Must do better!

It’s report writing season for teachers at the moment.  A time where you dedicate hours and hours writing about the children that have become members of your family and have taken over your entire life.  I used to love writing the personal statements.  I loved writing about each and every child in my class, thinking about their little quirks, their achievements and how I wished them so very well for the next year.

Reports were not always like that though.  Particularly at secondary school.  Some of you may remember when you were graded either by a number or letter in each subjects, and the teacher would simply write a word or phrase next to each subject. ‘Excellent’; ‘Satisfactory’; ‘Good’…or ‘Must do better!’  It was ok though.  The grades and simple words or phrases told you all you needed to know.  Not like the epic writings of Tolstoy that the modern reports are.  In the old reports, everyone knew where they stood.

I’ve been thinking lots this morning though – why is it that only teachers are held accountable about the children that they teach?  Why are parents never accountable?  Why aren’t parents invited to termly reviews to assess how this parenting lark is going?  I am a parent myself – and just to put my hands up in advance, I absolutely hate the idea of this suggestion – but actually – would it make me think about how I parent my children more carefully?

I have two daughters, and as soon as they were born, a part of my brain also changed and an area called ‘FEAR’, grew to at least ten times its normal size.  Being a female, I’ve always been trained to be alert, fearful and slightly mistrusting – especially of men.  Hence, I never walk with headphones or earbuds in my ears; if I can, I avoid subways, short cuts, alleyways; I park in well-lit, busier areas.  I am so paranoid, I will never park next to a van if I can help it…just in case.

When my daughters were born, this necessity to protect and keep them safe became more important than protecting myself.  This is why I haven’t signed them up to dance or gymnastic classes – even though I know they would love that.  Instead, they do Martial Arts – which thank heavens they love too.  I want them to be tough, confident and assertive.

If I went to a parent review, I’d be talking about how I try to empower the girls by not only being proud of being strong, smart females, but also being proud of their Indian heritage.  So I read stories from India to them, and they delight in the rich mythology, the wisdom, the spirituality, the mysticism that these tales have to offer.

I’d bloody well expect at least a ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ grading.

But I’m a mother of girls.  And I want them to fiercely independent, strong, powerful women of the future.

On the flipside – what about men?

A friend of mine was telling about how her boyfriend dumped her because she insulted him and made him feel emasculated.  How has she insulted him and made him feel like less of a man?  She told his son to put his dishes in the kitchen when he had finished eating.  What???  There were other equally ridiculous examples of ‘insulting’ actions she had taken – which in the regular world, no one would bat an eyelid at.  But when your mother has brought you up as a prince, I suppose it would seem demeaning to do what is expected from others.

At the moment, in England, there is a huge uproar because there was a vote in the House of Commons about making the act of ‘upskirting’ (for those of you who don’t know, it’s taking pictures of someone’s underwear/genitals, without their knowledge/consent), illegal.  A no brainer right?  Surely every decent human being on this planet would find this act abhorrent?  Yes?  But one man objected and voted no.  So the process of making ‘upskirting’ illegal has been delayed.   I will tell you that upskirting is illegal in Scotland.  Huge round of applause for Scotland.  But let’s not forget – MEN wear kilts in Scotland….

This week in Australia, a young female comedian was found dead in the night.  This prompted the police to remind women of keeping safe!  The anger and rage that this statement produced was incredible.  Why does no one ever remind murderers and rapist men to behave?  Why is the onus always on the women?

I read somewhere about a curfew to keep women and girls safe, was presented to Golda Meir, first female Israeli Prime Minister.  She thought it was a great idea to place a curfew on men in order to keep women and girls safe at night.  Needless to say, that curfew idea was dropped faster than a hot potato baked in the ovens of hell.

The baton is always passed back to women.  Keep yourselves safe.  Don’t wear provocative clothes.  Be careful of how you sit.  Make sure you do this, this, that and the other….Where are the rules for men?  Where are the sanctions for men?

I have seen so many women and men, in so many cultures around the world, celebrate the birth of sons, with more pomp and ceremony than is ever given to the birth of a daughter.  How the mother of sons’ status is regarded higher than the mother of daughters.  Well then these parents have to be accountable, and society has to be accountable for the actions of these sons.  If I was to hold a review for the parents of sons, I would ask – does your son put his, and everybody else’s dishes away after eating?  Does he make his own bed?  Does he know how to cook?  Can he do the laundry?  Does he show respect to women that are not related to him?

No??? Then you all MUST DO BETTER!

I, and mothers like me will continue to bring up strong, powerful daughters who will rule this world.  Parents of sons need to question how they are bringing up their sons – if he’s a delicate prince, he’s no good to man nor beast.  We as a society need to think about how sons are brought up – the message that I leave you with, is that we must do better!!!!

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Whatta you talkin’ about?

So, after I published my first blog, finally (and tentatively) I sent it to my mum to read.

“Blog?” she asked bemused, ‘What’s that?” Anyway, after my brief explanation and reasons for choosing to do it, she read it and said “It’s very nice.” Now believe it or not, that’s high praise indeed from my mum, so I was delighted.

After I’d written my last blog, there were a couple of themes running through the messages that I’d received from people:

a) I didn’t know you’d been through all that!

b) Parts of what has happened to you, has happened to me too.

Both things made me realise something – you may ‘know’ many people, but how many people really ‘know’ you?  After publishing the post and reading what people had written, texted or said, I turned into a gibbering wreck – crying at the drop of a hat.  Finally, it was my husband that made me sob uncontrollably for a full ten minutes, (or thereabouts – I wasn’t timing myself!!) How? Well, it was through something that gets me every time – kindness.  I was feeling emotional anyway, we were watching a light-hearted film to lift the mood, then he held my hand and said, “You know something? You’re amazing! You don’t believe it, but you are.”

Well that was it…  Sometimes when I watch my daughters cry if they’ve been hurt, there’s something so wonderfully honest and free about it.  They don’t care about the noise they make, about how their faces change, how loud their crying is, that they’re creating a ‘scene’ – it’s a good, honest, loud, cathartic release of emotion.  Within seconds they feel better.  That’s probably how children ‘bounce back’ from things so quickly. As we grow up – well that’s just not done is it? We have to practise gentle, dignified crying if we allow ourselves to even do it.  Silent tears are great. Pretty crying – essential.  And men, if you cry – well who’s ever heard of real men crying anyway??!!!!

Anyway, last night for ten minutes-ish I cried like a baby.  Loud, undignified, blotchy, noisy, messy, nose blocking, shuddering, shaking, therapeutic, child crying. Best feeling ever (afterwards), because I felt better again.

And then I started thinking about what on earth had he said that triggered that dramatic reaction anyway?  Yes, partly it was the kind compliment – but the biggest thing that affected me was, ‘You don’t believe it, but you are.’  And that was it – how many people actually believe, accept and absorb the compliments that are given to them?  I remember being in my twenties and still not knowing how to accept compliments, eventually after a conversation with a colleague, she said “You just say ‘thank you’, it doesn’t make the giver of the compliment feel like such an idiot then!”  So obvious!

So I’ve finally got to it – self-talk.  The internal dialogue that happens within you.  What you tell yourself.  There’s no way that I can talk about this like an expert – in fact some of you, are way more qualified to talk about this than me.  But what I do want to say that even at my age, I have to practise thinking positive thoughts, and saying positive thoughts internally.  It doesn’t come naturally to me.  I’m much more inclined to think – I’m not good enough.  So I practise.  I practise thinking good things about myself.  I say good things to others – if I see something good about someone else, I’ll tell them.  I’m lucky enough to work with children and I make sure that I praise them to the skies as often as I can.

My father-in-law often puts his hand on my head and says ‘Be happy!’  I didn’t get it at first – but I’ve realised that you have to practise being happy.  You have to practise positive self-talk. You have to cut out any toxicity in your life and only surround yourself with good people, that lift you up, that believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.  AND PRACTISE BELIEVING IN YOURSELF!!!!!

And every once in a while – cry like a child – cry like you did when you were tiny.  Make an absolute spectacle of yourself.  You won’t regret it.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with two messages that I have in my kitchen, one that I bought and one that a dear friend gave me…both are reminders…