crossroads

This is what you have been headed towards since school began

Since you donned your first pair of shiny black shoes and trotted off through the doors beginning your school career it has all been about you getting these results. A piece of paper showing the world what you can do if you apply yourself.

I will never need to know that

The problem with education is that it is (for the most part) wasted on the young. Of course we all know that teenagers already know everything they need to to succeed in life. Probably. Will you write BOOBS on a calculator more often than needing to know how to use long division. Also probably. Will you apply your knowledge of how to make an erupting volcano in any other setting than 1 homework project for your child. Unlikely.

Problem is though that if you didn’t recognise that the point of learning this stuff was to pass a test then maybe you didn’t apply yourself and are now looking at a piece of paper showing 1’s, 2’s and the odd E if you are lucky. Don’t fret.

You are more than your grade

Of course you wanted better for yourself. I am sure your family did too. Those 1’s and 2’s do not show that you are passionate about things in your life outside of school though or your sense of humour and willingness to get the job done. You can blame your results on all kinds of things if you want to but when all’s said and done, they are YOUR results. The results of whatever effort you did or did not put in. It’s ok to feel badly about them – it’s also Ok to accept that this is a blip in the great scheme of things.

YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE PAST BUT YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR GRADE

You now have a choice. Carry on as you have been or you can take this as a learning curve and do something else. If you have received a grade of lower than 4 in Maths or English you will have to re sit those exams. You will be given a year of lessons alongside your full time college course to help you to improve your grade when you retake the exam so you have a chance. My advice would be to grab it with both hands!

If you never fail, how can you measure success?

The thing about GCSEs is that I am now 35 and it has been many years since my results mattered. Some people aren’t academic by their nature but education works best when it lights a fire rather than filling a bucket.

You should find something you enjoy and do it. If you are a practical sort of a person then find something vocational. Want to see the world? Why not study travel and work in another country. Some – maybe even most things – cannot be learned in a classroom. So go and find what makes you smile.

Its been a while

Its not just me. Hear what other bloggers have to say below and comment! I would love to hear how you did and what you want to do next!

Katie: I left school with no GCSEs. I’m now self-employed, earning more money than most people I know and super happy, confident and comfortable with how my life is panning out.

Abi: I got pretty good GCSE results, and wasn’t disappointed or surprised with any of them (although, the geek in me would think I can always do better!) I went on to do A Levels, which is what I wanted to do, and now have a good job with a good wage, even though it’s not my “dream job”. I think the fact I was so academic at school stopped me doing something creative that I loved, such as writing for a living. So whilst I earn a good wage, and I’ve no doubt that my good grades play a role in that, I also think they probably squashed my creativity a little in the strive to continually “perform well”.

Vikki: I did reasonably well in my GCSE’s , but certainly not as well as I could have done. My results did enable me to do everything I wanted to but they certainly wouldn’t have been make or break – there are so many options and alternatives available to young people now. My advice to the young ones would be to always do your best – to make yourself proud. And to not panic if your results aren’t what you hoped – you will be just fine – look at all your options

Alana: I did better than I thought I would, but as my teachers expected. I went on to do AS Levels, but made the mistake of choosing subjects I thought I should do, rather than what I really wanted to. I ended up with an AS Level in Business Studies after a year of hating the subject, and dropped Human Biology for English Literature, which I loved.
I’d advise to do what you enjoy – there’s no sense in taking subjects you think are important or useful if you don’t like them … it’ll only end up being harder work!

Lynette: I didn’t care about my GCSEs and gave my future no thought. I did okay in the exams, especially considering I didn’t do any revision. At the time I had no end vision, no goals and I do think that is quite a negative thing. It didn’t really harm me, I went to the Open University in my mid-twenties.and now I own my own business. I do think that it did hold me back, but there are always different roads to travel

Pete: Don’t worry about how all your friends did, just concentrate on your own results. My GCSE results weren’t too bad. But I felt a little down when nearly all of my school friends received straight A’s and A*’s. If the grades are good enough for what you want to do, then well done!

Kate:  Family of 3 – me 10 0-Levels nearly all As and Bs – skint, my brother – average grades – travelled the world as singer and teacher , other brother only managed 1 o-level in woodwork and became a multi-millionnaire. Some of us develop in different ways at different times. That’s OK and there are more ways to be rich than career success and the funds that come with it

 

#Blogtober17

My son has many fantastic qualities.

Qualities which any parent would be proud of. He likes to wear a sharp suit, he has a wide and varied taste in music and film and he loves to cook. He loved dance and drama when he was younger and for quite some time aspired to be an actor. 

Ever since he was little he has been a sensitive sort. Never interested in the rough and tumble of playing with other boys and always more into the arts than sports. We always knew he was a little different. 

He wasn’t particularly clingy by any means but he was always up for a cuddle, never afraid to show his emotions or talk to me about anything really. Or so I thought. 

I have always tried to instill acceptance of others in my children

I have always taught them that people are different but difference among our community is an opportunity for education. The world is rich and varied and it is all there for them to learn about and enrich their lives hopefully as a result. I once thought that I could accept anything my children wanted to be or do. 

All I wanted for them is for them to be happy and to be loved. To be content in the life they choose to lead and know that they are avoiding regrets where possible. Not much to ask? 

Our little talk started innocently enough

I had just come home from the shops and Col was doing some washing up. We chatted about his College interview next week. He wants to see the world so he has applied to study travel & tourism with a view to becoming cabin crew. I am incredibly excited for this path he has chosen and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out. 

Then I asked him something I had been wondering for a while. I asked him had he been old enough, who he would choose to vote for in the General Election next week. 

He looked me in the eye and in 1 sentence he said something I could never have expected. “I wouldn’t vote at all” 

I didn’t take it well

He went on to say that he felt like his vote wouldn’t make a difference so what was the point? I told him that the point was that each vote makes all of the difference – if everyone decided the same then what would happen? 

He said that he thought that governments are corrupt so it doesn’t matter who is in power. He just doesn’t see the point. I tried to reason that if people of his generation didn’t use their vote then there would be no reason for political parties to incentivise them or even consider them when deciding key policies. I pointed out that when we voted for Brexit (which, by the way I did not. Staunch Bremainer here) a high proportion of the youth vote was to remain but over 60% of youths didn’t vote at all. If they had then the result may well have been completely different.

I have always used my vote

Maybe that is why his apathy riled me so much. I have always felt very strongly that the quickest way to lose our democratic right is to not exercise our right to vote. I thought I had always made my feelings on the matter known. But I guess it’s not really my choice. I guess that’s the point.

The funny thing is that I could accept basically any other life choice (aside from maybe declaring himself a nazi but that’s unlikely) but I just don’t see how not voting can be a viable option. These were my reasons for him (when the time comes) to haul his butt into a polling station

People made sacrifices for him to have the right to vote

Suffrage was not just a feminist issue. In fact before the 1870’s the electorate was made up of just 30% of men. Elections were irregular and there was no secret ballot meaning that even if you were eligible by way of property qualification you could still be out of a job or a home if your boss didn’t like how you cast your vote!

Men had to fight and it wasn’t in demonstrations or debating halls. It was the case that during the first world war, men aged 18-41 were subject to conscription to die in their millions for a war that they had absolutely no say in.

There were men who stood against the establishment and through their sacrifices (whether that be their exile or death in squalid prisons) electoral reform was made possible. In 1928 a bill was passed which not only gave the vote to women aged 30 and over but also to all men aged 21 and over whether they owned property or not – this was only lowered to 18 years for all in 1969.

You cannot afford apathy

Did you know that under our current government there is no entry to the “national living wage” until you are 25? It is also the case that only 40% of those aged under 25 come out to vote. Coincidence? I highly doubt it.

If you want issues which directly affect you to be addressed by our government then you cannot afford apathy. Think that not casting your vote is an act of protest? think again. If politicians know that those aged 18-24 will sit out an election they will continue to centre their policies around the people who will vote. Mainly those of retirement age. Sure, we will all get there eventually but why would you want to be largely ignorable until then?

Its not just about policies

The word Democracy is made up of 2 Greek words; Demos meaning people and Kratos meaning power. It literally means power belongs to the people. If people do not participate in democracy then how much democracy will be left to participate in?

I told my son I don’t care how he votes. It is HIS vote to do with what he will; just vote. If you don’t know who to vote for then vote with your heart. Vote for the party you believe will implement a change. Yes of course our various medias have their agenda but if you feel like that then read something other than your facebook feed and make your decision. Don’t leave it up to those who would revel in your losses to line their pockets. Be engaged.

In V for Vendetta, Alan Moore wrote; “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

I believe he was right. The only way to get the government we deserve is to make our voices heard – no matter the age group.

The best we can do as parents is to lead by example. So please, use your vote. Talk with your children about why you are voting. Open a dialogue about what they would vote for, how they would like changes to be made. Perhaps if we engage our children before they are 18 we can change the statistics and push them to the forefront of our governments policies. Worth a try, right?

love 

Mummy & Moose 

x

 

I went to bed last night and as per usual spent far too long looking through social media on my phone.

Opening Twitter I saw Manchester was trending. I clicked through to see what was happening and there were a few Tweets describing a bang at the Manchester Arena. Many Tweets claimed that what had been heard was nothing more than a couple of balloons and that the response was being widely exaggerated. I hoped that last part was true. 

I awoke after a restless night to the awful news that last night had not been a balloon but a bomb. A suicide bomber had detonated a bomb at the exit of the concert. He had intermingled with his victims and spent time choosing the place at which he could stand and murder the most people possible. 22 people. 22 innocent people who just wanted to spend the evening enjoying music. This murderer also injured many others – 59 at the last count. The reason he did this holds no meaning for me. It is irrelevant. 

The thought of how scared those poor children and teenagers (as well as their parents) must have been has played on my mind all day. 

I have heard several people on the news say that we should carry on regardless. Get back to normality they advised. I can’t. Not today. 

Perhaps once I could have watched the news reports and although I would have felt sorry for the victims and their families I could have gone on with my day as normal. Since becoming a Mother though that has been getting harder and harder to do. I am unsure whether that is because I am a parent or because of the frequency of these attacks. 

I have an 11 year old who adores Ariana. She watches all of the shows she is on, on tv and listens to a lot of her music. She wanted to attend the concert last night. Maybe that is why I feel affected. Any of those children could easily have been my child or your child. 

Don’t let hate win, they say. But what about fear? How can we stop fear winning?

I want my children to be able to experience the joy and beauty of this world. Seeing the news was upsetting for my daughter this evening; we did of course talk about what had happened but nothing really prepares you for seeing it on a screen I guess.

She turned to me and said, “I won’t be allowed to go to a concert like that for a while then. Who knows when it will happen again”. My instinct is to wrap my children up away from the world and keep them safe by my side. But I know that would not be any kind of life for them. 

Instead I forced myself to say “No, concerts are amazing. You will go to plenty I’m sure”. I explained that although there are bad and dark things in the world, they are outnumbered by the good. If she (and my boys) hide indoors away from the dark, then they will miss out on the light too. 

People were hurt. It was awful. Amid the carnage and chaos though were the lights. The taxi drivers who switched off their meters to assist in getting people to safety. A man called Jay whose evening with his daughters ended with him cradling a little girl who was alone and injured in his arms. The homeless man called Steve who upon hearing the blast ran into the arena to help. A woman called Paula who led 50 children to the safety of a hotel room until they could be assisted. 

They are just a few of the many lights last night. Too many to mention. But I will read their names and try to remember as many as possible because they (along with the victims) are the names which matter. The people of Manchester should be proud of themselves.

Our children need to see the lights in all of this darkness in the world. I would love to be able to protect them from all of the pain and the hurt but it would be naive to expect to be able to. Instead we should try to teach them to be strong enough to fight when they need to. Mentally and emotionally as well as physically because that strength will be their shield and their weapon. 

So please. Don’t ask me to act normal.

Don’t ask me to go on with my usual life and draw a line under this. I can’t. But what I intend to do is to keep showing my children those reports of strangers helping strangers in the hope that they can see that on the whole people are good and they are strong and these acts of terror are not and never should be normal.

Love 

Mummy & Moose

 

girl feeding ducks

Dear Bess

This morning was a normal morning. I had to shout you to get up, persuade you to rise from your warm bed and stumble into the bathroom to brush your teeth and wash your face ignoring your protests that you needed just 5 more minutes snooze. The same routine we have carried out nearly every day for the 4139 days you have been here. I saw you though. A slightly tense expression and the nervous hair twiddling. Today was different for you.

4140 days ago the world was a little less bright and a lot less fun.

You more than anyone else have made me think about how I see life. About more than myself. How women and girls are treated in our society and whether I can adapt my behaviours and my thoughts to try to make life easier for you and girls like you.

To teach you to live freely holds the same importance to me as teaching you to read and write. I hope you can be a little selfish in your choices for your future. I know that you will find it tough to not put others before yourself always because you are just that sort of a person. A good person.

You should know that even at age 11 you are already one of the smartest people I know. I am pretty sure that you have barely been without a book since you were a toddler and your thirst for learning seems to be unquenchable. This, coupled with your kindness is my most favourite trait of yours.

You see, dear daughter, this week you have no need for nerves. I tell you the same thing which my Mum told me and her Father told her;

worry quote

Ok so it’s perhaps not worthy of inclusion in the top quotes of all time but that doesn’t make it any less true. I hope you remember these words.

The fact is that I know you will be amazing this week.

Not because of what you know but because of who you are. You are so strong, so able and so determined to succeed. I have seen how hard you push yourself and you deserve every single accolade. You have earned them.

I asked you this morning how you felt about this week. Your answer was perfect; “Mum, they’re just tests” you said with a shrug. “I’m just happy school are doing free breakfasts”. You went on to admit that though you had woken up a little bit anxious, you felt like you had listened in class so you were confident you would do Ok.

I know that you are in the best possible hands this week. The adults with whom you spend the bulk of your day will be there to remind you to keep smiling and that these tests do not define you. I am so grateful that your teachers and headmistress ensure that they help to empower you and your friends with a strong sense of self worth.  They tell you to:

Mission statement

 We all want you to do the best you can do but remember always that no matter what your scores in their tests are, you are enough. You are loved.

SAT’s cannot see how much you enjoy reading or writing stories.

Tests don’t catch how kind your heart is and you demonstrate that – often.

They don’t hear you question the fairness of the world around you and not just question it but actually talk about what can be done to change things for the better.

An SAT will recognise how well you do in Maths and English but it won’t know your ability to make music or be an amazing friend to those who need you.

You are growing into an able, beautiful young woman and no matter your SAT’s results I know that you make the world better just by continuing to be yourself. I hope you know that too.

Now go and smash it!

Love 

Mummy & Moose

x

 

 

 

The Day We Caught The Plane

Our first holiday as a family of five was to Tenerife when Moose was 13 months old and I have to admit, I thought we were just slightly insane for even thinking about doing it.

I was wrong. Really wrong!

As much as I love to travel our funds have thus far limited it to the occasional break away since having children. When MrG suggested that we book a holiday abroad, I was apprehensive about how well our youngest child, Moose, would cope with the upheaval (not to mention the heat). However, I knew we needed this time together.

I am not one to shy away from a bit of online searching to get a good deal and this was no exception. MrG and I agreed that the holiday needed to take place during the schools summer break (our eldest is about to sit his exams so really cannot afford to miss any school) and at the time of deciding that we needed to book it was really only a month away so I had to move quickly!

Breakfast at Gatwick airport

We took a vote and it was decided that we wanted to head toward the Canary Islands. We had visited Lanzarote and Tenerife as a couple some years previously (I am not telling you how many, it makes me feel old) but never with the children.

I found a great deal to the hotel Marylanza which looked like it would suit us perfectly. The only thing I was worrying about was the flight duration. 4 hours with a bored toddler is not my idea of fun and I had heard on the grapevine that the Dreamliner we were booked onto provided nada in terms of inflight entertainment. So, a special Moose bag was a must for the flight.

My top 5 items to include when flying with a toddler are;
  1. A sippy cup. This will help with take-off and landing which for us were the worst parts of the journey. You cannot explain to your toddler why their ears are hurting and that kind of sucks!
  2. A mini Aquadraw and a magnetic doodle toy (ideally one with the pen attached so it can’t be lost. Our son basically played with this for most of the flight.
  3. A favourite (preferably lightweight) blanket to increase the chances of them taking a nap. Moose did. He slept for over an hour and it. Was. Glorious!
  4. Spare clothes x2 and spare nappies and nappy bags. You do not want to be caught short mid-flight.
  5. Toddler friendly headphones. The grapevine was a big fat liar because once on board we soon realised that the in-flight entertainment was plentiful and once an adaptor had been purchased Moose loved having his own tv!

Of course your kid is not my kid and you will know what they need to comfort them or get them through dull situations but I found all of the above to be a godsend. The Dreamliner was actually pretty awesome. My 6ft2 tall, plane hating husband agreed. It was pretty roomy in economy and that is not something I have said before – besides, who doesn’t love purple mood lighting?

Waiting for take off

We arrived in Tenerife after a pretty easy flight (thanks in part to my mother in law living within spitting distance from Gatwick airport) and hopped aboard the coach transfer with me volunteering to take Moose while MrG sat with our 2 older children, Col & Bess.

It was around 5 minutes into our relaxing 30 minute transfer that Moose did what I can only describe as the loudest and smelliest poo he has ever EVER done.

People moved away.

Seriously.

There really was nowhere to change my poor (stinky) little man until we arrived at our hotel so as soon as we did I ducked into the baby change and did the necessary,leaving MrG to check us in.

Upon my return I was met with a complimentary cocktail (high five whosever idea that was) and beaming smiles which are not my families resting expressions. I was suspicious.

It became apparent that the reason for their happy demeanour was as it turned out down to a month long email conversation between myself and the hotel manager paying off. We had been given a free upgrade to the best room in the hotel.

The first thing Moose did upon entering our room at The Marylanza.

It was a 2 bedroom duplex overlooking the pool on one side and a golf course and mountains on the other. An excellent start to our holiday. I would highly recommend exchanging pleasantries with the hotel from the get go. It can’t do any harm and it might just improve your entire experience!

Our time in Tenerife passed far too quickly

Never happier than when he was in the water

It soon became apparent that heat did not bother Moose, who was a natural water baby. Of course he was always well shaded and sporting a layer or ten of suntan lotion. He spent his days splashing in the water and playing in the onsite play park with occasional trips to the kids club.

He was too young to be left there obviously but they were more than happy to allow us to come in together to use their facilities and Moose became something of a big deal with the staff!

Night time parking

Our evenings were mostly spent within the confines of the hotel grounds getting the most value out of the all-inclusive (hic)  but I did insist on going for walks too.

We also enjoyed playing at the park (and relaxing with a drink) late into the night with all of the other families – always remembering to have the pushchair to hand for when Moose decided enough was enough.

Getting our submarine game faces on

We took the children on a submarine ride on the third morning which was fabulous. All 3 of the children absolutely loved it. There was not a single complaint of boredom for the whole week. Any parent of a toddler, tween and teen will tell you that is no mean feat

Finding Nemo

On the last day MrG surprised the older 2 with tickets to a water park (which I hate) and I spent the morning with Moose in the pool before putting him down for his nap and packing our things.

Moose still mentions the holiday months later making reference to the pool and the beach. He loves looking at the photos and I do too. MrG and I have agreed that it was an amazing experience and we need to make it a regular one.

Next time the only reservations I will have will be the ones I make at whichever hotel we choose for our next adventure! What has been your favourite holiday?

Love

Mummy & Moose