I am not proud to say it but my children watch a fair amount of TV. I am not proud to say it but I know the CBeebies schedule off by heart and often plan my routine around it. However, despite my middle-class guilt I do believe there is no shame in enjoying what the BBC so caringly provide for us parents. I salute their worthy encouragement – pushing my children to use their imaginations, to increase their vocabulary, to boost their knowledge of the world, to look around themselves, to care for the environment – all while passively watching Wussywat. And at least my bourgeois heart can rest assured that a healthy wholemeal dose of CBeebies is a zillion times better than the sugar-saturated, advert-laden Milkshake (Channel Five) crammed full of crap and teeth-grindingly bad presenters feeding off the unending popularity of Peppa Pig. Continue reading
I’ll come clean with you – until the last few weeks my main thoughts on the politics of this country were: Is Jeremy Corbyn fit?* What does Samantha Cameron see in David Cameron? Who would I least like to be trapped in a lift with: Micheal Gove, Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage?**
So you’ll be unsurprised to learn that I have not been called on to give my acerbic, erudite answers on News Night. Nor will you see my eager arm raised with a thought-provoking query on Question Time. ***
Fastforward to post-Referendum UK and I am all over the world of politics. Or rather I now half-watch the news and skim read the main part of the Sunday paper (not just the AA Gill review in the supplements and the recipes). Get me! It’s almost as if I was a real life grown up, actually caring about the future of our country and that.
Which leads us neatly on to my next point. Yesterday the Times reported that Conservative leadership candidate Andrea Leadsom said that as a mother of three she had a ‘very real stake in Britain’s future’ as opposed to her rival Theresa May who is childless. This then turned into her allegedly saying that motherhood would make her a better Prime Minister, with the Times headline reading “Being a mother gives me the lead on May – Leadsom”.
Now here’s my problem. I could care less that Andrea Leadsom has kids. Having children does not make you a better leader or person. It doesn’t mean you worry about the future more (although you will probably worry more about your children’s future). Motherhood does not make you more empathic or socially aware.
No, my problem here is the media. We have two strong, sharp, intelligent women contending with the leadership of government. And it seems this confuses and befuddles the British press. What should they report? How can they validate/invalidate one or other candidate.
The answer – reduce it to Motherhood.
Or should I say Parenthood?
I will not fall into the trap that they would not discuss this if it were two men (or even a man and a woman) contending for leadership. That is besides the point. Because you know what some people are parents and some people are not. That is a simple fact. And some women have children and some do not.
Just because I have a womb doesn’t mean I have to use it. And the fact that I have used it doesn’t make me a better person. Motherhood doesn’t make you Mother Theresa.
In this day and age women have choices. We can chose to be mums. We can chose to be leaders. We can choice to be both. Or neither. It doesn’t matter. It’s not up for debate.
So this is a call for the media to wake up and smell the sisterhood. As women we are over this trite, last century debate about women and motherhood. We realise that being a mum does not make you superhuman and being childless does not make you lacking. Ultimately these things do not define who you are.
In the 21st Century this should not be a headline. It should not be divisive. And it is high time the British Media went back to reporting the real issues.
Like, seriously is Jeremy Corbyn fit?
By Kim x
*Ethics, integrity and strong beliefs = sexy. Scruffy supply teacher = not so sexy.
**Answer: Micheal Gove. He has a touch of the Dementors about him and may suck out my very soul.
*** If you are wondering it would be -Whatever happened to Robert Kilroy-Silk?
Ever heard of cryptophasia? Nah? Me neither until I googled twin talk and this word showed up. Cryptophasia is a phenomenon of a language developed by twins (identical or fraternal) that only the two children could understand. How about that!
Now I don’t for a minute think that my twins are fluent in cryptophasian(?) but they certainly do have some odd words that have fallen into current vernacular. Obviously, this is because they easily understand each other and converse between themselves more and more. It also could be due to their poor listening skills and my lazy diction. Both of which almost nearly made me crash the car on the dual carriageway when Freddie mispronounced our destination – Buckfast… Continue reading
Disclaimer: I should probably point out now that if I was to describe myself politically it would be as a bleeding-heart liberal. I am middle-class, well-educated and have lived and worked in mainland Europe. I voted to remain in the EU yesterday.
I am disappointed by the news we are all reading today. My Facebook feed and views of my friends led me to believe that the outcome would be different, but I am not disheartened. I am not worrying about my children and the world they will grow up in. And I’ll tell you why… Continue reading
One morning not so long ago
Something strange happened, do you know
The story of Bernard the sleepy head?
Who loved and loved to stay in bed
Open your ears and be aware
This is the tale of Bernard…and his hair.
Today I is going old skool. Shout out peps…
Yup, this week I have mainly been reading forgotten favourites from my childhood. Classics that have stood the test of time and some that haven’t but are still worth delving into.
Reading these books has been an absolute joy. It has brought back faded memories of my happy younger days, it has reminded me why I love to read so so much and reading children’s books is just a truly delightful thing (I am not including re-reading Dig Dig Dig five trillion times at bedtime to my digger-obsessed son). The books (generally) are light bright pure escapism and hurrah some of them can be read in 15 minutes. Reading them through the eyes of an adult entirely changes your perspective. Most of the time I was rooting for the mum character rather than the hero.
I am not suggesting that all these book are suitable for modern day kids living in a fast-paced world, some of the references in books such a little Princess and Heidi will be utterly foreign to them (not that there is any harm in that, children will take from these books what they want and all of the ones I have chosen are perfect for continuing to read to or with an older child). But for a mentally exhausted parent with little or no capacity for concentration then these books are just the ticket. The stories and themes are familiar and simple, the plots are are untangled and some are even illustrated (love that).
Quite frankly my dears the following books are wasted on children.
Here is my top ten count down, in no particular order.
- FLAT STANLEY by JEFF BROWN (1964)
I’ll come clean with you this was the only book in this list that I read without crying buckets at one point or other. I have loved this book since I was young, I mean when Stanley’s parents post him in an envelope to his friend’s house – how genius is that?
The book is written at a zippy pace that flies along. I adored Stanley’s weary hippie parents and the fact that everyone was so accepting of this new flat Stanley. For me the best bit of this book is the language used, good ole-fashioned Americanisms. Definitely starting a campaign to bring back the words darndest and phooey.
To be read while eating an egg sandwich and drinking a soda pop.
- A LITTLE PRINCESS by FRANCES HODGSON BURNETT
In the fly cover of my copy of A Little Princess it says this book is mainly suitable for girls aged eight to twelve. Phooey! Buy yourself a copy now, read it and hand it on to everyone you know.
To me this book is Dickens-lite. The same Victorian themes of poverty, orphans and London. The story concerns Sara, who is quite annoying to begin with but then has such dreadful experiences you will feel sorry for her. She is a fabulous heroine for girls; bold, headstrong and unbreakable. A magical read.To be read on a cold winter’s night in front of a crackling log fire.
- MILLY MOLLY MANDY STORIES by JOYCE LANKESTER BRISLEY (1928)
As a child this was one of my absolute favourite books and re-reading it I could see that it had made a huge impression on me in the 70s. I blame Milly-Molly-Mandy for my fondness of Laura Ashley patterns (don’t tell), smocks and patchwork. I adore the general feeling of nostalgia that this book evokes. The stories are short and uncomplicated, but utterly charming in their plain simplicity.
Most of all I love Joyce Lankester Brisley’s illustrations. Clear line drawings that are every bit as beautiful and gentle as the stories themselves
Everyone should read these stories just to be reminded of the pure and honest pleasure that simple activities can bring, such as painting the handle of a lawn roller or cleaning brass or making apple turnovers. A quintessential children’s book and easily one of my favourite books ever*.To be read while eating raspberry drops and aniseed balls.
- HEIDI by JOHANNA SPRYI (1881)
Da da da dada da da who can remember the poorly dubbed late 70s mini-series of this book that was broadcast in the summer holidays? I was familiar with the story of Heidi but had never read the book. Orphan Heidi goes to live with her gruff grandfather in his mountian hut. After some time she is taken away to live in the city with Clara and her governess Fraulein Rottenmeier. Oh gosh, I cried and cried along with poor little homesick Heidi.
I loved the descriptions of the mountains and the valleys in this book. And how Spypri captures that belief that hope and the simple life (and gallons of goats milk) can cure everything. I wasn’t to keen on the pious nature of some passages, but hey this book is well over 100 years old and has certainly stood the test of time.
To be read in the summer, preferably in a pasture.
- TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN by PHILIPPA PEARCE (1958)
This book had passed me by as a child but reading it as an adult was a jolt of pure delight. It echoed many parts of my much-loved Secret Garden and the way Philippa Pearce captures the scenery of the garden and the feelings of lonely Tom really resonated.
The book concerns young Tom Long who is sent away to live with his Aunt and Uncle after his brother contracts measles. Here he discovers a grandfather clock that strikes thirteen and so his time travelling begins.
To me this book was an allegory for growing up and losing the child you once were. I read it as a metaphor of childhood leading into adolescent and beyond. .
It is also about the passing of time and the changing of the scenery around you and a loss of innocence in a way. Tom travels back to a time when the house his uncle and aunt live in is surrounded by fields and meadows not the roads and houses of the modern world. Seriously I could analyse this book ’til the echos come home and I’m sure somewhere someone has.
Suffice to say I adored this book and will be re-reading it again soon.To be read while wearing striped flannel pyjamas and drinking warm milk.
* Disclaimer: I may say that many many books are ‘my favourite ever’. I m quite indiscriminate in my choices.
What were your favourite books as a child? Have you re-read them since? Can you recommend anymore children’s book for me to read?
As the sun rises red over the plains. Gold, or at least bargain, fever runs high.The wagons have rolled in. The goods are unloaded.
Across the prairie come two sharp shootin’, fast talkin’ prospectors. Chaps full of change and a fistful of dollars. Quick on the draw when the price is right.
Welcome to the wild wild Westcountry.
And the car boot corral. Continue reading
If I have learnt one thing since becoming a parent it is that I am great at handing out advice. This surprises me as I am exceptionally bad at asking for advice and even worse at receiving unsolicited advice (ask my husband). I suppose that I am just a repressed (“Not that repressed!” I can hear my husband snort) know-it-all! Continue reading
Parenting in the 21st century, huh? Who in their right mind would actually choose to do that? What with all the judgements, advice, worries and warnings. Parenting nowadays is like dancing through a field of landmines. Seems like fun but is full of unseen hazards. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to a time before parenting became big business? A time when Arthur Ransome* could write about four siblings having unsupervised fun on a boat. And no one thought twice about it. No one started a campaign against him and the twittersphere didn’t go wild. When the Famous Five wandered around solving mysteries and eating egg sandwiches without their parents nearby. Continue reading