Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tough Love and Rusty Axes

Welcome back to The Cushy Parent!
So what have I been up to?  Well....yesterday morning I was on my exercise bike, sweating like a gerbil in a toaster, when the phone rang.  It was school.  My son had just passed out.  I drove down town like a maniac and fisted down the school doors – to find my son lying on the floor as a teacher dabbed his brow with a towel. 
Within twenty minutes we were at the doctors' getting my son checked out.  And within five more, he was sat on the balmy veranda of our local garden centre tucking into lemon meringue pie and a chocolate milkshake (my son, not the doctor). 
That kid knows how to work me.  I then got a text from my husband: Is this the new tough love stance you mentioned?
The point is that, aside from establishing that I wouldn’t know tough love if it came up to me in the street and propositioned me inappropriately, this fiasco got me thinking about how parents respond to perceived emergencies.  For instance, a friend of mine got a call from school  last week saying that her daughter had broken her leg, an ambulance was on its way and that she needed to come immediately.  She responded that she was busy but would be there in fifty minutes.  Wow.  I admired her, and feared her.
Much of parenting is banal, non-life-threatening.  “Mummy, my head is killing and is about to split into two” rarely translates as “Archie just spliced my skull with a rusty axe”.  As a consequence, all too often we barely listen to our kids.  I dread the day that my son tells me the living room curtains are on fire and I say “oh lovely.  Well done.”
Our mum told us to get 5 a day. 
We told her we've been on 5 a day since 1802. 
The daft eejit.
Back in my day... danger lurked unheeded.  Take the Shaws, who lived opposite my family's house .  Mrs Shaw was one of those vague parents who liked to garden and hum a lot (I don’t mean smell, but hum as in sing).  She rarely watched her children, who were also rather vague.  One day, I went running into our house yelling at the top of my voice “Mummy, come quickly, Nicholas’s got an AXE!”  My mum followed me outside only to discover that tiny Nicholas really did have an axe and was tottering around naked, wielding it in the middle of the road.  What the...? said mum, looking around for Mrs Shaw, before hearing a familiar humming sound and realising that Mrs Shaw was in her front garden, tending her roses.   
Nicholas never did cleave his brother’s head in two.  I believe that both her sons are alive and well today, although still experiencing some mental confusion. 
Mrs Shaw: vague and highly medicated, or parenting genius?  Who knows.  All I know is that my attitude towards Mrs Shaw has changed.  If I ever see her now, I’ll go up and shake her hand...  and beg for her prescription details.
Until next time my friends...
Next time at The Cushy Parent: find out the gruesome truth behind my son’s fainting stunt.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Bottom-shaped apples and ugly protrusions

Well, hello again!

I was just chopping an onion when I noticed something strange: no tears.  In fact, I can't remember the last time an onion made my cry.  What have they done to our onions?  Modified them so they no longer make us cry?  Well, I want my money back.  I like my pungent, nasty, tear-rendering onions!  It part of the pleasure of preparing food against the odds, with two boys punching each other in the background, beads of sweat on my brow.. and then the tears of the onion to bring me to my knees.

Last year, an apology was issued on the news to UK consumers that carrots would be misshapen that season.  Yes that actually happened.

Don't know what you're moaning about.  Last year, I had to have
 rhinoplasty cos they said my nose was disturbing the kids

Well, I for one miss rotten bulbous old vegetables, the sort that have flies buzzing round.  Misshapen vegetables are part of the tapestry of life, like bitter lemons and fiery chilli.  As a kid, I once picked a large cooking apple that looked exactly like a bottom.  It caused me so much delight, pointing it out to everyone who called at our house, that my mother had to ban it to the back bedroom wardrobe in the end.  (She also banned the Cerne Abbas coaster featuring the giant and his willy, which I used to present to chosen guests, back in the day when children were used at bar tenders on Saturday nights.  Sorry for the embarrassment Mum, but then it wasn't really my job to pour the Cinzano and hand out the coasters was it).  

What are we teaching our kids if our produce isn't misshapen?  Not only will nothing be hilarious any more, but it won't be bitter, bulbous, hairy, protruding.  Don't know about you, but that rules most of us out from undressing on the beach this summer.

We don't have to take this rubbish.  Let's march upon Parliament, demanding onions with tears, bitter lemons and butt-shaped apples.  Who's with me?  Hello?  Hello?

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Forest That Would Do No Harm

Well, good evening.  I must once again apologise for the time that has lapsed since my last Cushy Parent offering.  I feel ashamed.  However, I have something juicy for you to make up for the dry spell - something that I think you will find rather ticklish.  Yes, tonight I bring you the strange case of the Forest That Would Do No Harm.

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to accompany sixty seven-year olds into a forest.  No, I wasn't feeling insane or feverish.  I wasn't high upon medication and my hip flask hadn't brushed my lips (no, I get my lips right around the funnel, why would I only brush my lips with it?) I was of sound mind and able body, and had volunteered to help on the trip out of the goodness of my heart.  (Pause to swig).  So there we were, a handful of adults and sixty anorak'd children stood shivering in the wind on a lonely hill, whilst the teachers read out the health and safety measures.  And here is the wonderful bit: we were informed that the forest had a special type of wood which was the sort that wouldn't result in the children receiving splinters.

Now, I'm not having a pop at the school, nor the teachers.  We all know why these health and safety measures are in place.  Many of us still have therapy because of those dodgy seat-belt-less mini-buses that drove us round the Welsh valleys with the driver steaming drunk at the wheel singing 'She'll be Coming Round the Mountain.'  Someone was always sick.  Someone always wet their pants.  And it wasn't us kids, I can tell you.  Don't blame the driver - you wouldn't be able to retain that much lager in your bladder either.  And to be honest, I don't blame him for getting hammered.  Anyhow, we all know how laidback things used to be.  My dad once piled so many of my friends into the back of his Ford Cortina that we lost one of the girls when the back door flew open.  We never did find her.  Sarah, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.  Although not as sorry as I will be if you're not reading this because that means you did expire on the tarmac that night and the last thing you ever heard was my dad singing But She's Always A Woman to Me.

So about the trees in the forest.  These trees are apparently the sort that do not give splinters.  I am currently reading The Magic Faraway Tree to my son and I have to say upon hearing about this wonderful forest I imagined pixies and goblins running around spraying the rough bark with magic healing lotion in preparation of our visit.  (This vision was entirely down to the power of Enid Blyton and nothing to do with drugs.)  Because how else could the whole forest have the sort of wood that didn't give splinters?  Not only did it seem a crazy concept, but it seemed bizarre that it was even being discussed.  Rather like saying 'don't worry about that insane bull that is charging us right now children, because apparently its horns don't hurt when impaled upon them'.  Surely we don't expect everything in the countryside to have no risk now?  Stingless nettles, pretty pink spiders, waterless rivers, toothless sharks?  Cos if that's the case, then I want a refund.  Because my childhood wasn't like that one jot.  When I was a kid you got splinters the size of pencils in your fingers.  The affected area would go purple and throb until it fell off or was amputated. 

In the old days, children were forced to wear
clothes to hide their missing limbs

So tonight, on behalf of all my old friends (particularly Sarah), I'm petitioning for a refund for our awful splinter-infested childhood.  I, for one, find it very hard typing with only 3 fingers per hand. 

Until next time my friends......


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Flaming sambucas, it's Christmas!

Welcome!  It's been a while since I last wrote.  I hope your parenting skills haven't suffered without my advice to hand.  But fret not for I am here to rescue you, just before you stagger headfirst over the commercial precipice of Christmas.  

Christmas is the time when Cushy Parents excel.  Alcohol on tap? (I've had my mains water supply switched to gin for the festive season.  It's not as expensive as it might seem.)  Hoover-clogging amounts of glitter?  Careless amounts of chocolate?  Lie-ins of such an excessive nature that the police break the front door down?  Tis the season to be jolly for us cushies.  

You don't need me to tell you that Christmas isn't about spending £1,000 on plastic toys that your child is going to slowly feed into the dishwasher until it explodes and your home is wrecked.  Nor is it about trying to see how many flaming sambucas you can drink at midnight mass before someone smells burning (this is a good way to keep your personal grooming costs down, since you won't have any eyebrows or eyelashes left, nor any hair).  (Nor will the person directly behind you, so choose wisely before sitting).

Fire is very dangerous.  If you're worried about your eyebrows, get the children to
 light the sambucas and stand well back, especially after a hair perm. 

There's an easy way to keep your gifts relaxed and commercial-free this year.  Tell your kids you have a rare disease that means you cannot be in contact with plastic.  One of your children will ask why you have had so much plastic surgery then?  Is it because you are addicted to procedures, Mummy, like Charlie's mum?  In response to these allegations, I suggest you pour a glass of 'water' from your newly installed tap and tell the children to be quiet and unwrap their satsumas and library books.  After all, a satsuma was a big deal in the Seventies when we were kids.  And nothing beats the smell of a good library book.  Hopefully the kids won't notice that the books are overdue by five years, and that they will have to pay back a fine at some point - probably when your eyebrows grow back.  I'm not sure what your eyebrows have got to do with it, but I guess the day you stop drinking flaming sambucas at mass and grow up, will be the day to face your responsibilities.  By this point your kids will have left home and you will have the place to yourself and won't flinch every time you start the dishwasher.  If you keep up this awful level of parenting, they may even leave a lot sooner than you think.  

Have a wonderfully cushy Christmas x    

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Look out! It's the phantom Ugg-shredder!

Hello there!  This week I promised a look at toddlers dressed in designer labels.  I've since decided that's it none of my business how people dress their children.  Let's just say that there are a lot of silly people who want their children to value their clothes more than Life Itself.  Good for them.  But if I see their kids in Ralph Lauren, I’m still going to laugh and point. 

But talking of designer items for children...here’s a thought for you this week:

I take my lads to rugby on Saturday mornings.  I enjoy being a spectator, especially if I grab an Americano to get me through (there are lots of large dads there from many nations).  But even more fun, is watching the sideline sisters. 

Every Saturday across the nation, sideline sisters get dragged along to watch their brothers punch other brothers.  The sisters do two things: either kick a ball about listlessly on the sideline, or they read Closer magazine (which is bestowed upon them as a peace offering/bribe).  By the end of the session last week, one of the little Closer readers was crying about Nicole Kidman (I often cry about Nicole Kidman).  The poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.  If a child of mine ever cries over a celebrity, I will drag them to the nearest soup kitchen and tell them to serve the homeless for the day – so they have some proper sad stories to cry over.

I confess, I'm more inclined towards the ball-kickers (so to speak) than the magazine readers.  In fact, I'm transfixed by the ball-kickers.  Do not picture girls utilising their limbs with force and gusto, in a manner that has the Bath rugby players eyeing them for blind-side flanker next season.  No.  These girls stand with their jumper sleeves pulled down over their knuckles, their skinny legs barely able to move because they are shackled by Uggs.  They try to kick the rugby ball in Uggs, but nope - they just can’t get their legs to work.  The Uggs are too padded, floppy, too heavy, too cumbersome.

Course, I blame that huge green turnip that was stood outside the Bagel shop in
New Jersey in 2001 for starting the Ugg craze off in the first place

It’s not just on the sidelines that this is happening.  Oh no.  Little girls in Uggs walk in zombie-like droves around our shopping centres.  Their legs are emaciated in skinny jeans – legs that are made to look thinner by those huge Uggs.  Their feet are so heavy that they scuff their boots along.

I always feel the same way when I spot an Ugg Child.  I want to run up to them with a giant pair of scissors and set the child’s feet free.  Go my child – run, breathe, kick leaves, jump in puddles, inhale life!!!

Of course, not only do I not own a giant pair of scissors, but some parents might object to my cutting up their child’s shoes.  Perhaps I should wait until they go somewhere where they need to remove their footwear, like a bowling alley.  Then I can creep through with my father’s shears and quietly snip snip snip.

So next time you see an Ugg Child - and you will - preferably at a bowling alley, please think of me.  And pop a pair of shears in your bag, in case the opportunity strikes. 

Until next time, my friends.....

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lily-Beth-Lulu-Lilo-Leyla-Lilypad Floppy Pants

Welcome back!  This week I promised a look at the thorny issue of Daughter Protection.  Why is this thorny?  Because due to those silly fairy tales about thorns, long hair, poison and frogs, we are much more precious with our daughters than our sons, who are doing well if they get an uh what huh? Yeah see yourself out love in the morning.  But I generalise.  There are millions of Pushy Parents who can molly coddle a son as well as a daughter any day.  I have a friend who dresses her son only in mohair.  Poor kid.  Every time he sits near a radiator, he frizzes.

Saturday mornings at the park are fun.  Everywhere there are dads stood, legs astride, guarding their princess who is tottering about head to toe in pink fluff.  As she climbs the frame, so the dad twitches, ready to swoop should she falter.  The tension mounts when my two lads come along, attacking the apparatus with their hearty limbs.  The dad is quivering now.  Should those bloody yobs so much as touch his little Leyloo-Lilo (there are a lot of strange names out there beginning with L these days - don't dare get it wrong.  The parents get cross).  I feel like telling him his pink fluff is more likely to harm my boys when she topples from a height above them.  Has he ever tried to scale a climbing frame in Barbie heels, wearing a tiara?

My friend told me recently that her 5-year-old daughter sits at gym class in her shorts with her legs flopped open in front of the other parents.  So my friend always slaps her daughter's legs and tells her to 'pop her legs together'.  Jeez.  She is only 5.  Give the kid a break.  Or just get on with it and have her incarcerated in a tower.  Ever heard anyone tell their son to slap his legs together?  Nope.  Thought not.

Walk fast Lily-Beth-Lulu-Lilo-Leyla-Lilypad Floppy Pants,
there's a boy over there and he's not wearing mohair.

Daughter Protection is pointless.  Unless you are going to treat boys the same way.  Otherwise there are all these horrid boys running wild out there with their legs open and their limbs sprawled everywhere, and the daughters, as pink fluff, will become quickly damaged.  So either we just let our daughters get on with it and risk their lives with these awful boys, or we just dress them all in mohair and leave them to wilt in the sun together.

Hmmm.  Maybe there's a middle ground somewhere.  I'll have to have a think on it some more.

Next week, I'll be looking at: saving up for a pair of Converse trainers and then spotted a brand new pair on a 18 month-old git?  Annoying, eh?


Friday, 28 September 2012

Eagles and shears

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend my best friend's wedding in Spain and was honoured to do a reading during the ceremony.  When I was first asked to do a reading, my instinct was to say no.  But one thing I've learnt is that when your instinct is no, that's when you should say yes.  So stood there on the day with a microphone in my hand and a 101 expectant eyes upon me (there was a strange local at the back) my hand began to shake and I broke out into a sweat.  It wasn't pretty, but I did it.  And afterwards I felt proud of myself.  

So where does this silly story fit in with modern parenting?  Well, the point is that I'm a risk-taker.  I was raised with little regard to street cred or decency.  I wore my brother's hand-me down corduroy trousers.  My mum used a basin to cut my hair - still does when I can't get an appointment at the salon.  In fact, no word of a lie - when my fringe grew too long in my teenage years, my dad cut my hair with a pair of garden shears.  I was taught to swim by being thrown headfirst into the icy Atlantic by my father somewhere just off the coast of the Isles of Scilly.  If only 6 miles of dense seaweed could talk.  

If using the shears makes your child's fringe look wonky, a tastefully sequinned
hat will draw the  eye away from the problem area
But perversely, these days I silently (can't quite bring myself to say it out loud) thank my dad.  Because not being treated like a princess is the best thing you can do for your daughters (and your sons, come to think of it.)

If we wrap our children up and smother them, they will grow up to be the sort of people who say no.  Now, I know we were taught by Grange Hill to just say no, but not everything is about drugs, you sordid lot.  The point is that we want to raise a generation of 'yes'-ers: people who rise to the occasion, take risks, seize the day. 

Therefore this week at the Cushy Parent, I'm advising the following: 

 1) kid can't swim?  Save money on expensive one-to-one lessons at the local spa - chuck them in the sea, preferably on a cold day.  If they don't have a stroke or seize up with cramp, they may have a crack at being an Olympic athlete in the future so bear that in mind.

2) Kid moaning about their hair?  Tell them they're lucky that their dad isn't a gardener.  And that you don't own any bowls.

So that's it from me.  Next week we'll be taking this issue a little further by exploring the intriguing subject of Daughter Protection.  Or in other words: how to dress your daughter head to toe in pink and guard her at the local park as though she is pink fluff that will blow away when the wind turns.

Until then, take care - not in a clingy overprotective way though.  And just say yes.

Cath Weeks is author of The Mood Ring.