Monthly Archives: January 2014

Big brother….hooray!

This morning on the news there was an item about CCTV cameras and people’s responses to them. Some people were wearing special contact lenses, flashing lights, spectacles, hooded tops, to avoid detection by the cameras and hide from them. I do ‘get’ what they worry about but I find the presence of these cameras reassuring and don’t feel any anxiety whatsoever that I’m being watched by an average of 70 cameras each time I go out. I really don’t feel that my civil liberties are being compromised at all. I am not breaking the law. I am not having an illicit affair. I am not speeding in my car, selling drugs, alcohol, cigarettes to little children. I have nothing to be ashamed of other than possibly having a bad-hair day or wearing socks with animal print soles. Why should I worry?

I wonder what would happen if one of these people with the anti-camera obsession was mugged? Would they still feel the same about the camera that picked up footage of the assailant, leading to an arrest? Or if a driver left the road and hit their granny? Or if their child was approached by a stranger in the street? I suspect they would have a different view of CCTV then.

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Help Yourself!

Ask anyone who really knows me and I hope they will say I am a very caring person. I would help anyone in trouble. I often put others before myself and was always the teacher with people outside my door wanting a chat, a cry and a cuddle. Ah yes, the good old days, when it was OK to give a child a cuddle that they desperately needed without being accused of child abuse.

This morning I watched the news whilst getting my elderly father’s Sunday breakfast. It didn’t take long before I was transformed into a female Victor Meldrew. There was an item about Silverline (which I think is absolutely brilliant and I have enormous respect and admiration for Esther Rantzen). An elderly guest in the studio was interviewed about loneliness in the elderly. The main theme that ran through this was that people should do more for her. somebody should set something up. Somebody should invite her for dinner etc. I’m assuming that in her case, as she managed to get into the studio this morning, she has reasonable mobility and health. That being the case, why is she not being proactive? Why has she not spoken to someone at her local community centre or school about using a room and setting up a coffee club? Why has she not spoken to elderly neighbours to see if they would be interested in regular get-togethers? Why has she not organised a coffee morning in her own home for a local charity and invited people from her local church? Why has she not made some simple posters and put them up in her neighbourhood to see if anyone might feel the same. Why has SHE not invited someone for Sunday dinner?

I hope that when I an old, I won’t sit around whining about other people not doing things for me. If I do, you all have permission to give me a good smack and tell me to read this blog again. People complain about young people acting as if the world owes them a lot, but older people are guilty of this too.

My philosophy is that life is like a mirror. Whatever happens on one side of the glass, comes back to you. If you look into the mirror with negativity, then negativity is what you will get back. Look into that mirror, brush your hair, put on your biggest smile (even if you don’t feel it inside), put on your coat and get out there. Make things happen!

The Parenting Manual

In February 1980 I gave birth to a long-awaited little girl followed in June 1983 by a second. I couldn’t have been happier. After all those years of temperature charts, tearful disappointments and despair, I had the most lovely little girls. Who wouldn’t have been proud and happy?

Then reality hits. These little people are a lifetime commitment. You will be responsible for keeping them warm, loved and fed. You will cry when they are unhappy. You will feel their disappointments and celebrate their successes. You will scrutinise their personal relationships and try hard not to influence them but fail miserably. You will bite your tongue almost every day.

They don’t come with a manual. People will tell you what you should do but that doesn’t mean you have to listen. You know what is best for your children because nobody knows them as well as you.

The other thing ‘they’ don’t tell you is that no matter how old they are, they are still those little people you blew raspberries on, sang nursery rhymes to and kissed goodnight for years.

I feel extremely lucky that my girls have never made us feel anything but lucky. They have not (so far) brought us any feelings of shame or let us down in any way. Yes, they’ve had difficult times but together we have done what was needed to get things back on track.

As a Careers teacher, I tried to guide them along the right path. Girly number one is incredibly academic whilst her sister, though intelligent, did not want to go down the University route. I argued, but lost. Whilst daughter one did qualification after qualification, her sister started work with a local organisation and has worked her way through the ranks, exactly as she wanted to do. She is now in a management position with sights set on the next level and the next challenge. Daughter number one achieved the dizzy heights of Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors today. This is a prestigious position for a young female and one which she will continue to work hard in as well as being a lovely mum to her two boys.

Looking back, I count my blessings and celebrate with great pride that even though there was no manual, we must have done something right to have two such successful and lovely girls.

Heaven help us

My friend reported on Facebook this morning that her child came home from school singing ‘Baa baa pink sheep’. A quick internet search revealed that my worst suspicions were true. Some nurseries and schools have banned Baa baa Black Sheep so as not to cause offence.

Is this not political correctness gone mad?

This made me think about other nursery rhymes, much loved by both my children and my grandchildren.

Georgy Porgy is a definite one for the chop. He kissed the girls and made them cry. Now, if the girls can’t even kiss grandma now, imagine the trauma caused by Georgie Porgy’s unwanted attention. That one’s binned then.

Mary had a little lamb. Hmmm…..it’s fleece was white as snow. Clearly an example of white supremacy. What about the other sheep whose fleeces were a bit imperfect? Yup….that one’s out too.

There was a crooked man……oops.  This one is a non-starter. Could we change ‘crooked’ to ‘bent’ maybe. Erm….no. ‘Slightly lopsided’? Nope. We’ll have to ditch that one.

What are little boys made of? That’s got to go as it is defamatory to boys in general. I actually know lots of boys who are sugar and spice and lots of girls who are snails and puppy dogs’ tails. Anyway, it is insulting to snails. And puppy dogs.

Three blind mice. Well, aside from the poem being about blind creatures, that farmer’s wife exhibits extreme cruelty in the blatant cutting off of innocent creatures’ tails. Has to go.

More animal cruelty in Horsey Horsey. Not even allowed a little rest.

Pop goes the weasel – more animal cruelty!

Ding dong bell, pussy’s in the well. Dear me. Even more animal cruelty.

Tom Tom the piper’s son. Crikey! He stole a pig and then made off. When he was caught he was beaten. We can’t be reading that to our little ones.

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives! No, no, no.

Looking down a list of nursery rhymes for inspiration brought to my attention how realistic they are for us today. Life in ConDem Britain:

Diddle Diddle Dumpling – having to wear his trousers in bed because he can’t afford the heating.

Jack Sprat and his wife having to share a dinner because they only got one meal from the Food Bank.

Little Tommy Tucker – busking on the streets so he could eat.

Old Mother Hubbard – when she got there the cupboard was bare. Another candidate for the Food Bank.

The North wind doth blow and Rain Rain Go Away – definitely linked to the Environment Agency job and budget cuts.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She could afford a shoe?!?

Pease Pudding – clearly a northern delicacy – but having to eat it nine days old? Yuck.

I seriously wonder whether common sense has just gone out of the window. I also wonder whether anyone with black skin is seriously worried that children sing about a sheep who happens to have a black fleece? It’s a good job that nobody in authority heard the lullaby that my mother-in-law used to sing to her children. Now that would have been banned!

Don’t kiss granny!

It is official. The world really HAS gone mad!

Today brings the news that children shouldn’t kiss relatives as it might leave them open to sex exploitation later in life.

WHAT??????

Well, on closer inspection of the article, it actually says that children shouldn’t be ‘forced’ to kiss relatives which is fair enough. But really….

I’d be more worried if my two beautiful grandsons didn’t experience cuddles and kisses from me and granddad.  Children thrive on love and affection – believe me, I’ve seen children deprived of it and they are deeply marked by the lack of it.  The bond between grandparent and grandchild is so special and woe betide anyone who dictates to me about how to behave in this respect.

I think some people just need to get a proper job.

Schools should do….

Another day. Another person telling us what ‘schools should do’. Another time when I shout at the TV ‘What do you think we’ve been doing for years??’.  I get really fed up with people who know nothing about education telling schools what they should be doing. Every school I know has a bullying policy, an internet safety policy, a child protection policy. In fact, when I finally gave up teaching, our school had a policy for just about anything you could think of. These were not just pieces of paper paying lip-service to situations. They were working documents with standard procedures, obeyed by all staff. The only difference between teaching in 2008 and teaching in 1978 in my experience was that everything was committed to paper. Much of what is written on those bits of paper is common sense. If you witness bullying or a child tells you they have been bullied, you act on it. It’s a no-brainer. The difficulty lies in the child telling someone in the first place. Every child being bullied worries that by telling they will make things even worse.

Cyber-bullying is much harder. Schools often have divided opinions about nasty messages being received at home and how far their jurisdiction should extend. When does online bullying become ‘nothing to do with school’?

I remember a few years ago, a student told me that her friend was having an online relationship with a man and they planned to meet up. I was very concerned that this girl knew nothing about this person’s real identity. So, I rang her parents to discuss this and ask if they were aware. I got a torrent of abuse for ‘interfering’ in their daughter’s personal life. I still maintain that if it were my daughter, I’d have been very grateful for the concern of her teacher but we’re not all the same.

The key to getting things as good as they can be is an open and honest relationship between home and school. Each should view the other with respect and have the common goal of caring for and developing each child positively. It helps that parents can view the school’s policies but if they feel they are not being applied, they should feel comfortable about raising their worries directly with the school management. By the same token, whilst teachers don’t believe everything a child tells them happens at home, it should be important that the teacher feels they can ring to discuss any concerns which have arisen.

I get exasperated that schools seems to be responsible for all society’s ills. In many cases, school is the one constant in a child’s life. Teachers take that responsibility very seriously. So please, government, news companies, general public, before you tell us what we ‘should’ be doing, research what we actually ARE doing and have been doing for decades.