Stuff I love

Here’s a quick, quick post from me about some people I love and you will love too.

* Peas and Love

This site is run by my gorgeous in every way friend Amanda. It is a great green website and not only does she write a hilarious and informative blog about a range of topical issues, she also sells the most gorgeous products in her online shop. If you are a cloth nappy user or you are interested in using cloth nappies,  you should really check out her site.  She is the font of all cloth nappy knowledge; what she doesn’t know about cloth nappies isn’t worth knowing.  She’s a keen gardener too, and her website is filled to the brim with practical and easy to follow gardening tips. I’m so bad at gardening I could kill Astroturf, but thanks to her, I’ve managed keep my garden alive and actually grow stuff. Huzzah!

*Stickytarts

This site is run by my friend Steph and she makes the most gorgeous bags, phone cases and meditation mats ever. They are all handmade and designed by her. You will not see prettier and unique fabric anywhere unless you live in a magic kingdom.  In fact, she had some fabric that was so pretty I immediately asked her to design a couple of toddler-sized handbags for my daughter. Okay, my daughter is just 7 months old and she has nothing to put in a handbag yet, but Steph’s designs and fabrics are so pretty that I couldn’t resist.

She also is a fantastic cook and she has some wonderful recipes on her site. If you need practical wine advice, she has a wine expert on her site as well!

*Helen Purves

Helen is my hilariously funny, wickedly smart and delightfully posh friend and co-worker. She’s a fantastic writer and one of those cool techy girls too. She likes gin and kittens and came to my kids’ Halloween party dressed as a garlic bulb. What more could you want?
I’ll be back with a blog post about parenting as soon as I stop The Toddler from attempting to bludgeon The Girl with a Croc sandal.

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Forget teenagers, toddlers are the most terrifying creatures on Earth.

If you look at the news, you would easily think that teenagers are second only to Al-Qaeda as a threat to society. They riot, shoot, and steal. They hold schools to ransom. They play horrible aggressive music through their phones and if you turn it down, they will most certainly try to kill you. Their clothes are too tight or too loose. They are, in short simply awful and should do  National Service and aren’t you glad you were never like that? You were so much cooler and your music was much better.  So were movies and television. In reality, you weren’t.  (Music and movies were waaay better though. I can remember that brief moment when Adam Sandler was actually funny and not a massive cock. The less said about Rihanna and that Nicki Minaj creature, the better.)

Teenagers, with all of their weirdness, have nothing on toddlers. Give me a surly, hormonal, acne-ridden little punk any day over a two-year old.

I know that you are reading this and thinking that I am either drunk or have finally lost my mind. I’m not and I haven’t. Just keep reading sweet angels, and I will explain why.

I totally get teenagers.  I can remember being one.  Older people have shit attitudes toward them and even though teenagers kind of look like  adults  many adults treat them  like a total joke. It sucks big time to have your clothes, musical tastes, dreams and thoughts shat upon from a great height. Then when a teenager tries to assert some control over their lives, they are told they are too young. When they get rightfully pissed off about something, they are told to stop acting like children. I have so much sympathy for teenagers, even though I mock their hairdos.

I can’t remember being a toddler, so it’s a bit more difficult to relate to someone who thinks the game “Got Your Nose” is real and terrifying.  Unlike a teenager, you cannot reason with a toddler. It can’t be done–ever. Even if you think you’ve cracked it, you haven’t. They have the upper hand and the  dirty-faced little sods know it.

Firstly, they are disarmingly cute. Honestly, toddlers have the best faces in the world. If they had kitten ears, they’d be perfect.  With their big eyes, tiny noses, small mouths and itty bitty teeth, they look like anime figures  come to life. They have little podgy bodies and meaty little hands. They speak using a Yoda-like syntax and when they mess up their words, they sound adorable. (My nearly three year old said to me “look Mummy, I jumping in cuddles!,” as he played in the rain.)  All of this cuteness is a smokescreen for the teeny little pyschos  they are.

My husband and I spend our days trying not to piss off The Toddler. One would think that is easy, but because toddlers are so fucking unpredictable, the things that piss them off change almost up to the minute. For instance, The Toddler loved this dinosaur tee-shirt I bought him. As soon as I showed it to him, he was beside himself with glee, put it on over his pajama top, slept in it and wore it the next day. He wanted to wear that shirt daily. Roll on a week or so later and he screamed when I tried to put it on him. “I DON’T LIKE IT DINOSAURS!,” he screamed as he sat in a bed with dinosaur sheets, in a room with toy dinosaurs and whilst wearing George Pig and Mr Dinosaur pajamas. He  once pitched a bitch because he said hello to the one of the cats and she didn’t say hello to him. The more I tried to explain that cats can’t talk, the more pissed off he got. It ended with him in tears and me wishing I was under the influence of some drug.

This brings me to my second point about toddlers– they are highly irrational, but they are far from stupid. They somehow know when you are fobbing them off, and woe betide you. Ignore a toddler for too long and you can guarantee they are going to fuck your shit up. It may not be that instant, but they’ll do it. The reason your iPhone is swimming in the dog’s water dish is payback for you not wanting to eat a pretend Play Doh sandwich or not listening when your toddler told you a story about Peppa Pig going for a trip to Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom by riding Thomas The Tank Engine.

I find the irrationality most difficult to deal with because it goes against my entire reason for living. I can out-Vulcan Spock when it comes to being logical, rational and pragmatic. My toddler can destroy that part of my personality by simply waking up in a bad mood.

I said earlier that you cannot reason with a toddler and their irrationality is the core reason why. The thing is, it’s not like it’s their fault they are irrational. They simply haven’t lived long enough to know how to bullshit people, how to downplay what they are feeling and how to stew with resentment. They live in the moment and now means now. They simply do not care about anything you have to do and you can’t even explain why what you are doing is important. They are completely self-centred is because they have to be in order to survive. That information is fine when you are reading a book on evolutionary biology; it’s not great when your child is trying to yank you off the toilet because she wants to do some colouring in.

Thirdly, they are violent.  We do not condone nor use violence in our house. We do not believe in hitting children because we feel it sends out the wrong message. This does not stop The Toddler from behaving like mob enforcer.  My husband and I watched in utter shock when we saw The Toddler wake up out of a deep sleep, slap the shit out of his brother, then fall right back to a deep sleep. We then decided the two could never share a bed in a hotel room again. He once used a half-chewed sausage as a weapon when he got into a fight with another child over a toy. The kid took the toy; my son took the sausage he was eating out of his mouth and threw it at the kid. I wanted to disappear.

Despite what I’ve said about the micro-menaces, it must kind of suck to be a toddler. Try to imagine what it must feel like to have a bunch of people quite literally talking down to you. They tell you when to eat, what to eat, make you wear clothes you may not want to wear. They make you rush along when you are trying to take in all the new things you are seeing today. You may take the same walk to the park every day, but that bee wasn’t on that flower yesterday and you need to look at it. You also need to say hello to every dog that you see because it’s only polite. You absolutely need to sing at the top of your voice in the Post Office because “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is a cracking tune and everyone needs to hear it.

Imagine being strapped in a chair and being pushed around all day, seeing nothing but people’s asses and legs. Imagine wanting to do nothing but run around and being told you can’t. Imagine being told when you are tired, and when you try to tell them you aren’t, they ignore you and make you go to bed. No wonder they go into a meltdown. If there were a group of 8-foot tall people  doing all that shit to me, I might decide to strip naked in Marks and Spencers too.

Despite their ASBO warranting behaviour, toddlers are a delight. They are natural comedians, are hugely loving, and can be extremely kind and thoughtful. There’s nothing like having a chubby little arm to pat you on the back when you are visibly upset about something, or the kind offer of bath toys when you are lowering yourself into steaming, Radox scented tub. I don’t even need to mentioned all of the kisses and cuddles from the sticky little tyrants that make you forget that they ate your good lipstick.

All of the crazy shit they do is nature. All of the kind and loving things they do is solely down to you. Apparently, you long for the toddler days after they get older. Though it’s hard to imagine you ever will when a 3-year-old hands one of his turds, you will certainly miss those days.

Sometimes, it just sucks.

It’s been a rough few days. Two of my three  children are sick and my eldest is behaving like an asshole. I seem to be suffering from terrible insomnia and my cats have fleas. While these are fairly ordinary problems, they are still problems and ones you don’t necessarily want to deal with.

After my daughter vomited on me for the 5th time today, I was thinking, “wow, parenting really blows sometimes.” I’ve got crap hair and clothes.  I can’t seem to organise my thoughts. I need some time to myself, but I have far too many things to do and my two-year old actually asked me to breast feed him.  His older brother thought that was hilarious and gross, which meant my younger son kept asking.

I’m not one of those people who thinks “I didn’t think it would be this hard” when it comes to parenting. I don’t think parenting is really that difficult if you don’t have children with special needs. (I’ll get to this in another post.) Parenting is however, emotionally and mentally draining. It’s taxing physically and can leave you feeling pretty damned lonely.

You are not supposed to say that it sucks. You are not supposed to feel like crawling through the cat flap to escape from a toddler who is crying because his biscuit is sleeping. (This actually happened the other day.) You are to smile gracefully and go “these things happen”  when your baby throws up in your dinner. (This actually happened to me a couple of years ago.)

You are not supposed to think about how your life was before children. You are absolutely forbidden to miss it. If you ever think about the things that you could have done or wanted to do before kids came along and put the kibosh on them, you are a horrible person that does not love nor deserve your children.

If you say, I just want to close the curtains and cry all day, some well-meaning asshole will say something like , “oh well, maybe you should have thought of that before you had kids.”

Do you know why you never thought of it before you had kids? Because the assholes that criticise you for feeling like stir-fried crap never mentioned these feelings to you. In fact, no one does. People endlessly talk up the virtues of parenting. They talk about how they loved every minute of it, it was a complete joy and fit in as many superlatives as they possibly can when it comes to rearing children. The super-duper assholes may even drop in a gem about how lucky you are because you can have children/have healthy children.

It’s hard to explain, but I can’t really think of another relationship that requires as much as an emotional investment as parenting. If your partner lets you down or screws up, no one but the extremely judgmental or unhinged would begin to blame you for it. You can drop your friend, you can not speak to family members. You really can’t do that with your children. (For the sake of argument, I’m not really talking about adult children.) If your child is a screw-up, people will blame you endlessly. There will be something you did or didn’t do that made them screw up. The worst part is that you will blame and judge yourself more harshly than anyone else will.

Parenting can be incredibly lonely as well. A baby, a toddler or a school-aged child is not a companion and shouldn’t be one. You can have a lot of fun with them, and I often have a ball with my kids. However, they simply cannot give you as much as you give them and besides, it’s not their job to do that.  I’m currently on maternity leave and outside of exchanging pleasantries with local shopkeeper or my neighbours, I can easily go without speaking to another adult until my husband comes home. As he often works overnights, that can be a day or two.

These well-meaning assholes seem to forget that you are dealing with selfish, demanding, not socialised people who whose needs come before yours. If you have a baby that screams abuse at you should you want to do something as indulgent as going to the toilet because that means you have to put him down, it can take the shine of parenthood.

I can remember the feeling I felt when I said “this really sucks at times” and someone said, “yep, it sure does.” I probably cried. If parenting hadn’t become some stupid-ass competitive sport, maybe we could be honest about how we feel. Instead we are in some absurd contest where we have to try to out-parent the next parent and if we deign to show any perceived weakness, we are unfit. That’s really fucked up.

I’m not whining or lamenting my lot in life;  I’m just being honest. Knowing what I know about parenting would not have made me not have children. My kids rock harder than Gibraltar and I let them know this often, despite their demanding and at times,  frankly assholish behaviour.

I expect my children to grow up and leave home. They need to make their own ways in the world and they won’t do that if I use them for emotional fulfillment. You also can’t drink and swear with a 9-year-old, a 2-year-old and 4 month old baby. Okay so you can but you definitely  shouldn’t.

 

 

Now Fear This!

I am about to state the obvious now: parenting is some scary shit. Pregnancy is scary, labour is scary, birth is scary, babies are scary and toddlers are fucking terrifying. (I will be writing a whole series about toddlers soon.)

I’m not going to tell you to chill the fuck out and not be so scared because you really can’t. I’m no evolutionary biologist or professor of complicated science, but this sort of fear makes complete sense to me; it seems to be a hangover from when we had to worry about something eating us. As we all know, predators often target their prey’s young.  Besides, having a child is a selfish act and we selfishly want to see our progeny survive.

Now of course, we don’t have to worry about something eating us but that doesn’t mean our fear has vanished. We live in one of the safest societies in human existence but we still scare ourselves stupid about our children.Most of this is down to fear of the unknown.

If you can, cast your mind back to before you had kids. You were Johnny Bad-Ass– fear had no place in your mind. You  walked along, merrily kicking fear in the balls and having a swell time. You woke up refreshed every morning after dreaming of more ways to give fear a beat-down. Life was ace.

Then you had children and fear strode up to you, ran its icy, spindly fingers up and down your spine, gave you a haunted grin and said “I’ve arrived now and I’m staying until you kick the bucket.” Suddenly, things that never scared you before are terrifying. You have a list of shit that frightens you. Maniac drivers mean your children can’t play out unsupervised.   That lovely little Bichon Frise of your neighbour’s? That’s a fucking Cujo that thinks your toddler is one tasty bit of kibble. Add to that paedophiles*, diseases, accidents, foxes, and just about everything else you can think of. You don’t think “worst case scenario,” you think apocalyptic scenario.

Why do you think we do this? Again, not being a professor of complicated science or biologist, I think it’s because we live in a very safe society and don’t have to worry about survival.  I think all parents fear something bad happening to their child– that’s natural. No parent should outlive their kids.  Like I said earlier, we fear the unknowns. Many of us know someone whose child has been in a tragic accident or has had a life-threatening or even a terminal illness. If we don’t know someone, then we’ve certainly seen it on the news or read about it. We see it, we think that could happen to our own little kids. We can’t help ourselves.

My beef isn’t with parents because I’m a big ole’ scaredy cat myself. I’m scared shitless about my kids constantly. No, my beef is with an industry and media that seems to feed off parental fear like hyenas around a zebra’s carcass.

Let’s put aside the Unknowns (stuff out of your control) and talk about the What Ifs. The What Ifs are far more scarier in my opinion. These are things you possibly can prevent. The Parental Fear Industry play on the What Ifs.

So who are the Parental Fear Industry? They are all of the experts who tell you exactly why everything you do as a parent is wrong and their book/DVD/seminar is the correct and only method to use if you have any hope for your child to turn out as a balanced human being. They are the companies that sell you “peace of mind” products that only the most caring parents will purchase for their child. They are the media that are damn near pornographic in their reports of tragedies that involve children. Fear’s no longer running its fingers down your spine;  Fear now has your spine in a Kung-Fu grip and is shaking that fucker like a maraca.

Let’s start with the experts. Parenting books can be great for all parents no matter if  you’re on  first or third child. I just borrowed Penelope Leach’s excellent Your Baby and Child from the library. I’ve also read books on how to deal with boys (I have no brothers,) potty training and books about mixed-race kids. Some of the advice has been great, some has been so-so and some has been crap.

I don’t like anything that makes a parent feel inadequate and there are plenty of books out there that do just that. Anything that makes you feel like a failure because you didn’t follow a precise routine, no matter how impractical it is to your lifestyle, is not worth reading. These books prey on the “What If I get it totally wrong” thoughts.  Some of these so-called experts aren’t child psychologists, paediatricians, former teachers or anything that require some high-level of qualifications to deal with children. Some don’t have children and have only ever worked with them as nannies or carers. I’m sure I could find The Sith Guide to Raising Perfect Kids if I looked hard enough.

Working with children is very different to having them; I’ve done both. The nanny experts will tell you that none of the zillions of children they looked after ever gave them problems because of the methods and routines they used. I should hope so since they are getting paid for doing it. This seems to escape a lot of people: the reason Awesome Nanny’s style and method produce children that behave for her is because she has a financial interest in those kids responding to them. If they don’t, she’s not doing the job she’s been paid to do. Parenting is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. You carry the can as the parent and Nanny does not deal with the real difficult issues your children dole out.  (Don’t forget, your children have a way of fucking with you that no one on the planet comes close to topping. Your children will almost always behave better for someone who is not you. )

Awesome Nanny can quit and become something else. You can’t quit being a parent. Awesome Nanny can devote her time to routines, schedules and the like because that’s all she has to do. You on the other hand have your job, your other life commitments and your kids to deal with. If you have to stay late at work or tend to a sick relative or deal with a broken boiler, chances are routine and schedules will be shot to pieces. These “experts” don’t seem to make allowances for real life events. No, they expect parents to stick doggedly to an overly strict way of parenting because “the book says if we deviate, we’ll undo all of the progress we’ve made.” Tell the book to kiss your ass. It’s just words on a page and some people act as if the expert is going to leap off the cover and slap the shit out of them because they put the kids to bed a minute later than the book said.  If following a routine and schedule  means your life is easier and pleasant, by all means do it. If deviating from a routine and schedule means you panic endlessly and stops you living a fun and normal life , then in the words of Edwyn Collins and Orange Juice, rip it up and start again.

My next beef is with the “peace of mind” safety products. I’m not talking about standard safety kit like car seats, safe baby beds, strollers and the like. These are common sense items and only lunatics wouldn’t understand why you need this stuff.  I’m talking about a whole range of things that seem to create fear where was none. For example what the fuck is this all about? Is a kitchen table not safe enough? What did we do before companies started selling cupboards for children to stand in? My grandmother used to have a stool in the kitchen and the youngest grandchild sat on it and watched her cook and the older child who could reach the counter would help her. All of us survived into adulthood.

Another one that gets me is the video safety monitor.  Apparently you hook up a camera in your kid’s room and you can watch your kid on either a hand-held CCTV or have a feed into your real television. Again, why? Baby monitors I understand. (I’ve actually never used one in my home). This CCTV for babies seems beyond weird and I read a lot of dystopian fiction. Stone me, Orwell didn’t have one of these in 1984.  I’m struggling to understand how this gives you more peace of mind than going into your kid’s room and checking on her.

I find all of this shit really sad and cynical. The companies selling these devices exploit parents’ fears and then sell them some piece of crap to assuage those fears. There’s a baby monitor on the market that also monitors a child’s breathing. This is supposed to alleviate the fears from SIDS. It would do nothing but keep me up watching the damned thing to see how my child was breathing. Of course you could co-sleep, and let nature regulate your child’s breathing, but then you wouldn’t be spending your hard earned money on that baby monitor. What if you can’t afford to spend a load of money on these safety devices? Does that mean you are a shitty parent? Let’s have some perspective here: none of our parents had these things and all of us survived infancy and childhood.  These things exist to make you more fearful and scared. They make your job as a parent harder. It’s the What Ifs playing with your mind again.

Finally, the media. Jesus Christ, they are the biggest fear pimps going. The media are fertile ground for the What Ifs. If you took to heart everything that was printed or broadcast, you’d be living underground with your children. Thanks to the media,  the hysteria around paedophiles is wild. I remember a young French photographer asked to take a picture of my middle son who was running around a sculpture in a plaza in Spitalfields in London, in front of the RBS. I was delighted and said it was fine and the guy snapped away. I told someone this and they said what if the guy was a paedophile. I said my child was fully clothed, seeing as it was March and I typically don’t let my children run naked in the City of London. They said, yeah, but sometimes they superimpose the heads on and… I looked at the person as if they were a fucking fool. That is some leap of the mind and I still can’t believe someone would say that. But that’s hysteria for you. It defies logic and reasoning.

You’ll never rid yourself of the fear but you can lessen the impact. You can’t do anything about the Unknowns. Bad shit happens and sadly it happens to kids. Rest assured that the only reason you hear about bad shit is because it’s rare. Some of the bad shit happened as a result of other people’s rank stupidity.  You aren’t stupid. You can’t let the What Ifs take over your life and you have to tell the fear hustlers to fuck off. If you do what YOU think is best and what is comfortable for your child, you’ll have little to fear.

*We all know that children are at risk from someone they know. Thanks to scaremongering, fears of paedophiles are now greatly exaggerated.

You are not a bad parent so chill the f*** out.

From the moment you see the blue line (or see the word “pregnant” on one of them new-fangled digital doodads) on piss-covered pregnancy test, you will be tortured with the thought that you are going to fuck up the mass of dividing cells in your or your partner’s womb. (I’m writing from the perspective that you actually want to be pregnant.)  I’ve had 3 kids and each time I’ve found out I was pregnant, that thought has crept into my head and burrowed itself deep into my subconscious. Sometimes lies quietly; sometimes it dances around my head like someone tripping their tits off on ecstasy.

There is a good reason for that– you can absolutely fuck up that mass of cells inside your/your partner’s womb once it becomes a living person.  You know this because you know someone who has or indeed you have been fucked up by parents. Parenting is serious business and we know people who shouldn’t be in charge of maggots let alone an actual human being and an incredibly dependent and helpless one at that.

You pick up the paper, you turn on the news, you look on the net and you see evidence of people who have been fucked up by parenting or are fucked up parents. You watch shit like Maury or Jeremy Kyle and see fucked up parents. You convince yourself that is you, even though you’ve been with your partner for a very long time, you both are stable, you planned on having this kid,  you had  no intentions of calling it Ferrari  Maybach Beckham Rooney Smythe-Jones or something even more fucked up.  (I have come across worse. Believe me.) Nothing will convince you that you will not be a shitty parent. Hell, I don’t even know why I’m writing this because you won’t believe me.

I want you to look in a mirror, cup your beautiful face in your hands and repeat lovingly to your countenance :” I am not a fucked up parent.” Do this often. Do this every time you see a mirror.  Do it whenever you see your reflection whether it is in a window, a spoon, or the shiny pate of a bald man.

You want to know why you a not a fucked up parent? You are not a fucked up parent because you are worried that you could actually be one. The real shitstains of humanity do horrible things to their kids and either don’t give a shit or don’t think it’s wrong. (I’m not talking about the Super Villains of parenting like Josef Fritzl, Fred and Rosemary West, Susan Smith or Casey Anthony. They are BEYOND bad parenting. Fucking hell, even Darth Vader was a better dad.)  I knew a couple of kids who were “born” into street gangs and could throw up gang signs as toddlers. I knew a woman who used to date her young teenage daughter’s male friends. That’s the level of fucked-up I speak of. That’s not you and never will be you. Even if your parents have fucked you up, it doesn’t mean you’ll fuck your own kids up.

Of course, you’ll do things that go against your better judgment as a parent but it will be low-level shit like bribing them with sweets so you can get around the supermarket in peace. You may even involve them in a lie to save your ass (who amongst us parents hasn’t used the old “the baby shat/puked all over me and I had to change” line when late for work?)

Think about it, the only reason you hear about the horror parents is because they are so goddamned awful and their behaviour deviates from anything remotely normal.  You want to know why I’ve been holding a grudge against my parents  for the last 27 years? They never bought me a Lite Brite, Sylvanian Families*. an Easy-Bake oven and a doll that drank and peed.

Chill the fuck out. You are going to be fine. Parenting requires you to convince those people you created, their peers and a whole bunch of others that you know what you’re doing when a lot of the time you don’t have a fucking clue.  Don’t worry about the parents that make it look so easy; chances are they’ve cleaned shit off a Hot Wheels track too. Your kids will present you with the most bizarre situations and you have to be chilled to deal with them. There have been times that I’ve wondered if LSD has somehow found its way in to my sons’ juice boxes because they’ve done something so strange. (Today, my two-year old had a huge bruise on his head. Turns out he and his brother decided to run at speed and headbutt each other before school this morning. Why Lord, why?!)

Chill the fuck out and buy them the toys that they want. Parenting is a complete mindfuck, but it’s supposed to be fun too; if you are constantly on edge about being a fucked up parent, chances are you are going to drive yourself crazy. A little fear keeps us safe and stops us from doing stupid shit. A lot of fear stops us from living.

Next post: I go balls out and attack the paralysing fear that grips parents.

*My mother claims I never asked for Sylvanian Families or else she would’ve bought them. Bollocks. She knows to this day I’d like nothing more than the idea of families badgers and rabbits going on camping holidays and raccoons couples getting married in a little raccoon church in real life;  I totally would have wanted toys that depicted this.

If it ain’t Princess Leia or Xena, then f**k off.

Right, this princess shit has to end and it has to end right fucking now.

I follow the fantastic PinkStinks blog because I think they do great work on trying to smash gender stereotypes and alert parents to the widening gender divide between boys and girls. The blog is well worth a look if you haven’t seen it and the two sisters that started it are fabulous.

PinkStinks posted a link to an article on the kidzworld.com website (note to self, anytime a “z” replaces an “s” in a word, you are going to see something zhitty,) called “15 Ways To Be A Modern-day Princess.”  The article , written by the actor and singer Julie Andrews and her daughter and writing partner Emma, was in celebration of “National Princess Week” and sponsored by Target and Walt Disney.

The whole thing is fucking rotten. There is virtually  nothing valuable in it that I would tell my daughter, other than to be charitable and I really don’t need to tell her that. The article consists of “tips” like:

*Wear a tiara

*Throw tea parties

*Learn to curtsey (this article is on an American website. We fought a war against a fucking monarchy because we didn’t think falling out of the right vagina meant someone should rule over us without a vote.)

*Master a royal wave.

*Patronise the arts.

*Learn to ballroom dance.

I found this demeaning and insulting. There wasn’t anything about being independent, resourceful, smart, funny or strong. No, it was all about put on pretty dresses, wear stupid-ass jewellery and eat cupcakes. Oh and don’t forget to watch Disney Princess films!

I was very excited when I found out I was having a little girl. I love my sons to bits, but I have always wanted a little girl. I am very much a “girl’s girl.”  I have mostly female friends. I was in a sorority. When I was a little girl,  I loved Barbies, Tinkerbell, dolls, dolls’ houses, shoes, dresses, playing house and all the typical girlie pursuits. I still do.  I had stuff like trucks and Tinker Toys, but you’d likely find my sister and me holed up in a corner of a room playing Barbies.

That being said, I was never a girlie girl and I am not to this day. I have never wanted to be a princess; I wanted to be a mix of Indiana Jones(actually, Karen Allen’s character) and an astronaut.  Hell, I can remember my sister and I playing a game where we pretended to be birds of prey, but we never played princesses. Our Barbies were never princesses either. They always had jobs and were single gals. We once built an apartment building and made little studio apartments for our Barbies to live in. The Ken dolls lived elsewhere.

It saddens me to think that this shit is being peddled to little girls and this hyper-femininity is being seen as the norm, when it wasn’t for us. People say stuff like “oh Leslie, all little girls love dressing up and pretending to be princesses. It’s totally normal and harmless” No they fucking don’t and no it is not harmless.  My sons don’t have equivalent shit aimed at them.

Think about it– do you really need to throw a fucking “pamper party” for your 6-year-old daughter? What kind of message are you sending by “treating” her to mani-pedis, facials and makeup treatments? If you have to push the beauty thing,  how about teaching her that eating healthily, running around in the fresh air, and being a good person will keep you beautiful forever?  I may not be a dab hand with makeup brush or a set of GHDs, but I can teach my daughter how to use a drill, how to build a campfire and the best way to choke up on a bat so she can hit a line drive.

Women’s rights are being eroded in the USA. Here in the UK, teenage girls are at the highest risk for domestic violence in relationships.   Many of us are too aware of the horrors that girls  face around the world of things like FGM, forced marriages, honour killings, forced abortions, and education being restricted or denied to them. Why the fuck is Julie Andrews giving them princess tips? How fucking relevant is that to anyone?

Here’s my tips on being a modern-day girl:

*Speak up, and speak up often.

*Intelligence is priceless.

*It’s okay to get dirty, because dirt washes off.

*Read loads of stuff about all kinds of women.

*Science kicks butt.  Learn it.

*Like all the girlie stuff you want, but only because you really like it, not because it’s expected of you.

*Create as well as patronise.

*Learn to use tools. You never know when you may have to put together a lawnmower. You can’t do a goddamned thing with a “magic wand.”

*Be practical. Flightiness has a very small “cute” window.

*You are beautiful because you are you, not because of the shit you wear or plaster on your face.

National Princess Week is a cynical marketing ploy for Target and Disney to sell useless shit and bad ideas to impressionable little girls. Princesses have no power, no worth and are nothing but window dressing or baby factories. If there must be some “royal” angle there have been all kinds of kick-ass Queens from Boudicca, to Elizabeth the 1st, Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Latifah.

Our girls are experiencing some of the most narrow-minded marketing aimed at them and it really has to end. You know this shit isn’t right, it wasn’t done to you so don’t do it to them. Barbie may have had her detractors, but at least she did have a space suit– even if it was shiny pink and girls like me could dream of being astronauts too. That’s far more achievable than waiting someday for a prince to come.

Howdy, welcome, shalom, aloha…

My name’s Leslie.  A year or more ago, a friend of mine suggested that I write a parenting blog after a post I wrote on a discussion forum.  Another friend of mine said that I should write a parenting blog. Some people I met in a group said I should write one. My mom said I should write one even though she doesn’t have a fucking clue how to write a blog and still thinks  computers are some sort of witchcraft.

I decided to give it a shot because I’ve finally sorted out my confidence issues and my friend is not going to stop bringing it up every time I make some comment about my kids or parenting in general.

 

First things first– I’m going to write mainly about parenting, but there may be some stuff about race, gender, politics, class and Lorraine Pascale. Lorraine Pascale will feature weekly, more on that later.

Secondly, I’m not really about the cutey-wutesy bit of parenting nor do I have much advice on how to simplify the job other than to buy loads of fish fingers. Parenting is a series of what-the-fuck moments and I’ll share them with you.

 

Thirdly, I do hope you like it. If you don’t,  be nice about why you don’t because nobody likes a dick.