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.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Skammy fout flah pooff

Welcome back to the Cushy Parent!  Hoorah!  After a summer of lying around in the vapid 'sun', the kids are back at school and from the moment I entered the playground my fingers began to itch with the desire to write about what I find there.  Boy do we have a lot to catch up on!

Author's note: Some people may believe that I think I'm God, judging people in this way.  But there are lots of silly parents around and I simply have to tell you about them.  Don't shoot the messenger.

So talking of silly parents, my brother and I went to London on the weekend.  We do this annually not because we don't have any friends, but because we like to spend time together.  (At least, I hope that's what it is.  Come to think of it, my brother was wearing a rather odd anorak.)  The reason for this sibling affection is that we grew up in the Seventies in a small backwater called Midsomer Norton (I wasn't really born in Stratford-upon-Avon next to Shakespeare's cottage, as I claimed on my author's bio).  We were kept in the dark in the spare room, whilst my mum decorated the house.  She liked to keep everything nice.  We didn't see anyone but each other for twenty-two years, at which point my brother realised that his legs had grown too long for the box room, so he moved out.  

During our confinement, my brother and I developed a unique mini culture with our own language, a fictitious cast of friends, and an elaborate system of banging on pipes to each other when we had been separated into different rooms.  One bang meant shut the hell up it's your fault that I pushed you through the window into the blizzard and Dad had to board the glass up with the snow driving into his beard.  And two bangs meant get lost you fat head, because of you I'm missing Hong Kong Phooey.  Or in our private language: skammy fout flah pooff.  

So how does this relate to our modern playground?  It doesn't.  On the first day of school, parents and children exchanged frenzied hugs and kisses, raving about all the amazing play dates their children had enjoyed over the holidays, whilst my son stood there alone (in his anorak) wondering why no one was talking to him. 

The shock of the matter is that I didn't arrange a single play date with his school friends over the summer.  Not one.  If my son had asked me, I would have obliged.  But he didn't mention it.  He wanted to just hang out with his younger brother.  And because it's now the noughties and not the seventies, I let them out of the spare room on Saturdays.

Christ, you let them out of the box room for how long?  What were you thinking?

Does this mean that my son is going to be a serial killer because he isn't networking his way through junior school?  Is he going to be a weirdo because I'm not engineering his friendships for him and sticking my oar in?  Is he going to be an anorak-wearing loner that goes to London once a year with his brother for the rest of his life?

Hope so.

See you soon!

Cath has written a great book called The Mood Ring.

Check it out Amazon and then you can read it and ignore your kids.