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I thought I was a good parent!!!!! Until!!!

  Image: Louisa Stokes /

I once had a very interesting conversation with another parent who I see very rarely at school.  She is one of those parents who gets involved with everything, and who is a lovely person, through and through.  She is also very honest, and never thinks badly of anyone.  I always think of her as Mrs Nice.

She once made me smile very much, and seeing her today reminded me of that day a couple of years ago when we had a conversation that rocked what I thought of as a good or bad parent.  It also made me feel as if my attempts in raising my children were very normal.  I will always be grateful for that, however I have never told her how much it helped me day to day.

I was in a particularly down mood that day, and my special needs boy had been struggling badly.  He had kicked out at people in nursery, and the parents were looking down their noses at him and tutting loudly.  One parent, even grabbed his hand and told him loudly not to point at her son, and I couldn’t blame her, as my son had been nipping hers through his jumper.  Her sons reaction was just to sigh and smile at my son.  He was very patient and understanding.

Moving away from that, onto picking up my older children, Mrs Nice seems to also have been having  a bad day, and mentions how she had always though she was a great parent, a natural.    She went on to say how she had no qualms having child number 2, as her first child was so nice, and quiet.  She aimed to please, and was popular and well liked by all those around her.  Mrs Nice had taken that to mean, that unlike some of the other parents and children that she saw around the village, she was a good mother.  She had to be, didn’t she.  Look how well her daughter had turned out. 

Mrs Nice said she had convinced herself that she was so good at this parenting lark, that she was going to have some more children, as how could anything go wrong when she was such a natural as a parent.  She had made a great job of being a mum in comparison to the children she saw at school and out playing.

The next few sentences made me smile.   She went on to say that having child number 2 was instantly different.  He cried all the time, he was demanding, irritable, didn’t want to do what he was told, and caused mayhem in the house.

It was then, she had realised that how nice and good her daughter had turned out, had little to do with her parenting skills.  She had learned it was to do with her daughters nature, and part of who she was.    She hadn’t parented her son any differently, but suddenly she was one of those mums with what is seen as a “problem child” –  and dreaded parents night. 

My children are high needs, and I had spent a lot of time before that thinking about what I was doing wrong as a parent.  Not understanding why Gina Ford methods didn’t work with my children but worked with others.  Then I gave up trying those things, and muddled through to find  my own way of living with my children, and outside the “rules”, that people think we should all live by.

I will be forever in her debt.


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@scottish_mum / My Top 5 Reasons for Twittering

Yada, yada, yada.  I see the look on the faces of anyone that I mention twitter to.  It is normally met with some kind of snigger, and snort, or some comment of how they have far too much to do to spend time on twitter, or asking why I would want to talk to strangers every day.   After that, I don’t tell them I tweet. 

Because of the reactions, very few people know that I tweet.  My husband and kids know, and they snigger and snort at it.  I have two people in RL apart form that who know, and they are fine with it.  So much so, that they even know about this blog.   If you are reading this, yes, you know who you are.  That’s it though.   To other people, my twitter doesn’t really exist.

My enjoyment of using twitter is totally founded on the fact that I have met new friends very quickly.  These are friends, whom we rarely meet, or hardly know, yet we talk to each other nearly every day.

Pre twitter, it was hard for me to imagine that I would enjoy it so much, or that I would end up setting up a blog, and writing away into the cyberspaceworld.  I would like to go public as some of you do, and reveal my face to the world, but I am not comfortable doing that at the moment, so I am doubly grateful for the lovely people who have come into my twitter stream. 

My top 5 reasons for tweeting

1 – I have someone to talk to at any time of day.  There is always someone on the other end of the keyboard in my timeline now.    And that is not just anyone.  They are going to be people like me, with kids, with problems, and not pretending that everything in their lives is rosy.

2 – I don’t have the time with special needs in the family to do the coffee mornings, lunch groups, or mummy socialising locally, and twitter offers me the opportunity to mix with both special needs and mainstream mums.  I get the best of both worlds, which doesn’t happen in real life.

3 – I am doing something that I would never have done before.  Thanks to twitter, I am travelling 500 miles to a place I haven’t been to before, to meet a few hundred other women who have met through blogging at Cybermummy in London.

4 – I found blogging.  Through reading some other peoples blogs, and deciding that I needed an outlet to keep me sane, I started blogging last year.  I messed up when I transferred across to my own domain and lost it all, so it was start all over again.   This blog started in November / December and will take time to build up, and at the moment, I am enjoying having somewhere to splurge.  Do I want to take it further, not yet, as it’s fun.

5 – I thrive on the sometimes multiple, fast conversations going on.  All those  people who join in, all the people helping each other when someone asks for help, and the fact that it keeps me sane. 

That’s it from me.  I think I have been lucky in that I have not managed to get myself into any twitter arguments.   This is the secret though isn’t it.  It’s like a little secret society of fast moving conversation followers.  The speed it moves in comparison to facebook is astounding.

Thats it from me, and if you haven’t tried twitter, it takes a little time to find your circle, and expand to follow the people that you like.   I tried three times before I really got into it.   I’ll have withdrawal symptoms on holidays this year !!!!!!

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Exerpt from “Rules of Motherhood – Laid Bare with Tall Tales”

This is an exerpt from one of my current works in progress.     Some of the tales are based on truth, and others are fictional.    This is raw first  draft so it is not perfect.  Happy reading.

Telling Porkie Pies is Bad

I am well aware that telling lies is NOT a good thing.  My mother successfully dedicated her child rearing days to instilling this perfectly logical rule of the land into me.  It succeeded in making me very self conscious if I need to tell a lie, and subconsciously I always choose to tell the truth ‘wherever possible’.

There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule.  There are always exceptions to everything we seem to do as parents, and lying is one of the big issues to affect the human race. 

One of the terms often thrown in our faces is that lying is always the sign of a low class birth.  That is true, isn’t it?  My Primary 5 teacher said so, and adults never lie, do they?  I never believed it myself, although I wouldn’t have dared to tell her that as she might have stopped liking me. 

Looking at the lying and class barrier from the point of view of the precocious 9 year old that I was, there always seemed to be an area of snobbery involved in it.  As a working class child, brought up by a borderline middle class mother who had slipped back into working class with the divorce of my parents, I struggled to understand how this could possibly affect my future life to any great degree.

As an adult, I am more aware of the divisions of class, and how they are structured in life.  What I didn’t realise as a child was that there were divisions of class within each class. 

As a child, the world around me was simple and worked easily.  I lived in an area of the city that had us singled out as poor, nasty, common, lower class, or generally undesirable. Did I care about any of that?  Not one jot.  I had a hard working mother, who provided food and clothing, and caring grandparents allowed me to live a life totally unaware of the constraints of the class system. 

My biggest fears all centred around going to secondary school, where we were all told horror stories about how our heads would be flushed down the loo by the seniors, who would take pictures and post them up on the noticeboards.

I remember my first day at secondary school, shivering and shaking in fear at the thought we might be pulled out of the playground, or grabbbed on the way home to be dunked in the loos.  None of us dared use the toilet in the school, and there were many pained expressions on those first days as we tried to cross our legs in lessons to stop the need to go to the loo. 

You probably all know that if you are trying not to focus on something, then that is what you end up obsessing about. 

Picture six classes of first year secondary pupils.  None of them having anything to drink on school mornings, no drinks at break time or in the lunch halls.  Was it any wonder that when any of us were asked a question by the teacher, no-one had any spittle to be able to speak clearly, and we were constantly being asked to “speak up child,” or something along the lines of “Smith, has the cat got your tongue.”

Some of those first years may have had their heads dunked into the toilet bowl, but I never heard of anyone who actually had it done to them.  It was a lie / myth that tortured the new first year students at school every year.  The older children didn’t do anything to dispel the myth and lied by omission, and it was seen as a great sign of hilarity to watch the toilet abstaining strained faces of the younger ones when they appeared at school. 

The class division of the powerful brigade versus the fearful begins early.

Following on from my wonderfuly successful experiences in telling the truth, I decided that as a parent, it was my duty to share the wonderful teaching and learning from my mother to my cherubs.

The story evolves, and my version centres around telling my children that they need to tell me the truth at ALL times, even if they have lied to someone else about the same thing.  I even tell them that if they tell me the truth, that they will never be punished as badly as if they tell me a lie, and I find out that it is a lie. 

I even actually reward them for telling me the truth, even if they have done something wrong.  The influence of the good behaviour brigade is immense, and sways parents opinions under the pseudonym of madness in another guise.  This madness has been forced upon us by the powerful brigade, because it bears no actual relation to real life.

Lets look at this from the outside, and putting this into the realms of silliness.  Imagine that Mrs Average Mum hears screaming coming from the kitchen, and decides to investigate, hot footing it from the lounge, and tripping over a dozen strategically placed toys on the way through.  The fall always seems to happen in slow motion. 

Imagine yourself in her place, you can see the fall comiing, and you know what is about to happen, but there is nothing you can do to stop it.  On the way down, you bang your funnybone on the doorframe and stifle the f word forming on your lips.  (I have another story to tell about a funnybone, but that is for a whole other chapter.)  You quickly look round to make sure that no-one has seen you take the tumble, and you take a deep breath as the pain shoots up your arm. 

As you pull yourself up and run towards the now urgent screaming, you turn the corner in time to see one child whack the other on the head with a drumstick out of the corner of your eye.  By the time you reach round the corner fully, the attacking child has spotted you, and grasps his head and pretends to be hurt, while the really hurt child leaps for his attacker and gives a whacking punch in response. 

Almost at the point of fever pitch, you don’t know where to start.  Do you round on the attacker, check out the victim of the attack, or nurse your throbbing elblow?  In most cases, at this point, mums could be on the verge of a mumtrum (mummy tantrum). 

If you are blessed with huge reserves of patience, or have been brainwashed by the powerful brigade, you will take a huge deep breath, and separate the warring factions who have merged into one ball of hair, arms and legs, into two separate beings.

The next step depends on where you want to be as a mum. 

1 – You could ask them what happened, in which case, you may never get to the truth as you see it.
2 – You could ask the first attacker why they bopped their brother over the head with a drumstick.
3 – You could just ground them both and listen to no-one. 
4 – You could just walk away and forget anything happened in the first place.
5 – You could do something else that the rest of us don’t know about yet.

Most mums take the stand of trying to find out what happened.  That leaves us wide open to all sorts of lies and tall tales about what actually happened. 

“Why did you do this?”  “Why did you do that?” I often hear myself whine.

I don’t know if you are all the same as me, but it rarely gets to the truth of anything.  I find myself far too often saying the words indoctrinated into me. 

“I don’t care why you were arguing, but hitting with a weapon is not right.  If you tell me the truth, I won’t ground you as much as if you lie about it, and we’ll still go to the park this afternoon.  If you lie to me, we’ll stay here all afternooon.”  

The index of my right finger is usually pointed towards the wayward children, and waving up and down at this point, with my other hand perched firmly on my hip in high dudgeon style as if I were about to launch into a rendition of “I’m a little teapot…….”   

This is a very bad move.  Now I have tried to bribe my son into telling me the truth and if he doesn’t, I have to carry it out.  And the worst part of it all is that I don’t really care who started it, I just want them to apologise to each other, and for us to get on with the day.

In the end, we could even pretend they are such good boys for telling the truth, and say “what good boys you are,” before patting them on the head and giving them both a lollipop.

After saying all of this, I have a huge confession to make.  Like most mums, I lie a lot.  Why oh why do I tell so many whopping great fibs?  You know the things that we tend to fib about the most…..

  1. You’re at a friends and she asks if your coffee is ok, while you choke on the unfiltered coffee grounds and nod while the tears stream down your face.
  2. You’re eating a meal and the waiter asks if everyting is ok with your meal, and again you blindly nod while forcing down a plate of overcooked and dried up pasta.
  3. Your mother asks if she looks like she is getting older, and you pretend you don’t see the fifty extra lines around her eyes that have appeared since her last birthday.
  4. Your husband asks if you want to make love tonight, while you lie still and try to mimic the breathing pattern of sleeping beauty.
  5. Your boss asks you if you remembered to post that letter yesterday, and you make a run for it with the letter in hand as soon as the clock strikes 5, so that you can make the last post pick up at the main sorting office in town.

The list is endless.  We all do it.  We think it’s part of a little while lie that is perfectly acceptable to tell in order to not hurt other peoples feelings, and we waggle our fingers at our children to get them to understand that a lie is not good, and the truth is always good.

Some occasions my children have told what they see as the truth, I have been shamed on the spot and wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole. 

On one occasion, my perfectly eloquent 3 year old walked straight up to a rather large lady.  Mr Eloquent was going to get an answer directly, and asked her outright how much food she eats to get so fat. 

Unfortunately Mrs Large Lady does not see the funny side of a 3 year old asking what she eats, and directs some comments about how badly brought up a child he must be. 

 I find it funny for a grown woman to believe that a 3 year old could make such grown up judgements, and the situation descends into chaos……

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Snow – Sensible or Over-Protective Parent?

It’s only November, but this is the worst snow that I can remember as an adult.  I remember snow like this when I was a child, and that was pretty special for me.  All this snow is pretty special for my children as well, because they have never seen snow like this before. 

I am not talking a few inches on the ground.  I am talking the lab up to her neck in it and the cat refusing to go out because he disappears in it.   I have had to dig out two trenches, one for the cat and one for the dog to get out to the toilet.  The photos were from yesterday when the snow was about 7 inches less than it is today.   My camera is away with youngest son for the day, and hopefully he takes some pictures with it, but I won’t hold my breath.

I have fantastic memories of out sledging as a child, wearing only jeans and trainers, and being frozen to the bone, but refusing to give up.  How on earth we didn’t end up with frostbite I have no idea.

Togging up my own children, I have them wearing three layers under a huge jacket.  On top of that, I plant them with hats, gloves, waterproof and padded trousers, and furry lined boots to keep out the chill. 

And I am STILL worrying about whether they are warm enough outside in the snow.  

Eldest yesterday brought home a friend in the afternoon who was wearing only trainers and a pair of joggers and had been out for most of the day.  This is a child who seems to be fur coat and no knickers.  He has all the latest electronic gadgets and fashion junk, but school clothes that fit, and sensible footwear don’t seem to exist.

This child ends up in our TV room, and really cold, he phones his mum for a lift.  She says she will try and get out for him.  He tells her that his feet are freezing and that they are sore.  She still only says that she will try and come for him.  He then gets worried and asks, well, what will I do?  Obviously he was stressed out about the thought of putting back on his wet things and having to walk a mile in them. 

I would have dug out and defrosted my car and taken him home if push come to shove, and she did eventually appear in her car for him.  It does make me wonder if I am too over protective of my children though.  I remember having to cope with similar situations as a teen, but my mother did not have a car, and I wouldn’t have been expected to walk home alone in the dark, at night, in the snow.

It doesn’t change my mind though about making sure my children are warm, dry, comfortable and safe, and yes, it might toughen up kids to make them fend for themselves, but I can’t help wondering at what cost.