Tag Archive | growing up

A hug from me

20161012_175742 Sometimes I stand on the step so I can be taller than my daughter.

This is not for egotistical purposes, honest!

It’s just so I can put my arms around her shoulders in an all enveloping hug. And she can put her arms around my middle like she did when she was a child.

Doesn’t matter how old they are or how tall they grow, or even how loving the arms of boyfriends, they still know there’s nothing like a mum-hug to help ease the stresses of adulthood.

And how lucky I am to be looked to still to provide it.

No one is ever too old for a reassuring hug. But sometimes we get too busy to prioritise them.

No one is ever too tall or too grown up. And it doesn’t matter what gender – boys need them just as much and everyone needs to be tactile. Technology can’t do tactile, that’s one thing at least we still need to be human to provide! Lets not be on our technology so much we forget to be tactile. Life could easily become totally virtual.

Even grown up friends and I swap mum-hugs when that’s what’s needed and there are empty arms needing to be filled. We have the need both to receive and give hugs. Nothing shares an empathy or love like a hug does. Nothing soothes as much or feels as good.

My youngest popped back for one earlier. I see how many I can get in before she goes again. And I did stand on the step!

Someone said recently that my books feel like a hug. When life is challenging and they dip into them, that’s what it feels like they tell me. I think that’s one of the most endearing compliments I’ve ever received; I feel truly honoured. Couldn’t wish for anything better when that’s what I’d hoped they’d feel like, along with the odd tip of course, but perhaps that’s not as useful as a hug sometimes!

So if you’re in need today consider this another one. I’m just sorry not to be giving it in person!

You won’t ruin them on your own!

Chelsea’s working so hard at the moment. She’s initiated a new production for the Brighton Fringe

A bold and thought provoking production

this year and is working on it with friends. It’s an impressive undertaking and I so admire her, tinged with concern of course at how busy she is.

I look at our two young adults now and wonder how they got to be the wonderful people they are – it’s something you always worry about as a parent, particularly a home educating parent.

I know all our experiences shape us; from childhood, school, home education, family, work, whatever. And although we can control some of the experiences our youngsters have we’ll never control all of it however much we want to keep them sweet. And we certainly can’t control how they respond to those experiences – that response is inherent in them. We won’t be able to determine that entirely.

For it is never nurture (or nature) in isolation, as the debate leads us to believe, it is the interaction between the two that determines the people our kids become. It is the youngsters’ reaction to their experiences which determine how things turn out. So that is never entirely the parents’ fault. A lot is genetic.

That’s a comforting thought when you’re parenting, particularly if you’re a home schooling parent and worrying you may be ruining the children.

Be reassured; if you are ruining them – you won’t be ruining them on your own!

In fact, I’m sure you won’t be ruining them at all, it’s far more likely that by parenting with care and respect – and I guess you care and respect otherwise you probably wouldn’t be the type of parent visiting here and reading this – you will be developing those qualities in them. And this will in turn nurture caring and respectful responses to the world from them, thereby influencing a little how they respond and what they will become.

But mostly they do it for themselves, even if they make decisions based on our attitudes.

Chelsea is inherently who she is on her own. Maybe with snippets of attitudes she grew up with here in her early years, but mostly she’s chosen what she reckons are the best of what she’s seen for herself. That’s what they’ve been educated to do.

And seeing the choices she is making I can only be proud!

Amazing shows and guinea pigs!

Well, it was amazing!20150511_122251

Their production sold all tickets which is a pretty incredible achievement for a fist venture, says she with just a teeny bit of pride. I am choked!

I am also choked because the snag with visiting loved ones is you have to leave them again! Tears threaten and throats go constricted and the journey home is beset with gloom.

I console myself that the girl I leave behind not only has the most loving partner to cuddle her now, where once only mum would do, but she also has guinea pigs!

You wouldn’t think guinea pigs would make such a difference. But there’s something in the deep emotive caring part of our being that flourishes through a connection with an animal.

There have been studies done on it apparently.

Studies or not there was something in my grown up girl that made her feel the need for an animal in her life again. She’d always had them when little when I gritted my teeth and got over my aversion to cages and we had a variety of furry things over the years. And seeing the children calm themselves with caressing a pet, put their cheeks to furry bodies as I held my cheek to infant hair, I knew it was worth it. I watched them virtually dissolve into bliss.

Ironically I’ve just seen the same sensation in my twenty four year old. Pets bring something to life that calms stress and ignites that loving side when it gets buried in the business of life.

I recently read the most beautiful book ‘The Gentle Barn’ about a special centre offering animal therapy to lost and troubled children. The connection to, looking after, and physical proximity of warm loving beings connects children to a loving core that may have been imprisoned by traumatic life experiences.

I think putting on a production for the first time ever may almost have felt like a traumatic life experience for my eldest and her partner! But afterwards I watched some of it leech away whilst holding a guinea pig!

I might try it and maybe I can heal some of the trauma a mum inevitably feels at wrenching partings from grown up girls by cuddling the cat!

A couple of decades later…

Production shot from Decade 20

When you relinquish your little one to the mayhem of backstage that accompanies any children’s production you wonder whether you’re doing the right thing. It appears to be a mad disorganised crush of costumes, dropped make-up, stressed parents and performers and a half dressed chorus line looking bewildered.

I remember a strong desire to snatch Chelsea back to my suffocating bosom and cry ‘You’re not doing it’!

But I got over it, went out front and watched with amazement this perfect little pro overcome her own shyness to do what she loves; perform on stage. (You can read some of this in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’)

I’ve since found out how many actors are shy. Yet there followed from that day many a production, two or three a year, which we sat through and applauded with dripping cheeks, for the next twenty years – can you believe!

Now, all that ground work has culminated in a play that Chelsea, with her partner Rich Foyster, has written, produced, directed and everything else it takes to put on a production – an enormous amount of work, believe me, I’ve had the exhausted phone calls.

What appeared impossible has evolved into a remarkable project I could never have imagined. The play, ‘Decade 20’, is to be performed during the Brighton Fringe on 8th and 9th  of May – just a few tickets left if you’ve a mind for a grown up evening out away from your little ones. Because your lovely children will also one day be staging their own grown up lives away from you and you’ll need to acclimatise!

And even though I still hanker to snatch her back from the strife of life and say ‘you’re not doing it’ and bleed through the angst of those phone calls, it’s just as well not to. For our beautiful children need us to be as brave as them and let them be what they want to be.

I can’t wait to see it. And there’ll no doubt be tears of pride and yet still bewilderment on how a shy little girl could go so far!

Watch the trailer here.

Nurturing confidence – the best objective of all

Children need all kinds of experiences to build their confidence

Children need all kinds of experiences to build their confidence

Nurturing, inspiring, varied and experiential, knowledge and opportunity rich. That’s what I said I wanted education to be in my last post.

Because that gives the children what they need to live successful and productive lives. It makes them happy, it makes them healthy and most important of all it gives them confidence. Confidence must surely be an objective for education.

Have you looked at your child’s education recently and considered what it’s doing for them?

You can’t build confidence in a system that gives you no choice. When you have no choice it is easy to become a pawn or a victim and fail to develop the skills needed to lead later life for yourself.

You won’t become confident from being unhappy, you won’t stay well either. You need to feel fairly content with what’s happening in your life, even if there are challenges, but challenges make you happy too. When there’s no choice about those though, there’s little happiness.

You can’t develop confidence if you’re continually undermined by lack of respect for your personal preferences. Confidence is built from being respected, whatever you are like.

It doesn’t make you confident when your ideas and opinions are disregarded and there’s little opportunity to express what’s important to you.

It doesn’t make you confident when no one trusts that you are able to learn for yourself and take some charge of your education.

It won’t enhance your well-being when no one seems to have any regard for you as a person or interest in nurturing your personal skills and strengths.

It’s hardly inspiring to be squeezed into someone else’s prescription of education towards objectives which have no meaning to you. That hardly keeps you motivated and happy. You need to understand your own objectives.

And it hardly keeps you motivated when your experience of education is dull and lack-lustre, year after year, with little variety in approach or experience.

What’s your child’s education like? Is it giving them confidence? If not, you might like to consider changing it!

What do you want for your children?

What do you want for your child in education? Whether you’re home educating or they’re at school, what do you want for them? What do you want them to end up with?

I’m asking this because there’s such a cross section of ideas on this one.

When I’ve asked before most people just mention qualifications, only measuring education by those outcomes.

Some people see education as not having an outcome but rather as an ongoing process, not answerable to grades, but a personal development and achievement which is not measureable.

Others don’t need it measured, they just want their children to grow, progress, thrive and be happy. A forward flowing process that works towards creating happy, productive people who are a pleasure to be with.

And that’s what I always wanted for my children. For I reckon they needed to be happy in order to achieve and build confidence. Children who are unhappy rarely reach their potential.

Having happy children doesn’t mean they never face up to challenges, or overcome difficulties. It’s not those things that stop us being happy. It’s being disrespected.

So whatever learning environment they were in I wanted them to be respected. This way they would know how to build respect for themselves and others, you cannot develop confidence if you’re in a climate where you’re disrespected and have no say.

That’s another thing I’d want – for them to have charge over their education, with guidance perhaps, but certainly some control over what happens to them. This is the only way they build independence. Keeping them bound to a prescribed or spoon-fed educational path over which they have no influence is no way to nurture independence.

And nurture is maybe one of the most important aspects of all. Education needs to nurture them. Nurture them as people as much as learners who are gaining knowledge and skills. Nurture them personally so they in turn understand what that feels like and how to pass it on to others. Nurture their individual needs and personalities, weaknesses and strengths, gifts and attributes.

And finally I’d want them to have inspirational experiences that make them even hungrier to learn about the world, to go out into it and make their own little difference, by being productive and proactive, loving and kind, respectful and responsible. Nurturing, inspirational, exciting, varied experiences and opportunities are what do that.

So I wanted their education to be the same; nurturing, inspiring, varied and experiential, knowledge and opportunity rich.

With the development of all those things, other outcomes like qualifications perhaps, fall into place naturally.

What do you want for your children? Do leave me your thoughts.

Mean mummy or just the hardships of parenting?

My daughter’s sense of relief was enormous. The exhibition was over and she was ready to celebrate. So I’ve come home again to leave her to it.

One of the few perks of them being away from home is that you don’t get to witness the parties. Or clear up the consequences!

I think that’s the only time I felt really mean; when I made one of them clean up their own vomit! I’d had to fight to resist the urge to make it all mummy-nice, but that wasn’t part of the bargain.

The bargain had been that I’d pick up my eldest from the party because then she could drink and I also didn’t have to worry about her driving home. As long as she didn’t throw up and leave me to clean it up, we joked!

I waited in the dark and she tottered out on her high heels with a happy smile and a kind of vacancy about her in allowing a friend to hold her arm. Or was that hold her up? I thought that was a bit funny. Plus the fact she’d rung me much earlier than expected.

‘You okay?’ I asked. She looked a bit strange.

‘Yea. Drank too much too soon….and work the next day,’ she said, smiling sickly sweetly.

I drove home and as I did so her head lolled a bit and I had that sudden painful wave of motherlyness I’d had when she was first born and equally helpless. My maternal violin strings thrummed round my heart and I wanted to stop the car, sweep her in my arms and cradle her head upon my shoulder and let her sleep there, face in mum’s neck, like she used to. Protect her from the pull of the world and reattach the cord that strips her of her independence.

But of course I couldn’t. She was eighteen. And I was driving. And she wasn’t my baby any more.

She staggered up to bed and the bathroom door went regularly in the night. I knew…I was alert and listening.

The bedroom was full of vomit by morning, although she’d had the presence of mind to get some of it out the window!

She reckoned someone spiked her drink. She had indulged sensibly, as ever, but the impact of it was devastating. And it took a lot of cleaning up, not that I did it because that was the bargain after all.

But I felt very mean.

It’s hard to allow your children – who are not children really and not yours – to learn these tough lessons and be wise for the future. But she knew this was not something she was going to go back on her word and ask of me, I saw it in her face, and she bravely stuck it out.

But I don’t know who it was harder for. For her to have to do it? Or for me to stand back while she did? Both are hardships of growing, her and me, of mother-and-daughter-hood, of being a parent.

And I know the symphonies of heartstrings plays itself a lot longer than it takes to do the clearing up. The memories of childhood and the tugs and pulls of growing independence are troublesome for both of us. Whether that’s when they’re toddlers or twenty, home or away, then or now.

But we have to have respect; the respect that keeps a bargain. The respect to let them learn and let them go.

And the beauty is that the ultimate consequence of respect is the deepest imaginable love which I have now.