As long as you’re happy (and your pockets are brimming with qualifications)

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Since January, I’ve been looking for a job in the UK for this coming September. Although I’m not a qualified teacher (no PGCE,CELTA or QTS), I didn’t let this deter me and applied for all the jobs I thought I could do, based on my 13 years experience of teaching all ages, levels and in different establishments. I have applied for all the EAL (English as an Additional Language) jobs I’ve seen, but to no avail and all the rejections have come back with a note suggesting I get a CELTA, before trying again. This costs money and I already did this as part of my degree, although it doesn’t count as there was no teaching practice with it. This and all the other certificates I´ve picked up along the way are fluttering in the gutter.

So, I have changed game plan and spent the last few days enquiring about School Direct, where you basically qualify while you work in a school. This makes a lot of sense and I think it’s a great plan as I can’t afford to study and not work, as there are two children to support. (They would argue that Lego and kinder surprises are more important than food). So, I got on the phone to find out about the process. An hour later I got off the phone, even more disheartened than before.

“What area are you interested in?” asks the helpful man

“Either Primary or English in a Secondary School” I say.

“What did you get in English, Maths and Biology GCSE?” he asks.

“A*, C ( miraculously!) and a D”

“Right..” he says, lowering his voice

“Biology was the only one I got a D in” I offer optimistically and add ” I got muddled between my organisms and my orgasms” (It is a family defect, that we don’t know when to shut up when we’re nervous)

Silence. Cue to hang up, maybe?

“Hello?” I ask

“Oh, were you talking to me?” asks the man, hopefully giving me a way out.

“Yes!” I say.

The conversation rolls on, more dismal A-level results and Degree results are confessed.

“Right” says the man, wondering why on earth I think this is the career for me.

“I know my results aren’t the required ones, but I’ve got 13 years of experience and I get good feedback!”
I say, feeling like a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent who wants to be a gymnast, but is actually only capable of a star jump and a lopsided forward roll.

“Don’t worry” he consoles ” The recommended degree is 2:! and above but they do accept 2:2´s too, you obviously have lower than that and if you want to teach primary, you will need a C in Biology…and maybe phone some schools and get some classroom experience before you apply”

“But I’ve got years of experience” I say sounding like that “My Mum who’s a nurse” girl on Johnny Briggs.

“Anything Else?” says the man, who obviously needs to have lunch and most probably hears about 673 sob stories a day.

“No, that’s all” I say and we part ways.

I head to the fridge, grab some chocolate and weep into the wrapper. I didn’t think it would be easy, but I also didn’t envisage it being this hard. Nineteen (19!!!!)years ago, I made bad choices. I’m not competitive at all and I chose A-level subjects that I was interested in ; Russian being one of them, despite friends and family advising me otherwise. At Uni, I was better at French than German, but I dropped French so I could concentrate on German.. Well done me. I also got very distracted by toast and the telephone at school and by the excitement of being free and being able to frequent bars at uni and eat as many Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies as my student loan allowed. (N.B- My son was not named after these cookies).

So, despite my experience (have i mentioned how many years I have been teaching?), somebody fresh off a course with shiny grades has a much higher chance of getting a job than me. I respect that they have to have entrance guidelines, but today I have woken up troubled by this, not for me, but for my children.

I think that I speak for every parent on planet earth, when I say that all I want is for my child to be happy. If they colour outside the lines, I’m not going to tell them off. I can help them, but for me this is not the be all and end all. However, the last few months have proved to me, that no matter how talented you are at Lego building, eating a pack of ham in record time or speaking three languages. Grades matter. Am I supposed to stand over my sons, enrolling them in every single extra school class going, so that they come out with shiny grades and breeze into jobs? If only it were that simple, and the other side is that I have incredibly qualified friend who aren’t getting jobs, because they are overly qualified.

My worries were slightly quashed this morning, when O announced that when he’s 31, (this is the oldest age imaginable in our house) , he wants to be an alien or a spaceman, so he can eat his Weetabix on the moon. I breathed a sigh of relief, then made a note to check what qualifications you need for NASA.

 

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SEVEN MINUTES OF “ME” TIME

The boys are playing happily. To celebrate this rare but much welcomed moment do I ;

a) Skip merrily to the fridge and pour myself a goblet or three of wine?

b) Jump in a bubbling bath whilst listening to panpipe versions of music from a life before?

c) Tackle the drawer of doom?

Being a fool, I choose option C. Although I must admit that it is more appealing than listening to Panpipe cover versions. (Note to self, never be a quiz writer)

Here is pictorial evidence of the drawer of doom:

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Look closer, there’s something with deadly tentacles …

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The dull reality is that there are masses and masses of piles like this one:

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(Slightly elated that the missing for a very long time tv control has been found)

Anyway, the point of this post is that in my 7 minute de-doom the drawer plan, I didn´t account for the following SEVEN interruptions:

1. Boy 1 has a nosebleed, a never-ending nosebleed, over himself, over the floor, in the drawer of doom. I have it under control , only for him to catch sight of himself in Dora the Explore’s camcorder and all hysteria breaks out.

2. Boy 2 and Neighbour’s son, have a fight because they can’t find the treasure they buried in the sandpit, or remember what it was

3. Boy 1 announces he will only recover from excessive bleeding if I give him a snack. But it has to be the same as his friend Nil’s. The identity of this snack is however, a secret and I have to guess what it is. I still haven’t guessed …

4. Boy 2 has a nosebleed. (Who knew they were contagious?)

5. (Not-so)-Super Mario is stuck on a rock and can’t get on his pony. I am called in to unstick him, which i do but then promptly get him killed by one of those shooting flowers. My popularity is not booming at the moment.

6. Bedtime, there was also dinner too but they gave up on me and helped themselves to weetabix (6 each). I followed the trail of milk to discover this, and they were quite impressed by my detective skills. (Slowly clawing back at being Mum of the moment). Bedtime, Boy 2’s room, was full of rubbish from the drawer. “You’ve made my room really messssssssyyyyy!” He says happily, on realization that he can’t get into his bed, or the drawer or the floor. He spends the night in my bed. Whilst I work out where various bits of plastic have come from , and about midnight end up chucking it all back in and change furniture around.

7. (A whole 7 hours later) I am awoken by shuffling and scraping and harrumphing. Boy 2 is not happy with new room layout and is single handedly trying to move everything back to “like before, Mummy. Just like befoooore”

Moral of the story? Always choose option A. Always.

 

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WATCH OUT, THERE`S A NEW PARTY ABOUT

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If the boys had their own political party it would most definitely be called the “It´s mine, not yours” party. (IMNY to its followers)
Their manifesto would be something along the lines of this ;

TIRED OF RULES, ROUTINES, BEDTIMES AND PERSONAL HYGIENE? VOTE IMNY!

WHAT WE STAND FOR:
It´s time we showed those rulemakers that it’s time to play (literally) our way;

EDUCATION: No need for school, we can learn all we need from Star Wars, Cbeebies, Frozen and Lego

WORK: No need to go to work, we will grow money trees next to the lego and chocolate and ham trees.

CLOTHES: Who needs them? Run free!

BEDTIME: What is the point of that? You snooze when you choose. Fancy a nap between 5pm and 9pm? Nap on!

TIDYING UP: We are aiming to abolish tidy bedrooms by 2016, much easier to find things if they are all over the floor and under the sofa than hidden away.

PARENTS: We have thought a long time about how to deal with this major problem that blights our daily fun, but we aim to teach them to know their limits. By Christmas 2015, each citizen will be handed a buzzer, linked directly to their parent, when drinks or food are needed press the buzzer and your parent will come running, we will also issue full skivvy work uniforms for them as well as a direct link to other parents in the circumstance that you can’t get hold of your parent, or they can’t get to you quick enough

HOLIDAYS: by June 2015, we hope to implement a 365 day holiday a year.

SHARING: the main principle of IMNY is that there will be no need to share ever again, everybody will have what they want on tap, this will eradicate the risk of fighting and jealousy, leading to a harmonious kingdom run by me, not you.

WHO´S IN?
You! Step away from the barren reward chart and worn naughty step. The IMNIES are waiting!

WHO´S OUT?
Anybody who thinks routines are the way forward and uses the word No, more than once a day. (You know who they are)

DON’T WASTE YOUR VOTE, IMNY IS WAITING FOR YOU!

 

 

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THEY SAY…

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As well as the Frozen soundtrack , I spend a lot of time hearing They say ….and I often wonder who THEY are, where THEY are and why THEY think THEY have the authority on everything

 I was hoping to spare you the agony of my poetic attempts, unfortunately I have failed and have scribed a bit of a ranty ditty about THEY, whoever THEY are.

They live in tall towers, smelling of flowers, whilst sipping the best champagne,

Shaking their heads whilst tutting, “She did it again”

They tut if you do, tut if you don’t,

Moan that you will and groan that you won’t

They won’t let you know if you’re doing it right,

But will wake you up with a fear of failing, during the night

They tell you to do it this way, but don’t delay a day

Because their theories change as they please,

Whilst guffawing at you on your knees.

They see you through their giant binoculars, serving fish fingers again

Whilst they have organic, fresher than fresh meals delivered  by electric train

They put their hands over their eyes as you drop a bookcase on your foot

Whilst soothing a baby in a sling and desperately trying to find the toddler’s favourite book.

They don’t know why you don’t get a grip and wear nice clothes

Whilst they strut about in pristine robes

They don’t know what the fuss is about

It’s child play, although it must be wooden and raved about in the latest magazines

They wonder where you read that puke and snot was better than a healthy, make up sheen

They release new techniques, which you think you have mastered

Just as they put their hands on their perfect hips

And say there were glips,

So please swot up on the latest trend,

Before you blink and it’s reached its end.

After spending three hours following their latest getting the baby to sleep rules before you unwind

You collapse on the sofa, which has taken an hour to find

And breathing a sigh of relief , throw a stray nappy in the bin

Which misses and  unwittingly covers the spy camera

They left there to check you are on track, day out and in

You smile, pop a straw in the bottle of wine and enjoy leftovers of many a processed meal gone by,

Blissfully unaware of  THEY,  hopping mad in their headquarters ,

Somewhere up in the sky.

WHEN THE TABLES ARE TURNED

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There is an unspoken rule of parenting and actually life in general that should be tattooed on everybody’s arm on leaving the womb which is; SMUGNESS DOESN’T PAY. The second that even a sniff of smugness is spoken or thought, you have inadvertently set yourself up for the most almighty of falls without a soft duvet to land on, more like a hard concrete slab.

Rewind, two weeks. We had had a morning out and the boys had been eerily excellently behaved. Being fools, we decided to chance upon this and went to a bar for lunch. On being seated, the nine month old baby at the table behind us started to shriek, not your average shriek, think horror film multiplied by a zillion kind of shriek. Her family applauded and thought this was hilarious, especially the more she did it. The boys put their hands over their ears, S rolled his eyes and I , oh yes I dared to comment. (Shoot me now) I actually said these words to S ” I`m so glad ours never shrieked”  S said they did shriek but maybe because they´re ours, we didn’t mind. “No, no, no” Say I , momentarily possessed by some hideous smug-arse.  The shrieking continues, the boys are drawing  and we place our order to an apologetic waitress.

The waitress brings our lunch. Chips for Boy 2 and Pasta for Boy 1. Boy 1 steals one of Boy 2´s chips. Boy 2 smiles and takes a strand of cheese from the intended for pasta cheese bowl. Boy 1 howls, leaps up and basically turns into something terrifying that lurks in a world of Ninja Turtles and Horror films for the over thirty-fives. All eyes turn. All chatting stops. The cd jumps and the fruit machine stops flashing. This is not a cute baby making a noise, this is a languishing, raging five year old. Hell hath no fury like a ferocious five year old protecting his cheese. People are shuffling with anticipation waiting to see …

                                                  HOW THE PARENTS ARE GOING TO REACT.

 Awkward, as the parents are frantically eyeing up all escape routes, unfortunately the only way is past everyone and the ice-cream fridge. So much for sitting at the back of the bar “so we don’t disturb anybody else.”

In slow motion I get up and pick up the exploding 5 year old. I move to the side, crouch down and in a very slightly  on the edge, incredibly slow voice try to reason with him, the words ice-cream may have been used. He stops shaking and we do the walk of shame back to the table. En route, I have a masterplan (cop out idea) and ask for another bowl of cheese. Surely, if each boy has a bowl, all will be ok and peace will reign. Surely?

Waitress brings extra bowl. Boy 2 smiles, he just wanted a bit of cheese on his chips. As he reaches for the cheese, Boy 1 rears his head. More howling and writhing and raging takes place, “It´s my cheeeeeeese!” he yells ” I have pasttttaaaaaa” I look around hopefully, wondering  if anybody wants to claim the 2015 winner of the world´s most brattish sounding child. No, no takers. I consider throwing in a bowl of cheese for good measure.

I remove him again and try rationalising, pointing out he may be being ever so slightly majorly unreasonable. We go back in. On seeing the cheese, what lies within resurfaces. I hand him over to S, who also takes him outside for quite a while. I think the words ice-cream and Lego were used.

The bar is still silent. Boy 2 swallows the cheese, I hastily smuggled him and we flatten the bowls so there is no evidence of pilfering. In comes Boy 1 and the onlookers wait eagerly for their next installment. It is here, dear Reader that I think i need to point out something. There is absolutely NO point to this argument because Boy 1 is in fact…

LACTOSE INTOLERANT.

Yes. You read it right. Boy 1 can’t eat cheese and had no intention of eating it anyway.

On his return, he is calmer but still not giving up the cheese. Then, as five year old logic and boredom sets in, he smiles. Squeezes Boy 2´s hand and says “Here you are, you like cheese and chips”  and  promptly throws the contents of both bowls onto Boy 2´s plate. We hear a small ripple of clapping and finish our lunch to the audible comments about our terrible parenting and the soothing dulcet tones of a very cute shrieking baby.

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SEEING AS YOU ASKED…..

At the moment, I seem to have a lot of friends who are pregnant, about to pop or have just given birth. Every now and again somebody asks me for parenting tips. Although flattering, this makes me laugh a lot as I have spent the last five years, fifty three days, nine hours and thirty five minutes blagging, making it up as I go along. hoping for the best and that nobody cottons on to the fact that I am the equivalent of a lorry driver without a licence.

Nervous laughter pretending we both know what to do .......

Nervous laughter, pretending I know what to do …….

Eight things that might be of some use are;

1. If you are in the shower and your vision suddenly goes super blurry and a bit streaky, before panicking check you’re not still wearing your glasses.

2. If you want your baby who won`t poo to do so, put on your most favourite clothes, place baby naked on your lap and hey presto, they will poo to their bottom´s content.

3. Random strangers know best. They know more than you do and ever will about your child, be prepared for helpful comments whilst you try to calm your screaming purple faced offspring. The classics are “He`s too hot” “He`s too cold” “He`s hungry” “His coat is too tight” “He doesn’t like your singing” There is always the option of breaking out some kung fu moves, but the reality is you’re probably too shattered to even lift your leg and arm at the same time and if you do resort to violence, you will not only have to sort out childcare while you are behind bars, but also deal with separation anxiety early on. At the time of writing, there is unfortunately still no known cure for randomstrangerknowsmorethanyou-itis , so you just have to grin and bear it, sing really loudly, or before leaving the safe confines of your house go crazy with the facepaints to create the I`ve come out in some mysterious highly contagious rash look; it works wonders.

4. You bottle feed? Great! You breastfeed? Great! What matters is that your baby is getting fed, not how. Just because you do one or the other, or both doesn’t make you an any better or worse a mum. It makes you equally as awesome and probably zonked as the next mum. Besides, both bottles and boobs have the tendency to leak in inappropriate situations.

5. If you have a dog, it will spend the rest of its life with this facial expression.
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6. Your child is not my child. It is a sad fact that people tend to compare their parenting skills to others. Just because their three and a half week old can count to 99 in Russian, French and Swahili, it doesn’t mean you are an inadequate parent. It’s pretty impressive that yours can puke, poo and scratch you all at the same time.

7. Postnatal depression is incredibly common and doesn’t mean you are failing in any way, it means you need to talk to somebody and you mustn`t be afraid to ask for help. The sooner it can be diagnosed, the sooner you can be helped. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for (taken from http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk)

• Low mood for a long period of time
• Irritable
• Emotional
• Panic attacks
• Lack of concentration and motivation
• Lack of interest in your new baby and yourself
• Feeling alone
• Difficulty sleeping or feeling constantly tired
• Tension – headaches, stomach pains or blurred vision
• Decrease in appetite or increased appetite
• Reduced sex drive
• Feeling useless, worthless and guilty
• Feeling overwhelmed with situations
• Unrealistic expectations of motherhood

It is NOTHING to be ashamed or embarrassed of and as the late Bob Hoskins said “It’s good to talk” and I most certainly wish I had.

8. This is possibly the best discovery I have ever made, your child(ren) has no clue that you have no clue. It`s perfect. Until they get their own opinions and realise the power they possess in their squooshy cheeks, you are technically their leader. Enjoy it while it lasts! (approx the time it takes to come round from giving birth.)
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TOPPLE LIKE A TODDLER

I never thought I would utter these words, but Madonna and me have something in common. We both had a topple in public. Granted, Madonna’s crowd was about a zillion deep and all eyes were on her, my crowd comprised of hundreds of freezing parents clapping at their offspring´s graduation. Also, mine was in a cathedral , not a swanky venue and I don’t think anybody noticed mine, not even my Mum who had been kindly seated behind a pillar.

I had been terrified about falling off the rickety stage , but I needn’t have worried about that as what actually happened was that in my relief at receiving my scroll (is that what it’s even called?) and not crashing to the ground , I leant forward , tripped over my feet and watched in stilted slow motion horror as my cap flew off my head and kept going as if it had accidentally lost its way from Hogwarts.

Cue, me stretching out like a drunk octopus and somehow managing with a bit of a mix between a run and a star jump catching it before it fell with a thud. I was ever so slightly mortified. My “friends” were highly amused and still are to this day.

Madonna, however, handled it with grace and managed to carry on unscathed. If that had been a toddler who had toppled down the stairs, they would have;

a: thrown the world`s largest most vocal tantrum, pointing fingers at everybody and screeching until everything , everywhere came to a standstill.

b: laughed uncontrollably and pulled everybody else down too.

c: hopped back on stage and done it over and over and over again.

d: probably found something to eat whilst on the ground and discovered a secret tunnel.

e: managed to locate you in the crowd and blame you for letting them wear the cape. After all, it is always your fault, remember?

 

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