…growth

This is the picture of the brownie that I didn’t post last week.. I just had to share. I’ve thought about it (the brownie) a lot since last week. I may have to go back for another.

Anyhow, the reason for including the picture of said brownie, is that it signified more than just the caramelly chocolately amazingness that it was… I was in a coffee shop by myself.

It’s not that long ago that I couldn’t have contemplated going out for coffee by myself. What would have been the point? (Not in the ‘I can make coffee cheaper at home’ sense, but in the ‘who would I talk to’ sense). And also, would people stare at me, or think I had no one to have coffee with?

Coffee is the international word for ‘company’.. I think.

I like company. almost as much as I like coffee. In fact I have, on several occasions over the last year, contemplated buying a coffee shop, just to combine my love of people and coffee beans… For me to go to a coffee shop alone was a big thing. Growing up I was always the chatty one. In groups, I fill silences; include the quiet ones; I chat…I cannot be quiet. I have tried, but I always end up worrying that the people I am with will think there is something wrong (not necessarily with me, but perhaps with them). I remember a friend of mine who,, as a teenager would have quite happily gone to the cinema by herself. I could never understand why you would do that (enjoying or needing company as I did), but also I would have worried what others would have thought.

But now that I am 40 I am perfectly content in my own skin. When I think about it, the children broke me in to this, as it was acceptable to be in a coffee shop with no other adults but with one or two children. But now.. I can do it alone. I’m not bothered what people think, primarily because I know no one cares, and even if they do, I don’t care what they think*. how enlightening! In fact it was so therapeutic to have the silence amidst the hustle of all that was going on around me. I felt as though I had treated myself to a stolen hour; that no one noticed me and that I wasn’t required to smile or tell funny stories – not that i didn’t want to, but because its ok not to. It’s ok to enjoy your own company.

* I’m not sure why I was so worried about what people might think of me drinking coffee alone… there are so many other far more interesting and nuts things that I’ve done in my life that people could have had opinions on (!).

We were at a wedding party on Saturday night. It was a perfect location, in a marquee slap bang in the middle of a barley field. A balmy night with fab live music.. and then a dj in the wee small hours. I found myself completely content to do the casper slide alone on the dance floor (its ok, i’m not that confident..! I mean alone as in my hubby left me at the ‘criss cross’ bit and I stayed on to finish as I was having such a laugh. There were others on the floor of course; I just didn’t know them). I just love dancing and used to line dance about 20 years ago when I was thin. I love that its coming back.. I need to get a bit fitter so that I can enjoy it again the way that I used to. You can be in a line, but alone in a line. and that’s amazing. Like laughter is a social thing (we rarely laugh alone), dancing is the same.

I had my epiphany this afternoon, realising that this shows how much I’ve ‘grown’.. you wouldn’t buy a car and not put petrol in it, or service it. But yet we expect our wee bodies and indeed our wee ‘selves’ to just cope. Some time thinking about your ‘self’ is important so that there are sufficiently strong enough roots to weather a storm.

One of the courses I’ve recently developed is ‘personal development’. It primarily focusses on leadership, team work and resilience but there is a significant module on self awareness and personal growth. The course is generic, but will be marketed to team workers who work with children in the first instance, and this is deliberate. You will recall if you are a regular reader, that I truly believe that as parents we need to have a strong sense of who we are, other than ‘parent’ in order to demonstrate for our children the need for them to do the same. The same is therefore clearly true of those who work closely with children, especially within daycare in which children spend a huge proportion of their time. Daycare staff have such an important role in children’s lives.

I know as in any profession, there are huge variances in the quality of staff, but parents should take comfort in the professional standards set by the authorities and rigorously checked by Early Years teams within the Health and Social Care Trusts. The current standards are described as the ‘minimum standards’ and indeed they are just that; the minimum that is acceptable practise. The minimum has however been raised so as to ensure that all settings are professionally led and managed and this, whilst an increasing pressure for settings, raises the professional status of their work right up, so they can uphold their organisation, business or setting with the best of the best in this country.

The personal development course will be listed on my website as soon as I manage to work out how to do it.

(I’m busy watching you tube videos of line dancing and expecting that to be the clincher… when its the ‘breathless before 1min 50 of Footloose’ that is the real issue. Maybe I should skip the brownie next time…?)

 

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second

It’s sports day on Friday. Lucy cannot contain her excitement! We’re not competitive here (it might have sthg to do with what she plans on wearing though!). We’ve had 7 primary school sports days with Amy where you willed her on but as her wee legs were so much shorter than everyone else, finishing was the goal. Her first sports day was a tear jerker. My p1/2 mummy friends (Amy was in a composite class) will remember.. it was the day my faith in humanity was clarified and I was sure we had picked the right school. Amy, at the end of p1 was wearing age 2-3, weighed significantly less and measured a lot smaller than children her age. The last race of sports day was a relay with a child from each year group in each team. They ran from p7 to p1. It was a scorcher of a day and Amy was freezing (her internal thermostat doesn’t work).. the children sat in rows eldest to youngest front to back and although I can’t remember who the children in her team were, I remember clearly what they did. One of them put a fleece jacket put round her shoulders and they took it in turns to keep her warm as she waited for her turn. When it got to her turn I could see she was purple with cold and her wee legs were dragging as she ‘ran’. She was by this stage the only child running as all the other teams had finished. Every child in the school cheered for her and one of team members was waiting with the coat as she collapsed at the finish. I’m crying writing this as I remember how proud I was of her but also of them. I ran round to scoop her up and take her to the closest car that was open to get her warmed up. That’s her spirit for you..

But yes, Lucy.. 3 times today I’ve been astounded by things she has said to me. I mean totally blown away. We should listen to children more and I mean really listen..

Lucy wants to come second at sports day. That’s her aim. I asked her why second.. in fact I think I said ‘or third? third’s good too..’.

‘Second’ she said, ‘because it’s almost first but more realistic’. Right..

I’ve struggled with setting the bar too high for many years. Not any more. Last week I contented myself that it’s not my job or responsibility to fix everything. And this week Lucy has shown me that my responsibility is to lead by example. Parenting girls is a huge responsibility for women. They model themselves on you. So we must care for ourselves the way that we want our daughters to care for themselves. We must do things we enjoy, spend time with friends, have interests and experiences without our children as well as with them so that as adults they know how to keep a bit back for themselves. I’m not advocating selfishness, I’m advocating healthy balance. If we give ourselves all away, then that’s what they’ll do.

 

So, second. I can see Lucy not feeling the need to please me (or feel she has to be the best). She’ll enjoy the healthy competition and she’ll try her best, but it doesn’t faze her at all what I think of what she does. I love that.

 

The second pearl of wisdom actually came this morning as I was brushing her (tatty) hair. I said I’d just pull it back into a Pony tail and that’d do, meaning I wasn’t going to hurt her getting all the tats out; that I’d just make it tidy enough. No she said, please don’t make it ‘just do’, please do it properly. She then said that it made her feel good when her hair was done properly.. and then the clincher… ‘mum, I’ve decided that when I go to high school (you’re 6?!)that I’m not going to have a really short skirt. I’ve decided it looks better closer to my knee and really fashion is wearing what you want to wear, no matter what other people think, but wearing it right’. Well. This is a shocker from my dallas cowboys cheerleader who is only happy with her skirt at trampy heights. I’ll remind her of this when she’s 12 but, really the wisdom behind the meaning of fashion just blew me away. Lucy has a sense of style second to none. It’s not that she has spectacular clothes; many of them are hand me downs..but she throws together the oddest combinations and makes it work, without giving a toss how it looks. Perhaps it’s the not giving a toss that makes it work?

 

I had a coffee with an old friend this morning. Old as in we’ve known each other for more than 25 years (!).. I really enjoyed that wee hour and it did my heart good. Kenny Rodgers is right-you can’t make old friends. I was listening to the Lisa Mchugh and Nathan Carter version of that song tonight on my way home from a beach walk with Lucy. She asked what ‘you can’t make old friends’ meant. I explained that the friends you’ve known for ages are the best kind of friends as they really know you. So she said ‘then why do they sound so sad about it?’ And she’s right! (Shocker). Do we make enough happy noise about and to our friends? Do we tell them they matter and do they know? We need to be able to tell the people in our lives how much they matter.. should that be a simple ‘thanks for being you’, ‘ I enjoyed spending time with you today’, or ‘you do me good’. Everyone needs to hear that. And some people need to hear it more than others. If people matter to you, let them know.

I love Lucy’s simplistic view of life. For 6 she has a surprisingly mature view on the big issues. But she also sees the joy in the little things. I took her to the beach tonight. She spun her arms round and said ‘mum isn’t this fantastic. We are so lucky’. Yes Lucy, we are. X