Simple Math Equations.

by Mothership on March 3, 2014

I read yesterday that fewer Americans truly believe that hard work = success than they did five years ago. Still, I think that the general willingness of the citizens of this country to be happy for those more fortunate and wealthy than themselves, believing that it’s a goal that is equally attainable for all is quite astonishing. I’ve never understood the logic of people living in poverty blindly worshiping the rich to the point where they’re willing to vote for tax breaks for billionaires over minimum wage increases for themselves. Even those of us who are fairly comfortable yet squeezed by rising costs and stagnating wages will frequently defend the rights of the superrich to use immoral, if not illegal means to keep their spoils firmly to themselves because of the off-chance that we could join them at the trough one day. This perhaps naive lack of envy, or questioning fairness has always baffled me slightly, though I do admire the generosity of spirit that underpins it. I just don’t subscribe to the hard work equals success equation. I’m sure it’s quite difficult to be financially successful if you just sit around doing nothing unless you inherit a shedload of money (as many wealthy people do) but to quote George Monbiot,

“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. ”

And so would teachers. Because, God knows I don’t have the mettle to be one, though I’m not afraid of work and I love kids, and I challenge every Goldman Sachs employee to spend a year working in an elementary school classroom and see if he or she is up to the task. I’m betting no.

Mondays are always a bit of an awkward day for me. I spend Sunday night planning out my week (in my head, at least) and it’s always full of goals and good intentions regarding writing, exercise, and various other achievements I wish to make but by 9.30 on Monday morning I’m so exhausted that I often do nothing else of much note for the rest of the day until I slope off to dance class at 6pm.

The reason for this is that I (somewhat foolishly) volunteered to teach maths in Six’s class for an hour every Monday morning and, quite frankly, it nearly kills me. I don’t know how the real teachers stay there all day and still retain their sanity.  Honestly, they are a special breed. I do like being with the children, most of the time, but they also drive me a bit bananas and I have to say I now have quite a bit of sympathy for my own teachers. I was that annoying child who was more than capable of understanding the lesson but preferred to stare out the window and daydream, thus missing the crucial point, although that didn’t stop me from making multiple trips to the teacher’s desk in order to have long division explained to me individually. I wanted to know what we were learning, but on my own timetable. Most of my classes contained around thirty five children and one teacher with a short temper who would not hesitate to slap us over the knuckles with a ruler or send us to the headmaster if we misbehaved. I didn’t get smacked much – I was polite and well-behaved, if inattentive –  but I know I taxed their patience and was the recipient of many an exasperated sigh or sharp comment. I always thought my teachers were (in Six’s words) Big Fat Meanies but now that I spend time in the classroom on the other side of the desk, as it were, I find myself spouting their words almost verbatim when my group begin to lose the plot.

“Sit on your bottom!”

“Stop rocking back on your chair, you’re going to have an accident.”

“Pay attention. Eyes on me. Now!”

“I’m sure you had a very interesting weekend but right now we’re talking about place value so why not save that for recess?”

and, worst of all,

“You two keep talking so I’m going to have to separate you.”

I have a lovely group of eight or nine wiggly six and seven year olds each week. I know them all quite well by now and understand their personalities, their differing academic abilities, their quirks, the different ways to get them to work and pay attention and I have to say it’s quite the juggling act. They’re all good kids with big hearts and I am very fond of all of them although it can be like herding cats to get them to do the most basic of tasks. I always have Six in my group which is lovely although he insists on sitting next to me and it’s quite hard to keep him in his seat, partly because he’s always jumping up to hug me (adorable but disruptive). This is a clever strategy on the part of the school, though, because of course one is committed to helping in the class if one can be with one’s child. That’s part of the incentive, right?Now, three of my group are extremely quick and good at math. They understand concepts almost immediately and they whip through problems very swiftly with almost no mistakes. They’re very bright, vivacious kids and they’re full of ideas about all kinds of things, not necessarily and usually not related to maths,  so it’s important to keep them occupied and focussed so they don’t chatter loudly and distract the others. You’d think it would make sense to put them next to each other but I have discovered this doesn’t work as they just wind each other up and we end up with people jumping out of their seats to perform impromptu theatre or displays of ninja style. However, you also can’t reliably place them next to the two or three ‘solid workers’ who are very capable but might need a bit of time to get to where they’re going with their work because my bright sparks expend a disproportionate amount of energy trying to coax the solid workers into mischief once they’ve finished their own problems which they do almost before you hand them out. I could probably handle this easily but, to add to the mix, I have my challenge kids. I have an English-learner who needs extra time and explaining because of the language barrier. There are a surprising number of words in their maths books. I have sympathy for this child. I sometimes see an effort being made, but I can also see a sense of personal defeat present in its eyes (forgive non-gendered pronoun, but this is to protect identity). As if it is already accustomed to not getting things right because this is the way it is, and will always be. I do my best and sometimes I get through, but once the kid in question signs out and decides to faff about, the best I can do is limit the affect this choice has on the others. My other challenge child has a learning disorder that, quite apart from making it hard for it to take things in, renders the little person terrifically grumpy and aggressive which can be hard to deal with first thing Monday morning. I really want to help this kid, I do. I can see that when it applies itself, it completely understands everything and is very bright. I’ve been told to be firm and keep said child on task and remind it of our expectations that big first graders step up and do their work, but inside this poor kid’s head there is clearly a maelstrom of thought and emotion that gets in the way of this. And when it’s not on top form, the coping mechanism is being endlessly demanding, distracting to the other children, making itself as unpleasant as possible, and zoning out.   I’ve been told I can dispatch any non-compliant kids to the teacher, but I don’t really want to. What would be the point of having volunteers if they didn’t actually do any of the difficult work?  It would be lovely, I’m sure, to have a group of perfectly behaved little geniuses every week, but these kids are who they are, they have the needs that they do, and I see it as my job to do whatever I can within the confines of my hour and my ability. But wow, I can only do it for an hour. Then I’m spent.

I come back and although I honestly mean to pack up my things and go to the library (where I cannot get internet access and therefore have very productive book-writing sessions), I just can’t. I’m too knackered. It’s all I can do to scrape myself to the grocery store (that’s on a good Monday) and sit staring uselessly at my computer before the children come home from school where their teachers have been cooped up with them ALL DAY.

Our school board recently voted for yet another less-than-the-increase-of-cost-of-living pay increase for teachers. Several of the board members actually have children at the school and are quite put out that the greedy thieving educators actually want to be paid not-less (in real terms) than they were a couple of years ago. There will probably be a meeting about this but I am going to do everyone a favour and not attend in case I explode in rage, talk too much, and am branded a FUCKING SOCIALIST (this has happened before). Because, you know, I think that entrusting our kids all day every day with people who love them, even when they’re awful, who teach them things they might not be completely willing to learn, and would quite possibly take a bullet for them if the most awful scenario were to unfold. Well, I think these people might deserve a raise in line with inflation, cost of living, and experience.

Is that really so radical? I don’t think so. It’s just basic decency and common sense. They do a great job, let’s keep them incentivised.  I know there is a shortage of funds in education general, but taking it out of the teacher’s already meagre pay might not be the best reallocation of funds. I don’t know, I’m not an accountant but maybe the school board could consider other means to find the money. I could give them tips on running their own ice cream sale, for instance. Or we could vote to take money from other stupid programs like tax breaks for people who don’t need them and give a small raise to those who deserve them.

And you know what? Go ahead and call me a dirty commie or a crazy socialist. I don’t care. I’m not worried about whether I make six figures or drive a BMW. I just want to know that all the people doing the real day to day hard work are not gypped by the system. That my Six and Nine and all your four through eighteens continue to be taught by motivated, fairly-compensated people who stay in the profession for the same reason they joined it – they care about kids and education. It’s a simple math equation*. All the problems, in the end, are simple math equations.

 

 

*Once we’ve done that one, I have some very solid suggestions for redistributing the Koch billions to the hard working women of Africa

 

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Sick and tired

by Mothership on February 26, 2014

We went on a holiday to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. It was in Florida, the weather was mostly nice, it was sunny and warm (though not particularly sunnier or warmer than home), and a good time was had by nearly all for most of the trip. There were twenty people present, including six of us under ten, and many of us had come from Europe or similarly far away (us, from California) and the birthday boy was suitably amazed and surprised to see us all there as he’d been swindled into thinking he was having a weekend at a boutique hotel with his partner.

There were the four of us, of course. My half sisters came, battling the storm on the East Coast and multiple plane cancellations but made it nonetheless. There was the aunt and uncle from London who brought three of their grown sons, one bringing his lovely wife,  toddler, and 4 month old baby. And also my pretty, slightly scatty cousin whom I haven’t seen for literally years came all the way from Ireland, bringing along her two delightful little girls and a giant dose of the plague which they generously shared with the rest of the family.

Actually, we were fairly lucky during the trip and escaped the worst of it. That was until the last day when Six and I came down with a fever and ceased being interested in living anymore. My fever was a paltry 101 which was unpleasant enough, but his was just over 103 degrees. He lay beside me shivering and boiling and I lay beside him like a limp rag, unable to believe we had to get on a 10 hour plane journey later in the day.

But we did, because there’s nothing worse than being ill and not being at home.

That was a LOOOOONNNNGGGGG flight.

When we got back I thought we’d be better in a couple of days.

But we weren’t. It went on and on and on. And then Husband and Nine got it. All four of us in bed, wishing for death, snotty, sweaty, running out of food and drink and barely able to get to the door let alone the supermarket.

It’s taken over a week for me to get back to I won’t say normal, but perhaps functional. I still feel subpar. Six has recovered and is disgustingly bouncy but Nine is still in bed and has watched so much TV in the last 7 days that I think she could actually direct her own show by now. Husband is shuffling to work in a mournful, Eeyore sort of way and I am wishing I could go to a spa for a month or some other restful vacation.

I think I won’t be going on one of those big family trips again anytime soon, though.

 

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Resolve

by Mothership on January 6, 2014

A new year, a new me..

Well no, not a new me, it’s exactly the same me as before although possibly my trousers are a bit tighter than they were before Christmas due to the copious packets of crisps and glasses of champagne I consumed during the festive season (what is more delicious than the combination of ready-salted and Tattinger? Except ready-salted, Tattinger and Smarties, perhaps). However, I’ve decided to break with tradition and not try to go on some mad diet, attend the gym every day, or declare this (as my father does annually) “The year of muscle definition”. It never works anyway and somehow I’m pretty much the same size and shape, give or take a bit of southward age-related droop, that I was when I was 18. I eat more fruit and veg these days (thank you, California) and I exercise more thanks to my dance addiction, but essentially I remain the same type; unable to deny myself that third piece of toast and butter and really, why the fuck should I? I work hard, I’m nice to my children and husband (most of the time), I try to add positive things to the world in my own miniscule way so if I don’t look like a supermodel, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

There are plenty of other people who’ll do that for me, right?

I noticed, whilst standing in line at the supermarket today, that almost every magazine cover at the checkout was full of pictures of famous or semi- famous women in their bikinis and skimpy outfits and all the headlines were a commentary on their size and shape. The ones deemed overweight were vilified and ridiculed. The ones deemed ‘hot’ were lauded for their efforts, as if eating carrot sticks and spending all day preening themselves for the camera was worth of a Nobel prize. You buy the magazine on the strength of this media-fuelled bitchery. And it’s not confined just to the press. The interwebs, that great equalizer, now enables any tosspot to take a photo of some unsuspecting woman who dares to look less than camera-ready fuckable and post her on a public forum for the collective troll-cauldron to dissect with vicious, hateful commentary.  In Nine’s grade, the little girls are already aware of who’s pretty, whose clothes are nicely put together, who is a ‘dork’ and therefore who is going to be singled out for insidious bullying by the more popular and less scrupulous children. It makes me sick to my stomach. That when I was a kid we thought that things were going to get better for girls, that we’d be valued more on our minds and abilities and less on our appearance and yet somehow a massive u-turn was made in the ’90′s and here we are, desperately, actively playing along on both sides of the equation.

So here is my resolution for 2014.

I’m not going on a diet. I’m not going to talk about how much I dislike the physical signs of ageing. I’m going to celebrate my joy in the physicality of dance, not my obligation to exercise because it burns calories. I’m going to wear whatever the hell I want and make sure I’m comfortable, amused, and feel good about myself. I’m going to throw away any socks that don’t match or have holes in them and buy new ones that are expensive and cosy. And next month on my birthday I’m going to make sure I have a tube of Smarties as well as a packet of ready salted to go with my bottle of Tattinger.

 

Happy New Year.

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Lost at sea

by Mothership on October 7, 2013

On Wednesday I am going with Nine on an overnight field trip with her class (God help me) on a tall ship so we can relive what it was like being a sailor in the 1830′s.

I already know it was bloody awful for the hapless salty dogs of yore, with rat infested ships, sadistic captains who ruled with an iron fist, horrible food and brutally hard work for little pay,  but I think this trip might be quite fun in its way for us modern types especially as it’s only overnight and we won’t actually be leaving the harbor. Nine is thrilled that I’m coming along which is rather sweet.

I tried to pack the list of items we have been told to bring, including a change of clothes and a warm jacket, hat and gloves for each child but I was thwarted in this endeavour because it emerges that Nine has LOST her polartec fleece jacket AND her thinner fleece jumper. Both of them. I saw them a couple of weeks ago and washed them before I went to England thinking we would need them for this trip. It’s been an average of 80degrees farenheit since June so I doubt she’s really needed either item so WHERE THE &@(!@!!!! are they?

Similarly, while I was in the UK, a number of other things mysteriously went AWOL.

They are as follows:

Six’s (expensive) metal water bottle

All the tops to the reusable glass milk bottles. But not the milk bottles themselves*

Six’s shin guards

His electric toothbrush (how? HOW??)

A cat food bowl

Nine’s wellies. (it has not rained for literally months)

Perhaps the most vexing thing about all this is that when I ask where, perchance, any of these items might be, I am met with either blank or furious looks and defensive “I dunno”s followed by sulks, as if it were somehow rude to ask in the first place and certainly nobody else will be helping either to find or replace them.

Of course I could just let it all go and let them freeze/die of thirst/get bruises/get wet/have rotten teeth, but that is not in my remit as good mother.

So I’m going to replace them all (from the joint account which I shall not replenish) and comfort myself with the fact that if this really was the 1830′s and this house was my ship I would actually be the sadistic captain and, as I have been reading, I could tie them to the mast and flog them.

tempting..

 

*I am not the environmental purist in this house. If it were up to me I’d just buy the tetrapacks and be done with it but apparently that’s bad so the unwieldy plastic bottles that nobody except Superman can lift must be bought and decanted.

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Politics and Prose

by Mothership on October 1, 2013

This is not a post about the government shutdown although I do have some choice words about that which mostly start with WTF?

No, this is about politics on a much smaller scale. The student government scale. It is also a tale of helicopter parenting and me feeling stabby. And of me wondering how involved is too involved and where lines should be drawn.

Allow me to give you some background. And feel free to weigh in afterwards on the comments.

At our little school, there has traditionally been ice cream for sale on a Friday afternoon at home time. There were all kinds of selections, some for $1 and some for $2 (meanie old me only ever gave my children $1 each), all of them delicious, at least if you are under 12.

As you might imagine, this is the highlight of the week for many of the children. In fact most of them. When school started this September, all of the children eagerly rushed out on the first Friday, looking for the ice cream cart – it was a very hot day – but it wasn’t there! 

It emerged that the mother who had been hitherto volunteering to sell the ice cream on behalf of the PTA for the previous two years had finally had enough. This was fair. Both of her children are now in the upper school which gets out at 3pm so there was no reason at all for her to get to school at 2.15 to serve the lower school which gets out at 2.30 and serve choc-ices to a bunch of 6-9 year olds when she could be at home reading a book for a precious 40 minutes. She’d paid her dues.

I felt very sorry for the kids, though, and I couldn’t believe that nobody else on the PTA had wanted the job. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to be the most popular parent on campus? Then it dawned on me that I was, at least nominally, a member of the PTA. I’d paid my $10 (and then some) to join up and even if I had absolutely zero intention of attending any actual, you know, meetings, given my horror of budgeting, admin, and the subtle jostling for position among the power hungry, this was a service I could actually perform. I might even enjoy it!

I stepped up.

I felt rather pleased with myself. How could I lose? The kids would get ice cream, I’d be ‘in’ with the PTA (not sure how that benefits me, exactly, but it can’t be all bad, right?), I’d get first dibs on the good bars AND Six and Nine could bask in my reflected glory.

Admittedly I didn’t quite take in that I’d have to go and BUY the poxy ice cream as well as sell it. This sent me into a cold sweat (no pun intended) as the previous ice cream sales lady took me through all the purchasing options, the forms to fill out, the profit margin, the complexities of RETAIL etc. But I managed it. I simplified the pricing system (all items $1) and  I have become well acquainted with Smart&Final which is the kind of cash&carry that normally makes me want to sob with its no-name brands, substandard lighting and Soviet-style approach to queueing.  I’ve even instigated a harsh-but-fair ‘You can’t have an ice-cream-unless-you-say-please’ policy which initially provoked some shocked giggles and blank looks from some young customers but now makes for a pleasant transaction all around.

This was not the politics part. I’m getting to that.

A few weeks into term, Nine came home with a sheet of paper announcing that all children in the upper grades were eligible to run for Student Council. Two children from each classroom (six classes, twelve councillors total) would be elected and anyone could run. They would have to prepare a speech, they could use props, music, and say what they’d do for their fellow students, but they couldn’t give away free items or denigrate others. Fair enough.

You wouldn’t have caught me (or Husband for that matter) dead running for that kind of thing, but kudos to Nine, she went for it.

She worked hard on her speech, promised to try to get a ‘funny hat day’ and a ‘bring your pet to school day’ (even though we warned her that would never, ever happen) and off she went in her best frock and a wide grin.

She came home again at 3 o’clock, feet dragging, a mournful expression. Poor Nine had lost to a girl who had, infuriatingly to her, promised that she would bring ‘Dipp’n Dots to the ice cream stand!’.

(Dipp’n Dots, for those of you who don’t know, are a particularly disgusting ice cream frequently advertised on TV and therefore popular with almost all American children.)

This victory was particularly galling to Nine because it is her mother who is in charge of ice cream. She felt, understandably, that her turf had been trespassed, but as I explained to her:

WELCOME TO POLITICS! Promise everything, deliver nothing.

Nine might have lost against a better orator but her classmates would soon find out that Dipp’n Dots would not be forthcoming for the simple reason that

a) The new student councillor (let’s call her Jane, not her real name) had neglected to do her due diligence prior to making campaign promises, and

b) Dipp’n Dots are not available at Smart’n’3rdWorldFinal.

This would be a good civics lesson all around although I didn’t tell Nine that the student body would have forgotten all about it in a week or two and definitely by next year when elections rolled around again (just as they will when they grow up and vote for their country’s leader, right?)

That, I thought, was the end of that.

But no.

Two days later I had an email from Jane’s mother explaining that as Jane had won the election running on the platform of bringing Dipp’n Dots to the school, and  I was the PTA ice cream seller, please could I get Dippn Dots for the Friday sale so Jane could come good on her promise.

A little bit cheeky? Yes, I thought so.

I did, quite honestly, feel like telling her to naff off, Jane and/or her mother should have spoken to me PRIOR to the election, but being a fair minded person, and recognising that kids get carried away with things and don’t always have a sense of what is possible or not (cue Nine and her ‘take your pet to school day’) I politely wrote back and told her I would look into it myself and get back to her if it worked within the pricing structure. I didn’t want to be accused of sour grapes just because my precious little flower didn’t win.

I did some research online and found that wholesale Dippn Dots cost $1.50 each. So obviously that wasn’t going to work.

I wrote to Jane’s mother  a few days later and told her that I’d looked into it but unfortunately, with our ‘everything for $1′ pricing structure, the Dippn Dots weren’t going to work, sorry about that etc.

I thought that would be the end of it.

But no.

Jane’s mother wrote back almost instantaneously demanding I give her ‘the name and number of your vendor’ so that she could arrange a Dippn Dots sale ‘fundraiser’ through the student council.

That really pissed me off.

I briefly considered writing a tart missive about how I failed to see how competing ice cream sales within the school would benefit anyone other than her own child who had made false promises to the class, and didn’t she agree that it might be morally improving for Jane to learn from her mistakes rather than have her mommy try to cover them up for her.

But I didn’t.

I sat and wondered why the whole thing felt so fundamentally off and I was so annoyed.

It’s true, I felt sorry for poor old Nine when she didn’t win, but hey, them’s the breaks. You win some, you lose some, and she lost. No biggie. I was actually secretly relieved she wasn’t going to have a load more meetings and obligations which would magically turn into meetings and obligations for me.

But I didn’t like the way Jane’s mother was trying to fix the Dippn Dots issue, and I took particular exception to her bulldozing stance, especially in view of the fact that I spend a great deal of time and effort every week going to the wholesaler, buying the ice cream, stocking it, filling in forms, and then selling it to the kids so that the school can raise money for all the extra programs that benefit all the kids. Why should she waltz in and hold her own “fundraiser” just so her kid can win a popularity contest and undermine my effort, not to mention the spirit and fairness of the whole student government idea.

A friend suggested a quiet word in the ear of the teacher who is in charge of the student council. Another suggested speaking to the head of the PTA and having them speak to Jane’s mother. So far I’ve done nothing (other than feel annoyed and confused).

One thing is for sure, though. I remain committed to being the ice cream lady. I will continue to buy ice creams and sell them all for $1 to all the children, every week. I will smile at each and every one of them, Jane included.

As long as they say please, that is.

 

 

 

 

 

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Six’s guide to hair

by Mothership on September 27, 2013

This will be a short post as I am extremely busy writing my novel and eating a bowl of Shreddies.  Possibly more busy with the latter but it doesn’t sound as important as the former though those of you who like breakfast cereal will agree that Shreddies can be somewhat addictive and absorbing.

Six has become extremely attentive to hair of late. His own and other peoples’.

The other day we sat around outside on the deck eating supper and an annoyingly persistent fly kept landing on Husband’s head. We failed to find a swatter or any bug spray and much hilarity ensued when Husband literally thwacked himself on the head with a rolled up newspaper. The fly, however, escaped.

Husband said “The flies just love me, I must be delicious. They can’t keep away from me, can they?”

Six said, thoughtfully “Well, your head does look a lot like a coconut.”

*choke snigger gasp*

But it wasn’t quite so funny yesterday when, after taking a shower and washing my admittedly quite dirty hair, Six sniffed my shin and said, approvingly, that he liked the new moisturiser I had bought on a recent trip to England. I was pleased by this, but then he sniffed my damp hair and said

“Your hair smells like cheesy squares.”

These are the mini ravioli that I give him for supper when I can’t think of anything else to cook. They are not the sort of scent one would put in a hair product. I must have looked appalled because he said, hurriedly,

“But it’s okay, I like cheesy squares! Can I have them for supper?”

I rushed off to the bathroom to rewash my hair, and several shampoos later emerged for a second sniffer test. Six said it was much better which was a huge relief.

“You usually look okay, mummy, but it’s not very nice when your head smells like socks”

Indeed.

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Naughty Knickers

by Mothership on March 26, 2013

I wonder how much spam and how many disappointed pervs I’m going to get with that title?

A lot, I suspect. Oh well.

Many of you may have read this brilliant post that a father (who is also a Father) wrote to Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie retailer, upon learning that they were launching a line – Bright Young Things -aimed at younger teenage girls. The kind with glittery slogans on the bum that say things like

Feeling Lucky? (WTF?)  or

Call me!  (bleurgh)

There’s been a big hoo-ha (no pun intended) about this and plenty of angry people have posted things on the VS Facebook page, myself included, protesting the sexualisation of children and teens, but so far, the retailer has responded by denying that BYT was for underage girls, but instead was for college age women.

Right.

That’s why the CFO, Stuart Burgdoerfer has been quoted as saying at a conference this year:

“When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink.”.

And also, possibly why teen idol, Justin Bieber was chosen as the main entertainment at the VS fashion show this year. Because so many college age women love him NOT. I don’t know anyone over the age of about 14 who would be seen dead admitting they like him.

I think they might be lying a teensy bit.

Interestingly there are quite a lot of women (at least I think they’re women, they could also be saddo blokes who spend all their time in their mum’s spare room surfing the net and pretending they’re girls so as to troll on sites with scantily or nil-clad women) defending VS, too, saying that they like to look pretty, like to look sexy, and that it’s parents who should be policing what their teenagers wear, not corporations and there’s nothing wrong with making sexy undies for kiddies  people who are below the age of consent   girls. Those who get hold of them or even want them before the clock strikes 18 are clearly those whose parents clearly don’t love them enough to tell them not to show anyone.

That reminds me a bit about the joke where the little girl tells her parents that a man asked her to lift up her dress & show her his knickers, which she did, and the parents were horrified. They said never to do it again. The next day they asked her if the nasty man had come around again, and she said yes,”But this time I fooled him. I wasn’t wearing any!”

It’s not really funny, is it? And the logic is equally skewed.

They seemed to be suggesting if we were all better parents there would be NO problem at all with the objectification of women, sexualisation of kids, sex trafficking, victim blaming in rape cases, horrific events like the recent ones in Steubenville.. It’s all the parents fault. No, wait, it’s the MOTHERS’ FAULT because women have vaginas and we know what a load of trouble those have got men into.

And by that reasoning, with all that bad parenting around, there’s enough to justify a NATIONAL LINE OF SEXY LINGERIE, so it’s just as well they’re selling it – I’m sure those kids will be comforted by some avuncular men who’ll be happy to shag them and improve their self esteem in the process.

I’m glad those upstanding ladies have cleared that up. The ones who have made Victoria’s Secret the behemoth that it is and are proud to keep flying the PINK knicker flag high, preferably peeking out of their low-cut sweatpants. We should note, thought, that these same gals have enough moral fibre to bring their daughters up differently from us, we’re only protesting because secretly we’re a bunch of slags who can’t keep our own kids from rampant promiscuity.

Got that?

No, me neither.

No matter how you slice it, this is another case of a big corporation pimping out your kids so they’ll keep on bringing in the mighty dollar to their doorstep for life.

Ugh.

 

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Summer

by Mothership on March 5, 2013

It’s barely March and I already know what we’re doing nearly every day of the summer which is actually quite depressing.

Due to the insanely long school holidays here (2 1/2 months – what?), one has to find something for the little dears to do during this time so they don’t drive me completely fucking insane and I leave some sort of chance to do some, you know, work. So it’s summer day camp for them. The choices are dizzying. You can pay anything from $150/week for those at the budget end to upwards of $500/week per child if you have tons of cash and you love your little darlings more than poorer parents do  (so the glossy literature implies). They can do sports camp, nature camp, art camp, lego camp, cooking camp, horse-riding camp, financial-planning camp (maybe I should attend this one? It’s called Millionaire’s Club, but I can’t actually afford the fee which is telling), drama camp, singing camp, math camp (really? Which unfortunate child is forced to go to that one?), babysitter’s camp (perhaps I can volunteer my children as guinea pigs for the budding caretakers?), science camp, guerilla warfare camp.. Ok, I made that last one up, but you could almost believe it given the range of options.

I have already pre-selected my children’s camps, even though they are not yet on sale because the moment the online purchasing options become available, every over-achieving mother in Stepford, especially those, like me, with an eye for a bargain (read cheapskate/broke) will be hovering above her mouse to snap up the available spots within minutes – and I mean literally minutes – of the camps going on sale.

It’s the same with swimming lessons. You need to buy them within 10 minutes or else you’re screwed and your kid destined to drown in some boggy lagoon while you’re checking your email because you didn’t secure the proper Red Cross lesson and you also didn’t teach him yourself because the pool’s too cold and full of wee.

I think the Pentagon should hire me, actually – I have executed this summer’s plan with military strategy. How to spend the least money, get the most fun, find camps that have the same drop off time, place, set of interests for each child despite the age discrepancy, will still allow them to leave in time for their afternoon swim lesson, and will not drive us so deeply into debt that we have to sell their kidneys in September before school starts (tricky). Plus I have all the sign-up times and login details programmed as alarms in my phones so no matter where I am I am guaranteed to be ON IT and will get them what they need.

I did say I knew what we are doing every day of the summer but that’s not quite true. I know what the children are doing – they’re going to camp. I know Husband is going on a three week hike through the Sierras (rather him than me). I know I will be doing a lot of ferrying and taxiing of infants.  While Husband is hiking we’ll visit my father and Eight will go to horse camp. Five and I will loaf around and he’ll gleefully watch cable TV which he doesn’t have at home, no doubt compiling a long Christmas list from the ads he sees. But me? I don’t think I can bear to just sit here facilitating everyone else’s life. I shall have to plan a jaunt and do something I’ve never done before for no particular reason other than to relieve the unremitting predictability of daily life in Stepford.

When I think of what it might be, I shall let you know. It just doesn’t do to plan everything too carefully, Makes a girl restless, you know.

 

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An Unexpected Present

by Mothership on February 12, 2013

About a year ago I wrote a post about going to see a life coach, and I included a copy of a poem – Cargo – that he had given me, by Greg Kimura.

It was very inspiring and I took the words very much to heart. In fact you could say that it kick-started me into getting back to the blog, and also to focusing, finally, on writing my novel which has actually taken over my life and thoughts in the way that music used to.

This for me is an ecstatic return of the creative muse. I had felt somewhat bereft and flat in this regard after I had the children – I didn’t really want to write music very much anymore – I would, certainly, if there was a large cheque attached to the project, but I just couldn’t be arsed to go into the dark room with the machines that go ping unless I absolutely had to which is completely different from earlier years when you could barely coax me out of the studio. I tinkered about with various things, but nothing really gripped me in a convincing and lasting manner until this book started to unfold in my mind and on paper. I’m obsessed (in a good way, I hope!). I feel as if the real me is finally back, and this makes all of the rest of life so much more pleasant, and any trials and tribulations I may encounter seem far less traumatic than they might otherwise because I am living this other life in my head that is untouchable and completely of my own making.

I sound a bit odd, I know. But I am a bit odd, to be honest. I just embrace it and try to get on with things.

Anyway, back to the subject of this post.

I was in London a couple of weeks ago, mostly to do some boring administration things in regard to my house and while I was there I took the opportunity to shop myself stupid at the January sales – may I just say, John Lewis; I love you.
I stayed partly with family and partly up in town at my club. (I’m just going to say that again because it makes me feel VERY IMPORTANT like a posh gentleman from 1892 or something..) I was staying up in town at my club, and to my great surprise and delight, I got an email from Greg Kimura.

Yes! That’s right, the poet who wrote Cargo!

Actually, to be honest, when I first saw his name in my inbox I thought

“Oh no! I didn’t think to write and ask him if I could put his poem up! That was rude! And bad! He’s found out and now he’s mad! EEK!”

But it wasn’t that at all.

He had found his poem on my blog, but far from being annoyed, he was very gracious and complimentary. In fact he said he was looking forward to reading my book (!!) and would I like a copy of his poetry book?

YES PLEASE!

So I sent him my address and yesterday the book arrived with a lovely personal inscription.

Thank you, Greg!

I recommend it highly, and you can buy your own copy here 

The universe is full of unexpected gifts. Especially when you are brave enough to explore your own.

 

 

 

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writing

by Mothership on January 16, 2013

Now that I’ve failed to potty train the cat, I can go back to more important projects like continuing with my novel.

I’ve been quite busy with that which is partly why I’ve neglected the blog so much for the past few months – there seems to be only so many words I have per day, unless you count:

“Five, can you please get dressed and come down to breakfast”

“Eight, can you stop reading, get dressed, and come down to breakfast”

because I say those words maybe 30 times PER MORNING and then I shout them another 30 times before I physically pull books out of people’s hands, shove underwear into them,  and make unpleasant threats involving the withholding of  sugar, electronics, and time with the kitten.

I’m not sure how I became that person. She’s quite horrible and so are her children.

Once they’re at school I can become that interesting, quiet woman who has to boil the kettle several times before making a pot of tea because she gets distracted by other tasks, and then, finally, with a pot of lapsang and my delicious ginger kitten, I can settle in to a few hours of writing my book.*

I don’t know when I’ll finish this book. I am not a speedy writer but I am a steady one, and the plot’s rather complicated, plus there’s a pictorial aspect to it I haven’t quite worked out yet, BUT. I will get there. I’m probably a third of the way through?

Sometimes when I tell people I’m writing a book they give me a funny  look, like I’ve told them I’m building a spaceship out of cardboard boxes and I’m planning on flying to the moon next week. Then they ask me what I ‘really’ do. Or who my publisher is. When I say I don’t have one yet, not looking right now because I’m not ready, and besides that isn’t really the point for me, the look often turns to pity (eg be nice to poor deluded lady, it’s either that, basket weaving or intense therapy for her to keep her off the streets, btw don’t let her have a gun).

I don’t struggle with this as much as I might have done in earlier years. I remember some folks being the same back when I was a young musician, singing in crappy wine bars, sequencing synths on my 1 meg Atari (ha!) and sending out (showing my age) demo tapes which nobody listened to or listened to, laughed, and threw in the bin. Then, when I finally got a record deal and some commercial success, suddenly I was a ‘real’ musician. As if during the struggling pot noodle years I was only pretending.

Of course it’s possible that this is all in my head – so much stuff is (I may need a larger drive to hold all the drivel thats accumulated over the years), but even if it is, I still have to live with it, manage it, and get it out the way so I can actually tell the story I’m trying to write. And it needs to be told.

I hope that whomever is left reading my little blog (all 4 of you?) will bear with me – I’m going to keep trying to post, even if it’s just about little things, and one day, there will be something more substantial, and more interesting to read.

 

* Unfortunately I also spend quite a bit of time reading the news, answering email and looking at Facebook, then feeling guilty about it and having to make another pot of tea because the first one went cold before I remembered to pour a cup.

 

 

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