Sunday, 20 February 2011

Dream Dream Dream

Have you ever had one of those moments with your child when they do or say something and you just know they learned it from you.  Whether you directly or indirectly taught them or they were born with the knowledge deep in their DNA doesn’t matter.

This moment was a case of monkey see, monkey do:

This is my eldest child on her Dora the Explorer lap top at our kitchen table, if you look to the top of the photo, you’ll see my lap top in a place it spends as much time as I can find during our busy week to use it.

I took the photo without realising what I was looking at until afterwards.  She’s just copying me right?  I suppose so, but it felt like a lot more than that to me.

I’m a writer, I’m still mostly blogging, but as soon as the kids are old enough to give me more time, my plan is to go for it.  I want to blog more, I want to write a book, I want to write articles, I want to reach people with my words and leave the world a tiny bit better than I found it.

It’s a dream I’m realising a little later in life and not my first, as a teenager I wanted to be an actor.  I went to drama school and on graduating did really well for a while, then the work started to dry up and the rejection at auditions took its toll.

I reached 23 and felt washed up so I ran away to America for a while, came back refreshed and then realised I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I got a job in an office, then another and another.  I went back to college, met my other half, started a family and life moved along pretty quickly.

One thing I held onto through the years was my love of words.  Whether it was reading them or writing them, from a young age they have always given me joy.  So a new dream was born of an old habit and I suddenly felt successful in a way I hadn’t before.

It took me a long while to realise that was what mattered.  I didn’t have to prove myself when it came to my dreams.  They’re mine and even though it sounds clich├ęd, it’s not whether or not I succeed but that I tried in the first place that matters most.

So now, onto teaching that to my children?  It’s going to take a lot of repetition methinks.

My daughter wants to be so many things - doctor, mum, singer, shop assistant, hair dresser, teacher, astronaut, spy, cartoon (that’s not a typo) – the list goes on.  She has no limits, she believes she can do it all and at the same time. 

I love that about her and look forward to her little brothers list when he tires of the spatula he’s currently using as a weapon of mass destruction.

I want to keep their hope and positivity alive so they don’t lose confidence or feel their dreams are out of their reach.

On the bright side, they don’t tire easily.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day everybody. 
Whether you like it or not, it’s here and it ain’t going nowhere until midnight tonight.
Many years ago when my other half and I got together Valentines was such a big deal.  The pressure to go to some awful restaurant and pay too much money for factory churned out food was enormous.  As was the pressure to get the perfect card, perfect gift, decide whether or not getting a box of helium balloons delivered to his office was a good idea (the jury is still out on that one).
In 2001, my wish list for Valentines Day would have read something like this:
1.       Breakfast in bed.
2.      Flowers
3.      Some other present that was just for me, perfume, chocolates etc.
4.      Candle lit dinner for two.
5.      An early night - eh hem.
Nowadays things are a little different.  We have children, so I suppose there is no need to explain why things are different.
We have a toddler who has taken to screaming his wishes so incoherently that we don’t understand them which has the potential to lead to injury if we’re not careful and hurt ourselves pretending to fall in an effort to distract him.
Our older child has recently decided that all her clothes are too babyish, so even though I’m ashamed to admit it, yesterday I bought her what I knew she would consider to be a ‘cool’ outfit to avoid crying and complaining for just one morning.
So, in the spirit of change being inevitable, here’s my wish list for Valentines Day 2011.
1.       No one gets hurt and /or needs a doctor.
2.      Avoiding getting something stinky or sticky on my clothes for the whole day.
3.      A trip to the loo alone.
4.      A quiet and calm evening meal.
5.      An early night, but for a completely different reason to ten years ago.
 On the Bright Side, the card, chocolate & flower people are keeping busy.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Stick to the Rules!

I live in a relatively rural area, so driving is pretty much a necessity.  My daughter’s school is a few kilometres away and every morning we have a beautiful drive across a wide open plain that we’re lucky to live close to.

It is a simply stunning place and sprawls to the horizon with all the romance of a Bronte novel, without the angst.

Look at it.  It's beautiful.

Being so far reaching and flat, the plain is prone to fog.  Not a surprise.  The speed limit is 60 kmph, sensible enough, yes? 

Therefore my ever increasing irritation with certain plonkers who drive across it like they’re taking part in a Grand Prix is, I believe, understandable.

Take the Dolly Bird I encountered this morning.  There she was driving her rather large car well above the speed limit while chatting on her phone which was clenched between her jaw and shoulder.

Like I said earlier, this area is prone to fog and this morning, visibility wasn’t great.  So, did Dolly Bird have her fog lamps on?

No she did not; in fact she didn’t have any lights on. 

Why would she?  She’s obviously too important to put herself through the trauma of flicking a whole switch.

As she approached me, we were both directing our cars over a series of speed bumps, which are on the road on purpose to slow cars down because there is a school.  Right there, beside the road, Stevie Wonder couldn’t miss it.

But Dolly Bird couldn’t be bothered with slowing down, nor, it would appear, use both hands to steer. 

So Dolly Bird starts to veer over the white line and aim the 2 tonnes of metal she’s in control of at me.  And whose fault would that be? Why mine, of course!  I was on the correct side of the road, hands at ten to two, safe speed, checking mirrors etc.  How dare I!

Dolly Bird with all those things she’s got going on at once, still manages to flip Yours Truly the bird while cruising back onto her own side of the road and into a puddle which splashed a child walking into school.

I was infuriated, but not just because I was sticking to the rules in order to transport my own children to and from school safely, but because she had kids in the back of her own car too!

There is only one thing to call this Dolly Bird – a  *’#@£%*$)@~# !!!  But I had to internalise it because the kids would pounce on the opportunity to point out "Mummy said a bad word".

For me, it’s black and white; there are rules of the road for a reason.   They are not just guidelines or something that doesn’t apply to certain people because they believe they’re the world’s greatest driver or unbreakable or whatever. 

They are there so that we can all use our vehicles correctly, sensibly and most importantly – safely.

Speed kills, drinking and driving kills, driving tired kills, driving under the influence of drugs kills, driving irresponsibly kills, driving while talking or texting on a mobile phone kills. 

I am not making this stuff up and I know from television around the world that this problem is not confined to my neck of the woods.

Evidently responsibility for ones actions is a lesson Dolly Bird and others like her have yet to learn; hopefully that knowledge won’t be bestowed upon them at the expense of their own or someone else’s children.

But Dearest Reader, although Dolly Bird is not alone in her ability to make me want to rip her oesophagus straight out of her throat and play the theme from Deliverance on it, there is one thing that sets her apart and it’s this week’s Bright Side.

You see later in the day, I encountered Dolly Bird again, but this time she was pulled over and being spoken to sternly by a lovely police officer and looking quite sheepish. 

It doesn’t happen enough to her kind, but oh how sweet to witness when it does.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Button Pushing

I recently got a letter from my daughter’s teacher.  It was a note really, but it was on a page and hand written with blue pen. 

I needed to respond and am ashamed to say my first reaction was not what I would have expected from a word lover like myself.
I checked my phone to see if I had her number so I could text her, I didn’t, so I checked the contact list to see if I had her email address.  I did not have that either.

Finally, the penny dropped and I realised I needed to actually write back to her.  As in get a note pad and a pen and write a note.
I used to write letters and notes all the time, right up until I was introduced to email way back when it was still new.   I remember thinking it wouldn’t catch on.  I thought the same about text messaging.  That’s why I won’t ever speculate on the stock market.
If you’ve read one of my recent posts, you’ll know that of late, I’ve become quite obsessed with all things technical.  Particularly my lovely iPhone.
I am not alone, but that coupled with the writing a note thing, gave me pause for thought.
How much faster can the world get?
We can contact each other so easily nowadays.  Email, text, tweet, instant messaging, Facebook, Skype, MySpace and of course the now almost old fashioned telephone call.
I have found myself wondering about letters and who, if anyone still writes them.  Who takes the time to sit down at a table with some nice paper and their favourite pen and write?
So, I set myself a task.  I took out a beautiful Parker pen I received as a gift a few years ago (it was still in its box) and decided to write with it. 
I wrote down ideas for my writing, I wrote lists of things that needed doing, and of course I wrote back to my daughter’s teacher.
After just one day, the pain in my right hand came as quite a shock.
Another surprise was how much effort it took.  I had to slow down and pay attention.  After all, there is no spell check on a blank page.
It really was quite amazing.  I literally slowed down.  Not to the point where I may need to see a doctor, but where I actually felt a little calmer about my day to day life.
It’s not like I’m a nervous ball of energy all the time, but some days I can feel a little jittery and could wear away the refresh button on a number of web sites, in a way which was bordering obsessive.
I was delighted to learn I didn’t actually need to cultivate such an urgent habit.  Nothing bad happened when I didn’t check my email every 5 minutes.
So this week’s bright side is realising I didn’t actually miss out on as much as I thought I would when I cut back on my habit.  I didn’t cut it out, that would be ridiculous.  Oh, and I did get a lot done around the house too, which is always a bonus.