I've not gone soft already but I am resolved to do a little less of what my Father-in Law calls 'slinging a few fucks about' (in his case it's when dealing with builder's merchants). This is no born-again responsible parent guilt, it's just that instead of coming across as as Miss Tourette of 2009 I shall limit my obscenities for the sake of dramatic impact. I believe a well-placed wank is worth a blanket of shits.
All hail the new clean me.
Don't expect any less venom when required. Just trying to be more effective in my spite.
'Tis done. Praise the Lord! (The Time Lord that is).
Late results - Himself sourced a couple of handicapped (no legs - bloody heroes) turkeys on Xmas Eve to feed the full gathering of 'his side'. Apparently his mum had not found seen the funny side the night before when he suggested Turkey twizzlers for 19. My antique recipe for Peanut Roast not required after all. Shame. I even managed to leave the Midwich dome of our house for the first time in a week and did all my remaining (quite a lot) Xmas shopping like a real man in the afternoon. It was fabulous. I had no hungry/thirsty/tired/bored/shoplifting midgets circling me either - the pure joy of being able to stick my nose into inappropriate shops for no good reason other than because I could. And finding shiny snakeskin trousers for £3.50 in a charity shop. Oh yeah.
Now I know why men do this each year: the thrill of the hunt - battling the elements - up against it for time - the dusk approaching - the family is depending on you - you have to make quick decisions - it's all about the NOW. And the exultant journey home with the prize - you are a man my son.
Mince pie and stale milk (teetotal house now - poor Fr Xmas) - cute letter about being good - carrots for Rudolph - flour round the fireplace to catch the elves footprints - my god will they never go to fucking bed? I made it into bed by 4 am. Suddenly remembered the fucking Tooth Fairy. Got up again. Managed to wake up everybody in so doing. Oh joy. No sleep for good little Xmas elves.
Did the tights, high heels and oohs and aahs on The Day. And my cheerful fake interested 'How was the turkey?' With the obligatory 'A bit dry. I much prefer chicken' performed with completely straight face. Noone sang - YES! No family films of opening presents - YES YES !!! Noone punched anyone (aaw). Back in time for Dr Who in turquoise sequins (it all kind of sleepily blended into Strictly Come Dancing Xmas Special). And my cheese elf on duty. Big sigh. Woke up at 6 am on settee under blanket of cheese.
Even found the floor next morning and rearranged the room again - a whole new angle to watch telly. It broadens the mind. Watched about 6 films. Afternoon nap. Evening nap. Quick snog in the utility room. That's not a euphemism. Cheese. Chocolate. Coma.... As things should be in Grown-Up World.
And done 'my' side today. Arrived at well past lunch time due to horrific traffic. Himself reckoned it was all the people going to visit their in-laws and driving really reeeally s l o w - l y. Despite lateness we still don't sit down to eat for another 2 hours and then have 4-hour long lunch - seconds - thirds - 5 different puddings - rotating mis-heard conversations (carrying on from last year) - the kids want the cake and biscuits - 'But that's for tea later'.... Absent brother rings - his kids are bathed and in bed.
Finally dragged my lardy arse up off the chair to start putting brightly coloured beeping things in the car (and their new presents) - 'But you haven't had any tea!' Snatched crisps and half a French stick and made a run for it.
Home and dry.
We've done it. Much less stressful than previous years but I still don't get it. I just don't. I like the new sparkly nail varnish and dazzle dust eye-shadow tho'. I like the cheese. I like Wallace and Gromit. I like snogging in the utility room. I like the fact I didn't hysterically accuse Himself of having an affair this year when I didn't get a present from Cartiers after seeing it on a joint bank statement a week earlier and which turned out to be my dry cleaning. I like smelly candles - melting onto nativity figures. I like eating coffee and walnut cake for breakfast. I like happy little faces being left to their own wayward devices. I like the fact that we seem to think this stuff can only happen at bloody Xmas! Do what? Must keep the spirit of Xmas alive all year round by remembering to be thoroughly indulgent and naughty and lazy and bad ALL the bloody time.
New Year's Res's? Be bad, badder and really bad. Really really bad. Bad Motherfucker Bad.
I may start by having a really good clear out of sensible clothes, any educational material, beautiful hand-crafted wooden toys that were to be handed down to the next generation (but just got biro'd and then ignored by this generation), cookery books, important paperwork, the contents of my mending basket, clever-looking books by people with foreign-sounding names, classical CDs....... Who am I fucking kidding?
(Queen's voice) - At this time of year (now the Xmas shit is old hat and old tat) our thoughts turn to (OK back to my voice) - it's time to be honest surely.... I was born into the arms of Carry On films, bred by The Darling Buds of May books, buttered by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, battered by Thatcher, bettered by The South Bank Show, butt-fucked by New Labour and now broken by children and have finally come to realise that noone else is going to make me into a nice rounded human being. Months of counselling have slowly sunk into my tiny resentful little mind and whispered 'deal with it Shit-for-Brains'.
So off comes the hand-spun Cloak of Wank - the pretending to be a useful member of society act. And instead I shall proudly wear the lurex Hot-Pants of the Gob-Shite. I shall be free!
All this from a simple nice little Xmas post. And lots of split infinitives to make my mother's blood boil. Starting as I mean to go on.
I don't half go on don't I? Happy New Year you bastards. I love you all.
Can you get chloroform on the NHS? One out of four of my offspring will voluntarily file himself away for the night (admittedly in MY bed) and - (ooooh) go to sleep! Amazing. My Leopard Boy. Who is apparently now only a leopard by night, and a gorilla by morning. This means another set of names. (This also led to a new game - an old game really - of giving each other Native American names - obviously too rude to post.)
Next to go is usually Rock Godling - but it takes stories, cuddles, extra drinks, cuddles, blankets of books, the 'big' light on (sneakily changed to a low watt red bulb), a nosebleed, (undoubtably unmentionable biological experiments we have to pretend we don't notice until that becomes impossible), upbeat suggestions for lovely dreams, be back up in five minutes, gentle threats, less gentle threats, pointing and shouting, guilt, promises, bribes, more cuddles, one more wee............zzzzzzzz The zzzzzzzzzz is me. He's still awake.
Two hours later Thuglet might exhaust himself to a standstill. Way after I've been roused from my 'disco nap' (like yeah) with RG by outraged daughter demanding I do something about the psycho-dwarf. When he finally passes out I have emerged from mine-shaft of exhaustion, gone from pink, red, purple, blue-in-the-face through to translucent ghost of a shadow. Totally bruised, broken......beaten.
And then there's Minx herself. Still going strong. Himself's been dribbling and snorting on settee since grown-up telly time. But it'll be another couple of hours before she runs out of steam, cocoa butter, nail varnish remover, pens, glitter, business plans, ice-skating routines.........
And THEN it's my turn to have MY TIME. Now I can DO something. After a fistful of carbohydrate, another cup of tea I won't drink (will find it in the microwave tomorrow as I'm putting another one in) and I'll just get started on whatever and Thuglet will wake up again.... I'll fall asleep getting him back to sleep.....
My ancient baby-ravaged bladder gives me a second chance. The house is quiet (ish - if you ignore the rodents the size of Jack Russells). MY TURN.
About 20 minutes before Gorilla Boy wakes up with the dawn chorus and starts throwing bananas at me.
And then I'm supposed to be some reliable pinny-wearing pancake-flipping floral bloody maypole thing. I don't do 'Mother' very well. I still do double-takes when I hear 'MU-UM'. Who are they talking to? Where have these dirty feral midgets come from? Who burgled my house? Who the fuck is THAT in the mirror?
I've been in this house too long. The ice track leading to civilization is still sterling. We are beyond Blitz spirit. Way past Withnail and I. We are at the bit when we see each other as giant hams and hot-dogs. Have come over all Sylvia Plathish - without the writing talent obviously. Just the Bell Jar behaviour bit.
But then this afternoon I started moving about a bit. I'm always complaining I don't have enough time in the house - always running around to different gatherings, classes, matches etc. In the house long enough to trash it but not long enough to tidy it but these past few days I have been catatonic in my own filth. But I worked it out - Xmas has just come early. I mean the catatonic state bit - the inbetween Xmas and New Year bit when you've done your duty and now it's time to eat shit and watch telly. I thought this was a result of good cheer, free cheese parcels and headaches after the high-decibel family stuff but it's simpler than that. It's just stopping.
And I just stopped.
But today I started twitching again. The scum ring round the bath wasn't just a memorial to someone actually having a bath this month - it was a sign. I cleaned it. I used to do things like that long ago. Today I also moved the recycling around a bit. It's nearer the back door. I hoovered downstairs. I - took - the - hoover - upstairs. I did. UPSTAIRS. Tomorrow I shall take over the world.
But tonight is yet young. The scribbling scratching sounds from Minx's room have faded. IT IS TIME.
That baby is creaking. I think I can hear birds. Who are these bloody munchkins? They're smiling at me. They want things. They think I'm their mother. Must get under the mattress.
Yak trail still unpassable. Been in the same clothes for 5 days now. Eating mice. Hearing the voices of previous tenants, 18th Century farmhands whispering 'Join Us'. Waiting for a drool-splattered St Bruno to come and save us. Fear it's already too late - been writing Xmas cards for god's sake. Become institutionalised.
Queues for the toilets are the best places for learning things. All sorts of things over the years. Things to make Ed Balls blush. Today however I realised the total bliss of not being wanted.
A whole gang of us had taken over half the local theatre for a fabulous prod of A Christmas Carol. Amongst the rest of the audience were children all wearing red jumpers. I'm so out of the loop now it took me ages to work out why they were all wearing the same thing. Duh. And then in the interval there was an insight to the outside world. There were updates on the threatened snow - definitely starting its campaign to screw up my plans (Bah Humbug) and one lady (must have been A Teacher) was saying how they'd already been ordered that they had to make an effort to get to work tomorrow no matter what. Most of the queue were urging mutiny: 'Stay at home and play in the snow' 'Give the kids a break' 'Baahh Humbug'. But according to the edict if they can't make it to the school they work in they must get to the nearest school. Are they serious? What a laugh! Carry On Up the Swannee...
My first thought as a life-long authority-dodger was exactly how much effort would be considered enough? Merely thinking about it the night before would satisfy me. But I recognise that there are people out there who feel obliged to do as asked. How many bruised arses and dented cars will it take tomorrow morning for these good people to finally turn-tail and go and build rude snowmen instead?
Isn't it bring a game-to-lose to school and wear baubles on your head day tomorrow anyway? The stiffening of the upper lip must be on Nat Curric now - can't possibly let these children have a day off just because there's a little bit of snow for heaven's sake! This would simply teach them to be lazy don'tcha know! Alaska doesn't shut down after every flurry! Baaahhh!
How fantastic is it to be no longer required? We did have the last gymnastics tomorrow - but they can jump on the settees - they do anyway. I was going to pick up my Leopard Boy but he can stay put in his chum's house and throw snowballs at him instead. We were going to do a bit of shopping after - but that's always a good idea to skip. What's the worry?
We're not lazy - we're thoroughly sensible. We'll not be adding any burden to the emergency services. We'll be keeping out of the way of the people who are actually needed - very thoughtful.
But we'll be HAVING FUN!!! Outrageous.
And I have a crucial follow up project for today's educational theatre trip. I have secured a pristine DVD copy of the highly regarded film version of Dickens' classic. Oh yes - The Muppets' Christmas Carol!
'Light the lamp not the rat! Light the lamp NOT THE RAT!'
I love it.
By the way in case you were joyfully imagining me all bonny in chunky knitwear tomorrow rolling out snow boulders with Mariah Carey - my idea of fun is handing the small shivering things carrots on the back doorstep and shutting the door. If Himself has charged up a camera I may take photos through the window. Depends where they put the carrot.
I shall now go to bed in all my clothes.... and stay that way all day tomorrow. Bliss.
One snowman to another: 'Ere...can you smell carrots?
My daughter keeps calling me Scrooge. It may be something to do with her Xmas list getting longer and my fuse getting shorter. It may be my not taking The X-Factor Final seriously. It could be the inability to recognise the reciprocal expectations of the Xmas card lark - or the Biblical swearing - or the GBH on the BFG outside the BHS.
And then today - it snowed.
What happy little rosy faces. Tongues peeking out to taste a transient flake. Pure innocent delight in pure heavenly white.
So I'm going to keep up the twaddle til it crashes again.
Today I stuck up almost everything we've ever made at Xmases Past - including fabulous hand-print angels on a string which just seem to get better every year - hand-print wings and dresses and totally wonderful faces of every colour - green, blue, pink, purple...some with huge black teeth, some with beards, big hair, no hair.... I would never be able to make something that wild and wonderful - something 'logical' would kick in and spoil it. And the artist herself, now age 10 probably couldn't recapture that creative explosion now either.
My logic obviously sparked the paper dolly chains of penguins with cotton wool pad tummies. Excess black card left over from Halloween was, I recall, one factor. These get dragged out every year too but this is the first time I've wondered what the bloody hell have penguins got to do with Xmas?
I think we had an excess of cotton wool pads then too. Must have switched to wet wipes that year.
How the magic is lost when the haze of baby-tending turns to stone cold refereeing.
And when the little bastards keep finding my secret stashes of chocolate coins.
'Are these for our stockings?'
'Oh I always buy some just in case Father Xmas gets held up or something"
Anyway...I sort of get polar bears. North Pole. Which reminds me - educational quiz:
I'm so confused. Everytime I try to find myself - I don't mean in Nepal in a headscarf but simply on my own blogthing in a cardigan and slippers - I end up changing my password and chasing my technological tail around an inscrutable screen for hours. So crap at modern life. Would have been happy sitting outside a nice old hut making little fat ladies or spitting pigment round my hand in a cave. I've been so desperate all week while my internet connection has been non-existent and then (up comes the roller-coaster car) very over-excited when Himself said all the lights on the box were on - then discovered the monkeys had deleted Safari (down goes the car) Alpha Male saves the world with no swearing (loop-the-loop). He's such a man. I wuv him. But then I am left with buttons and wires and my own sorry intellect. I have no idea what the difference is between my username, my password, my e-mail address, my real name, my mother's criminal psuedonym etc And I can't even spell that. Now I've been blinking at a humming soul-sucker for hours of my life I will never see again. And what have I got to say for myself when I finally 'find' me? Blah blah incapable of blah blah useless at blah blah god you're boring...... is this the best I can offer after a week of bubbling frustration at not being able to do my blog?
SO what have I done this week to justify my existence? (Here's the bit where I dazzle you with my grand self-sacrificing efforts in the name of envy-inducing home educating for my over-achieving darlings...ahh bollocks..) You're way ahead of me. We have been busy though. We made it up to the Tower of London on Monday - part of a group of 87 I think - and that was the 2nd group of 'us' to go. There are alot of us about. Himself couldn't cope with the thought of his own offspring loose on a train so we were loaded into the car - which meant extra mascara and a chance to flick through a Tony Robinson book (I only read kids' books) about Kings and Queens. Leopard Boy starts asking questions about the pictures and the next thing he wants me to just read page after page. If I'd taken it upon to 'Listen to this children...' I'd have got the usual raspberries but seen as an illicit activity - the nose twitches. We 'did' the jewels, the armour, the shop (cool chess sets), Raleigh's last place of blog, 'vote for whodidit' in the case of The Princes in... and naturally we 'did' the ice-rink. Well - I 'did' coffee and waving, two small boys 'did' souvenir shop catapulting and battering ramming. Daddy did grimacing and pleading for mercy. Minx did all the swirling and swooshing - in the rain. Happy as a pig in..... We'd lost Leopard Boy by then somewhere near Traitor's Gate. Gone off with his preferred adopted family - as usual. Do we follow all this culture up with related projects? Do we bollocks. But I did buy some postcards to stick in a pile marked 'scrapbook' and (another kids book) Tales from the Tower - which I've left on the coffee table. Got tomato sauce on it already. It's now one of us.
But how these things filter down. The next thing I know I've got a naked Thuglet and Rock Godling playing chess with our posh Lewis set (get us) - and no charged up cameras to catch the surreal scene. Chess. Isn't that what speccy Ask The Family kids do? My kids play chess.
Also this week I've been bullied into scraping the bird poo off the Xmas box and tree and dragging it into the (now re-arranged) grotto. No dead creatures - that's a bonus. No live ones either. Astounding. Just our bulging bags of weird stuff. Every year we make more weird stuff to squeeze into the box. I still don't actually 'get' why we all put a tree INSIDE our houses for a few weeks every year. And ours is sad. It's tinsel - that's fine. But it's brown. That's sad. But it is an extra incentive to completely smother it in weird stuff. And we have.
Also discovered another odd thing. Always knew that the Leopard Boy was allergic to pens but in a moment of educational responsibility I knocked up some pages for the small creatures on the 8 Times Table. We're working our way through at our own pace. Started with the 1 Times Table a few months ago. On a high we tackled the 2 T T. A few weeks later we reached Base Camp 4 T T. While we're on a roll, today was 8 T T. In case you're worrying I crack the whip too hard, we took about 3 years to get our heads round the Alphabet. We were beaming in glory at our eye tests the other day. But back to the pen thing.... the other day I caught the Leopard with a pen in his hand scribbling on the bathroom wall. Mouth open to yell I froze - overcome by the sight of him WITH A PEN IN HIS HAND. So proud. This morning he's voluntarily writing his 8 T T answers on the page, very well too but taking ages to work out each answer - which is kind of odd 'cos he's pretty good at the numbers lark - in his head. Then he gives me the pen. 'You write it down.' And then I couldn't write each answer down as quick as he was shooting them out. In putting down the pen it freed up his mind. Put a bat in his hand and throw a ball at him and it's as natural as picking his nose - but a pen.....
Is there anyone else out there as crap as me at reading important information? I see buzz words like 'Badman', 'unauthorised overdraft', 'court summons' etc and I do try but after about 3 words in.......zzzzzzzzz I have to have everything explained to me in words of one syllable - with glove puppets. I have screens of e-mails I daren't delete because they have intelligent-looking data that I might just read all the way through tomorrow. Is there a ism-y word for people like me (assuming there are other such) - something I can wear like a Christmas jumper - a license to excuse backwards behaviour?
I do kind of want to be grown-up but can't concentrate on it long enough to actually manage it.
Worse than simply being simple I have now leapt on the fast train to Turning-into-my-Mother well before it was time to leave Truculent Youth, entirely skipping Confident Adulthood. Thank god I have a couple of nearly-as-tall-as-me sproglets to remind me now and then that I'm supposed to be somewhere in an hour and can we have lunch - and shouldn't we get diesel now even though it's not completely past the dial 'cos remember what happened last time - and did I remember the baby etc...
I like to think that it's all part of their education. I certainly don't spoon-feed them anything that may be construed as being intellectual. Life skills - that's what it is.
Hoping to erase a familiar expression off my daughter's face I tried to explain that this is the worst bit for me - when I know that I am hopeless, irrational, forgetful blah blah and how she should treasure this time because the bit when I wee in my shoes and hi-jack prams and deny all knowledge of my family is going to be even more tiresome for her - bliss for me however.
Do my children receive a suitable education? Well now there's a thing.
Minx: my 10 year old goddess has constant plots and plans for new businesses, is dedicated to her chosen sport of ice skating (as well as Olympic shopping) and practices on our (rather small) kitchen lino day and night, whips up a mean carrot cake and pasta sauce (not usually served together), seems to have plenty to say and text on the phone to her many friends, is our TV and computer engineer and keeps me in line as the self-appointed head of the household.
Leopard Boy: 8 year old is obsessed with all things ball-related - or indeed sport related - or simply game-related and has made a pact with the devil to throw 6 after 6 after 6 and can still beat anyone at anyone at anything at anytime - always one step ahead with the tactics, this is if he bothers to tear himself away from David Attenborough long enough - but he's still the only one who'll get off his arse and help tidy up when begged. Not overly interested in that reading and writing lark but is pretty damn quick with the old mental arithmatic - just don't ask him to hold a pen.
Rock Godling: my surreal 6 year old will either be mixing evil potions, reprogramming the computer, smashing the drumkit into submission, building bizarre constructions from any materials to hand, talking to dinosaurs, or mooning at passers by - possibly from an upside down position in the middle of a flight of stairs and talking talking talking talking.......
And now for the small Thuglet: the angelic-looking 3 year old tail-less monkey with a penchant for violence, cheese, Lightnin' McQueen, perfecting his golf swing (actually pretty impressive - one TV screen, a bathroom door and 2 windows down already) and pressing his bare buttocks into your face before further intensive internet surfing.
Now I'm not sure into which part of the National Curriculum any of this would fit. But it all works fine here. Now and then I wave paper and biros at them but to varying degrees of interest - I just get that urge every so often to make me feel like I have some sort of input. But I don't think it's input that they need particularly. And there's certainly not much output in any conventional sense. How does one inspect such 'education'? Come back in 15 years time or so I would venture.
As a rather aggravating and inspiring art tutor of mine from a previous life once told me - education doesn't mean 'to stuff in' but is from the Greek (get me) for 'to draw out'.
So there you go.
It's probably not suitable. Not for anyone else anyway. But things may be only suitable fleetingly. We can flip and flex and flap about until we make a new 'suitable' whenever needs must. Or just because.
And I don't have to find PE kits at 7.30 am. Apart from ice-skating lesson day I don't know what 7.30 looks like. I'm still tucked up in bed with a couple of wiggly boys - until SpongeBob and the biscuit tin entice them downstairs and I get the bed to myself for as long as I can hold out.
Are my children receiving a suitable childhood? At least they've got one.
And despite my filth-pit of a house - the scene of many our crimes - I can't think of a better way to spend these times than giving them a pretty wide berth and seeing what happens.
PS There is Himself - my dear beleagered and bewildered husband stomping about in the background too. He earns the money, which the government then takes most of, and what's left we spend on chips, sweets, diesel, theatre tickets, football boots and ice skates, more chips, lip salve, plasters, museum gift shops, library fines, glitter, ice-cream and chips. Bless him he doesn't know what the hell's going on. Finds his escape on the golf course he does. Sometimes we talk to each other. Sometimes we even hear what the other has just said. We were Rock 'n Roll once. Bit more like Tea 'n Biscuits now.
Don't know what I'm doing......Got a blog........Blimey......
Suppose I'd better make some sort of opening statement.
Yeah it's another Home Educating type.
Ingrained insubordination my driving force.
Responsible mother of 4 sproglets. Oh yeah I did say responsible. Not like 'clever, even-handed, blissfully calm, wise' etc. It's more a case of...if something happens (like things do), then I respond. Therefore I am responsible.
Or is that reactionary? Who cares. I don't have any particular over-riding philosophy on life or education - I just sort of 'do it'.
Got a bit over-exited at even writing just this little gobbet. Going to quit while I'm ahead. Really just wanted to see if I really did exist on a Blog-thing. Sort of set this up by accident the other day and then couldn't find it again.
Found it now.
If I can find this again I'll elaborate. Introduce you to my mini-types. May even recruit help to put up pictures - blimey. Have to disguise them tho' - the helicopter's up there again. I'm sure they've sniffed us out. Bloody Home Edders. Integrating themselves into society. Where will it lead?