with this why ?

8. I've watched far more action movies than is strictly necessary (thanks for this one Cath !)

9. Online quizzes are addictive and I should really get a life

10. A photo of a cat will always get far more likes than anything else you ever post

Here you go :)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Here comes the sun :)

During the week we tend to have quite workaday breakfasts as Hubbie eats before we get up and the boy has something to eat before he goes to nursery. I tend to do the same few things; toast, porridge the occasional yoghurt, and at the moment hot cross buns are on offer too. At the weekend, however, I go big on breakfast and make sure the boys have something special. I often get in croissants or waffles and pancakes are a real favourite too.

This weekend I decided to add a little extra razzmatazz to the pancake and fruit combo that we have been rocking for so long now. I decided that we'd have a happy sunshine face for the boy and random animals for Hubbie.
Good morning sunshine for my boy
My boy beamed and scoffed his happily while Hubbie was delighted - not least as we took his breakfast to him in bed - I know, I'm good.
Non-specific animals for Hubbie :) 
I love it when a pancake plan comes together :)

This post is part of Mummy Never Sleeps joyful linky #AllTheSmallThings

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

Saturday, 15 March 2014

"I want to leave plenty of time for discussion, I've heard myself speak before." Tony Benn

The news that Tony Benn had passed away came early in the day and I kept trying to pretend it wasn't happening. I caught the end of a tribute during the Today programme and dismissed it as my having misheard. Then I avoided any news bulletins all morning and took the boy and a neighbour out to the shops and for lunch as it was so lovely and sunny. I managed to convince myself it hadn't really happened. Eventually while I was waiting for the Archers repeat to begin I finally listened to the news and had to accept that yes it was true and he had really died.

It was like hearing that a family friend had gone. Someone I hadn't seen for years, but who I still had a soft spot for. When I was at school and was first becoming interested in politics his son was a local councillor and I became fascinated by him. I was a member of CND, a feminist, second generation immigrant and from a low income family. Where politicians were out of touch and 'other' he seemed to be genuinely interested in the people that were frequently ignored or dismissed as unimportant. I didn't always agree with Tony Benn's views, but I like how he listened and spoke in equal measure and didn't do that thing that all politicians do now where they interject aggressively in any conversation/ interview with, "look," while ploughing on with their pre-prepared directive from party HQ.

Just now I heard a tribute programme on Radio 4 where David Davies talked about Benn's career and their friendship. It is telling that there were so many from all sides of the political field who spoke fondly about him and many who were honest in their complete disagreement with his politics. I started to compare this week where two figures on the left of politics died with what happened when Margaret Thatcher died. Neither period of mourning propelled the nation into the outpouring of grief that baffled me (and many others) when Diana died. They did, however, offer an interesting insight into how public death is now and what is allowed to be said and what is chosen to be said. I noted two things in particular.

1. When talking about Thatcher the words Iron Lady were used most frequently and when talking about Bob Crow and Tony Benn it's been about loyalty and being an upstanding champion of the people in once case and a homely, tea obsessed chap on the other.

2. The left and right (politically speaking) behave quite differently in the face of the death of a public figure. They don't see eye to eye politically, but do say the right things for the media - it isn't the done thing to speak ill of the dead after all. However, I don't think there have been any street parties celebrating the death of Crow or Benn, even though I'm pretty sure they inspired the same level of passionate hatred in their detractors as Thatcher did in hers.

I've mentioned before that one of my closest friends and I do not agree on politics. I don't mean we politely disagree and clink tea cups and get on with discussing how to make the smoothest butter icing. I mean there were years when I would come home after a night out with her where I'd feel I'd been mentally and verbally battered and even now there are times when we look at each other with an acknowledgement that we just aren't on the same page on this issue. I suspect this is why we always meet for afternoon tea or a meal, it's a conciliatory way to discuss contentious topics and even if you have a far reaching and painful disagreement at least there was cake or a great glass of wine. Regardless of the disagreement we are still the greatest of friends and I love her very much.

If we only ever befriend people who agree with us we live a small life where our views are never challenged and we never learn anything. I accept that at times I am in the wrong and I'm no longer afraid to admit it. I never used to as I saw it as a failure and would argue my side even as I realised I wasn't even convincing myself. Hubbie and I broadly agree on politics and it is because I'm married to him that I have learned tolerance - bear with me here. You see my father-in-law is someone whose politics are the polar opposite of mine in every sense. He does not listen to anyone and bulldozes on with his Daily Mail informed point of view without any irony or shame. I used to try and get a word in or to argue, but now I listen politely and if I find what he's saying really appalling I change topic or go and do the washing up. Hubbie does not agree with his father's politics, but he respects the man - as do I. It is ironic really as he look a bit like - and sounds a lot like - Tony Benn.

My admiration of Tony Benn isn't a tacit agreement with all of his political views. He wasn't always right, but he was not unkind. His belief in equal rights for gay people was way ahead of the fashionable thinking and he supported nuclear disarmament at a time when that meant you were just mad or living on Greenham Common. He showed respect for others and stood up for what he believed in in the face of great criticism.  He said in 1975, "If I rescued a child from drowning, the press would no doubt headline the story: 'Benn grabs child.'"

You don't have to agree with me on any of the above. I do ask, however, that you watch this video clip of Tony Benn taking on Ali G and winning. He doesn't pander to idiotic views in order to look "cool" or pretend to understand where Sacha Baron Cohen's character is coming from - for that I direct you to the Sir Rhodes Boyson interview.

Anthony Neil Wedgewood Benn (1925-2014)

Friday, 14 March 2014

Labor Day: Review

In my youth I wrote film reviews for the university newspaper and later I was the arts editor - and was criticised for favouring the modern arts such as cinema and stand up comedy over the traditional ones like theatre and classical music. It wasn't true, but there you go. Being invited to a preview screening is so very exciting as I often don't watch films until long after everyone else, so to get to see one before it's actually released is a rare treat. I've known the friend I went with since those uni days and over the years we've been to watch artier films like Pollock and Magnolia. I dragged him to watch Along Came Polly some years back and I think he's just about forgiven me so he agreed to join me for this preview.

Labor Day is based on a book of the same name and was directed by Jason Reitman - the Academy Award winning director of Juno and Up In The Air. The stars are Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin and some younger actors who grow up to become Tobey Maguire. There is a tiny appearance by Juno's father (J.K. Simmons) which was lovely as was the realisation that the policeman in the town was Dawson (James Van Der Beek).

The story centres on a Labor Day weekend when Henry Wheeler and his mother Adele meet Frank Chambers in the supermarket and he convinces them to take him home with them as he is in need of help. They soon realise he is an escaped convict and Stockholm Syndrome sets in almost immediately as they fall in love with their captor while he repairs the house and they try not to alert the police or neighbours to his presence in the home.

Not only is this story about Adele finding herself again after many losses in her life, but about Henry discovering a father figure in this man who comes into their lives and in one long weekend becomes the piece that completes their family. The portrayal of Frank as a misunderstood man is typified by the scene where he teaches Henry and a disabled neighbour to play baseball having earlier baked a peach pie.

This film had a touch of the Bridges of Madison County about it and yet at rare points it reminded me of Juno - which I loved. It is beautifully shot, but the storytelling is a bit mawkish for my liking and the characters are quite one dimensional. The mother of the disabled boy and Henry's father in particular are too simplistic. The fact that they would uproot their entire lives for a man they barely know was a bit baffling too, but the build up of tension does create a sense of drama.

I'm growing to like Josh Brolin as an actor and his gruffness suits this role really well. Kate Winslet almost reprises her role in Revolutionary Road - with a touch of Holy Smoke there too - and at times she reminds me of Ruth Jones in Stella. She plays Adele as frumpy and sad, but it is a fine line between sympathetic and pathetic. Henry is the narrator of the story so maybe this is more about his point of view of his mother at a trying time.

This is definitely a Sunday afternoon movie and there was one point where a sob came up from a fellow audience member - I was close to tears myself - so it's also a bit of a weepie. Maybe a rainy Sunday afternoon :)

Labor Day: official release date 21st March 2014
Cert 12a

Thanks to Mumsnet Bloggers and Paramount Pictures for inviting me to this preview :)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Clockwatching with my boy

My boy loves clocks.

Horniman Musuem clock
Partly this is genetic - when Hubbie was a boy mother-in-law could leave him in the clock department of John Lewis and do her shopping unhindered. He was captivated by clocks (and still is) and when my boy was younger it became clear he is the same.

We have clocks (and radios) in every room in the house. My boy has an obsession with clock towers, church clocks, grandfather clocks, any kind of clock really. He calls the hands of a clock propellors instead of hands and has more watches than any 3 year old I know. 

Every time we take the train into London to go to a museum he sees the palace of Westminster from the window and he always points out the London Eye and Big Ben. Last week when I asked if he wanted to go and see Big Ben up close, he was beyond excited. 

We travelled by tram, overground, underground and bus - he also loves public transport - and dropped in on my Mum at her work and my friend SJ who is lucky enough to work right next to Big Ben. Despite all the hustle and bustle of tourists my boy was delighted to get a proper look at his favourite clock.

As you can see :)
Big Ben and Toddler
Yes he really is this big :)

This post is sharing the joy with MummyNeverSleeps' linky #AlltheSmallThings :)

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Inspiring women: International Women's Day #lastingchange

On my radio show this morning I shared some virtual postcards from Annie Spratt containing stories about the work funded by Comic Relief in Tanzania to support women running their own small businesses. Annie was in Tanzania with Tanya Barrow and Penny Alexander to visit women who are supporting their own families and bringing a helping hand to others who they employ and supply goods and services to. This is part of my involvement with Team Honk and the wonderful fellow bloggers who are currently carrying a baton from Lands End to John O'Groats to raise money for Sport Relief.

I thought I'd share my #lastingchange virtual postcard with you below: 
Dyeing fabric safely
  • Eliafura makes the most beautiful batiks and tie dyed material.  With the support of the Gatsby Trust Eliafura has registered her business and learned important health and safety rules around the chemicals she uses.   Eliafura now also trains other women in the village who bring material to her and she shows them how to create these beautiful patterns.   They sell easily to not only local schools where teachers like to buy them but also overseas. We bought her entire stock because we loved them all so much and are now working out how to sell them on so we can complete the circle of donation, funding, training, selling, donating. 

You can be sure I'll be buying some of those fabrics and giving them pride of place in my home :)

In my career I've worked with various overseas charities and I've seen how amazing and life changing it can be to give someone an opportunity to support themselves. Women like Bertha or Eliafura who have the drive to work for themselves and to succeed in business with the additional benefit of employing others. It is the principle on which the Grameen Bank was based. This is the microcredit scheme that gave small loans to women in Bangladesh who then went on to feed not only their own families, but to employ others who were then able to feed theirs and so on. 

When it was started the basis of lending to women was explained by Grameen founder Mohammed Yunus as being about giving the power to those who were marginalised either by virtue of poverty, gender or lack of education. The Nobel Laureate also reported that not only did the loans have an exponentially higher rate of early repayment than bank loans (which were not available to most of the women), but on a cultural level there was also a higher chance that the money would benefit the community. Where men were borrowing money and using it for themselves woman were using a smaller amount of money to bake bread to sell then reinvest in more ingredients to bake more bread which eventually became a bakery business employing other women. This is a simplistic explanation, but it worked. 

One of the stories I told on my show today was a revelation to me. It began in 2010 led by women from the neighbouring countries Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have been torn apart by the worst atrocities of war that the world has seen in recent years. Women from opposing sides of war in these communities came together on a bridge adjoining the two countries in a plea for peace and to show that they could build bridges of hope for the future. Their action sparked a massive global movement to stand in solidarity with women around the world touched by war. It is a beautiful and touching idea. 

It reminded me of an organisation of women that I worked with in Rwanda that began when one widow of the genocide sat under a tree. The next day another woman joined her and the next day another until eventually many women came together to sit under the tree and share their tears, fears, hopes and dreams of how to go on when they had seen so much bloodshed and pain. Community organisations are an amazing force for good and for women who have been disempowered, brutalised and left to fend for themselves they can provide a lifeline.

I've concentrated on women overseas, but I am - of course - aware that women in the UK also benefit from the work of charity and support each other and achieve amazing things. I'll share with you a quiz by one of my favourite feminists that might help put International Women's Day into context. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A wild walk

I might have mentioned that I'm training for the Moonwalk that takes place in May. This means taking walks while the boy is at nursery or weekends when the boys are at football or shopping. I'm quite enjoying the walking actually as I ponder while I walk and it's giving me a great knowledge of my local area.

This week I was walking back home on the last stretch of a 3 mile walk and I spotted some wild flowers growing alongside the road. At one point there was a carpet of tiny white flowers stretching back along the grass verge virtually hidden away. It was such a lovely surprise and made me smile at the end of a tiring uphill walk.

Strictly speaking it's not my garden, but it's still nature and it's like a secret find when I spot them peeking through the fence with cars and buses whizzing past in the background. There is a rustic charm to these teeny tiny flowers and the fact that they exist on the sidelines makes them all the more special.

This post is part of the epic Mammasaurus' "How Does Your Garden Grow" linky

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Teddy bear bowling (patent pending)

I took the boy to visit my parents last week. He loves it there as he has lots of toys, plenty of grown ups who adore him and spoil him and he is the centre of attention the entire time he's there.

When he was there this time he invented a new game - we were going to call it Ten Bear Bowling, but getting four bears to sit up was difficult enough, so it's called Teddy Bear Bowling.
Aim for the middle
Knock down the bears
And go back for the rest
It's not exactly skilful, but it did keep him from wrecking the house and he loved watching Tellytubbies and Zippy fall over as he threw a football at them. I told you it's not skilful.

We may need to work on the finer points of the game - like ensuring all the bears are similar sizes maybe, but the squeals of laughter and excited attempts to knock them all over were just priceless :)

This is a post for Mummy Never Sleeps linky All The Small Things

All the Small Things - MummyNeverSleeps

Disclosure: No bears were harmed in the making of this post :)

Monday, 3 March 2014

A tribe called parents

On Sunday we went for a family fun afternoon in trendy Balham. I mention this because there are areas of London that I find a bit intimidating - Balham isn't one of them, but the relevance of geography will become apparent. The kind of areas that house the trendy types that out-of-towners think all Londoners are. I grew up in West London and for a few years in the mid seventies we lived in Greenwich - before it was gentrified. I have an aversion to North London and the East End leaves me cold so I rarely bump into the painfully cool inhabitants that typify those places.

Except on Sunday. The noise of screeching children and the general din meant it took me a few minutes to realise that the venue was filled with hipster dads. You know the chaps who wear needlecord drainpipe jeans and questionable facial hair. In this day and age there's no excuse for a moustache unless you're a Sikh, an eccentric or into steampunk. If you're going for the full effect it has to be a handlebar style groomed with old school wax or the stuff my Dad used when we were growing up - Fixo. It made his beard all stiff and scratchy, but it also meant it survived all sorts of freak weather. Anyway, I digress.

You see the hipster style isn't genuine eccentricity it's finely created artifice - the 'devil may care' casual look that eschews the appearance of effort. Oh this old shirt ? Oh yes I got it in a thrift store in Brooklyn and this belt was made by a designer friend who sells out of her loft in Shoreditch. As I quietly curse under my breath that Next do one just like it. The Dads were milling with their offspring being all laid back while Oberon, Mylo or Bunty ran amok. One Dad gave up trying to get his boy to share the tunnel that he was gripping onto and left him to "fight it out" with another boy. I was willing him to fall into the puddle of pee left by the child of the man who had been bending over and putting his butt in my face for about half an hour before shuffling off to "tell Mummy your tights are all wet Araminta." Oh how I laughed.

On the other hand hipster women I quite like - the fakery of low maintenance and sensible shoes seems suitably empowering and it's a cute look. I admire the nerdy glasses and satirical cardigan wearing. As someone who needs glasses and whose cardigans are for comfort and warmth I accept that I am more hip replacement than hipster, but that's ok.

Pre-parent Boho me
You see it's all about tribes and being a parent doesn't give you automatic membership to the 'fabulous parent' tribe. In my late teens and early twenties I was all about tie dye, fringed skirts and sensible shoes. At university all my friends were the same in our goth/greebo/indie stylings. When Boho fashion came along I was delighted that I was already equipped for that - albeit quite a few pounds heavier.

Since becoming a Mum I've gone from Boho Chick to Hobo Chic. I was never trendy, but I did once care about what I wore and how I looked. I'm hoping to get back to some semblance of pride in my appearance again. Out of trackie bottoms and into slimline jeans. From hooded sweat tops to fitted shirts. I'm wearing scarves again and sometimes I even remember to put on a watch and some jewellery. I've no idea if it's a look, but I'm working on it.

I'm hoping there's a tribe that will have me - any takers ?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Abigail's Party

The boy went to Abigail's party this afternoon. Hubbie was so amused he kept mentioning Demis Roussos and cheese and pineapple on a stick - which I've only ever had when my friend Lou had a party years ago and I was so surprised I recall telling my Mum, "No it's a real thing, white people eat it at parties !!"

We got the invitation month ago and I didn't even know who she was, but clearly she goes to his nursery and never one to turn down a party I scanned it for the date and panicked when it didn't have one so I thought it was that Saturday. Turns out it was actually today and we could make it so we sent an RSVP saying he'd be delighted to go.

Planning today was a little more complicated than we had hoped for as the boy stayed with my parents last night and me and Hubbie stayed at a hotel so the first thing we had to do was get back home. Then I did that thing where I wanted to make sure we all go to do something we enjoy today so that meant the boy going to his party, Hubbie going to football and me going for a swim.

The logistics of this meant that the only way to make it work was a strategic and perfectly timed plan:

1.30: Hubbie takes the boy to the party on the bus
1.45: After tidying the lunch stuff I go for a swim
2.30: I drive to the party to take over from Hubbie and he leaves for the match
3.30: Party finishes and I take the boy to the football ground to meet Hubbie at half time
3.45: The boy and Hubbie watch football and I walk 3 miles in training for the Moonwalk
Neo and friends :)
So Hubbie and the boy made it to the party and I went for my swim. I was rushing to make sure I was on time for Hubbie to get to the football, so I didn't get to swim as far as usual or to dry my hair, but it was sunny so that was ok. On the way to the party I got stuck in traffic behind a massive Tesco lorry that was reversing into a residential road for some reason. I was now panicking quite a lot as it was perilously close to 3pm and I wanted to ensure Hubbie would make it for the start. It was clear this wasn't going to happen.

I sent Hubbie a text to say I was in traffic and he sent me one saying he'd been offensive about teachers and both Abigail's parents teach. I rolled my eyes and pasted on a smile as I walked to the door of the house. When I arrived at the party I met Abigail's lovely parents - she's Aussie and possibly pregnant, but I wasn't going to cause offence by asking. It turned out that ours was the only boy invited to the party and I half wondered if it was because he has a Punjabi name and they didn't realise he's not a girl, but it turns out that Abigail had said she loves to play with him at nursery so he was surrounded by girls - including Abi's older sister and her friend - he was in his element !!

Hubbie handed me an open packet of milky bar buttons (which I don't buy so they were a real treat) and we did the official handover. He left for the footie. Kids were assembled around to cut the birthday cake and my boy sat next to Abi, started the singing and scoffed pizza, cake and jelly tots. I knew we'd pay for it later, but hey it's a party.

I got a text from Hubbie saying the footie wasn't on. I rolled my eyes at the ceiling.

So, I didn't need to rush around all afternoon to make sure they got to where they needed to be on time. I could have taken my time and swum 40 lengths instead of the 20 I had to make do with. I didn't have to drive in Saturday afternoon traffic to get to the party to drop off the car and do 'parent tag.' I could have had an afternoon doing what I wanted to and they could have stayed at the party with Hubbie talking about music with the Dads and the boy being fussed over by girls while rifling through the dressing up box.

When Hubbie got back to the party he got 'the wife stare.' You know the one where your face is smiling, but your eyes are saying, "what the merry hell do you think you are doing ?" I had sacrificed my Saturday afternoon so that I could politely sip a horrifically weak cup of tea and thanks to my diet I couldn't eat the cake or pizza. We did some bonding as parents of threenagers and it was a lovely party, but to be honest I hadn't planned on the stress it took to get there. All Hubbie had to do was check the game was on and he hadn't even done that !! I rolled my eyes again.

Then I put on my walking trainers and set off to walk the 3 miles home.

He's so lucky I wasn't in the car going home !