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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Where is life taking you?

When was the first time you stopped and thought about where your life was taking you?
I am only 35, but I have experienced much more in those 35 years then many people of my generation have, as not only have I been married for over 17 of those years, I have 4 children (ranging in age from 16 down to 7) but I have also travelled across the US, in Europe, the UK, sung competitively as a Soprano (here and overseas) and suffered from poor health which was potentially life threatening.

All this has put many things in perspective at several points, but most recently my family's existence has once more been affected and forced to change, by my other half's heart attack and seizures, which have obviously caused a great deal of concern and re-arranging of our daily routine to cope with the changes placed upon us.

Whilst for my children the most blatant signs of these changes have been the lack of their fathers presence at times (most especially whilst he was in hospital but generally when he attends appointments or needs to rest) and the need for a carer to assist with his personal help in the morning. In my case, it has been the regular to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital to visit him, along with co-ordinating his care with the huge team of medical and other care professionals in order to ensure that Andy has the organised care plan he needs (so far this has not happened due to the complexity of the situation)
As for Andy, I can only answer from an outside point of view, but I imagine that he feels somewhat that his life has been changed to the point where he no longer feels in control anymore, being totally at the mercy of medication, doctors & hospitals. Not something you hope for aged only 41.

What, you might ask, does this have to do with my opening question?

Well, I'm sure that Andy fairly frequently wonders where his life is leading him... and I know I do.
And I have talked about my concerns regarding this topic on a previous blog article before, but more in the context of work, and what I had hoped my career prospects were, so I needed to put things a little bit back in perspective considering everything which has now occurred.

I am desperate to return to work, for two reasons 1 – for my sanity & 2 – to bring some financial security back to my family, but life is about making sure you don't loose your family or your health and can look forward to a future which sees you moving forwards with your sanity intact.
Even if this means reconsidering and changing its direction regularly.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

British and proud of it.

This year as most you will remember, we completed the 2011 census. Alongside this the BBC have been running a series based on the concept of the Mixed Race heritage within British culture, which has developed over the past 100 years or so (Mixed Britannia -Here).
I have brought my children up (hopefully) to respect people no matter what race, colour or faith (or lack of) they are, so felt comfortable watching the programme in order to gain an understanding of just how mixed race relationships have changed society.
I was absolutely amazed to find out just how long ago our society had begun to merge and blend with the cultures coming in as a result of our Empire. Not just this, but with Britain being somewhere that was on the tourist trail, plenty of visitors arriving at our ports and exploring the country to meet the people who had probably never seen exotic, exciting appearing individuals such as those from overseas.

I have to admit having little experience of mixed cultural influences myself, being of white English background,   and growing up in the Home Counties during the 70's & 80's did very little to change this either.
But I would like to hope that my children will change this, that they will, through their own, more balanced, multi-cultural social networks be introduced to people who will become friends & maybe even more than this....
By exploring the huge world of experience available to them through the people now living in our local communities, let alone as my four children begin to start spreading their wings and travel around outside of their "home environment" I genuinely believe that they will learn to be more varied, flexible & understanding individuals, thus becoming generally less insular and this can only be beneficial I feel.

Surely, this it what it means to be British? -  Multicultural & Proud of it!

Friday, 21 October 2011

I know it's parent's evening but please don't sit on me!

Last night I had the task of facing 3 hours (yes I did say that) of parents evening at my youngest son's school.

I had promised his head of learning that I would attend after we both expressed concern about Mathew's failure to progress at the end of the previous academic year (Year 7 - otherwise known as Year 1 to those of us born before about 1990!!) and as I hadn't been to his previous one it was obviously something which needed addressing.

Arriving in the school atrium my son was forced to sign in (acknowledging that some children fail to turn up though I do, I'm sure that the teachers themselves ARE capable of noting who they see & who they don't) before we went into find the first on the list of appointments.

Now most parents who have attended a parents consultation evening at Secondary education level will know I speak the truth here - YOUR APPOINTMENTS WILL NEVER EVER RUN ON TIME - this is guaranteed. However at the commencement of the scheduled time slots you always carry a hope that this one consultation will be different, and that Miss so-and-so or Mr What's-his-face will be adhering to the allocated 5 minute slots for each set of parent/child combo.......

Like heck....

Generally, however, and I'll be fair here, this is NOT the teacher in question's fault, but the parent attending the meeting..... I have sat waiting in line behind many a full-bodied mother/father team with their poor son or daughter watching (and trying desperately not to listen in) whilst they express great concern/admiration/frustration about poor Tristan/Jemima, waving hands, tugging clothes, son/daughter burying head further & further into chest out of shear embarrassment......

I'm no angel, don't get me wrong, I have strayed over the 5 minutes set aside for me by a minute or two when meeting a specific teacher of one of my kids at some point I'm sure, but where I have been aware of the need to extend the conversation I will always arrange to meet/call & speak another time. It is so unfair on those of us sitting waiting for our turn, to just assume that you can carry on chatting away & not impact the rest of the evening .... especially as you too probably have other teachers waiting to see you too!!

Not only do you have parents taking far too long with teachers, there are those who seem to think that they can make up their own appointment times - excuse me but most of us arranged the times we have for a reason, not so that we can fit around you... please don't assume you can just "squeeze in ahead of us" .... For those working parents for whom fitting in Parent Consultation Evenings is hard enough already, shift workers, those who work long hours, those who use public transport or parents with issues of child care for younger siblings  seeing some "well meaning" parent try to push in before they are due, or because they are running late and have missed their scheduled time slot, they want to "slide in" quickly "hope thats ok?"... er, actually, no. It's not.
It's not my fault you were late. If I was late I wouldn't expect to try and be seen unless it was plainly clear the teacher had no-one sitting waiting for them, and even then, it would have to be with a margin of concern for the next arrival.... And there would be NO WAY I would attempt to get seen before my time unless requested to do so by the teacher as previous appointment had failed to arrive at the event (only possible benefit of the signing in process I mentioned at the beginning of this as that they could check if a particular child had arrived at all)

Finally, and maybe peculiar to myself and my poor children (Mathew & his little sister who had to come along for the ride) please please please.....
always make sure you are aware of your surroundings when sitting in a crowded parents evening hall....
we lost count of the number of times one of us was trodden on, elbowed, had our back hit by the chair behind us, but worst of all was the failed attempt I experienced of someone trying to sit on me because they hadn't noticed they were moving into an occupied chair........

I mean...
Invisible am I as well as a Mother of 4?