Bone tired.

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It’s an expression that you hear and it doesn’t mean much, and you will think that the person saying it is being melodramatic, attention seeking even. And then one day, all of a sudden, you just get it. You know what those words, that phrase means.

You struggle on day after day, same old, same old; work, food shopping, kids clubs, cooking, cleaning, washing, money management, budgeting. Life admin that just keeps building up, letters to write, letters to post, emails to send, car insurance to get quotes for. Household items to replace. Lawns to mow. People to see. Sheets to change. Things to fix. Things to remember. Appointments to go to. Trains to catch, children to drop off, pick up, take to parties and you do it. You do it all, sometimes you even have time to remember to brush your hair.

And you forget. You forgot just how precariously balanced it all is. How the slightest most insignificant thing can just throw you over the edge. A thoughtless remark, an unexpected bill, a difficult phone call, then boom, just like that, the smallest thing exposes you for what you knew you were. Incompetent. Over committed and under resourced. And you know this to be the case because the thing that tips the balance from excelling at life to fucking it all up badly, is so bloody insignificant that you can’t understand how it’s brought you to your knees; from having your shit together to hiding in the bathroom silently sobbing so that the kids can’t hear you. So that no one knows how goddamned tired you are.

No one knows how difficult it is to pull your shit back together. When you haven’t slept properly in what feels like months because your brain can’t shut the hell up from thinking about how rubbish you are; scared that at any point it’s all going to go tumbling. Worried that you are doing life wrong. Tired. Right through to the bones; to the point that you can feel it in every fibre of your being.

It is at that point that you are feeling your worst that you need to reach out to people. You need someone else to hold the weight of your soul for you, even momentarily. For a minute, an hour. Long enough for you to pick yourself back up, shake yourself down and put back on your smile. Everyone needs that at some point.

So next time you get a message from someone, maybe out of the blue, or an email or a call, asking to talk, to meet up, or even just saying hello, take the time to respond. If you see someone upset or distressed, even a total stranger, take the time to stop. Maybe a simple “are you ok?” is enough to break the cycle. To let them vent. To make things OK for them once again. Take the weight. Give them a chance to pull themselves back up. To connect; adjust and move on.

We all need help at some point.

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Lingering around.

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I ran into an acquaintance the other day who had recently delivered a baby. She looked phenomenal, with no remnants whatsoever of the baby weight lingering around.
“How the hell do you look like that?” I asked, not even attempting to mask my utter annoyance.
“Oh, you know,” she explained. “Since I had a baby plus a toddler, I just spend all of my time running after them so the weight fell off. Plus, I just never seem to remember to eat!”
That was not the response I wanted to hear.
I’ve seen countless celebrities singing the same tune and it always makes me crazy. I have three kids and I have never once found myself running after them. Maybe I’ll dash over if I hear a loud thud followed by silence, but certainly not often enough to break a sweat. Sure, I’m with them constantly, but my normal pace is more like a saunter. My heart rate is steady and you could never call gently pushing a kid on a swing an aerobic workout.
And, how does one forget how to eat? Like, ever? The only time I ever came remotely close to not eating three square meals plus snacks daily was when I had bad morning sickness! Babies eat regularly. Kids are constantly asking for snacks and meals and treats. Never mind, that their plates constantly need to be “cleaned/finished”. As a mother you are surrounded by food– how on earth is it forgettable?!
If you’re rocking a post-baby body and I ask how you got it, please give me a response like:
“I’m starving and miserable, but I really wanted to get in these freaking jeans again”
“I work my ass off at the gym 24/7.”
“Genetics. You should see my mom.”
“Honestly, I have no idea how the hell it came off so fast.”
Or, even the dreaded, “I’m eating less and moving more.”
Those I can understand. I can’t relate to them, but I can live with them.
But, please don’t give me the running around and forgetting to eat bullshit.
I’ve been there. I know better.
   

Battle call. 

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I am a mother of three children. 

I am a wife. My husband lives abroad. 

I work full time in a stressful job that requires me travel a lot. 

I have a part time job. 

I am a school governor. 

I am learning a foreign language. 

I am writing a book. 

I am all these things and I am also, today, struggling with my mental wellbeing. 

I am tired. I am anxious and I am feeling miserable. I am also making life miserable for those around me. 

I know why I am anxious, and tired and stressed; I only have to look at the list above to see why I feel like this, only I can’t seem to stop it. I take too much on. I can’t relax. I don’t even think I know how to anymore. It’s got to the point where I don’t even know what relaxing is. 

Take today for example. Today is my only day off. I work 6 days a week and today, I don’t work. So what have I done today? 

Well; 7am I was up and off to my Bulgarian lesson which is 30 minutes away and started at 8am. I then drove back to pick up the kids from Paul’s where I stopped for a coffee and took the boys  clothes shopping.

 I then did shoe shopping for the eldest before buying birthday presents and doing the weeks food shop. 

Back home, I put the shopping away, made snacks, put a load of washing on. Did the kids homework (with them, not for them!), then put washing on dryer.

 I baked a birthday cake. Wrapped 6 presents (3 grandparents birthdays in 2 weeks!), put a load of washing on, cooked a roast dinner. Put washing in dryer, got kids school uniforms ready, ironed uniforms, sorted out piles of socks. 

I then Hoovered and steam cleaned the floor (never get shiny white floor tiles, you will live to regret it). Put another load of washing on, emptied dishwasher and finished cooking the roast. 
I then changed sheets and bathed kids and put on another wash. I still need to do so many things, but my mind is buzzing and I’m finding it hard to cope. 

I slept for 4.5 hours last night. About 5 the night before. I’m a terrible insomniac, who struggles to sleep then wakes up constantly. 

I feel guilty because I haven’t visited any family, especially my elderly aunt, who will definitely have noticed that I didn’t go see her. I feel guilty because I want to go see my sisters but I cannot summon up the energy. 

I feel guilty because I have 4 unanswered emails regarding school governor stuff that I really should look at and that’s without mentioning the other 263 that require attention. 

I feel guilty that I have reports to write for tomorrow that I haven’t had time to do. 

I feel guilty that I haven’t spent enough time with my children.

 I feel guilty that I am doing my full time jobs far less than perfectly because I’m trying to cover the jobs of 3 people. I feel that I am letting people down left right and centre and half the time I don’t even know why I am doing it or how not to. 

I feel guilty that I actually hoped that a patient would die so that I could go home and not have to stay late to deal with her. And that’s when I knew that I am on the edge. Because, that is not me. I am not that type of person and yet last night that was the type of person that I was. 

And so I am writing this very jumbled blog, because I know that I cannot go on like this. I need to take a breath. I need to surrender stop trying to do everything and I need to cut down my commitments. But then I look at the list and I can’t see what to give up. I care passionately about all of it and my mind is too confused to be rational. 

But I need to reexert some control in my life. I need to rebalance, to stop reacting and start preparing. Start setting realistic goals rather than think I am superwoman. 

My mental health is not great right now; Today. Tomorrow it might be different and I will have regained my equilibrium. But for today it is ok to be overwhelmed. And it is ok to say that I am not coping. Because I am not, and there shouldn’t be any shame in saying that. 

And this is not a cry for help. I do not need people to offer their help or say I am doing great etc etc. Because this is a battle call; to myself. And it’s a battle I’m going to win. 

Completely unblemished. 

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I think today is a safe day to post this. I can’t be sure, as I’ve not really had any time to go on social media to check but here goes anyway, because if I did actually check no doubt it would be another day that passes without me being able to post this for fear of upsetting someone. For fear of someone, anyone, on my friends list thinking it is directed at them. To be clear; it isn’t. 

Anyway, I really need somebody to explain it to me because I’m not really understanding the attractiveness,  in more ways than one! What is this obsession with putting effects on every picture that people seem to take? 

Above: an alien, below: a filtered me. Spot the similarities!


When did it become acceptable or even desired to make your face look like that of an alien  just visiting from out of space? You know; over large eyes, small pointy chin (slimmed, I believe they call it). Slimmed my arse, it’s weird. And it’s not as if anyone believes that that is you, do they? Because it’s not. It’s an exaggeration of a person. You are making yourself look more like a cartoon than a person. 

Am I being overly critical to think that anyone you meet for the first time after having seen a photo of you is highly likely to be disappointed!  Because no one actually looks like that. If you did, you would probably be ostracised and bullied by the very people you seek approval from.  

Am I the only person who looks at someone’s filtered photo on Facebook or twitter and just feel slightly sad for them? What is wrong with their faces that they feel the need to filter out any true reflection of them? Because every single one of my social network that I have seen posting these doctored images are pretty outstanding people in their own right. They are beautiful inside and out, and yet they insist on posting images that don’t resemble them. 

So I have a message to all of you who can’t post a photo on social media without editing it and filtering it within an inch of its life and turning it into an imaginary image: 

There is nothing ugly about being you. Naturally you,  with no editing or filtering or slimming needed. You don’t need to change. 

In 5 years, or 10 or 15 years time you will not be able to look back on photos of yourself and see how you really were, because you no longer exist. You wiped the real image of you from existence and you are comparing a computer generated image to a real one. And do you know what, you are going to feel bad; because you will be comparing yourself to an image that never really existed. Because that is not you!! 

You are a beautiful individual, whose beauty doesn’t just exist on the surface. Your face is a reflection of a tiny part of you, and it’s not even your best part. Your wit, empathy and understanding. Your big heart and terrible singing. Your clumsiness, your messiness. They are the things that make you beautiful and attractive; not larger than life eyes, completely unblemished faces and abnormally small chins!

So please; stop filling up my news feeds and home pages with imaginary pictures, especially if you are not admitting that you’ve used a filter or six!! Everyone of my friends has blemishes and spots and imperfections. Because we are human. 
If I’d wanted alien friends I’d have joined a space program!

The magic of Christmas

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I love Christmas. I’m the one who has a minimum of 15 guests for dinner, cooking for hours in the kitchen so that we can sit; parents, brothers, sisters, children, ex husband and current husband, on borrowed tables and over eat together. I save up for Christmas presents every month throughout the year no matter how skint I am, because I know I’ll be more skint at christmas. I start buying presents and decorations on January. As I said; I love Christmas.

As a kid Christmas was a magical time. It was looked forward to pretty much all year. It was the reason that the cold and dark evenings of winter didn’t matter as much as it should have. Christmas was always a time where we were all together, I remember it as happy; snuggles in the house and warm.
Advent calendars were exciting. I remember back before we had chocolate ones; the excitement of not knowing what would be behind that thin scrap of paper. What picture would be revealed? Then came the chocolate ones which, for the first year at least was so exciting; chocolate? Everyday? Yes please. However advent calendars somehow lost their charm; they became about a piece of chocolate and not about the unknown.

And more recently, in addition to this piece of chocolate we have the addition of a new count down, I’m not sure what they are called, it seems to be different in every house. Some call it Ernie, others it’s Pixie or Twinkle, it’s elf on the bloody shelf. And I just do not get it; so some elf, misbehaves making a mess in your house every day, in some houses bringing a gift each day in the run up to Christmas? WTF? Why?
Yes yes I know that all my Elf on the Shelf loving friends will be shouting at me right now that it’s about the magic, it’s the anticipation, it’s exciting and you will see their little faces light up as they go seek him out each day, but why? Why do we feel the need to make something that when I was a kid was the most exciting day of the year even more exciting? Surely it’s exciting enough?

What does some cuddly toy making a mess in your house everyday add to that? Can we not keep our kids excited without sprinkling flour all over the place, or spilling milk on the floor and sitting a stuffed toy next to it? My kids make that kind of mess everyday, they don’t need me adding to it and pretending it’s an elf doing it.

And I know that some people will say it’s a way of getting children to behave in December, which does make me kind of think how the hell do they get their kids to behave the rest of the year?
Nope. I just don’t get it. For me the magic of Christmas is built up by the slow drawing in of the nights. It is the Christmas songs on the radio, the plans of families getting together. It is the cold days. It is the wrapping presents. It is the simple things. And that’s how I want Christmas to be for my boys. I don’t want to ruin it with more expectation.
Plus I’d never remember to move the damn elf every night!!!

The most valued. 

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When I mention to people that I work on the ambulances, they always assume that we are forever racing around on blue lights, sirens blaring and jumping up and down on people’s chests until they miraculously come back to  life. 
They think of us like heros, dressed in green, saving lives and turning around hopeless situations. And yes, sometimes we do do that. And it is exciting, and challenging. Most people however, would probably be surprised that in my experience that is not usually the case. Yes, on occasions, we do ride in,  like knights in fluorescent yellow ambulances and bring people back from the dead. But, as any ambulance crew will tell you, it’s not the norm. Even if we do somehow, manage to restart that heart, get those lungs full of air again, in all likelihood it’s just so that relatives can come say their farewells to someone that’s not a corpse. The prognosis after Cardiac Arrest simply isn’t great in the majority of cases. 
So I can honestly tell you that those are not the times that were the most sad, or when I feel that I/we, the family in green, have made the most difference. When I look back on the times that I’ve honestly felt I’ve done something, it’s been when I’ve not really been treating an illness or injury at all. 
It’s the time when I chatted to a man, struggling to breathe his last few breaths, who was terrified and didn’t know what to expect, and so  I sat and talked to him, held his hand, and told him I’d got him. That I was there. That he wasn’t alone. 
It was the time that my crew mate and I picked up an old lady who, due to a horrific disease soiled herself in the ambulance, and, knowing how mortified she was, pretenddd it hadn’t happened until we had the opportunity to clean her up and make her comfortable again. 
It’s been the times we have sat and listened; signposted an exhausted carer to support services. It’s the times that we listen to the overwhelmed young mum and didn’t judge her for her panic when her baby snored funny. 
It’s the times when we build a level of trust and understanding in minutes that the same person wouldn’t have with another person even after years. 

 
Because sometimes the only treatment available or needed, even the most valued, is compassion, empathy and a listening ear  (maybe even a cup of tea!) and you don’t need to be dressed in green with a great big ambulance in order to do any of that. 

Going through the motions. 

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Chris has gone away. It’s not permanent, we’ve not split up and it was a decision that we made together. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not been hard. Really hard. In fact, I couldn’t ever have imagined how hard it would be. Perhaps it was the uncertainty about whether it was going to happen, perhaps it was the speed in which it did happen; or perhaps I’ve changed somehow. I don’t really know. The only thing I do know is that at times in the past few weeks, I have been at the edge; of my sanity, of reason, of my ability to cope. 
In honesty I can only admit that I have been a mess. I have cried. I have raged, to myself and to others and then it culminated in an anxiety attack. I was sitting at my desk at work, with a ton of urgent things to do and I could just feel this feeling; it was like a fluttering that kept getting stronger. A feeling that I had to get away. It just got more and more urgent until I couldn’t ignore it any more. And so I got up and I walked out. I went to wash my face, hoping that the cold water would soothe me in a way that I was unable to soothe myself. 

It helped. A little. Enough to get me back to my desk to attempt to carry on. But I couldn’t. The feeling built again and like a child who is overwhelmed I couldn’t hold back the tide of emotion and I fell apart. It started slowly. I could feel silent tears start to drop from my face; then my body started to silently shudder until I couldn’t control it any more and I began to sob. Uncontrollable, violent sobs that baffled me and scared me. 

You see I don’t do falling apart. Well I do, but not in a public way. At home. Alone maybe. Not at work. Not spectacularly.  

But maybe now I do. Because it keeps happening. Nothing is really wrong but nothing is really right either. I have every reason to be happy and for the most part I am. I have my dream job, house, husband and 3 gorgeous children as well as friends and family who have rallied around me; holding me up. But then randomly, I’ll wake up with this pit of anxiety in the bottom of my chest. And the feeling will build and nothing that I do can calm it down. The pique of adrenaline that you get when someone startles you, only it just doesn’t go. 

And the thing is, it’s like it’s catching. The anxiety I’m feeling; I’m passing it on; to Chris who thinks I’m having a breakdown; to my children who can’t understand what is going on. 

And it’s so difficult to understand, how could they possibly do so; I don’t understand myself. On a cognitive level I’m fine. I’m happy with life, I have a job I love, family and friends who have surrounded me with love and support. A husband who loves me and is trying his best to show it from 1000 miles and a different time zone away and yet emotionally I feel different. My emotions don’t match my cognition. In a split second I go from absolutely fine to full blown out of control; for no particular reason. 

And so I’m scared.  And I don’t really know how to stop it. some days I don’t want to leave the house, or speak to anyone; but I do, because sometimes going through the motions is all I can do to remain sane. I’m looking for coping strategies, trying to work my way through it. 

So I’m sharing it, because I know others feel like this too and maybe they aren’t as lucky as me. Maybe they don’t have the support network and maybe they just need to know, like I do, that sometimes it’s ok to be a bit broken. So far I have a 100% record of getting through this, and I’ll get through it again. 

Categorically selfish. 

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Anyone who has been in my company for more than 5 minutes this past week (even more so the past 2 days) knows that I’ve been a complete mess. On the verge of tears constantly and bad tempered to boot! 

From nearly the first time that I met my husband I’ve known that he wanted to be a doctor. He is one of those people; it’s not about a career for him. He is driven by a sense of wanting to be able to do his best to help people and despite volunteering and then training as an ambulance technician, he has always wanted to do more. 

Anyway, when we got together and decided to move in together it was important to me that he didn’t lose sight of that dream. He took on me, and my boys, and my ex husband, and all my family and it couldn’t, I wouldn’t let it,  be at the expense of his dream. And so last year we agreed that he would work part time to study and apply to study medicine. 

He (along with approximately 64,000 of the 71,000 other applicants) didn’t get a place in a UK medical school when he applied last year and so it looked like he would apply again for next year. And then we saw an opportunity to study medicine abroad and three weeks ago he applied and was accepted. So on Sunday he flew to Bulgaria and yesterday he registered. He is a medical student!!! Yay! I was kind of on a high all day. Yes I miss him, but he was enrolled. He was doing it. He was beginning to live his dream; I was excited by it, enthused by it. Happy. 

Then he called me to tell me he had rented a flat and got a new phone number and was generally doing all the things that we’d discussed in the previous week that he would do, and all of a sudden I just wanted to cry. Not because he was doing these things, but that he was doing them without me. In a moment I felt every single mile between us; and they felt eternal. 

I got off the phone and I had a little cry and messaged a friend who immediately rang me and I talked it out and with my brother, and with my colleague, until I realised that I was ok again. 

And it’s only been a few days, and I’ve spent longer than this away from him loads of times, but because it’s not a short trip, or a holiday away, the void feels huge. 

However, I can’t agree with people who say I’m brave to do this, to commit to making this work. I adore my husband. He truly makes me happy in a way I didn’t feel possible. 

And so I am doing this for me. I am doing it because I want him to feel as happy and fulfilled with our relationship as I do; and I know that if I stopped him from fulfilling his dreams, he might  never feel that. He might always resent me a little that he gave up his own dreams for me. So I’m not brave or good for supporting him in doing this. I am categorically selfish. I can’t bear to give him up forever, so I will give him up temporarily. And I will do everything to make this work. 


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Sometimes accidents happen.

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I know from the arguments and reprimands that I’ve had on social media today that this isn’t going to be a popular view, but whoa, I’m an honest person and so I’m going to just say it anyway; that kid who fell into the gorilla pit? It could just as easily have been mine. 

So go on start throwing your insults, but first let me explain: 

I am human. I am a mum of 3 and I am human.  This means that I only have two eyes, and I only have two hands. I’m already handicapped when it comes to having 3 children; there’s just not enough of me to go around. I can only physically be holding 2 of them at the same time. I can only see them all if (and this never happens) they are standing nicely together. Normally, I’ve deliberately got the youngest two as far away from where they can annoy each other as possible. This means I get to see those two one at a time. i.e. I have to take my eyes off one to look at the other. And let’s face it, even if I didn’t, I’m a self confessed haphazard parent. I get through my parenting life by the skin of my teeth and occasionally by the seat of my pants; I actually once nearly ended up in my Nana’s grave on top of her coffin due to a particularly difficult moment when my 18 month old decided to do that throwing himself backwards with the force of a baby elephant  thing just as I threw in my handful of mud and rose as we were burying her. It was only the quick thinking of my ex that stopped us both falling 8 ft into the ground and giving my Nana one last shock. These things happen, right? Accidents I think we call them…

All day I have seen on Facebook and Twitter that the mother should have been looking after him properly. That it was her fault. Was it though? Really? 

I wasn’t there, but I find it difficult to believe that this woman stood by and idly watched her 4 year old son climb a small fence with a 15 ft drop the other side. Surely it is more likely that one of her other children demanded her attention in some way, perhaps she was trying to stop that child from climbing the fence, or running away? Perhaps another one of her children needed a drink, or a tissue, or lifting so they could see the animals, and in those moments, when her back was turned, the 4 year old got away from her? 

And by the time she turned back it was too late; he was gone, or maybe he was about to go, and she couldn’t quite get her fingers to him in time to stop him. After all, I’m led to believe there were plenty of other zoo visitors also in the area at the time. Now call me nosey, but if I’d been at the zoo and seen a child, any child mine or a strangers, about to climb into a gorilla pit, I’d like to think I’d stop them. The fact that no one seemed to notice kind of makes me think that perhaps this was something that only took a split second. That, like my son nearly flipping us both into my Nana’s grave, wasn’t really foreseeable and unluckily for her, she had no quick thinking sidekick to stop the nightmare. 

Which leads me neatly on to an imbecilic statement that I saw posted to Facebook earlier; she should have taken additional help with her to supervise all 4 children all the time! Oh yeah, because all those of us who have more than one child shouldn’t go anywhere unless the child to adult ratio is 1:1. Hands up who else would never be able to leave the house?

There’s something fundamentally wrong with that, because even if the ratio is 1:1, guess what, at some point that adult will need to look away from the child!! It’s impossible (not to mention probably mentally unhealthy) to watch a child every second of every minute of the day. I mean what if you need to look at your watch, or scope out where the next animal enclosure is? Have you never needed to sneeze? There’s forced eyes off time right there! And do you know how long it takes a child to slip out of your grasp? Out of your sight? I’ll tell you: 0.00004 of a second, well that’s how it feels anyway!! I don’t know how they do it but mine can literally vanish near enough in front of my eyes!! 

Find me any parent who hasn’t had that moment of absolute panic, when they’ve glanced at their watch, or spoken to another child and turned back to find that the errant child is not where they had last seen them and reasonably expected them to be. I know I’ve done it a few times, per child!! It is terrifying and it is horrible, but I have been lucky enough that the said child was just hidden under a clothes rail (or decided to ditch me and walk back to the car (aged 3 and in a shopping centre!!)). 

What are we going to do? Chain our children to us? Take out two adults for every child so they never have a moment without adult supervision (Bill, I need to scratch my nose, eyes on Charlie for me) , or do we put in adequate safeguards and precautions and allow our kids to be kids? 

I would not expect that a 4 year old could easily climb into a gorilla enclosure, if I had been that parent I would likely have taken my eyes off the 4 year old for a moment. That seems a reasonable thing to do; perhaps the younger one cried, perhaps mum needed a tissue out of her bag, whatever, I’m pretty sure it never occurred to her or the other visitors that day that it would/could happen.

 Parents should look after their children, but there is only so much supervision it is reasonable to give. As sad as it is Harambe was killed it doesn’t make it anyone’s fault. Sometimes accidents just happen.


Follow me on Twitter @101madness or Facebook.com/themadnessthatismylife

The right pair of shoes. 

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The papers have been full of it lately; headlines screaming out in favour or against taking children out of school for holidays or funerals. The rhetoric (as well as the hefty fines) are intentionally designed to scare parents into compliance; just one week off school can apparently mean that the child can drop a whole exam grade. 

In a recent article I read,  a minister stated that grieving children should only be allowed one day off school; to attend the funeral of the loved one. Never mind that they may be paralysed with grief. Never mind that they may need to process the loss, no it’s back to school they are to go, to study for some useless test, that in 10 years time, in the world of work, will mean nothing; hell, I have a degree but no potential employer has ever asked me what classification, let alone cared that I failed my A levels miserably!  

Holidays, it is professed, when taken during school time, severely interrupt a child’s education. It seems odd then that my eldest, about to embark in his final year of GCSE’s, came home a few weeks ago with a letter for a school trip which will be two days off school. Yes, he will be learning Geography during this time, but he will also be missing 2 days of his other classes as well. He is also going on a 3 day History trip to Germany in September (at the extortionate price of £450, to stay in a youth hostel for 2 nights, but that’s another story). That is a total of 5 days (or a week) out of school. In this time he will have missed lessons in all the other subjects that he is undertaking GCSEs in, however, apparently, this is acceptable? So by their own reckoning he will be dropping a grade in all those other subjects? 

And don’t get me started on all those cases where children as young as 5 are sent home from or excluded from school due to some trivial reason such as having the wrong shoes, or hair cut, or some other minor uniform discrepancy. School attendance is so important that you can be fined for taking your child on holiday for a week where they might actually experience some form of culture, however they can refuse to let them attend for a week whilst their hair grows to a length deemed by some headteacher as being appropriate? Or until a parent can afford to buy appropriate shoes? Because obviously having the right hair style/colour/length really helps to improve their education doesn’t it?!? 

Surely if a child turns up willing and ready to learn it is our duty to teach? To provide them with an education, not deem them inappropriately dressed to learn. 

I’m not implying it’s right to take a child out of school for a holiday, but if it’s not ok for me to do something, surely that has to also apply to the school? Forgive me for appearing confrontational, but it really does seem to be one rule for us, and one rule for them?