So, it’s day 4 of the Easter hols, 2014and if I hear, “I’m bored” just one more time, I might scream! I might scream anyway but that is beside the point. My kid is 9, 10 in the autumn. She seems to be going through a phase of, ‘ I’m too old for that but I’m too young for that’. Days out are tricky to gauge now compared to when she was a few years younger. Will an ancient castle and ruins bore her senseless or ignite a spark of interest in all things historic? The cinema? Seen everything. Walk the dog? It’s too cold. Make some things with craft? Nah. The only craft that gets done is Minecraft on Xbox…..don’t start me on that!
Oh for the days when I could throw her in the back of the car (the child seat, not the boot. There was never enough room with the dog there anyway) and head off to an indoor play center with slides and that big rope thingy you swing on.
Why has it changed so much from when, and here it comes, the classic phrase, when I was a child? What has made us as parents decide that there is no hope in hell of little Suzy heading off on her bike at 9 years old with her friends for the day. Or little Sean going to the local forest to build a den, and, Oh Dad, please can I take your blow torch and nail gun with me?
Of course, I realise the threat that every parent sees in dodgy looking strangers and ‘bad men’ in even dodgier macs, but our fear has come at a price. The adventures we had as kids, the freedom we experienced and in the majority of kids, the respect that we had for our parents in allowing us that freedom has somewhat vanished from the 21st Century child. I don’t think we will ever get back to that. Well, not unless you live on a massive private estate with acres of land for your kid to release their energy onto. No, everything now is constructed for them. Saturday clubs that we take them to; special interest groups where they can safely engage in outdoor activities. Ballet, football, dancing, biking….. the list is endless. We are responsible for filling their time with action when maybe it would be good for them to actually experience filling their own time with action?
Ahhhh but there in lies the route of the problem. What action will they do? Will it endanger them? How will I know where Suzy and Seany are? And on it goes. This perpetual circle of fear and freedom.
Anyway, better head off now. I can hear the 9 yr old shouting that she’s bored. Now, where did I leave that list of activities to take her to……..
Today, I decided that I am going to put to bed a lot of the things that haunt me. Maybe it is because another year is nearly over and a new one upon us that I am feeling a new beginning is needed. People will be formulating their New Year resolutions around now. Pledging to be at the gym at some ungodly hour of the morning or power walking to work, whatever the weather.
For me, it will be cutting the ties that bind with the past and embracing the unknown of the future. I don’t know about you but my mistakes and mess-ups in life tend to swill around in my head, popping up at the very moment I am already feeling down and hammering me with a mallet into the ground. Add in others actions that have been cruel and heartless towards me and there is a melting pot of emotions. When insomnia strikes and paralyses you, they crawl up the bed towards you and taunt you. Events that happened years ago or even recently come alive in your mind, spinning like a carousel, preventing you from getting off.
Guilt and shame eats you up like a virus attacking your immune system.Your defences are weakened; you haven’t the same power to fight; and when you think you are starting to win at last, they assault you again with a new memory, reminding you of their dominance and cruelty. Wreaking havoc on your emotions and psyche and tearing jagged gashes in the very fabric of your soul, making you down your own sanity.
You wonder how you have allowed events to happen. How you have been caught in a tangled web and consumed as others take control of you. You watch like it is an art house film, the grotesque and unending torture of emotions and feelings. And when you are finally free, when it is over and years have passed, they rise like Lazarus to remind you. To taunt you with a re-run as you lie in your bed. The guilt. The shame.
So, as 2015 fast approaches, I believe it’s time to turn the tables. I will try as much as the people who genuinely make a resolution to go to the gym and stick at it, or who power walk to work, rain, hail or shine, and I will not let events from my past shape my future.
Maybe you wont too. 🙂
Growing up, we always loved the festive period. Christmas in our house wasn’t a religious experience but a time for my parents to take a few moments away from work and relax with my sister and I and our grandparents who lived with us as well.
We were fortunate enough to be in a position where we all lived in the place my Mum and Dad worked. They were in charge of a large Victorian house that was home to between 15 and 20 men of all ages who had a physical disability. The home was part of a charity that began in 1889 to assist people with disabilities. Often they were put in one of several home the charity ran from birth and stayed until their death. To us, it was a fantastic experience growing up in such an inclusive environment. My parents saw ‘their boys’ as an extended family and in many ways they were. We grew up with an understanding of physical disabilities and often mental health issues and were quite protective of the residents when we came across others discrimination against them. Which was often.
When my own daughter was born, nearly 23 years ago and was subsequently diagnosed with a severe learning disability, I believe it was my experiences growing up that helped me cope with the adjustment and challenges that it brought. Like any parent, not everything is perennially rosy in the garden but I kept as strong as I could and had fantastic support from my late Mum. Sadly, my Dad had already passed away before my daughter was born.
Jumping forward to Christmas 2014 and I am so very disgusted to realise that so many people are still as intolerant and discriminatory as they were forty years ago and more.
I was out with my daughter in a local shopping centre this week and we were looking at Christmas decorations, chatting etc. For her, Santa is a big thing and she loves making a list and talking about him. He is as real as you or I in her mind. She plans what to leave him out, (I try to encourage her that the big man loves the same drink as Mum, Southern Comfort and lime!); We discuss what the reindeer might like and we throw glitter on the ground for them to land outside. As we talked, a lady beside us said in an accusatory voice, “Don’t tell me your daughter still believes in Santa? She’s an adult for goodness sake.”
Now, it is quite obvious after you chat with my daughter that she is has a intellectual disability. I am not a Mum who ever tried to hide that or make her behave in a certain way to mask it. She is who she is and that is that. So, what gives this woman the right to have such an opinion of something that is quite frankly, none of her business?
My daughter has had so many challenges in her lifetime already. Mountains have been climbed and walls have been scaled. Her comprehension of life events is so different from ours that my belief is that it’s my job to make those mountains as attainable as possible. Explaining things to her can be difficult. Finding the right way to word something or frame it. My Mum’s death, my heart condition, illness, her mental health difficulties, other people’s opinions. These are just a few of the scenarios that need to be carefully planned out when discussing, so much more so than that of a young person without special needs, who can comprehend and rationalise life events.
So again, I ask; where is the harm in keeping the belief in a benevolent man in a red suit and white beard going? Why break her heart for no apparent reason? Will the person who shatters her belief then feel high and morally mighty? A service done for, and I quote, “those who can’t think for themselves?”
I am not trying to keep her childlike and innocent. No, far from it. She has her own house with amazing support staff and she is an independent young woman with a busy life. But what I feel that I am doing is keeping the magic and joy alive for her. Something I feel we all need to be reminded of and embrace.
While we love Christmas, I am not a big festive film lover. However, I do love the part in Miracle on 34th Street where Mr Kringle is being defended in court and it sums up my thoughts and finishes this post. Merry Christmas everyone, whatever you believe in. xx
‘A lot of people believe in Mr. Kringle. Including millions of children. If you rule against him, you won’t destroy anyone’s belief but you will destroy the man they believe in. Mr. Kringle is not concerned for himself, if he was he wouldn’t be here. He is in this regrettable position because he is willing to sacrifice himself for children. To create in their minds a world far better than the one we’ve made for them. If this is, as Mr. Collins suggests, a masquerade then Mr. Kringle is eager to forfeit his freedom to preserve that masquerade. To subject himself to prosecution to protect the children’s right to believe. If this court finds that Mr. Kringle is not who he says he is, that there is no Santa, I ask the court to judge which is worse: A lie that draws a smile or a truth that draws a tear.’
Hello folks! Alas it has been rather a while since I last posted. One thing led to another and before I knew it, December was upon me. My new year resolution is to make more time for my writing and ramblings as it really is something I enjoy without end. In the meantime, I begin December with these thoughts….
Here is my advice. Listen if you wish.
Take walks everyday
Smile and say hello to people you meet
Notice the little things
Have a coffee out
Even a bun
See you friends
Remove yourself from toxic relationships
Tell the people you like that you like them
Tell the people you love that you love them
Go somewhere you haven’t been since a kid
And be a kid there
Eat chocolate or whatever your vice
Laugh until water runs from you eyes
Or down your legs
This too shall pass
Don’t shun help;embrace it
Watch a DVD box set back to back
In you pjs
And feel no guilt
Give where you can
Even if it’s a little
It may be a lot to someone
Pick up your dog’s poop
Throw you litter in the bin
Join a group or club
Be brave and try it
Someone was always the first
Forgive where you can
Where you can’t, don’t let it tarnish your life
Dress how you like
Don’t be a clone
Get a pet and cherish it
Spend time with your kids
No job is worth missing out on their life
Be a kid with your kid
Be the grown up too
Tell silly jokes
Make a funny face
Speak up for those who need a voice
Stand up to those whose voice is full of hatred
Have check ups, keep healthy, love life, make love
This is it;no coming back
Anyone who knows me is well aware of my past dating disasters. It has been suggested to me that I have a forehead magnet that attracts all manner of strangeness and oddity to my door. If it needs rescuing/saving/a home or general life support, then I’m your mug, sorry, I mean woman.
Now, don’t get me wrong; there have been a few successes along the way. Somewhere in the late 1980s early 90s, but that quite possibly was a dream.
There was the guy who was convinced he turned into a wolf and prowled the fields surrounding Donaghadee at night, though alas, not in an attractive, teen novel manner.
The one who took me for dinner on the first date and produced a ring in the car on the way home. (On hindsight, I should have taken the ring and scarpered!)
The one who wouldn’t wash; the one who said Jesus talked to him, the one who believed in banning alcohol; the one who couldn’t get enough alcohol; the one who wanted some ‘group fun’; the one whose wife didn’t understand him….. and on it goes.
They say love is blind and plenty of friends have suggested I take a trip to the opticians from their appraisal of my conquests. So Specsavers, basically it is your fault.
Now that I am MANY years older I can see that I often thought that I could be their own little saviour. I could crucify their problems and addictions on the Friday and resurrect them on the Sunday to a better way of life. Rolling the stone away from the tomb and revealing their true potential. I thought if I loved them just enough, just the right way, well, then of course it would all work out like a Hollywood movie and happy every after would ensue. Took me a while to figure that it doesn’t quite work that way! Most people with addictions of their choosing don’t want to be saved or have the goodness in them identified by some mad woman who sees beyond the surface.
I think that I courted my own disasters though. Growing up, I was the kid who buried the small animals that our cats dragged in from the garden. Providing luxury final resting places for them in used Ferrero Rocher boxes or match boxes if most of the body parts had already been digested by Tiddles. This was around the same time that I wanted to become a Nun after watching Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story. Maybe I should have stuck with the Nun route.
So, from saving or laying to rest mangled pet kill to saving and trying to lay to rest the ghosts of mangled relationships. There wasn’t much of a diversion for me over the years. Finally, I realised that the person who needed saving was in fact myself. Saving from trying to be the glue in relationships that I should never have been in. Saving from accepting the blame for events that were not of my doing and saving for the possibility that in the future, I might just meet someone who got me for who I am.
Plus, I imagine it is rather difficult to fit a guy into a Ferrero Rocher box.
I found myself once more sitting in the Doctor’s waiting room after battling my way through legions of pregnant women puffing away outside the maternity department’s sign declaring NO SMOKING IN THIS AREA. I began to peruse the selection of high end magazines that surgeries seem to offer for their patients enjoyment whilst waiting to see my lovely Doctor. I say lovely with all honesty as he is a little gem.
However that is not what my post is about today. One of the glossies featured local ‘beauties’ who were all hopefuls in the Miss Northern Ireland beauty pageant and I began wondering why we still pander to the worldwide stereotype of beauty that can only be revealed in a tight swimsuit on a beautifully preened and possibly even pruned leggy blonde or brunette.
Now, please don’t think me insanely jealous (maybe a teeny bit) or even belittling their aspirations to climb the pageant ladder to reign supreme one day as Miss World, for that is not the case. My point is that no matter how far down the road of progression we travel, beauty still is a marker in our society. Women, no matter how beautiful they are or their loved ones think they are, it seems to be never quite good enough. We might have a little too much cellulite or one too many stretch marks (darn you mother nature!). Our legs aren’t long enough, our eyes aren’t blue enough are boobs need to be more perky:what’s going on in this world?
Then, a few days later, the local paper in its Facebook forum informs us that, ‘Beautiful Shirley from the Ballymoney area‘ is our winner. The obligatory comments appear below the story: ‘She’s stunning’, says big Rab. ‘Total babe’, agrees wee Marty. ‘Bit of a dog‘ declares John. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor according to Paul Simon. But what we find no matter where in the world we may be, is that there is a certain je nes sais quoi to these beautiful women who enter contests. I am not declaring they are not stunning, as I am sure they are, both inside and out as we are always reminded and I am sure they aspire to more than wanting to work with children and travel the world being ambassadors for beauty. But my point is, how many times do you see women with a totally unique, individual look whilst still being striking winning the competition? The answer is never as those women don’t fit the pre-decided mould. The one size fits all view of what beauty is. We all know someone who is drop dead gorgeous yet quirky and different. It might be your mate or sister or even you! But we also know they would never enter a pageant in a month of Sundays as they are well aware of what counts as ‘beauty’ to the judges.
Who is to say what beauty is?
People who know me are well aware that I have plenty of ‘Luci moments’. You know the kind; when something happens and your fiends declare, “Ha, that’s so Luci/Peter/Joan” etc. Well, I seem to have had more than my fair share over the years. My sister and I still can’t go into a certain local Chinese takeaway without looking at each other and erupting into fits of laughter whilst remembering the time I went to look at the window display in the neighouring shop and smacked right into the glass, falling backwards onto the pavement. We were on our way to order Chinese and by the time my sister could actually breathe again for laughing, we were in such a state that the poor girl behind the counter thought we were laughing at her and asked us to leave. Of course, this was not the case, but it was one of those had to be there moments.
However, this weeks Luci moment is, I think, the best by far. Let me set the scene……
A good friend had recently passed away (not funny I know but bare with me) and it was the morning of his funeral. I had dressed in the regulation funeral attire, black dress, tights and pumps, and went to the service. The day also coincided with a trip I had to make to Co Armagh to collect a car. So, afterwards I headed to the train station to meet my sister and daughter and board the train for our journey. Not wanting to stay in the dress, my sister had brought a change of clothes along for me. Off I trundled to find the loo and get changed. After standing like a tit for few minutes trying to figure out how to shut the door, darn you new-fangled trains, the kind gentleman sitting in the unfortunate seat opposite the toilet door saw my plight and volunteered with, “The close button is down low there”. I proceeded to go red, utter my gratitude and close the door. Veryyyyy slowly I may add. Train toilets were clearly not designed for people needing to pee RIGHT NOW!
I started to get changed which is trickier than you’d think. Motion and taking tights off and jeans on is not a happy marriage. Anyway, I succeeded in donning new attire and opened the door……Slowly. Headed back up carriage to be then called after by same previous kind gentleman, “Excuse me, you’ve left something important behind……” Turning back, smiling and saying thank you, I rounded into the loo to see my knickers awaiting retrieval….. Super red face, think pomegranate here, “thank you, thank you” uttered in shame, quick run up the carriage and frantic attempts to open more bloody automated doors to get to my seat. Cue eruptions of mad Luci laughter and my sister once again in pieces. There is a distinct possibility she needed new knickers after she ceased laughing.
I should just add in here that this came a couple of days after tripping over our old Border Collie, Mollie and falling flat on my face in the middle of the road. Much to the amusement of an oncoming cyclist who could not contain her mirth at my plight and actually slowed down to laugh a bit harder.
As the green ogre once proclaimed, “I’m here all week, try the veal”.