Tag Archives: parenting

Run Run Run, it’s FUN!

fun run 2

This past weekend was the Crouch End Fun Run. It’s a wonderful yearly event where adults and children of all ages come out to compete in races.

Someone in our family, however, didn’t seem to understand the point. Which was to run really fast and beat everyone they could.

In fact when we hollered at our son to run faster. As in RUN FASTER!!–he looked at us curiously.


Because it’s a race! It’s what you do!

My tummy hurts.

Power through it!


Because it’s fun! RUN!!

Later we logged onto the results.

So. Let’s see how you did.


Well, just to get an idea.

Of what?

Of…hmmm, you’re not on the first page. Well, let’s go to second page shall we….hmmm, so and so ran faster than you. That’s surprising.


Well, he’s two years younger and a bit of a tub to be quite frank. Oh, found you. You’re…you’re…well, that’s not very good is it?


Well, because…I don’t know. Don’t you want to be closer to the top?


To make you feel better.

About what?

About… I don’t know. Tell you what. Next year why don’t you try a little harder, run a little faster.


To make Mommy feel a little better. And, please, don’t ask me why.



Can I play the computer?

Why not?

photo by Quo Vadis (out of towner) (flickr)


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Broccoli Wars

broccoliMy husband insists my family eats plenty of fruit and vegetables. Thank god for him. Left alone I could go weeks without touching either. He’s probably lengthened our lives by a decade.

Still it can get quite heated at dinner time.

I hate broccoli! My seven year old son will shout.

You need to eat it, my husband will say.

If you don’t you’ll shrivel up and die and all your teeth will fall out, he’ll add helpfully.

My daughter is better at eating her vegetables but even she balks at broccoli. She prefers to avoid confrontation though and is usually so busy talking whole food groups go uneaten. In fact there are some nights she outtalks the dinner and arrives at bedtime famished.

You need to eat your broccoli, my husband will remind her.

I am eating my broccoli.

No, you are not. You’re pushing it around.

I’ll get to it, she’ll say with a steely smile.

Just get it over with.

I will. No need to micromanage.

And my husband will glance over at me for support. Which I give unreservedly, joining in the fray with all sort of clever threats.

I then try to give him an encouraging smile. I also want him to notice my gleaming plate devoid of all vegetables. Because I eat them straight away while they’re still hot. In fact I tend to gulp them down. Been even known to hold my nose to avoid the taste.

And then I sit there afterwards with a smug smile, not wanting to divulge that actually, I hate broccoli, too.


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Julie, how could you?

julieYes, the furor over Julie Myerson’s decision to write about her drug-addicted abusive son.

I’m for it.

Mainly because it gets me thinking. Will my son’s Nintendo addiction mutate into skunk addiction?

I’m completely serious, but the way.

I blog about my children but I avoid the less salutary. Like the little accidents someone in my house makes that has me tossing whole packs of underpants into the garbage. Oops, was that too private?

Of course, I don’t have real dirt yet. My kids haven’t hit puberty and its gateway into parent/teenager hell. And I don’t think I would divulge any real horror. That’s why I’m a fiction writer.

But I’m thankful somebody wrote about the dangers of dope. I, for one, will be keeping a very close eye on it all and will not be lenient about its use. So thanks for warning me, Julie.

So is there a greater good being performed by her airing all her family’s laundry? I think yes.

Is it at the kid’s expense? Definitely.

But writers are not nice. We might smile, we might even offer to clean up occasionally. But deep down we are predators. The reason we are so interested in you is that it fuels our need for stories. We are vampires. Every sorry pathological thought of yours, we take note.

Feeling depressed? Tell us all about it.

Not sure what to do about your husband? We’re all ears.

Just lost your sibling in a horrific accident? How awful, we’ll murmur, reaching for the notebook in our bag. Tell us, how exactly did it happen?

Of course, novelists have it easier. We change the names and genders and hair color. And keep on smiling.

photo by Mahyar (flickr)

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Cynical Kids


Sometimes the cynicism of my kids takes my breath away.

They’ll say when passing a McDonald’s, Oh, yeah like that’s really healthy. Not.

And I think, is nothing sacred?

Now I know I was the one who has been anti McDonalds and anti advertising from day one. But it still surprises me when my cynicism is sprouted back at me from the mouths of babes.

It just seems like such a cynical world my kids are living in. Everyone’s rolling their eyes and laughing at the silliness of everyone else.

I came home the other day and found them entrenched in front of the Simpsons. I sat down with them and watched a few. It does have a moral at the end but to get there, man, they take everyone down. And yes, maybe many of us are stupid and ignorant. But what kind of world is that to grow up in?

My daughter watched St. Trinian’s the other day on a play date. She came home practically repeating it verbatim. And it does sound funny and clever. But I watched amazed as my ten year old laughed about the drug dealings of one teacher and sexual escapades of another.

So I took her to the movies this weekend to see the movie The Young Victoria. I thought a nice old fashioned PG love story was in order: Nice guy takes a bullet for his lady. Good traditional fun. With lots of great clothes and grand palatial sets.

So how did you like it? I asked afterwards.

It was good, she said, but… She hesitated.


Too much kissing, she said, shocked.

I laughed. Sometimes real emotions are shocking.

It was just what the anti-cynicism doctor ordered.

photo by .Martin. (flickr)

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Happy Birthday, Ben

It’s my boy’s birthday today. Little baby Ben is 7 years old. Can you see the family dynamics in that phrase or what? He is our treasure and is doted on and is consequently getting a bit too So What Have You Done for Me Lately?

But he is awfully cute.

He can not leave a shop without wanting to bring all the resident stuffed toys home. He has, no lie, about fifty stuffed animals in his room. He comes down clutching one or two every morning. And they sit and watch him eat breakfast. They sit and wait for him to come home from school. They all try to fit into his bed for his bedtime read.

Which is all very adorable but I worry about him.

I hate it when I hear his friends say things like No you can’t do that or Go away or Give me that! And I want to say to them Who do you think you are, you little pip squeak, talking to my child like that? Truth be told, I want him to be the authoritative one. I want him to be the one calling the shots.

I blame myself. When he was a toddler and he whacked someone I took him into the corner and gave him a serious time out. So he’s learned to play nice (except with his sister who warrants subversive tactics). Plus he’s too much like me. I’m a bit of a push over. Which is probably why, deep down, I want him to be one of the tough guys. Even though it’s the adult tough guys who have gotten us into so much trouble lately.

I don’t want my son to be troubled upon.

But Ben doesn’t seem to care about that. I ask him Are they being nice to you? And he says Yeah. I say You don’t have to give it to them, you know. And Ben says I know. I say…but he’s off, running around with them, having a seemingly very good time.

Now I’m not much of a Bible reader but I do remember this from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

Which is all well and good and beautifully hopeful. Even so, for once I’d like to hear him say to the little pip squeaks You tawking to ME?

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Writing Animal

By Spud

By Spud

There’s a thing my dear children do on weekends that drives me nuts. They get up about 20 minutes apart. The first one gets up and I’m all hugs and snuggles, holding hands, asking What would you like for breakfast. Tell me how you slept. Are you warm enough. I’ll get your slippers. And then, Yes, of course you can watch TV.

And then just when the TV flicks on, the other stumbles out of her room, yawning, rubbing her eyes with her fists but she have missed the gravy train. My momself has disappeared, replaced by an insecure writer with not enough material. The poor second riser gets the dregs: Get your own breakfast and don’t make a mess, I’ll be in my office.

It sounds grand my office, doesn’t it? And yes it is a small room with a desk and a chair. It also contains our old suitcases, wrapping paper, boxes from all the appliances which for some reason my husband is loath to throw out, disused toys… In fact everything we don’t know what to do with ends up in my office. But it’s a step up from our old place where my desk was in the baby’s room. So cosy I didn’t have to get up from my desk to breastfeed. I just swiveled around in my chair to face the cot, lifted and clamped on.

My friends remind me what an animal I was with my first books, rising at 5 am to get some writing done before the kids woke up. I’m lazier now. I have, in theory, more time to write now that my children are in school but I fritter the time away. I’m not as focused and the books seem to be taking longer than they should. I should get up early again. Early enough so that my self censor isn’t awake yet and commenting on my lack of progress. It’s when I can write in an almost dreamlike state. By the time I’ve fully woken up my daily quota of 500 to 750 words is down and I can enjoy the rest of the day while my subconscious works on coming up with another 500 to 750 words. I really need to get back to that.

I’m going to start again tomorrow…


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